Becoming a Body Outlaw

This semester I chose to take a class at OU called Body Image vs. Reality because I am very interested in women’s issues. I have worked closely with middle school and high school girls. This past summer I worked as a counselor at the Oklahoma Baptist Girls Home. Many of the girls there struggled with self-esteem issues and trying to look “perfect.” As a young girl and cheerleader, I also struggled with these same things. One of my goals this summer was to encourage the girls to be comfortable with who they are. We constantly told the girls God created them just how they are for a specific purpose. That He made each one of us unique and we can be happy with ourselves just the way we are.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14

I have a younger sister who is five in kindergarten. She always wants to wear a ton of make-up, especially hot pink lipstick, because she tells me it makes her pretty. At five she believes she has to wear make-up to feel pretty. My mom and I constantly try to tell her she is beautiful without make-up that she can wear a little if she likes it, but make-up is not what makes her pretty. Hopefully one day she will truly believe she is a beautiful person regardless of outward appearance.

Also being a journalism student, I love keeping up with the media – entertainment, broadcast news, newspapers and advertising. I LOVE ‘Gossip Girl’ and have recently fallen in love with the ‘Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ book series. Women are constantly being told how to look, act and feel. After taking History of Journalism last semester, I saw the huge impact the media and entertainment industry has – and I will one day have – on people. That power is amazing, but can also be very scary. It is also sad how many women have this idea that there is something wrong with the way they look because they don’t fit the standards on billboards or in magazines.

As a writer, I want to have a positive impact on young women. After reading a few essays in our book “Body Outlaws” I was very inspired. In a way I have been a body outlaw for several years now, I just wasn’t able to label myself as one until I read this book. (A body outlaw is someone who does not follow the status quo, but chooses to love themselves just the way they are) An outlaw is what I wanted to be for the girls this summer, it is what I want to be for my five year old sister already buying into these false ideas, and an outlaw is what I want to be for the girls and other people in the future that I am able to impact with my writing.

I am comfortable with myself just the way I am, but it has taken a very long time to get to here. It is very liberating to realize you are allowed to be comfortable with yourself just the way you are.

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