I looked at a photo of a another girl today, and immediately, I thought, “I wish I was her.”
Her cheek bones jutted out at the perfect angle. My cheeks are chubby. Her hips, her arms, her legs were slim. Mine are much rounder, larger, wider. Her stomach was flat. She didn’t tug on her shirt to cover any rolls or lumps or bumps. Her scale read a smaller number. Her eyes were brighter. Her smile was wide, her teeth whiter, her skin clearer. Wrinkles were non-existent, while mine get more prominent by the day. She didn’t need Spanx or long shirts or to think about the spacing on jeans pockets to make herself look slimmer.
Her outfit looked put together, her hair was shiny and smooth. The eyeliner, the lipstick, the curls–all perfect.
Still, after studying the photo of myself ten years ago, I take a breath and come to the realization I know deep in my heart but forget sometimes: I have things she doesn’t.
I have a confidence she hasn’t yet learned. I have a steadfast willingness to be myself. I don’t worry about what others think. I stand in the petting zoo line. I dance wildly at Taylor Swift and wear the fuzzy socks that people might say look crazy. I go out with my hair in a greasy top knot. I admit unabashedly that I love watching The Bachelor and have going to Disney on my bucket list. I don't apologize for taking up space or expressing my thoughts. I worry about being me and not pleasing others.
I have a tenacity she doesn’t have yet, too. I’ve been knocked down quite a few times. I’ve gotten back up all of those times. I’ve learned the “life is tough” mantra firsthand–and I’ve survived it in ways she can’t imagine. I have a decade of memories, of laughter, of learning, of growing, of knowledge, that she doesn’t have yet.
I have so many things she doesn’t. Still, if I’m not careful, I fall into the trap so many of us do–of wishing I could be her again. Of being afraid of my changing body and aging face. Of wanting to go back because I’ve convinced myself preserving society’s idea of beauty is what outweighs everything. And being rounder, plumper, heavier, or whatever verbiage you want to use is a thing to avoid, to fear, to loathe.
I look at that girl in the photo and wish I could tell her she’s beautiful. Still, I know she wouldn’t believe me anyway. She’s too busy worrying about the girl in the photo from a few years earlier or from the other girl she knows on social media. She’s too busy trying not to be too loud, too bossy, too much in a society that is always telling her she is too something or other. So I put the photo down. It will be okay, anyway. Because I know where her story leads to. I know that yes, she’ll get more wrinkles and frizzy hair and bigger hips. But she’ll also learn to love herself more than she does now. She’ll learn that society doesn’t get the final say on who you are or what your life looks like. She’ll settle in with her bigger arms and less glowy skin–and she’ll have a peace she can’t imagine right now.
I tuck the photo away and smile, knowing that I’m not that girl anymore, but I’m something different. Something more in many ways. And that will be more than enough today.
I hope it’s enough for you today, too. Put the photo down. Let that girl be who she is. Because you are you. Beautiful, wise, experienced you. And no wrinkle cream or diet or makeup product or hair gloss will take that away. You shouldn’t want it to, either.
Rediscovering Life’s Magic: Tip #3: How to Make a Drastic Career Change Less Terrifying
I was having more bad days than good days at work.
For ten years, I taught high school English, and when I first started, it thought it would be my forever job. In the beginning, it lit a fire in my soul. But then … it didn’t. About six years in, I started to wonder if teaching really was my forever job. About eight years in, I started to feel stuck. And ten years in, I’d lost the passion completely, and it was having a negative impact on almost all areas of my life.
I’d gained weight. I was moody all the time. I was dragging myself to work and coming home to nap on the couch. Joy was reserved for the days I was off work, and that was it.
And that was when I made the decision–I needed a change.
Was it easy? Absolutely not. There were all sorts of reasons I thought maybe I should stay in teaching. Ultimately, though, I knew it was time for me to explore new horizons.
