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Amazing Girl!

I was talking with a friend once and we were wondering what exactly happens in a girl's life where she suddenly stops believing she is amazing. We had each experienced this phenomenon by the time we were 8 or 9 years old. Judging from others' stories we had heard, this seemed like a fairly common experience. One day, there was nothing we couldn't do, then BAM! We were overcome with self-consciousness and self-doubt. According to the 2016 Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report, 79% of young girls and 84% of adult women surveyed said that they opt out of important life events because they don't believe they look good enough. I read these stats a few years ago and never had I felt so seen. It caused me to have an epiphany: 🤔 Exactly how much living had I missed over the years because I believed I was not enough - thin, pretty, interesting, . . .? 😟 Exactly how much of power and self-worth had I given over to whomever dictated the standards of what I should be? I became aware of how stressful, exhausting and demoralizing it was to debate and restrict everything I was eating and force myself to exercise to meet a calorie-burned goal, even if I was sore or fatigued. And it was constant. This was no way to live, let alone THRIVE. So I committed to change with these steps: ✅ Become an active participant in my life, instead of letting others' standards dictate my thoughts and behavior. ✅ Replace harsh self-talk and preoccupation with my "flaws" with love, acceptance and education about what my body and soul needs. ✅ Experience joy in caring for myself instead of feeling obligation, pressure and inadequacy. This was not an overnight shift. There was (and continues to be) a lot of hard learning and personal turmoil that pushed me onto this path that I will discuss another time - but once I was in, I was IN. And I felt, finally, like I was in charge of my own life. I was THRIVING. I've shared lots of information so you could join me on this journey, and here is something new I want to share with you. I recently started reading The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor. Ms. Taylor has put into words what I've been experiencing most of my life, and maybe what you have been too. Ms. Taylor proposes that radical self-love is the way to value and honor our bodies, and in turn, value and honor the bodies of others because "Racism, sexism, ableism, homo- and transphobia, ageism, fatphobia are algorithms created by humans' struggle to make peace with the body." and radical self-love creates a world ". . . free from the systems of oppression that make it difficult and sometimes deadly to live in our bodies." This is no easy task because "For decades in our own lives and for centuries in civilization. we have been taught to judge and shame our bodies and to consequently judge and shame others." In my journey, I have been saddened by the realization that the harshness to which I subjected myself has had an effect on others - there's no way it couldn't have. I have quite a bit of work to do to reckon with this (and maybe that process will be a whole other email topic). This sadness, however, is part of a deeper self-awareness that I welcome. I am also energized because I know that the problem has never been my failure to achieve a particular physical standard. The creation and perpetuation of this standard, and the ensuing failure to meet it is how the long-standing power structure thrives. When I reject the standard, I reject powerlessness. I choose, instead, acceptance and love. I choose to be empowered in my own life. I have always been that amazing girl! You have been, too!

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