How I Embraced the Crop Top & Found Empowerment

While I was running early to a meeting with a colleague, I decided to duck into a nearby boutique to kill a couple minutes.  My best friend from college, a mom to a rambunctious toddler, had a birthday coming up and I thought I could find her a cute, trendy piece that she would love.

Since, I’ve started working out and lifting on a regular basis, I’ve mostly lost interest in buying new clothes. For the most part, I’ve become more interested in purchasing new workout gear, gloves for lifting, or makeup than anything else.

My body is constantly transforming and morphing into new shapes and molds. Honestly, it’s difficult to keep up with all the changes. I love that I am embracing a healthier lifestyle that I work my ass off for, but it can be challenging to remember to love my body shape no matter what.

While browsing the spring dresses, scarves and handbags, a long sleeve purple crop top caught my eye. I stood there holding a couple mixed pieces of skirts, tops and dresses. On the hanger, it looked like it was out of place. Perhaps something from the kid’s section had been put here by accident? Normally a crop top is something I would never even think about trying on. I mean it would obviously make me look fat right? Or even at just 30 years old, I’m way too old to pull that look off. Yet, some voice inside me said – Why not? Go ahead and just try it on. I listened.

 The famous crop top in all its glory.

The famous crop top in all its glory.

I stepped into the dressing room and lined up my items to try on. As I began to undress and decide what to try on first, I heard a voice coming from the dressing room next door.

OMG I’m so fat. I can’t believe I’m even trying on clothes. I’m disgusting! Don’t you think so? Nothing in this store is my size! They don’t make clothes that big. I’m so gross! How can you even be friends with me? Seriously…doesn’t this look horrible. Can you even believe how fat I am?

I stood there paralyzed in disbelief. Not only was my neighbor body shaming herself in one of the worst ways I had ever heard any one talk about themselves, she was asking a friend to join in and affirm the negative self talk. I was floored by the judgment and shame. I immediately grabbed the crop top, looked in the mirror, and summoned a combination of strength and self love while working my way into the long sleeved, purple top. While this woman continued to bash herself, I stepped out of the dressing room to look at myself in all of the mirrors - unable to hide from all the angles showing every curve, imperfection, and paleness.  I couldn’t help but crack an enormous smile.

While I may not always love the way I look, I put in hard work at the gym and clock long hours to be a healthy, happy and positive person. For the last year and a half, I’ve embraced a lifestyle that involves working out 4-5 times a week with a mix of cardio and weightlifting. I’ve traded happy hours for boot camps, bagels and lox for oatmeal and egg whites, and TV marathons for Tough Mudders.  I’ve accomplished goals and attempted challenges I never thought possible. I walked into that dressing room with absolutely no intention of actually buying that crop top. Yet after hearing this woman shame herself and put so much negativity into the universe, I knew it was coming home with me.

The woman from the dressing room had already left the store by the time I went to the register to purchase the purple crop top for me and a rhino necklace for my friend that I knew she would love. While ringing up my items, the saleslady said to me, "I'm so happy you're getting that top, it looked so hot on you." Now she could have just been saying this to me to make a sale, but she had no way of knowing that this item of clothing had just became a symbol of empowerment, celebration, and acceptance for me. I responded. "Thanks! I can't wait to wear it."