Saturday, 25 April 2015

You are More than the Number in Your Waistband

“Ugh,” she grunts, struggling to clip the pants back onto the hanger. The tiny dressing room with head to toe mirrors both in front and behind her seems to be closing in. She can hear the sales woman leading another shopper to the room beside her. Giving up, she grabs her well loved jeans, stepping back into the familiar fabric. Nothing new fits. Nothing looks right.
“Could I help you with a size?” The sales woman knocks on her door on the way by.
“No thanks!” She calls, desperately hoping the door doesn’t open as she is pulling on her pants.
She picks up the pile of pants that just moments ago she had so much hope for from the small stool in the corner. With a smile plastered on her face she pulls open the door, dodging the woman spinning to show the dress she has found to a friend.
       “Any luck?” The spirited sales woman asks as she approaches.
       “Not today, thanks,” she responds quickly, heading out the other side.

Have you been there? I have.

Caught up in a change room at the mall, a pile of clothes in hand, and nothing working out. And as I pull that next pair of pants up, the small little voice in my head begins to chat. You know the one, the voice that tells you that those are too tight, the one that points out that unflattering angle, the one that reminds you that these pants are for someone who is actually skinny. It is the voice that tells you that if that number in the waistband gets any larger then there is something wrong with you.

And so, the pants come off and I walk out.

I could easily approach the rack again, grabbing the next size up, seeing if the fit is better. I could easily try on a different cut or style.

But the voice is too loud and the number matters too much.

While trying on a swimsuit the other day, a question popped into my head. “Why do I care so much?”

Really, what is it about this little number, tucked into the back of my shirt or jeans, out of sight and out of mind, that matters to me so much? Why does it bother me to have to ask the sales person for the next size up?

I have read the statistics and research that shows that different clothing stores size items differently. Some fit larger, some fit smaller. It depends on their market. I have all of the head knowledge that tells me that this little number doesn’t matter.

But it is not about what I know in my head, it is about what I know deep in my heart.

For so long, women have been fed this version of beauty that screams at us to lose a few pounds. It tells us to chase a perfect body. It lets us know that every bulge and mark is a scar that must be covered up.

It is this version of beauty that tells me that the number matters. A lot.

And it is this lie that has moved into my heart and has made itself comfortable.

A few years ago a good friend of mine told me about this girl, Cassey Ho, who does short exercise videos online. She reminded me of her recently so I decided to check her out. Her ‘Blogilates’ videos are great and she has so much spunk. You can find out more about them here.

As I was scrolling through Facebook the other day I saw a video that Cassey Ho had created. It is a reaction to some of the comments that she receives on her posts telling her everything that is wrong with her body. The video depicts her editing her already fit and healthy body into a skewed version that some might call ‘perfect’. It is a powerful video and I encourage you to watch it below:

Not only is the media creating a messed up expectation of beauty, but we are beginning to expect it of one another. People make comments, critique, and feel they have the right to be mean to others. I mean, if a fitness instructor is shamed and critiqued online, what might others say to me if they had the chance?

There needs to be a redemption of the definition of beauty. Our self worth can no longer be found in our pants size. The expectations are outrageous and we are beating ourselves up in trying to reach them.

So I challenge you to speak words of life over yourself. I challenge you to quiet that voice of self-hatred with the voice of truth. When you are straightening your hair in the morning, speak of your beauty. As you apply your foundation, point out the positive characteristics you have. As you pull those jeans on, say a few things you are grateful for. Yes, we need to take care of ourselves and we should strive to be healthy, but this voice that tears us apart has been given too much say. 

We need to redeem our voice. We need to quiet the self-hatred, the bullying, the unreachable expectations.

You are so incredibly, beautifully, stunningly more than the number in your waistband. And so am I.

I hope you remember that the next time you have to ask for a different sized top in the dressing room, because honestly, that colour looks great on you. 

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