Winter fashion is everything. I like to wear layers. Big, baggy layers. Give me a cami, a sweater, a vest, and a jacket. Throw a scarf on there. Maybe a hat. I want to blend in and morph the appearance of my body for myself and for everyone else.
I’m a twenty-one year old female. Like every girl my age (and potentially every woman ever) it’s ridiculously easy to fall into the trap of societal pressures, need to fit in, urge to be wanted, and the overarching goal of being seen as beautiful in not only your own eyes, but the eyes of the world. That doesn’t sound so bad, right?
These forces allow (if not encourage) us to hate our bodies. Body image issues all around, folks. We spend time in the mirror critiquing and pinching certain areas. We agonize over photos of ourselves in our prime physique when we were three-sport athletes or hit the gym every day. We look at the number on the scale and cringe. The cute outfits we used to love no longer fit the way they used to.
I get it, sister. I’m no size 0. (Even if you are, you can still not feel beautiful. Size is a number.) I have some lumps&bumps&curves that aren’t my favorite. I look back on photos from this summer when I was ridiculously tan and thin from a diet of bread, water, and walking 20,000+ steps throughout Europe. Now, I hit the gym around three times a week (God bless b.well) and my physique has changed a lot because of it… not slimming down, but muscling up. It’s disheartening sometimes. I still can’t do pushups to save my life. I’m out of breath running a couple laps. All these moments I’m writing about are not just ‘you’ moments. We’re all there. I’m writing this so you know you’re not alone. I’m there too…. but yesterday, I had a moment that was really different.
I’ve written before about how absolutely transformative my collegiate dance class has been this semester. Our final projects include to choreograph a minute of tap and a minute of modern with the skills we’ve gained over the course of the semester. I began the morning with modern dance, practicing the moves in a lobby space. Later, my group and I moved into the studio space to run through our tap number. By this time, I was sweating in a baggy pullover sweater. I had thrown a tight tank underneath that day for the sole purpose of making sure my bra didn’t show through this white sweater. No big deal, I’ll shed the top layer in this safe space and just wear a tank top.
In front of me was a wall of floor-to-ceiling mirrors. When I took off that layer, I looked in the mirror with appreciation. I saw my body how other people see it instead of the way I typically pick it apart. I noticed the muscles in my legs, my strong shoulders, and the way my curves move as I dance. I smiled.
This moment, however wonderful, was fleeting. Later that evening, I had to switch into a business dress that I felt didn’t do my body any favors. Instead of focusing on the thousands of moments I feel inadequate/ugly/bloated/too curvy/chunky/rough, I’m going to try to focus on that fleeting, beautiful moment. I want to remember how it felt to like what I saw in the mirror; remember how it felt to really love myself despite the flaws.
Sometimes, it’s important to shed the layers of societal crap, unrealistic expectations, and unhealthy, negative self-talk. Sometimes, it’s important to just wear the damn tank top and see yourself as other people see you. Sometimes, it’s important to dance in the mirror and shake what ya momma/god/time at the gym/lack thereof gave ya.
Even if you don’t have this moment today, make a conscious decision to cherish the moment when it does come.
Always remember that you are absolutely gorgeous, and that’s the least interesting thing about you.