This is one exceptional girl. A senior. She makes good grades, she is lightning sharp, and kindhearted.
A little about her: she can throw a baseball, pick guitar, make jewelry, drive a stick shift, and sew her own clothes.
She is pretty, humble, studious, loyal. She has a future so bright she needs sunscreen.
And a few days ago, her parents checked her into a clinic for eating disorders.
I’m not at liberty to tell her story, so I’ll stop here.
But I don’t mind telling you that I’m not happy about what’s happening to women.
I don’t like what television is doing to them. And I don’t care for what fashion magazines, underwear ads, music producers, and Hollywood stylists are up to, either.
Turn on a TV. The commercials all shout the same message:
“You’re too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, too hippy, too flat, too broad-faced, too big-nosed, too gray. Your complexion is bad, you have a turkey neck, ugly ankles, you need a facelift, your hindparts need augmentation.”
Your house is a wreck, your kids dress like chimney sweeps, your old vacuum sucks, your husband is a minimum-wage loser, and your abs will never resemble the midsection of a thirteen-year-old Ukrainian gymnast.
So, I’m writing to the opposite sex. Every last girl, woman, and granny.
To Bobbi—who feels like the fattest, ugliest girl in her middle-school. Who gets made fun of.
To Catherine—whose husband of fifteen years left her for someone younger.
To Angelica—who’s been clinically depressed, struggling with self-esteem.
I’m writing Cassidy—the thirty-two-year-old with diabetes, who can’t seem to gain weight.
And to Michelle—single mother and nurse, who just had back surgery. Michelle is lying in bed while her sister takes care of her kids.
Katelyn—a girl once abused by her stepdad. Who can sing the yellow lines off a highway. Who’s getting married this month.
To sixteen-year-old Mila, whose family migrated here from Eastern Europe, last month. She washes dishes in a restaurant, and practices English with her brother every morning.
“One year ago, I know not single American word, not any,” a proud Mila tells me.
To eighty-five-year-old Nadine, who still fishes her bass pond, wearing a sunhat. She’s not as spry as she was once was, and her arthritis keeps her awake at night. But by God, she can still catch a fish with her grandson.
To my young friend with anorexia, who dislikes herself.
This world is trying to break you. And I don’t care how much money advertisers spend to make you feel bad about you. It’s horse manure.
Look, you have no reason to listen to me, I’m a nobody, with nary a credential to my hillbilly name. But I know something. Something important.
I know that you are a magnificent human being with the propensity to be whatever the hell you want to be. You are courageous. You are interesting. Brilliant. Talented. And you are enough, just the way you are.
And even though we’ve probably never met, I know all this for absolute certain. Not because I’m smart.
But because God made you a woman.