'Please hang in there. Things will get better'emily lawson-todd for varsity

Dear past me,

I was wearing a crop top while I wrote this. I grabbed an almond croissant for breakfast today and I ate it in front of everyone. I am going to a May Ball after exams, and I bought a backless dress to wear, without thinking for a second about how repulsive my back rolls might seem.

No, I’m not messing with you. I know how far-fetched this may sound to you right now. Looking at your wardrobe with only baggy black tees because you didn’t want to be noticed; missing your school farewell party and so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences because you’d rather die than have someone see an inch of your skin; being scared about the idea of ordering dessert after a meal because how dare someone with a body like yours desire indulgence sometimes? I know you won’t have believed a word of what I said about where I am now, but please hang in there. Things will get better.

“I know how far-fetched this may sound to you right now”

You’ll get into your dream university, and you’ll move halfway across the world, and you’ll realise there is so much more to life than high school and how you were made to feel at the place you technically call home. Do you remember when you first went to school after gaining some weight during the pandemic and a teacher thought it was appropriate to comment on it in the hallway, and that made you want to disappear? Or how you used to dread receiving your report card despite your stellar grades because the little ‘height and weight’ section was all that mattered? You’ll suddenly find yourself in a place where nobody will care, where the only comment someone will make about your appearance will involve people telling you how much they like your outfit.

Slowly, you’ll begin healing. Instead of bunking the Physical Education period, you’ll willingly go out for jogs just to soak in the sights of the beautiful city you’ll be in – you’ll stop being embarrassed about the idea of people seeing you move your body. You’ll delete your calorie-tracking apps, and you’ll realise you’re allowed to get gelato with your friends after turning in an essay. You’ll no longer freeze and hide when someone says “let’s take a picture”; you’ll have a gallery of moments you were happy in and you’ll soon be the one asking to capture them.

“You’ll delete your calorie-tracking apps, and you’ll realise you’re allowed to get gelato with your friends after turning in an essay”

It won’t be all rosy.

You’ll grapple with ethical dilemmas and worry about being a ‘bad’ feminist. Whenever you’ll put on a dress and feel the need to wear shapewear underneath and succumb, feeling home in a body that isn’t really yours, perpetuating the very beauty standards that have caused you immense harm; whenever you’ll feel flattered in an outfit that highlights certain parts of your body, telling yourself that you are dressing for yourself when you secretly know you are attempting to cater to the male gaze… You’ll beat yourself up for being so hypocritical. In those moments, please don’t be so harsh on yourself simply for what you did to feel valued and wanted in a society where the odds seem to be stacked against you.


Mountain View

Dear future me: C-ing clearly

You’ll still have bad days. You’ll fall prey to comparisons and feel an overwhelming urge to be validated, and you’ll open up about how vulnerable you really feel, and you’ll be taken advantage of in a way that would leave you in your college counsellor’s office for weeks to process what had happened, because how could it have been non-consensual when you never explicitly said no?… You’ll sob and want the world to end.

But you’ll think about where you were when you started. The progress you’ll have made would sound surreal to you, but that’s exactly what would keep you going: you’ll realise that if you have come so far, there is no reason you can’t go even further. Trust me, you’ll be just fine!