When A Stranger Told Me I Was 'Brave' For Wearing Shorts

by Madison Hayes
Originally Published: 
Alejandra de la Fuente/Getty

As a work-at-home-mom, I don’t see the light of day very often. When I do, it’s a just cause to get myself “all done up.” And by “all done up,” I mean changing out of yesterday’s loungers, putting on some denim shorts, brushing my hair, applying some cheap mascara, and calling it a f*cking day.

It was one of those “all done up” days a few weeks ago when I was able to bust out of the doors of my prison household and get my nails done for a long-overdue appointment.

And as I walked into that salon, I felt damn good about myself. As usual, the manicurist and I chit-chatted our way through the hour. But when my nails were done and I went to stand up, she remarked to me, “You are so brave for wearing shorts! I just can’t with my mom bod anymore.”

Say what, lady-who-I-haven’t-tipped-yet?

Now, I’m a “thick” woman. Like most, I have cellulite. My legs rub against each other, and I don’t have anything close to resembling the “perfect” ass. (In fact, I’m nothing but legs from my heels clear to the bottom of my back.) But it’s hotter than hell, so I’m going to do whatever I need to do to feel comfortable and keep cool. Which means I will be wearing shorts despite those who believe shorts withhold some unspoken, designated weight-limit.

After her remark, I could see every inch of her cringing with regret. She had negatively mentioned my weight without thought, and she’s not a cruel being. She began overcompensating with all of the many reasons I was brave for wearing shorts… and it was obvious. In her attempts to make the situation better, she was making it far worse.

Still, I blew it off. People say things without a flippin’ thought every damn day. Hell, I do it. I’m familiar with that sinking, oh-shit-I-wasn’t-thinking-clearly feeling. Therefore, in my book, she gets some grace. After all, if her words did anything for or to me, it was that they spoke volumes of her own insecurities. And for that, I truly feel sympathy for her.

She’s gorgeous, and not that it matters, but she is far thinner than I am. And it breaks my heart that she, or anyone else, feels like they cannot wear shorts or reveal their body. Especially in the sticky heat of summer, because every human being deserves to do or wear whatever it is that they can to keep themselves cool and comfortable.

My Lord, it is hot outside. Wear. The. Damn Shorts.

Even though I’m certain my facial expression told a different story in the moment, when she made that comment, my heart broke for her. Because I used to be her. For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with self-love. Correction: I still struggle with self-love.

When I was eight, I remember covering my body at daycare on our weekly swim days because I was more developed than others. When I was twelve, I purged after meals so I didn’t have to be one of the only girls in middle school with boobs, an ass, and rolls. When I was fifteen, I was told I was fat more times than I was told I was beautiful. When I was 23, my ex put me down because of my weight on a regular basis.

I’ve come to a point in my life where I should feel fragile when it comes to my weight. But I truly don’t have any f*cks left to give when it comes to the matter. Because when I was at my absolute thinnest, I thought I was at my biggest. I should have been wearing all of the skimpy shorts, crop tops, and bikinis my little heart desired, but in my deceiving and distorted eyes, I was “too fat.”

To present a visual of how potent my body dysmorphia was, at that time I was a size three.

The excuses for hiding my body were pretty much all one of the same:

“I’m too fat.”

“When I sit down, I have rolls.”

“My inner thighs have stretch marks.”

”My arms jiggle when they move.”

Did you catch that?… “My arms jiggle when they move.”

Looking back, all I can think to ask my prior self is, who in the fresh hell has arms that don’t jiggle when they move?!

Frankly speaking, I was practicing self-hate for being a human being with an average body.

Now I am the biggest I have ever been when discounting my carrying-a-human-self. My stomach has (no joke) at least one hundred lines of criss-cross applesauce stretch marks, each of them telling a different tale of my unique pregnancies. My belly-button looks like it’s been robbed of all it’s joy and it’s name should be Droopy. I haven’t been a size three since those days long ago when I stood in front of the mirror and repetitively call myself fat, and that’s okay.

Today, I’m a size 12… and that’s modestly speaking. I notice my new curves, what the rest of the world might call “imperfections,” and I still have my days where I judge my body way too harshly. But I have more self-love as a size 12 than I ever did as a size three.

I’m a thick woman, and it’s summer. It is too hot outside for me to cover myself for another’s convenience, and I refuse to do so.

I will be wearing shorts every single day for as long as the weather is willing, because I — because everyone — is worthy of comfort no matter their body type, shape or size.

I am brave for so many things, but wearing shorts is not one of them.

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