There’s a t-shirt in my cupboard that always brings back a certain memory, every time I see it or wear it. I almost described it as a hurtful memory – but now, I’m not so sure that it is. I think it is a memory of a slight lightbulb moment that I had, that spurred me on my journey towards self-love and better body image.
It was my first pub crawl, and I was 23 years old. I had the pub crawl t-shirt, ready to go, but when I tried it on with a few different jeans, skirts, etc I realised nothing fit my properly. I usually wore dresses when I went out because they “hid” my tummy better than jeans or shorts.
A younger version of myself would have cried that none of my pants fit, threw the t-shirt across the room and refused to go out. A younger me probably would have stayed home and binged on ice-cream and chocolate and cookies.
But I was already starting on my journey towards better body image, so I thought “stuff it!” and I went to K-Mart and bought a pair of stretchy, comfortable pants in a size 12. Problem solved! I went home, got dressed in my new pants and my pub crawl t-shirt, and headed to my friends house to meet her.
There was that tiny little voice in my head that said I can’t believe you had to buy size 12 pants today, fattybut an even stronger voice was saying Who gives a crap, go out and have fun tonight!
So my friend and I are on the bus into town, and at some point in the conversation my friend pointed to a girl sitting in front of us, who had a size 12 tag poking out from the top of her dress. And I’ll never forget the words she said:
“Oh my god, if I ever had to buy size 12 clothes I think I’d just kill myself”
Wow. It felt like she was directing the words straight at me (even though I knew she wasn’t). I immediately felt so much shame for wearing a size 12 that night, and so much guilt for allowing myself to get to that size. (And yes, I know, there is absolutely nothing unhealthy about a size 12. In fact, the average woman in Australia sits between a size 12-14.)
I don’t remember if I even replied to my friend’s comment, but I do remember retracting inward and having a pretty full-on internal conversation with myself. And after I recovered from the shock (and hurt) of what she had said, I flipped my perspective onto my friend.
And I thought about how sad her comment was.
How sad it was that she placed so much emphasis on being a certain size.
How sad it was that she felt the need to judge someone else for their size.
How sad it was that she had unintentionally hurt her friend, sitting right next to her.
How sad that she had bought into the media’s portrayal of women, and the idea that everyone should be the same size and shape.
And then, a little smile crept over my face.
Because I used to feel exactly the same way as my friend on that bus. I used to focus on the scales, on the numbers, on the size of my clothes. And while I was only at the beginning of my journey towards better body image and self-love, I smiled because I realised how far I had come.
I smiled because I realised how far I had come from that young girl who would have been at home right now, in her pyjamas, eating ice-cream and chocolate and cookies until she felt sick.
You see, learning to love & accept yourself isn’t a linear path.
You have ups and downs, and you have moments where you fall back into old habits of guilt, shame and blame. I still have moments now, when I feel less-than-adequate, or wish I had a different body shape so that I could wear a certain outfit.
But the moments don’t last very long these days, and they don’t end in me binge-eating at home and avoiding social situations.
And that pub crawl t-shirt? I’m wearing it right now as I type this blog. Every time I wear it, it reminds me of how far I’ve come, and how amazing it is to be able to love my body instead of hating it.
Which is exactly what I want for you. Self-love. Confidence. Resilience from hurtful comments, and the determination to battle forward and take one step at a time towards a better body image.
And if you’d like some support on that journey – I’m here for you every step of the way.
Loads of love,