I spent New Year's Eve at The Stone Pony - a legendary music venue in Asbury Park, NJ, where Bruce Springsteen famously became The Boss. It was a nineties-themed bash featuring bands playing as Nirvana, Weezer, Cranberries, etc. - and it was filled to the gills with plaid flannel (yup, that would be me), chokers, black lace, and babydoll tees layered under spaghetti strap tanks (yup, that was a thing). I was in high school in the mid-to-late nineties and boy did this night bring back memories.
Like literally every other girl in high school, I was unhappy with my body. My perfectly healthy, perfectly strong, perfectly wonderful body. Of course, I was also unhappy with my pimples, my nose, my underarm sweat, my arm hair, my voice, my hair color, my bra size, my shoe size, my <insert body part here> size. If you'd asked me then to pick a part of my self that I actually liked, I would have probably said my elbows. Because, in my then-opinion, the pickin's were slim.
I'm about 70 pounds heavier today, at 36 years old, than I was at 16. And somehow - while I still struggle every day with feelings of bodily inadequacy - I have just recently begun to feel a spark of self-confidence. A glimmer of self love. A brightening hope for a more self-powerful future. The idea of focusing this year on shaking off two or three decades of unnecessary body hatred is really exciting to me. And, like the best decisions in life, it's all because of a lightbulb-style epiphany.
I'll back up briefly: I consider myself a progressive-minded individual. I was raised on a small farm in the country for much of the first half my life, and I lived in major US cities (Baltimore->NYC->SF) for the second half. In the last few years, I've traveled around the world, backpacking mostly, through Latin America and Southeast Asia, and have been fortunate enough to have met people living lives that were wildly different than my own. I've had my mind opened so many times to realities that I previously knew nothing about.
So, as I sat through the last year ruminating about our current social climate of realpolitik versus idealism, I realized that I was betraying my own values every single day. How could I believe in rallying against the status quo - in shaking off societal tropes and fighting for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, and people of color - how could I believe these things and still body shame myself? How could I hypocritically disclude myself - and by proxy, my fellow curvy women - from my fight? That's when it really sunk in: the act of self love is the ultimate form of rebellion. And that self love directly involves our bodies.
I also believe that being open about your struggles can help us all realize that we're not alone. This is not everyone's communication style - and it's one I've been criticized for. But one day, a while back, in the depths of the depression I've fought for years, I got up the nerve to write on Facebook asking whether and how my friends had dealt with the feelings of pointlessness and immobility that I was aching with. I got hundreds - literally hundreds - of public and private responses from friends. Stories about themselves, about their mothers or brothers, about friends they had lost, and lots and lots of self-doubt.
And I realized I wasn't alone. And then I remembered that angst-ridden 16-year-old girl inside of me who hated so much herself. And I realized she wasn't alone either.
Sometimes we just need to hear from other people that we're ok and we're normal and we're loved. And that's why I'm starting to write for Dare Fashion. Some of the posts to come will be about their body-positive clothing and philosophy, some will be about the challenges we all face in this world today, some will be about other badass women whose stories might not otherwise be told, some will just be a check-in on my own struggle for radical self love. And I invite you to join me on the journey.
In 2017, I urge you to remember that you are not alone. Even in the darkest night, you're connected to everyone else by the invisible fibers of a shared human history. Don't let yourself be loved any less than you deserve. Don't let others take away your power. Don't let your trepidation or your indignation or your stagnation win out over even the slightest possibility of joy. You're worth it. You deserve it.
My name is Erin, and I love you.
We'll talk more soon.xx
Dare Fashion believes that women of all shapes and sizes have a right to clothes that make them look and feel beautiful. Subscribe to our email newsletter, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest: @darefashionusa
Erin is a woman in love with how words sing to the ear and the heart. She moonlights as a travelphile, a craft beer expert, an animal lover, and a committed karaoke singer. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram: @esavestheworld
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