Last year, I discovered a perhaps unusual way to heal self-image issues: by taking selfies and really looking at yourself. The practice turned into a class (She Came Into Focus), and in the months since I’ve continued the practice, it has helped me see myself in an entirely new light.
However, as you all know, it’s pretty hard to take a full-body selfie.
By chance (okay, destiny), I was recently gifted with the opportunity of seeing myself from head to toe on many different occasions. At my day job, one of our objectives is to have our teams take a lot of pictures of the work that we are doing so we can submit those photos to our funders. Little did I know that when I was out with the teams, they were taking lots of candid shots of me.
As the program came to a close two weeks ago, and everyone turned in their cameras, I was faced with multiple photographs of myself, some taken in moments when I hadn’t realized the camera was on me. It was an eye-opening experience.
The first thing I noticed was how much I’m still slouching, ever so slightly curling into myself, hiding just a tad, and making sure my ever-so-slightly large chest isn’t calling too much attention to itself. I was super disappointed by that – I thought I’d made a huge improvement in that area. I thought I was done being the Invisible Woman.
The second thing I noticed was that I was sometimes drowning in my clothes. In many shots, my pants are just kinda hanging there. And I often pair those large pants with large cardigans. Even my jeans, which I thought were form-fitting, are a little too big for me.
This moment of truth was particularly fascinating to me because, for the past several months, I’ve been noticing how many women wear skin-tight pants, no matter what size they are. Walking down the street, or in the grocery store, I’ll see women who are 3 or 4 sizes larger than me in leggings – and they look damn good.
But the thought of following their example was terrifying to me. My particular chub is of the jiggly variety. What if my butt bounces up and down as I walk? Oh, the horror. What if my thighs look like a plate of Jell-O when I walk? If I wanted people to see that, I’d just go ahead and wear a bathing suit!
After seeing these pictures of myself, though, my focus became sharper again, as it has every time I take an honest look at myself in photographs. Why am I hiding this body? Who the hell cares what I weigh, what size I am, what's "hanging," or how much I jiggle? Surely, more form-fitting pants would be more flattering than some of the baggy pants I wear so often.
So I took the leap, with my mother’s help. She happened to know of a great brand (Susan Graver) that QVC sells and we went ahead and purchased a pair in navy.
When I tried them on, I was surprised by how comfortable they were – I thought they would feel tight and constrictive, but they don’t, at all. They are soft and wonderfully stretchy.
But oh my god. I felt so self-conscious – they showed everything, down to the VPL. (Yes, I’ll have to get some new “invisible” panties. I don’t do thongs.) They felt like real pants, but they looked like a slightly bulkier version of my bicycling leggings (which, incidentally, I never wear in public).
This is my pain area – the stomach, butt and thighs. This is where I feel most self-conscious, least attractive. No matter what weight I’ve been, I’ve always felt that my butt looked huge. No matter how small I’ve gotten, my thighs have always resembled the shape of ice cream cone – super tiny at the knee, and extremely wide just below the pelvis.
But I kept thinking of all the women I’ve seen this year, bravely walking around in actual leggings (not the more-forgiving jeggings), looking absolutely stunning. Why shouldn’t I take this leap? How bad could it possibly be?
So I took the first step and modeled them for some family members. My mother said, “I never knew you had actual legs before!”
It felt good.
The next step: Taking them out into the world. I’m sweating bullets on that one, I won’t lie.
But there’s one thing I know for certain, at this point in life: I look at least ten times better than I think I do. We all do. Because we’re the harshest judges of our own appearances and we always will be. So based on my knowledge of that universal truth, I’m going to take the plunge next week.
And this is me, coming more and more into focus.