The Dressing Room – by Jacki Hayes

I stood in the claustrophobic dressing room of New York & Company, trying my hardest not to cry.

I was in my favorite store, surrounded by clothes that were just my style, and I wanted desperately to run away.  But I didn’t have much of a choice.  Just a few weeks before my step-daughter had inherited all my tops.

My snarky XS small t-shirts from Hot Topic, including the purple Snuffleupagus.  Even the fuzzy sweater hoodie and Rainbow Bright raglan t-shirt.

All that was left hanging in my closest was fleece pull-overs and over-sized hoodies.  I was too big for all my clothes.

All my life I have been petite, described as a tiny thing.  Smalls were the largest shirt that ever went over my head (unless you count the flannel stage in the 90’s).

But now I was struggling to button a medium hot pink cardigan.  And it was the third sweater that had been too small.  It was a medium.

I was not, NOT, going to go up a size.  I was not going to go look for a large.

Instead, I stood in front of the mirror and stifled the tears.

How did I get here?

Eighteen months ago, I decided that I couldn’t handle the slow metabolism or the slow creep of fat called a muffin top.

So I took up running, then yoga, and finally Crossfit.

I am in the best shape of my life and that results in emotional breakdowns in my favorite clothing stores?

The sweaters strain over my upper arms, making it impossible to layer a turtleneck beneath.

Button-up blouses gape and pull on each button.  T-shirts are forced across my shoulders and chest, riding up into my arm-pits.

And bras, pretty push-up bras that look sexy and hot on a night date?  Finding one of those is even more traumatic, so I gave up and wear sports bras for everything.

We, as women, are told to workout to look good, to get toned, and to get smaller and skinnier.

So some of us begin Crossfit.  And we do look good, and we do get toned.

But we still find ourselves struggling in the dressing rooms, still feeling like ugly ducklings.

When we are in the gym, we feel unstoppable, incredible, beautiful, and confident.  Our bodies are amazing.

But when we step into a dressing room we are reminded that the world outside the box judges us on our looks, not our performance.  We can be strong, toned, and do 100 pull-ups, but we still need to look like Demi Moore in G.I. Jane.

While I stood in the unflattering light, desperately wanting the hot pink cardigan to fit, I send to hell with it.

My body isn’t the problem.  It is becoming more and more incredible every day.  It can do pistol squats and multiple strict pull-ups.  It can do ring dips and Turkish get-ups.  It can flip a tire and pick up more than one and half times its weight.

Just as Crossfit is redefining the realm of fitness, we are also creating new definitions of feminine beauty.

We are trail blazers.

Some day we will walk into a dressing room with our daughters, who don’t attempt to shrink and become small, who never doubted that they are strong and capable, who can find jeans to fit any shape and size, and we will know we created that world for them.

That hot pink cardigan that strained at the buttons?  Well, it looks amazing left open over a cute tank.

jackiJacki keeps active with Crossfit, yoga, and running. She loves sushi and almost always has a book in hand. She desperately misses Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but thinks The Big Bang Theory is the next best thing.  She blogs about becoming who she might have been at Dare 2 Dream Dare 2 Do.

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