Two decades ago, at their age, we were so insecure about our bodies that we used to wear two sweaters: one to cover our guts and another, wrapped around our waists, to hide our butts. Today, pretty much regardless of their size or shape, the girls I talked to wore skin-baring, figure-flaunting clothes. So one of the first things I wanted to talk about was how they felt about their bodies.
Angel, a 17-year-old who is so ladylike I have a hard time believing she's a power forward on her West Los Angeles high school basketball team, gives me a shy smile and shrugs. "I'm 5'8" and 165 pounds. I'm not a size 4. I'm tall. I'm muscular. I'm a thick girl. I accept that."
Grace, a statuesque 17-year-old Virginian, the youngest of six children, attends an all-girls Catholic high school. Easily mistaken for a southern belle—well, if she didn't "live in sweats"—she seems a little put off by the question. "I don't spend a lot of time thinking about my body. I'm fine with it."
Brenna, 11, a sassy wisp of a sixth-grader from northern Nevada, tells me, "You shouldn't make yourself too skinny. But you should watch your weight. Sometimes I see someone who's incredibly too fat. You can stop that. You can do sports or something."
Where, you're probably wondering, did this burst of body-image sanity come from? There's some evidence that the media has been inching away from superskinny as the ideal female body size. Seventeen magazine's editor in chief, Atoosa Rubenstein, says that in every issue they use models and real-life teens with "diverse body types." And Hollywood has discovered that curvy actresses—such as Jennifer Lopez, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Drew Barrymore—can be huge box office draws.
We Hear You!