To All The Little Girls Who Just Want To Be Skinny

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Dear Ashley, Aaliyah, Mary, Nicole, Daniela, Cassandra, Victoria, Sam, Elizabeth, Tai, Noelle, Michelle, Rachel, Calise, Natalie, and Simone—Dear All Little Girls Who Just Want To Be Skinny,

Baby, when you step on that scale, don’t cry. You’re beautiful.

It’s just a number, baby. It’s not a score or an omen or a riddle or a taunt. It’s just a number, baby. It’ll go up tomorrow, and the day after that, it’ll go down. It’s just a number, baby. So throw that scale away. Your muscle is heavy. Your brain heavier still. It’s just a number, baby. Please, don’t let that worthless little number tell you “don’t eat.” Don’t let that worthless little number tell you “and if you do, throw it up after.” Numbers can’t talk, baby. They can’t talk, so don’t listen. It’s just a number, baby. Don’t cry. You’re beautiful.

Baby, when mama tells you “don’t eat so much pasta,” don’t cry. You’re beautiful.

It’s not her fault, baby. She can’t help it. Her mama told her the same thing. Her mama told her “don’t eat so much pasta” because skinny is the ultimate—because skinny is the only thing that’s beautiful. She is wrong. They are both wrong. Grandma and mama—they don’t mean to contaminate you with the same foul insecurities that the world gave them—with the terrible, wrong idea that you’re only as good as your tummy is flat. Eat that pasta, baby. Feed your tummy. Don’t cry. You’re beautiful.

Baby, when your thighs touch, don’t cry. You’re beautiful.

Mine touch, too, baby. Mine sting and rub and itch and scream with those awful little red bumps when they massage each other under my skirt on a hot summer day. Mine touch, too, baby. It’s okay. Please, don’t stand in front of the mirror with your hands between your legs, pushing your skin out to see how much more beautiful you’d be if your thighs didn’t touch. You’re beautiful now, baby. You’re beautiful now just like the rest of us—just like the rest of us whose thighs touch, too. Don’t cry. You’re beautiful.

Baby, when he calls you “fat,” don’t cry. You’re beautiful.

He’s just a stupid, stupid little boy, baby. He’s just a stupid little boy who doesn’t deserve you or your body or your tears. He’s just a stupid little boy filled with anger and self-hate that quiet just a little when he makes you feel ugly. He’s just a stupid little boy who thinks that, maybe, if he makes you feel small, he’ll feel big. He’s just a stupid little boy who will grow up mean and sad and alone and so, so very stupid. So spit in his face and tell him he’s just a stupid little boy whose stupid little words don’t scare you. Don’t cry. You’re beautiful.

Baby, when that dress won’t fit, don’t cry. You’re beautiful.

Don’t squeeze, baby. Don’t squeeze or suck in or tuck or pray that next week, if you’re good, it’ll fit. Your body is growing and changing and swelling and stretching like all little girls’ bodies do. Don’t squeeze, baby. Wear a different dress. Wear a different dress that fits you—a different dress that shows the world just how perfect and gorgeous your body is. Don’t squeeze, baby. And don’t cry. You’re beautiful.

Baby, when you think you’re alone, don’t cry. You’re not alone. I’m here. We’re all here. And baby, we’re all beautiful. TC mark

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