So it’s the middle of summer. Here, in Texas, that of course means we’re just in phase 1 of a multi-phase summer process. My personal summer began right at the end of spring, however. When I bought a pair of shorts.
These past eighteen months we’ve all had to reckon with some tough stuff. For me, it was my weight, relationship with food, and the way those things intersected with my general health. I was extremely lucky. I could focus all that anxiety about the state of the world into making drastic changes to my diet and exercise. Being physically forced to curb our eating out certainly helped. The result? A little under a year later, I’m down two to three sizes depending on the brand, cut, and article of clothing. It’s the most weight I’ve ever lost at one time. I have a long way to go, still, but I’m honestly just feeling so much better. The more practical and immediate result, though? At the start of summer I needed some new shorts and pants because mine were too big to even take in smoothly.
Up until this year, I couldn’t get my size in regular stores like Walmart and Target. I could only shop in plus-sized stores. To get clothing at a decent price, I often had to order it.
Then I happened to notice some shorts at Target.
Shorts that were in my new size.
Now, here’s another important note. I haven’t worn “regular” shorts since maybe middle school. All my shorts are knee-length/bermuda. 1.) That was just the more common short length in plus-size stores for a very long time. 2.) I wasn’t comfortable wearing anything shorter.
But these shorts? Normal five inch inseam shorts.
I bought them.
I took them home.
I tried them on.
My thighs were out. My knees were out. My legs were unshaven and super pale. My calves were doing their thing where they’re just…thick…for no reason.
And I just did not give a fuuuuuuccccck.
And I feel like I have to elaborate on this for anyone who’s never been in this position to really understand. We’ve all been slammed with different layers and styles of body shaming. We’ve, collectively, totally screwed ourselves up in that regard, but there’s a special brand that you only get when you grow up fat. You’re inundated with the message that there are certain things that fat people are just not permitted to wear. You’re not allowed. And the stock of plus-sized stores for most of my youth implicitly supported a lot of those ideals. It’s gotten better. The past five to ten years in particular have seen a massive increase in fashion variety for the plus-sized. All those things, though? Those rules for what you’re allowed to wear as a fat person? Once you internalize them, it takes more than a Torrid opening at your local mall to shake that off.
And snug-fit shorts that have my thighs all out to the sun like this? Not permissible by the rules I had set for myself as a teen as a direct response to the subtle impositions placed on me by outside forces.
So seeing myself in these shorts and feeling no shame. No guilt. No internal voice telling me that this “didn’t cover everything.”
I literally had no emotions.
And it was amazing.
There’s this old Hyperbole and a Half comic where she talks about going so deep into depression she comes out the other side completely freed from societal expectation. Nothing mattered.
And I thought, “Oh, god is that me? Did I horseshoe without realizing it?”
“Oh crap…I might actually kind of like myself a little for the first time in three decades? Is that? Is that possible?”
And I realized it was a lot of things. While I was still fat, I was empowered by the little bit of control I had over my health. The non-binary egg had finally cracked and presenting with traditional femininity basically fell off my priority list. If anything, the more I could directly defy it, the better.
Were my thighs pretty like this? I don’t know. Maybe. Probably not. More importantly, I didn’t care.
At that moment, I officially declared it the “summer of not giving a crap.”
And holy fuck it worked for like…everything.
And that’s not to say I don’t care about my work and what I’m doing. That’s not what “not giving a crap” is about. It’s about accepting that hey, guess what, there are some things that just kind of are. And I don’t give a crap about those.
How fat my thighs look in these shorts? Don’t give a crap. I’ve got fat thighs. The world can deal. Didn’t feel like shaving my legs? Don’t give a crap. I’m a mammal. Hair grows there. Eating basically anything in public? No fear of judgment here. I’m allowed to eat food. They don’t know my life and how I’ve balanced my calories for the day.
And I think I make it seem this way, but this wasn’t an overnight thing. It’s years and years of focusing on my inner self and getting that particular house in order. Of self-exploratory writing and creation. Of honing crafts that permit me to live in a place outside myself for little bits at a time so that I can view what the hell is going on in there with a little more objectivity. Of drifting slowly into a voidpunk-lite tinged nihilistic optimism. Of aging out of that teenage impetus to engage in an acceptable perfomative weirdness as a facade and deal with the actual trauma and neurodivergence underneath.
But this moment. This short-themed moment is when it all came to a head. When I realized all this interior work was starting to sort of…pay off. I just didn’t expect it to be with apathy. But when I consider what it was before, I think total neutrality might, surprisingly, be a step in the right direction.