I love Instagram. I love the interactions, the ability to share my life, the fashion inspiration and most importantly, being able to interact with my favorite celebrities. However, there are negatives to Instagram. I’m not going to preach about how Instagram is the devil and social media is making our generation stupid, but when you already have low self-esteem and issues with loving your body, Instagram is a great place to find inspiration to hate yourself even more.
I don’t remember ever not being fat. I was always the biggest in my class; the one who had to squeeze herself into the largest uniform when it barely fit. Skinny was always something to aspire too, and something I felt I could never be. I dreaded going to family gatherings because someone would always mention my weight. Whether I lost some or gained some, it could never go unnoticed. I can count on my fingers how many times I went to middle school without a jacket. It could be the hottest day all year, and I was wearing a jacket to cover my arms. High school was hell for many reasons, but surprisingly my weight wasn’t one of them. I discovered body positivity and found other girls who were fat, ones who didn’t wear jackets to cover up. Even though I started the journey of loving myself, wearing clothes that didn’t attempt to hide my rolls still felt impossible to do.
When I came to FSU, I couldn’t wear long sleeves to try and hide anymore. It was way too hot. However, every time I went to a class in a tank top, I spent the entire class worrying if the guy sitting next to me would make fun of my arms. I’ve been at FSU for over a year now, and the fear has lessened. I’ve learned to love many aspects of myself, like my dorkiness and how sometimes I can be an absolute airhead, but my body is one that has taken a while for me to love. Sitting around looking at body positivity posts are not going to cure me of my insecurities. Pushing myself to accept my body will. So, this week I challenged myself to wear outfits that scare me.
I’ve become slightly comfortable wearing tank tops, and sometimes I’ll occasionally wear shorts. However, wearing them together has always been a fear. I could never show my upper arms and my thighs at the same time. Even when I went to Disney World, I wore these shorts with a t-shirt. This day, I challenged my fear of exposing both my upper arms and my thighs for the world to see.
It wasn’t as bad as I had convinced myself it was going to be. I believed for so long that people would judge me, but in reality, nobody cares. Nobody has time to be worrying about the fat girl wearing a tank top and shorts when they have two exams, an essay and a speech to give. College is stressful enough without worrying about others’ perceptions of your body.
On Tuesday, I decided that I would tackle my fear of being more dressed up than anyone else. I have a solid collection of skirts that I hardly ever wear because I worried about being more dressed up than the other people in the room and the attention that brings. I bought this skirt last summer, and I truly don’t remember ever wearing it. Sadly, my fear of other people’s opinions has kept me from wearing things I love.
This day also brought along another challenge: challenging my fear of taking pictures in front of people. These steps are at the front of the Montgomery Building, right along Landis Green. This area has heavy foot traffic and many people looked at me, curious about what I was doing. Instead of taking pictures in my apartment, away from others, I challenged myself to take pictures in front of people.
It’s officially my least favorite day of the week: crop top day. Wearing a crop top is the hardest challenge of this entire week. Showing my stomach, even though it’s only a little strip of it, is extremely hard for me because it has always been something I was ashamed of. I was constantly pulling down my shirt and trying to keep it covered. However, by the end of the day, I did feel slightly better about exposing a little bit of my tummy. I don’t think crop tops will be a staple in my wardrobe any time soon, but this was a good start.
On Thursday, my challenge was to wear a top that exposed my cleavage. I don’t know if it was the outdated, misogynistic dress code of my high school or my mom constantly telling me to pull my shirt up, but I’m very uncomfortable showing any part of my cleavage. Even when going out with my girls, I usually wear something a little higher cut. I’ve had this shirt for a while, and anytime I’ve worn it, I would spend the day fearful of anyone looking at my chest. Wearing the other outfits this week truly helped because I didn’t spend the day pulling up my shirt or constantly asking my friends if it was too much. Instead, I enjoyed the day and wore a cute top, too.
On my final day of this challenge, I decided to wear a dress. I have a deep love for dresses, but in middle school, I refused to wear them and owned a whopping zero. I wore only band tees, black jackets, skinny jeans and converse. But, as I’ve expanded my wardrobe and surpassed the emo phase of middle school, I’ve found a love for dresses and their ability to look super cute and put together, while also being effortless to put on and wear. However, I never wear them. Going along with Tuesday’s dilemma of being nervous about being more dressed up than the other people in the room, dresses also give me the same fear. Also, dresses add the detail of being more form-fitting than a skirt and top. However, I felt super cute in this dress and will definitely be wearing more in the future.
By the end of this week, I realized two things: you shouldn’t let your fears about others’ opinions keep you from expressing yourself, and I love leggings. This week has created a small passion for fashion that I haven’t felt in a while, and I hopefully will be wearing more cute outfits in the future. However, I can’t wait to wear leggings and a t-shirt again.
I still hate taking pictures in front of other people, though.
All photos courtesy of Melissa Kuntzman.