The March Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by Two Writing Teachers .
This was shared on Facebook last night, and I have watched it many times already…and I can’t stop thinking about it:
There were so many lines that resonated, so many ideas that pierced my heart and soul. I spend so much of my day with young women, sixth graders most often, who already feel “the seduction of inadequacy.” I can hear it in their conversations:
“I feel so fat today.”
“Why do I have such gross hair?”
“I wish I were as skinny as you.”
And I can see it in the way the glance at each other – that quick, ruthlessly calculating glance that they have already perfected when looking in the mirror, seeing extra weight, bad skin, impossible hair….inadequacy.
Yesterday afternoon, I learned that one of our middle school students had just returned to school. She had been hospitalized for an eating disorder. She seemed “kinda better”. Another student remarked that there was someone else who always talked about her weight – she weighed herself many times a day, and was always in a panic about gaining too much. Talk turned to a student’s weekend Bat Mitzvah, and these very students began to remark on outfits they’d seen, and were critical of some of their friends’ outfits. Shocked by some of the labels being bandied around, I began questioning these girls: why does everyone have to dress the same way? who gets to decide what’s “cool” and “the look”?
These were smart kids, kind kids. But it was so clear that their idea of beauty was so narrowly defined. The color of skin, the shape of a body, the “correct weight” – so many impossible rules to follow! I want them to hear Lupita’s lines:
“You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you. You can’t rely on how you look to sustain you.”
“What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul.”
“You will feel the validation of your external beauty, but also get to the business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade in that beauty.”
“I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.”
Wise, wise words. And we have to find ways to share them with our girls…every day.