A Not So Simple Fear: Shorts

Everyone has something they are afraid of:

Snakes.

Heights.

Spiders.

Death.

When it comes to body image, I have many deep-seated fears. As I go through my day to day life and these insecurities are brought to mind, I would like to share them with you. I think it would be interesting to take a look at these fears more closely, and see if anyone else out there feels the same way.

Today, I would like to make it known that I am afraid of wearing shorts in public.

Yesterday afternoon, I found myself on Target’s website. It has been quite awhile since I have visited an actual Target store, let alone their website, but lately I’ve been a desperate search for some relatively elusive shampoo and styling cream. Therefore, off I went to look at Target.

On the front page of the website were some advertisements for Mother’s Day, along with a sale on shirts and shorts. The clothing sale instantly caught my eye and triggered memories of days when I loved Target more than any place on Earth. I basically lived in Target.

Need milk? Target.

Ran out of toilet paper? Target.

Need a fancy birthday card? Target.

Bored on a Tuesday night? Target.

No matter how confident I was that I would only run in, grab one or two items, and come straight back out, Target would swallow me whole for hours at a time. My bank account still hasn’t forgiven me for all the random, but affordable items I grabbed on sale.

Despite there once being a time when I couldn’t so much as drive past a Target without wanting to go in and scour the racks for a good deal on something cute, I have long since stopped shopping for clothes at their store.

Part of this is due to the fact that I rarely shop for anything at Target anymore. Apparently, the closest store to my house isn’t nearly close enough.

But besides this, my desire to shop for clothes at Target soured beyond repair after the “Manatee Grey” dress incident. If you aren’t already familiar with this story, feel free to get caught up to speed. But if you’re a plus-sized gal like me, please be forewarned– it’s rude like:

Was this incident the end of the world? Obviously not. I often fit in their standard sizes and seldom shopped their plus-sized section anyway. Even so, I can still remember my shock and disgust upon hearing the story. Not only was it extremely derogatory, but unnecessary as well. This being said, today was the first time in years that I’ve considered looking at Target’s fashion offerings.

I have no idea what I was even looking for when I clicked on the link to the sale. After all, I am by no means in the market for clothes at this stage. I have an entire closet of clothing I either haven’t worn, don’t want to wear, or see no point in wearing. Why on Earth would I buy yet another garment that I have no intentions of allowing to see the light of day?

Still, I clicked.

Sorting by ‘Shorts’ only, I began scrolling through the pages. The more I scrolled, the more uncomfortable I became. What was I even doing? I don’t wear shorts, much less shorts like the ones that were on sale. Sure, I have two pairs of lounging shorts to putz around the house in, but the shorts on sale were things you could wear to the grocery store, or the movies, or the mall.

Well… if you are anyone but me.

For as long as I can remember, I have loathed the idea of wearing shorts in public. This was even true before I deemed myself “too fat” for shorts. These days, I’m not sure how much money it would take to convince me to wear them out and about. Shorts are such an off-limits clothing item that I often forget they exist, so when I saw them today, it felt as though I was thinking, “Oh yeaaah… I remember these.”

It was vaguely sad because I sat here squinting my eyes at the models, trying to imagine what I might look like if I purchased a pair. They had every color and style under the sun. Cutoff. Denim. Bermuda. Cuffed. Pull-on. Zip up.

With summer stealthily creeping up on me, something inside of me sincerely wished that I could finally spend my birthday in something other than pants and leggings, but I knew it wouldn’t be possible. Not yet, anyway. And certainly not this year. Despite not being particularly doughy, pale, or poorly toned, my legs are just not something I feel comfortable showing– especially not in shorts.

Every time I try to put on shorts, I look in the mirror and it’s like:

It’s as though I want my legs to look exactly the way I envision in my head, or I can’t tolerate the idea of allowing anyone else to see them. Heck, I don’t even want to see them poking out of a pair of shorts, why would anyone else? Meanwhile, I can wear dresses and show my legs without much of a care in the world.

