As a kid, I always felt like there was something that needed to be changed about me and about the way I look. I felt like the amount of your worth decreased the larger you were. But, as I grow older, I realize that there is no size limit on the love you can have and the kindness you can spread.
Loving the way you look is a marathon where you never quite reach the finish line. The best advice I could give someone based on my personal experience is that self-confidence is not a competition. It doesn’t matter who loves themselves the most, or who is able to walk down the halls with the most confidence. The most important thing is loving yourself.
As someone born in an age where our role models are everywhere in magazines and Instagram, it’s been hard not seeing anyone who represents who I am. I hope that in the future, it becomes normal to see all kinds of girls featured and represented. I shouldn’t only see a fat girl when it’s an article about being healthy, with a before and after image. Only seeing someone of similar weight on a television show where they are unpopular, nerdy and become the thin girl over the summer and become suddenly popular is hard to see – it feeds the stereotype that you have to be pretty to be loved.
In Guiding, I see so many girls sharing their love, their kindness, lifting others up with comments on social media, telling people they love their hairstyle, their outfit or their overall awesomeness. But we forget to show the same love to ourselves. Life takes a turn when you start treating yourself with love and compassion. It is so difficult to be happy when you’re tearing yourself down. You need to build up that wall of self-love, not knock it down.
Since starting high school, I have redesigned my own idea of body confidence, because it should be your own definition. It shouldn’t be what society deems as beautiful, but what makes you feel happy. Ideally, it becomes first nature to love yourself.
In the past year, I have been given many opportunities. These include leadership roles through Guiding, stepping into the role of Cabinet Minister for the day on International Day of the Girl, attending a Forum For Young Canadians in Ottawa, and being part of my Member of Parliament’s Youth Council. These opportunities have helped me develop into someone who is now able to maintain eye contact in conversations when I run activities for Guiding groups on issues impacting girls and women. Working with such a young group of girls makes me feel the confidence I hope to pass on to these girls themselves.
My goal for the future is to empower youth around the world to love themselves. Tell themselves every night before they go to bed that they love themselves, every single inch, because there is so much to love. I want everyone to feel confident sharing their ideas and expressing their passions – because I never want anyone to feel like they must hold something back because they don’t think it’s worth sharing. Every idea is worth sharing, every question worth asking and every inch worth loving.
Guest post by Ainsley Jeffrey, a Ranger in London, Ontario. Ainsley is the recipient of a Girl Greatness Award for Confidence.
Nominations for the 2018 Girl Greatness Awards close Thursday, March 8. Girls can nominate themselves or an amazing girl in Guiding in one of four categories: Confidence, Courage, Resourcefulness, and Making a Difference.