I still struggle with body dysmorphia
I still struggle with body dysmorphia.
But in 2021, I started wearing tiny clothes. For the first time ever.
I’ve been many different sizes since my teens, but I’ve always been shaped the same. I was a chunky kid, or a curvy girl. Even in the height of my eating disorder, my bone structure never changed. The shape of my scapulae, the curve of my rib cage, or how close its end is to my pelvic bone’s beginning; these parts of me don’t move, so size didn’t always “fix” things. My fat distribution never changed much, either (hormone problems also contribute to that). I was always a “thick thighs save lives” girl with a big butt, even if there were less adipose cells than before.
I felt deformed. Being raised in the early 2000s, this meant my whole life was a story of “Clothes Never Fit Right”. A story of my mom buying me women’s clothes at age 14 because the clothes my peers wore were too small. A story of being laughed at when I wore low-rise skinny jeans that gave me a “plumber butt”. A story of being called Britney Spears by a classmate because a button-up shirt I wore that day was a bit more form-fitting. (Which is a ridiculous insult, by the way. Britney is a queen.) It was also a story of seeing women being vilified for having a body that looked like a body. Every woman had to be paper thin.
When I was 11, the 2007 VMAs splattered the news with Britney Spears’s performance. My dad nonchalantly said that Britney was “maybe skinny for a mom but still fat for a woman”. He said that to his 11-year-old daughter.
I was insecure for so, so long.
Then comes 2021. After a pandemic shutdown that kept most of us at home for months, I’m an adult. I’m well past the eating disorder. I’ve graduated college. I make my own money. Screw it, I’m now just going to wear what I want. I’m officially not dependent on anybody else.
I wore Aerie leggings with a crop top. This was a new combination for me, and one that was trendy at the time. I was self-conscious at first; and worried about what my mom would think. She never would’ve let me leave the house wearing something like that growing up. I had been wearing the oversized T-shirt and Nike shorts combination for years.
I definitely spent way longer than I want to admit still sucking in my tummy. I spent way longer than I want to admit worrying about the shape of my butt, or my thighs rubbing together.
But it was so comfortable.
So over time, I adjusted.
My belly was out, every curve and line where everyone could see. My butt looked phenomenal. My thighs were being gently hugged by each other and the leggings with every step. Even my back rolls played peek-a-boo if I needed to reach something from a high shelf.
You could see pretty much every part that I’d been forced to hide before. I was the most visible I had ever been.
After a decade of either squishing everything in with Spanx, or completely hiding under a babydoll dress: leggings and a crop top freed me. I finally saw my body in real time. Every soft bit, I knew exactly what it looked like. I knew exactly what I looked like.
It took a while to make peace with certain parts of myself. But I could finally look at every part of me and look at every part put together to form the whole of me and be okay with it. I could finally see me and my body without shame and contortion.
My body dysmorphia is not gone. That part of me may not ever fully heal. But I made progress I’d never made before, because of this. Because of Aerie leggings and crop tops.
This particular method may not be for everyone.
This was the first of many times I’d leave my comfort zone. It definitely felt funny to start. Growth never comes without discomfort.
Looking back now, though, it healed me more than I thought it did.
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Maggie, While, based on my math, I am about ten years older than you, so much of this resonated with me. Those early 2000 years/late 1990’s thins was in, and I felt that same pressure, and I faced similar struggles as you. Someone said something to me while I was in college in NYC. She said, “Nothing looks as good as healthy feels.” That, somehow, was my Aerie leggings moment. That somehow freed me. Keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and keep learning to love yourself. Overtime, the struggles of the past will become more and more distant. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s truly inspiring and empowering. And thank for being part of The Unsealed. <3Lauren