Thursday, July 24, 2008

Age 18

As a middle school girl, my mother and I got hooked on the television show What Not To Wear, and realized that young girls can also learn how to create styles that flatter their bodies - which is even more important as their bodies change through puberty. We decided that was the key to reaching girls to show them how to be more accepting of their bodies and not respond to media hype and peer pressure. Once girls see that, they can begin to discover who they really are, learn to take care of their changing bodies and discover true role models and how to achieve their true goals. We've created a journal, How I Look Journal, vetted by the National Eating Disorders Association, that can be used by girls individually or in classes. I am now on my way to college and hope that we'll begin to see changes in how girls see themselves in my lifetime! (

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Age 35

A few months ago, my parents moved from the house I grew up in and I found a pile of life drawings of naked men and women I had drawn when I was about 13 years old.

At the time, my art teacher was very encouraging but told me that some of the heads were very much out of proportion with the rest of the picture. I never understood what he meant, as I always used the head as a measure for the rest of the body.

Seeing my drawings now at 35, it is obvious that all the females I drew had heads that were 3 quarters the size they should be, making their bodies appear oversized and monstrous. The male bodies were all rendered in proportion. I was shocked to have such evidence of how distorted my views of my own and other women's bodies had been. It made me so sad for my 13-year old self, and so grateful I never have to feel that way again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Age 24

My family would pressure me to shave my legs when I was very young, because I had to wear a skirt every day to school. I hated it and I didn't understand why I had to do it, because none of the kids ever bothered me about it. But my family told me I was too hairy, and the kids would make fun of me for being like a monkey. This was long before puberty. I had no concept of why they were so worried. Then I got older, and my hair got coarser and darker and developed in the usual spots, and still nobody bothered me about it. Only my family ever fussed over how hairy and disgusting I was. Once, a boy in high school insulted me, but that was the only time anyone ever said anything to me about it. Even my boyfriends didn't mind.

Now I'm out of school and no longer forced to wear a uniform every day. The first freedom I had upon graduating from high school was freedom from shaving my legs. I decided nobody would ever force me to wear a dress again. I didn't shave for years until I had to wear a swimsuit to go into someone's pool. I was still ashamed of how hairy and animalistic my body was, and I couldn't just go out in public with my disgusting legs. All those years, I kept myself covered, even in summer heat.

I've met some queer girls and feminists since then, who also don't shave. They don't shave anything at all...not their armpits, or the fuzz on their lips...and it's ok. Their boyfriends and girlfriends are proud of them. They like their bodies and how furry they are. I've started wearing shorts again, but only when I'm around them. I'd never go out in public like that.

I can't bring myself to shave either, though.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Age 13

I don't feel the full pressure of having to be thin. I'm constantly told I'm thin, but that's not what I see. I've been a gymnast for almost ten years, and I am the tallest in my gym. I am 5'8 and 110 pounds. I don't see myself as that thin athletic girl anymore. I am constantly at the gym, trying to eat healthy and do everything within my power to make myself look better. But, it's not everyone else that's pressuring me to be thin, I think it's myself.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Age 22

I was 17 when I was raped. I didn’t tell anyone, fearing others might blame me. Eight months later, my parents divorced. I cried alone because I had to be strong for my siblings. My world was falling apart and I felt so, so alone. Food became the one thing I could control. When I look in the mirror, what do I see? A girl who is undeserving of love…someone in so much pain. I became good at punishing myself. I am 5’8” and now weigh 95 lbs. I still have so many demons. I still feel so alone. But at least I am in control of something…even if it’s killing me.