If you’re a gal struggling with thoughts of feeling fat, staring at yourself naked in front of a dressing room mirror can be a harrowing experence. It doesn’t have to be. What you need to pull yourself up from the depths of destruction is the right mindset. Here’s an insight that I had one day while shaper shopping with my daughter.
Nine years ago my daughter, Cara and I were getting ready for her Sweet 16.
One Sunday after church, we planned to go buy some decorations and then hit the Palisades Mall to catch up on many of the things that we needed to get for the party.
From Having so Much Fun…
At first we had a blast floating through the aisles in Michael’s® and playing around with all the beautiful silk flowers, and feathers, making different arrangements combining the two elements. Then we paid for our purchases and left.
To Not so Much
I wasn’t looking forward to doing the shopping for shapers. In fact, I dreaded the idea of wearing a shaper again. Back in my Weight Watching days, I wore girdles all the time, but since I no longer feel the need to squeeze my body into uncomfortable clothes, I’m so much happier embracing my curvy hips. But I felt insecure about going without for the party so I decided to wear a shaper.
As we first entered the lingerie department of Macy’s, I went through the racks of the various shapers, bras and corsets, and pulled out several and headed to the fitting room.
Starting to Crumble Under the Emotional Weight of the Shaper
Cara and I chose a room big enough for both of us and we began the process of trying everything on. My first pick was a shaper that was a size 2X. I looked at it and for the first time noticed how incredibly small it was. Then I started thinking about girdles and what they’re supposed to do. And I equated putting one on with trying to stuff a sausage into a casing.
As it lay in my hand, it looked about the size of a large onesie for a toddler. As I undressed and stood looking at myself in the mirror, I could almost taste the old familiar feelings of insecurity getting a grip on me.
When I dressed for church that morning, I felt great and was really comfortable with my curvy shape, but I could feel that that same ‘Love my body’ certainty was beginning to crumble under the weight of my inner critic. The old voices started shouting, gaining momentum.
“You fat ass.”
“You look disgusting.”
“You better lose some weight.”
“Time to go back to dieting now.”
“Look how damned fat you look in that dress.”
“Who the hell do you think you are?”
Slowing Down and Being an Observer
Annoyed with myself for letting this even get to me, I continued to watch myself and pay attention to my thoughts as an observer.
Since I had twisted my right ankle a couple weeks ago and it was still sore, I started to slowly slide the shaper over my left foot first.
Then upon realizing this shaper wasn’t going to sliiiiiiiiide over any part of me, I finally got an in-the-bones understanding that this was a truly fruitless task. I sat on the bench in the fitting room and I could feel myself getting angry.
I told Cara, “This is frikkin’ ridiculous. I’m so sick and tired of trying to squeeze into clothes that don’t fit me. I just have no tolerance for it. I refuse to let this damned stupid shaper make me feel fat. But despite my protests, I could feel my heart sinking.
For the next 10 minutes or so, I decided to just calm myself down, by doing some tapping on my bodies’ acupressure points so that I could relax my nerves.
Sitting topless with my left foot still in the shaper leg, I looked up at Cara and started to feel more present and in the moment of how I felt.
Yes. I was angry. But for perhaps the first time, I didn’t want to take it out on myself. After I sat and calmed myself down, I reached for another 2X shaper. As I pulled it over me, I promised myself that if it didn’t fit, then I was willing to go and get the next size up. I sure as hell wasn’t going to feel sorry for myself because the shaper didn’t fit me. I wasn’t too fat. I just needed a bigger size shaper.
I was bound and determined to win this war. As I pushed, pulled and tugged the girdle to get myself to squeeze into it, I could see that this shaper wasn’t doing me any favors and it didn’t make the dress look any better.
Cara suggested that I take off the shaper and try on the dress again. I did that. Then when I looked in the mirror a second time, I could definitely see that I looked better in the dress without the shaper.
Cara suggested that I wear the dress to the party without the shaper. Pretty radical move. And you know, that’s exactly what I ended up doing.
What I Know For Damned Sure
I have realized that I am absolutely unwilling to ever spend another minute feeling bound up and uncomfortable for any length of time to pretend that I’m something that I’m not. I am a plus size woman, and I’m damned proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished.
Back in the day when I was a dieter, I swore that my problems rested on the size of my thighs. Now I know that my problem was just feeling like I didn’t have a right to be the size I was. I thought I had to change myself, and get thinner in order for the world to give me permission to think of myself as okay. To hell with that!
I’ve been through too many years and cried too many tears trying to fit in, trying to be liked, and loved by others. Now I’m more happy with myself standing out. Like me or not. That’s just who I am. Despite the fact that I’m fat, my body is the smallest part of me. You see, I’m so much more than just a collection of body parts. And so are you.
A Bigger Lesson Learned
Back in April on Oprah’s Lifeclass: The Tour: Oprah was speaking with Deepak Chopra. In discussing the impermanence of our bodies, Deepak said, we are spiritual beings living in a physical body.”
He suggests that we can connect with our spirit and gain insight into our lives by asking meaningful questions such as:
Who am I?
What do I want?
What is my purpose in this life?
What are my unique skills and talents?
What do I expect in a meaningful relationship?
This definitely got me thinking past the silly shaper situation.
Spreading the Love and Some Hope
Later that day I had a conversation with my mom and she mentioned that she went shopping and she was upset because the sweater she bought was tight on her. She went on and on and talked about how she had to lose weight and stop eating so much, and be more disciplined. Blah, blah, blah.
I interrupted her and said, “Mom, this is a really uncomfortable conversation for me to have. I don’t agree with you about dieting and I don’t think getting thinner or fitting into a smaller size is going to guarantee you happiness. I get so sad thinking about all the years I’ve wasted wishing my body were different. I’m just so tired of trying to be something I’m not. I know that I’m in this body for a reason and I just want to spend the rest of my time learning how to love it. Please no more talk of dieting. On this, we agreed to disagree.
How ‘bout you? When you go out and buy a shaper or try on clothes that are too small, or step on a scale, are you also falling into the body hating trap, wishing things were different? It’s not easy. It can happen to anyone. I thought I was becoming immune to it, but sometimes the insecurities still creep in.
When that happens just remember that you are so much more than a body. You are a spiritual being inhabiting a physical body. Now think for a moment about what you have learned living in your body.
I know for sure if I didn’t have this body, I wouldn’t have acquired all the gifts that have made me who I am. I love my curves. How ’bout you?
Are you a mom feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts about your body? Want to learn how you can blast past your own insecurities and fears?
Dieting isn’t the answer. Let me share my story and tell you why you should never put your kids on a diet.