Shorts And Me: A Love Story (Or, I Conquered Legmorphia And All I Got Was This WANT Post)

Shorts And Me: A Love Story (Or, I Conquered Legmorphia And All I Got Was This WANT Post)

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The other day in the gym locker room, one of my friends from spin class was talking about her body. I just feel gross, she said. It’s like my stomach is ten times bigger. And then she caught herself, looking to me with a side-eyed glance. “But you never feel that way, right?”

Oh girl. I love you for saying that.

The fact that anyone would say that to me is almost laughable. Because years ago, that was ALL I could talk, think, or feel about.

You’ve gotten fat.
Your stomach poofs out.
Your legs are stumpy.
Your legs are so stumpy.

During those years, I was so insanely tied to the view I had in the mirror vs. what I saw when I looked down vs. how I’d look in photographs. I clung on to “good” pictures for dear life and scrutinized the rest of them looking for “off”-details. You know, the thing or things that were horribly wrong, the things I could notice and degrade before anyone else could hurt my feelings. I have these flaws, I thought. Better I find them myself before someone else does.

My “thing” has always been my legs. Well, my chest and my legs, but that’s another post for another day. My legs inhibit me, I’ve always felt. They’re the things that don’t belong – like one of those mix-and-match toys that existed in the late ’80s; the kinds where you could put the horse’s head on the lion’s body and give it dinosaur legs and an elephant tail.

I didn’t ever h*te them per se, but I was aware of the way they seemingly threw off my look, my long torso and my athletic curves (which also seemed oxymoronish, as most athletes and fitness pros I’d see were way more defined and narrow than I was).

And so I hid. I hid my legs under black leggings and dark denim, under maxi dresses and sweatpants, anything to draw the eyes up and detract from my stumpies. Dress Right For Your Type! the magazines would tell me. And yet it seemed like no type was my type; I wasn’t an extreme but wasn’t somewhere in between.

I did go through a brief phase of skipping around town in the shortest shorts I could find, a time in which I hadn’t yet hit that “second-puberty” (totally made up that phrase) most women I’ve talked to experience sometime around 25, when your body decides it’s really ready to become an adult. And then it hit, and my body started to change again – and I hid.

katie-legs
A shoot I did around age 25, during that period when my legs were in hiding. I loved the location. I LOVED the people. I loved the weather and the clothes and the makeup. I was so uncomfortable…and let that color the whole day.

It’s usually way easier to pin our vague feelings of discontent/fear/distrust/anger/grief in life on something concrete that’s on our body, something external that we feel we “can’t” change. Because if we can’t change it, we’re eternally flawed, we’re eternally a victim. We’re eternally striving, eternally searching, eternally yearning for something we cannot have. Because who are we to have it all? If we pinpoint a part of our body to demean and bemoan, then we can’t. We never will. And that’s darkly comforting. It makes all the other loss a little easier.

Moving forward fearlessly past these self-imposed roadblocks takes an action step that’s hard to act on: consciously going against the grain you’ve set and literally baring it all, out in the open.

For you, maybe that means wearing a body-hugging dress or a shoulder-baring tank top. Maybe it means you let go of the bracelets that handcuff and hide your wrists. Maybe it means going makeup-free.

For me, it means shorts.

In the last couple years, I’ve integrated colored leggings into my wardrobe. After that came the prints – then the skinny jeans, then the white ones. One time, I even wore cutoffs.

And, finally, a couple months back, after years of hiding, I posted this on my Instagram, with this caption:

instagram
“In honor of the greatest love of all – #selflove – I did something kind of huge-for-me this weekend: I wore shorts.
My legs have always been a self-conscious spot for me, ever since 5th grade when my body started to change. There WAS a time there for a split second that I wore them loud and proud. During that time, I would always wear shorts to work out, would bop down the street in cut-offs like it was no big thing.

But then sometime around my earlymid twenties, my legmorphia kicked back in full-force and I hid them under jeans, leggings, and dresses as to create illusions and disguise their shape. Thinking back on it, that’s the time I stopped going to the beach as much, playing in the sun, giving myself permission to lay by a pool and read – doing things in which showing your legs is just what you do. They became unfamiliar-looking appendages, “stumpy” (so mean, kt!!) limbs that were super strong and capable but just didn’t seem to fit the rest of my body.

