Are you a girl in the 21 century? Well, you may be asking the same question I am… Did I sign up for this??
Sometimes I look back on past memories and I wish there was a rewind button, where you could experience things all over again. For me, I wish I could go back to when I was eight years old. I could wake up with 10 minutes left before the bus came, I could show up to ringette practices with my hair matted and my eyes sleepy and not care. I could care less about my appearance, my social status, etc. The largest thing that happened to me was a disagreement on the playground after lunch. I realize that that it not the case with many others, but this was the reality for my eight year old self.
But, as soon as I grew up, it seemed everything had slowly morphed to how it is today.
It was about fifth grade when I was conscious about how I started to change. I had always been a meek, nice girl in elementary. But in fifth grade, for some reason, I started to change to the forms of society around me at an earlier age then my parents anticipated. One of my friends had started to wear make up, and back then, the cool clothes to wear were from Justice. I wanted to get some of these clothes, but the nicest ones I got were hand-me-downs Old Navy clothes from our neighbours. Okay, that was an exaggeration. But I did wear that stuff, you know.
The summer after grade five, me and my mom had a chat, and I was excited to begin the new semester with the old me that I had started to lose. Now, my old sixth grade class had cut down from about 22 to 13 kids, so we were all kinda friends. I made it my mission to make amends with other girls, specifically one that I haven’t seen since grade six. I would take her into the bathroom and voice my concerns, and she would promise me that she would change back. (I know now that this wasn’t the best plan to use, but I did it anyways.) But, she didn’t.
I wasn’t too concerned about make up back then, except staying away from it. But my friends, they would keep eyeliner and mascara in their lockers and wear their mom’s four inch stilettos to school. I specifically remember saying something about make up by my locker, and I remember to this day what one of the girls said. She turned around and said, “Chloe, don’t ever where make up. You won’t be able to stand yourself without if you do.” I just wrinkled my nose and shook my head. “Nah,” I said, “that’ll never be me.” Even though, at lunch, my name was called. I would turn to look at this same girl, and find all the guys around her staring at me, just to study my acne. This bothered me, of course. But I was about to put all that paint on my face, right?
But guess what happened two years later.
In grade eight, I found myself in a new school with people to impress, so I thought. I woke up an hour and a half early (remember what I was saying before?) to make sure my make up was perfect. I really, really wanted to fit in. A couple weeks in, I found good friends. But I had slowly, unconsciously become someone I was unfamiliar with. And half way through the year, I was writing down suicidal thoughts, attempted self harm, and was never seen by friends without make up again. I would cry myself to sleep night after night, not an exaggeration. Oh, if I were a part of THOSE girls. If I could do that, wear that, I would be so much happier. God, if you’re even there anymore… why couldn’t I be her, and her be me? Those thoughts were constantly going through my mind, and they wouldn’t stop. I didn’t know how. I needed help, but didn’t seek any. Rather, I did, but through the wrong things.
I asked for more make up, I got it. As of today, I haven’t gone swimming more than three times. If I did, I didn’t get my face wet. I was self conscious of anything, everything. My voice, my body, my hair, my skin. I thought my worth was in how I looked, and how perfect my make up was. I wanted to be up high on the social scale, like lots of people. But I couldn’t.
The summer after grade eight, I was forced to wear no make up in front of 80 guys at a basketball camp, for a week. This was a big deal for me, because I hadn’t done this for over a year. But that summer, things slowly started to move again. I was doubtful, but I still had one small ember of hope burning in my heart that had gone out for so long. I started to think more about the positive things people said about me, and I slowly, very slowly, maybe started to believe them. And something happened that I would never imagine… about three months into school, I showed up to class with no face makeup. I had cut a total of 7 or 8 products out, and by the end of the week, I felt so incredibly free. After two years of being ashamed, and wearing a mask, I finally broke one chain of the many that held onto me for so long. My mom used to say, “Chloe, don’t try to be something more than you are. Be the athletic, beautiful geek I know you are.” And I think maybe, I’m on the road to being who I really am.
Do I still have doubts? Of course. Am I still very self conscious? Oh yes. With perseverance, I know now that that won’t stop me from fulfilling God’s plan with my life. Because I know that His plan isn’t for me to wish I was someone else. His plan is so much more, and maybe He’ll use my story to help other girls, and guys, out a little.
If you’re a girl in the 21 century, I want you to know: I love you. I think you’re beautiful, and I’m praying for you. I invite you to join the road to recovery with me, on your own time, and I know God’s plan isn’t for you to suffer. Love yourself, girl. He loves you.