It Seems Small, but Wearing Shorts at the Gym Has Dramatically Increased My Self-Confidence

Photo: Getty Images/Caiaimage/Sam Edwards
I've always been self-conscious of my legs (and midsection, and arms… and now this is starting to sound like a Jeff Bezos sext). One way I'm working on my self-confidence is through wearing things outside my comfort zone. I've been taking some more fashion risks in my everyday life, but I felt it was time to bring that sartorial approach to my workout attire—starting with wearing shorts at the gym.

Here's something you should know: I do CrossFit—I know, I'm shocked it took this long for me to mention it, too—and I've always admired the women who show up to the box wearing small shorts. Joining their ranks, though, seemed as impossible to me as getting a handstand push-up. Hey, body insecurities.

But my friend Annie had long been extolling the virtues of wearing shorts to me—specifically, it's very empowering—and with her encouragement, I finally decided to face my fears and don a pair of my own. So I went out and got workout shorts (AKA got on the internet and ordered a pair from Lululemon). I also bought some mid-crew socks from Stance, because that appears to be another part of the uniform. Yes, it was pointed out to me that starting to wear shorts in the middle of winter is a little odd, and to that, I respond: Self-growth knows no season. Also, I live in Los Angeles.

I opened my package from Lululemon with a blend of excitement and trepidation. Inside were a basic pair of black short shorts—my greatest fear, but soon to be my destiny. I immediately put them on and looked at myself in my full-length mirror. Okay, I look goooood, I thought to myself. A year ago, that wouldn't have been my first reaction. My inner monologue would have been much more critical. So I stopped to appreciate how far I'd come. And, because self-confidence is a journey, then I immediately began worrying about how much my thighs would jiggle while doing Olympic lifting and burpees. It was one thing to be standing still—okay, posing for an Instagram story—it was another to be moving around. I was worried about not having the control over my appearance that comes with compression leggings.

I wanted to feel my best in the small shorts that were causing me a large amount of anxiety.

Then the day came for me to actually wear them to work out. I chose a Saturday, somewhat vainly because going in at 9 a.m. instead of 6 a.m. would give me more time to put a little makeup on. (Yes, I wear makeup to the gym sometimes. Don't @ me.) I wanted to feel my best in the small shorts that were causing me a large amount of anxiety.

I walked into my Crossfit box, a little nervous to debut my new leggings-less look. This is the part where I'm supposed to say that my worry was for nothing because I realized that no one was really paying attention to what I was wearing and they were all just there to work out. That wasn't entirely the case. On the one hand, sure, people don't care. We're all there to do a really tough workout of the day. On the other hand, of course, I'm probably checking out that guy who took his shirt off right before the WOD. So, you know, people notice.

In, well, short, I made it through the workout. My shorts didn't fall down. My thighs jiggled. And I felt like a badass. There was something so freeing about working out in an article of clothing I thought I would never wear. Being able to lift heavy weights and survive hard workouts had already dramatically improved my self-confidence, but the shorts took it to the next level. Someone even commented that I looked like such a weightlifter now. I immediately went home and began an internet quest for more shorts.

Now, they've become my CrossFit uniform. I could tell you that it's mostly because of functionality, but that's not entirely true. There are definitely functional reasons to wear shorts, but TBH, I just like the way I look and feel in mine. Actually, that does help me perform better during my workouts—something science backs me up on. At the end of the day, wearing them is a form of self-empowerment. And that's the kind of energy I need in my life right now.

PSA: Cellulite is totally normal. Here's how one writer reprogrammed her brain to stop seeing her cellulite as a bad thing.

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