The last time I owned a pair of shorts, I was in middle school. I'll never forget their adorable pink floral pattern and how much I loved wearing them. That is, until some boys made fun of me, calling me "Thunder Thighs" and all kinds of other names. From that day on, I decided that I would never, ever wear shorts again. And I kept that promise: I sweated through so many summers in jeans and other pants, and when I felt bold, I wore dresses and skirts that showed my legs below the knee.
But this Summer, I've decided to bring shorts back, and to wear them proudly, even though I weigh much more than I did in middle school. How did I get to this place? It wasn't as simple as just making a decision. Instead, it's been a long process of learning to love and accept my body.
Last year, some friends and I started a Facebook group just to share outfit photos. Our friend group is spread across the country and is comprised of all kinds of women: moms, single women, queer folks, and women of all body types. One day, a friend posted a picture of herself and explained that she hadn't worn shorts for years, but this year, she was going to wear the shorts. In the comments of her photo, tons of other friends posted their own photos of them living their lives in shorts. It was really inspiring.
Even though I had all of this goodness in front of me every day, I was too shy to join my friends in wearing shorts. I bought a few pairs online and tried them on in the privacy of my home, wearing them for a bit each day, trying to get more comfortable. But every time I attempted to wear them out of the house, I got scared. What if someone made fun of me again? What would others think? People are not typically kind to fat folks, and I was really nervous about the responses I would get. So, the shorts stayed at home.
If anyone has negative things to say about me and what I choose to wear, that says so much more about them than it does about me.
Over the past year, I've done a lot of reading and growing about body positivity and fat acceptance. I've started following fat babes on Instagram who have great style, and I've learned a lot about how to dress my body in ways that feel good. I've had a chance to work through my own internalized fatphobia and confront some of my own biases and self-hatred, while also learning about things like the Health at Every Size movement and intuitive eating. It has helped me learn how to work on my own body acceptance and love for myself, just as I am.
For me, wearing shorts is the culmination of all of this hard work. It's the rejection of the negative thoughts and criticism that have haunted me for years and a sign to myself that I'm putting my money where my mouth is. It's learning in action, and a chance to show myself that I'm not just reading about these things, but living them. Also, if anyone has negative things to say about me and what I choose to wear, that says so much more about them than it does about me.
All bodies are good bodies, and this Summer? My very good body will be wearing shorts.