So, Friday…6/16/17, I’m standing in line at Walmart. I look cute, it’s payday and I have the weekend off so, I’m wearing my high waisted khaki’s with a charming cropped shirt that showed just enough belly for me not to get sent home from work for a dress code violation. Well, while I’m standing in line, an older lady thought it necessary to speak across the other people standing between us to tell me to pull my shirt down. I looked down to make sure everything was still intact and in its correct place, only to realize she was referring to the sliver of exposed tummy.
“It’s a crop top.”
She said, “Oh,” and turned her head in what i perceived to be embarrassment. I hope she wasn’t embarrassed or didn’t think she offended me because she didn’t. There was, however, a valuable lesson for both of us and maybe you as well.
I could have gotten mad and told her why her assumption was symptomatic of society’s attempt to police women’s bodies, plus sized bodies to be specific. Or I could have told her how body shaming said more about her than it did about me. But…what would responding negatively have said about me? That deep down, maybe i felt like society is right. Maybe i have no business wearing anything trendy even though i live in Mobile and it’s dreadfully hot. I can honestly say that’s not the case. I regularly rock mid-drifts without a second thought and obviously, i was not aware of any bias against plus sized women wearing them (read willfully ignorant). So, why not continue on in this vein?
Aside from fashion and body image, the lesson applies to life in general. Simply put, stop lettin’ people put their mouth on you. Literally and figuratively. The theme of life for me this month has been the power of my words and their effect on my reality. From the sermon series at church to different social interactions, I’ve been forced to be more aware of words and how i use them. The bible tells us that life and death lies in the power of the tongue and those who indulge it must eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21) Good or bad, we must live with the results of the things we choose to affirm with our words. The conversations we have with ourselves and about others are a direct reflection of how we feel inside. Duh, right? But as easy as that concept is to understand, we still have trouble saying nice things to and about ourselves. I, for one, am excessively critical of myself and i struggle daily with negative self talk. However, i find that the closer i get to God, the easier it becomes to change. To realize that as bad as i think i am, God still loves me enough to at least not end my miserable life is somehow comforting. I’m still here, therefore, I’m still valuable to the kingdom of God.
Now, when it comes to others and their words, how we feel about ourselves is the first line of defense when someone outside of God tries to reshape our reality. As soon as we start to believe what others say we are, we start to forget who God says we are. When we get pissed off about what someone is trying to affirm in our lives, that means we have accepted it, digested it, and the by-product is a display of anger, depression, and or spite (revenge). However, when we are grounded in who we are, things that are contrary to that don’t even make it inside our perspective. I like to think that these situations serve as bench markers on our personal growth trackers. The reason I know I’ve grown is that at the moment, i didn’t think to get upset.
“Oh, it’s a crop top.” *Smile*
I went on with my business. It wasn’t until I got to the car that i begin to think about the interaction. Why had she seemed embarrassed? Why had she assumed that i wouldn’t show my stomach on purpose? Oh, because I’m not thin…ha! I wasn’t even aware that I should have been offended until i posted about it on facebook.
“Haters gon’ hate.”
Will they? Or are people just committed to their perception? So now, what was meant to be a commentary on social norms became a rally in support of my right to be fat in a crop top. While i am appreciative of the encouragement, it made me wonder if those who showed disdain for this woman’s statement, also subconsciously felt that crop tops should be reserved for skinny girls. So, right as i start to think, “dang…maybe i should be offended,” i pause. i take a step back and remind myself that those are not my insecurities. I was perfectly content in my world where i regularly tan my stomach on the go until i shared an experience and became suddenly aware of a battle i was involved in. Here in lies the lesson.
Whether they be for or against you, people will attempt to assert their insecurities onto you. It can come in the form of criticism or support. That’s why it is important to be grounded in God, because…
…the world will ask you who you are, if you don’t know, the world will tell you. – C. G. Jung
So, you may be wondering who God says you are. First and foremost, John 1:12 says that you are His child. And because of that, you are an extension of His son, Jesus Christ. He is the vine and we are the branches; and if we are in Him, our lives will bear good fruit. (John 15: 1,5) The bible also tells us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13) Yes, that also includes wearing a crop top and being a size 16 or better.
Maybe your crop top is a dream you’ve been putting off for fear of looking silly. Or maybe the world has convinced you that you are ill. Well, the word affirms that you are healed today. (Isaiah 53:5) Maybe, you feel out of place and outcast by the world. It should comfort you to know that the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Samuel 16)
So, what I’m saying is whether she meant any harm or not, her opinion didn’t shake me. i know who I AM and whose I AM. Ya feel me? I hope you do, too.
The Thrift Maven
P.s. Shoutout to @ShamelessMaya for my gold “Do You Boo” Shameless pin and for the endless inspiration she offers through her youtube channel and social media. She was instrumental in me getting back on my blogging feet and general confidence for posting. Thank you.
Denim Shirt: Goodwill
Skirt: My Grandma
Photography: JaVaughnae Malone