I'm always on the lookout for pro-girl, pro-individuality, books and magazines. Mostly to see if it would be interesting for my 14 year old niece, but some of it is also for me. I want to try and understand the complexity of being a 14 year old girl in the United States (yes, I was once one myself, but I'm not sure I even understood what was happening).
So when I came across Exactly As I Am, I was somewhat excited. That excitement dampened considerably when I saw that it was written by Shaun Robinson. No offense to Ms. Robinson, but her job, as co-host of Access Hollywood, doesn't exactly scream girl empowerment and self acceptance. She does get extra points for working regularly with the non-profit, Girls Inc.
But the book left much to desire. She essentially interviews various "famous" people (mostly celebrities) about the difficulties they had as girls and how that didn't stop them from being the fabulous women they are today. Yawn.
I was about to toss the book back in to the library book bag when I came across this gem:
For you as teenagers, it's so important that you look for healthy and positive ways to manage and cope with stress. Exercising, sports, writing in your journal, listening to positive, uplifting music, and creating art-these are ways to chill, "veg out," and download your feelings... During times of confusion and intense feelings...the endorphins from exercise and the calmness that comes from working out can teach your body to manage these stress hormones, so that you can control how you feel to some degree.
I'd been struggling with how to explain the importance of exercise to my niece, in a way she could understand and maybe even agree. I didn't want to make it about looking a certain way, or about avoiding disease (fear doesn't really motivate people) but this is a perfect (& true) way to talk about it.
I exercise because it strengthens my body & mind so that I can excel in life.