I often wonder how the younger generation of girls is doing, how are they feeling about their bodies, how are their self-esteem levels, are they okay?
And then I think back to when I was a girl and I immediately doubt that they’re okay.
I really struggled and that was without any social media influence. My body and weight issues started from a young age and while I didn’t technically start dieting until I was about 17, I did hate my body towards the end of primary school and right through high school and it never stopped, until now, sort of.
Let me paint the picture for you. I would rather sit in detention than put on a swimming costume or PE kit. I walked around high school in 30 degree Durban weather wearing my tracksuit top with the sleeves rolled up because it was baggy and I felt more comfortable sweating than taking it off and showing my body. I almost had a meltdown when skinny jeans became a thing because I wasn’t “skinny” enough to wear them but I wanted to be fashionable.
When you have been through that yourself and then finally realise all that you have wasted – time, fun with friends, enjoying sunshine, opportunities and so much more ,you then start worrying about anyone who is either already going through this or is about to go through it.
My only regret now is that all that self-doubt, lack of self-esteem and deep body hatred stole parts of my childhood from me. And then my mind goes back to all the young girls who might look back 10 years from now and feel the same and have this same regret.
So let me tell you what I don’t want for our young girls
I don’t want them to be sitting on the sidelines watching others have fun at the beach or at the pool because they are too scared to put their beautiful and innocent bodies into any sort of swimwear.
I feel sick to my stomach at the thought of them starving, bingeing, getting into bad and harmful eating habits because they are desperate to look or be like someone else.
I don’t want them to put themselves through physical discomfort such as wearing jeans every single day of the year, even during a heat wave, because they don’t want to show off their pale or what they think are chubby legs.
I can’t stand the thought of a girl sitting in her room sobbing because she has discovered her first stretchmark or spotted some cellulite and feels like she will never be beautiful because her body is ruined.
I don’t want to see a girl being held back from reaching her full potential because she has no self-belief or confidence.
Let’s normalize self-love and appreciation so that our girls are surrounded by it. Let’s love ourselves so fiercely that we show them exactly how it is done. Let’s speak about these things so that we can come up with solutions and answers to help our girls not go through what we have/are going through with our bodies right now. Let’s help our girls.
Dove have launched a new self-esteem campaign aimed at girls where they have partnered with Cartoon Network’s animated TV show Steven Universe to create six animated stories to help girls with their self-esteem. The animation is created by a woman and is a “pop culture phenomenon with themes of inclusivity, empathy and relatability.”
We need more of this so that instead of worrying about the size of their pants, our girls are worried about the size of the impact they make on the world when they go out with confidence to kill!