Monday, March 11, 2013

Now that 7 year olds aren't good enough

This week the internet-world has become a bit obsessed with the story of a mother discovering a hand-written list of dieting must-do's on her 7 year old daughter's bedroom floor. (Read the full story at mamamia)

FFS! I mean honestly, it's a God damned travesty that in our world 7 year olds are subjected to worrying about how they look. 7 year olds should be worried about important 7 year old things like what's in their lunch box that they can trade or who is, in fact, "up" in their game of tag and exactly how many fairies there are at the bottom of an average garden in suburbia. 7 year olds should not fret about how others see them and, more shameful still, it is society (read: US PEOPLE - YOU AND ME) that is putting these ridiculous notions in their heads that they're ALREADY not good enough. Imagine that we are creating a generation of children who will boast having body issues and eating disorders for longer than they will have been able to write their own name. It's a disgrace. We've got it all upside down and we need to shake this globe up and set things right!

I remember when I was a kid and I first started thinking that I didn't look "right". I was probably about 11 and, having been a superstar member of the Wallumbilla swimming club (see my first ever post on this blog for more hilarity/mental scarring resulting from being a childhood swimmer!), I had spent most of my young life half-clothed wearing a swimming costume. And I can't say what it was exactly that started the ball rolling; maybe it was seeing older girls huddle at the end of the pool, arms shamefully crossed over their stomachs, maybe it was my mum phasing out the obligatory "after training choc wedge ice-cream" (the nerve!), maybe it was watching too much Press Gang and Beverly Hills 90210 with Kelly and Brenda spending weeks on end in crop tops and cut-off denim shorts. Whatever the catalyst, slowly but surely it dawned on me - I did not look right. My thighs were too big and thick and my tummy definitely had rolls when I sat down. Sure, I swam fast and I was super strong, but that didn't matter - what mattered was that all of a sudden I had wear a towel or shorts from the change rooms to the side of the pool and had to somehow find a way to stuff the little armpit roll into the chest piece of my swimmers (you KNOW the inexplicable roll I'm talking about). What mattered now was NOT what whether I won a race, but how I would manage to lift myself from the pool and make it to my towel without anyone seeing me.  This emergent panic also spread through my peers, probably on the back of the childhood plague known as "boys germs" and, personally, I had received the message loud and clear - Danielle, you can be as talented as all get-out, but girl that's not enough.

And you know, this message, it plagues people their whole lives. Even now, in my early 30's, I find myself having to give myself a mental slap because I am convinced that I'm not enough - for new friends, new bosses, new boyfriends or new adventures. People often say things like "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and for years I was convinced that that was just something people say to reassure fat people, second only to "you've just got such a pretty face". But why is it "beauty" that I aspire to? There are so many qualities that we, as a society, should be valuing before looks. Why aren't we saying "brilliance is in the eye of the beholder" or "general fucking awesomeness is in the eye of the beholder"? Yes. Probably because it sounds ridiculous... there's no such thing as a bad idea here friends! You get my point, I hope.

I might add, at this point, that I'm all for healthy bodies. But health isn't measured by how "hot" you look - we all know that logically, but a little voice deep down often convinces us otherwise and sets the bar a whole lot higher than being healthy and happy. Of course, your insecurity might not be about weight either - we all know there's a smorgasbord of issues out there to choose from! Unfortunately, it's a rare thing for someone to genuinely believe that what they have and who they are is brilliant and is enough. And if you're one of those people, I say "congratulations - please teach us all, young and old, how to believe the way you do".

Time to spread some positive vibes friends,
Dani xxx