With the exception of college, where for some reason I had no problem hitting the bars in scantily clad tank tops, a mini skirt (or the staple black pants) and the iconic black sandals, for the most part I’ve always been pretty self conscious about my body. While I’ve certainly never been obese or even “big,” in my mind I’ve never been a “skinny” girl either. That said, seeing as I’m pretty much an “athleisure” and/or jeans and a t-shirt kinda gal I don’t really have much reason to ever give my body (good or bad) too much thought.
Recently, however, I was invited to a friend’s birthday party, and it just happens to be at a drag show in the city. Fun, right?! It’s actually where I had my bachelorette party so I’m rather looking forward to it. But as friends started conversing about “outfits” and included words like “short” and “sequins” I started to get a bit anxious. A) because obviously my wardrobe has nothing like that at all and B) because what kind of short, sequined number is going to work on my flat-chested, post-three babies, big-hipped body?! I knew I didn’t want to spend a lot on something that I’ll probably never wear again so a friend suggested I hit up Forever 21. Holy.Hell. I vaguely have memories shopping there when I was indeed 21, but when you’re 40 and you walk in, you see things in a completely different light. (As in my daughters are NEVER wearing these clothes!) Anyway, I did my best to try and find a few things (in the largest size possible) that had even the slightest possibility of working. If nothing else, this mini shopping adventure certainly provided some great entertainment for me – and for my friends as I was texting them hilarious pictures of me in ridiculous outfits. Because nothing looks hotter than trying on tiny outfits immediately after leaving the gym and you’re still dripping in sweat and sporting a 10-year-old sports bra. Magazine cover material right there.
Anyway after about 10 minutes of laughing at myself in the mirror, I figured if I didn’t just get something I’d be left to sit and stress about trying to find time and other possible options again. So I settled on a “lovely” $12 black dress with the idea that I would simply need to invest in some Spanx.
Now as all this was going on, ironically I randomly came across a woman photographer who was advertising her boudoir special. And in this advertisement, she featured some women that she had previously photographed – a few of which were much larger than what society typically deems beautiful. At first after seeing these, I shamefully thought “oh my goodness who would want their picture taken like that?” Horrible thoughts, I know. I’m not proud. But I began looking through this photographer’s Facebook page and read her thoughts and ideas about her models and just her basic overall philosophy. And it dawned on me just how right this photographer was and how outrageously wrong I was. Because this photographer was out to prove that there absolutely is beauty in everyone – all shapes and sizes. You don’t need to be a size 2 with a 24-inch waist to be beautiful. And she’s right. These bigger women are obviously comfortable in their own skin. But not just comfortable, they are proud of who they are. You can see it in these pictures. And they should be. To them, the stereotypical definition of beauty doesn’t matter. They know they are beautiful, and that’s what matters.
After seeing these pictures, I almost became jealous. Because I’ve never felt that way. I’ve never been brave enough to “own” my body and not care how others looked at me. But these woman inspired me. I, too, want to be proud of how I look. (Ok, proud is probably a lofty goal, but I at least want to feel comfortable.) I can honestly say I don’t know if I ever will truly feel that way but I can at least have some goals and an overall purpose to work towards. For me, it’s not necessarily even about the number on the scale but more about making healthy(ier) decisions and being fit. I’m especially loving my gym‘s six-week challenge this year. I’m putting way more effort into it than I did last year and I can already feel a difference. Two months ago I was barely able to do two unassisted pull-ups; I’m currently up to four and a half. And don’t laugh at that “half” those things are hard as hell so I’m counting every additional inch. I’m also up to 36 chest-to-floor pushups. I feel like these small goals are what I need to inch closer to feeling good about how I look.
I know that I will never be a size 2. But I can, and will be, strong. I can, and will, set a good example for my daughters. Because part of being beautiful is simply loving yourself for who and what you are. For me, it’s not an easy task. But I’m hoping it’s just another one of those “fake it ’til you make it” kinda deals. Because it’s 2019, people; confidence is the new black. So wrap yourself up in it however best you can and [learn to] love the skin you’re in.