body talk

green hair, braid, the dainty squid, kaylah doolan

Body image is such a strange, strange thing. In my case, it can also be a very fragile thing. This post could go a thousand different ways but let’s start here…

I’d like to think that I know better than to be jealous of something I see on instagram. I know that most people out there aren’t purposely posting their less than flattering moments, that they’re really only posting when they look or feel good and that’s perfectly fine! It’s not that I want to revel in their ugly photos or anything. For me, it’s just so easy to get discouraged when I see beautiful person after beautiful person after beautiful person. Perfect body after perfect body. I know, and have briefly written about how one person’s beauty doesn’t take away from your own but some times it’s hard not to feel crappy. I’ve been struggling with that a little bit lately.

On top of this, Jeff and I went shopping together a week or two ago which should have been a fun thing but I left feeling a little bit blue.  I’ve found that most stores in the mall don’t really carry clothes that I would or can even wear. My local H&M is consistenly sold out of anything that isn’t a size 2 or 4. I rarely fit in Forever 21’s clothing and their plus size section is too big. It’s like there’s a gap of sizes that got left out. If I do magically fit in their clothing it’s obscenely short. Again, making it unwearable. Then when we went to Victoria Secret, where Jeff was so kindly offering to buy me something, they didn’t have my bra size.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s small fries. I don’t regularly shop at the mall nor did I really need anything but it’s hard to not feel discouraged. I felt like a giant. Like I was “too big” to be a woman. This is a super crappy feeling I deal with quite often. I am not a delicate flower. I have never been. In middle school I was proud to be bigger than all the boys. I was strong, and not to be messed with. Somewhere along the line I became self consious of my size. I wanted to be small, delicate, “feminine”, and perhaps most of all, shorter.

This whole flare up of feelings at the mall happened two or three days before I needed to take some photos for an “in kind” campaign I was doing with Athleta. That just means they sent me some clothing in exchange for photos. I had picked out two things I was super excited to wear – a striped sports bra + a cozy sweater. I picked the two of them together with a specific photo in mind that I would take. My deadline was approaching, and despite any negative feelings I was having toward my body, I had to get at least one photo.

I took a handful, not expecting too much. Wouldn’t you know it I LOVED what I was getting. I ran back in front of my camera, posed some more, and got even more photos I loved. Photos that made me feel good about my body. Photos that showed me my own body in a different light. That helped me remember how incredibe my body is. Maybe its not the thinnest, daintiest, petite thing but it’s a damn work of art. This body is strong. It houses all the good things I have inside me. Most importantly, it’s the only one I have.

So what if it will never grace the cover of a magazine? Ahem, I mean, I did that already. So what if it doesn’t garner attention from every dude on the internet? I don’t want that anyway. So what if I can’t buy cheap-o clothes from the mall? I should make smarter purchases, anyway. It’s like I’m intelligent enough to know that the reasons I want my body to look a certain way are stupid but still can’t help but sometimes feel like my body could be ‘better’.  Fitting into clothes from the mall wouldn’t make me happier. Being pestered by more men who only like the way I look certainly wouldn’t make me happier. So why do I feel this way sometimes? It makes no sense.

I guess I just wanted to write this post to 1) celebrate a time when I felt really happy with my body and 2) share that even the people you might look up to still struggle with the same things. It’s only human.

Quick run down of some important things –

  • The beauty of another does not take away from your own!
  • Everyone EVERYONE struggles with their appearance from time to time – even that human who you think is like the ultimate good lookin’ person! Chances are every once in a while they look in the mirror and think “who is that dingus?”
  • Taking selfies isn’t vain, sometimes it can be a really cathartic experience that will help you see things a little bit differently.
  • STOP COMPARING YOUR BODY TO OTHERS. Everyone is built different.
  • Not being petite doesn’t make you any less womanly or worth any less.
Bra + cardigan c/o Athleta.
Leggings by Girlfriend Collective. They are PURE MAGIC. Literal best leggings I have ever owned. They’re made from recycled water bottles. Plus they earn major points for using models with a variety of different body types.

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  • Kaylah, thank you for posting this! I was just thinking these exact things this morning- that I wished I was more petite, shorter, daintier. Before I even read your post my first thought was that the photo was rocking! Just goes to show that everything you said is true. No matter what any store might make you think, keep doing you because you’re awesome 🙂

  • This is my favorite post of yours ever. I could not have put all those feelings better myself. It really is strange how we let ourselves feel insecure about our bodies, even when everything else in our lives is going great, we have good people that love us, and we rock our own unique style. I work on letting this go a little more every day, and it makes me feel better to know that my favorite blogger has to work at it, too.

