24. Just the Way You Are

24. Just the Way You Are

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

Just the Way You Are

Be bold and love your body. STOP FIXING IT. It was never broken.

~Eve Ensler, The Good Body

I had just placed an armload of magazines in the “free” box when two teenage girls entered the library’s foyer. They brushed snow off their heads and stomped their boots on the heavy mat and jostled one another playfully.

While one of the girls made a phone call, her friend, a slightly “curvier” blonde, wandered over and dug through the magazines I had just put down. Combing through the books in the box beside her, I watched her flip through the slick pages.

I have battled my weight since I was a kid. Because of that I’ve been an avid reader of health and fitness magazines, hoping to find the secret to weight maintenance. I used to read these magazines cover to cover, feeling like every article told me another thing that was wrong with my body.

It’s taken time and hard work to remind myself of my worth. Now, I read these magazines for suggestions and helpful tips, not because I think they will “fix” me. My family tends to run large, and so do I. I work out and eat decently most of the time. Sometimes I eat cookies. I’m not broken.

As the girl’s friend chattered in the background, the one beside me stopped on a page. I glanced over. The photos were familiar. I knew it was an article about losing weight. That magazine seems to have one every week. This one was drastic, recommending you eat a boatload of cabbage soup and not much else. I remember the story had made me so angry, I nearly wrote a letter to the editor.

Once upon a time, I would have rushed out and loaded my cart with all of the ingredients for that soup. I had even been tempted to go on the diet for a friend’s upcoming wedding. I hadn’t seen my friend in nearly a year and I’d gained some weight and was self-conscious about the extra pounds.

I used to read these magazines cover to cover, feeling like every article told me another thing that was wrong with my body.

Instead, next to the article, I had angrily written a counter message to myself in the margin: “You are beautiful just the way you are.”

My face flushed as the girl read my angry scribbles. I felt like my private thoughts were on display. I hoped she hadn’t noticed I was the one who dropped the magazines in the box.

“Ready?” Miss Formerly on the Phone asked.

“Go ahead. I’m going to go to the bathroom first,” said the girl, holding the magazine.

As her friend shrugged and left the foyer to enter the main library, I feverishly dug through the books to hide my embarrassment. Surely this girl wasn’t going to ask me about what I had written? As much as this seemed like my cue to leave too, I couldn’t. What was she going to do?

I heard a ripping sound and turned involuntarily. The girl smiled and looked away as she tucked a page she had removed into her jacket pocket without a word. Then she walked away.

For all I knew she was going to pull out the article and laugh about it with her friend. But somehow, I didn’t think so. Maybe this girl would look at my scribble in the margin and grow up not dieting, not reading silly articles that made her feel flawed.

Maybe she would grow up knowing she is beautiful just the way she is.

~Drema Sizemore Drudge

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