This morning, I was going through my bazillion-katrillion Pinterest pins and I turned the screen to my husband and said, “Oh my gosh, this is so pretty!”
He said, “It *is* pretty. It looks like you!”
“Why don’t you wear stuff like that anymore?”
I’ve spent all afternoon thinking about it.
Coming from California, as I do, I was used to the land of perpetual lightness and sandals. I had a winter coat, sure, but only wore it one month out of the year. Well, that may be an exaggeration – guess which way?
Like everyone else, at home I wore jeans, t-shirts, flip-flops or tennies. My work wardrobe was mostly business-casual and a small corner of my closet was devoted to dressy stuff with lively colored pumps to match – I had purple suede, people!
Then, somewhere around the end of the decade before I moved here… so the late 1990’s… I fell in love with guaze, lace and flowing stuff to go with my flowing body. I bought dresses, pants and tops of creamy, peach and denim guaze. Even my purses matched! I had a secret desire to be Mother Earth, I tell ya. I certainly had a good start with all those sandals!
Then I moved to Ontario, Canada and all bets were off. Flip the cold months vs. warm months (and add some more cold months) and you have months-and-months of gray, red and black wool and flannel, woolen scarves, hats, gloves, lined boots and more than one winter coat.
Sandals? Well, right now, actually. It’s humid and hotter than holy hell out there. But I digress.
My husband asked and here’s the answer:
About six or seven years ago, I had gathered and curated (buzz word alert!) a nice summer and winter wardrobe. Well, actually, a nice summer wardrobe and a do-able, half-way decent winter wardrobe. I had my summer bo-ho staples, like this outfit (which, yes, is actually me – and my friend, Leslie, who is a beautiful soul.)
This is an outfit I duplicated in many ways because I loved it so much. I’d gotten a few of the tops in different colors at the same time and had flowy pants and jeweled sandals to go with them. You can tell I’m thrilled to be with my friend but also, that my hair is done (love that color, actually) and have cute earrings, great glasses and most of all, a genuine smile. I felt good!
I’d worn this outfit and the others to work a few times when a co-worker approached me. She was a gorgeous woman who was larger, like me, so when she said this next bit, I wasn’t hurt… you know… like I didn’t feel she was making fun of me because I was fat… not in the least. I felt that she was being honest in trying to “help me” with my wardrobe.
She said, “I know you’re trying to look your best but those tops and billowy pants only make you look larger. You should wear clothes that hug your body more.”
“You think?” I asked, truly perplexed. In my day, we covered those blobby bits, not announced them.
“Seriously. I bet you’d look ten pounds thinner if you wore clothes that fit you better.”
Now see, I can’t remember if this was around the time I was struggling after my son’s suicide attempt but she’d been there then and not after, so maybe I was feeling more vulnerable than usual.
I was kind of… embarrassed, I guess. And so, I immediately stopped wearing those clothes. And oddly enough, I started hearing compliments like, “Did you lose weight?” Okay, so… must have been true. I guess?
And so, next purge (‘cuz you know I’m a purger) I dumped the entire gauzy, chiffon-y bunch o’ clothes, my Birkenstocks and goofy jeweled sandals into the thrift store pile and bu-bye Cali flowin’ me.
That might have been the end of the story. Well, it mostly was. Except, over the past several years (beginning with a gift of beautiful clothing from a friend) I have been quietly adding pieces – and wearing a few (some have worn out, actually!)
It may seem easy enough to replace things, what with all the stuff I’ve seen on Pinterest… but actually, no, not so much. It’s not that there aren’t plenty of beautiful clothes for larger women (there are more than ever before!) but not in **my style**… and yes, I have accepted, embraced and adopted my own style! And it’s what’s showing in that photo of me, above. Yay, me!! Now, if only I can figure out how to adapt it into winter wear!
I want to be clear that my co-worker is entitled to her opinion, looks great in her form-fitting clothes and I give her love and props for being herself. It’s just not me. That’s what I’ve realized today!
This is something I’ve had big problems with… especially as a large woman. We’re either hiding in the shadows or bigger than life… nothing wrong with just being ourselves.
I’d like to end by asking if you wear what is authentically you? It’s funny, because my husband has been teaching me about this for years. His newest pair of glasses are red and round. Who would wear such things? He would! And he looks amazing!