For most of my life my family influenced my negative view of my body and my fashion choices. Though I have begun to love my body, I suffered with insecurities linked to my size and body type which stemmed from microaggression. Through no longer direct, they are now akin to passive-aggressive implications than are directed at me via gifts, both store bought and hand made. Allow me to elaborate with some recent examples.
Back in 2013 I lent my voice for the third time for my church’s rendition of G.F. Handel’s Messiah. The then director decided (at the last minute mind you) in a white top and black ankle length bottoms as the dress code for the night of the performance. As a rule I really didn’t own much white and due to the fact that I am a petite woman I (still) don’t own many things that are too long. I complained to my mother and my aunt, both who were also part of the choir, and said that I would be sitting out this year since I had nothing to wear. They both then took it upon themselves to go shopping for me. Being that I was in my third semester of graduate school and had a crazy finals schedule, I let them. Needless to say I was surprised when one weekend my aunt came over with a measuring tape declaring that she would be making my skirt. The only reason I agreed to this was because the concert was a week away and the fabric was gorgeous.
This leads us to the night before the performance when my aunt came over with the skirt. I fell in love with it before even trying it on and already began to think about how I would be one of the best dressed sopranos on the stage. I thanked my aunt profusely as she put the final touches including the hook on the side. When I tried it on later that night I realized that the waist was cut so big to the point that I had to hold it up. I called my aunt asking her why it was so big and she responded that while she took my measurements herself there was no way I was that size. My mother ended up saving the day by adding some elastic to the waist for a better fit. I later added my favorite metal bow stretch belt for extra hold as a precaution.
Since then I began to notice that this passive-aggressive body shame tactic is widespread within my family. And to be perfectly honest, sometimes it worked. I would question why I didn’t go in for weight reduction surgery or try yet another diet to get rid of those pounds that obviously disturb others. It should come as no surprise that these thoughts did not motivate me in the slightest but did great work in bringing down my self esteem even more. It took much introspection to combat these feelings. This was how I realized that I had handed over my self-worth to others and had allowed myself to be manipulated by how others viewed my body. I then pledged to myself that I will not apologize for my size or how I look just because I don’t fit the ideal. Are there some things I would like to change? Yes, but I will do so on my own terms. This is my body and I won’t have anyone’s opinion about it influence how I feel about myself.
Which brings us to today. I now make the best of these gifts that are double and sometimes even triple my actual size. Less than five minutes after I opened this particular gift of a (size 24) chevron sweater from another aunt, I already had this outfit in mind and I love how it turned out. For months I have been envying my thinner friends who can work the over-sized cardigan look and I am glad to know that I am no longer excluded from this trend just because I am plus size. It is an amazing feeling to no longer let this body shaming message bother me and actually create something positive out of something inherently negative and harmful.
I know that the views of my family, like the rest of society, won’t change overnight. However, if there is one thing I hope that my blog, like the blogs of other plus size fashionista’s I admire, manage to do is inspire self love for those, who, like me, seldom receive it anywhere else. Our collective voices are what will bring change and it has already begun. Choosing to leave body shaming comments outside of how we think of and define ourselves will not only make you happier but it changes everything. Do I still suffer with insecurities? I think we all do no matter how much we grow; I just make sure that my self esteem isn’t based on anyone’s assessment but my own and I encourage everyone to do the same.
What do you think?