A friend from high school emailed and asked me to send her some videos from back in the day. Obligingly I got the video from my mom and set to copying it to DVD (actually I was excited to do it since my sweetie got me Roxio software for V-day and it is approximately the coolest thing ever).
I was shocked by my reaction to what I saw.
I have to preface this by saying I LOVED HIGH SCHOOL. I was terrified the days before graduation because my entire life was ECVHS. I loved it and had a greater proportion of Brave Spirit than red blood cells in my veins. It was such a happy time for me.
But I was a chunky cheerleader. And my reaction last night was, "I am SO glad that I wasn't as self-conscious then as I am now." I knew I was heavier than the average Brave but it honestly didn't bug me that much. I felt like people judged me on my merits and appreciated who I was and what I brought to the table. I was sad that boys didn't throw themselves at my feet but I honestly never blamed it on my weight.
So three things:
- I wish I could have that degree of self-contentment back now (and REALLY wish I'd had it in my grad school days). That girl was right. She didn't let self-consciousness or self loathing stop her from doing anything. I look at my 17 year old self in a teeny cheer skirt and cringe whereas when I was putting it on back then I was proud. I gave them all I had and was content that it was enough. When the stick figures on the squad would pinch the skin on their taught bellies and complain about how "gross" they were I didn't get it. I was lucky.
- I am really proud of how far I've come health-wise today. Even with the above being true I wasn't proud of my body, I just saw it as a vehicle. But I realize now I never used it or pushed it as far as I could. And the joy that comes from that. I took my body for granted back then big time. Once I got a car I was designated taco shop driver. It seemed perfectly reasonable that I would grab burgers and fries before football games or eat a giant frozen yogurt with Reese's on my break at work (man I miss the yogurt mill…the yogurt only had 16cal/oz is how I reasoned with myself). I won't lie; I still love those things today. But I know that I have a bigger agenda. One side is that I am not as self assured (or maybe unaware) in my body as I was back then, so I have to moderate what I eat to get my body where I want it. But bigger than that I have learned that my body is a tool. I can do great things with it but I need to learn about it and take good care of it. It feels awesome to have a visible sign of the things I've learned since high school.
- I wish HS girls had at least #1 above but in a perfect world a combo of #1 and #2. I think I would have missed out on so much if I'd felt like the "fat girl". Maybe I wouldn't have felt like I could be cheer captain, I bet there are girls that don't. And they miss out on going for great opportunities.
How can we encourage girls to take care of their bodies but to not see the way their body looks as the definition of who they are? It is definitely one of those easy in theory, hard in practice ideas.