Eh. 😕

Who am I kidding? I’m funny about dresses and skirts as well, but I feel as though they are far less unforgiving. There is something about the way shorts are cut that seems to emphasize everything I hate about my leg shape. For me, shorts are just about the most cringeworthy clothing item I can think of.

This is not to say that I’ve never tried to wear shorts in public because I have. I once purchased a pair of really cute acid wash denim shorts (which I’m currently selling for $10, if interested). At the time, I was going on vacation and thought my (now ex) boyfriend would like to see me in something different. I knew it would be a stretch to imagine actually wearing them throughout the city in front of random people, but I wanted to at least try.

As predicted, my boyfriend liked them a lot, but I couldn’t stomach the sight of myself in them. Instead of noticing the cute shorts, I kept gawking at my legs, wishing they weren’t so this or that. So outside of modeling them in the apartment, the wretched things ended up abandoned in my suitcase the entire trip like:

Being afraid of shorts is such a ridiculous thing, I know. However, I can’t help it. The notion of wearing shorts in public is akin to imagining myself walking down the street stark naked; I feel that uncomfortable. And no matter what style of shorts I consider, I know it would always be a waste of time buying them. They would all look dreadful… to me.

The strangest thing about this entire scenario is that I don’t view other plus-sized women the same way when they wear shorts.

Every day I see women who are much bigger than myself, thoroughly enjoying their lives wearing shorts, skirts, dresses– whatever. They aren’t covering up their legs in the summertime or continually telling people “I’m not hot at all” when they are one pair of leggings away from a heat stroke.

While there are definitely times when I see summer outfits that seem a bit… much, most of the full-figured women I come across look amazing in whatever they choose to wear. I don’t catch myself scrutinizing their legs or pointing out areas for immediate improvement, so why do I have so much trouble wearing similar things?

Whenever I browse clothes by my favorite designers, I often like to pretend that my size and shape is no longer a hinderance. I try to recall the days when I could walk into any store and confidently find something to fit into, even if it was a little bit too big. Although I usually struggle to forget my current size, I always tend to gravitate towards tailored shorts over skirts or pants. This confirms that my distaste is no longer for shorts themselves, but for my own inability to look the way I’d like to in them.

I don’t know, you guys. It’s tricky thing.

Even though I firmly believe that people should genuinely love themselves and respect their bodies at any size, my relationship with the whole “body positivity” movement isn’t the best at times. I mean, it’s not just shorts that I have a problem with; there are many types of clothing that I refuse to wear, strictly based on my body type not being the way I feel it should be.

Although I don’t spend my entire existence focusing my attention on how awful I look in shorts, my “inability” to wear them in public highlights a serious flaw in my perceived self-acceptance. Yesterday’s reaction to the shorts at Target really illustrated this.

I mean, do I believe that I look bad in shorts because I know there are many people out there who would agree with the sentiment, or do I not wear them because I think I look unattractive in them?

Can you really love yourself if you adopt and follow society’s rules for what you “should” and “should not” wear based on your size and shape? I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this topic, so please feel free to share down in the comments section below.

This is definitely something I will be contemplating as I go through my weight loss journey. It will be interesting to see if my opinion of (my legs in) shorts will eventually change over time, or if this is something that will continue to stick with me.

This is Day 38.

Don’t value your body over your being. ❤️


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2 thoughts on “A Not So Simple Fear: Shorts

  1. I don’t wear shorts in public. I’m a pretty hairy dude and was bullied for it mercilessly. I’ve gotten comments also from nurses and doctors. So I thought “No one wants to see that anyway.” And have been wearing pants all year around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I am really sorry to hear that you’ve been ridiculed though; people can be endlessly cruel and petty. 🙁 It is genuinely a shame that the opinions of others can make people feel as though they don’t have the right to wear clothes they enjoy or would be more comfortable in. I’ve always tried to live by the mantra, “If you don’t like it, don’t look”, but of course, this isn’t the easiest to live by once you’ve been conditioned to believe that it is best to keep the parts of yourself that cause self-consciousness hidden away. I do hope that you can one day give shorts another try. You know, if you actually like wearing them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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