Sweatpants and baggy sweatshirts were my preferred method of concealing my body. Everything that I faced in the mirror invoked sadness, anger, haltered, resentment, judgment, and guilt. For me, there really was no other option than to cover it all up. I didn’t feel that how I looked was acceptable or attractive in anyway. This phase of my life would have been much better handled in the mid to late 90’s, when wearing sweatshirts down to my knees and over my hands was college couture.
The past five plus years has realized a major shift in clothing sizes, I’m willing to bet. The L (large) of yesteryear seems like reams of fabric compared to the L that dances closely next to my skin now. What happened? Has our obsession with thinness caused this down shift in sizing? Has the increase in disordered eating and the propaganda from runway model culture resized our whole society? Is this the skeezy way that the clothing industry has paired with the diet industry? To get us so self conscious about our size that now the only “logical” answer is to go on a diet?
When it comes to profit, I think that there is a conspiracy going on here; one that keeps us forever enslaved in the cycle of self loathing and judgment. The cash cow’s panacea to our happiness is to tap into our failed ability to remain skinny, young, and pretty, all of which has been marketed to us as the only way to get what we want in life: happiness, love, acceptance, and success. It’s clear that these industries make their money by offering diet plans, cleanses, and soul crushing exercise strategies, all of which fail us time and time again, so that we keep forking over cash just for another crack at finally becoming “what we are supposed to be.”
Seriously, the only person who knows what you are supposed to be is you. Well, I didn’t get that memo until recently. I bought the silver platter of skinny, young, and pretty strategies and scarfed them hand over fist, because I thought I was supposed to be someone that others loved, adored, and accepted regardless of how damaging my behaviors were to myself. It didn’t matter to me that I didn’t love and adore myself as long as other people were giving it to me. Sad thing was, I never really received the attention an authentic way because I couldn’t provide it for myself. Strange how that works.
About two and a half years ago, I started on this journey of learning about myself, I mean really getting to know ME. I learned how much I really hated myself, all the damage I was doing to myself physically and mentally. I learned that I had to make room for loving myself. Certainly, hating myself into something I thought was worthy of love and acceptance was really getting me no where. In fact it was driving me further into a deep dark hole that had become all too familiar over the years. I hated my thinner body into one that packed on the pounds, which I later learned was an invitation to begin accepting and loving what is. After this realization, I decided to keep better company, both in my mind and in my personal relationships.
I began to seek people who could support me and accept me exactly as I am. People who were better aquatinted with themselves. Over this two and a half year stretch I’ve been cultivating relationships with positive people; no more traipsing around with negative people. I began seeking friendships with women who have a zest for life (sure they still have their issues but they seek to be in an uplifted and enlightened head space). I also began cultivating a more respectful relationship with myself. Cutting off the negative self talk when it arose.
I also recognized that my negative self talk, my self hate, my self judgment was a mental and emotional auto immune response...
Self attacking Self.
I was attacking myself on a daily basis through my thought patterns, self talk, and behaviors. It’s really no wonder that I developed so many illnesses and hormone imbalances...resulting in weight gain, binge eating, fatigue, and depression.
Slowly, over time, as I become more compassionate with myself, I began to relax. I began to love what was, even the parts that I still wasn’t pleased with. The person staring back at me in the mirror, with all the lumps and bumps, who preferred the curtain of a sweatshirt, started to look pretty good.
The cool thing that happened when I started to feel good about who was in the mirror was that I began to feel better wearing more fashion forward clothes AND I started to shape shift. I don't currently know what I weigh because I don’t use that shit ass scale in the bathroom. I don’t let it tell me how to feel about myself. Besides, it's a stupid number that varies by time of day, altitude, season, etc so it really doesn't mean anything. BUT, my physical form definitely changed, my clothes fit differently.
Regardless of what weight I’m at, I feel more joy in wearing clothes that challenge my old paradigm of “you’re too fat for that.” I choose clothes that make me feel comfortable yet confident. (Yes, I’m keeping my sweat pants and shirts because who doesn’t have a bad day?) I cleaned out my closet a few months back as an exercise in living in the now. Getting rid of the old threads and the “someday” textiles. Instead of comparing myself to my past shadow or living for the future, I chose the clothes that felt good and looked good on me at that time…with one exception...a pair of short shorts for the gym. A size large, short inseam, spandex pair of shorts with a really fun ruched waistband.
I bought these short shorts about 5 years ago and never wore them, because I feared wearing them. Thus they stayed lurking in my gym clothes drawer, resurfacing now and again, challenging me to be worn. The reason that I kept them was because they fit and what I really wanted was to get to a place of so much self acceptance that I could wear them without telling myself “you’re too fat for these.” I desired to be in the space of so much self love that I would wear them to the gym
Short shorts, size large in a gym did not equate to my brain as acceptable nor pleasing to the eye for a very long time, so until this past weekend, the shorts stayed in their designated drawer. On Saturday, my shorts called to me, so I put them on and thought, “wow, I look pretty good in these.” Of course the little negative self talk voice still said that I shouldn't wear them in public so I called my life line, someone in my good company circle.
My girl, Heather and I, get into some antics at the gym now and again. She brings out my playful side and she supports and accepts me exactly as I am. I told her my dilemma about wearing the shorts, snapped a pic wearing them, and her response was, “You’re rocking them, don’t think twice.” What perfect support when I needed it.
It’s really important that we surround ourselves with good company for these moments when we feel weak or question our reality. I’m glad I listened to Heather. I wore the short shorts, felt really energized and accepting of myself in the gym AND I had a great day. My positive approach for “rocking my shorts” bled into the rest of my day. Yes, I rocked the shit out of my shorts, no regrets.
My final message to you is to seek loving and uplifting company within yourself and with those around you. This is a challenging world we live in with so much body hate. It's time to surround yourself with people who think you are fabulous, and to start believing them, because the end result will be your ability to rock some awesome clothes in a body you love!