We’re having something of a heatwave here in Maine, with multiple days of temperatures over 85 degrees. It’s a little cooler inside, and the dehumidifier helps a lot, but both the cats and I are laying low.
On the plus side, at least I have an option the cats don’t – wearing a tank top.
I pulled one out for the first time yesterday, and I was immediately more comfortable. I couldn’t help remembering, though, that for a long, long time I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a tank top, no matter how hot it was.
Feeling Self-Conscious About My Arms
Back then, I thought that tank tops were for Other People, people whose arms didn’t have obvious excess fat or scars from cosmetic surgery to remove loose skin. I didn’t even like to wear short sleeves, let alone something sleeveless.
It didn’t matter if I was in public or not. When I was younger, even wearing one around the house, with just me and the cats, would have felt uncomfortable. Catching glimpses of my arms out of the corner of my eye would have made me cringe when I realized how far they were from the ideal I saw on TV and in movies and magazines. How I envied those women with their skinny arms that someone could wrap their fingers around!
I also remember how hard I tried to get my arms to look like they had some real muscle definition. I knew they would never look like those of a model or actress, but I thought I could make some improvement.
That’s why I went to the gym 3-4 times a week, and by 2006, I was up to doing 25 pushups (full body ones, not on my knees), and I had gotten pretty good with some of the upper body machines, too.
And yet, it didn’t matter. None of it helped the loose skin, and my arms always looked soft and heavy.
That’s why I didn’t buy a tank top until 2013, and it took more courage than I would have expected to wear it in public. Even now, I can psych myself out about it if I’m not careful.
Accepting My Body Type
Most of the time, though, I can remember that even if my arms (and the rest of my body, for that matter) don’t look like the ones I see on TV, it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with them.
When I play with the cats, they don’t care what my arms look like. My scars and lack of toned biceps don’t keep me from playing my flute, writing, cooking, cleaning, or doing any of the other things I want to do.
And whenever we get back to being around other people, I can still give good hugs with these arms.
I also remind myself that my body type simply doesn’t match the long and lean form that seems to be popular these days, and that’s okay. I’m happy with who I am, and I’m grateful that I’ve gotten to the point where I can allow myself to feel comfortable with bare arms so I’m not making myself suffer with long sleeves in hot weather.
If you've also struggled with these issues, I hope this helps you feel more comfortable wearing short sleeves, or no sleeves.
And since I’ll be working from home this summer, without air conditioning, perhaps it’s time to buy another tank top.