One of the comments I get on an almost daily basis is: How do you have the guts to wear this? How do you have the guts to wear a short dress, or expose your arms, or combine bold colors or wear dominant accessories?
Very often I find that funny. Because after all – it's only clothes. Why do you need so much courage to wear something? What's the worst that can happen if i'll wear a short skirt or unmatched colors? The worst think is that I won't look my best, and frankly it's not such a disaster that should be mustered wth so much courage.
But the thing is that I wasn't always like that. Up until several years ago I was one of the "how do you have the guts" people. Each time I would get dressed and look in the mirror I would judge myself not only in my own eyes but also in the eyes of everyone I might meet outside: The douche who does not like seeing a bigger woman with exposed arms, the elderly lady who thinks it's inappropriate for a woman to bare her knees, the goth girl who wears only black and thinks bold colors are embarrassing etc. So in most cases I didn't dare to wear what I really wanted, and even when I did I felt extremely over-conscious. I was sure everyone are looking at me and judging me, and if I would hear someone laugh I was sure they are laughing at me.
So what happened? How did everything changed?
On 2010 I was at the beginning of my wardrobe makeover. I learned to order stuff online and started experimenting more with clothes, but I still had so many mental blocks and misconceptions deeply planted in my head.
And then came the vertigo.
At first it was weak and random, and gradually increased until I literally felt the entire world spinning around me. It's a terrible feeling of helplessness. I went to so many doctors and did so many tests and the problem wasn't found.
The "climax" came when I had to spend more than 3 weeks at home – I can't even write lying in bed since I wasn't able to lie down. I had to sleep almost sitting up and on my left side only. If that doesn't sound so bad try sleeping like that for more than one night in a row… My head was fixed in a neck splint so I couldn't even read or sit next to the computer.
I'll spare you the drama and say right now that this turned out to be something called Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo which is not dangerous in any way, only causes great discomfort.
Around 20% of the population will have this condition somtime during their life, and there's nothing to do to avoid it – it just happens. I already had this twice since then, only in those times it was handeled much more quickly and efficiently.
The point is, that during those three weeks when I sat at home depressed, convinced I have some sort of brain tumor and that i'm going to die, something changed in me. Suddenly something clicked: life is really too short in order not to enjoy it now, do what I want now and wear what I want now.
And from that moment on I left the "how do you have the guts" people and became one of the "if you don't like it look the other way" people. You need courage to bungee jump or gamble all your money on wall street, not to wear clothes.
When we choose what to wear according to what someone else might say or think about us, we give them much more power over our lives than they deserve. And it has no limits: Even if we'll go to the beach wearing a burka someone will have something to say. We have to realize what we wear is nobodys' business, as simple as that. The only person who should we pleased with what we wear it ourselves.
At the end of the day those people who judge us because we don't dress "appropriately" according to their taste are only passerbys in our lives. None of them will come and give you a certificate of appreciation everytime you wear covering clothes, and on our deathbed we won't fondly remember all the people that didn't say nasty things to us.
However we certainly might find ourselves regretting at an older age that we didn't go to the beach, that we didn't wear short dresses when it was hot, that we didn't wear this lovely hearts print because we were afraid itwas too childish and generally that we didn't do what we really wanted.
One other thing the vertigo has taught me is to appreciate my health and the proper functioning of my body. I read a lot about women who hate their bodies, who literally despise it. And it's so sad to me because we don't know how to appreciate our body and how wonderful it is until it fails. A girl looks at herself in the mirror and doesn't see that she breathes, that she can walk, run, laugh, jump, lie down, sit. That her heart is pumping and the lungs generate oxygen and the stomach digest and the bladder cleans etc.
All she sees is that in her eyes her body does not look perfect. But hey, we forgot something! Our body has so many more important roles than to look perfect. We give so much significance to the outward appearance issue that we don't even notice that our body is functioning, that we are alive and healthy!
Because of that insight I have changes my eating habits and started to excersize regularly, which I recommend doing at any size or age. But I have notices that many times this self hatred does not come from girls in the higher weights like myself, but rather from those mid-sized women who really are fine health-wise but still put their entire focus on those few extra pounds that doesn't really mean anything in the grander scale of things.
So next time you look at yourselves in the mirror and think nasty thoughts…
Try first thinking how wonderful it is to walk.
How amazing it is to breath deeply.
How much fun it is to use your hands (did you ever try doing even the most basic of daily tasks with one hand not functioning…?)
If you are mothers – how amazig it is that your body brought life into this world.
And remember, that in the end of the day this is what our body is for. This is the important stuff. not how narrow our waists are.
For conclusion, I would like to remind all the amazing women out there two things:
First, live the life you want now. Do now what's good for you and wear now what you dream about. Life is short and you can never know what will happen and what you'll regret in the future. Don't let other peoples' opinions prevent you from doing what's right for you.
Second, remember that your body is an incredible machine and try to respect and love it. The appearance issue is only one tiny element in a complete system of things our body does for us without us even noticing, until something gets wrong. Know how to appreciate it when things are still good.