body image / May 2015: Women's Bodies / sisterhood

The Harm We Are Causing Young Girls By Covering Up

A few months ago, I was at the beach. It was in beautiful south Florida that my girlfriend and I had spent four hours at soaking up the sun and talking. Two very profound things happened to me that day.

My friend asked me to take a picture of her in a two piece bathing suit. I thought to myself “man, I should take a picture just so I can send it to my boyfriend but only if it comes out nice”. We took it in turns both sort of cringed after seeing our photographs. She said she wasn’t going to be sharing it with anyone. I took a look and said the same thing to myself but decided that this was something that needed to change. I take care of my body and my scars tell a story of all I have gone through – why do I feel so ashamed?

Walking back to the car, in our two pieces, a young girl couldn’t take her eyes off me but not in a flattering way. She fixated on my stomach and at first I thought I was imaging it but my friend soon noticed too. She walked ahead of us and would periodically turn around just to look at my tummy as all my stretch marks and scars were on display for the world to see.

At first I thought, how rude but then I realized something else. The two incidents connected immediately and I felt ashamed of myself. Not because of my body but because I was part of the problem. Here I was hiding myself from the world and this young girl appeared to be fascinated because she doesn’t know what to make of my stomach.

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Now, my tummy has been through a lot: two babies and two surgeries. Men and women are covered in these things but we keep them hidden from each other but why? How does that help a girl understand that her body will more than likely transform if she never sees this? We hide the truth from our girls and it’s time we stop. Imagine how great it would be if when they saw their first stretch mark they wouldn’t feel the need to cover it. Imagine if showing our post baby bodies made young girls feel thankful that their bodies are healthy and growing. Imagine that if they chose to become a mother they embrace all the changes they see because it means they are creating a brand new human being.

When my very petite daughter was three she saw me in a two piece bathing suit for the first time and stared at my tummy. She looked up at me and said “Mommy, when I grow up I want my tummy to look just like yours!“. In my mind I was saying “Ugh, no you don’t! This is so ugly. How can you possible want to look like this?!?” At that moment I was presented with a choice. I saw my daughter looking to me for guidance and direction. I may not be able to change the thoughts in my head but I can make sure she sees and hears positive things when she looks at herself in the mirror.

She has changed the way I see myself and my body and I will forever be thankful for her ability to see me for all I have done and will continue to do.

 

Ana Rojas

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4 thoughts on “The Harm We Are Causing Young Girls By Covering Up

    • Thank you Emma! Small changes will make a big impact. The best thing we can do for each other is help one another feel less alone. There is no perfect body, just the one perfectly made for every individual. xoxo

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