How Do You View Your Body? (Letter to a Younger Self)
While looking through some samples of a photo shoot I recently did, a few thoughts whispered through my mind, such as, “Gosh, my teeth are so big” and “I should have lost 10 pounds before this.” That same night, I was watching TV and realized I was paying a lot of attention to the teeth of the women on the show. I quickly noticed I was comparing my teeth to the actresses’ teeth—where else would I have gotten the idea my teeth were big?
The next day, my sister posted this letter to her 15-year-old self on Instagram. It was exactly what I needed to hear about body image, so I asked if I could post it on my blog. My sister was always tall and large-framed and I know she struggled with insecurities. Today, she’s a personal trainer and fitness coach. She uses her body to encourage others every single day. If you have difficulty with any part of your body, read and be encouraged.
Too many girls and women struggle with body image issues and I wish I could do more to encourage them and save them the unnecessary emotional pain. I’ve been reflecting on some things and decided to write a letter to my 15-year-old self. These are some things I wish I could have grasped earlier in life.
Hey 15yo Lauren,
You are super insecure about the way you look, but let me tell ya something: you have ZERO reasons to hate the way God made your body.
I know you hear people say over and over, “Tall is beautiful!” And you smile...but it goes in one ear and out the other, because you just feel like a big awkward giant.
Please, please ignore those guys who make fun of fitness models because they think their ab muscles are “gross” or their arm muscles are “too bulky”...don’t you dare let those comments make you want to workout less! Who cares what those skinny BOYS think (you don’t find them attractive, either).
Life is not about getting everybody on the planet to think you’re attractive. It’s ok that you’re not one of those girls who gets asked out all the time. You only really need one guy to be attracted to you (and guess what! Your future husband is JACKED and makes you feel small, and thinks your tall, muscular body is smokin’...and I promise it is not a deal-breaker that you wear the same size shoe as he does).
So please ignore the haters and walk with CONFIDENCE, those muscles you have are going to be what you will build your career on, and will help you accomplish some REALLY cool physical challenges (someday you’re going to do an Ironman!)
Please ignore the girls who wrinkle their nose up at you and ask, “Why are YOU wearing heels?” Wear those heels with confidence, tall girls are allowed to wear cute shoes, too.
Please, please stop hating your “big” legs. You should be so proud of them! They are strong and allow you to do what you LOVE! It’s ok that your 16 inch calves are bigger than the calves of 99% of the men you know. They are beautiful and are going to be the part of your body that receives the most compliments. Be proud of them!
No one cares that you have to buy men’s hats, gloves and running shoes. At least the world makes things in your size. And when you wear them confidently, no one knows that you bought half your outfit on the men’s side of the store (those things look cuter on you than on any boy wearing them anyways).
Don’t worry that you have a hard time finding clothes that are long enough for you. Someday you’ll discover (tall) Buckle jeans and Lululemon and you won’t need to shop anywhere else.
Dresses. I know, the long ones are too short and the short ones are waaay too short, and the straps are too short to fit your shoulders and back. But don’t waste your tears sitting in the fitting room crying because God made you “big”...you’ll find dresses that fit, just keep looking. Then you can wear them over and over again and no one will care (and you’ll save lot of money along the way).
Let’s talk about the scale. I know you almost died of shock when it started reading in the 160s. But 160lbs is actually a really healthy weight for your frame. You are going to be a living example for other women that the scale is NOT an accurate way to measure health.
I know you just want to blend in because “being different” is not cool in high school. It’s pretty hard to blend in when you’re almost a head taller than all the other girls. But please don’t slouch. Stand tall and be proud! People notice and remember you! Which is a really cool thing because someday you can USE THAT FOR GOOD. You’ll have a bigger positive influence on the world because you don’t have to work hard to be noticed, people already see you.
There are some really cool perks about being tall: you can gain or lose 15lbs and all your clothes still fit the same. Creepy people don’t mess with you (I like to think that’s because you don’t look like an easy target) You don’t need stools to reach high things, and you’ll be able to help random cute shorter people in grocery stores get the items off the top shelf. You also can carry more than the average person with your large frame so you’re able to be super efficient at your jobs.
I’ll let you in on a secret: MOST people are insecure about something about the way they look. You can’t change the size of your nose, your height, or how big your hands are. You might as well embrace them! You’ll meet some really cool people who don’t have the “perfect body” but who WALK WITH CONFIDENCE and own what they have been given. Those people have SO MUCH MORE FUN in life. They don’t waste energy picking apart their own bodies, they invest that energy in living life to the fullest and chasing their dreams. You’ll get there someday. (I just wish I could get you their sooner so you don’t waste so much time hating the strong, healthy body you’ve been BLESSED with!)
Random strangers see you in a tank top and comment, “Wow, your arms are HUGE!” It feeds your insecurities right now, but someday it’ll feed your confidence. You will hear that and smile big, because you work hard for the muscles in these arms!
Someday you will learn that striving to be strong and healthy is what really motivates you to be disciplined to workout, and you’ll decide to eat certain foods because of how much energy they give your body, not because of how they affect your waistline.
Being healthy is what it’s all about. Healthy in body, yes, but also healthy in your mind. Once you learn to stop wasting so much mental energy on the things you can’t change about yourself, you’ll experience a freedom that you won’t trade for anything! And you’ll have more energy to embrace the beautiful life you’ve been given. Cannot wait for you to get there!
Your Future Self
Katherine here. I have an exercise for you. I encourage you to write down the part (or parts) of your body with which you struggle. Write it down, and then spend some time asking God what he thinks of you—of your body.
You may have to do it a few times, possibly every day for a week. But I know God will show you what he thinks of you and what he made.
I know you will be astounded and encouraged. I pray his voice will drown out any other voices.
Follow my sister, Lauren Sampson, on Facebook and Instagram @strong.like.sampson You’ll learn lots of cool things about health.