Clothes not fitting is one of my biggest body dysmorphia triggers. When something is too tight or uncomfortable, I always default to assuming that it's my fault - that I have, horror of horrors, gained weight.
In our society, there's not much worse than gaining weight. Tabloids, women's magazines (is there much difference, honestly?), and years of Cathy comics are devoted to shaming women for the ebb and flow of their bodies. There is an ungodly amount of body policing in the western world, and honestly, maybe everywhere. Your body is your outward manifestation of yourself. It's visible, and easy to analyze, which then makes it easy to judge.
I'll go into why that's effing horrible later, but for now, let's just say that it's a rampant, disgusting problem that affects us all.
So naturally, when something doesn't fit me, I end up in a tailspin of self-imposed body shaming, because I assume that everyone will notice and judge me. Is that sensible? Will people really notice? Perhaps. But do I really give a shit if someone notices that I'm a bit more curvy or rotund this holiday season? Maybe a little, but I should care even less.
Look, ladies' bodies change a lot. They change over seasons, over menstrual cycles, due to pregnancies, and age, and hormones, and stress, and a lot of other stuff. Expecting us all to maintain our teenage selves is just, well, it's appalling, ridiculous bullshit is what that is.
We grow up. We get muscles. We lose weight when we get ill or try a new eating plan or breastfeed, or get so busy we forget to eat. We gain weight before our cycles, when we go on or off birth control, when we have babies, or because hell, it's Christmas and I like cookies.
Does any weight gain or loss have any bearing on who we are as people? Hell no. Is weight gain/loss a moral imperative? No. As much as we try to police it because it's in the best interest of capitalism to do so, your weight has nothing to do with your worth as a person. And given that it changes so much, it seems futile to get fixated on one weight, decide that that's the weight you need to be or you've "failed", and get all butt-hurt when the scale doesn't line up with your ideals.
My arms have always been a bit of a trigger area for me. They've never been thin ballerina arms. I am a short, compact, stocky person, who has always tended toward strength and density, rather than the popular lanky and uber-flexible yoga type.
When I was a teenager, my mother encouraged me to not wear tank tops, but instead to cover them up in flowy sleeves. As a result, I always thought there was something "wrong" with my arms. When I started going to CrossFit though, my arms packed on some serious muscle. My biceps, triceps, and shoulders are a lot more defined these days, given a calf injury that caused me to focus solely on upper body for 2 months. I'm stoked - I love being this strong.
However, when I put on the vintage polka-dot secretary blouse you see above, my arms no longer fit comfortably in the sleeves. It's not quite a sausage-casing, but you can see how the sleeve is tight around the bicep and billowing up around the shoulder and elbow. Not really the look I was going for.
This time, though, instead of wringing my hands and immediately eliminating all carbs, alcohol, and fun from my diet, I just shrugged and decided that my guns were just too epic to fit the dainty proportions of vintage clothes.
Because I am more than just a blouse. My accomplishments should not be undermined by a piece of clothing. So it doesn't fit? So what. There are other clothes.
We are not our clothes. We are not our size, or our weight, or our measurements, or any other damn number. We are complex, strong, fully realized people. We are made of our accomplishments, our failures, our dreams. We are comprised of many small moments, of memories, of those we love, and those we have lost. We are so much more important than numbers.
So if you do one kind thing for yourself today, try to ignore the numbers. At least for a little bit. You are so much more than that.