So I did. And that’s the biggest piece of advice I can give you. In order to make a life change, you have to find the courage and take the leap. Along the way, though, I’ve learned some things that I hope will be helpful if you’re thinking about making a change.
1. Know that there is no wrong path.
I had decision paralysis because I was terrified of making a decision I would regret. But
you know what? That’s a risk even if you stay put. The thing is, even though everyone makes us feel like our career decisions are a one and done, you can always change your mind. You can always veer off the path and turn around or veer in another direction. You are not stuck. Ever.
2. Explore many options. We sometimes get stuck in the fact that we are stuck. You are never stuck.
I especially find this with teachers–we think we are only able to teach, that there are no
options but teaching. That’s a lie we’re told, though. You have so many skills you overlook because they’re part of your daily life. Think about what projects you’ve done, what committees you’ve served on, and what skills your daily job requires. Sometimes, it’s just about reframing your experience and using different lingo to describe what you do that will open up new doors. For example, many tasks in teaching relate to project management and human resources.
3. Be realistic in your timeline.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. By search for a new career took about a year from
my first search to landing that job. Don’t be in a rush. Take your time and explore your
4. Set yourself up for success.
Take time to work on your resume and cover letter, and do your research! Be sure to use buzzwords from the field you’re looking to enter, and really assess if you’re using too much lingo from your past job. Even if you’re just beginning to think about making a change, having your tools ready will help you make the leap with less stress.
5. Know it’s going to be hard but worth it.
Change is always, always hard. No matter what. Starting over with new people, new job roles, new tasks–it can be overwhelming. There will be days when you long for the easy comfort of the past. There will be days when you question if you made the right choice. There will be days you miss your old life, the safe life, the simpler times.
Still, I want you to know that it’s worth making the change. Living a life of passion and excitement isn’t easy. You have to fight for it. You have to get uncomfortable and push yourself. But once you’re on the other side of the big change and realize how much more alive you are, there will be no stopping you, truly. Life opens up tenfold, not just from your new job or decision but from the realization that you are brave enough, strong enough, and smart enough to start over. Once you learn that about yourself, life becomes so much more exciting and less fearful.
If you’re specifically a teacher looking for a career change, I highly recommend checking out The Teacher Career Coach on Instagram and online. Her resources really helped me feel like I wasn’t alone, gave me confidence, and gave me very real tips to use in my job search.
If you’re looking for support or have questions, feel free to comment below! I’d love to come together as a community to help each other find the courage to take the leap.
Be sure to check out my blog posts on why finding the spark matters, positive social media, and how mixing things up can bring excitement back into your life.
I wish they'd told us at 20 that our bodies would change as we got older, that we wouldn't stay that weight forever. I wish they told us we'd get curves and lumps and bumps and wrinkles and bulges and squishy arms that sometimes look bigger in pictures.
I wish they'd told us that angles manipulate pictures, that one photo doesn't capture your size or your worth or your beauty. I wish they'd told us to stop analyzing photos for places we could look better. I wish they'd told us to look at our smile, at the fire in our eyes, at the happiness that glowed within instead.
I wish they'd told us that there is no perfect body size--and that even if there is, it's okay if you aren't there. I wish they'd told us there are so many more important things than the circumference of our arms or our waist. I wish they'd told us that a woman is so much more than the size on her dress.
I wish they'd told us it isn't slutty to wear a short dress or expose your arms if you want to. I wish they'd told us to stop worrying about blending in or fitting in. I wish they'd let us wear whatever the hell we wanted.
I wish they'd told us, most of all, that we were beautiful so even today, we could still remember.
But they didn't always tell us. And you know what? It's going to be okay anyway. Because we'll tell us and the girls who come after us. We'll tell them and show them and remind them that beauty is in a moment, not in a size. That beauty is in happiness, not how slender your body looks. We'll tell them to be who they want and wear what they want and eat when they're hungry and rest when they're tired and to wear the dress that makes them feel bomb.
We'll tell them. Because no one told us.
