The last couple years have been a journey to accepting my body the way it is. That isn’t to say I can’t eat healthier or finally actually go to the gym, but when I do, I want it to come from the right place. I want to improve my body from the inside out because I love myself enough and value God’s creation enough to want my body to be its best. I don’t want to start eating salads to see my waistline shrink or hit a certain number on a scale. I don’t want to work out to fit into that one dress or pair of shorts from that one summer.
And I’ll be really honest. Sometimes I pull on a piece of clothing from the back of my closet and cry because the zipper gaps now and there’s no chance of even getting it to close. I could fill plastic trash bags with the clothes I am convinced I will someday be able to fit again. I’m not the same size I was in high school. I’m not the same size I was a couple years ago. And it’s taken a long time for me to accept that. This is the way I look now and it probably won’t be the way I look forever, but until I accept my body the way it is and see myself as beautiful regardless of the number inside of the tag, I won’t fully step into seeing myself the way God does, as “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
I’ve been dabbling in fashion illustration/design and yesterday, I sat down to draw myself. I used the same silhouette I use to draw all my girls, customizing it only. A little to fit the way I saw myself—tall, thin, small waist, narrow hips, hourglass figure. And then I looked at a fitting room mirror selfie from earlier that day and realized that wasn’t what my body looked like. There was a moment when I convinced myself it didn’t matter. It’s fashion illustration. It’s all exaggerated and stylized. But first off, the illustration wasn’t going to be much help if it didn’t reflect the way the clothes would actually look on my body. And secondly, anytime I buy into the idea that “stylized” means shrinking a waist and trimming down limbs, I think I’m doing not only myself a disservice, but also any of the girls looking at my drawings. So I erased lines, expanded my waistline and took a real look at that dressing room selfie.
I tried my best not to do so with judgment but with kind eyes. I wanted to see myself clearly so that my design could then flatter my body, not some idealized body that maybe only really existed on paper. And then I thought about all the real girls that I hope I’m designing for and smiled thinking about how they would feel to put on clothes that flattered their bodies the way they were. Not clothes that reminded them to lose fifteen pounds or made them wish they were shorter, taller, curvier in places, smaller in others. I don’t think that does us any good. It’s pointless to buy clothes wishing for a different body. And trust me, I’ve done it time after time and those clothes never look right on me, no matter how many times I tuck and pin and belt them.
I think one of the first steps in accepting yourself as “fearfully and wonderfully made” is accepting the body looking back at you in the mirror. Accepting it with grace, grateful for all the things it enables you to do, thankful for your health, admitting that treating yourself after work is more important than the handful of pounds you would have kept off otherwise, accepting the ways you can better take care of your body, but not holding it against yourself. I’m fighting hard to give that gift of true acceptance and body positivity to myself and hope to at least nudge someone else in that same direction. Cuz you are fearfully and wonderfully made, knit by hand with the most incredible Love you could ever imagine. If we truly believed that about ourselves, how radical would our body positivity be?