Fast forward to this past year. I have reached a point of IMMENSE love for my legs, but still couldn’t bring myself to slip on a pair of short-shorts to take a run. A little part of fear lingered – what if that feeling of shame and loathing comes back? What if my confidence and pride is really misguided and I should really be “getting down to work” sculpting my body to fit some mold I should fit into by now? – I had separated myself from my legs so much that I didn’t even know how I’d react to them.

But when I put on the shorts, I realized I am no better or worse with them on. *They are just shorts.* I am still the person I am proud of, the body I inhabit with love…just with shorts on. I’ve gotten a lot of great work done this weekend. And yet this small-but-huge accomplishment is the thing I’m most proud of.

Ignorance is never bliss; self-knowledge is ALWAYS power. Make a vow to know your body. Give those self-consciousy parts some EXTRA love. They just want to love you back. Click To Tweet

www.womenagainstnegativetalk.com

Baring it all isn’t about getting validation from others or proving a point to the world. It’s about feeling the flutter of fear and doing it anyway. It’s about realizing that you are no better or worse for baring it all – you are just you.

It’s about taking the power away from the external perception and feeling okay with it all, even if sometimes you do feel not-so-good. It’s about knowing that that feeling will pass, because it’s passed before.

Because once you are able to feel powerful as all of who you are – not as some of who you are, or powerful under certain x-y-z conditions – that’s when you’re able to make the greatest strides in the rest of your life. Because you’re not clinging to self-imposed limitations anymore to set the tone for what you will and will not do.

Because life is too short not to wear shorts. Click To Tweet

As we enter into the rest of this month, and the rest of this year, I urge you to try going a day, a week, maybe just an hour, and wear (or do) something that shows some love to those parts of yourself you’ve discombobulated in your brain. Wear the shorts. Lose the sleeves. Slip into sandals. Leave a comment and tell us how it goes. Post a pic on Instagram if you’d like to share, and use the hashtags #selfieempowerment and #WANTyourself. (<-there’s your WANT Yourself Action Plan for the week right there)

Ignorance is never bliss - self-knowledge is the greatest power. Click To Tweet
I still wear dark denim and black leggings but I’m not hiding anymore. No matter how many people you might look to for validation or an uplifting turn of phrase, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks if you don’t show yourself that kindness first and foremost.

Make a vow to get to know your body – every inch – and show those self-conscious, [fill-in-the-blank]-morphic parts some extra love. They won’t let you down and they won’t disappoint. They really just want to love you back.

 

Even the *pattered* leggings come out to play now. Kale ones, at that. Be free, legs - be free!!!
Even the *pattered* leggings come out to play now. Kale ones, at that. Be free, legs – be free!!!

Photos by Creative Start/Cortnee Loren Brown + Lou Noble

Bleepers Gonna Bleep: The 4-Letter Word That No One’s Censoring (But Should Be)

Bleepers Gonna Bleep: The 4-Letter Word That No One’s Censoring (But Should Be)

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I got a lot of wonderful qualities from my mom: her leadership skills, her cry-laughter, her zest for life and all its little adventures.

I also got her really colorful language.

Okay, so I’m not sailor material per se, but just like my brazen mother, I’m not one to censor myself in a real-life conversation (which I’ve been told sounds strange coming out of my mouth since I enunciate like freaking Emily Post, but hey, that’s me).

Back in my freshman year of college, I got into a nasty habit of unintentionally dropping, out of all things, the f-bomb in the worst places (ie in front of the Gymboree at the local mall). I was unaware. And then, naturally, I was horrified. I snapped a rubber band on my wrist for a month to train myself out of using that R-rated conversational tick.

It worked, and I’m now aware of the moments that are maybe not so appropriate for my oh-so-colorful language. But there’s one word I always try to catch myself on, no matter how many fbombs fly out of my mouth. Because strangely enough, it’s the one most commonly used, nasty four-letter word that no one’s ever told me to censor.

H-A-T-E.

Hate is, by definition, “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.” It’s violent and should be used sparingly. So why do we use it so much, especially about ourselves?

Well, for one, we don’t censor it in other areas of our life. Just like when you’re learning a new language, the best way to let it set into your brain is to practice out loud with other people. We take social cues from each other, especially when it comes to how we speak. So when we hear the word “hate” being thrown around as an everyday verb – I hate this, I hate that – it begins to feel like something we all just do. We just “hate.”

“Hate” is a form of Casual Negativity, a little conversational tick that’s become normal for us. It’s much easier and more comfortable to say we hate something than to make an actual change – it’s a way to distract and convince ourselves that we’re doing something to move forward, simply by dwelling.