#bodypositive #womenempowerment #womenhepingwomen #redlips #selflove #selfworth #bodyimage #mondaymotivation #womenempoweringwomen #authorlife #swifties #taylorswiftfans #loveyourbody #loveyourself #behappy
Singing a song I wrote from scratch. Chasing the dog in the backyard. Swinging on the swingset and then exploring behind the huge pine tree. Pretending there were magical fairies in the flowers and trying to catch them while wearing a crown. Then it was time for Polly Pockets (Back when they were ridiculously small and a definite choking hazard). Finger Painting, coloring, bike riding. The number of activities were endless. I couldn’t wait to get out of bed and get the day started. There were more things to do than I had time for, and every day was different.
When you think back to childhood, think about the penchant for adventure. Every day offered a new chance to play, to make believe, to explore, even if you were at home. There were countless activities completed in a day at whim. Your heart’s desire led a lot of your choices (and also the parental figure in your life). But the sky seemed like the limit, magic was boundless, and you knew exactly what you loved to do.
Fast forward to adulthood, and it’s no wonder so many of us feel down. We chain ourselves to the 9-5 desk and pride ourselves on routine, day in and day out. We eat the same foods. We dress in the same styles, do our hair the same way, wear the same makeup. We schedule our bathroom breaks and our water breaks and take the same roads to work. We do what make sense and what saves time. We come home, carry on our routine. And we wonder why we end up feeling a bit lifeless.
Mixing It Up
One of the simplest mood (and life) boosters I’ve ascribed to in recent years is to mix it up. It really is that simple.
I know it would be great if mix it up meant we could all sell our house, buy an RV, and travel the world without a job. I know it would be great if we didn’t have to do chores, if we had an endless wardrobe budget, and if we didn’t have to worry about things like feeding our family. Still, I think there are practical ways you can add some spice to your life and some excitement.
You don’t have to have a travel budget to explore and to adventure. Some of the things I’ve done in recent years to mix it up and bring back excitement:
But what if you need a big change?
Sometimes, the little, tiny changes can make a difference and help us find our spark again. But sometimes, if we’re being honest, we need something more drastic.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts to mix up our routine, we still feel blah. Sometimes, we dig deeper and realize our dream, our house, our town is making us miserable. And those big changes can be TERRIFYING. Tune back in next Monday when I’ll chat about tips for making a BIG change and how to make it less scary (I left my teaching career after TEN years, something I never thought I’d do).
Be sure to revisit Blog #1 about why rediscovering the magic in your life matters and blog post#2 about how incorporating positive media into your life can make a huge difference. And if you're looking for more inspiration, come join me on Instagram for more advice, inspiration, and motivation!
I received my products from Rejuva Cosmetics for free, but my review is solely my own, honest opinion.*
The older I get, the more conscientious I’m becoming about what I’m putting on my skin. As a makeup lover and avid tryer of all the products, I’ve started to think more about what chemicals are in some of the products I love and what long-term damage they could be doing.
My search for clean beauty products brought me to Rejuva Minerals, a makeup brand committed to clean ingredients and makeup products that aren’t going to wreak havoc on your health. Many of their products are EWG certified, and they are committed to cruelty-free products (something I’m massively passionate about. If you want to find out why, visit Beagle Freedom and their mission. Ever since watching the Beagle Freedom videos, I’ve been a staunch supporter of cruelty-free products).
I love that their products use safe, clean, and vegan ingredients so you don’t have to worry about what you’re slathering on your skin. Many of their products even have the EWG certification, which requires rigorous standards.
But at the end of the day, the makeup also has to do its job, right? It has to make you feel your best and give you the look you want. I’ve tried numerous clean products in the past only to be sad about the results. I’m happy to report that after trying a full-face of products, Rejuva Minerals is the real deal!
