The last time I went hiking near my Northern California home, I wore my standard workout crops and tee with a thin, moisture-wicking outer layer. There was a lot more canopy coverage from the trees than I had anticipated, and I was freezing.
So when I got dressed for our hike on December 29 (aka winter), I decked out in warm layers: running tights, a soft and thin long sleeve from a past race, and a Patagonia fleece vest, all underneath a neoprene baseball cap. I was feeling pretty smug when we got to a similar sight: a trailhead totally shrouded in branches. I even remember saying to my husband Tim, “I think that once we get moving and I warm up a bit, I’m going to be at the perfect temperature.” (I probably also said something obnoxious like “I really nailed this one,” but I’m too embarrassed to commit to that memory.)
By now you’ve likely realized that I did not, in fact, nail that outfit. After about half a mile maximum, we found ourselves traversing the sunny side of the top of a mountain with absolutely no hope of shade. I was wearing all black and pouring out wine sweats (having just returned from wine tourism in Argentina) and that damn fleece vest had no sleeves to tie around my waist. The views were dynamite but WHO COULD CARE because I just wanted to hide behind a tree and pay Tim to fan me.
And then I realized: My tights are kind of high-waisted. I’ve got a sports bra on. The only thing I lack is the self-confidence to bare any form of midsection. And since I was basically under a direct solar spotlight with no respite, I took it off. I tied my long-sleeve around my waist (high up, but whatever, there was veritable bare torso on display) and I was able to dangle that formidably-warm fleece vest from my tied up shirt. I was IMMEDIATELY A THOUSAND TIMES BETTER.
By some miracle, we didn’t pass anyone on the trail for at least 30 minutes. By the time we did, I wasn’t even thinking about my appearance. I think I was in the middle of an intense word game that we play to pass time on hikes. And I survived that hike without reaching Survivor-level dehydration.
I’ll probably never have a body type like the women who I normally see working out in bras and tights. But maybe the bras-n-tights pendulum will swing to just anyone who wants to rock the look. Or, maybe, it’ll just happen to ladies like me who experience weather too strong for a longsleeve and vest and gets the cool rush of subsequent confidence. Whatever the reason, if you want to bare your torso on a hike — or in an exercise class, or just because — DO IT! Except maybe not at your office job because, y’know. We’re not that progressive as a society, and that’s not really high up my list of things to fight for. 😉
What self-acceptance milestones have you experienced?