If I had to pick one body part that caused the very most mental grief over the longest period of time, it would have to be my feet.
I’m sure that sounds silly to some. “They’re just FEET.” Everyone has them. We usually don’t notice them. They carry us where we want to go. They smell sometimes. They get dirty. They’re all up in the mess of life, literally the “boots on the ground” of our life, stepping in the shit and pushing through anyways.
For a very, very long time, I held a huge amount of shame and disgust for my feet.
Looking at them now, as an adult, I appreciate things about them. They match. They match each other, and they match my hands. They are large and wide. (You’d think that would help me fall down less, but not so much.) They are SENSIBLE and EFFICIENT, which are two qualities I hold in high regard.
When I was a kid, though, and a very young adult, I was so ashamed of my feet.
My feet have always been big. And WIDE. My dad is 6’2″ tall, and my feet take after him in length. My mom is a small, short Japanese woman with elephant shaped feet (read that “footprint like a salad plate”), and my feet take after hers in width.
Also, until I had kids, my feet were the same size since the fifth grade.
YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT, I wore a size 8 1/2 from age 12 to 28. TORTURE.
Now I wear a size 10. (That saying that your feet grow half a size for each kid was true for me.)
Buying shoes as a kid was torture. My feet were SO WIDE that I had to 1) buy men’s shoes, 2) special order them in wide width, or 3) buy them a size (or two) too big to make them fit okay. Even now as an adult I cannot wear sandals, because the sides and small toe on each foot goosh over the sides of the sole. My toes are so long that I can pick up tennis balls with them (not kidding), and cute little Barbie shoe looking heels leave almost an inch of toe cleavage at the front.
When I go to the shoe store and see the quirky, spunky, size 6 floor model of a super cute heel or sandal sitting on the display table, I pick it up, say “UUUGH I wish I could wear this,” then take it to the salesman.
“Hi, do you have this in a size 10 wide? Mkaythnx.”
[Hahahaha… laughing out loud as I write that. THEY NEVER LOOK THAT CUTE WHEN THEY ARE THE SIZE OF A GO-CART, but I always hope that they will. Maybe someday I’ll get lucky.]
My mom and her family used to joke that we (them too, because they have the wideness to deal with also) should just use kleenex boxes for shoes, because those are the right shape.
I tried it once.
They fit just fine.
My dad was a burn victim as a kid, so his legs and feet are chewed up and scarred. As a kid, when people would come over to our house for parties and such, they’d see my dad sitting with his bare feet propped up on a lawn chair and say “Laurvick, you’ve got ugly feet.” He would laugh.
Then, “Erin, yours look exactly like his.”
I know that it’s dumb, carrying the weight of stupid comments. It’s foolish to allow the judgment of others and callous, off-hand, probably-totally-unintentional opinions to burden us. BUT WE DO. We always do, especially as kids, and especially when the comments come from people we care about.
It’s taken me a long, long time to just BE OKAY with the feet I’ve got. In fact, I think the art of accepting your reality was learned FROM my feet.
“I can’t change anything about them, they do their job just fine. GET OVER IT.”
And so I did.
It wasn’t without practice.
I started buying sandals and wearing them.
I got hooked on flip flops, because they do not pinch anything when I walk, and because my feet can spread out in their full glory.
I had a couple pedicures. Letting someone else touch my feet was a HUGE step in healing and acceptance. Plus, when they were done, my feet looked kind of girly.
I bought a toe ring, and I wear it all the time. I honestly can’t tell you when I took it off last, other than to wash. I wear it all the time. It’s an act of ownership and confidence, a shiny-something to bring attention to what I otherwise tried to hide.
AND OH MY GOODNESS DID I TRY TO HIDE THEM.
No skinny jeans, because my ankles were so small and my feet looked like duck flippers.
No short ankle-length jeans, get pants that are super long and drag so I don’t have to see my feet.
Big, bulky shoes that were big on purpose, so my feet weren’t grossly amplified in size. Doc Martin boots were great. Combat boots were great. Clunky, Amish-looking heels were great. Loafers. Moon boots.
And BLACK. All things in black. Black shoes with zero bling meant no one was caring about my feet, because no one saw them.
It’s so funny how we try and hide things from people. Or rather, we THINK we’re hiding things, but really we’re not. We hide because we feel shame, but in reality no one gives even one rat’s ass except for us, and our attempts to hide them draw MORE attention to the thing we want to disappear. Our awkwardness and shyness and shame is like a big, fat, flashing, glowy arrow, pointing right at the thing we don’t want them to see.
To really make the thing not matter, we have to stop hiding it.
…and THAT RIGHT THERE is the point of The Body Image Project.
NO MORE HIDING.
No more shame.
We are what we are. We are fearfully and wonderfully made according to a specific set of instructions, and the result is so far outside our circle of control or influence it’s asinine to think otherwise.
Think about that – how ridiculous is it that we find shame in something that 1) we did not choose, and 2) we cannot change?
HOW IS THAT ON US.
Our bodies are what they are. There are some parts of it that we can effect, there are some we can change, but there are a lot, lot, lot (like 98%) that we have no choice about.
Why do we hate ourselves for what we cannot change?
Let’s quit that, shall we? :)
Let’s look toward what matters.
I have two feet. They take me where I want to go. They kick some serious ass, literally and figuratively. They run. They jump. They leap and rest, and they are responsible for moving me through every step of this very long journey we call life. Without them, the task of life would be way, way harder.
Without them, I would be someone different, and I LIKE me this way.
All of me.
Just as I am.
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Live every day like it’s your last one. Find yourself, own your truth, and change your whole freaking world. Forge Depth, and never stop digging!