Last week, I decided to put on my favorite black cashmere turtleneck sweater. I was about to head into my studio and remembered I'd forgotten to turn the heat up, so I knew it was going to be chilly in there for the first hour or so.
This is a sweater I've had for years that bought at Lord & Taylor in downtown Chicago. And I wore it a lot. I think it was even part of my wedding rehearsal outfit almost 12 years ago.
But I haven't worn it in years because sometime in the last 12 years, Stacy and Clinton of "What Not To Wear" (and probably other articles I read in "women's magazines" when I used to read "women's magazines") convinced me that my body type and turtleneck sweaters were not friends. Something about how my boobs and my waist and my neck would all blur into a lumpy mess. I should focus on scoop necks. And it is true, scoop necks do look good on me, especially because I wear a bra that fits (insert quick digression where I gently suggest you go to Nordstrom to get fitted for a bra that is your size honey. please give yourself this gift).
I got rid of all my other turtlenecks, including a favorite favorite favorite chenille sweater that was just like my friend Virginia's that she let me borrow on the morning after a crazy night out when we lived in Chicago and my mom was driving up for a girls' shopping day and I overslept at Virginia and Rebecca's and wasn't at my own apartment and my mom thought I was dead when I didn't answer the buzzer and she left about 10 voicemails where she's yelling into the phone "ARE YOU THERE???" and when I woke up I quickly showered and put on V's sweater and my jeans from the night before and some of Rebecca's perfume and took a cab to my own apartment and apologized to my mom because I'd never done anything like that before even though dude I was 23. Thank god for cell phones so when Ellie does this to me she can just text and say, "In the morning, can you just swing by my friend's place and pick me up because I'm sleeping over here tonight?" And I'll wake up at 3:30 when the phone goes off and thank the angels for helping her make smart decisions in not trying to get home on her own when she shouldn't and text back "yep. love you."
Anyway, I kept the soft black turtleneck sweater and moved it around my room from time to time until I found it again on top of my sweater pile last Friday.
And then here's what I did. I put on my current favorite lipstick (in butternut) and stood out in our messy living room and held out my iphone camera and turned until I found some decent light (just like my friend Viv taught me) and snapped a photo. Because of the messiness around me, I clicked a black and white filter and posted this photo with these words:
Years ago, Stacy and Clinton convinced me my body type can't wear turtlenecks, but I've kept this cashmere turtleneck sweater I bought at Lord & Taylor in the late 90s in Chicago because it was my first cashmere purchase with money I made in my real job after college. Today I set down that old story and look you in the eye and say, "Yes, I have a double chin and I'm still going to wear what makes me feel beautiful and full of light and love."
Of course I'm aware that in this photo you can't see my double chin because the sweater and the angle I took the photo hide it. But I have one and sometimes it really distracts me from feeling beautiful. And I cringe when I see certain photos from the side when my double chin is really more like a really big neck because I eat too much cheese and ice cream. I seldom post photos from the side because I don't want to look at this part of me and I really don't want you to look at it.
During the last ten years, I've come to a place of love for my body and all that it helps me do each day. I've found clothes that fit and make me happy. I take self-portraits to help myself feel deeply seen by me, the one person who deeply knows where I've been. I dance and do yoga and let my body do what it loves. And I've marveled at how this body grew a human and lived to tell the story.
But that doesn't mean that I don't get tripped up in the old stories from time to time or that I don't think about what some people might be thinking when they look at a body my size.
Moments like the one I captured above, where I remember one of those old stories and make the choice to set it down, become a powerful step toward continuing to love this body of mine.
Turtleneck sweaters that make me very happy are now back in rotation baby!
I hope you can set one of your own stories down today.
PS If you're in a place where you need to find a softer self-talk and look at yourself with more love and kindness, I highly recommend Vivienne McMaster's class Be Your Own Beloved. It starts tomorrow and it will change your life (for real).