It is true confession time. When I was in high school I wanted to be selected as Homecoming Queen. It was a secret wish of mine. – and no doubt many.
Throughout my middle and high school years I struggled with body image, always feeling unattractive and overweight. I was probably popular enough to be a candidate for Queen- traditionally known as the ultimate prize for the popular girls. But I remained convinced that I was not pretty and petite enough to get the crown. Why did I want this so much? I like, probably like most young women, wanted proof from my peers that I was pretty and that size didn’t matter. But alas in high school, size and appearance do matter.
This week when I heard the story of another high school young woman, my heart initially broke. But then when I saw this brave and spunky young woman speak on national television , I was so proud of her. In spite of her mean spirited peers, Whitney Kropp has risen above all of them with grace, courage and poise. Many in the community have surrounded her with support and acceptance. I hope that school officials in Ogemaw Heights take a serious contemplative look at what occurred in their system. We all must realize that Whitney, by her own admission, nearly made the news for another reason- that of being another suicide victim.
The reality in Ogemaw Heights and across our nation is that bullying is serious. How young women come to view their bodies is serious. Hate crimes happen, even in small northeastern Michigan communities. The societal pressure to be small, pretty, feminine, sexy, and princess-like is serious and destroys too many lives of young vibrant girls and women. For me, I was able to move on from my disappointment of not being included in the Homecoming Court at my high school. And although it took me decades to come to fully accept my body, thankfully I did.
It is never too late to love your body. Join me and women around the world on October 7th, as we celebrate Love Your Body Day .
Make October 7 the day you take a pledge to confront and reject societal norms that continue to harm young girls and women of all ages and pressure then into conforming to an unreachable, (and what should be an unacceptable) standard. If you want inspiration here is a television anchor who stood up to bullying about her body.
It is easy to support the Whitney Kropps of the world. It takes work to change the values of the students that chose to bully her. And when we can make that change- its better than getting a crown because every girl will know they are winners.