A Letter to the Girls

Dear Junior High School Girls,

My heart broke yesterday.

I had to mark off some things in your notebooks. The English was correct, but the words were wrong. When I walked by your desks, I read your homework. It was a simple assignment: Sports are __________. I am __________. You filled in the blanks.

Sports are tired. Sports are cool. Sports are not cool…

I am not cute. I am not pretty. I am not fun. I am not…

I took my red pen and started marking out the mistake.

I am not cute. I am not  pretty. I am not fun.

Yes, you are. You’re smart and adorable and you’re not going to be twelve forever. I told each and every one of you, “You are cute! You are pretty! You are fun!”

Each and every one of you didn’t believe me. You just smiled and turned away. I understand. I’m the teacher. I have to say things like that. My opinion doesn’t matter. You would do the same to your mom or your dad.

I had to move on to other students, to the boys that were writing “I am peaceful! I am cheerful! I am SAMURAI!” Why didn’t you write things like that? Why didn’t you write all the wonderful things you are? Why can’t you see what I see?

I look at you and I see beautiful, smart girls.  One day, you’ll grow up to be gorgeous, genius women. I hope you achieve your dreams, and that they’re everything you wanted and more. No matter what, I want you to look in the mirror and believe in the person you are.

I know it’s hard when you see your own beauty when the models on the billboards, the AKB48 girls, and all the other “role models” out there tell you “Beauty is a size 0 and plastic surgery.” There’s so many industries out there designing advertisements, songs, and movies to make you hate yourself, but don’t listen to the lies.

The fact is, in both America and Japan, women are beautiful no matter what shape or size. You are beautiful just the way you are. I’m sorry I can’t make you see that. I hope one day you’ll see it for yourselves.

Lots of love from your ALT,

Jessica