a piece I recently wrote for free people:
I got my first bikini in the 7th grade. I can still remember how excited I was for my belly button to no longer be a secret I kept from the boys. The day I finally wore it to the lake, my joy was immediately drowned out by the majestic C-cups of an 8th grade girl wearing the exact same bikini. All the promise of youthful sex appeal I had treasured in the dressing room was now pirated by the bounty of her booty. Every curve of her perfect body was a neon arrow flashing, pointing to every place I lacked. I sat on a rock looking out at the lake, cursing the flat of my chest. A boy approached and a glimmer of hope shimmered on the water. He looked at me, his head blocking out the summer sun, and he said, “your back is really hairy.”
Later that night, my friend Erika Olson shaved my back. I laid on my stomach as she straddled me on her bed. With her dad’s beard trimmer, she carefully removed my fur, making a pile of fine hair on her nightstand. We laughed at its height. Enough hair to make a mountain.
I never shaved my back again. With time I learned to love every silken hair. It has been a battle hard-fought and hard-won, just like finding the strength to finally wear flip-flops, after being terrified that the sight of my toes would render me unlovable. We get these ideas that can become prisons if we are not careful. We give so much power to these lies. But here is something I was lucky enough to realize when I was younger: walk into a party worrying that what you wore looks frumpy, or that your skin is too bumpy, or that your body is regretfully lumpy, and I can promise you that instead of anyone noticing any of these perceived flaws, they are instead absorbed with their own delusions of inadequacy. This fact is a glorious unifier, a magnificent equalizer. We are all worried we are not enough. But we are enough, we are more than enough, and the sooner we can get to this truth the sooner we can actually enjoy being at the party.
Why not be the cool cat that struts into the room loving who you are? Why not be the one that inspires everyone to let go and have a good time? Make no mistake, self-love is not arrogance, arrogance is just insecurity wearing a flashy hat and a sparkle vest. Self-love is gentle and kind. Self-love doesn’t wear sunglasses indoors. Self-love is the life of the party and knows how to get down on the dance floor. Somewhere, somehow, someone decided it wasn’t ok to like yourself and that has caused a lot of pain in the world. It’s time we start a self-love revolution. Loving yourself isn’t vanity, it’s sanity. If you want to do good things in the world, start by being a fan of yourself.