Lightweight, blendable, and glowy, all of the products I tried gave me a gorgeous, natural look from products I feel good about using. You can see my full-face look below, and I really feel like I have a natural glow to me without the use of a highlighter! The lightweight products really let your own beauty shine through, but the beautiful, natural colors also help enhance your face. I also was happy that everything wore well, from the eyeliner (which I’m notorious for smudging throughout the day) to the foundation. I felt like when I clocked out at the end of the day, my face still looked good!
I’m a huge fan of all the products I tried, from the foundation to the SPF16 to the eye products. Here are some of my recommendations to check out:
Ready to check out their products? Click here to do some shopping, and be sure to let me know in the comments what you think (I’m not getting any affiliate pay or kickbacks… just sharing the link because I really think you’re going to love these products!)
I love that they have kits you can custom build. For example, you can do a custom built eye kit where you pick your eyeshadow colors! The prices are affordable considering the quality you get. Head over to their website and check them out.
The media you surround yourself with matters.
Hippie-Trippie. Fluffy. Too Happy. Unrealistic.
In my early twenties, this is how I would have described self-help as a genre. Self-help seemed like a fluffy genre of ideas that were too good to be true and unrealistic. But as my thirties approach and I started to really struggle with positivity, I turned to the genre out of desperation, to be honest.
I’d heard a lot about a book called “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis and decided to give it a go. And you know what? It had an impact. A huge one. For one, I realized I wasn’t alone in my thoughts. This thing called being human, turns out, isn’t easy. And her book resonated with me on a deep level. As a high-achiever, I connected with her perfectionist tendencies, her desire to always chase more, and her worries about life passing her by.
From there, I continued pulling self-help into my sphere. I made simple changes.
The Skinny Confidential
2. I made a positive playlist of songs that boosted my mood no matter what. Songs that I
couldn’t help but smile or feel energized by. When I was feeling blah, I’d pop in my
earbuds and find an instant mood boost.
3. I started following positive social media accounts that gave me a boost. Instead of
mindlessly scrolling through people who made me jump into comparison syndrome, I
chose to follow people who boosted me.
Some of my favorites:
Olivia Marie Plath
4. I kept reading positive books, especially when I was really struggling.
Some of my favorites:
The Gap vs. The Gain by Dr. Ben Hardy
Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
5. I started putting positive quotes on sticky notes for me to see every day. There is one on
my desk. There is one in my closet. There are several on my mirror. These quotes are
my life mottos, my goals, and words that inspire me to kick-ass.
Small Changes Add Up
When you’re in the middle of feeling blah or like life has lost its shine, it’s hard to imagine that a few changes like adding a positive podcast or an upbeat playlist will make a difference. But I’m here to tell you that most days, we have to fight for positivity. We have to fight to feel energized, especially in a world that tries its hardest to bring you down.
Adding in some positivity, some words that inspire you really does make a difference. The work part of it is that you have to find who and what speaks to YOU, specifically. You have to search for the quotes that light you up, the podcasts that energize you, and the books that resonate. Sometimes, these will be out of your comfort zone at first. Sometimes, they will be about topics you don’t want to admit you need help with. But I encourage you to let that go, to fight for who you want to be.
Join me next Monday as we visit another tip for rediscovering the magic in your life, and be sure to click here to read week one’s post about why it matters in the first place.
Author L.A. Detwiler
Afraid to turn 30? Feeling blah? Quarter-Life Crisis?
It was a simple joke, but I remember tearing up that night as I fell asleep. “Almost Thirty” the birthday cake had read in pink frosting, my husband smiling as the family laughed. At twenty-nine, though, the prospect of turning thirty induced an increased heart rate, sleepless nights, and terror.
There are a lot of reasons I think I was so afraid of turning thirty. Part of it was probably because of the movie Thirteen Going on Thirty, where thirty was the magical age that was the end of the line. It was the age where you were supposed to not only have your shit together but be thriving, too.
At at twenty-nine, I really didn’t feel like I was set to thrive in my thirties–although you wouldn’t know it from the outside looking in.
