Today is my rest day, so after a long day of working I am now resting.
I listen to XM radio most of the day while I drive for 10+ hours a day, and one of my favorite channels is Oprah Radio. It’s awesome because they play the audio from old shows and I have moments where I remember laying on my parents couch as a teenager watching that very show. A few weeks ago, they had a show about body image in teenagers, something that I struggled with greatly as a teenager and even more as an adult. They had an exercise where Oprah asked women to write a letter to their 15 year old selves, sort of a if-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now thing. I thought this was an excellent idea, but everytime I stopped to type my letter to 15 year old me I got flooded with an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy, anxiety, and sadness. I’m not sure this is what Oprah had in mind. Or was it?Is the point of the exercise to work through the negative feelings you have about yourself at their source, when they began or likely became a problem?Or is the point to forgive yourself for not being more confident and treating your body better? Likely a little of both.
So, here’s my letter to me. It hurt, but I guess that’s the point.
You’re 15 now and doing great in school. You have your first “real” boyfriend and you think things are going good. But you’re neglecting school work to spend time with him, that’s not good because you have dreams of going to college that you aren’t going to follow through on. That nice guy that you think you have is about to start making smart comments about the size of your thighs. Don’t listen to him, your legs are strong and solid from dance. I’d tell you to break up with him, but you won’t, because you depend so heavily on someone else to tell you that you’re beautiful, even when they do it with backhanded compliments, you still accept it. This same guy that you’re putting all your time into will alienate you from your friends and cheat on you. He will be the reason you go weeks without eating and then weeks of binging and purging until your throat bleeds and your hair falls out in chunks. This will cause you to wreck your first car because you pass out behind the wheel, and by some miracle, you’ll wear your seatbelt that night even though you never do. Someone is watching over you. And when you think you look ok in a bikini, he will make sure you know that you don’t, crushing you completely. Ultimately, he will talk you into not going off to college and then dump you and go himself. By then your self esteem will be nonexistant and it will take you years to get even a little bit of it back. Then he will marry the best friend of yours he hated the most. You’ll be bitter about it but eventually get over it. They get a divorce because he’s still an asshole after all these years. You dodged a bullet on that one, honey!
But you can’t blame it all on him. Don’t read magazines with Kate Moss on/in them. Her body type isn’t normal and yours will never look like that no matter how hard you try AND THATS OK. You’ll find out years later when cell phones have cameras on them (yeah, that’s gonna happen) that cocaine is how she stays slim, and no amount of diet and exercise can do what cocaine can.
You shouldn’t spend all your time obsessing over your weight, you’re normal teenage girl. Just because your friends wear a size 2 doesn’t mean you have to, you have curves. Things don’t always go well at home and you act out because of it. Don’t blame yourself. You’re a kid, you can’t be responsible for what grown people do. Stop being such a pain in the ass though, you’re driving your parents crazy. And your craving for attention from older men will get you in big trouble. Once it’s done you can’t go back, and sadly until you are an adult and married yourself you’ll never understand the pain infidelity can cause a family.
Spend every minute you can with your friends, but especially Stacey. I know this is hard to believe but you aren’t going to have her forever. Your senior year, she will die in a horrible accident and it will rock you to the core. Cling tight to your friends because none of you will ever be the same. You will give up on every dream you ever had and just float through life for a few years.
Enjoy every minute of life. Don’t look away when you walk by a mirror, find a way to love yourself. Look for your good features, don’t always focus on the negative. Right now, at 15, you hate your lips but one day women will pay good money for the luxury of having plump lips like yours. Stop making yourself throw up! It’s not the answer and will only perpetuate your bad habits. Talk to someone about what’s really bothering you. Ask for help. You may think you’re grown up already, but you aren’t. It’s ok to ask for help.
You will struggle with body image for years. It will consume you, but know that you are more than a number on a scale. You’re more than a pants size or a waist measurement. You will become a wife, best friend to many. You are a daughter, granddaughter, and a sister. Fate will take an unexpected twist and despite tragedy, you will gain a sister, niece and two nephews. They will become the great joy of your life and the reason you want to be a better person. And you will be. You’ll stay as positive as possible and you’ll make it. Don’t give up because you are strong and smart. And though there will be times you doubt yourself, one day your outsides will match your insides. And then you will be truly beautiful.