As you can probably tell from this photo, this is my arm. I think that seems pretty clear, as does the fact that I'm pretty pale, which I've definitely mentioned before. What's not immediately clear from looking at this picture (at least, I don't think that it is), is the complicated relationship I have with my arm. Well, actually, arms. For as long as I can remember, I've had this love/hate relationship with my arms.
I love them because they're arms, and they allow me to do all sorts of cool things like grab stuff, do cartwheels (maybe? I think I can still do those), do handstands (especially in the pool), and just generally live a normal day-to-day life. My arms are pretty awesome when I look at them from that light. But there is also another light that I tend to look at my arms (and indeed my whole body/person/being) in, and it's one that's not so healthy.
Even when I was very tiny, I saw my arms as these massive things hanging from my body. They've always just looked so fat to me. And with the weight gain (and even subsequent weight loss), that certainly has not changed. In fact, it's to the point where--for nearly as long as I can remember (so, say 7 years or so now), I have worn a cardigan or cover-up (lace or shrug or what-have-you) over every single article of clothing I wear without sleeves. Sometimes even over clothes WITH sleeves. And I have done so for one express purpose: to cover up my meaty arms. This practice knows no seasonal bounds. Even at the company picnic a couple years back which was held in June on what was predicted (and which was, I believe) the HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR IN LOS ANGELES (where I live), I could be found wearing a cute little romper, strapless by nature... with a lace shrug (surprisingly warm) covering up the upper half of my body. I was SO HOT. And, yet, that lace shrug stayed exactly where it was. Why? My arms! Heaven forbid anyone see them in their natural habitat, occupying space.
In pictures, I try everything in the book-- arching the arm away from the body so that the fat ever-present on my arm doesn't smoosh together. And it rarely works, usually when I look at a picture, my gaze goes directly to my arms. And the lament starts 'WHYYYYY do I have to have such large arms?!' etc., etc., etc.
So, I'm not really sure what possessed me to pick out a STRAPLESS wedding dress, back in November, but I did. I suppose my thoughts were along the lines of: I'll be losing weight! My arms will be skinnier by then, I will TONE THEM. Which, I have-- the first part of that, anyway. I have lost weight. I've lost nearly 20 pounds now. (not counting the 3 I gained in Vegas this past weekend for my bachelorette party because I fully plan to lose those). But, I have lost weight--and yet. Yet, the fact remains, that I still am annoyed at my arms. But, the marriage is coming now... in just a couple days over 2 weeks, and I have nothing set to cover my arms.
Thus has begun my experiment--over the past few weeks I've been wearing things without cover-ups over my arms; a romper (different than the aforementioned), a tank top, and a strapless dress at my bachelorette party. And I only took my cardigan off in LAS VEGAS when it became unbearable. So, I guess you could say that it went moderately well, but I was still super self-conscious, especially in pictures.
There are so many little things that we long to change about ourselves, that we wish were different-- and I wonder why? I don't do that to or about other people (for the most part). I don't look at my friends and see what they should change about themselves--when I hear the same criticisms coming from their mouths, I tell them they're wrong. That they're beautiful no matter what--no matter the circumference of their arms, their waist, their thighs, their necks. And what's more? I believe it. I'm not lying--it's true. So, why then can't I give the same courtesy to myself? Why, when I see the picture of me with the guys from Thunder from Down Under do I stare at my arms (which look SUPER PALE next to those tanned fellas, by the way) and lament that they, Natalie's arms, are the TRUE thunder? Guess it's good I've started practicing...
But, even now, with all of my "practice" I'm still terrified I'll get the wedding pictures (that we are paying a pretty penny for) back and think 'wow, my arms look huge' in every single photo and be unable to enjoy them or display them because of this. I hope not-- I hope I think nothing of the sort when we get them back. But, I know myself. And that thought process--the one that just spirals into negativity and out of control--is super hard to contain when it comes to my own self image.
But, it's too late now: the dress is strapless. So, me and my arms will see you at the wedding, where we hope to be feeling more at peace with one another.