Dressing Room Anxiety & Other Apocalyptic Disasters

I need to talk about my arms. They are my least favorite part of my body. And last Friday they were the reason I broke down crying in a dressing room. 

It's ridiculous. I can't believe that at age 39 I still hate my body. Dressing rooms and dressing room mirrors make me anxious. And sweaty. And panicked.

I must've tried on about 25 different outfits—looking for something to wear to my book release party (are you coming? please say you'll come! I'd love to see you in real life)—and nothing looked good on me. Nothing.

Then again, maybe I wasn't seeing clearly. Maybe I looked AWESOME but my inner critic had taken over somewhere between Outfits 10 and 11 and all I could see were dimples and wiggles and wobbles and odd little pockets to fat that rippled under my skin. FUCK YOU, I silent-screamed at the dressing room mirror. I HATE EVERYTHING.

Maybe I should just wear caftans for the rest of my life. Flowing, breezy, comfortable, deliciously floating caftans in bright colors and patterns and I'll never have to look at my arms again.

I fled the dressing room and made a beeline to the food court where I gulped down three glasses of iced-tea with too-many-to-count packets of sugar. This is my self-destructive cycle: I hate how I look and then I go directly to the very thing that's making me look this way—and gorge on it. Mainly, sugar. 

I went to Overeaters Anonymous about a year ago and only lasted for three meetings because it was SO UNCOMFORTABLE and I identified WAY TOO CLOSELY and that scared me to death. I don't want another thing to work on, you know? Like, seriously. HOW MANY ISSUES WILL I HAVE TO WORK ON IN MY LIFETIME??????

A couple years ago I read Women, Food and God: an unexpected path to almost everything and it was so upsetting that I threw it across the room. Because she was SO RIGHT about SO MANY THINGS and I hated her for it. 

Confession: whenever I have Strong Feelings I know I need to slow down and listen but so many times I just scream and flee to the food court.

Gentleness Points: at least I drank iced-tea and not Dr. Pepper. At least I ate a salad with my iced-tea and not fries and a cheeseburger. Progress not perfection, they say.

Deep Breath: I need to remind myself that even when I was a size 2 I wasn't any happier. I still found flaws. I still looked at myself in the dressing room mirror and silent-screamed at myself.

This is what I realize: I see myself through flaw-tinted lenses. I need to see myself through my friends' eyes because they are more gentle with me than I am with myself. My friends assure me I am beautiful and ok and amazing and that when they come to my book release party nobody will be judging me by my arms. That my arms are exactly how arms need to be: made for doing things.

This morning I looked at my arms in the mirror and I rubbed some tanning lotion on them and instead of pinching them, I patted them gently. Cute, adorable arms, I thought. You were made for hugging. I love you.

What if we all did that? What if we said 'I love you' to the least favorite parts of ourselves? What if we just radically accepted ourselves for who we are right here right now? What if we could love ourselves?

m I the only one who feels this way? Do you get dressing room anxiety? How do you deal with it?