November 21 2017
Eight years after a terrible turkey trot experience, this runner is grateful for the lesson it taught.
I’m currently on a self-love quest. It’s not like my body became a size 12 overnight, but it sure felt like it. One day I looked in the mirror and was unhappy with what I saw.
The thing is, if I am honest with myself, no matter what size I have been, I was always able to find something I was unhappy with. When I was a size 2, it was the way my shoulder bones stuck out. At size 6, it was the way the weight was appearing on my thighs. At size 10, it was the stretch marks I noticed on my hips and breasts. At size 12? Well, I’ve decided the unhappiness stops here.
I recently started reading I Do It With The Lights On by Whitney Way Thore, who you may know as the star of TLC’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life. We may be different sizes and we may have different stories, but we both have the same goal: loving ourselves.
Recently when going out, I was finding myself being a lot more conscious of what people would think when they look at me. Will they think I shouldn’t be wearing this outfit? What exactly is the first thing they notice when they look at me? Then, I realized two things.
First, why do I assume people are looking at me? Especially after watching My Big Fat Fabulous Life, I’ve realized that I don’t even know what it is like to be publicly shamed. Whitney gets yelled at by strangers. People take pictures of her on the beach. They mock her for dancing at her current weight (My favorite response? “How am I supposed to lose weight if you won’t let me dance and exercise?!”). I’ve seen that this really isn’t a problem in my life and I need to check my privilege at the door. No one is looking at me. If they were, I would probably notice—haters aren’t really good at hiding it.
Second, why do I care so much? The thing is, those people I was worried about? My encounters with them are a one-time thing. I would go out to eat, they would be in the same room and then I would go home. If I couldn’t—and didn’t—remember them, what made me think they would remember me? Once I thought about that a bit, it was much easier to relax.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t want to look nice in public. We all do. The thing is, we shouldn’t stress over it and criticize ourselves because of it. We shouldn’t look at ourselves in the mirror and get angry or sad or disgusted because we assume that is exactly what other people see. Hopefully, you don’t get those feelings at all!
Don’t let the mirror become your enemy. We have become so dependent on thinking of a mirror as a realistic reflection of ourselves. There are so many factors at play, though. How is the mirror positioned? Is it curved or flat? What is the lighting like? Yes, mirrors are a way to check your reflection, but what you see isn’t always what you get.
Next time you look in a mirror, do a little experiment with me: Look at the things you LOVE. Like those big, gorgeous, sparkling eyes. Or the luscious curves at the side of your body. Or the way your butt looks in your favorite pair of jeans. Every day, find one thing you love. If you think there is nothing to love? Admire that perfectly round mole on your collarbone. Or how smooth your skin looks. Over time, you’ll see it’s more than the big picture in the mirror. When you really look, there are so many little things about yourself to love.