Today I wore this outfit. It is a little witchy, a little beachy, and a little boho and I am totally feeling myself. In fact I feel really cute and confident. And it shows a little midriff.
This is the first time in my entire life that I have ever shown my midriff in public. I never wore a bikini growing up as far back as I can remember and I never wore short shirts that didn’t come down to the waistline of my pants. (And yes, I am sure as a toddler I probably showed my midriff.) I always thought and quite frankly was told by everyone around me and society that I was too large for that and nobody wanted to see that. I should cover up my body. It isn’t beautiful.
And I think about all the shitty ways this idea was reinforced in me growing up from both men and women. My friends having countless discussions with me and behind my back about how I could lose weight. Boys making lists of girls that were worth dating from prettiest to ugliest and I was the last one. Boys meeting my group of girlfriends and basically forgetting my name while they fawned over my skinnier friends. Even men in my life would keep me a secret by either never taking me out or only sharing photos of themselves out and doing things never including me. This led to years of working out hours a day, starving myself, depression, mental health issues, and even some mild eating disorders.
I believed my body was supposed to be hidden and the more hidden it was the more comfortable I was. But after 34 years I have earned these two inches of skin. Even at the heaviest I have ever been, (after gaining almost 50lbs due to a chronic illness) I own these two inches. And you know what? I was out and about at all different places today including a restaurant, a bookstore, and a coffee shop and almost no one cared. Almost no one even noticed. Except women older than me... WHOA did they all notice! I have never seen people so quickly notice something about me. So much so that I wanted to say to all of them “My eyes are up here ladies!”
And their uncontrollable response to outright stare at those two inches is a sign of how I was raised and how as women we’re absolutely brainwashed on how we are supposed to look. We all know what was ingrained in us as ‘acceptable.’
But change is really happening. Rebel Wilson graced the cover of ‘The Beauty Issue’ of a magazine without her weight being a disclaimer about how she can be plus-sized and beautiful. New shows like Shrill and Dumplin’ are the first time I have ever seen a lead who looks like me and isn’t the quirky best friend or a ‘before’ on a journey to loose weight. Change is coming. Change is here. And just think, the women of the next generation are going to grow up seeing everything I didn’t. And it really matters.
And to everyone who have tirelessly advocated for body positivity I just want to thank you. You got me here. It may have been 34 years and two inches but those two inches really matter.