Dear She,

Middle school was a rough patch in our relationship. Unlike how I am today, my former self did not appreciate change. Change was unwelcome, peculiar, and extremely frightening. The metamorphosis from “child” to “teenager” was painfully slow, made more excruciating by the hours I spent each day examining you in the long mirror that hung inside the bathroom door.
I analyzed you endlessly, pushing and pulling and stretching you, hoping to adjust the appearance you displayed to the world. As a “late-bloomer,” I wondered when curves would appear, and prompt the boys in my classes to notice me. I stared at you with eyes brimmed with dissatisfaction.
As a 14 year old, I thought about plastic surgery. Just to fix the slope of your nose. And to adjust your eyelids. And to maybe repair a few other things, while we were at it. I separated you from my personality—My mind was much prettier than you, and someday you’d be good enough for me. Just not yet.
I spread your arms out, like wings, in front of that bathroom mirror. I noticed how prominent the joints of your elbows were. How they stuck out and made me look frail. I stiffened your legs and saw your knobby, wobbly knees and thought I looked weak. I viewed your wrists and ankles to appear to be skinnier and more fragile than twigs.
Although you did not change in any drastic way, my perception of you changed radically. You are still small and skinny, but I am far from fragile. Your knees are still knobby and wobbly, but I will never break. Now, when I spread your arms out like wings, my perception of frailty has disappeared, and has been replaced instead with a mentality of strength and empowerment.
I realize that I don’t have to wait for you to be “good enough,” for me, because you already are. As a young teenager, I objectified you. I isolated each and every inch of you, and saw you not as a person, but, instead, as a collection of parts that I wanted to change. Now, I accept all of the parts of you that I once unhappily scrutinized. Not only do I accept you, but I also cherish you, and love you. I love you for being strong. I love that you never fail me. I love that when we work together, it is possible for us to achieve anything.
I love that you were able to teach me to love myself.
And I sincerely thank you for that.

Love, Me
Age: 19

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