    Also, that cardigan is everything.

    • ❤️ So glad to hear this post resonated with you.

      Andddd yeah, that cardigan rules. I’ve never had one fit so nicely around my butt. Sounds weird but it like hugs my butt. It’s SO comfortable.

  • 1. I love this.
    2. You look gorgeous and kick ass. Like, always.
    3. It’s funny, because I’m more on the petite side and there are times I wish I was taller and bigger and took up more space….sometimes I feel like my size makes people think less of me – like I’m easier to ignore, or they don’t have to take me seriously because I’m little and cute….on the whole, I’m happy with myself. I get bummed like everyone, but generally I’m fairly self confident. But it’s interesting the different perspectives. Sometimes I like to imagine I’m super tall and huge and can MAKE people pay attention and respect me – yanno, like Godzilla!
    Anyway. Just thought I’d share that with you!

  • Oh it makes me so sad to see beautiful girls so down on themselves. I have always thought you were just lovely; not to mention beautifully unique . . . I hope you see this too. As a middle aged lady, it’s taken me so many years to get this perspective that you seem to have. Good for you . . . the difference in me salutes the difference in you.

  • Understood and appreciated! 🙂
    I’ve always had a touch of thickness and I like it. There have been times when I wished I was smaller and more feminine. Now, since I’ve started playing roller derby, that thought hasn’t crossed my mind once. 😉

  • I wish I could love this post a million times. I totally get it (I’m sure we all do as women). I’m “plus-size”. In medical terms, I’m technically “morbidly obese.” Not just obese, but morbidly. I don’t feel that way – I mean, I wear a 16/18. But sometimes it can be really discouraging when I look at my body in a mirror. But these reminders are so wonderful and I appreciate you so much for sharing this post. <3

  • I love this so much. Thank you thank you thank you for posting, I needed this today!

    P.S. You look FAB and the outfit is absolutely killer. ♥♥♥

  • I kinda have that feeling of a big woman. I’m tall that most people (in my work if my shoes have a little more that 5 cm, I way taller than most of men), and I’m no thin neither pretty. And everytime I take photos with my friends I cannot see nothing more that I look like a giant near them.

    But then I look myself at the mirror, and as me, I look damn gorgeous. 😀

  • First of all, these photos are beautiful, & you look beautiful in them. I want to tell you that you look enviably tiny & thin & flat & that I’m shocked that you feel like you’re anything other than those or that you can’t fit into straight sizes… but you know what? Sometimes it’s not about actual size or shape – it’s just about how we feel living inside it, & we can warp our views of ourselves based on, well, living inside these bodies every single day.

    I struggle with the same things, especially not fitting into straight sizes but sometimes being too small for plus sizes – now, though, having gained some weight, I’m probably strictly in the plus category, which has its own share of embarrassments & stresses. I’m trying to be better, to eat better, to feel better – & to let my body do what it will, as long as I’m taking care of it. But man. It’s hard.

    Anyway. Thanks for this post. You are beautiful, & so are your words.

  • So many things to comment about it I’ll keep it short. You are truly an amazing person and I’m so lucky to call you my friend. I feel this post so much!

  • I love this post! You have perfectly described how I sometimes feel as well. It’s crazy how even though I am intelligent enough to know better, I can’t switch off that insecurity sometimes.

    • It sucks, and I hate that anyone feels that way but of course, it’s super comforting to hear that other people have those same feelings. <3

  • Thank you! Love this post. I got on the scales this morning and didn’t like the number that I saw. BUT, the reason I got on the scales for the first time in ages was that I thought my body was looking a little trimmer, that my healthy eating was paying off. So, now I’m thinking – what the heck does the number matter anyway. I’m feeling comfortable with where I am now. I also find it impossible to buy clothes in the ‘cheaper’ shops, the ones that maybe are designed for some idealised teenage girl (which I am not, BTW). I’m just off to buy some dungarees, they are more ‘me’ anyway – if guys don’t give me a second glance, I’m comfortable with that too – their loss!

    • Ohhh. Yeah, that number definitely doesn’t matter. I haven’t owned a scale my whole adult life. I think the most important measurement is how you feel.

