I had a real SpongeBob Squarepants situation this morning when, to the tune of, “Aaahhhh! Noooooo…” I sat down on the couch and completely ripped the seat of my tights. And when I say ripped, I mean they were shredded. (Clearly, the seams had been straining for quite some time.) Also shredded, however, was my resolve to continue contorting my body to fit into too-small clothes. I’m not a waif of a woman anymore—and that’s OK.
But how did I get there? Well, rest assured that I lost a lot of good hosiery on the journey to making this self-acceptance discovery.
A few weeks back, I had to cut a date night with my S.O. short because the waistband of my tights was constricting my internal organs in a way that made any line of thought beyond “must. take. off. tights” impossible. This was not the first time I’d had to turn in early because my vice-like undergarments were making me sick to my stomach. “I can’t wait until spring,” I said. “Then I can stop wearing these tights that just cut me at the gut.” To that, my boyfriend shot me a weary expression.
“Sweetie, is there any chance that you might be wearing the wrong size tights?” he asked, oh so gently. I was, in a word, displeased. It’s now impossible for me to recall my response verbatim, but it might have involved 360-degree head spinning, projectile green pea soup vomit, and the demonic grumble of, “SHUT UP, B*TCH, I’M A ONE.” Meaning, the smallest size offered for my preferred pair of Vera Wang opaque control-top tights. My tights drawer—a veritable graveyard of pairs with holes in the toes, runs in the crotch, tears in the derriere—begs to differ.
Sometimes, I see now, body acceptance and self-love isn’t about adoring every inch of who you are 24/7.
Now, as a feminist, it feels strange that I’d want to cling to the smallest size, that I’d wear that number on the tag like a badge of honor. I know that all that matters is that you feel comfortable and confident with the bodily vessel you have. I delight in fashion industry‘s paradigm shift that has come to embrace a more diverse range of body types and sizes (we see you, Rihanna). And I support anyone who embraces their curves, their stretch marks, their rolls.
But, as my size freak-out shows, you can believe in the value of body positivity as a movement and still not be able to apply it to yourself. Those beliefs don’t undo the insecurity that developed when my metabolism fell apart in the second half of my twenties or the two decades I spent living in a society that says all weight gain = failure. Ripping all my tights isn’t necessarily going to change how I feel about my gut (or that chin waddle I developed at age 26 because WTF, how is that fair?). It is, however, the sign of a huge problem, something that’s literally making me sick, and that needs to stop.
In an instant, I knew that in the interest of my health and sanity, I needed to let go of the size thing—just like I know, in my heart, that New York winter goes on ‘til mid-May. So I’m going to have to buy some tights that fit, end of story. And if they’re a size two (or three, or four), I won’t die. To the contrary—maybe I’ll finally be able to get through dinner without developing stomach cramps.
Sometimes, I see now, body acceptance and self-love isn’t about adoring every inch of who you are 24/7. Sometimes, it’s about accepting your body for what it is and loving yourself enough to make healthier choices—be they to buy yourself some new stockings, or to cut yourself a break.
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