I love shopping for clothes. It is one of the few activities that gives me pure joy without any hidden catch. That is, of course, until I reach the billing counter.

Many of you might have watched the movie (or read the book) Confessions of a Shopaholic. I would like to think that I’m the Commercial Street version of Rebecca Bloomwood. But don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those people who try on a million things and end up buying just one or two. I’m more like the trained hunter who scouts the entire store within minutes and directly goes after what she likes.

But there is one process that slows down the entire operation. It is the tag right next to the price tag- the size tag. It forces me to reconsider and pushes me towards the trial room, an activity that I don’t very much look forward to. If I had it my way I’d just hold the clothing item over my body, be mesmerized by the way I look in the store-mirror under the flattering store-lights and just be done with the whole process. But I don’t have the patience to return to the store two days later and exchange it for the right size either.

You may wonder, why is there so much ambiguity about size? After being the way I am for twenty-five years, I should have a fair idea of which category I belong to.

But the problem lies in the fact that I don’t exactly fit into a single category. Some parts of me are an M and others are an L. What fits like a glove in one place seems like a flag in the other. But with the help of devices developed by modern technology such as belts and safety pins, I have managed to mould the mass-produced clothes to my specific taste.

As always, I will extrapolate this mundane daily occurrence to a deeper issue (this has now become my style, apparently). Over the years since puberty, my clothes have come in various sizes. I’ve been an L for a while, shrunken down to an M for some time and currently, I find myself to be somewhere between an M and L (I have been an S on some rare occasions in particular brands).

And throughout all these transformations, one thought has been constant— that I am not skinny enough. Which then translated to “I’m not pretty enough”. My perception of myself was limited to the size that I fit into, or rather, the size that I didn’t fit into. It didn’t matter that I was, in reality, quite fit and healthy with a superb immune system and a stamina that lets me 5Ks like a breeze.

We’ve all heard of the saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What we assume is that the “beholder” is the rest of the world. We think that they are the ones watching us and judging our aesthetic appeal. But, the truth is that we are our own beholders. We are our own worst critic. And we see ourselves through the lenses of impossible beauty standards set by big brands and Adobe Photoshop.

Try this on for size—

Maybe it is time to discard those fickle lenses and see ourselves for what we actually are. That one pimple (or collection of pimples) or that extra roll of flab around your tummy doesn’t make you any less beautiful. In fact, they add character into what would have been an otherwise flat and boring canvas.

Don’t fret if you are six packs away from that perfectly jacked body or if your bra size is not actually the one that you wish it was. Your proportions are perfectly fine the way they are. You wouldn’t want it any other way, trust me.  

So, the next time you walk across one of those giant store mirrors, stop and take a long, proper look at the strong, sexy person staring back at you. Don’t bother sucking in your stomach. You might just find the person in the mirror smiling back, their face wearing the only ornament that is truly needed to look and feel beautiful— confidence.

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