I have some more complex, kind of dark, and meaningful thoughts spinning in my head right now. But they’re not ready for public consumption. So let’s talk about something else–tucking your shirt in. And if your first question is, “Um… why?” know that this isn’t really about shirts. It’s about bellies.
For years, I would never ride without my shirt tucked in and a belt. It was part of my “If I don’t look the part I am not enough” belief system. To me, proper turnout meant being polished and being polished meant belt and tucked in shirt. Always.
At first, my riding uniform was breeches, a polo shirt and of course–belt. Then as sunshirts became what everyone rode in, the much tighter, long sleeve shirts replaced the polos. But still, I always wore them tucked in with a belt.
It wasn’t like I was super thin back then. My stomach was not flat. Most pictures feature some lovely equestrian flab hanging out and below its polished belt. I don’t remember it really bothering me. Did I wish I was thinner? Absolutely? I wanted to look like the other girls at the barn, much smaller than myself (still do). But I didn’t hesitate to tuck in the shirt, throw on a matching belt and head to the barn.
Then I lost a lot of weight. Though I never achieved the coveted flat stomach, I definitely shrank. The belly over the belt did too. And I liked it, a lot. I bought cuter belts. I posed for more pictures.
And, like you already know, I gained all the weight back. What was lost had been found! Except I wasn’t all excited about it, and then is when my opinion towards polished attire began to shift. My cute belts were on the last buckle, if they fit at all. The room in my sun shirts disappeared. When I got ready to go ride, I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. And I stopped untucking my shirt.
So really, it’s not about tucking in shirts at all.
I still want to be polished and professional at the barn. I think proper turnout shows respect for your horse, your trainer, and perhaps most importantly yourself. But where is the line between what’s respectful and what makes us feel bad about ourselves?
These days, I am hyper aware of the spare tire around my waist. It seems more pronounced than it was when I was younger, even though I weigh about the same as many of those old pictures with Simon. Logically, I know our bodies change and warp and move as we age. But this response isn’t a logical one.
My therapist challenged me to think of something positive to associate with this ‘curve’ if you will. Her suggestion was that it protects my organs. But um, yeah that’s not working. Instead I’ve gained a newfound appreciate for mid/high rise pants and breeches. Oh yeah, and I’ve banished one pair of jeans to a hellfire death because even though they “fit” they manage to make me feel bad about myself every time I wear them.
So yeah, I don’t know what all of this is to say except that lately I’ve been going through a mini crisis each time I dress to ride. To tuck, or not to tuck? This sounds like a Drag Race reference when written. If only I had the confidence of a drag queen!
It changes by the day. I hate to give up a polished look due to insecurities. But I also question if something so simple has anything to do with my turnout and respect for the sport. That seems like a bit of a gross exaggeration, especially when I’m talking about schooling at home versus showing or riding in a clinic.
What say you? Are you a shirt tail flying in the breeze, or #beltforever rider? Am I the only one who over thinks something like this to a borderline insane level?