Enough.

It’s taken me a few days to put this into the right words. I’m still not entirely satisfied but I just want to get it out there. So here goes.

I started working on my self-confidence a couple of years ago. And by ‘working on’ I mean ‘building up from scratch’.

I spent 5-10 minutes every day telling myself that my toes are beautiful. My feet are beautiful. My heels are beautiful. My ankles are beautiful. My calves are beautiful. My shins are beautiful, etc all the way up to my head. You can see why it took me up to 10 minutes.

For the first month I felt completely ridiculous. Beautiful shins aren’t a thing, and even if they were then mine would not fit into that category. But I kept doing it anyway.

In the second month I started actually believing some of the things I was saying. I kinda do have pretty white nails, I love the shape of my eyes, my hair is really shiny.

I eventually got to the stage of knowing that every word I said was true, and I only repeated them every day to make sure I never forgot. If I bumped into the me of two years ago she probably wouldn’t recognise me, because this level of self-love seemed impossible to her.

This was huge progress for me. However, after all my blog-hopping recently I realise that something is missing. Of course it’s healthy to not hate the way I look, and of course it feels good to feel beautiful.

But I am so, SO much more than my appearance.

I am a good, if somewhat disorganised, friend. (I was only 10 months late with that birthday present…)

I am a pretty good salsa dancer.

I am a very good singer.

I am a grade 6 flautist.

I am a brilliant Administrator. Because I am an automatic alphabetiser (that’s how my mind rolls).

I can bake, crochet, sew, and all manner of other creative things.

I am far stronger than people think. In every way. As my mum once told me, I am steel.

So I’m a fairly well-rounded human being. Great. But the other day a thought occurred that takes this one step further: Even if none of those statements were true, I would still be enough.

I would still be enough.

Of course I would like to do something great and make my mark on the world. But I don’t have to. I don’t need to list my achievements or somehow justify my existence. I don’t need an excuse for being.

I am, therefore I am worthy. I am enough.

Prepare for the gun show

Limit #2 Fat people can’t go sleeveless.

Not everything I ever post will be about clothes. Honest.

But today the sun has made a rare appearance and it’s (relatively) hot outside. So my arms are coming out to play.

Behold, my favourite dress!

Oh yes, sleeveless AND translucent.
Oh yes, sleeveless AND translucent.

It also looks amazing when I spin, but I think two spinny photos in the space of a few days is more than people really need.

So I used to buy into this no sleeveless rule wholeheartedly. If there was ever a time my arms weren’t bigger than I wanted, I can’t remember it. They’re covered in hair, when everyone knows women are supposed to be entirely bald below the eyebrows. And they hold my highest concentration of stretch marks.  “Nobody wants to see that, least of all me” is a phrase I have said out loud more times than I care to admit.

So how did I get to this:

Sexy and I know it.
Sexy and I know it.

Answer: the hard way, at first. I sucked it up and put on a sleeveless top, braced myself, and went out into the world. Shockingly, nobody exploded out of horror and disgust. So I did it again, and again, and again, until it just became normal and I hardly ever thought about it.

But I still hated my arms. Since seeing Bruce Almighty I have often spent time imagining what I would change about myself if I could suddenly do anything, and it always started with my arms.

That is, until I discovered strength training.  Did you know your arms can do stuff? Impressive stuff. Like push-ups and pull-ups, swinging kettlebells, moving dumbells, handstands, cartwheels, allofthestuff!  And the more I focused on what they could do, the less it seemed to matter how they looked.

Now they’re one of my favourite parts of me.

Of course there are bad days when nothing could possibly induce me to remove my hoodie and I go back to my daydreams. But they are few and getting farther between, far outweighed by the days I can’t stop checking out my guns.

The most beautiful blend of over-stretched skin and hard-earned muscles I will ever own.
The most beautiful blend of over-stretched skin and hard-earned muscles I will ever own.

Nobody wants to see that? Well fine, they can look the other way. More gun show for me!

Let’s see how many times I can say ‘tartan’ in one blog

Limit #1: women with big hips and bums shouldn’t wear pleated skirts.

Pleated skirt in repose. Yeah, I used the word 'repose' about a skirt.
Pleated skirt in repose. Yeah, I used the word ‘repose’ about a skirt.

I love kilts and tartan skirts (tartan anything, really) and they generally only come in one style; pleated. So I could spend my life being sad that I ‘can’t’ wear these beautiful clothes that make me happy.  Or I could just wear the heck out of them.

SAM_2995
I’m gonna go with ‘wear the heck out of it’.

This was a fairly easy limit to break. My love of tartan cannot be overestimated. I was so happy to be wearing my favourite pattern that it overwhelmed the self-consciousness I was expecting to feel. There was just one moment in the morning, when I looked in the mirror and tried to rearrange the pleats so they didn’t sit directly on my hips. Because maybe if the material lies flat then people will think I’m a size 8 rather than a 14. That’s how it works, right?

Does this skirt make my bum look big? No, the fact that it's big makes my bum look big.
Does this skirt make my bum look big? No, the fact that it’s big makes my bum look big.

Honestly I think I would have been fine even without the tartan to help me out. Skirts are pretty and I look good in this one. Plus they do this when you spin:

I am so ready for salsa!
I am so ready for salsa!

Bring on limit #2!

P.S. TARTAN!

I can.

Yesterday I spent a solid 5 hours immersed in body positivity blogs. When I surfaced, my mind was spinning but I felt a-flipping-mazing. Like I could do or be anything I could think of.

Today I went shopping. On the way out of this one shop I saw a beautiful floral-print dress. I looked at it longingly, then thought “no, that neckline gives you man shoulders. You can’t wear that.” and walked away.

So I failed my first body-love test. But it wasn’t a complete fail, because I’ve decided to learn from it and take action. Because do you know how many times I’ve been told I can’t do something?

Women can’t do proper push-ups.

You’re too white to dance like that

Fat girls shouldn’t wear stripes

You will never get a B for this subject

That last one is actually my favourite. Because I did. What would have been just a good mark became the result I was most proud of (even more so than my two A’s) simply because I smashed a limit that somebody had tried to put on me.  I wonder what my life would be like if I broke through all the limits I’ve been given by other people, by society at large, and even by myself.

Today I decided I will find out.  I’m going to take everything I have ever been told I cannot do, and do it anyway. Then blog about it, of course.

And if anyone tries to limit me in the future I shall just tell them, “I think you’ll find I can.”