It started in May. I had one last concert with my church choir and I needed to find a white shirt to wear. I don't like white shirts. I don't like clothes shopping. And I don't like buying clothes for specific events - it seems silly.
Anyway, I went to Target the day before the concert and found a top that fit. It wasn't ugly but it was sleeveless. I don't talk about it often (because I never want to be one of those girls who's constantly complaining about her body) but I've hated showing my upper arms for as long as I can remember. Even as a child, wearing swimsuits was a trial because I knew everyone could see my flabby upper arms and upper thighs and the stretchmarks that felt like a 10 foot high neon sign screaming "FAT." (If you've ever wondered, it's terrible for a kid to grow up worrying about such things.)
I bought the top, knowing that I'd only have to wear it for a few hours and that I didn't want to spend anymore time than I already had searching for a piece of clothing I'd be unlikely to wear again.
On the day of the concert, I reluctantly donned the top and packed a t-shirt so that I could change immediately after we finished singing. As I was driving, a funny thing happened. I don't know where the thought came from but, suddenly, I heard myself saying (OUT LOUD!), "They're my fat arms!" And, just like that, a weight dropped from my shoulders.
They are MY arms and why should anyone else's negative thoughts about my arms impact how I feel about them? My arms, however large or small, let me do a lot of amazing and important things that help others and bring joy into the world. They're my arms.
Then, a month later, I went to Wild Goose. (You might be asking yourself, "What does that have to do with anything?" Well, I'm going to tell you.) I went to Wild Goose... in North Carolina... in June... and it was HOT. I had dragged along a couple pairs of ill-fitting bermuda shorts but the heat and their largeness made wearing them unbearable so I went to Walmart and got some shorter shorts - shorts that might slip up a let people glimpse my flabby upper thighs. And I wore them without a moment's hesitation.
And, the best part of all...
...No one noticed or cared! Then I realized, they're MY legs!
There were explicitly body-positive messages at Wild Goose but it was the overall feeling of acceptance of people as they are that reinforced the things I'd already been thinking and feeling about MY body.
It wasn't long after Wild Goose that I started getting up in the morning to exercise. I've taken ownership of my body and now I have a different motivation to take care of it than I have in the past. So, now, here I am - loving my body for the amazing things that it can do instead of hating it for how it doesn't conform to artificial standards of "normal" or "beautiful." Why, just this morning I did the advanced level of my yoga workout with no problem. Yesterday, I walked/jogged 3 miles. And, a few days ago, I got through an intense Pilates workout without having to stop at all.
It's my body and I want it to last for a good long while even if I never get rid of the flabby bits that used to embarrass me.