Today I got my first pair of real shorts in the mail. I’m 21 and I have never in my life owned a pair of shorts that ended higher than my knee. They’re from Torrid (MAD expensive but generally I like their stuff), they’re black, they have a weird buckle on the butt that I can’t figure out the function of, they’re an American size 16, and they are literally not made of enough fabric to cover two parts of my body I’m most insecure about: my stomach and my upper thighs. They end about a third of the way down my legs, meaning the area my mother calls “saddlebags” is on display in all of its wiggly glory, and are standard-rise, meaning they end just beneath the weird pouch of fat just above my waistband that doesn’t really fit with the rest of my stomach.
I just spent, like, fifteen minutes staring at myself in the mirror, wearing these shorts and my bra and frowning.
There’s something that has taken me a while to understand about body image: it’s fluid. Being uncomfortable with myself one day does not necessarily mean I’ll feel that way tomorrow, or next week, or next month. And there’s something else: there will probably always be parts of my body that I’m less proud of than others.
But while I was staring at myself in my mirror, I realized that none of these were the reasons I was hesitating to wear these shorts today. I kept thinking “Maybe if I wore tights with them?” and things like that, and I realized that I’m actually pretty at peace with my body today, but that I am literally afraid to wear shorts this short outside of this room without covering up my legs with something else.
It doesn’t matter whether I am at peace with my body today or not, you see, because the World At Large is not at peace with my body.
As soon as I realized I’m hesitating to wear these because I’m scared of what some asshole on the bus will think about me, I decided to wear them whenever it was warm enough to do so.
Why? Because I FUCKING LOVE THESE SHORTS. I feel like a badass. I like the way they make my butt look, even with this weird butt-buckle that I keep pausing from my writing of this post to fiddle with and see if I can figure it out (spoiler alert: still have no idea what it’s for). I like the way I feel in them, and if that’s true, then who the fuck is some currently-hypothetical douchebag to make me feel bad about feeling good?
The shitty thing is, I’m sure that currently-hypothetical douchebag will become a real douchebag, if not today then some other day when I wear these shorts out. Some might say this is self-fulfilling prophecy; I say it’s experience. It’s the same reason I’ve never worn a two-piece bathing suit. My logic literally up until this very day, wearing these shorts, has been “If no one wants to see my body, I’m not allowed to display it.”
NO, REALLY. AND I’VE BEEN A FEMINIST FOR YEARS AND I’M BIG INTO BODY ACCEPTANCE, AND I’VE LITERALLY JUST MANAGED TO UNPACK THAT TOXIC PIECE OF PSEUDO-LOGIC, LIKE, FIFTEEN MINUTES AGO.
I’m sharing this because I think there’s this erroneous belief that you can’t be part of the Fat Acceptance movement if you don’t already love yourself in your entirety, all the time. Body image is a process. It’s a learning curve. And some days it’s so hard! And some days you’ll buy a new pair of shorts and you’ll love them and you’ll wear them in front of your mirror for a while thinking “I don’t have the right to wear these,” and I would like to be in your room when that happens so I can write a post-it on your mirror that says YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO WEAR ANYTHING YOU WANT.
Your body is yours. Wear what you feel good in, and fuck anyone who says otherwise.