A big obstacle to fully expressing myself in my fashion has been my dislike of my upper arms. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been ashamed of them. When I look back at what they were like at a younger age I don’t understand why I felt that way at the time. They were just big, that’s all. When I look at my arms now I fully understand why I feel this way. Years of yo-yo dieting and an eventual significant weight loss has left the skin stretched beyond its limits, just hanging there like it’s given up hope. A cautionary tale for those striving to lose weight: it doesn’t necessarily make you feel any better about yourself. I liked my arms better when I was 80 lbs heavier.
But enough arm bashing. Fat women and their fear of showing their arms has started a cottage industry. Who else props up the “shrug” manufacturers of the world? There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to the topic. I desperately want to be one of those fabulous fatshionistas who wears sleeveless dresses and strapless bra tops. I don’t know if I’m not seeing arms like mine on other women because I don’t view other women’s arms in the same harsh light as I do mine, or if other women who have arms like mine are also reticent to show them. As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve realized that it’s pointless to try to conceal them totally, so now I wear short sleeved dresses and tops — but not too short sleeved. Cap sleeves are a no can do for me. I’m sorry, I’m just not there yet. I feel like it’s a part of my body that I still, after 20+ years of being fat, haven’t come to terms with. They’re kind of a map of my history. Each stretch mark denotes another failed extreme diet, another rebound weight gain. Maybe I’m not so much ashamed of my arms as I am ashamed of what abuses brought them to the point they’re at now. Thinking about this now, I’m asking myself if I’m so self-conscious of them because they’re a “tell” for the shape I really am, the body that is hidden under these stylish clothes.
I’m old enough to know I’m probably not going to get over this in a hurry. Even after writing this, I’m not going to go out and buy a strapless dress. I’m just not. But I do need to stop being so damn conscious of what my upper arms look like all the time. I also need to accept the mental state I’m at now and stop hating on myself for not being able to process my body in spaghetti straps. I feel somewhat exposed because saying this is not marching lockstep with the fat-positive band, I’m admitting that hey, I’m fat and proud but I still have issues and I still need to talk about them sometimes just to deal. I’m not leaving the party, I’m just going to the bathroom to check my makeup. I’ll be back dancing in a minute.