Thursday, May 05, 2016
My Body is for Commentary But I Own It
When I was 14 we were on our way out of town for vacation. My mom was driving and my grandmother was in the passenger's seat. I was sitting in the back looking out the window, and I happened to make eye contact with the driver next to us, an older teen, who took it upon himself to scream "FAT COW! FAT COW! FAT COW!" over and over, as he drove away, red faced and bellowing. I understood what was coming out of his mouth, but when my mom asked, I said that I didn't.
When I was 25, in graduate school, I was out with friends drinking, dancing, and having a fantastic time. I think it was my 26th birthday, in fact. I have sweet dance moves, my mom's rhythm, and I LOVE to dance. It makes me feel uninhibited and tends to amplify my personality. After a while on the floor, I looked over just as a glob of spit landed on my shoulder. When I looked up to the balcony a man was looking and laughing.
The things like this stop me in my tracks for a minute. They remind me that my body is not standard. That I'm not good enough, and that because of that fact, my body is open for public commentary. For action. For judgment.
Despite the fact that I'm not perfect and that society deems it peachy to commentate on my fatness, my early 30s saw my confidence bloom. I'm not sure what it was exactly, but I got tired of hiding. Out went the hugely oversized t-shirts, the gigantic jeans, the clothing like drop cloths meant to cover and camouflage. I began to feel more confidence in my appearance...as I was. A lot of it probably had to do with the fact that I have great support in my life...my mom, my husband, my family, friends. I also came to a point at which I wanted my outside, what people see every day, to match my inside. Irreverent, outgoing, confident, able.
When I started my C25K running, I knew there would come a hot Texas day that would call for short sleeves and maybe even shorts. Shorts are something, that most of my adult life, I have only worn on vacation, once I get a tan. Tank tops...same thing. As I was shopping for workout gear I thought to myself, "It's going to be unbearable. By June and July it'll be 90 degrees before the sun comes up."
In the interest of avoiding heat stroke, and wicking sweat away from myself, and buying the most useful workout clothing, I went for the things that scared me. The skin-tight, cooling running leggings, the barely-there flyaway top with the racerback straps. And you know what? I looooove them. I love them for how they feel against my skin and how they look and how they make me feel about myself. Badass. I've earmarked my "Real Women Dollars" at Lane Bryant for a pair of shorts next month.
I wish I could tell 14- and 25-year-old me that it gets better. That those moments that stop us in our tracks are just blips. That while they may stick with us, they are not the worst things. If we want to wear a thing or do a thing or let our insides show on the outside, we should do it. Without fear. What makes us different will probably not be ok with everyone, but we have to try to be ok with ourselves first. The moments I've been harassed for being fat stick with me, but they will not define me. Let the inside show.
I posted this video to YouTube about a month ago discussing my super short, buzzed down, masculine, daring, kickass haircut and what that means in regards to the inside matching the outside. It's a natural pairing with this post, so I've included it below.