Can we talk about the Always Superbowl commercial for a second? It hit me hard. I cried actual tears. My husband looked at me like I was crazy, much like when our oldest daughter was born and I would randomly burst into tears while sitting on the couch watching TV.
I hit puberty at nine. Nine. My daughter will turn nine this summer. When I think back, that was the time period that changed everything. I was suddenly conscious of my body; uncomfortable with it. From boys in my class noticing and mentioning how much I had grown (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) to grown men starting to look at me in a way I hadn’t experienced before, my body suddenly seemed like this foreign thing that I had no control over. I hadn’t grown accustomed to it yet and felt like I needed time to understand it, yet it felt like the outside world was already judging it.
So, I did the only thing I could think to do. I hid it. Luckily, this happened to coincide with the 90s, when I could make loose jeans, over-sized sweaters and huge flannels sort of work. It felt safe. Big clothes hid the bits and pieces that I wanted to tuck away from prying, judgmental eyes.
After having my first daughter and being faced with a body that was once again foreign, I found myself falling back to the same old security blanket. This time it was over-sized cardigans. It was still the familiar button-down blanket of my youth, just an updated “mom” version.
When I decided to take control over my body and start exercising, I began the very same way. I reached for the over-sized t-shirts my husband brought home from work events and paint splattered pants that needed to be tied securely to stay up. It didn’t matter that I was working out in the privacy of my bedroom. It didn’t matter that there were no prying eyes to hide from. Somewhere along the line, I became ashamed of my body and saw it as something that needed to be hidden.
This hurts me for so many reasons. First, I’m so sad that I spent so much time and energy focused on hiding. What did I think I was accomplishing? I thought it was making me feel safe and keeping me invisible when I didn’t want to be seen. Instead, it just made me more insecure. But what makes me even sadder is that I have two daughters that will inevitably go through similar struggles.
All I can do is be the best role model I can. I will not speak negatively about my body. I will focus on its strengths. And I won’t hide it either. I’ve slowly started to ditch the enormous rags and wear clothes—including workout clothes—that fit. I mean, how ridiculous is it to try and do a plank or a downward dog when your billowing, bleach-stained t-shirt is in the way?
Have you experienced anything similar? Have you ever fallen into a pattern that you think makes things better but actually causes more harm than good?
A big thank you to Lands’ End for sending me these clothes from their new Activewear line to try out. They’ve found their way into my favorites pile and make my mission of reclaiming my body much more fun!
This post is part of my 52 Essays project. This year I have set a goal for myself to write one finished piece every week(ish). I’m not sure what you can expect from them because I’m sort of winging it. Some will be good. Some will be less good. Hopefully you’ll love them. Maybe you’ll hate them. We’ll just have to wait and see. 😉 4/52