Aerie Real Talk
On a typical Sunday, you’ll find me sleeping in until 10am like a college kid (even though I’m 30), and lazing around the house until at least 2pm. Maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll get myself together enough to walk around the lake, then it’s back home to dread the Monday ahead of me. This was not the case yesterday. No sir-y, I was up at 8am, dressed and ready to take on the day because yesterday was the Aerie Real Talk event with Iskra Lawrence, Jenna Kutcher, and Mercy Nyangau. They discussed self-love, body-positivity, and candidly shared stories about their relationships with their own bodies while emphasizing the point that “You Are Enough.”
Here’s what I learned, it’s something I’ve learned before but I can’t get enough of this lesson. Iskra and Jenna both discussed how self-love is not a destination, it’s not even a journey because that implies that you’re going to eventually arrive at a destination. Self -love is a choice, and one that you have to make every single day. It really hit home for me, because I struggle with feeling like a failure. For years, I dieted and depraved myself into anorexia, then after “recovering,” transitioned into good old-fashioned disordered eating because I never thought that I was good enough. I was convinced that as soon as I was thinner, as soon as I hit my goal weight, as soon as I had a sharp jawline and sunken cheeks like Keira Knightly I would be happy. As soon as I looked the part, then I could start living my life the way I wanted to. That’s the whole reason why I started this blog to begin with, to let go of those unrealistic standards that I had placed upon myself years ago and cannonball straight into the deep end of the pool that is my life (how’s that for a metaphor). Time is fleeting, I won’t be here forever, and I don’t want to look back and wish I had experienced life instead of waiting to be thinner. All that feels great to say, but as it turns out, it’s easier said than done. Many days I wake up wanting to look differently, specifically wanting to look thinner, and that makes me feel like more of a failure. I’m a failure for not getting to my goad weight and a failure at body-positivity. It sucks.
Here’s the thing. There probably won’t be a day when you wake up and absolutely adore each and every aspect of yourself and find ultimate, complete and total happiness in your own skin. Don’t get me wrong, that’s awesome if you feel that way and please prove me wrong, but for most of us it’s a daily commitment to be kind and gentle to ourselves. That doesn't mean you’ve failed and have to start over, it’s an achievement to recommit to yourself everyday. It’s a win, and should be celebrated. Mercy told the story of when her waist beads broke. She had worn them for five years, and when they broke it really threw her. One minute she was feeling great, and the next she had hit a really low point. It reminded me of a bad day I had last week. I was feeling good, loved my outfit, was well-rested, everything was great until I saw a photo of myself from the back. I thought I was the ugliest person in the world, and it devastated me. I was in a terrible mood for the rest of they day because of one little photo. These things happen, it doesn’t mean you’re doing self-love wrong, you’re just living. It’s tricky, it’s sticky, it’s grey and it’s weird and it’s okay to have bad days, so long as you make the decision to forgive and nurture yourself.
They discussed rules, standards that had been told to us by a parent, significant other, a magazine, etc. There are made up standards that we have to let go of, things that we may not even consciously realize we’re still holding onto. Iskra told a story from when she was with her ex-boyfriend. They were out and saw a gorgeous, curvy girl wearing shorts. The girl had visible cellulite, and her ex said “She should not be wearing that.” He didn’t even say it about Iskra, he said it about a stranger, but she held onto that statement for years afterwards. It became “I should not be wearing that,” and unlearning that made-up rule was work. Rewarding work, but work nonetheless. It made me think of something I read in a magazine when I was in college. It said that short women should not wear jumpsuits because they make them look even shorter (something bout it being to match-y and bringing they eye to the wrong place? I don’t really know). I took that rule to heart. Okay, a stranger from a magazine whom I’ve never met and who has no idea who I am told me that I shouldn’t wear something, so I better listen! Now if you know me, you know that I have since unlearned that lesson with a vengeance and practically live in jumpsuits, they are my favorite thing to wear and make me feel like an absolute bad-ass. Do they draw the eye to the “wrong” place? I don’t know and I don’t care. There are so many rules out there about colors, lengths, textures, patterns, cuts, styles that we are supposed to adhere to based on what fruit shape our bodies most closely resemble. Iskra reminded us that we aren’t fruit, we’re human beings with beautiful, unique shapes that you can’t find in the produce section of a grocery store. Wear whatever you want.
I could go on and on, and probably will in future posts, but I’ll end with the most inspirational thing I got from yesterday’s event. It wasn’t what any of the panelists said, it happened before the event even started. I walked into the Mall at 9:45, picked up my coffee from the Level 1 Starbucks, and as I came up the escalator to level 2, I could already see a line wrapped around the walkway, women of all ages waiting to get in. Everyone in this line was happy, I mean beaming, eagerly looking into the storefront as they watched the staff line up chairs in front of the stage. The excitement exuding from this line filled me to the brim with joy, because it proved to me that people really care about this stuff. Body-Confidence isn’t a trend or a fad, it isn’t a phase, it’s a societal need. We are hungry for it. There is a need to share our stories and encourage others share theirs so that we can help raise each other up. It’s a lot of work, but we’re ready for that work, I am excited about that work. Regardless of what may happen today, I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and tell myself that I am enough, and recommit to loving myself. I hope you do the same.