Last week, Kelly sent me this article on The Hairpin, and I about fell over. Lindsay Miller writes of her evolving relationship with her "Breasts That Can Be Seen From Orbit," and it seems almost 200 commenters agree with me that her journey makes a pretty good stand-in for ours.
It seems like most of us have something about ourselves that makes us different ... and that we kinda hate. Here's a brief selection of scourged body parts I've heard about since starting work on Wear the Shift: knees, legs, ankles (actually, "cankles"), arms, shoulders, tummy, butt, thighs. Pretty exhaustive list -- anyone hate their thumbs?
This makes me sad. We are entirely too critical of ourselves.
As the years unfold and the wisdom builds, Lindsay goes from being weirded out by her breasts to being proud and, well, attached to them: "I've realized that my breasts are a huge (I'm sorry) part of my self-image ... My breasts are kind of like this awesome visual metaphor for my personality: too big, too sexual, taking up too much space."
One critical moment in her story takes place in a dressing room while shopping for a dress to wear to her best friend's wedding. Growing weary of her mother's criticisms and offers of paid-for breast reduction, she snaps: "Can we please stop talking about fixing me? The dress doesn't fit! That's not my fault!"
This, my friends, is the way we all need to think. Because, I bet Lindsay was pretty cute when she tried on her dress and everyone took issue with her for not fitting in it. And I was still cute that time I broke down in tears trying on dozens of pairs of horrifying jeans at Target. And you were cute, too, even when you found yourself slipping down the body shame spiral in that awful, terrible dressing room.
We are all pretty cute, especially when we wear comfy clothes that fit us well. This is why Wear the Shift exists!
(And also why, when you try on something at a store and it is ghastly, you must immediately move on. Like online dating, trying on clothes is more a series of short experiments than anything fraught or meaningful. Department store fashion is not something to take personally ... there’s nothing personable about it. Be a clothes-trying-on robot, and move forward without regrets or second thoughts.)
Returning to Lindsay, when she gets to the advice-y wrap up I nod slowly and thoughtfully, then go all <3s in my eyes:
"Don't bother dressing to create an optical illusion that your body is shaped differently than it is. It won't work, and it's boring. Do you."
Damn straight, on both points. It IS boring, and it DOESN'T work. Putting a big black belt across my tummy doesn't magically give me a tiny waist. All it does is give me a sweaty tummy and extra bulges beyond the ones I already have. Blerg!
I am done walking around uncomfortable in my clothes just because everyone's supposed to look one particular way or be one particular shape. I have no time for it! I got these gams to rock!
Anyway ... what do you think? How do you handle body image craziness when shopping? Leave a comment and tell us how you deal with the emotions that come up in the dressing room.