From the outside, everything was “normal” in my life, maybe even a little magical. I was married to my junior high sweetheart, and we had a house with a dog. I was teaching, my dream since I was a little girl, and I’d even had a few novels published. I hit the USA Today Bestseller’s list and was also teaching at a college one night a week.
But the thing is, I was terrified to turn thirty–and I think it’s because even then, I think I’d realized something so many of us face, especially in modern society: adult life isn’t magical. In fact, a big part of growing up feels like letting the magic behind. And that terrified me.
Are you struggling to find joy?
At thirty-five, I’d like to tell you my tears about the new decade were unfounded. I’d like to tell you I cruised right through the decade of terrors. But that would be a lie.
The truth is, the beginning of my thirties sort of sucked. Some of it was specific, external events, such as my husband losing his job and my mastiff, my soul dog, dying. Some if it was also because of the dreaded 2020 year and all that ensued from that. But to be honest, I think a lot of it was just internal. It was me realizing that even though I had everything I was supposed to want, I was walking through life like a zombie. I wasn’t happy or fulfilled. I wasn’t joy-filled. I was, most days, just trying to survive. There was a meme I saw around this time about a vending machine with a sign that said: The light’s still on but actually dead. And that meme, which was supposed to be funny, was exactly how I felt.
But over the past years, as I’ve tried to sort through that feeling, tried to re-discover joy, wonder, and adventure, I’ve come to learn this: I’m not the only one.
That’s the thing, dear reader. I think so many of us, especially women, walk around with the perfect smile on to convince others we’re all good. We post on social media, we use our manners, and we tell ourselves we have to be grateful. We convince ourselves that it’s selfish to want anything more. But more and more I’m understanding that for so many of us, the thirties bring about a shift for so many of us–a shift from chasing that dream we thought we wanted to the reality setting in that maybe that wasn’t what we wanted at all.
For some of us, it also brings about that dreaded question: Is this all? Is this really all there is?
Five years in, I can tell you that I don’t have a magic potion or a quick solve or a simple change to make it all click for you. It’s work. It’s a whole lot of steps forward and steps back. However, I am here to tell you this: It IS possible to find that spark again. It IS possible to enjoy your life more, to feel more fulfilled, and to get excited again. It’s possible to find the magic, in short.
Which brings me to my first tip for rediscovering the magic: You have to face the fact that you’re not happy. I think we live in a society where women are encouraged to hide emotions that could be “ugly.” We’re told to plaster the word “blessed” on bracelets, throw pillows, and posters. We’re told to be grateful for what we have. And I’m all about gratitude. I’m all about appreciating the small things and what you’ve got.
But I don’t think it should come at a cost of masking your true heart. I don’t think it means we should walk around with a smile on when our life is making us miserable. I don’t think we should pretend to glow when our soul is dying.
So the first thing I hope you do today is to ask yourself: Am I walking around feeling dead inside? Am I struggling to find joy in my everyday life? Am I miserable more than I’m happy?
It’s not an easy set of questions to face, especially when you feel like you’ve followed the prescribed path to success and done it all right. It’s not easy to wake up one day and realize your dream might no longer be your dream, or that you might have to make changes.
Still, five years later, I can tell you it’s worth it. I see people in the grocery store who say I just look happier. I see myself in the mirror and I no longer see a woman who is cracking as she tries to smile wider and convince everyone, including herself, that life is perfect. I see a woman who feels a spark again.
Come Back on Mondays For Specific Tips
Over the next few Mondays, I’m going to be digging deeper into this topic and sharing with you tried and true tips that worked for me to pull me out of my rut, to put me in a better headspace, and to set myself up to thrive, not just survive, in my thirties–and beyond.
If you’re someone who has struggled with feeling blah, with feeling like the spark is gone, I hope you’ll join me on Facebook www.facebook.com/ladetwiler or on my blog www.ladetwiler.com. I’m really hoping that by coming together to talk about the struggles of identity, fulfillment, and rediscovering joy, we can uplift each other and encourage each other to take the road less traveled by–the road to true fulfillment, which is sometimes more difficult than cruising along but worth it.
