The gang was all there: Tessa, Sophie, Nora, Jennifer, Gabby, Amelia and a new face, Aidan.
They were all there for Alyssa’s annual slumber party. She turned fourteen on Saturday and it was an all-out bash to celebrate.
At one point, I called all the guests (and Alyssa) into the living room so I could take a picture. Tessa started in right away, wanting to be on the end so if anyone printed the pictures, she could be cropped out.
The rest of the night, whenever a camera (phone) came out, she was covering her face, declaring she looked terrible in pictures and to not take any of her.
I remember being that girl, the one who knew she wasn’t fat but felt like she was supposed say she thought she was fat. And so I did. I said it all the way through junior high and high school until it took hold in my head and became a running mantra. “You’re fat…you’re ugly…you’re useless…”
I wanted so badly for people to assure me that of course I wasn’t fat. I wanted to hear outside voices corroborate what my inside voice was saying in the beginning.
So the next morning, when she girls were packing up, I said gently to Tessa, “You know it’s okay to like yourself, right? You know that it’s okay to know that you’re beautiful. It’s also okay to know that you’re not fat and to not ever say you are.”
I then reminded every girl there that they were so much more than their physical bodies. I told them that their friendships, their musical talent or art talent, their intellect, their kindness, all of that was so much more important than what the world said was classically beautiful.
Then I told them the group therapy session was over. They laughed but I hope they also took in at least a little bit of what I told them.
I hope I did too.