I had originally titled this blog, you are beautiful but this is a post about self-love and so today, you are reading a post called I am beautiful.
I recently stopped at the store to look for a swim suit. I have a comfortable more athletic one-piece swim suit that I can use if I’d ever actually start swimming laps at the gym but I was looking more for a cute swimsuit I could be comfortable in for those spontaneous beach trips this summer. It had been on my To-Do list for a while (like years) and (because I hate shopping) was the task that was continually ignored.
By now, my friends know better than to ask if I want to go shopping and even my mom jokes that within twenty minutes of entering the department store, my eyes glaze over. It’s a problem.
Nevertheless, I found myself solo shopping in Marshalls. I picked up a couple suits to try on and a couple professional blouses and dresses that I could wear for work. If I was going to a dressing room, I might as well cover all my bases.
I began to try on my selections – laughing at the workout pants that had at least a foot of extra fabric at the bottom and shrugging at the fact that the “cute red dress that I could totally wear for work” turned out to be a bit too scandalous for me to feel professional. I was taking pictures in each of these outfits – as I often do the one time a year I go shopping (sarcasm... kind of) – to send to my mom as proof that I was growing up and shopping. Plus, it’s like a mini fashion show of bad dressing room mirror selfies and who doesn’t love that?
I tried on the swimsuit and to my delight it was a perfect fit – even passing my “can I jump up and down and not flash other swimmers” test. A+. I was quite pleased with myself as I slid back into my jeans. Mission accomplished.
I had one other item in my “to try on” pile and I quickly grabbed the long red cardigan, throwing it over my preexisting outfit. I snapped a photo and then began to look at it for practicality.
It’s definitely a little bit too big in the armpit area. One size down would be perfect. It’s super comfortable and would look nice over some of my work blouses. Oh but I don’t want to go back and find the other size. I think it was on the clearance rack anyway. I don’t need it. I’m just going to take my suit and go…
I was about to take it off – as my eyes were reaching the point of glazing over – when I caught my reflection in the mirror again.
And I looked beautiful.
And I don’t mean I just felt pretty or thought it was a nice outfit. I mean, I looked in the mirror and thought, Liz, you look beautiful.
Now, like most people, I’ve sometimes struggled to have total body acceptance. In general, I’m comfortable with who I am and how I look, but I’d also be lying if I didn’t sometimes wish that this was different or that was different. I think that’s normal for a lot of us. It doesn’t impact my daily routines or habits, rather it is something I’m acutely aware.
But in that moment, any insecurity I had ever had was gone. I looked in the mirror and I was beautiful.
From my argyle socks – still a little wet from the rain – to the green jeans and grey v-neck I had worn into the store – to this magical, soft red cardigan – I felt beautiful.
I immediately sat down on the little stool in the dressing room – reveling in this discovery of my own self-love. And then I started to cry.
I started to cry because I couldn’t remember ever having a moment like that.
I’m not constantly hating on my appearance. I don’t mind looking at myself in a mirror. I’m pretty neutral with the way things are. But I couldn’t think of another time things had been so glaringly obvious as they were in that dressing room with a clearance rack sweater one size too big.
I simply felt beautiful.
And then I started to laugh at the absurdity of the scene. It was a Saturday evening in New York City and I’m crying in a dressing room – alone – because I caught my reflection in a positive light.
(This is why I can’t go shopping. My eyes glaze over, I get a little punchy, and I cry over clothing that I’m not even purchasing).
After regaining composure, I traded the red sweater for the one I had come in wearing, purchased my new swim suit, and went home.
It’s been a few days since the dressing room incident and I think I’ve figured it out. That morning, I had woken up and done some personal writing. Around noon, I went out and ran a half marathon in the park. I came home and ate an apple and an avocado and took a hot shower. I had spent the day doing things I loved and things that made me feel strong and confident. I was productive and peaceful and by the time I actually looked at myself in the mirror, my happiness was at an all-time high.
I was beautiful because I was happy. I felt like my entire world was living in this glow of joy. I was strong and I was capable and I was smart and I was living my life exactly as I wanted to. I was happy.
And there’s something about that kind of joy that just transforms a person from the inside out.
I was talking to my friend later, recounting the incident and laughing at my dramatics.
Yeah, but I didn’t buy the sweater. It was only like $12 too. I don’t know. I mean, any clothing that can make me cry, I should definitely buy right?
We joked about the sweater and as I sat down to write this, I was reminded of one important thing – it wasn’t the sweater. It wasn’t my argyle socks or even the “way to comfortable to be this cute” jeans. It was me. It was me all along. It was simply amazing, wonderful, beautiful me.