The Power of Inclusion

At this point, I no longer suffer in silence with shame and secrecy.  For most of my adult life I have suffered with an eating disorder.  Brought on by trauma and perpetuated by life circumstances, I have battled disordered eating and disordered body image with wildly fluctuating clothing size much of my life in a society that is quick to pass judgment on “other”.  For the longest time, I couldn’t even say the words “eating disorder” without bursting into tears because of the enormous shame I carried around with me. I felt broken and not good enough.

Through 7+ years of eating disorder therapy, intentionally editing the media I am taking in and finding to courage to tell my story not so long ago, I have found some healing and am formally in partial remission.  The other day, I was looking at pictures from a decade ago and I caught myself thinking “I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to experience life in different body shapes and sizes”. That is profound for me, and a marker of just how far I’ve come.  I’m still unpacking it, but the correlation of experiencing my body in different states and mindsets – in relation to the feeling of power – is fascinating to reflect on.  I’ve had moments of feeling unstoppable, and moments of feeling invisible.  I’ve had the experience of walking into a store and having everything I try on fit.  Elation.  I’ve had the experience of walking into a store and having nothing fit, or worse, they don’t carry my size.  Utterly demoralizing.

Though super late to the Instagram game, I have chosen to follow only body-positive, inclusive individuals who are sending a message of body-neutrality into the universe.  Because for as much value as society puts on appearance, we are far more than our bodies.  I am so inspired by influencers like thekarikemp, bodyimagewithbri, auaulynn, plussomehope, kaylaloganblog, katiesturino, thriftyfatty, and thelongweighdownwithjess.  They are braver than I will ever be in this space, but they are on the forefront of a revolution that promises real change and I will be a recipient of their good work.  I am grateful.

Fall is my favorite season, hands down.  Cozy sweaters, scarves and boots can conjure up visions of football, hot chocolate and pumpkins.  Am I right, or am I right? 

It is only fairly recently that designers have begun to wake up to the fact that there are people – of all sizes – that want fashionable choices in clothing, shoes and accessories.  Because believe me when I say, the struggle has been real.   Being in a smaller, straight-sized body provided infinite choices that most people who experience thin privilege completely take for granted.  I’ve been there.  It’s easier to forget that others are struggling when life is comfortable for you. Privilege.

So where does inclusion come in?  For me, knee-high boots have been the holy grail of fashion-desire since I have been a teenager.  My entire fall fantasy wardrobe revolves around this vision:  Tucking my jeans into my brown knee-high boots, throwing on a tee and flannel, grabbing a coffee and heading out to the pumpkin patch with friends.  I’ve dreamed of that for many, many years.  And it has been a pipedream, because even at my smallest, I couldn’t get boots to fit my calves.  Yet, I’ve always held out hope.

Yesterday, the game changed.  As if my love affair with Maurices wasn’t already solidified, I was elated when I put on the knee-high boots that fit my calves.  A moment that was literally decades in the making, and a pivot point. 

We assign meaning to things, people and experiences that impact us.  This experience wasn’t just about finding boots that fit my body.  This experience has been about reclaiming my power.  About acknowledgement and validation.  And about belonging.

When we create spaces that meet people where they are at, when we design products that honor all bodies, when we create homes and organizations and communities that embrace people as they are – not as we believe they should be – it is inclusive.  Powerful.  Healing.  The right thing to do. And it has the ability to change people’s lives.

When we Cultivate Insight, we can Influence Change. Welcome fall! 

QOTD:  “What’s my call to courage as a leader? To help others through Cultivating Insight and Influencing Change. Internal and external. Personal and professional. The possibilities are endless.” ~ Paula Grace – Inner Wisdom Coaching and Consulting

Mood: Someone Like You – Adele

Share: Have you ever had a moment of profound belonging? Are you an ally to breaking down all forms of bias and discrimination, including size? How do you see your privilege intersect with areas you may be more disadvantaged in? What has that experience been like for you?

1 thought on “The Power of Inclusion”

  1. Thank you for posting this truly inspiring article! (And now I feel more encouraged to find me some boots, something I never felt comfortable wearing because of over-sized feet!)

    Liked by 1 person

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