Dedicated To Every Perfectly Imperfect Girl

When I was in middle school – like most 12 year old girls- I started to become very aware of my body.  Even more so – I was becoming aware of what my body looked like compared to other girls’ bodies.

I could not WAIT to shave my legs. And what’s more-I hated the hair on my arms.

I have dark features and I am very brunette. At the time, I thought I was a dark hairy monster.  Don’t laugh. I honestly thought I was a freak. I thought something was legitimately wrong with me.  No one had arm hair like I did. No girls anyway. I hated it SO much that I actually convinced my mom to help me wax it off.  My poor mom (let’s start counting how many times I say that in this blog…).

The thing is- is that I didn’t just slightly dislike my arm hair-I hated it. And it made me feel terrible about my body and myself. I remember wearing long sleeves in the summer just to cover them whenever I could. I remember envying the girls with blonde, thin hair on their arms.

No-I’m not going to write an entire blog post about how hideous (or seemingly hideous to me) my arm hair was.  Yes-I got over it-like most 12 year old girls do with strange phobias about their bodies (by the way-that accounts for every 12 year old girl).  As I got older I would look at my arms and laugh about the way I used to view them…laugh because as I got into high school it seems like arm hair was the least of my worries.  I never, ever, once liked my body as an adolescent.  I can’t remember a time when I looked at myself in the mirror and thought I was good enough.  We can blame it on the media or societal pressures-that’s an entire debate I don’t want to write a blog about—but…

It’s important I share my arm hair story. It’s important for me to share not only because I recently realized that there’s a lot of little girls reading this blog-but also because a lot of grown up beautiful teenage girls-college girls-grown women all read this blog.

And well-mostly because I wish that I didn’t wait until I was 27 to start liking my body.

Yes, I have long arm hair and I don’t like it but it’s a part of my body I can’t change. And it’s just arm hair. Do I really want or need people in my life who care about how long my arm hair is?

I have a gap in my teeth that numerous dentists have tried to “fix”.  But like my arm hair- I’ve learned to accept my gap. In fact-now-I love my gap. So much so-that when my brother’s identical gap came back after his braces were taken out and he didn’t wear his retainer-it made me happy. It made me smile and it makes me smile now because I look at him and I remember it’s something we share.

Now it’s your turn. Repeat after me:  “Yes, I hate ______(insert something about your body you hate), and I don’t like it but it’s a part of my body and part of me. Then add, ‘I’m awesome’,” to the end of it. Say it aloud. COME ON. I talk to myself all day long in Liv…you can do it once today.

Want bonus points? Do it in front of a mirror.

Tonight I’m in this tiny sleeping cabin with arms that I love.  Not because of the fact that the hours of sun have bleached my brown arm hair blonde- but because these overgrown, hairy forearms…are doing something amazing. This body (with hairy arms, a gap, an asymmetrical nose, a few really weird toenails and a little bit of junk in the trunk) that I’ve been critical of for years…is changing the world.

Let’s face it: the world is waiting for you to do everything you’re supposed to do with your perfectly imperfect body. So get on it :)

Thank you for your continued support of ROW and this trip. Please consider sponsoring a mile of this adventure for $100 or making a donation online.





5 comments on “Dedicated To Every Perfectly Imperfect Girl

  1. Jenn, you’re the best. An inspiration to us all! You’re right, your body is doing an amazing thing! So much to be grateful for. Keep it up!

  2. Thank you, Jenn!

    When I was 12 I started noticing my left arm was shorter than my right. I thought that was pretty funny and had a good time doing lopsided cart wheels for my friends, and it was a great excuse to get out of gymnastics. But one day in middle school a friend told me that a boy I had broken up with was making fun of my shorter arm in front of all his guy friends. I was devastated and never the same. I hated summer and tried to find ways to disguise my arm. This lasted most of my life, until I finally realized that what seemed so obvious to me, no one else noticed. And then I realized who cares. And now I’m rowing on a team, I play tennis all the time (ok, maybe I can blame the arm on my lousy toss), but I do all that I want to do. To spend a life self conscious about something we can’t change is a waste. Spend your life celebrating all that you do and all that you can do. Go Jenn and Go ROW!

  3. Yes, I hate my cancer scars, but they are a part of my body and a part of me. I’m awesome.

    Thanks for the great post. I’m following your incredible journey every day and am motivated to work harder for how I want my life to be because of your strength. Keep up the good work!

  4. I walked the perimeter of Lake Michigan in 2009. It’s my favorite place and I hope it treats you well as you row around it.

    All the best to you on this journey!

    -Loreen Niewenhuis
    Author of A 1000-MILE WALK ON THE BEACH