    • GIRL The exact same thing happened to me yesterday. Everyone is telling me I’ve lost weight and I have dropped, not only a pants size but an OLD NAVY pants size…and I got on the scale and that friggin’ number hasn’t budged. WHAT?? I guess it’s ok because I feel good and I look better but COME ON!!!!! PS I love that you said dungarees. haha!

  • It was so nice to read what you have to say about this topic, and I have to say thank you. I recently was questioning my body once more and your words just made me realize I’m not alone. I am not alone with not being petite or easiely finding cloth at every store I visit in town. Thank you 😌🤞🏻

  • I can realy relate to this post. In most stores for me (as a quite tall girl) it is extremmly hard to find cloth the right lengh. Also recently I was questioning myself futher my body a lot. So I need tobsay thank you for your words, your opinion and experiences about this topic. It was so nive to read that I’m not alone and made me feel a bit better about myself so I just wanted to say Thank you 😌🤞🏻

  • I’ve been fighting with my body my whole life, man. You know that old saying “You’re never too fat for new shoes”? Well, I am. I can’t even buy shoes to cheer myself up when nothing fits because nothing fits on my man-sized feet either. A few years ago, I started eating better and I Crossfit and I am by no means thin but now I am at least in a place where I see what my height and size can do for me. Inside the gym, the thin girls are jealous of ME because I can move 175 pounds off the ground and over my head. And since I care more about what I can accomplish at the box, the opinions of the people there matter more to me than anywhere else. If I get a hairy eyeball at the mall, or feel bad about myself because some twig looks great in booty shorts, it bounces off me a little easier because I know I’d kill her behind a barbell. Ha! Not saying I don’t have my days but…like you and your bike…I have to remember what my body can do and I’m proud.
    PS if you want to feel delicate and short, I can send you that picture of us from the SOWA market 😀

    • YAAAS. Same thing as me and my bike, and same thing as the other commenter who mentioned roller derby helping them really love their body. My thighs aren’t scrawny but they sure can pedal the hell outta my bike.

  • This resonates a lot with me. I used to be extremely thin as a result of being very sick, and now I’m a normal sized person (albeit, a little bit bigger) and I’m so happy with my strong, healthy body most days. But there are some days that I get so down on myself for the exact same reasons you mentioned. (Hello F21, why do your shorts stop at 30″, then start back up again at 42″ for plus size?! Where is 32″?!) It’s hard for me to not think about how much easier clothes fit when I was sick and want to go back to that. What sane person wants the same body that just got out of the hospital just to fit into an XS again? It’s sick what body image can do to a person’s mental state. I’m glad that you found that spark to make you say, “I’m feeling myself”. And I definitely need to get my hands on that cardigan.

  • Omg. So many things I’m feeling right now. I actually own all three of those items- 80% of my yoga wardrobe is from athleta, and those GC leggings ARE ridiculously comfortable. RE: positive body image… I think you and I are shaped very similarly and GIRL, I’ve struggled with the same feelings. It’s hard being a curvy girl in a petite and slender girl’s world. I will say this- shopping at women’s stores and not junior’s makes a huge difference. But even then I have good days and bad days. And embrace your body for what it is: a power house! Kaylah, you are beautiful, and can rock green hair and overalls like no other. ❤️

  • I relate to this A LOT. I can’t fit into a lot of jeans at this mall because my thighs and butt are too big and my waist is too small. So either I. An get jeans over my knee or they’re falling down. I’m wearing an overall dress today that’s too short to wear without tights and all day I’ve been tugging at it.
    When I was a kid I was taller and just all around bigger. I always wished I could be petite. And it doesn’t help when you have a mom who’s tiny and is a personal trainer. Body image has been in my face since I could remember and not always the positive side. But I think it’s a glorious day when you love the body you’re in and you find something that makes you feel great.
    I love this sports bra by the way. How could you not love a striped sports bra?!

  • Thanks so much for sharing this, Kaylah~~ I’ve been following your blog for years, and your character and honesty always shine through.

    You are definitely right about everyone having body issues from time to time. As a nearly 6-foot lady, I can totally relate to not feeling petite. I also grew really quickly growing up, and I reached my full height by about 10 years of age. Not only did I tower over all the other students, but I was taller than most of the teachers as well. And don’t get me started on clothing! Let’s just say that men’s small and medium are my friend–I’ve manage to figure out a comfortable tomboy look over the years that I can feel like myself in.

