As she has done for the past 5 years now, every time my mom sees me in shorts she has to comment on how I never wore shorts from the span of time from 12 to 20. I've always blown it off, and come up with ways to say, "that was then, this is now." I didn't want her to know why I never wore shorts.
I never wore shorts, because in middle school, I spent a lot of time hanging around girls who were very good at putting each other down. And the cardinal rule in that group was that you NEVER wore shorts. Because your legs would look fat. And you didn't want to look fat, did you? Never mind the fact that they went so far as to call me fat. And ugly. Like I said, these were the mean girls.
Even after going to a different high school than everyone else, and then going off to college, shorts were still not a part of my wardrobe. Sure, I'd wear workout shorts, but not the everyday, want to be seen in public kind of shorts. Somewhere, deep down, I just didn't feel like it was something I was capable of pulling off. It was only after college, and after losing nearly 50 pounds that I started wearing shorts again.
So I finally told my mom why I never wore shorts. She made a face, and said something like "Oh, that's lovely", in a delightfully sarcastic way. It turns out, she had kind of known, but never wanted to approach the subject herself. Body image is a hard subject to discuss, especially when mom is always trying to find the right diet, and daughter is being bombarded with outlandish notions of perfection.
I tell you this story, because I find it really sad that no matter what a girl is taught at home, no matter how wonderful her parents are, her friends have a huge impact on her self-image. And even though those girls may have nice parents, they may still be getting information from older siblings and the media about what is and is not "cool". No 12 year old should ever be concerned with being "too fat", so long as they are healthy and active. Sadly, I know that this is not always the case, but teasing, poking, and prodding at kids about their weight is so very, very damaging.
I love that Speak Now is all about young women empowering other young women. It's hard to hear an older woman tell you about self confidence. But when it's a slightly older girl you look up to and admire? That is an entirely different story. I know the 15 year old me would rather hear from a 17 year old these things over hearing it from the 27 year old me! I would just be too old for my 15 year old self to handle!
So if you know a teenaged girl who is doing something weird... dressing a certain way, only eating certain foods, and you know it's out of character for her, maybe you should consider helping her get involved with Ellie's work over at Speak Now. I bet she would thank you for introducing her to some really nice girls who want her to be her best. And encourage her to wear shorts anyway.