Over the weekend, I was sitting at a cafe, when suddenly I became acutely aware of a conversation taking place behind me.
“She’s so skinny, she looks so good,” one girl said.
“I’m obsessed with how thick her hair is, it looks so good in this picture,” the other replied.
“She’s actually perfect,” the first girl remarked.
I was struck by their tone before their words even registered. The way in which ‘skinny’ rolled off the tongue with an equal level of admiration and disdain. The seriousness with which they were approaching what appeared to be an Instagram profile. The levels of analysis that were going into the thickness of a two dimensional woman’s hair.
You don’t need to love your body. Mia Freedman, Monique Bowley and Jessie Stephens discuss the argument for ‘body neutrality’ on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.
I felt this overwhelming desire – not to condemn them – but to sincerely apologise.
“I’m really sorry,” I could hear myself saying.
“I’m sorry you’re having this conversation. I’m sorry this is what you’ve been taught to value. I’m sorry you feel like sh*t about your legs and your hair and your stomach. And I’m sorry because I can remember exactly how this feels.”
When I turned around to look at them, the girls huddled over an iPhone would have been about 14 years old.
That’s the same age Kim Wainscoat was when she entered the modelling industry, nine years ago.
The same age many of us might get our first period. Or have our first ‘official’ boyfriend. Or learned – for the first time – how to properly hate ourselves.