I have owned and worn every size from 0 to 16 at some stage in the last 29.5 years.
I remember going into The Limited Too in fifth grade and having already sized out of their clothing. So we would go and shop for my cousin and she would find such cute things. Then I would go to New York and Company and get a button down shirt that looked like a middle aged woman. By 7th grade I began only wearing stretchy pants and large shirts. By 9th grade I became obsessed with working out and in 11th grade I’d be at the gym by 5am, work out for two hours, go to school, work and then run in the evenings.
I did not want the body I had and no matter how hard I worked out or how diligently I kept my calories recorded, I couldn’t get the one I wanted.
After a break up a few years ago, I lost my appetite and got very thin. I loved it. When people said ‘you’re looking very thin’ (come to find out – not in a complimentary way) I reeled. I loved when my therapist felt concerned that you could see every bone in my chest. That’s not healthy.
Since dating Paul and consciously eating more, I’ve put back on the weight and then some.
Last weekend we went wedding dress shopping for the first time. I had seen a beautiful dress online and was set on it being mine. But when we began trying on dresses with crepe fabric like it, I was terribly disappointed to discover that the way it hugs every part of my body was not flattering at all. Couldn’t spanx fix that?
No, the boutique owner said. You’d see the lines where they begin and end. Oh, I said, defeated.
She reminded me that those images online are not only models, but also photoshopped. I work with photoshop a lot and I KNOW about those tricky things and even I forgot.
We found this amazing dress. I felt beautiful in it. We bought it. And I’m struggling with so many feelings about it.
When I started wading through them (something I didn’t know that I didn’t know how to do well until I met my therapist fiancé) I realized that it felt like my days at The Limited Too.
Those dresses were made for the girls who had never been overweight, for the girls without curves and dimples. And instead of choosing to love the way my body is shaped, I fell right back into my old thinking patterns of wanting a different body.
Instead of living in the joy of marrying the man who I love deeply, I am stuck here wishing my arms and hips were different. So that I could fit into the photoshopped image I saw online.
I remember as a teenager flipping through SHAPE magazine wanting so badly to look like the women in there. I wanted to be a woman instead of the 14 year old that I was. I didn’t want a chubby face, I didn’t want my childish features. I wanted to be a 30 year old woman.
There is a need for me to take care of my body. To celebrate the successes – like how I am able to do a headstand without the wall for the first time ever! Or how I conceded to the fact that I never made enough time to cook nutritious meals and have hit a place in the success of my business that I can order weekly meals from Thistle.
I know I’ve posted this quote by Sarah Silverman before, but I need its reminder more than ever.‘Mother Teresa didn’t go around complaining about her thighs. She had shit to do.’
Instead of lamenting over how I can’t have that one thing I wanted and how having that thing also makes me want to have someone else’s body, I need to let go of my ideas and dress that one I have. There are so many better things to do with the life that I have and a vocational call that doesn’t have time to hate any part of me.
How many times do I focus on what other people have rather than rejoicing in what I do have or my own unique gifts. The “compare and despair” of social media, the envy of others’ lives. All the years I wanted to be married instead of single, have my own babies instead of care for other people’s babies, own a beautifully decorated home instead of rent and have roommates.
The only joy I will find in this life is if I find daily gratitude in the reality in front of me. This. Here. Now.
I would love for this to be a conversation. What has helped you? Any good books? If you have your own daughters what do you do to help them grow up to love their own bodies and care for them?