It was a typical Sunday trip down the shore with my family. I sat on my beach chair with my head tilted toward the glistening sun as my feet dug into the sand inch by inch, allowing the restless inner child in me to be somewhat free. I listened to the waves crash in the distance–one of my favorite things to do–letting my mind escape from reality and into a world of fantasy. However, above the loud murmur of the ocean my mind could not stay at ease for very long. The joyous screams and laughter of the little children to my left as well as the loud conversations between adults to my right all merged into a giant sound cloud I couldn’t escape. I made every attempt in blocking out the loud noises surrounding me, however, off in the distance I heard something that immediately struck me as odd. The waves no longer crashed in my ears. I was now fixated on this single conversation.
“Ew, no. I look so fat and ugly. Take another one,” one young girl said to the other, who held her mother’s phone in front of herself and her two friends.
The young girl, aged about nine or 10 years old, snapped another selfie of the three of them on her mother’s phone hoping to capture the innocent moment.
“Ugh, never mind. Just take one of you two,” she replied, frustrated after taking millions of other photos.
The young girl proceeded to snap an endless supply of photos on her mother’s phone as the other merely dragged her toes in the ground with her head down, trying to ignore the situation that just unfolded.
However, the situation was something that could not be ignored–not by the nine-year-old girl nor myself.
My mind began to twist and turn as my heart felt the pain the bikini-wearing child must have felt. I could tell too, that her mind was spinning as well through the frustration, disappointment, disgrace and unhappiness projected on her face.
She was merely nine years old and yet living in today’s society for merely nine years, she already understood the pressures of maintaining the “perfect” body and being “beautiful.” At merely nine years old, she already felt the defeat of living up to those standards.
I thought to myself, “How could society be so cruel?”
If I am completely honest, I regret not going up to the young girl and telling her that she was beautiful, that she was worth being in those photos. I especially regret not doing so as she will now always see herself in that light because there’s nothing or no one telling her otherwise. She will always believe that she is the problem, not society.
At nine years old, I was not thinking about how big or small my stomach was, nor was I thinking about how my face would turn out in a photograph. At nine years old, I enjoyed my life free from worrying about the standards of beauty. If a camera came out as I played with friends, we simply stood there, smiled and went back to having fun.
But, at this moment, I realized that this is the reality of millions of young girls around the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my many spouts of looking in the mirror and hating what I saw and still do today; resulting in always trying to look skinnier or prettier or contouring my nose in a way that makes it look more “normal.” However, I am learning that life is about more than merely what you look like. And, I suppose I am writing this blog post as a way of erasing my failure to talk to the little girl on the beach. Though, I know I could never truly take that back.
The point is, there’s beauty inside of everyone. Whether you’re tall or short, skinny or heavy, have big boobs or small boobs, have a big butt or small butt, have freckles or acne, you are beautiful and you are worth it. We live in a society where looks matter more than what’s inside and are constantly being told that we are not good enough. It’s at the very core of every marketing scheme waving a product in front of our faces telling us that WE have a problem and all could disappear if we buy that commodity.
So, to all the little girls out there who think their looks make them less than who they are, never let the pressures of society rule your life. Always remember that there is something unique inside each one of you that makes you beautiful and you should be proud of that. There is beauty in diversity and that’s why diversity makes this world so beautiful. Never give up on yourself because you are worth it. Have confidence, love the way you look and shine as bright as you possibly can!