A Year of Tacos

TW: eating disorders, body dysmorphia

I love tacos. I mean, I absolutely love tacos.

This year was a year of tacos when I think about it.

I had tacos in New York, New Jersey, Austin, Houston, New Mexico, Virginia, Florida, and arguably China. Tacos took me places this year or really, I took myself to tacos.

I featured photos this week on my Instagram of me at my most recent Taco exploit: Tacoria in Princeton, NJ.

I don’t post a lot of photos of me eating and I did so because there aren’t a lot of pictures of people eating in general on social media. I see plenty of skinny Instagram influencers posting fashionable photos with their Five Guys fries and soda, though.

And more power to them, I live for aesthetics and using food an an unapologetic prop. But there is also a lot of double standards in what bodies are allowed to look “cute” with food and others that are shamed for eating.

I love food, but I have always felt the need to combat fatphobia with stipulations on how I’m a vegetarian and that I don’t drink soda, as if those things we morally better. And truthfully our society sets us up to think that.

My relationship with food could be and should always have been described as disordered. I didn’t fully realize I might have been growing up with an eating disorder until I had a very brave friend share their experience with one. So I understand the impact of sharing honest experiences, I’ve set that as a pillar for my life’s purpose since the beginning.

It’s like my relationship with my body and food as been the great star crossed love of my life. I’ve always been thicc and I’ve always had a passion for food, but I’ve never had what I’d consider normal eating habits. I remember being young and thinking I was too weak willed to even have an eating disorder: because my habits didn’t fall in anorexia or bulimia, I figured I was just a fat kid destined to be a fat kid.

Then I became an athlete at the ends of middle school. And I became fitter and skilled in using my body as a tool. I learned about lifting and cardio and feeding my body to fuel it. For me, I didn’t feel like my identity was fat kid, it was an athlete with various accolades. My body became an asset, although I was still “overweight.”

My athletics, however, allowed me to cover my poor body image with a drive to be a better athlete. If I lost weight, I would be fast, I would perform better. Throughout high school and into college, my policing came from a place of “reason.” This policing was also enforced by coaches, teammates dieting behaviors & bodies, and doctors telling me to lose weight even at my smallest. I trained with a “no excuse mentality” which led to my worth being directly tied into how I performed and poor performances meant my body was the problem.

It wasn’t until I quit my sport that I fully realized the damage that behavior and environment had on me. It took me almost a year to get back in the gym without carrying the strategic training mindset with me. It was hard for me to alter my identity: I was a fat athlete and now was I just fat? This was when I began to understand that body dysmorphia was playing a huge role in my life.

Even at my smallest, having achieved a 30 pound weight loss because I was eating 1000 or less a day + working out, I never got out of the notion that I was still fat and that I needed to be losing a lot more. It wasn’t until after a year post-athletics that I began to miss the body I had my sophomore year of college. To get that body, I was working out a ton, missing out on my life, and was still unsatisfied with the way I looked.

This is where I’ve found myself: stuck in a cycle of knowing what it has taken in the past for my body to lose weight but now having the understanding that that behavior isn’t good for me.

I read a quote recently that went, “It’s very difficult to connect deeply with ourselves while thinking our body needs to change.” And that struck a cord with me.

I preach self love and truthfully I do feel very good about myself, it’s all very authentic, but the struggles I have with being plus size are things I’ve dealt with my entire life and are things I’m very exhausted to have hinder me.

I love fashion and this would really be more of a fashion blog if I could wear the clothes I like, but my options are painfully limited. Shopping trips are anxiety filled for me because the frustration is real.

Knowing all this however, I want to say how proud I am of body as well. It’s been a journey of realizing that my frustrations with being plus size has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the outside world. I’ve stopped blaming myself and that alone feels great.

It doesn’t make up for everything, but coming to peace with myself and feeling a real sense of pride in the things my body enables me to do helps.

Just this year alone, this body took me across the stage for my college graduation, through Acadia National Park, along the East coast, across the country, half way around the world, along the Great Wall of China, through the streets of Beijing, and to my jobs I love every day.

What is there to be ashamed of in that?

So dear reader, think about your New Years Resolutions this year and consider not putting “lose weight” on that list. Instead, consider working on coming to peace with your body and yourself, choose to celebrate who you are and where your body has gotten you up to this point. Think about all the places this body can take you and be thankful for that.

I know I am. And for tacos too.

x,

Lillie.

How to: Develop Your Personal Style

Growing up with a different body than others and wanting to be a fashion icon has been the great opposition of my life. Imagine me 12 years old with a middle part, crying in department store dressing rooms because I couldn’t find a damn thing that could 1) fit my body & 2) something I wanted to wear. I just couldn’t seem to find anything for my outside that matched the best version of myself in my head. develop

I imagined myself as some fashionable Parisian wearing a chic pairing of neutrals (with a bold red lip of course) carrying a bouquet of fresh flowers in one arm and a precious straw basket with fresh bread in the other.

You must be asking yourself, “Lillie, isn’t that kind of you, like right now??”

And I’d reply, “I’m closer to living that lifestyle than in previous years, yes.”

And you may ask, “How’d you get there?”

And I’d tell you, “Keep reading…”

Like any plus size girl before the #BodyPositivity movement, if you wanted to be a fashion queen (or at the very least, wear clothes) you had to make it work. Here are some of the things I’ve learned over the years that can help you start dressing in the way that’s truest to you:

1. Be Inspired

People ask me what are the hottest trends at the moment & I could rattle off a handful of stuff I saw in this month’s Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, but trends should be inspiration and not guidelines.

What do you like and what do you want your clothes to say?

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Take some time to write down words that would describe your ideal style, what do you want others to think when they see you. Don’t get bogged down with all the things you think you can’t wear. Challenge that thought and keep asking why not? Know how I became a person who wore bright red lipstick? I started wearing bright red lipstick.

Also draw inspiration from places, other people, art, colors, and eras. Save that inspiration on a Pinterest board or folder in your phone and use it as a reference

2. Be Kind

I blamed myself for years for having a body that was seemingly not made for clothes. I was plus size, but I didn’t even fit the “acceptable” plus size mold. The styles that I liked often didn’t come for my body type.

Do not blame yourself, blame the societal norms that prioritize only certain kinds of bodies and the corporations that enforce those norms and play on our insecurities. Whether you are tall, short, fat, skinny, or somewhere in between: you are not the problem.

So love your body and stay true to what you like. You will find it.

3. Research img_9185.jpeg

Take some time and do some research. Go through style hashtags on instagram and save outfits you like or follow people who have similar body types to you. Use Pinterest and check out brand websites. Look around and see what others are doing and what you like and don’t like.

Having styles you’re looking for and an idea of how you’ll pair them makes buying clothes so much easier.

4. Experiment

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At the end of the day, you just gotta go and try stuff on. I did this through thrift stores because I could try on a lot of different styles, brands, fits, textures, and colors all in one place.

It takes time, but you don’t know what something looks like on you until you try it. Once you get a better knowledge of your preferences, it really narrows down what you’re looking for in stores and where to find them.

Your style should be a true reflection of your best self. The moment I chose not to settle for just what “fit” and wear what made me feel good about myself, my entire personality transformed. Your style is an extension of you and how you move in this world. Let your style choices empower you to be your truest self.

x

Lillie