For the record, I’ve read every single e-mail I’ve ever received. More often than not, I’m on the train when I read them – gotta make use of that time somehow, other than staring at strangers and waiting for someone to whip their d– uh, never mind – and can’t always respond in time, but I definitely read them. More often than not, I make a note of its content to blog about it later. Other times, I star it so that I can actually respond.
That being said, I received an e-mail that literally crushed me, and I don’t know why:
Hello my name is [redacted] I’m struggling with self confidence. I’m 15 going on 16 and would like to lose weight. The reason I would like to weight is because I don’t feel pretty then other girls around me I cry ever night because I want look beautiful like them I also want boys to come talk to me like they talk to them! I can’t get a boy to notice me! I keep my nails and hair done but its because of this big belly sitting in front of me! I need some help and guidance to lose weight I weigh 250 or 300 and i would like to weigh 130 will u please help me PLEASE IM BEGGING YOU PLEASE
Now, when I first received this e-mail, a little over two weeks ago, I asked the #bgg2wlarmy what they thought about this (are you following @bgg2wl yet?), since I was so conflicted and at a loss for words (subscribers, you can click here to view that twitter convo):
Listen. As progressive as I want to be and talk about how useless it is to want to be wanted by teen boys because heaven knows they only want one thing and blah blah blah… I think I struggle with this so much because I remember what it was like being an overweight teen who felt like the reason I wasn’t dating was because I was overweight, in an environment that wasn’t hostile to overweight girls, but definitely didn’t encourage dating them.
Basically, as much as I want to be The Good Mom in this e-mail… I also know how I would’ve reacted to receiving The Good Mom’s advice at that age, and it might not’ve been pretty.
What’s more, if we give her weight loss advice… isn’t that, in a sense, condoning the idea that she should be keeping her body together and right for male affection? I mean, truthfully speaking, you need to be keeping yourself mentally and physically together for you, and let male attention simply be a side benefit. If you’re unhappy with how you look in the mirror, that affects your self-confidence just as much as anything else… and you can fix that by learning to accept yourself in your current size, or you can change that size.
Really, can we just have a conversation about what this looks and feels like for a teen, and what kind of message is healthiest to give to young girls about their bodies, the way they feel about themselves, and those interactions with their male counterparts? Because, if young girls are out here putting “the ability to be hit on and in some cases harassed by men” on a pedestal, and are desperate to lose weight to achieve it… then I am going to be in a world of hurt when Mini-me grows up.