Eighth Grade

I find it sad that we aren’t taught to love ourselves out loud. Why is it acceptable for humans to belittle, degrade, and diminish each other? Why is it unacceptable to look at your friends and say “I really love my legs. I think I have beautiful legs!” Because we know if we do that we are setting ourselves up to be at the receiving end of that belittling.

When I was in 8th grade there were a group of us girls coming into the locker room from gym class. We all had on the gym shirt and short-shorts that were our required uniform. One of the girls asked the question of what do we like most about ourselves. I answered quickly stating that I liked my legs.” I’m a dancer and a gymnast therefore I think I have pretty legs.” The entire group of girls laughed at me. Then they went on and on about how they could not believe that I would be so incredibly vain etc. This was very hurtful, but it also made me think. I was instantly hurt of course, but it also made me wonder why these girls couldn’t talk about themselves with pleasure. What was wrong with liking the shape of my legs? Why was it so bad that I said it out loud?

This experience left me closed off. I was then completely unable to look at my body, any part of my body, and think positive thoughts about it. Many years went by with this weight hanging over me, leaving me somewhat shy and afraid of myself. What could I have done in that situation to change this outcome? How could I have stood up to those girls who were my friends at the time? What would I have been standing up for?

If I had been empowered to teach them in that moment, maybe I could have not only felt better about myself, but also changed the way they were thinking. What if we could have talked ourselves into a conversation about our favorite body part in such a way that we all came away from the experience feeling more confident. If I could tell my 14 year old self how to relive that moment, that’s what I would tell her. Use this conversation to learn about self esteem and confidence.

Although the events in the book are personal, this isn't my story; it's our story. We've all been there: shamefully sucking-in our tummies to impress others, or using our sexuality to advance our careers because our intelligence or talent come second. Chapters from the book will be released in no chronological order, organically pouring out of me as emotions and memories resurface. Thank you for being here. —Kristen