An Open Letter To The Pair Of Pants I KNEW Would Be Too Small

Photo: courtesy of the author
learning to love yourself
Self

I kind of love you.

Dear pants that I knew would be too small,

Here's what happened:

I was at home visiting my parents for the long weekend when it happened, a classic, learning to love yourself type of moment.

I didn't expect it at all. 

"Here, try on these pants," said my mom, handing me a pair jeans that she had decided weren't her style. 

I felt the blood start to rush to my ears. I felt my stomach go into knots. 

"They're probably too small for me," I said, surprised at how normal my own voice sounded. 

 

Related: 4 Body Language Hacks To Help You Feel Wicked Confident

 

My mom looked at me with confusion. "If anything," she said, eyeing my frame objectively (as objectively as a mom can) "they will be a bit big." 

I took the pants and went into the bathroom to try them on. I was terrified. I was sure that I needed to go up at least three sizes from the size 16 jeans she was offering me. 

Since I stopped weighing myself and tried to focus on how I feel versus a number on the scale, I have had my ups and my downs with my body image

Some days I'm extremely confident, but lately, stress, anxiety, and life events had me in the trenches of body image-based despair. 

While I've never been diagnosed with body dysmorphia (a disorder in which the way you see your body is entirely different from your body's reality) I knew that I had been struggling with its symptoms. 

I have been trying and failing to combat my exaggerated and negative perception of my own body image, but this time, for the reasons stated above, it's been harder than it ever has been before. Weirdly, I knew that stepping onto the scale and seeing a number that was undoubtedly smaller than the one in my mind would probably soothe me and help end the cycle of negative cognitive self-talk, but I was worried it would drop me right back into the vicious cycle of weighing myself daily and using that number as a be all and end all of my self-esteem and self-worth. 

Scale goes up, my self-esteem goes down. Scales goes down, suddenly I have more of a right to exist. 

Living in a city like New York can sometimes make it even harder to do. It is a city of very thin people, and those who aren't thin are constantly talking about everything they are doing in the hopes of becoming thin.

Simple tasks like buying clothes can feel daunting because my size (a 14 or 16 depending) is either sold out at the "straight" stores or sold out at the "plus" stores. My options feel limited shopping in the flesh. Sure, I can shop online, but let me tell you, when you're in the grips of a bout of serious self-loathing, there's nothing like being forced to shop online to make you feel like the general populace doesn't think you are attractive enough to leave your house to even buy clothing.

I only tried on the pants because of the confused look on my mother's face when I cringed away from them, saying they were too small. It was the same confused expression I had seen on my boyfriend's face and on my best friend's face when I talked about how fat I was getting and how worthless I've felt. I chalked their reactions up to being two people who loved me.

But now that my mom was making the same face, the numbers were against me: maybe my weight wasn't the problem. Maybe my self-esteem was.

I slid into the pants easily without having to unbutton them. They sat comfortably at my hips and while they weren't a style of pant I'd buy myself (they were, after all, something my mom picked up) they fit me beautifully. 

 

Related: 5 Ways To Encourage Better Body Image Within Your Family

 

Rather than feel elated "I fit into pants!" I felt like a person surfacing from the bottom of the ocean. I took a breath and felt the sharp relief deep down in my lungs: My body was as my body has always been. It was my brain that was causing all the problems.

So, dear pants, 

I'm sharing our story with the world, not because I think I've had some permanent "Aha! moment," but because I want everyone to know that when it comes to learning to love your body, everyone's life is a series of steps forward and steps back.

Everyone needs to hold on to the lessons that we learn along the way and trust that no matter how dark things get, we are all capable of collecting the tools that will help us surface when we are desperate for air. 

Love, Becca