When I was 7 or 8, I'd steal my mom's T-shirts and wear them to school over my pedal pushers, the hems hanging down to my knees. In high school, I wore a swimsuit like a corset under my clothes every day; over it, I layered basketball sweats two sizes too big to hide the lumpy folds of my stomach. To a big girl, clothing is armor.

Through college, I hunched, walked as quietly as I could. I always wore my hair down—at 6'1", I was terrified of being mistaken for a boy (but equally terrified of embracing femininity). I was aware of every direction my body moved in. At 20, I accidentally stepped on someone’s foot in a department store and cried from the shame. There seemed no end to my crushing hyper- self-awareness.

Then I moved to New York, and I started dating someone who called me out whenever I subconsciously pulled my shirt collar over my double chin, who gently touched my body like it was the most normal one that had ever existed. When I realized that all I had wanted was to be unnoticeable, I cried again for the girl who had expected so little from the world.

I’m still learning not to fear being the largest lady in the room. And I still wear clothes that are too big for me, but now it’s because my long hems and sleeves give me room to breathe, relax, and create. In them, I’m at home in myself, more confident. While my mom may raise her eyebrows at my favorite navy striped blouse (the one that makes my body look like a soft square), my shapeless smock dress, or my beloved loose jogging pants, they just feel good. And I deserve that.

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