Go ahead, take all the space you need

My closet is filled with devices, lifts, and appendages to make me take up less space or more space.

Those dusty heels taking up space on the top shelf of my closet? Those are to make me taller and take up more space vertically. The girdle (yes, I own a girdle) stuffed in the back of my underwear drawer? That’s to compress my waist and make me an “acceptable” type of curvy so that I can take up less space horizontally.

But, it’s not just my closet. One look at the home screen of my iPhone will also show you how desperately I’d like to change the amount of space that I take. There are the Weight Watchers (sorry, now Wellness that Works) app and the Fitbit app. Once I open Instagram, I’m bombarded with messages about how much space I should take. “Take all your space!” the body positivity accounts proclaim. “Take a little bit less space!” cajole the ads for supposedly revolutionary shapewear.

It all amounts to spending hundreds of dollars and hours of precious energy to change the amount of space I take. And, I’m not alone. By 2021, consumers worldwide are expected to spend almost $5 billion on shapewear and nearly $293 billion on weight loss products and programs by 2025. We spend so much money and time to make ourselves smaller and to change the amount of space we take.

But what if we stopped trying to mold ourselves to the space we assume we’re given and instead started molding the space around us to fit who we are? For example, take a look at shoe sale trends. In the past year, the sale of high heels fell 11 percent while women’s sneaker sales increased 37 percent. CNBC says it’s because women are “are increasingly choosing comfort.” But, I’d argue, it’s not just about the undeniable physical comfort benefits of sneaks v. heels. Instead, I think women are choosing to be comfortable with the space they take.

So, how do we mold the space around us to fit us? By unapologetically taking up the space we take. We can do it with our dollars, by supporting companies that promote body positivity and inclusive sizing. We can do it with our social media channels, by posting honest photos and message that aren’t airbrushed to approximate a more acceptable version of “authenticity.” We can do it every day, by walking proudly through crowded spaces and not trying to sneak into the gaps.

The more we can own the space we take, the more we can hold space for ourselves and those around us. By using our physicality, our dollars, and our mindsets, we can create an environment where everyone can be comfortable with taking the space they take.

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