On Body Image and Radical Self Love


For years, while I was stuck in the land of body dysmorphia and binge eating disordered behavior, I would say that my goal was, “To be comfortable wearing only a sports bra when I run.” I probably wrote that phrase exactly on this website 100s of times from 2011-2016 (My peak running years). I know this because as I have been trying to clean up this website I keep finding the stupid phrase and I just want to hug Kim of those years and say, “YOU CAN WEAR JUST A SPORTS BRA NOW, MY BEAUTIFUL CHILD.”

Note: I also want to apologize to anyone who was dealing with their own issues around radical self love and eating disorders and body dysmorphia at the time, who may have found my writing about stupid shit like that triggering.

Sometime in 2019 I believe – so part of the way into my reprogramming/therapy, but not as healed as I am today – a local running group put on a “Sports Bra Run” where we were all encouraged to go shirtless to prove all bodies are Sports Bra Only bodies. I was probably 50lbs lighter than I am today and I was completely freaked out by the whole ordeal. I did it, don’t get me wrong, but I was in my head the entire time. I was compulsively thinking about my fat rolls and my overhanging flesh and more painfully…I was thinking about what other people were thinking.

Don’t get me wrong, I was proud of myself that day. It showed signs of healing that I was out there at all, but I look back now and realized also how far I still had to go.

This weekend N and I went on a hike. And first of all, it’s July in Alabama so I wanted to wear as little clothes as possible. I have my trusty spandex because they are high-wasted (my favorite kind of hiking shorts) and they keep me from chaffing . But I don’t really have any good crop tops or crop tanks. So I cut up one of my shirts and tried to make one.

The only reason why I bothered with a shirt at all is because I don’t have any cute sports bras, all of mine are kind of pilling and grungy. It wasn’t that I was worried about my body showing, it was because I was worried they weren’t cute enough. WHICH IS A LOVELY PROBLEM THAT SHOWS I DO NOT CARE ABOUT MY BODY.

Of course, 15 minutes into the hike the shirt came off. I no longer cared if my bra was cute.

We ran into dozens of people on the trails and did I think about my body any time we passed any of them? No. I didn’t even think about the pilling fabric on my bra. I just thought about how much fun I was having hiking with my daughter and making her take 100 pictures of me because…let me tell you a secret…

The easiest way to teach your children about radical self love is to demand they take photos of you and to never ever ever say you don’t like the photos for any reason other than, “Hey…can you get more of the background so it shows how high up I am?”

So, I wore a sports bra without even caring about my body and I demanded my daughter take pictures of me constantly. I didn’t even mind when she busted out the wide angel lens to try to capture the view behind the cliff.

I just made her keep taking pictures and my only direction was: “I WANT IT TO LOOK LIKE I CLIMBED THIS MOUNTAIN!”

80+ pounds ago I wouldn’t wear just a sports bra when I ran.

50+ pounds ago I did wear a sports bra, but never relaxed about it and felt insecure the whole time.

Now? I am at a mysterious weight somewhere close to DOUBLE what I weighed at my skinniest and I don’t give two flying shits.

I want to
1) not get too hot
2) not get too chaffed and
3) take a bunch of pictures of my badass self hiking to the top of mountains…showing my daughter that all bodies deserve celebration.

5 thoughts on “Freedom.”

  1. Gorgeous lady!! I always joke that my sports bra has more fabric in it than some people’s bikini’s so actually paired with my high waisted trousers I’m set!

    I’d be taking all the pictures too “Look what I did!”

  2. I love this so much! I spent last weekend wearing way too many clothes because I was working in the yard with lots of bugs and scratchy plants, so I’m happy to see you got to spend it wearing not nearly as much! I am so glad you are enjoying life so much.

  3. First, I want to say THANK YOU!! Your journey and corresponding posts have made me think hard about my own body dysmorphia. Slowly but surely I am starting to not compare myself to last year or two years ago, to not compare myself to others, and to just LOVE my body! I hope one day in the near future, I too will be proud enough to just tromp around in my shorts and sports bra and be comfortable with myself and not give a flying flip about what others may or may not be thinking. <3

    I’ve got a 14 year old daughter, who came into her body during Covid, and a 12 year old son who needs to learn that all bodies are useful, and because they are useful, they are beautiful. I was on vacation this week, and when I took them to the pool, there I was in my swim shorts and bikini top. I even just ordered myself a second swim bra to replace a worn out tankini top. (Honestly, swim tops are so much better – I love them under an SPF shirt, so I don’t have to do more damage to my fair skin!)

  5. Good luck to you. I wish I could have been hiking there. I do miss the hiking I did in Oregon. Btw, all I have are those pull over sports bras and I think they totally screwed up my shoulders.

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