Hey guys, hope you're all safe and well.
I'm so glad to let you know that I have received a few messages already, and I'm so excited to get through them with you all.
First message was: "I have been dealing with bullying ever since I was the age of seven. I'm not particularly the most good looking of my year, I'm not athletic and I'm the shortest boy, and I think this is where my body dysmorphia came from. I am learning how to understand myself but it's hard because I am always reminded of how short I am compared to the other boys who are really tall. It's even more difficult because taller boys are more attractive and girls don't like short boys. I know you have gone through roughly the same thing, I understand what it's like to hate your body."
This is something I relate to on so many levels. One, because I am the shortest of my friendship group, and probably the shortest of the whole academic year. And two, as you said, I used to dislike so many things about my outer appearance.
It's normal to go through things like these, and it's such a common thing where teens from today's generation go through so many mental hurdles, especially when people are constantly bombarded with photos of perfect people on social media. But to be perfectly clear, you don't have to be extremely tall to be attractive. You don't have to be athletic and buff with a huge set of abs to be manly. Masculinity comes from within you. Your manliness doesn't come from what you wear or how you seem to appear to the outer world. Your masculinity isn't limited to those things.
It's normal for people to automatically assume that you have to do certain things in order to attract ladies or in order to be accepted. But people who believe in this believe in toxic masculinity. But in all fairness, just because you are different, it doesn't mean you have less to offer than the other taller boys. Yes, you're short, but you might have more talent than the others.
Who knows? Maybe the other "manly" and taller boys have more insecurities than you do. Your outer appearance barely amounts to your inner appearance. The most important thing in life is your mindset. You could be the most handsome man on planet Earth, who, deep down, could be the most mentally unstable and insecure person ever. Or, you could choose to embrace not being the tallest, and being your most secure self, who can use your time to offer more than just your looks. You need to start loving yourself for who you truly are, rather than focusing on what you're not. Life is too short to worry about whether you're manly enough to be accepted into a peer group.
As the shortest person in my friendship group, I'd never have it any other way!
Lots of love,