Putting on a pair of shorts shouldn't make me feel like I have the wrong body type, but it does. Or, it did. With a semi-warm day in the middle of February I grabbed a sweater and a pair of Banana Republic shorts to pack in my bag. As I quickly changed into those shorts a couple hours later I was suddenly hit by a flooding of messages about my body. While this might have been normal twenty years ago, I'm not typically flooded by those messages. I've learned I simply have better ways to spend my time. Today was not so easy as the leg opening on my shorts grabbed tightly around my thighs. I could hear the familiar voice whispering in my year thing like, 'they are too big' or 'I told you to cut back on the weights' or 'that's it, you can't eat today'. I was surprised by how quickly they all showed up. I have to admit. For a few moments I found myself buying in, as if somehow the powers that be (here being Banana Republic) got to decide whether my body was meeting some kind of universal standard of correctness.
Luckily it wasn't too long before I felt the even more familiar anger surge through my body. I've learned to parent or protect myself from these messages when they are a little further out in my periphery. I guess being directly on my person this one snuck through. I felt the anger creeping in. It wasn't that my body was wrong. Those pants were wrong. My body was right. My body was right for me. Those pants might be right for someone else, but not me. But how many of us fantasize about this promoted ideal that's out there? The one with less fit legs.
Why are we promoting an ideal of weakness? Why are we promoting an ideal where girls grow up afraid to be in sports because they don't want to lose their thigh gap? Shouldn't we be promoting strength because strength leads to confidence. Don't we want our girls to grow up strong, where they can be feminine and have the curves that go along with being a woman, but also be able to protect themselves in a world much more scary than the one I grew up in. Why does Banana Republic get to tell me that my body is too big?
It doesn't. I'm not. Strong is a gift I hope to pass down to my daughter... even if she mistakenly thinks her daddy is stronger than me.