It’s also an extremely emotionally charged word. It gives us something to care about. It gives us something intense to feel.
hate

And so hate permeates our lives, our relationships, and our self image. If we’re unhappy, if we’re upset, if we’re uncomfortable or unsure – we hate. It stirs up such an intense reaction that ultimately becomes familiar. To transcend the hate becomes too risky. So we don’t. And when we don’t, we hold ourselves back from working out the kinks in our psyche that just need a little love.

Just like me and the f-bombs I used to drop around small children, out-training your h-bomb habit is something you have to do intentionally. I don’t recommend using the rubber band trick – because a) it doesn’t get to the root of the problem and b) it really hurts. Instead, here’s how I’ve censored the h*te out of my life – strategically placed asterick and all – and what can maybe work for you, too.

1) Catch Yourself. Be alert. Whenever you’re about to say the word h*te, or even right after you say it, pause and take note.

For the sake of this exercise, I’m going to use two examples: internal and externally focused hate.

Example #1: I hate my stomach. (self – internal)

Example #2: I hate that person. (someone/something else – external)

2) Find The Filler. You’re saying “h*te” – but what’s that filler word really taking up space for? Is it shorthand for frustration? Confusion? Hurt? Maybe it’s the word you use to describe something that doesn’t fit your idea of how things “should” be. 

Example #1: I’m frustrated and uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable because my clothes don’t fit the way I’d like them to, I’m frustrated because I’m comparing myself to someone else (or maybe even a former version of myself). I’m uncomfortable because my digestion is out of whack and it makes me bloated, I’m frustrated because it happens all the time (or maybe I’m frustrated with my lack of motivation to try and make a change).

Example #2: I’m hurt and confused. This person isn’t the way they used to be. Our relationship has changed. I keep holding onto expectations. I feel judged. I feel tuned out. I don’t know what happened and I’m scared to try and fix it.

3) Use Your Words. There are so many other more descriptive, more accurate, more useful words you can use to express how you feel besides h*te!

Look back on Step 2. How do you really feel? Start infusing those words into your life, and get as specific as possible. Then ask the simple question: what am I going to do about it?

Just like the other choice words and phrases, I sometimes unconsciously slip. But those instances are now the rare exceptions, not the norm. And in the last few years, a strange thing has happened: a causal use of the h-bomb has felt foreign and actually dirty rolling off of my lips. I’ve noticed that there are very, very, very few things I actually do hate in life, none of which have to do with the way I look, act, or feel on a day-to-day basis.

We all have our conversational ticks and our characteristic norms. We all laugh differently, we all lead differently, we all find the kinds of adventures that work for us. The language we use, then, should be a reflection of that – of the nuanced, brilliant individuals we are. At the root of what you say you hate is really just a longing for what you love. Click To Tweet

Let that live.

It’s fucking spectacular.

 


WANT YOURSELF
Tell me in the comments: What do you usually drop h-bombs about in your own life?
Using the mini-exercise above, what do you think your use of “hate” is filler for?
And – bonus points for this one! – what’s ONE tiny action step you can take now to help you overcome that feeling?

*my dad, an avid WANT fan, wanted to be sure you knew that he despises the H-word and always discourages members of my family from using it. that’s a MANT – Man Against Negative Talk – if I ever did see one! thanks, Dad.

A Crash Course In Casual Negativity: The Not-So-Silent (Confidence) Killer

A Crash Course In Casual Negativity: The Not-So-Silent (Confidence) Killer

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Casual Friday, casual workplace, casual friendship, casual hookups. Casual dating, casual sex.

The way we dress to go out to the movies or the mall looks pretty much the same as going to a five-star restaurant. Yoga pants are fancypants. Our smartphones have gotten so smart, they’ve started to recognize our abbreviations and acronyms as real words (at least mine does)…

Another thing that’s gone the route of dress codes and dating? The way we talk about ourselves.

“I am so fat.”
”I hate my _____.”
”I can’t do that.”
“My ideas are stupid.”
“I’m such a klutz.”

This is a very real virus I call Casual Negativity.

Casual Negativity is the automatic negative talk we use over and over again without thinking, so muchso it’s become a part of who we are.

Don’t get me wrong, we all have bad days: those days when we just don’t like the way our jeans fit, or skin looks, or when we see roadblocks everywhere and just want to give up.

But most of the time, we bring up these instances without even thinking. We’ll nonchalantly say we “look huge” or “hate our bodies” – and we’ll say it with the same kind of detachment we’d use to comment on the sky’s color.

