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Being Body-Positive About Others Is Easy; Being Body-Positive About Yourself Is Not

Being Body-Positive About Others Is Easy; Being Body-Positive About Yourself Is Not

Being Body-Positive About Others Is Easy; Being Body-Positive About Yourself Is Not

I spent most of last summer working for a popular clothing store at my local mall. A lot of the time, I was assigned to the fitting rooms, which meant I had probably the most important and trusted position of them all: giving customers advice and feedback on what they had picked out.

Depending on who you ask, I was either the best person or the worst person for this job. This is because I have one rule when it comes to clothing and what people should or should not wear. It's a simple rule, but one that I try to follow to the highest degree because I believe in it so fiercely.

The rule? You do you.

That's it. You do you.

It's a rule that I have in any aspect of life. You do you, as long as you're not hurting anyone else or yourself. You do you.

So, whether it's a 15-year-old girl asking me how she looks in a baggy sweater, a soccer mom asking me if a dress is "too young for her," a grandmother asking how her butt looks in those pants, or a man asking me if I think it's weird for him to wear a skirt, I have one answer: You do you.

Clothing doesn't hurt anyone, and I always, always tell people to wear whatever it is they want to wear. To do whatever they need to do to feel confident in who they are and how they look. It's so easy to support people in this way, and it has nothing but positive effects.

There was one time in particular that got me thinking about my "You do you" policy and how it relates to my world. I had a plus-size woman come in trying to find a dress for a dinner at one of Denver's fanciest restaurants. Together we picked out a few new things for her to try.

She ended up finding a black bodycon dress — a dress that is made to be very formfitting. I could tell immediately that she liked it, but she was hesitant. She asked me if it was too tight, and referred to the way it showed off her stomach and thighs.

I told her it looked great, and it did. She rocked that dress. But she seemed so surprised to hear me tell her I liked it and thought it looked amazing, even with it hugging the curves society has convinced her to hate. That's when it hit me.

I'm a giant hypocrite. Huge. The hugest.

Because I am also a plus-size woman. I call myself fat not in a derogatory way, but as a true description. "Fat" is simply an adjective, and it's one that describes my body well.

The reason I am a hypocrite, though, is that I would never have worn that dress. I know for a fact that if I ever tried on anything that clung to my belly, thighs, or big arms like that, I'd have taken it off immediately. It wouldn't matter how many people told me it looked great.

It's also important that I point out here that I do like that style of dress. So this isn't a case of me just not liking it. I would love to wear it; I just don't have the confidence to wear it.

Yet here I am in this fitting room telling this kind woman that she has no reason to think this dress is anything but super cute. Here I am telling this woman who is clearly worried about how her body looks that she is gorgeous, has nothing to be worried or embarassed about, and should never be ashamed of her body.

I'm also the woman who has "#CropTopsForAll" in her actual bio for this very website but yet still doesn't have the confidence to wear a crop top herself. I'll wear a crop top with something on directly beneath it, sure. But you ask me to wear an honest-to-god crop top with my stomach and back showing, and I will laugh in your face.

So, why is this? Why am I such an adamant proponent of body positivity, wearing what you want, and having complete confidence in who you are no matter your body shape or size, yet still hide myself in any given situation?

It's because being body-positive about others is easy; being body-positive about yourself is not.

The worst part is that as I write this, I know there are plenty of you out there who feel the same way. You want everyone else to feel confident and love who they are, and all the while you quietly hate yourself and desperately wish you could change everything about your body and your appearance.

If you're like me, you're not OK with anyone having the lack of self-confidence you do, but you also don't know how to make yourself feel better. I can't tell you how many times I've told a friend, "Hey, I'm allowed to hate myself. You're not. Nobody else is. That's my thing."

But what a terrible thing to have.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I have a magical solution to this problem. I'm not going to point out that it's media and society that have made us feel this way, because I trust that you're smart enough to know that already.

I guess what I am going to say is that sometimes the only thing that helps me is thinking about people. I think about that woman in the black bodycon dress. I think about my friends. I think about my 8-year-old niece and how I would never want her or anyone else to struggle with their body and appearance as much as I do.

Like I said, they're not allowed to have low self-esteem. And if they aren't allowed to, I guess I'm not either.

Maybe, if I truly want people to adopt my "You do you" policy for themselves, I need to first adopt it for myself, because I'm not comfortable living life as a hypocrite.

It won't be easy, but I guess it's worth a shot. That way, with any luck, if you happen to run into me in the future and I am hard-core rocking a crop top, I can tell you I'm just doing me, and you should do you too.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Mckenna Ferguson

McKenna is a freelance writer, Netflix addict, and Colorado State University alumna. Her hobbies include sleeping, staying indoors, and crop top advocacy. #CropTopsForAll

McKenna is a freelance writer, Netflix addict, and Colorado State University alumna. Her hobbies include sleeping, staying indoors, and crop top advocacy. #CropTopsForAll