If you’re struggling to find your passion or to find happiness; If you’re unsure of your career or wanting to chase a big dream but are scared; If you’re not feeling like yourself; If you’re feeling miserable; If you’re feeling more negative than ever; then join us. It isn’t a straight, one-size-fits-all path to happiness. But I’m hoping some of the tips and tricks that worked for me might inspire you.
Feel free to send this along to a friend who might need it, and thanks for being here with me!
Author L.A. Detwiler
Stripping Down Poetry for Today's Generation
My turn signal flickers as I round the familiar bend, simultaneously ready to be home but not ready to end my karaoke session in the car. The words to the Taylor Swift song blast from my mouth as my husband groans. “Sequin smile/black lipstick/Sensual politics,” echoes in the metal box when my husband speaks up.
“The lyrics make zero sense,” he complains as I put the car in park in front of our Cape Cod.
“It’s poetry,” I proclaim, turning to him as I let the song play a little more.
“That is not poetry,” he argues.
Peeling ourselves out of the car, the words still resonating within me, I think about his argument. And as we lug the groceries into the house, I consider his words—and how wrong they are.
As a former high school English teacher of ten years, I can tell you that for far too long, we’ve scared the youth away from poetry. Stodgy, forced analysis and uppity takes on the masters establishes poetry as synonymous with expletives in many classrooms. The power of words, the feeling behind the words has been haphazardly traded for alliteration identification and iambic pentameter markings. Words from the masters feel archaic and stiff to the modern teenager in many cases.
Certainly, we can try to enlighten our youth to the power of the words. We can help them uncover the beauty of love in Shakespearean sonnets along with the humor of his homely mistress. We can seek to inspire with the “Sail forth” words of Whitman and the Transcendentalist beliefs of marching to your own drum beat in Emerson’s poetry. We can analyze the melancholy in Poe’s “Annabel Lee” and distinguish Emily Dickinson’s punctuation and dark analysis from all the rest.
Still, there is something lost when we try to determine poetry is only from the classical periods, from only a certain breed of writer or format. When we put our poetry in a box of this and not that, we alienate an entire generation of readers and poets, for that matter.
What is Poetry, Actually?
To come to a solution to this issue, we must ask ourselves what poetry is at the core. Is it formulaic writing? Is it old, curmudgeonly lines that we blow the dust off of? Is it tangled mystery with forced concepts?
Or is it, at its root, an unfolding of the heart that speaks to many in nuanced ways?
I know poetry scholars, poets, and avid readers may decide the last definition is undoubtedly simplified. It strips away the power of poetry and the skill. It cheapens it.
But to me, if we can get past the academic appraisals and definitions, I think this generalized definition actually expands poetry in a way that opens up more possibility. By understanding that poetry at its core is about heart, we can make room for change. We can invite more poetry scholars into the fold by opening up our youth to the beauty of the art form. We can stop excluding so many by telling them what poetry isn’t.
We can still hold the classics in high regard. I am not proposing that because they are of a different time or a higher caliber of vocabulary, they don’t have value. In actuality, I believe that every single piece of writing has something to teach us. I also believe to fully understand literature, one must push their boundaries of understanding in order to discover new possibilities. However, this reverence for the classic poetry forms and deep analysis does not mean other forms, other mediums, other styles of poetry should be snubbed.
Poetry, Poetry, Everywhere … and Plenty to Drink
Taylor Swift’s newer song “Sweet Nothings,” notes:
On my way home/ I wrote a poem/ You say ‘What a mind.’/ This happens all the time.
She’s not wrong. She did write a poem in her lyrics, one that all walks of life can uncover, interpret, and consider. Taylor’s words inspire and connect. They make us stir at the core and ask: How? Why? Most of all, they help us say, “That’s me.”
Taylor Swift’s songs are poetry. So are Nelly’s. So are Def Leppard’s, and so are Queen’s. So are all the musicians out there.
