God we fuck up teenagers’ heads. We tell them that biological conditions are moral punishments and then we get all shocked when they don’t practice rational risk management of biological conditions. We teach them “sex is super desirable and all the cool kids do it, and it’s hideously shameful and will destroy your life” and we wonder why they act an eensy bit neurotic about it. If you tried to design a system for making sexually active kids confused and unsafe, you couldn’t do much better than the American media and school system.
And for once, the answer is relatively simple. Just talk about sex like it’s a part of life. Some people have sex and some people don’t, because people are different. STIs aren’t bad because they’re Dirty Crotch Rot; they’re bad because they’re contagious illnesses like strep throat or whooping cough, and you can ask a doctor to check for and treat them just like you would with strep throat. Unwanted pregnancy isn’t a scarlet A; it’s a mostly-preventable accident that sometimes occurs when people are going about their normal business of having sex. You can ask the school counselor about a variety of topics, including career planning, problems at home, questions about sex, or conflicts with teachers.
If we could just get the goddamn stick out of our collective ass and accept that sex is a human activity and teenagers are humans, maybe there wouldn’t be quite so many plaintive “I don’t understand my body and I’m confused and scared and I don’t know anyone I can ask in person” messages flying out into the world.”
"people are supposed to come in all sizes, so it’s not ok to mistreat the fat ones (or the thin ones, for that matter)." … "because life is too short for self-hatred and celery sticks, because you don’t deserve even one really bad day, because you don’t have to apologize for your size."
Even without reading fashion magazines or watching TV ads, I’ve spent most of my life worrying about being fat. Not unhealthy; I’ve pretty much always been healthy (box-of-oreos nights not included); I’m actively inclined, enjoy the feeling of being strong, and like not being sick when I eat properly. But I’ve still worried about being fat, because in short I’ve been convinced that being fat means no one could love me. Or that it would be something to work around; “they love me even though I’m a little squishy.” Not “they love me, and I’m squishy,” which is the same as saying “they love me, and I have purple hair,” or “they love me, and I don’t shave my legs.” It’s a physical state of being that some people choose to change and others do not. I know people who want to gain weight, and I know people who want to lose weight. For some, it’s a health thing, which I absolutely respect and agree with. For others, me included, it’s been a need to feel accepted, wanted, even if those standards are only self-imposed. We are our own worst critics, and the most painful insults come with internal reinforcement. Regardless of the fact that I’ve never been medically overweight, I’ve spent a long time worrying, feeling fat, and seeing pictures years later and being appalled that I thought I was fat then, since oh goodness I must be fat now. There are so many problems with this. The counseling I’ve gone through to “fix” my eating disorder has partially been about accepting my own body, but a lot of it too has been “getting healthy.” Bitch, I am healthy. I learned years ago that numbers on the scale mean little to nothing; at 5’8”, 165lbs is verging on the high end of the “healthy” range. Those ranges don’t take into account the fact that I have 40” hips due to the Scandinavian bones under my glorious skin, and the amount of fat required to fill out those lovely bones puts me over the “healthy” range. Bullshit. And even there, it’s a problem— why do I still care about the range, the scale? Why was I so happy when I fit into a size 10 instead of a size 14, even though I know that between brands, I could be a 10 or a 16 on the same day?! When I eat a piece of chocolate cake, I feel happy. Until I feel sad, because I start worrying that those calories will make me unlovable, unhealthy, unwanted, invalid. I am fortunate to be living with someone who not only loves me, but who is patient enough to reinforce the fact that I’m silly for thinking he’d stop loving me if I put on 20 pounds. If I start becoming unhealthy in any way, I know that he (and my other friends and family, for that matter), would raise all sorts of helpful hell. But if I gain weight, that doesn’t mean I’m not healthy. It means I may be eating more food than it takes to survive. Big frakkin’ whoop. Here’s a not-too-well-kept secret: I REALLY LIKE FOOD. And I’m allergic to most of it, so when I find gluten-free chocolate cupcakes that I can eat, I EAT ALL OF THEM. And that should be, is, ok. More than ok. Finding joy in any part of life is always ok. I’m just not sure how to go about eradicating the anxious bitch in my brain who dumps guilt in my ice cream and hesitation in my lingerie. Bitch, back off.