i overheard a conversation the other day, and i can’t stop thinking about it. maybe if i write it down i can make some sense of it.
i had gone into a fitting room with an armload of things, hoping to find a few last minute scores before i set off on my winter adventures. nothing was fitting right and i was feeling discouraged. my tan i worked at all summer long seemed to have vanished overnight, and the one dress i did like wasn't on clearance. i had struck out. oh well.
as i was gathering my things i heard a teenage sounding girl latch the door next to me and call out "i'll just be a sec, dad!" i put my boots on and sat down to tie them up, regretting the decision to wear shoes that needed lacing. i can hear the sighs from the girl next to me as she fiddles with hangers. her dad calls out, "any luck?"
she responds, "no, nothing fits! ugh! my body is terrible."
my body is terrible.
that's really what she said.
her dad said nothing.
i said nothing.
why didn't either of us say anything?!
that's really what's eating me up about this.
why didn't i call through the wall between us,
"your body is not terrible, not even a little bit. it's the cookie cutter department store clothing that's terrible. it's the media infecting young girls (and boys) that's terrible. it's labels like 'one size fits all,' or my personal favorite, 'one size fits most' that are terrible. it's XL women's clothes being S men's clothes. it's being a size 10 in one store and a size 18 in another. it's the plus size models that are hardly plus sized. it's movies and music and a whole culture focused on skinny. it's our self worth being so wrapped up in how well clothes fit us that is terrible. but not your body. your body is yours and it’s perfect for you."
i didn’t say any of that.
and i hate that she probably went home that day and didn’t hear anything to change her mind.
but i do get it. i so get it.
i can't speak for anyone but myself, and my own teenage brain probably thought the same things. in middle school and high school i was consumed by insecurities. i always felt like i was the biggest girl amongst my friends, my class, my team. it didn't matter the group, i always compared myself. gosh, i look back at photos now and realize how horribly skewed my thoughts were. stacy, you were just tall. why did you waste so much time thinking you were fat?
it wasn't until college that i began to realize how much better i felt when i stopped obsessing over my body. i stopped caring about the clothes i wore and just put on whatever felt comfortable. yeah, so what none of it matches and i may have slept in it last night, i feel like myself. and you know what? i like myself.
i've always hated those lofty blanket statements like "love yourself" or "love the skin you're in." everyone's relationship with their own body is completely unique, and who am i to tell you how you should feel or how you should act? my motto would be something more along the lines of "every day, try to make your body your own." just try. it's ok if you can't. and every day. because every day is different. some days i feel like a complete stranger in my body, and other days i feel so perfectly fused with it that a smile feels the most comfortable.
it still makes me sad that that girl in the fitting room felt so poorly about herself. i hope she had better luck elsewhere and found something that made her feel confident. i hope her dad told her she looked beautiful no matter what she wore.
i hope i say something next time.
but mostly, i hope there isn't a next time.