My gorg friend asked me the other day, what would I tell my 16 yr old self... and I thought about it for a while, but for me, by age 16 I was already deep into negative thought patterns and teenagedom. So I thought I'd talk to my 11 yr old self instead.
This was the summer before I lost my 'puppy fat.' The last time I remember 'not' worrying about my body daily. The last time I wasn't concious of what I was eating, of what I was wearing, of how I felt in my skin. I did have moments where I would wonder why oversized maxi dresses (90s style) were the staple of my holiday wardrobe, but it would be a passing thought and the lack of Tammy girl hot pants didn't loose me sleep. If I knew, that holiday, it would be my last holiday for at least 15 or so years, where I didn't diet incessently before heading off; or where I didn't feel uncomfy in my costume around the pool. If someone had said that that holiday would be the last time in 15 yrs that I wouldn't feel frustrated at the body I was given, and would walk around the pool in my bright orange cosie feeling unaware of my size; comfortable; me. I would rejoice in that and make the most of such a beautiful feeling.
I would sit my 11 yr old self down, and gently tell her that when she was to accidentlily lose weight the following summer and become 'popular' 'fit' 'noticed' When she would start wearing so much mousse in her hair it would go crunchy' or plucking her brows so thin you could barely see them. I would warn myself that I would suddenly feel like boys fancying me would validate me and that I should be cautious of only feel good if I fit into hipster skinny jeans like everyone else. I'd tell myself to stop those feelings of inadequacy. That I was enough, before.
Her humour and vivaciousness were charasmatic and how free and unconciouss she was, was infectious. I would tell her not to listen to the people that paid more attention to her now she was 'less chubby.' I would tell her to enjoy her food, but to not eat out of fear of being boring, she is not boring. I would ask her to eat to nourish her body, experience yummy food and to never feel like there isn't more cake, there will always be cake, so there is no need to go on a binge fest.
I'd like her to know she was not 'bigger' than everyone else and even if she was it had no baring on her worth. That hipster jeans were shit anyways and high waisters would be popular real soon. I would tell her that it was good to love the spice girls and wear blue flares and orange crop tops. That she should stop plucking those brows because believe it or not she will want them to be bushy again in twenty years time. I would tell her that her love for Alanis Morrisette and her distinct disliking of 'cool popular unknown unpopular' music was ok. That she should go forth and embrace 'popular unpopular pop music' the way she did without feeling embarressed. I would sit her down and tell her how ridiculous diets were. That eating well did not mean 1000 calories a day. That thigh gaps did not make her better, more awesome, more attractive. That she should work to be strong, healthy, have the best body she could have for herself and not compare it to anyone else. Be the best version of herself by being kind to people, open, honest, and that being friendly was far more important than having a teeny body. That people wouldnt like her more just because she was skinnier. Nor would they like her more if she were bigger, and that if they did, that was not about her self but their own issues and she should not panda to them. She should not let her insecuruties let her be grumpy, cold, stand offish. That it wasnt cool to hate things, moan about things and be mean about people or herself.
I would tell her to not fear success. Not fear the good things in life, that there was no need to self sabatage. Trying is success. There is no failure in going for it and not achieving 'it all' whatever 'it all' is. Life will pass you by and you will spend along time waiting for things to go your way... a good job that pays well and allows freedom with a body that you will just 'get' from not doing much. You will wait for all the good things... thinking that one day they will just land in your lap and deep into your 20s you realise that they wont, unless you go for them.
Dont be scared to go for them, try for them, work for them. And if you put in that work, the universe somehow, not always in the way you think, will repay you. Be grateful for these things. For your home and friends and health and family. Be empathetic, and forgiving and open to life. Stop choosing to focus on your body to avoid anything else 'not right' in your world. There is more to it than muffin top and thighs that rub together. But that its ok to work for a tighter leaner body. It does not make you boring. What will make her boring or bored is focusing soley on that and making it the be all and end all. Work on balance, on self love, on not hating what you see. Work on triggers and habits and thought processes rather than just loosing weight. Work on being connected to your body, to others, to the moment rather than always trying to rush into the future where you imagine a perfect world with a perfect job and a perfect body.
I would tell that chubby little girl to stay happy in her body no matter what form it takes cos the soul wont take bashing forever. But I will also tell her to embrace it all and learn from it all. That if she does get to her 30s and she hasnt found peace with herself, to start. And that their is lessons to be learnt in being patient with herself. That the universe will push her to grow and find comfort in who she was, is and who she will grow up to be. That that chubby little girl who wanted to show off her tan lines, will shape her to be the person she is today. And today she will look back at herself and see love. Because that last summer of freedom from the negative thoughts and the unease at not being sure of herself was such a special summer as thats who she would return to one day, who she would find herself looking for and who she would stand lookin at in the mirror over 15 years on and see what she saw back then. And be who she was back then. And laugh how she laughed back then. If I could tell my 11 yr old self anything. Its would be to love. All things. With all her heart and all her might as this love will discourage fear, and there right in the middle, she can get comfortable just at just 'being'