But it doesn’t stop there. The Instagram poets are worthy of poetic reverence. The commercials, the advertisements, the magazine snippets that move us to tears are worthy of poetry’s label. The words that tumble out of your heart on to a page for no one but you to see are worthy of a pedestal. In short, at its simplest form, poetry is the bleeding of the heart, the outpouring of words into a medium that inspires and moves us. That doesn’t have to appear in a literary textbook or rhyme or really be anything other than that—from the heart.
The more inclusive we are about what poetry is—the more the appreciation and understanding of the genre’s power can flourish for this generation and beyond.
Yes, ‘Elder’ Millennial, You Need a Crop Top
Last week, I was scrolling TikTok to catch up on the Eras tour (My nightly pre-bedtime habit. I know, screens are bad before bed. But it’s my Eras era, so what can I say?) when I came across one of the many “millennial makeover” TikToks that have been popping up on my feed. The Gen Z expert helped the millennial trade her oversized cardigan, skinny jeans, and long cami for an updated look—which included a crop top.
And for all the ladies in the room in their thirties or beyond, cue the gasp. Right?
For as long as I can remember, the word “crop top” has been synonymous with an expletive.
“I haven’t found anything in the stores lately. It’s all just crop tops,” my friends and I complain over and over. We try on shirts that hit just at the top of our jeans and tug on them, explaining that they're just not long enough. We pile into the oversized shirts, the long cardigans. We hide, we cover, we camouflage and talk about how showing too much skin just isn’t right.
But as I scrolled past makeover over makeover to get back to my Taylor fix, one TikTok popped up in the same vein that gave me pause. In this Tiktok, she explained why millennial fashion is what it is. She talked about how our generation grew up with mothers who were self-conscious about weight and body image—and many of them passed that body shame onto us. So, we turned to oversized flannels, long shirts, and anything that would cover up our rolls, lumps, and bumps that we found to be embarrassing.
Even though my eyelids were heavy, I popped right awake. Because up until that point in my thirty-five years, I just thought we picked our clothes because they looked good on us. I thought the crop top was just an unstylish rebellion against our generation’s long shirts and that it wasn’t something we wanted to pull off. But maybe, just maybe, I considered—our aversion to the crop top is much deeper. Maybe it has to do with our need to be covered, not for ourselves but for others. It’s a symbol of the body expectations put on us that we still accept as truth.
The crop top, in essence, exposes not bodies or skin—it exposes our deep fears and self-consciousness about bodies we were told weren’t good enough.
Not Skinny Enough
I’ll admit—I do own one single crop top. (Why does that still feel like a confession I should be saying in a little cubicle to a priest and following with acts of penance?). It’s sequined and flashy. My husband found it at a consignment shop, thinking it would be a perfect Eras Tour top. It was five dollars, so I tried it on. Staring in the mirror at my exposed stomach, right in the section I was always told was the “area you never wanted to stick out,” I saw nothing but hateful words staring back at me.
Fat. Oozing. Pudgy. Unattractive.
I quickly took the top of, sighing. Still, I bought it because it was only five dollars, thinking I could layer a cami under it (We love our camis, don’t we, millennials?) or lose enough weight to make myself feel good in it.
And there it is. The true sentence that should make me actually feel guilty—guilty for being so horrible to myself. Because even at thirty-five, when I thought I’d worked through so many of my issues, the truth still sticks. I don’t feel skinny enough to rock a crop top. I still think I have to hit a certain weight or a certain level of flatness to deserve to wear a crop top.
The sequined crop top hangs in my closet still, mocking me every day. Did you lose enough weight yet? Is your stomach flatter? Did you pass on the cake so you can maybe wear me next month?
The questions stir, and the shame stirs with it. But that single TikTok made me consider what it would take to make the crop top stop taunting me.
Changing the Narrative
USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door, The Diary of a Serial Killer's Daughter, and other creepy thriller books