I glanced at the mirror, looking at my outfit once more, noticing the way my pink shirt and blue jeans stuck to my body and made my curves stand out.
“Vamonos! Llegarás tarde. Ya no importa lo que te pongas — tu siempre te ves igual de bien” — “Let’s go! You will be late again. It doesn’t matter what you wear anymore — you always look beautiful anyway,” my dad yelled from the living room.
I quickly changed out of my colorful outfit and switched to my usual outfit — all black.
Staring at my figure in the mirror and scrutinizing my outfit had become my morning routine. I wanted to wear colorful, fashionable clothing, but I was a teen with one mission — not to be seen.
As the San Diego summer heat increased, I thought more and more about wearing a colorful, flowy summer dress I had recently purchased. One morning, I finally gathered the courage to wear it and slipped on the dress. But when I turned to the mirror to see my reflection, I froze.
It frustrated me to see a curvy reflection. I clenched my jaw shut as I felt the heat rising in my cheeks. The image in the mirror did not resemble beauty as defined by societal standards.
I stared at my big thighs, squeezing my eyes shut — hoping that once I opened them, my reflection would be gone. When I opened my eyes, I was still there — curvy and disappointed.
I glanced at the time. It read 7:30. I was late for school again.
I sighed. I hated how I never had the confidence to wear a colorful outfit. Every vibrant color seemed to be my enemy. I thought the more color I wore, the more it showed my imperfect body shape. I had to pick something — anything — or I would be even later to class.
I turned to my closet to pull out my black ensemble, but instead of putting it on, I stopped.
I began to question why I would not let myself shine with a colorful outfit. All black again? I was begging the rest of the world not to see me — to not notice my curves. I was so angry at myself. I loved fashion and saw it as an outlet to express myself, but I was limiting myself because of my negative self-perception. I wanted to break free. I wanted to wear color.
As I walked closer to my reflection, my hands shook with anger. I turned my head to the left and looked at the colorful T-shirts hanging in my closet. It made me even angrier that they all still had the tags on them. I had never worn any of them.
Staring at my reflection, I said, “I don’t want to be you anymore.”
I knew I had to change the way I viewed myself. I then remembered what my dad always told me just to get me out of the house on time in the mornings: “No importa lo que te pongas, siempre te ves igual de bien” — “No matter what you wear, you always look beautiful anyway.”
As I thought back to that phrase, I automatically saw the powerful meaning. No matter the amount of black I wore, physically, my curves could not be hidden. It was up to me to learn how to embrace them, not hide them. With that mentality, I changed my perception and thus my ability to wear color.
Trusting my decision, I took a light pink shirt off of its hanger and slipped it on. Then, I carefully picked out light-colored ripped jeans to go with my T-shirt.
When I finished dressing, I looked into the mirror, and with a joyful smile, I saw that my curves hadn’t disappeared. They were still there. The only difference was I had embraced them — I had set them free from their black-clothes prison.
As I walked around school that day, I decided to just hold my head high. I have never been so complimented on my bold outfit decisions as then. Having the confidence to push myself was the first step to let myself shine.
After allowing myself to wear color, the reflection in the mirror was not the same. Every time I look into a mirror, I don’t walk away without letting my confidence within me show in the clothes I wear. Although black clothing is not the enemy, colorful outfits embrace my curves better. Now, when I see my reflection, I look at myself and say, “Yes, this is exactly who I want to be.”
I have finally accepted that my reflection in the mirror is a plus-size shape. Although my reflection is curvy, I can express myself with outfits of multiple colors without limitations or barriers.
Shirley Ojeda writes the Thursday column on body positivity. Contact her at [email protected].