This article will be featured in the upcoming edition of Wom*news, “Bodies”. Submissions for the Bodies issue close September 14, at 5.00 pm.
Trigger warning for discussion of eating disorders and identity dismissal.
Dear 16 year old me,
Please heed the advice that I am about to write to you with the greatest of caution. I am writing this with the experiences that I am trying to prevent you from having to encounter and from the mistakes I hope you don’t make. You will read a lot of things that say ‘have no regrets’, but we never bought that bullshit.
One of the greatest regrets you will have has to do with how you see yourself. Physically, people aren’t going to see you as anything more than you see yourself. You walk around hiding your body, scared of what it means.
You hide behind your clothes – the two outfits you own because your parents are too poor to buy more. These clothes are not you. I know you want to believe that you are the type of girl who feels comfortable wearing dresses and having make up on your face, but we both know it’s painful and awkward. You tell yourself to stop hiding behind your body, but darling stop hiding your body.
As a 19 year old, you will begin to borrow clothes from your male housemate. You will start to wear men’s underwear and you will feel pain in your soul when you are forced into your girly skirts when you have to return back to the coast because your parents can’t understand what happened to their daughter.
And please, take it from someone who has read all the books you have and written all the horribly cynical poetry – eating disorders are not cool. You are in the stage right now where you are going onto ‘pro-ana’ sites and trying to lose weight. You are beautiful behind your clothes and your make up. No website is going to make you feel any better about yourself – it is only going to cause you teeth decay and a trip to the hospital. Deep down, I know you will read this and not believe me when I tell you this, but trust me, you will be comfortable with who you are, you will start to grow into the beautiful (and gay…) human being that is hidden beneath the dresses and makeup.
Grow and flourish darling,