30. Letter to My Twelve-Year-Old Self

30. Letter to My Twelve-Year-Old Self

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Curvy & Confident

Letter to My Twelve-Year-Old Self

Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification.

~Martin H. Fischer

Old letters are like time capsules. They are precious and illuminating, but they can also be bittersweet. It’s endearing to see ourselves at a younger age, but it’s also frustrating not to be able to give our young selves advice that could save us heartache later on. Recently, my cousin Nena sent me back a letter I’d written to her almost forty years ago, when I was twelve.

Here it is, word for word:

March 23, 1977

Dear Nena,

Today is my mom’s birthday and Bobby, me, and Stevie got her a big, fancy carving knife and a set of measuring spoons. We didn’t buy a birthday cake, though, because she is on a diet.

If I tell you this, will you promise not to tell anybody? Okay, guess how much I weigh. I probably weigh way more than Aunt Nada — I weigh 120 pounds. I wrote to Aunt Nada to ask her to send me one of her fabulous diets that really works but I said I just want to be super-slim for the summer. If I told her that I weighed 120 pounds, she’d probably faint.

I feel like I’m eating much more than I used to. My favorite thing for lunch is an “anything you can find in the kitchen between two slices of bread” sandwich. And you know how fattening that can be . . .

Four months ago, I weighed 108 pounds — I gained 12 pounds! Every day, the scale is going higher and higher . . . HELP!

Love,

Natasha

And if I could write back to myself, here’s what I’d say:

October 20, 2016

Dear young Natasha,

This is your adult self here. I just read the letter that you — er, that I — wrote almost forty years ago and I see you’re about to go on your very first diet.

Well, well. I guess that means you’re officially a woman. I may have caught you just in time.

As your wiser, older self, I want to gently warn you what is about to happen if you go ahead with it:

You will spend the next three decades going on and off diets. At one point, you’ll even pay a doctor to inject you with . . . cow placenta. Yes, cow placenta, in order to lose weight. Or was it cow urine? I can’t remember, but neither sounds good. Around that time, you’ll try a 500 calorie-a-day diet before breaking down in tears after four days and wolfing down a Chipwich at 2 A.M. You will think that means you have no willpower (but it doesn’t).

You will stop wearing shorts at fourteen because you think your legs are too muscular (but they’re not) and stop playing sports at sixteen for the same reason. You’ll wear big, tent-like shirts for years to hide your chest and will waste time reading soul-killing fashion magazines instead of War and Peace.

And here’s the rub: You aren’t even overweight! You just have a big, strong, voluptuous build, like your ancestors back in The Old Country. And this first diet, which you don’t need, will plop you on an unhealthy road.

Here’s the good news:

In about twenty-five years, you will like your unique body type and wear clothes that show it off instead of hiding it. And you’ll return to sports, even running The New York Marathon — wearing shorts! (Yes, yes . . . you will live in Manhattan, your dream city. In a loft! But I digress . . .).

So please, just skip this first diet you’re about to start and take the road that leads directly to the self-acceptance part. Trust me, you will be happier. And you’ll get to your New York loft sooner.

Lots of love,

The Future You

~Natasha Stoynoff

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