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  • Jen Dunlap

To my Girls, About their Bodies

Every day we experience the ebb and flow of energy and fatigue, hunger and thirst, attention and distraction. Our bodies need food, water, movement and sleep. We shower, brush our hair, and wear clothes that express our personality.

I know it’s awkward to be growing quickly and changing proportions every few months. And it’s normal to want to be attractive and stylish. Hopefully you like to shop with your mom and friends who can help you pick out outfits and colors that suit you.

Remember that it is a blessing to have a body to enjoy the world, give hugs, and taste delicious food. Many nights when I get into bed I notice how nice it is to slip into cool sheets. Girls and women can be their own worst critic and lose sight of what a gift it is to be alive and have a body, especially a body that works in all the usual ways - seeing, hearing, walking, singing, and the other activities we take for granted.

Also remember that pictures of models in magazines are edited in ways you wouldn’t expect, and the final photo may look little like the model in real life. Fortunately, some clothing brands have committed to not retouching the photos of their models, so girls can see the normal “flaws” of other girls. Lighting and clothing styles also have a huge impact on how we look in the mirror.

Choose friends who help you appreciate your body, and who have many interests besides how they look. There is so much more to life than being a certain size or shape.

You might be surprised to learn that even supermodels don’t love every single thing about their bodies. Most people have something that bugs them or isn’t “up to standard”. But much of how our body looks - muscle tone, posture, skin, nails, clothes, even teeth and hair color - is within our ability to change if it’s really important to us.

We tend to notice who is closest to the current standards of beauty. But have you noticed how those standards change? At some times, curvy women are in fashion, at other times lean women. Blondes or brunettes, teens or fully-developed, tall or short, all fluctuate in popularity.

Again and again, when asked about what makes a real-life person attractive, people mention her smile, sense of humor, confidence, and kindness, her sparkly eyes or sense of style. Contrary to what the fashion industry might suggest, most guys don’t find the thinnest girls to be the most attractive; they like girls who look “normal”, and don’t appear to worry about their looks.

People want to enjoy your personality rather than critique your imperfections, so there’s no reason to keep these uppermost in your mind. Pick the features you want to highlight, and enjoy those while minimizing the parts you consider “imperfect”. And realize that this is just a small part of your life, so get out there and have fun!


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