We all know the nagging parental concerns: Is my child getting enough sleep, the right nutrition, turning her homework in, enjoying her friendships? As children get older, their friendships begin to matter even more and sometimes that influence can impact emotional health. That issue is explored in this excerpt from the book “Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance” (Seal Press, $16.95), published in October and written by Lake Norman Magazine freelance writer Rosie Molinary.
I was driving an eighth-grade girl I know home from lunch. We were passing by the university where I teach, and I pointed it out to her. “What do you teach?” she asked, and I explained what Women’s and Gender Studies was and then, more specifically, what body image was. “Like how I think I am fat?” I had just finished explaining that we spend the semester considering how individuals feel about their bodies and looks, what causes those feelings, and how they can be addressed. My heart stopped. “How long have you thought that you are fat?” I asked. “Since last year.”“Did something happen to make you think that?” “Yes. My friend, who is really skinny – and skinner than I would want to be – told me I was too heavy.” “And since she told you that, how many people have told you that you were beautiful?” She looked at me, confused as to what one had to do with the other. “I don’t know. A lot, I guess.” “Have you been told that probably at least a hundred times in the last year?” “I guess so. Yes.” “When that girl told you that you were too heavy, that statement was a lot more about her then it was about you. For whatever reason, she is insecure, and she deals with it by pointing out things to other people who maybe fuel her insecurity. Does that make sense?”She looked at me and nodded, and slowly began to relay things she had observed in her friend that might reveal the depth of her insecurities. “Why listen to this one person? Why let her opinion have so much weight, especially given what you’ve been told by so many other people and given what you thought about yourself - that you were just fine - up until the day this one friend said that to you?”“That’s a very good question,” she answered and looked out her window.