Dear young women,
You have the capability to be bolder than words. You are entitled to strong and well-developed opinions that may frighten the average person. You are fearless. You are bigger than those that make you feel small. You are the positive energy the world needs. You are these things wrapped into a whimsical package, and you are these things without fitting into the “appearance ideal.”
The “appearance ideal” is what society constructs as the requirement for female beauty, and it is completely misconstrued within our world. To fit into this simplistic and unnatural category you must be tall but not too tall. You should have massive breasts and a bootylicious behind. You should have the best arched eyebrows, but they must never look too unnatural. Your make up should be on “fleek” …ALWAYS. You should never leave the house without looking like a runway model all the time. You should have a sun kissed tan and a blown-out hairstyle. You should be caring, sweet, and unopinionated. Does this even sound remotely accurate of what your natural and personal beauty is?
I’m here to tell you that is more than okay to not fit into this labelled box. There are many costs to presenting yourself in society’s standard. So much extra time and energy is channeled into readying yourself for the day, and it is completely unnecessary because nobody should care about your appearance except you. All this input could be put towards studying for that class you’re struggling in, volunteering, reading or even spending time pampering yourself for a successful week. Your health is put at risk, especially when you are striving for that “just stepped off the beach after a full day of tanning” look. Going to the gym and only doing squats, (which delays muscle growth) when you could be gaining strength and stamina in other areas is another cost. Time and energy may not seem like a lot to you, but when you stop doing these things every day you will see how much more daylight you have ahead of you.
The biggest cost of all, however, is your identity. So much of your individuality is lost when you try to compete with others or attempt to embody something that you are not. Do that crazy hairstyle that you have always wanted. Pierce your nose. Wear those shoes with that shirt that doesn’t match. Stop wearing makeup and go "au naturale". Go out to the party without spending two hours primping. Stop mirror checking yourself every chance you get. Eat the damn cupcake. Do anything you want to do, because this life is what you make of it, not what your appearance makes for you.
I am challenging you all, young and old, to body acceptance activism. This means you are going to love yourself and your body the best way you know how.
Gaze into the dreaded mirror and find 15 things you love about your body and your personality. Avoid comparison among other women. Find a healthy work out plan that works for you. Don’t ask for approval from anyone. Pamper yourself.
You could even write your own letter to a young girl/woman, like me.
I learned about body acceptance activism from a program called The Body Project here at IU Bloomington, and I intend to use my peer leader training to help others as much as I possibly can. And it all starts right here.