For as much as I preach body positivity, for as many sleeveless shirts and short-shorts as I own, I spend a lot of time trying to hide my body from my ribcage to my thighs. I see my front torso as a problem. I don’t dislike it, but I’m pretty sure everyone else does, so I try to drape it in such a way that no one has to look at anything unpleasant. (If you don’t like my arms, or my legs, that’s your problem. I live in Texas.)
But something happened last week.
First, I had to look at pictures of myself, and I thought I looked like a truck. I had felt really glamorous and pretty getting ready for the sitting, and in some of the resulting photos, I looked pretty glamorous, but in others, I looked like a short, fat girl, wearing a giant tulle skirt.
See, I knew the skirt did nothing to straighten my lines, or make me look svelte, and did widen my hips by a good two feet, but I loved it so much, I did not even care. I do not even care. I am having a torrid love affair with the skirt. My love of it reminds me of how, when I was small, I would wear a half slip on my head to pretend I had long, silver hair, and think I looked like Twirly Curls Barbie–even though I was clearly wearing a slip on my head.
It didn’t matter what you, or anyone else said. I had long, silver hair, and I looked like Barbie. Same with my Underoos. It didn’t matter that I was Wonder Woman in the front, and Blank Space in the back, or that I was 8 years old, and barely 3 feet tall. I was Lynda Carter. I’d dare you to have told me otherwise.
So, even though I looked like a truck, I still loved the skirt because it turned me into a ballerina. I am secretly a ballerina–did you know?
Then, my godson posted this meme to his Facebook page:
The first statement grabbed me by the love handles and gave me a shake. “I was supposed to have a nice body for people to look at…” I was. Wasn’t I? Because a nice body sure isn’t for me to enjoy. We get angry at people who enjoy their bodies, or make money from them.
I enjoy my body right now. I like me. I don’t mind looking at me. In fact, I super like looking at myself, which is why I hate handing my phone over to someone else, to scroll through my picture gallery. Selfies, yo. I put the “I” in selfie. If I ever write a memoir, I have to name it Me, Myselfie, and I.
Still, I am hyper aware that I am not what people want to see on the beach in a bikini.
I was supposed to have a nice body for people to look at, and since I didn’t, I bought blousy tunics, and drapey swimwear so people could look at pretty fabric instead of my torso.
A few days later, my friend, (the fabulous author) Jenna Barton posted this:
Reading that, I thought of Amy Schumer’s skit, The Last F**kable Day.
And thinking about that, I wondered what was my last “f**kable” pound?
Because we have them, right? The pound that tips the scale from cute and curvy, to Twinkie-eating lardass. What is it? Who decides? Who decides what we are supposed to like to look at in a bikini? Who decides what is the exact point at which we cannot show our meat?
I decided that I did.
So…I ordered myself this top:
And, I ordered myself the short, black version of my beloved tulle skirt (get it here–you know you want one). I’m going to wear them together. And I am going to twirl. And I am going to look like a ballerina. A giant ballerina. A really chubby ballerina. A really happy, in love with her skirt, giant, chubby ballerina. You probably won’t notice anything but my smile.
As much as I hate the phrase “sorry, not sorry,” I am saying it to you, World. I’m not going to be working as hard to hide my shape for you anymore. I don’t have a “nice” body for you to look at, but it wasn’t there for you in the first place. If you don’t like what you see, look away. I don’t need your eyes on me–I validate myself. Just check my phone.
I may not have what we call a “nice” body, but I have a great body for carrying my kid on my back, and for bounding up stairs, and for dancing terribly, and for chasing the dog, and for roller skating, and for giving hugs, and for swimming, and for doing dishes, and for packing boxes, and for things we don’t talk about in polite company, and for hosting my brain and my soul, and for a million other things. And, I am going to stop calling my torso my “problem area” because it does everything it is supposed to do*.
I’m sorry it doesn’t look like Hollywood for you, but I’m not sorry. And I’m going to wear what makes me feel happy**.
*My eyes are my problem area. They don’t work as well as I’d like.
**And if the crop top doesn’t make me as happy as the skirt, I’ll send it back because this isn’t a declaration that I intend to wear unflattering things. I simply intend to wear what makes me look in the mirror and go, “Yeah, mama!”