We use Casual Negativity – and hear it being used – all. the. time. What we don’t realize is that the way we talk rubs off on others, making it seem commonplace and even acceptable to speak this way. Think about it: how many times have you joined in when your friends or family start criticizing themselves, “empathizing” by sharing what it is about yourself you’re dissatisfied with?

The thing with Casual Negativity is that it’s an expert at sneak-attacking your entire way of communicating with yourself. What might seem like a few negative comments here and there start to work their way into your verbiage and morph into a daily diatribe that’s on loop both out in the open and under the surface. Sure, most negative talk is bad – but this kind is particularly harmful. If this is what our unconscious self talk sounds like, how can we ever expect to conquer the negative self-talk that’s conscious?

Sometimes we don’t realize how often we use Casual Negativity. Sometimes it happens so much, over and over again, that we don’t know how to get out of the pattern.

And so we don’t.

We get addicted to the problems instead of freed by the solutions.

casual-negativity-pin
We get addicted to the problems instead of freed by the solutions. Click To Tweet

So how *do* we move forward into a state of solutions, then? How do we just “get over” this pattern that’s now so engrained in the language that we use every single day?

Here are four steps to crushing Casual Negativity. Here’s what I do when I find myself hanging around in Casual Negativityville. Ask yourself…

1) Am I listening and recognizing where my Casual Negativity likes to hang out?

Listen to yourself for a day. What are the 3 things you criticize the most? Be aware, be honest, and listen without judgement. If a day seems too long, try an hour or an afternoon. Just like always, make this work for you.

For the sake of this exercise, let’s use the example of hair – “My hair is so ugly.”

2) Am I searching for some kind of validation, or am I truly interested in change? Consequently, do I like the reality of changing, or do I just like the drama of trying to constantly figure it out?

If your Casual Negativity likes a group setting – is this a way you’re hoping to connect with others? Are you hoping that by complaining, someone else will view you as more relatable? Are you just using Casual Negativity because everyone else is? Or maybe even because you’re craving a bit of positive attention? (ps. there is NOTHING wrong with wanting to be seen and loved – maybe this just isn’t the best tactic.)

Of the things you listed in question #1 – and be honest with yourself – do you really want to change them, or is it comfortable to just critique? Do you really want to change, or are you addicted to the dramatics?

So if we’re sticking with hair here – do you want someone to tell you your hair is beautiful, or maybe even connect with someone else over your mutual hairdo loathage? Do you really loathe your hair, or do you just get a kick out of complaining about it all the time? There’s no right or wrong answer here.

3) Am I using complaints or grievances to keep me in a safe zone, distract myself, and/or convince myself I’m doing something to activate true, lasting change?

Casual negativity keeps us in a safe zone of sameness. It’s a deceptive mother-effer that sneaks up and distracts us, convinces us we’re doing something to activate true, lasting change.

Back to the hair. Is your life really how you want it to be and that is actually what you want to change – your hair? Or…is it that you’re not happy with other things – your job, your life, your relationships – but those are too big to handle? Are you using negativity as a buffer for other things you’re not bringing up/addressing?

Again, be honest. No right or wrong and absolutely no judgement necessary. You’re on the right track.

4) What’s my priority? Is this one of them?

Make a list of your top 3-5 priorities in your life. This is a great time to go back and find your through line. Now take a peek at your list from exercise #1. Are you critiquing your priority/priorities, or are you really critiquing the thing that’s going unspoken?

If the answers to #2 and #3 are NO (and the above answer is yes), there is nothing else going on and you genuinely dislike the thing you dislike about yourself – then great! Fantastic! You’re now in control and know exactly what it is you need to work on in order to be your very best self. Use your network of family, friends, and acquaintances. Search this site. Search Google. Write me! I’ll send you links! You know what you need so you can get what you WANT.

If your Casual Negativity is not in line with your priorities, then maybe it’s time to address that “something else” that’s going on. Maybe it’s your social life, your career, your hobbies, your self care habits. Recognize the areas that really deserve all that energy you’re spending on Casual Negativity, and then go use it to your advantage where it matters most. Use that through line you’ve been gifted. You’ve got this. You’re golden.


 

WANT Yourself Action Plan:
In the comments below, let me know exactly where Casual Negativity pops up in your life, and one action step you can take today to either address that priority or shift your energy towards what really matters.

Remember to be specific – I know this is not an easy or comfy exercise to do, but I promise that it can change your life if you let it. It did for me.
P.S. I love my hair now.


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