Sleeveless Arms, Meet World.
This summer, I’ve set my arms free.
Here’s the deal: the fleshy upper part of my arms is similar in diameter to a 5-year-old’s waist. This is not an exaggeration. And no, we aren’t talking some kind of defined, She-Hulk-like arms. We are talking fairly tone-free, stretch-mark-laden arms. Some of you may have a perfectly reasonable “Meh, it is what it is” reaction to that fact. But, until recently, my inner bitch shouted “Yuck!” when I looked at my arms in the mirror.
As a result, I’ve been operating under the assumption that my arms should never see the light of day. They were to be hidden from the public, lest the people see them and chase me down the street, pitchforks in tow.
I used to spend my teenage years wishing for the existence of some kind of Spanx for arms, but since even regular Spanx didn’t exist yet back then, I started covering up instead. I’ve spent many a hot summer in cardigans, wraps, sweaters, and the like. So yes, the answer to being uncomfortable with the size and shape of my arms has historically been making myself even more uncomfortable.
But this summer, I’ve evolved somehow. I’m not sure what factors are directly responsible for my sleeve-free arms as of late. Perhaps I should credit the empowerment I’ve gained from the CGH community. Or maybe I’m finally crumbling under the cruel North Carolina sun. (It is just too damn hot out there.)
Despite my evolution, the cardigan still beckons occasionally, and I have to call on my inner “you go, girl” diva voice in order to snap out of it. Here are some of the things that she says to me. They help. (And these bits of real talk aren’t just for arms – feel free to apply them to your own potential propensity to wear a coat at the beach, pants instead of shorts, shoes instead of sandals, scarves to cover a scar, whatever.)
1. Wait, you’re worried that people will stare at you? Well, you know what’s more attention-grabbing than your arms? Your obvious anxiety when you’re completely uncomfortable and overheated in that sweater.
2. Think about how you’re treating your body mentally right now. Would you ever have this reaction to another person with a similar body? Absolutely not. So stop treating yourself so badly.
3. Seriously, covering your arms is not worth the sweater armpit stains.
4. Recognize the ways in which your body carries with it the legacy of your mother, father, grandmother, and all those who came before you. Your existence is a tribute to them. Treat yourself as such.
5. You have one body. It is what it is. You can’t have another one, so you have to take care of this one as well as you possible can.
6. Your arms do a bunch of amazing things for you. Don’t forget that. Just today, you typed and carried stuff around. Being able to do those things is not a given. Your arms are a blessing.
7. Here’s an experiment: when you walk in a crowded area, do people stop, point, and run out of the room screaming? Likely not. (If so, it is very likely that there is a fire or a world-ending event, completely unrelated to your bare arms.)
The road to body acceptance can be a long one, folks. But I’m getting there.