Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of straight and plus size, I will fear no dressing room, for the in-between is with me. Society accepts straight size women by default, and plus size women voice their unapologetic pride so vociferously that naysayers can’t (nor should) get a word in edgewise. There’s no place in either camp for me. I’ll never fit into samples, but I’ll also never question whether a store carries my size nor depend on a specialty retailer. I’m neither here nor there. I live in the nebulous land of the in-between, where so many other women go unacknowledged and underrepresented.
I’m not here to climb on a soapbox and preach about sizeism in the fashion industry. First, because it’s a decades-long issue that I know we’re all well aware of. But second, and all the more salient, because an exponential number of brands are making sincere efforts at inclusivity and those efforts are making undeniable waves. It only takes a few grains of sand to tip the scale; I believe we’ll see that tide turn in our lifetime.
I’m also not here to wrap you up in hygge and wax poetic about self-love and self-acceptance. I know we’re all doing the very best that we can in both arenas but probably feel that we often fall short. I do, anyway.
Not too long ago, I was perusing Anthropologie and found a Faithfull dress that I’d been lusting after. In my size. In the sale section. No-brainer, right? I snatched it up, ready to throw hands if necessary, and absconded to the dressing room. Quick as I could, I slipped into the dress and marveled. It felt as if it had been made for me, hugging my curves in all the right places. Well, almost all the right places.
Hubby tends to pull a Houdini on me whenever I’m shopping. So, as usual, I emerged from the privacy of my dressing room to get an opinion from the only available person: the attendant. She gushed about how great the dress looked on me as she adjusted the tie in the back to better fit my bust. Do you know what I said?
“I’m pooching out though.”
I didn’t tell her how much I loved the cornflower blue and delicate flower print, which I did. I didn’t tell her how long I’d been searching for this particular dress and how much I thanked my lucky stars that I’d finally found it in my size and on sale, no less. I don’t know if I even thanked her for the compliment, although I most likely did because I’m unfailingly polite.
No, my first instinct was to point out my fatal flaw before she could notice it for herself. It’s a terrible habit of mine born out of a fear of judgement. And for what? If she hadn’t noticed it before, she did now. And if she had noticed it already, my pointing it out wasn’t going to sway her thoughts one way or the other. If someone’s going to judge me, they’re going to do so regardless of whether I do it for them first. So why tear myself down? At the end of the day, what someone else thinks of me is none of my business anyway. And maybe, just maybe, I don’t need to make what I think of myself anyone’s business either.
For the record, she insisted that I looked great even as I scrutinized myself in the mirror and segued into talk of shapewear. Because we aren’t expected to love the way we look unless our stomachs are flat and firm, or at least give off the illusion of firm flatness. My stomach is neither of those things; I don’t know if it even could be. And why should it have to be?
A recent post by Jeanne of The Grey Layers really resonated with me. She discussed how it wasn’t necessary to love our imperfections or to even consider them beautiful. Beauty is not a precursor to acceptance from yourself or from others. We need only accept our imperfections as part of the human condition.
So here, in no particular order, is a laundry list of my very human flaws:
- My thighs are inseparable, not a hair’s breadth of a gap to be found.
- Pale stretch marks snake all over my body: my tummy, my hips, my thighs, my booty, my arms.
- My waist curves in dramatically on my right side due to the kink in my spine.
- My stomach breaks into rolls when I sit, and not the good kind like sushi or dinner rolls.
- My thighs splay like so much Play-Doh when I sit down, as do my arms when tucked against my sides.
- My knees have permanent bruises that I’m guessing only a dermatologist could remedy at this point.
- My breasts sag way more than they should for a woman of my age (in my non-medical opinion).
- My skin is far from perfect as I haven’t quite nailed down a routine yet to completely control my breakouts and oiliness.
- My hair’s natural state is frizzy; no humidity required.
- And yes, my stomach puffs out, soft and stretch-marked from growing another human in my body.
Like Jeanne, I don’t particularly love these flaws nor find them beautiful. But I accept them as they are; I accept myself as I am. I might forget it sometimes, and I might slip into negative self-talk every now and then, but I always remember to come back. Because like it or not, this is my body and it’s the only one I’ve got. No returns, no exchanges; this is final sale. And life is way too short to spend it feeling uncomfortable in your own skin.
So yeah, it’s the first day of summer. There’s nothing remarkable or momentous about that. It’s not time to get “bikini ready” because that concept does not mean a damn thing. If it’s summer and you inhabit a body, then congratulations! That’s your “summer body” right there.
If you love yourself exactly as you are right now, great! If you feel like you want to make a change, perfect! The two aren’t mutually exclusive. Whatever your situation and whatever your goals, always let it come from a positive place. There’s more than enough negativity in the world; you need neither add to nor internalize it.
Cheers to the frickin’ summer, babes ❤