Yesterday I was shopping at Lane Bryant’s at the Palisades Mall in West Nyack, New York. As I was about to go into the fitting room with an armload of clothes, a lovely woman stopped to compliment me on the blouse that I was wearing. It was a blue and green mosaic design short sleeved peasant blouse that I wear off the shoulder.

I noticed as I looked at her eyes, there was a mournful expression in them. I wondered why. Then I smiled at her and said, you know this same blouse would look incredible on you. I pointed to the rack and told her, It’s still available. What do you think of getting it?  I watched as her lovely smile faded and the corners of her mouth turned downward into a sullen frown. Then she said, “Oh no, my arms are too fat. That type of blouse is not for me.” I told her that belief was probably coming from the little screaming meanies critics that have been perched on her shoulder, perhaps for years holding her back from wearing those types of blouses or doing other things that she wanted to do in life.

I explained a little further about the internal voice that we all have and how it pushes us to be afraid and believe that we’re not good enough, pretty enough or just not able to measure up. Then in a private moment to myself I remembered how, for years I would never have had the confidence to bear my arms in public even when, by society’s standards, I was an average weight. It took me gaining 20 pounds to realize that I can love myself now and not have to wait to be perfect. I already am and I’m here to show other women that they are too, no matter what their weight. Because really if you can’t love yourself now, when will you? Don’t wait and make the mistake of holding back living because you’re not perfect. You don’t deserve that punishment and you’ve put yourself through it for too long. It’s time to let go and live.

Later as I stood at the counter paying for my purchases, I noticed her there. I asked if she got the blouse. She said, “No” I didn’t but I got a very similar one. I count that as a triumph over the meanies. My guess is that this lovely woman got a glimpse of herself from someone else’s eyes. Mine. Just for a moment, she stepped outside of the box that her negative self-talk had built around her and she saw that she could be, do and have more.

How about you? Do you feel burdened by the weight of that inner critic that sits on your shoulder and pushes you to feel constantly ashamed of yourself, judge yourself harshly and compare yourself to other women. Share your thoughts and know that you’re not alone.