Even though my whole purpose is around teaching women to love themselves, I am far from perfect. All the work I have done over the years has gotten me to a place where I’m able to point at images in media, say, “That’s messed up”, and not internalise it or apply it to my own body. But there are still times where I fall down.
For example, my thighs.
Oh, my thighs.
Thighs thighs thighs. Thighs thighs thighs. Thighs thighs thighs.
I swear for all the energy I put into hating them, obsessing over them, and wishing they were different, I could have been Donald Trump, three times over. (Without the combover or the controversy… Hopefully.)
I don’t know where it started, or what kicked it off. But my thighs were the concentration point and the locus of my self-loathing, for so long. It was like one day I woke up, and I realised my thighs were not Olsen-size. And I couldn’t stand it.
This went on for years. It contributed to my eating disorder, and even once I started eating again, they was never my favourite part of my body. They didn’t disgust me anymore, but I certainly didn’t want to show them off.
I avoided jeans for years, but was forced to start wearing them again when I started dating Mike. Jeans on the back of the motorcycle became a necessity, one that I never hesitated to grumble about.
I finally had an epiphany moment when I was in New Orleans last year. My friend Jess and I were shopping when I told her I really wanted to own a pair of black pants. They’re so easy and versatile; I felt like I was missing a key part of my wardrobe.
And as I tried them on, I finally realised that no magical pair of black pants was going to make my thighs look any smaller. It’s the ultimate test, really. You can’t fake the funk, or the size of your thighs, in a pair of black jeans.
Standing there in a J.Crew fitting room, I was forced to face my thighs. And with Jess outside the fitting room, I knew I had to face her, too.
“How do they look?” she asked.
“Well,” I started to mumble. I rustled the curtain open and stepped out.
I was wearing a pink cashmere button-up cardigan with black Toothpick skinny jeans. Jess looked me up and down, before saying, “Oh my god! You look so cute; totally 1950s. Cuff those jeans and throw on a heel and you’re a bonified sex kitten!”
Isn’t it funny what other people see, versus our own so-called reality?
Long story short: I bought the jeans. I wore them all winter. I bought some other jeans, too: dark ink blue skinnies, and a pair of black jeans with white polka-dots. I love them, and I love wearing them.
But it ain’t all perfect. Sometimes when I put them on and look in the mirror, I feel that familiar old sense of self-loathing rising. If I allow it to keep ascending, I know it will consume me. I know I will feel overcome, exhausted, disgusted with myself. I know I will take my jeans off and hide my legs in a maxi skirt. And that disgusting feeling will permeate my day.
Not good enough, not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not successful enough, not smart enough, not cool enough…
Instead, when I feel that familiar sense of self-loathing getting stirred up, I take a deep breath. I look at my own eyes in the mirror. And I run a positive interior monologue.
“Listen to me. You are a righteous babe. You may not be Candice Swanepoel, but you’re awesome to the core. You are not what you look like, and you don’t have to be ‘perfect’ to live a full, fabulous, exciting, and adventurous life. You do not have to have thighs like matchsticks to be loved or to contribute to the world. Plus, you look cute. So get over it, and get out there.”
And then I turn away from the mirror. I stop obsessing. I put on some bright lipstick, I grab my bag, and I walk out the door.
Recently, I dared to wear really short-shorts. I started to feel panicky… And then I realised that a girl rocking bright pink Hanes underpants can do absolutely anything! Sometimes something as simple as wearing fun undergarments can help you walk out the door with your head held high.
The truth is this. We all have our body challenges and our self-image issues. We all have “ugly days”. But it’s how you respond that counts.
This post was made possible with the generous support of Hanes and Style Coalition. Since Hanes is all about loving the skin you’re in, you can continue to do so by tweeting your undercover colour as a mini declaration of your ongoing radical self love! Apparently, pink underwear is most popular on Wednesday. In my world, it’s popular every day! #undercovercolor
Photo by Made U Look.