“I’m not flashy with my body in public.”
This was a text response I sent to my husband after he sent one to me telling me that I should get a string bikini this summer for the beach, after I daringly sent him a collage of dressing room photos to get his input on cut and color for new suit bottoms.
After getting his response, I raised an eyebrow and ran through my head the series of jumping jacks, running in place, miming dive bombs and whatnot that I had just performed in the tiny, cramped dressing room – for each suit bottom I tried on. My mission of the day was to finally find the bottom half to a swim suit in which I could chase after an active 15-18 month old this summer and not have to worry about my butt cheeks eating the suit bottom, the suit bottom coming untied… and avoid as much as possible: judging stares, which was the driving factor in my response to him. And tends to be the driving factor in a lot of my presentation of myself in public. Anything to avoid those stares, the glances, the hushed (but audible) passive aggressive remarks…
I could sit here and type out every single time instance in my life that makes me hesitant to send even my very own husband, a photo of me just simply dressed in a swim suit. I struggle to do so with shirts, pants, anything. But that’d take days, I’m sure WordPress has a word count limit, this isn’t a pity party for me, and there is always going to be someone out there reading this, judging me because in their eyes: I have no right to “whine”. About anything.
Remember, no one’s life is perfect. Just because you perceive mine to be…
But this is where it all stops. This is where I stop apologizing.
I am not sorry.
I posted this picture on Instagram the other day as part of a yoga challenge. I had just gotten home from a run, and I’m one of those who gets extremely warm when I run. The second I stop, get to that end line… If I could strip naked? I totally would. I’d strip naked and jump in a giant bucket of ice cubes. My brain goes into slight panic mode if I can’t cool myself down in what it deems as a quick enough time. This day, was no different. I got to my front deck and started peeling my layers off and stretching out from what was a tough run physically and mentally for me.
I remembered the challenge started that day, propped my camera up, and let it roll while I was going through my stretches, and eventually incorporating that day’s pose. Not even thinking, I took my screen shot, used the black and white filter because it looked, well, really cool that way, and posted it. Then I walked away from my phone for a bit, enjoyed time with my son, picked up the house, made dinner. Totally spacing out about it.
Later, when I picked my phone back up, I had likes, a few comments, and some private messages. Two in particular, were in relation to the post earlier. I was being unfollowed. Why? These particular followers wanted to let me know that they were decided in that I “was no longer an inspiration to them” because I posted a pose in my sports bra and workout pants. I was now, in their mind’s eye, just like every other “yoga person that does yoga in their underwear”. I was no longer “one of them”.
It’s particularly fascinating to me that I garnered this kind of response, when just weeks before, I had received messages saying that I should do yoga IN my underwear, because it was sexier.
Let’s go over this: I don’t want to be sexier. Especially to the general public. I also do a lot of yoga with my 13-month old son, so I will be doing my yoga clothed thankyouverymuch. And lastly, I am sincerely disappointed that in just one post, I lost followers because I was seen as no longer relatable.
I saw the picture as me stepping out of my comfort zone a bit, because you could see my back. Which is considerably more skin that I show, ever. Typically I’m in my workout clothes, my pajamas, or even my clothes from the day (I still can’t figure out how I can nail crow in a pair of skinny jeans, but can’t in a pair of workout shorts….). I saw the picture, and see my muscles. The work I’ve put in with weights this past year. I see my inner strength as I stand tall and proud, having overcome SO much in my life, having risen above hard times, an abusive relationship, made it through deaths of loved ones and friends. That photo, putting truth the the “a photo is worth 1,000 words”, is so much more than tree pose for a yoga challenge on social media.
I started to type out that I was sorry… then stopped myself. I have always apologized. For who I am. For what I look like. For anything. No. More.
This is where leading by example for my son takes priority over everything. I don’t want him to be forced to apologize for maybe being tall. Or being strong. Or being fast. Just being anything either because genetics, in someone’s eyes, favored him, or because he put in hard work. I don’t want him to feel that he has to apologize for living his dream, or for even reaching for it to begin with.
So, I am not sorry you don’t like that I don’t do upward facing dog in my underwear. I am not sorry that I may occasionally do yoga in my sports bra and workout pants. I am not sorry that this summer I may even really step out of my comfort zone and post a yoga photo in my bathing suit. I am not sorry I am me. I am not going to come up with reasons, or make excuses. Not anymore.
And neither should you.
(Unless you’re doing something legitimately wrong, that is. But never apologize for what you look like or who you are.)