Don’t burn the day away

I wrote this way earlier in the day and didn’t get a chance to post it until now, so extend my challenge to the weekend!

Today is Love Your Body Day. The common response I’ve seen for this is “everyday should be love your body day!” and while this is true, let’s be honest: this isn’t a reality for most people. It’s a laughable impossibility for some, and they shouldn’t be made to feel worse about this than they already do (and trust me, they do).

I’m not a shining example of what it means to love your body even though I grew up in a household where I was never shamed or made to feel bad for how I looked. Like most teens who are oblivious to the rest of the world, I didn’t realize this wasn’t a normal thing until I got a little older and met new people and their families. It seems like the norm is shaming kids into being something they might not be (thin, straight, flawless, etc.) and that’s just sad. (Today is also Spirit Day, so I hope you’ll join me in standing with our LGBTQIA friends and families!)

It’s hard to love yourself when all you see is flaws when you look in the mirror. I remember one of my many, many epiphanies regarding myself was in high school, or maybe college, when I realized that I’m the same person on the inside regardless of how I look on the outside, and if people are too stupid to not like me because they don’t appreciate the outside, then why in the world would I want to be friends with them? It was a new way of thinking that made making friends a lot easier. I also started doing that thing where you just get kind of real with yourself in front of a mirror. It’s terrifying and difficult but loving yourself is a lot easier if you’re comfortable with what your body looks like. Every scar and dimple and roll and freckle (in my case). Right now I am kind of obsessed with my legs and the freckles on my knees, and I am planning a romp in my new favorite skirt tomorrow. It’s Friday, after all!

That said, instead of admonishing everyone on how they should TOTALLY love their bodies RIGHT NOW because it’s a healthy mindset to embrace, we’ll just dip our toes in the tepid waters of learning to be with ourselves as we are. Last week, I had a coffee date with a friend. We haven’t seen each other in about a year and even though we’re friends on Facebook, we had a lot of catching up to do. At one point, our conversation turned doing nice things for ourselves, treating ourselves, and she showed me her bracelet, which she bought as a gift for herself. There’s a lot more to the story than that but those details aren’t any of your business, Internets. The point isn’t the details anyway. The point is the gesture. She did something kind to herself, to help herself feel better. She took a couple of minutes and a few bucks and got herself something that would remind her that she is precious and lovely to herself.

Loving yourself is a radical act that can make a lot of people really upset, especially if you fall into a category that is marginalized. Believe me, nothing pisses people off more than seeing a fat woman walking down the street unapologetically enjoying herself. Yes, something as simple as walking can annoy people. And really, don’t you want to annoy those sticks in the mud anyway?

That’s the toe-dip in the water for today, kids. It’s my challenge to you. Antagonize the trolls. Do something nice for yourself without feeling guilty or reprimanding yourself  later or apologizing to other people who may not understand the gesture. It doesn’t have to be big or costly. It could be as simple as taking yourself to coffee or doing that one thing you’ve been thinking about but have put off because there are so many *other* things you should be doing. Take five minutes or thirty or two hours and be nice to yourself. You deserve it!

The invincible summer

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.

-Albert Camus

This has been one of my favorite quotes for a long time. I discovered it for the first time about 12 years ago and I wanted nothing more than to find my invincible summer. I was pretty sure Camus had it right — there WAS one. I just needed to figure out a way to find it. And I think I have.

I decided at some point, somewhat subconsciously, that this would be a summer full of skirts because I was sick to death of dying in jeans because I was too scared to show off my chubby, pasty legs. I found a couple of skirts at the thrift store and that was pretty much all the encouragement I needed (that and a few 100+ degree days). So far, I’ve worn jeans thrice in the past two months (Giants game, Harry Potter, and one day when I was too lazy to shave my legs, which was dumb since I didn’t shave them the next day either and wore a skirt) and it has been AWESOME.

In case you’re sitting at your computer wondering why this is a big deal, I’ll tell you why: I’M FAT. I’m unabashedly fat and anyone who has anything to say about it can kiss my fat ass. Seriously. Kiss it. IT NEEDS LOVE TOO.

Okay, where was I? Right. Being out and fat and all of that. So anyway, I figure that I have just as much a right to be comfortable in this god forsaken heat as the next wilting flower, so I’m going to wear WHATEVER I WANT when I go out. That includes sleeveless dresses, tank tops, shorts, and skirts. And let me tell you, internets, IT IS AMAZING. Seriously. I look at the weather forecast. I think about sweating my ass off in uncomfortable, rigid denim and then I move to the next section of my closet and find a skirt to wear.

This has been a long time coming for me. I have hidden my body for years and years, afraid of what people would say or think if they saw my FAT all over the place. And then I reached a point where I was tired of being uncomfortable just so everyone ELSE could be happy. Eff that, you know? Life’s too short to sit around and worry about what other people think. It’s hot during the summer and I want to wear skirts. I love skirts. I love dresses, too, and I rocked one this afternoon at Target. It felt good, not worrying about how much I was sweating under the little shrug I usually pair with the dress (for work).

Beyond the obvious perks (boost in self-esteem, not being miserable outside), there’s a fun bonus for me: MORE FRECKLES. I hated my freckles when I was little and I wanted anyone who thought they were cute to drop dead immediately. HOW DARE YOU THINK MY BURDEN IS ADOR ABLE? But now I get it and I love them. I have discovered an entire crop of them on my legs and they are glorious.

Another perk is that I have a tan line now! One I achieved organically (which means I didn’t have to get burned first)! At the pool! See, that’s another thing. I have pool time now. When I was a little kid, you couldn’t get me out of the pool. Ask my mom about the time I insisted on swimming in a hotel swimming pool when it was like 50 degrees out and then I got horrendously sick. But when I got older, I skipped the pool because ugh, I’m too fat and noooooooooooooooo. While I’m not entirely in love with my swimmy suit right now (when you buy one so late in the season, you don’t have much choice), I don’t mind going out in it. I still have some swimming pool anxieties, but nothing bad has happened yet so my anxieties are unfounded.

Finding your invincible summer is not easy. I didn’t even realize this was mine until I was right in the middle of it, literally DURING SUMMER. I’m enjoying life more now than I think I ever have (childhood excluded) and I think a lot of it is because I’ve unlocked this achievement. Now if I could just achieve Gamer Babe from Half Moon Bay status, I think my life would be complete.