I'm very excited to be featuring a few YA authors on the blog, writing their own Open Letters, through out this month. Not aware of this fab feature? Be sure to check out my introduction post HERE. You can also read my Open Letter To My YA Self post HERE.
Today, please welcome YA author Annie Cardi to the blog! I adore her debut novel THE CHANCE YOU WON'T RETURN, so naturally I had to ask her to get involved with my Open Letter To YA Self feature. She's sharing some empowering advice in her letter below, that I can definitely relate to.
Dear My YA Self,
Let’s have a little talk about body image.
I know this is something you’re well aware of. This is something you’ve always been aware of. You know you’re supposed to love yourself no matter what, but that’s not always easy. You can’t remember a time when your body didn’t make you feel conspicuous. You’ve always been one of the heavier girls in your class, if not the heaviest girl. You wear baggy jeans and hide yourself under sports bras like they can protect you from anyone noticing how much space you take up. When other girls in your class talk about the embarrassment of a salesperson handing them a size medium instead of a small, you cringe because you know you’re lucky if you can fit into the medium at all.
Even when you were younger and reading Sweet Valley Twins books, you knew you weren’t a Jessica or an Elizabeth or a Lila or even an Amy. Nope, you were more likely to be Lois Walker, somehow the only overweight middle schooler in all of Sweet Valley. Lois Walker never flirts or goes to sleepovers or auditions for the school play. Lois is defined by her weight, by one aspect of her body. Even the books you read that you love—Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and Feeling Sorry for Celia and Dangerous Angels—are about people who look more like Jessica and Elizabeth than Lois. When you talk about body image, it’s hard to talk about loving yourself no matter what when you know that your body is not the image you are supposed to see.
Your body is not the enemy. Okay, I know it’s hard to believe that on days you end up in front of the mirror crying about how nothing looks right. But it’s true—your body is not the enemy. Your body is one part of who you are and what you can do, and let me tell you—there is a lot you can do. You can choose great friends; you can make those friends laugh; you can write thoughtful essays and elaborate fanfics and novels that (I’m sorry) will never see the light of day but will teach you a lot about writing. And even though right now you think gym and sports are a torture specifically designed for people like you, one day your body will run a whole mile. One day your body will run a half-marathon. It will dance at your wedding and bake pies and move your things into different apartments and walk across a stage to accept your high school and college and grad school diplomas. Your body is for hugging and dancing and flirting and auditioning for plays and making funny faces and so much more. Your body is here for you, and screw any messages that your size defines who you are and what you can do and what kind of love you should expect.
Because you have friends of all shapes and sizes, and you don’t love any of them because of how they look. You love them because they’re kind and funny and smart and thoughtful. And all of you will find love and happiness because you’re all of those things, no matter what size you are.
In the meantime, don’t hide yourself. Your body isn’t for hiding; it’s for doing everything you want to do. And there are a lot of things you’re going to do, and it’s going to be awesome.
A few recommendations for my YA self:
• Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
• Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
• Hairspray the musical
Be sure to check out the GIVEAWAY happening below (just click the image!).