If I could impress upon my daughter one important thing as she grows up, it would be this:
Stop trying to be smaller.
Women as a whole tend to spend their whole lives trying to be smaller. Smaller thighs, smaller stomach, smaller arms, smaller nose. And pretty soon these wishes for a smaller body translate into other things: a smaller voice, a smaller presence.
Why are we constantly trying to shrink ourselves away, to exist less than we already do and to take up less space on this planet? Why do we feel that this is necessary? And the bigger question is this: once a woman achieves this smallness she is seeking, is she truly any happier? Is there a chance even that she could be less happy?
No! Society says. Small is ideal, small is perfect, small is happy. The photoshopping of models to unlifelike proportions tells us that the smaller that we get, even if it becomes disproportionate and unrealistic for a living being, the more ideal that we are, the closer to perfection that we have become. But the truth is, shrinking thighs do not directly correlate to happiness. A smaller number on the scale does not necessarily mean a better life.
So what do I want my daughter to strive for instead of being small?
I want her to find something that makes her feel powerful. I want her to lead a rich and meaningful life that is not determined by the number on a small tag on her jeans, or the insignificant number on the scale. I want her to strive for greatness and for taking-up-space-ness, whether that is through her work, her words, through sport or through art.
Small is not a goal, should not be the ideal in a girls life. She should not live her teenage years trying to eat less, to weigh less, to be less. My hope is that she is able to find a place in this world where she can be bigger than life. Whether she’s an athlete or not, I want her to value strength and power just as much as she values intelligence and kindness. I want her to always know her value, and that being small does not increase her value whatsoever.
And I not only want this for my daughter, but I want this for all women. It’s time that we end this smallness epidemic and start telling women that it’s ok to be loud, to be heard, to stop trying to shrink away into nothing. As a woman, if your entire life is focused on being smaller and finding your own self worth in that smallness, it’s easy to believe that the less you become, the more you will be worth. And that is simply not true. It’s ok to take up space. It’s ok to let your voice be heard. And it’s ok to be bigger than a sample size.
Strength and power, both literal and metaphorical, are worth so much more than the existence (or not) of your thigh gap.
YOU are worth so much more than the existence (or not) of your thigh gap.
Your size does not determine your worth, your intelligence, your beauty, your strength, or your spirit. Know that you are so much more than a number on the scale or on the tag of your favorite jeans. Set goals and aspirations that make you a better person, not necessarily a smaller person. But if your goals do include becoming smaller, make sure that your self worth is not tied up in meeting that goal. Make sure that no matter the ups and downs on the scale, you feel love and compassion for who you are as a human.
You are not a size, you are not a number, you are you, plain and simple. And you do not need to be any smaller. And the most important thing to remember is that no matter what size you are or what size you aspire to be, your voice should never, ever become smaller. Be loud ladies, be heard, and be bigger than life in any way you please. Take up space in this world like you are meant to, no matter what size is on the inside of your jeans.