Dear wildly awesome teenager,
Please be smarter than your parents.
Please don’t think getting older equals physical pain.
Please don’t even begin to entertain the idea that being a grown up means you have to exercise in order to lose weight or look good.
Please don’t give up on being able to do somersaults and the monkey bars.
Please don’t stop playing, no matter how weird the world gets or how complicated life becomes.
And please take care of your incredible body with as much gusto and willingness as you can muster.
You know, most grown ups that I teach have spent their lives not taking care of their body and doing really strange things with it in order to make it better, fitter, leaner, stronger, more attractive, more whatever. And they end up needing my help because all of the above had made their body really really mad and has kept them from being actually strong in a way that matters.
I am here to today to challenge you to consider that it is worth it to take charge of your strength right now so that you can be smarter than 99% of the grown ups around you. It’s also worth it to rebel against all the shiny ads you see that show girls and boys smiling and be extra fit in fancy fitness outfits and nary a wrinkle or a dimple or roll in sight. Those ads have forgotten that humans are not robots. Those ads have also forgotten that you know better and you know what they are up to.
The truth is that it is ok to have days where you want to jump out of your skin and find a new body to live in. I call this “itchy wool sweateritis” and I have learned that because of hormones and the daily grind, sometimes our bodies don’t feel good to live in. But that doesn’t mean you have to change them. It means, instead, that you can be kind to them even when you have “itchy wool sweateritis”. You can find ways to say, hey human body, you are such a weird animal and I accept you even though you are totally, um, weird.
Side note: Human bodies are SO weird. Right? And sort of gross. Right? Right.
I wish with every bit of wishing powers I have that I could go back to my teenager self and teach her all that I am teaching you right now. I wish I could tell her to find a way to be ok with who she is and how her body feels and looks, no matter what. I wish I could tell her that it will be so helpful to start standing up for her body and what it wants or doesn’t want without compromise. I wish I could teach her the word “fiercely” and tell her to use it when it comes to owning her body exactly as it is.
My hope and my dream in TeenStrong is to give you a place that is different than all you will see on the internet and in movies and tv shows. I promise you, if you show up here, that I will teach you all the things I know about the body you live in and how it needs to be - and can be - strong in a way that matters. I promise that I will teach you what not to do and what to do to avoid all the aches and pains you see your parents suffer through. I promise that I will show you what it looks like to be imperfect and happy in your own skin. And I promise that I will remind you over and over that it matters that you and your body are good friends.
So, I double dog dare you to join me in showing up for yourself as often as you can. Not to change your body, but instead to support it in all the ways it will need to be supported in this wild adventure of life.
Be rebellious. Be big. Be loud. Be curious. Be vocal. Be visible. Be your body’s best advocate. Because as much as it is weird, it’s also kind of incredibly amazing … and so are you.
See you soon.