    Keep on smilin’, you lovely lady~~

    • ❤️❤️❤️

      Okay, on a kind of different subject, how about the fact that men’s clothes are almost always better quality!?! I always steal my boyfriend’s hoodies and it blows my mind how much cozier it is and how much better it fits even though they’re from the same store and essentially the same thing except his is “mens” and mine is “ladies”

  • You look pretty as always!! I think you’re perfect.
    I’ve always had trouble feeling pretty. I’m very very thin, always have been and unfortunately will always stay that way. When I was 15-16 I really hated it! I looked anorexic. Now that I’m 28 I got used to it. But sometimes I still think ‘what if I would weigh more…’. I will never know, so I’m trying to make the best of it 🙂

  • Love this post. I have recently lost 50# and as I may feel amazing many days, there are days when I see the things I think should be gone or smaller. I feel I should have hit my goal by now but life does happen. What you said about “my body is a work of art” spoke to me. I am a work of art also. And if it’s ok with you, I’d like to use your words to create an image to share on my Facebook page. I’ll share it with you too, of course!

  • most excellent post!!
    i was halfway through and basically thought i was going to leave a reply saying “So what if it doesn’t garner attention from every dude on the internet? I don’t want that anyway. So what if I can’t buy cheap-o clothes from the mall? I should make smarter purchases, anyway. It’s like I’m intelligent enough to know that the reasons I want my body to look a certain way are stupid but still can’t help but sometimes feel like my body could be ‘better’. Fitting into clothes from the mall wouldn’t make me happier. Being pestered by more men who only like the way I look certainly wouldn’t make me happier. ” – BUT I DIDN’T NEED TO! thankful that i didn’t have to because you already know it. you are beautiful and strong and all around fucking great.

  • oh man, I totally hear this… I’ve been my current size (14) since I was 12, I’m 5’10” and curvy. I generally don’t bother with mall stores anymore, but there was definitely a period of my life when I would regularly just feel sooo bad about my body when I could never find things that fit. Learning to sew my own clothes was a hugely empowering thing for me, because I learned my body is just my body! It’s not wrong, or bad, or freakish. And sizes are just numbers.

    Forever 21 is the WORST though, I remember 10 years ago before they launched their larger sizes I emailed them asking if they would be carrying an XL anytime soon (they had XS, S, M, L, which I felt was unfairly skewed to the petite ladies). They responded and said “We have no plans to expand to plus sizes,” which, screw you, Forever 21!

  • Hey Kaylah! I can relate with feeling like a giant. When I was 8 I was the tallest person in class, and that trend continued until high school. I was incredibly self-conscious about my body because everyone seemed so much tinier than me. At 5’8″ I wondered why I couldn’t have been born petite and just take up less space. It wasn’t until I was an adult that my body image started to change. I think that this was around the time that more and more articles were popping up about plus sized models and giving a middle finger to standardized beauty in general. Now I know that my body is normal, it’s unique, and that’s totally fine. I also feel like crap sometimes due to comparisons, but like you said, one’s beauty doesn’t take away from the beauty of another. Sometimes what helps me with my body image is thinking of all the things that I am grateful my body can do. Anyway, I think that you look great in those clothes! I’m always on the lookout for comfortable leggings because a lot of the time they just dig into my belly and that hurts. Take care! <3

  • Thanks for this post <3 I remember growing up and visiting family in China… I'm an hourglass-ish figured, 5'4" Chinese girl, and that made me…. a behemoth. I was too tall, my feet were too big, I had too much butt, and too much chest for any of the clothes there, blah blah… It's been a decade since then and I've realized that I am just me. I'm not better, I'm not worse than anyone else – sure sometimes whatever is in fashion doesn't work on my figure, but I've got a pretty good body and I'm getting better at taking care of it. All I'm trying to say is – yes! I agree with your message! And I love the power of a really good selfie <3 Cheers!

  • I needed this today, even though I’m finding it years later. Thank you

    For me that “I don’t want this but not having it makes me feel bad” thing is summed up by catcalling. Catcalling is horrible and a weird way to project a power dynamic. I don’t want it, the few times it’s happened to me it’s made me feel very suddenly gross, self-conscious and just “off”. But when everyone around you is (rightfully!!) complaining about how they get that all the time . . .

    (aka emotions are annoyingly illogical sometimes!)