When I was young, I used to be shy. Like, really shy. I was one of those kids who stayed in at recess, had only one best friend, and usually kept to myself with my nose stuck in a book of some sort. It didn’t help matters much that I also happened to be a fat kid. My size undoubtedly aided in my shyness and isolation, since I always thought that there was something “wrong” with me because I didn’t look like the other kids in school. I was the victim of a lot of bullying when I was young, and so I always thought it best to hide from the world as best I could.
Said self-concealment was facilitated by not talking to the other kids (save for the one best friend I had, of course — we were inseparable loners) and hiding my body shame with baggy clothes several sizes too big for me. Because, you know, no one would be able to tell just how fat I was under that tent-like shirt. As I grew from a young girl into a young teen, not that much changed. Eventually I managed to push myself into participating in the dramatic arts where I finally found a voice, but my clothing still reflected that of a shameful, shy girl who wanted to hide her body from the world. And honestly, I really did.
It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that I started ”coming out of my shell,” so to speak. Being involved in drama gave me a safe platform to find my inner (and subsequently, my outer) voice, and after a few years of finally starting to feel confident with my own voice, thoughts and opinions (and not being afraid to share them with others), I was ready to tackle my physical confidence. Right, erm… easier said than done. How was I ever going to do that? When I looked in the mirror, I was still fat. No matter what clothing I decided to wear, I was still going to be fat.
And then it dawned on me — I was always going to be fat. It wasn’t something that I could ignore, and it wasn’t something I could hide. It was something that I had to realize, accept and embrace. It was at that point that I set myself out on a mission: underwear. I needed some new underwear to help me see my body as sexy, and I hoped with all my might that this would, in turn, help me to feel sexy, too. I made a very determined trip to my local La Senza, squeezed myself into the largest size they had to offer, came home, tossed out my Wonderbra and granny panties that my grandma bought me from the Women’s Department at Sears, and decided from then on out that I loved being in my underwear.
For me, the actual “work” involved in this little project was basic, consisting of nothing, really. All I had to do was what I do every day anyway: Do my makeup and my hurrr, grab my trusty selfie-taker — or my “phone” to those of you who aren’t so selfie-inclined — and snap a quick photo of myself in my underwear. Some days I didn’t even do my hair or makeup, and just let my natural beauty shine. The power here lies within the lingerie anyway, and not so much with the makeup and hair (although I’ll be the first to admit that feeling totally sexed-up is a confidence booster). I would then take this photo, add whatever fun Instagram edits I wanted to it (usually a filter of some sort, accompanied sometimes by a double-reversed edit of the photo for double the pleasure), and then post the photo publicly to my Instagram account at least once daily for seven days.
As we’ve established, I’m not one who gets bothered—at all—by negative comments. There is nothing that anyone can say that I haven’t already heard, and fat haters are notoriously unoriginal when it comes to insults. There are people who think I’m disgusting, just because I’m fat? I actually end up feeling profoundly sorry for these people, because I know deep down that they are very confused, insecure, and full of hate. Something I am definitely not, and so every time someone posts a negative comment and I shrug it off without a second thought, I feel extremely triumphant and on top of the world. Those haters have a long way to go before they can reach my high level, where they can never, ever touch me.
What really surprised me, though, were the amount of people who follow me who would jump in to defend me anytime anyone left a hateful comment, and sometimes it grew into a legit war. I’m usually a fan of the “Do Not Feed The Trolls” notion and a huge fan of the “Delete” button (the easiest way to deal with trolls, in my opinion), but it was actually really comforting and empowering to see these people fire up in defense. What that said to me was that we are a strong community that stands together. We defend each other. We lift each other up. And we are a force to be reckoned with.
For every negative comment I received, there were 100 positive ones. These comments were the best, and the only ones that I let have any weight or power at the end of the day when it came to effecting me. They were from all different sorts of people, men and women both, but the majority of the comments were from fellow females:
For every negative comment I received, there were 100 positive ones.
User: I wish I had your confidence!
User: You are my girl crush!
User: You are so inspiring, and you help me to look in the mirror and love myself, something I never thought I’d be able to do. Thank you.
THIS THOUGH. This is what I do this for — to inspire other women to break out of hiding and to learn to love their bodies and be confident and proud. Because if you can look at me and think I am beautiful, then you can surely look at yourself and think the exact same thing. People’s perceptions starts to change, and sometimes all you need is that push from someone before your whole world opens up in front of your very eyes. There were honestly so many positive comments on all the photos I posted and it’s overwhelmingly flattering. I appreciated each and every one of them. But aside from appealing to my obvious vanity, these comments held so much power, being the very fuel to the body-positive movement fire. People were loving and supporting not only me, but what I was doing.
Posting photos of myself in lingerie is pretty second-nature to me, not only because I spend most of my days lounging around lavishly in it like a plus-size sex goddess, but because I’ve been happily and proudly posting photos of myself in lingerie, bikinis and any other “taboo” outfits that fat people typically “shouldn’t wear,” let alone post, for many years now. It’s sort of been my huge “eff you” to society, sure, but more importantly it has been my huge “YES you” to the plus-size community and my fellow fat babes.
I want people of all shapes and sizes to know that If I can do this and feel this happy and confident with myself, you can, too. No one has to hide anymore. And that’s really the important thing to remember here. I may be comfortable posting half-naked photos of myself online for the public to see, but there are still so many who just haven’t gotten there yet. If this experiment has shown anything, it’s that plus-size women are seen as positively sexual beings by many, that haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate (but you just shake ‘em off) and that plus-size women can be loved, adored, supported, admired and celebrated.
I want people of all shapes and sizes to know that If I can do this and feel this happy and confident with myself, you can, too.
There is such a powerful and grand community of love and support when it comes to size acceptance and the body positive movement, and it needs to be known that everyone is their own unique version of beauty. Don’t let your fear of random people’s disapproval stop you from loving yourself and showing it. There are so many more people out there who are evolving along with society’s beauty standards who will lift you up, support you, push you, defend you and illuminate you. So shed those clothes, ladies — and show me your underwear!
Photo via khaleesidelrey/Instagram