Single handedly, my favorite winter jacket. #PowerOfShe

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Winter coats have single handedly been my arch nemesis since childhood (no pun intended). Since growing up, winter after winter I have feared the inevitable, anxiety-inducing routine of putting on a jacket every morning one sleeve at a time, except one sleeve never fits. And for the better part of a decade, I battled the year-after- year fight of shopping for a jacket that was thick enough to keep me warm, but not so thick that I couldn’t comfortably bunch my sleeve all the way up my littler arm.

 

 

A few times as a kid, I said “heck with it” and just let my sleeve dangle… but I didn’t like the way it whipped around in the wind, dragged on dirty surfaces or made me feel like I wasn’t being my authentic self. When I was in fifth grade I chose to stop wearing my prosthetic arm, and so I had no comfortable choice but to push or roll my long sleeves up to my elbow. And don’t get me started on puffy coats — It was a losing battle when they got popular in sixth grade. It was all this anxiety that led me to ultimately avoid outdoor winter activity altogether - opting out of skiing, sledding and skating like all the other kids my age living in the Colorado mountains.

I didn’t like the way my bunched up sleeve drew attention to me. I didn’t like that people often asked if my little arm was cold when it turned bright red in the freezing air, or why I didn’t just let my sleeve hang all together. I didn’t like being interrogated for my misfit clothes.

During my 23rd birthday, on a family trip to Aspen, I decided that I wanted to learn to ski. This meant I was going to have to overcome my superficial self-conscious fears and woman up. I’ll never forget getting geared up with my rental equipment, riding the chairlift to the top and taking my first few strides on fresh snow. All I could focus on was how out of place I felt. I couldn’t enjoy the magical winter setting or be present in the experience because my thoughts were consumed with the inevitable stares I thought I was going to get when people saw me on the mountain.

But there I was, on top of a steep blue groomer, gasping deeply as I peered down the run that I was about to ski down. I tried to control my breathing and leapt off (well, sort of)... I made several very BIG, slow S-turns, inducing a dry mouth and some heavy breathing. My knees wobbled and my palm sweat, but I made it to the bottom; not only alive, but exhilarated! I was so proud of myself and what I had just accomplished that I was eager to do it again... and again.

By the time we broke for lunch, I realized that I had completely forgotten about my self-conscious belief that everyone was staring at my arm because I had been so focused on simply getting down the hill.

After practicing winter after winter, I got pretty good at skiing and eventually so hooked that I frequently went skiing by myself. A few times I was even stopped by strangers on the slopes who wanted to congratulate me for being fearless. Whodathunk!? My newfound excitement for skiing shifted my train of thought as well. Since discovering this new mindset, jackets and puffy coats not longer hold me back or induce self-conscious thoughts. Sleeves and clothing shouldn’t make us anxious about our bodies, but empower us to feel confident and comfortable while doing the activities we love.

This winter I’ve become more and more obsessed with Athleta because they continue to come out with items that keep me confident and comfortable outside... AKA #PowerOfShe. This weekend Dylan and I went for a hike up Mount Evans near my hometown in Evergreen, CO, and I wore the Responsible Down Bomber (sleeve up!) the Remarkawool Crew Neck underneath and the Polartec Sculptek Tight. They are SO thick and warm my legs never got cold, even in the 15 degree weather!

Get all your winter active wear at athleta.gap.com #Sponsored

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sarah herron