jess loves her arms [a love letter]

For today's body love letter, I'm so excited to introduce Jess from Animated Cardigan to y'all. She's one of my newest favorite bloggers and I immediately fell in love with her style as well as her aversion to smiling endlessly. She's fierce and fab and she makes me want to be a better blogger. Take it away, Jess!

Disclaimer: These letters are personal and vulnerable, but important to share. Please be sensitive of that if you choose to leave a comment. Body shaming will not be tolerated.
My arms and I have always been at odds. My upper arms are the first area of my body to gain weight, and the last to lose it. (My boobs are the opposite way. UGH.) As a lifelong equestrian, my lower body has always been strong, especially my calves, while my upper body, especially my arms, squandered somewhat. I always compare the top half of my body with the bottom half, the strength of my legs and fullness of my hips versus my smaller chest and squishy arms.

I had to measure my arms once for a riding coat, and they are 18 inches in circumference. They're a foot and a half all the way around. For reference, that's approximately from the ground to your knee, depending on how tall you are. Just contemplate that for a moment.

My closet is a reflection of that extreme measurement. Finding coats that fit is an eternal hassle, because I have to size up to fit my arms. And then the coat is baggy all the way around. Same goes for blazers and button-up shirts. I have some sewing skills, but not nearly enough to tailor a coat or take in a blazer. So for the most part, I avoid those. (I also avoid woven shirts because they make me sweat, but that's a different post entirely.) Finding my yellow pea coat two years ago was a Christmas miracle-- the sleeves are cut large enough for me to not only wear the coat, but also wear it with a SWEATER on underneath. Rara avis, indeed.

But, but.

When I started curling, I learned that my arms are stronger than I thought. They're a little bigger, and that means there's more weight--and ultimately more pressure--on the broom, which makes me a better sweeper. That first day after I curled, my triceps were screaming. Now, it never hurts when I sweep. People have stopped and watched when they see me and my teammate sweep. It's a little intense, I guess.

I love art, and funnily enough, there are some beautiful molescapes on my upper arms. I have an Orion's belt on my left arm, while my right arm bears a line of four, running horizontally. Both of my tattoos are on my arms, and one actually wraps over my shoulder and onto my upper arm. I always swore I'd never get a tattoo on my upper arm, and now I sometimes entertain the idea of a half sleeve. (Probably not gonna happen, but still. Pipe dreams make the world go round.)

And without my upper arms, there would be nothing to attach my forearms to. And I need those, because my hands are attached to those. (I bet you didn't think you'd get an anatomy lesson by reading this post, huh?) My arms are somewhat essential. My upper arms push doors open, they support stacks of DVDs and books, they drag cart after cart after cart at work, they push forty pound granite rocks down sheets of ice, they lift giant hooves and hefty saddles, they hang frames, they fold clothes, they steer wheels and shift gears. They do a lot to keep us going.

So for better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. Me and my arms...there's no divorce in sight.


  1. How can I participate in this body acceptance thang?

  2. thank you for sharing this letter with all of us on the internet. it's beautifully written. an inspiring & honest example of the love/hate relationship we all have with our bodies. i love how you found strength in your arms through curling, and how you've connected your upper arms with other amazing body parts you love and need. this is wonderful.

  3. Haha, there is some irony in there that you linked to my smiling post and for some reason I picked a picture of me sort of smiling. Grinning. Mouth breathing. I don't even know what I'm doing in this picture actually BUT Nicole, seriously, thank you so much for including me! I think this is a wonderful series and I can't wait to read the rest of the posts!

  4. Thank you for sharing such an honest story. You're beautiful!


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