I've been doing a lot of online shopping, er, browsing (very little purchasing going on with my income!), lately and have purchased a few things in-store as well (I rarely shop, so my recent habits are scaring me a bit). Clothes are beginning to catch my eye and I'm starting to pay attention to what I wear more often. Plus, I've had to keep an eye out for boutfits (what I wear when I'm playing announcer/crowd wrangler for roller derby bouts) and dresses for my cousin's upcoming bachelorette party & wedding.
I'm getting increasingly frustrated with sizing. I don't feel as big as retailers size me. I'm a woman. I have curves. I hate that I constantly have to buy things 1-2 sizes up because of my boobs or thighs. Did Kate Moss screw up our perception of how women are built by THAT much?! Are all clothes meant to wear like a 2nd skin?! I think retailers are failing if their clothes make consumers feel like shit because clothing becomes more hassle than joy. Maybe that's just me.
I'm a bit heavier than the average American woman (avg is 63.8 inches, 164lbs, 37" waist and I'm 65" tall, more than 164lbs, with a 34" waist), but I think I'm healthier than the average American woman. I understand obesity is an epidemic in this country, but I'm not obese (seriously, my BMI is not in the obese range)- I'm just not built like a 13 year old! Am I doomed to wear frumpy, boring clothing because I'm not tween-sized? I'm 23! I'm still young enough to have fun with my clothes!
Health over vanity: a family value
I come from a very blue-collar family. I can only think of 1 person in my giant extended family (my mom is 1 of 7) that pays attention to fashion. External beauty & vanity were never something that was paid particular attention to. Good grades, support, love, hard work, laughter, experiences over possessions- those are some of the things that matter.
I was always a "chunky" kid- I was on steroid treatments for severe asthma through most of my childhood (and occasionally still have to use them in the winter when my asthma flares up badly), which caused me to retain weight & had the oh-so-lovely side effect of increased appetite. I got used to the teasing. I got used to not wearing what everyone else was wearing. I got used to always being the bigger girl in the group. Clothes were a necessity, not a pleasure. I dreaded shopping. I was never really into fashion/makeup or other traditionally "girlie" pursuits, so it never really phased me.
I don't have any particularly thin people in my family (at least not the women!). We're all a bit fluffy, and in a couple cases (like mine!), we're BUSTY. I'm naturally pretty muscular, so it's not like I was all fluff. I learned to love the strength that came from my fuller thighs. I relished conquering physical challenges that some of the smaller girls would bat their eyelashes and ask a male to do it for them. I have my mom to credit for this- growing up, it was usually just her, myself and little sister, so we learned to handle handiwork, yardwork, moving heavy things, etc. It was empowering. And I discovered my body, no matter what size it was, made it possible for me to do these things.
I've never been stick thin. At my smallest in my adult life (roughly 3 years ago), I was a size 4 & weighed about 125 lbs (I'm 5'5" so this is on the higher end of the "healthy" spectrum for my height). Even at my smallest, I was self critical. I was never as small as or built like my friends in college (even at my smallest, I had boobs, hips and thick thighs).
But then I discovered roller derby.
The women I skated with were just that- WOMEN. They had curves. They had asses ANYONE would envy (that's what happens when you hold a squat for 5 hours a week!). They were strong, confident, unabashedly sexy and comfortable in their skin, no matter what size they were. I've skated with girls as short as 4'10" and as tall as 6'4"- roller derby takes all types.
I felt like a badass on the track. When the crowd roared or cheered, it was invigorating.
I came to love my body and accept yet another amazing thing it could do.
I'm currently quite a bit bigger than I was at my thinnest (weight gain was a side effect of a medication I was on, but I didn't notice until it was too late grrrrr), but I don't particularly feel it, if that makes sense... I do, however, feel like shit when I see a photo of myself or have trouble fitting into clothes I could wear a year ago.
So it starts now. Serious change is on the horizon. More to come...