Cassandra Lyons, 35, San Antonio, TX

This year, as part of our Take Back The Beach program, we are asking YOU to tell us about your experiences with body talk and self-perception. Below, one reader's story.

"It's Okay That My Body Is Changing"

It was like, one day (specifically after I turned 30), I woke up and had bigger boobs, fleshier hips, a booty, and thighs. For all of my young adult and 20-something life, I had worn the same size. So imagine my surprise when, one day, I went to put on my size jeans and they didn't fit. I couldn't even get them over my thighs. Then, I started realizing that most of my shorts and jeans fit much tighter. I no longer needed a belt to hold them up — my butt was doing that. And I noticed my breasts filled out every part of my bra. No, I wasn't pregnant; I had aged and my body had changed. It didn't matter that I still worked out and kept the same diet. My body, like most things in life, moved on to new terrain, and I had to accept it.
For a while, I wore my same old shorts. They weren't as roomy as they used to be, but I could squeeze into them. Denial, I think. I worked out, tried to eat less, and all the while I was in a battle between enjoying my new body and hating it. But it didn't matter what I did. The butt, breasts, hips, and thighs demanded on staying, so I decided once and for all to welcome them.
I donated all of my old bottoms, and then went shopping for items that actually felt comfortable. Who cared that they were a size or two bigger? A number is just a number, after all. What mattered is that they felt good on my body. No longer was I trying to squeeze into an older version of myself.
Shortly after, I came across an anonymous quote that basically said it's okay to grow out of your jeans. Bodies change, lives change, and it's all part of the adventure we call life. Yes, I had grown out of my denim shorts, my underwear, pretty much all of my clothing, but I had grown out of lots of life stuff, too. I had grown up. And isn't that the point? To expand, to grow, to become a better version of yourself?
I look at my body now, at age 35, and welcome its changes. I feel good that it's healthy, if just a little bit plumper. I have changed; I have grown up.
#TakeBackTheBeach essays are meant to reflect individual women's experiences. They have only been lightly edited (if at all) by Refinery29 and do not necessarily reflect the company's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
Have a story of body image and self-perception that you want to share? Submit your essay to our Take Back The Beach contest here.

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