I used to weigh one hundred and twenty pounds. At five foot seven, that was pretty skinny. People used to compliment me on my weight all the time, telling me how jealous they were or how they loved my "long and lean" figure. Several years ago, I remember buying a pair of jeans - size 0 - and I was so happy to fit into them! We got home and when I modeled them for my mom, she said "Oh honey you are so skinny! I don't even think I was that skinny when I was your age." I also remember a time when my neighbor told me I should grow up and become a model, just because I had the body for it. All those compliments made me feel good; they made me feel beautiful.
When I entered high school however, things drastically changed. I went from a skinny stick to just your average girl. People didn't notice my body anymore because it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Looking back, I wish I had taken this in stride and been proud that people weren't noticing my body anymore, proud that they were noticing something deeper: the person inside. Instead, I started caring about my weight, continually longing to be my old self - my old skinny self. I thought that was what people wanted to see and I thought it would make me happy.
Instead of finding happiness, I found materialism. Before high school, I had been homeschooled; my main influence was that of my mother, not hundreds of other teen girls. Back then fashion didn't matter so much, weight didn't matter at all and I was almost completely carefree. But gaining weight and entering high school forced me to focus on clothes, makeup, and the shape of my body. Society convinced me that these things were important in life. I'm not saying these things are bad - just that they shouldn't be what consumes a girls mind almost 100% of the time.
Well last year at my church youth group, something changed my mind. It was a video about slavery in India. They showed images of emaciated, destitute little children. Although it wasn't the first time I had seen this kind of thing before, that night I was touched. I suddenly realized that "skinny" is not what constitutes beauty. I realized that I had spent so much time thinking about myself, trying to live up to the standards of others, that I had forgotten to see the big picture. The world can be cruel and horrific things can happen to innocent people; external beauty plays no part in that. At that moment, I was ready to dump my selfish lifestyle and go help someone truly in need.
As a teenager in today's society, I can say with assurance that we should not let other people tell us what is beautiful and what is not. By believing that skinny means pretty, I spent years living a life that was not me. I became lost in my own little world - discontent, materialistic and unable to see beyond my walls. The old adage "Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder" now rings true in my ears. I am now a much happier person because I live out those words every single day.