I have long had a strong distaste for clothes shopping. When I was overweight and out of shape, shopping for clothes came with feelings of embarrassment, shame and stress. The dress that looked amazingly cute on the mannequin made me look like Mrs. Potatohead, complete with lumps in all the wrong places. The sharp skirt that caught my eye wouldn’t get past my hips, or, if it did get past the hips, then the waist gaped grotesquely. Cute tops would be too tight at the shoulders, too billowy for my bosom, and would make my belly bulges too blatant. The clothing that did fit seldom made me feel comfortable with myself, and every trip to a change room hacked away at my self-confidence.
Losing the weight and getting into shape didn’t completely change my opinion on change rooms and clothes shopping. While finding clothing that fit and looked reasonably decent on my body did become easier (mostly), the change rooms were still stressful and demoralizing places. Stripping down to your underwear in front of a full-length mirror in bad lighting isn’t flattering for most people, but especially not for a woman only starting to love herself.
Since I originally lost my excess weight and changed my body, I have seen the numbers on the scale go up and down over a 20 pound range. These changes have been mostly intentional, as my focus has changed to powerlifting, competing, and gaining strength. Most of the time I am okay with what the scale says, although I seldom step on the scale these days. I know where my focus is and what my body needs to achieve my goals, but there are still times when I feel lumpy, bumpy, fat and ugly. Sometimes I feel this way when I look at myself wearing little in the way of clothing and sometimes when I am wholly clothed. Is it any wonder that I still dread shopping for clothes?
I told my daughter that we could go to the mall today. Why I say things like that, I do not know, because I hate the mall and shopping, but I said it. We did it. I survived. I even bought myself four tops and a one-piece Wonder Woman outfit. Yes, I had moments of self-doubt and self-loathing. I was extremely reluctant to even venture into the change room (for the tops), and I’m kind of glad that there wasn’t even a change room option where I bought the Wonder Woman suit or I might never have bought it.
Two of the tops are more for work than anything else, but the other two were emotional purchases. One of the tops is in the photo above, and the other top is similar in colour but says, “She believed she could so she did!” With my theme for the year being Powerfully Beautiful, how could I not buy these shirts?!
A while ago a friend shared a link to an article, How I learned to love my body as a female athlete, that brought a tear to my eye and resonated within me. As a 45 year old mother of three whose previous, half-hearted athletic pursuits took place in junior high, calling myself an athlete feels ostentatious. How dare I call myself an athlete? I don’t always feel like an athlete, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am one. I train hard and with purpose, not only because I enjoy it but to compete against myself and others. I have Provincial and National records, but I want more. I have competed 7 times and will compete again, and I am chasing after bigger competitions on grander stages. I do not have a flat, ripped abdomen (and maybe never will), but there is strength beneath my skin and it’s growing. I have noticed changes in my body from training, and I am completely excited about them. How is it that I can be thrilled with what my body is becoming, while still struggling to accept the image I see in the mirror or the way my clothing fits. I am learning to love my body, but it requires swimming against the current of our culture.
Powerfully beautiful is my theme, and my challenge is to see my beauty, inside and out. I may not have the super lean and ripped body of a younger female athlete whose primary career is her sport, but I am building the body that works for me and my sport. My quads and butt are going to feel as if they’re set to burst out of my jeans. Most shirts and jackets are going to feel tight on my shoulders. I may always have that little bit of belly bulge. Some clothing, no matter how cute, will never look as flattering on my body, because I have a real body, not the lithe figure of a mannequin. Some days I will be frustrated by that realization, but I am learning to accept this body of mine. This is why I had to buy the pink shirts today. You are your own beautiful!