Spending time with my grade seven girl's club group has made me sad.
We met today during their lunch hour and of course with the pretense of the hour at hand it was easy for me to openly inquire about the whereabouts of some of the girls' lunches.
"I am fat. I don't eat"
"I never eat lunch...or breakfast"
"I'm hungry, but I am fat, so I don't eat lunch"
These three separate, and yet equally disturbing comments came from three separate and yet equally NON fat girls (women).
It was hard for me to hide my 28 year-old concern (you know the kind that makes a teenager want to throw up all over you), and instead I turned it into a lesson about metabolism, and that by not eating they are actually putting themselves at risk to gain UNHEALTHY weight - not too mention the liver failure, the hair loss and the ceasation of mesnses that likes to disturb the unhappy life of most anorexics. I also talked about how some very thin girls are as unhappy with their bodies as those with the inverse concern - the girls not eating their lunches seemed to find this hard to believe, and who, when exposed to our thin=happy culture could blame them.
I didn't want to talk about metabolism and teach them about how they can NOT slow down their metabolism. I wanted to scream at them and tell them that they are beautiful, and that they should eat if it feels good, and exercise when it feels good, and rest when they want to, and eat fruit, nuts and peanut butter when they want to (all items they were discussing and labeling as 'make you fat' foods), but of course I couldn't. At 12 and 13 these girls are looking for my affirmation, love or concern. They aren't even looking for their parents' love or support (something that I realized later in the session when we were doing a quick activity) - nope. They want to be loved by their friends - and many of them by male 'friends' and bound up in this notion of friendship and self (via peer) admiration is the concept of thin=beauty. And this is ugly and totally wrong. Totally wrong.
I feel sad. Sad for them, sad for me as a 12 year old - I remember being caught up in that, and really believing that only if I was thin would I really be good enough. I also feel sad for 28 year old me who is still haunted by old thoughts and fears.
This world is so unhealthy, so dissatisfied with itself and it is turning in on who we naturally are - and, well, that just sucks a rusty chickpea.