Shop changing rooms. They’re tricksy little beasties, somehow highlighting every ‘flaw’ you have while making new clothes look amazing. I’ve always wondered how they do it. Sorcery, probably.
I would hate to count up the cumulative hours I’ve spent in those cubicles, cataloguing the parts of my body I hate most. What a horrible, sad waste of my life.
But since jumping feet-first into body positivity, I thought I had left that changing room self-hate behind me. I’ve completely turned some of my most hated parts into my favourites. I love my body now, so how much better would it be to see it in full, lit up, in shiny new clothes? Surely it would be fun!
Turns out, no.
I went in to try on the most beautiful dress in the world, and some other fairly nice dresses, and the inner snark started from the second I closed the door. It went for my socks, the size and shape of my feet, my thighs, my hips, my stomach, my arms, my overall size, my hair, my stretch marks, the clothes I was wearing that day, and the clothes I had taken in to try on.
Honestly, it nearly overwhelmed me at first. It’s been so long since I faced such a tirade from my inner Nasty Voice that I couldn’t remember how to defend myself. My eyes filled up, and I was on the brink of a major meltdown.
Then up popped the Body Pos voice I’ve been working on for months.
“Excuse me? You seriously think it’s okay to speak like that? Would you say that to your friends? Would you let your friends, or anyone for that matter, say those things to you?
No. No you wouldn’t. So what makes you think it’s okay to speak to yourself that way?”
*Nasty Voice mumbles something incoherent*
“You can shut up now. We have, in fact, noticed that we’ve become bigger recently; you don’t need to point it out. We also decided that size/weight/body fat percentage have no effect whatsoever on our inherent value and self-worth, remember that?
You know only 5% of the population can achieve that shape you’re comparing us against. You know we are not in that 5%, never have been, never will be, no matter what. And you know that doesn’t stop us being hella sexy and downright fabulous.”
At which point the Nasty Voice died a violent death and vanished, leaving me and Body Pos voice to live in peace forever more!
Except this is real life, and I’m only human.
I silenced the Nasty Voice long enough to not cry, and to try on the clothes I had picked up. But when I tried on the most beautiful dress in the world it pointed out that a size 12 would have fitted me 6 months ago. I tried another and it sniped at the way the material lay over my hips and bum. A third and it laughed at the sag in the chest area that I can never quite fill.
The difference this time was that the comments slid over the surface instead of cutting in deep. They flitted across my mind and then they were gone.
Then I tried on a jumper dress. It’s the kind of thing I would never normally go for, but I tried it on anyway and Body Pos voice said “Heck yes!”.
This is what progress looks like, I suppose. I am changing. I am kinder to myself now than I ever have been before. But when the simple act of walking into a changing room can cause a meltdown, I clearly still have a lot of work to do.