More often than not, I eat to heal my body and mind. Though as the “more often” suggests, it’s not always the case.
I have a very human inclination to want to look good. Diagnosed with anorexia in my late teens, I am mindful, if not a bit concerned at times, of my steady concern over what I’m eating.
But the sprinkles on that learned, need-to-be-in-control-of-everything cupcake (mmmm cupcakes) is that these days I recognize and value the difference between eating to be healthy and eating to look a certain way.
Today, weight loss isn’t the primary focus. Rather, it’s a welcome side effect of committing to healing my body through the foods I eat.
And I gotta say, it’s been incredibly freeing, to stop worrying about how much cardio I need to do to work off a burger, to stop being scared to eat a piece of fruit, and to retire the tendency to worry about getting enough protein at every meal. (We don’t need that much.)
As a result of eating healthy, my waist size is what it was in my early 20s. The difference being that I got there through a desire to be well, not a low-carb-based obsession with looking a certain way.
For me, age has brought wisdom and self-love, which is a welcome departure from self-loathing and feeling insufficient at every turn. It’s helped me put my health first.
Unfortunately, the garment industry hasn’t followed suit.
Imagine, if you will, late 30-something me, attempting to find jean shorts.
I love jean shorts. They are my go-to summer attire. Presently, none of my old pairs fit me, and sadly I didn’t save any from my early 20s (which is a good thing and of benefit to society.)
So I’m on the hunt for shorts. You know, something that doesn’t show off my goods (no one needs to see your hoo-hoo ladies) but doesn’t cover up too much, because I’m not a nun either. I want to feel the elements on my gams.
A few dressing rooms in, and I’ve squeezed myself into a large sampling of ill-fitting pairs. I’m talking gaping at the waist so you can see my goods shorts, with thighs squished in like sausage casings. Super attractive stuff, said no one, ever.
I start laughing because this is some funny shit. I mean seriously, how inadequate can these inadequately designed shorts be? And what’s more, I’m at one of the most popular stores around when it comes to price point and selection. How are none of their shorts made for regular folk, aka, women who know that thigh gaps are a sign of malnutrition?
“If these shorts could talk,” I think to myself, “They’d say, “How dare you try me on. Stop assaulting me with your bratwursts. I was made for supermodels.”
I peel them off and laugh at my butt, which is on full display. That’s how tight those suckers were over my legs and hips: they fully undressed me without even asking.
30 seconds later someone abruptly pulls back the curtain on the dressing room. I laugh again because really, why not?
This whole interaction with those shitty jean shorts is profound because for 20-ish years I would leave dressing rooms like this and get busy shaming myself.
I’d turn poorly designed products that don’t consider the end user one fucking iota into a personal deficiency. Maybe you can relate.
I’d commit to eating less. I’d ruminate on the need to stop adding a splash of juice to my vodka soda’s (that’s how much I believed sugar was the devil AND how committed I was to getting wasted.) Then I’d run through everything I ate in the previous week and chastise myself for any and all digressions from my no-sugar, no-carb high protein diet.
I would determine the existence of a deficiency, internalize it, and brand my psyche with the words, “You aren’t good enough – You suck.” All because of an overpriced pair of jean shorts that were designed with only one body type in mind.
It’s REALLY important that we take the time to witness these small blips of insanity for what they are: totally insane.
We were taught to seek out deficiencies and live within them, full-time. But living within, for, and by these falsities only serves to help other people prosper financially.
Living outside of limiting deficiencies helps YOU prosper, on every level.
SIDE NOTE: when you prosper, the entire world prospers. THAT’s how powerful you really are.
Dressing rooms can be a source of deep-rooted, psyche-disrupting trauma, but they can also be a source of hilarity.
It’s so undeniably absurd what people try to sell us as acceptable, and we need to take the time to acknowledge the ridiculousness of it all, rather than taking ownership of it.
So the next time you’re feeling shitty about not fitting into something, acknowledge the insanity of an industry designed to make you feel inadequate.
Then, picture me, trying to stuff my thighs into a ridiculously designed pair of jean shorts, and realize you’re not alone.
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