Whitney Levine
February 21, 2015 7:15 am

I was ten when I was first made to feel badly about my weight. As a kid I was athletic, had bruised knees, and played outdoors non-stop. I never felt badly about my body. That is, until one day on the playground, when a group of boys laughed at me and bullied me about my size. When I got home I cried to my mom and asked her, “What’s wrong with me?” That was a turning point in my life. Since that moment, it’s been an uphill battle against my own insecurities.

Now nine years later, I still think about that day. Those boys saw me a certain way and I fell in line with their views. The impact of that moment on the playground had a lasting effect. I let the way I now think about my body control my thoughts and actions. Now, at nineteen, I’m trying to figure out how to love myself again, and I’m starting to realize this may be a lesson I spend the rest of my life trying to fully learn.

Little girls shouldn’t grow up hating their bodies. That said, how can we expect girls to love themselves when society puts all this pressure on women to look a certain way in order to feel successful, happy, and loved?

I recently read a Yahoo article about a six-year-old, girl named Charley, who was criticized by her elementary school for her weight. A letter was sent home with Charley, explaining to her guardians that the school considered her to be overweight. Her mother was appalled at the message Charley’s elementary school was sending her daughter. Charley began to ask her mom questions, “Do they think I’m fat?” and “Is there something wrong with me?” Like Charley, I asked myself the same questions. Experiences like these lead to girls hating their bodies and themselves.

We live in a world that is constantly telling us how to be beautiful according to its insanely narrow standards. Young girls are constantly subjected to negative body reinforcement, whether it’s a fashion billboard or a doll in the toy aisle that looks nothing like them. They’re given reasons every day not to love themselves. Questions like, “Is my body good enough?” and “Will others like the way I look?” are constantly flooding their minds.

So the question is, how do we tell girls it’s essential to love the body they have? How do we stop all this self-hate? Easy. You start young, from the very beginning. You tell girls that they are important and that they matter and that their worth has nothing to do with their physical appearance. You build their confidence so it’s rock solid, so that nothing can crack their powerful foundation You tell these girls that the one true home they will ALWAYS have is the body they’ve been given. The body is a gift and we all need to love the gift we’ve been given. To love is to live, and when we finally know the truth, our body will be full with love we can share with others.

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