When I was growing up, it was easy to see that I could be both beautiful and happy, if only I looked like the girl in the Ivory soap commercial. There was only one problem.
Well, actually, there were three...
I was not tall, I was not white, I did not have long, blond hair and I was not thin. That looks like four, but two of them are married to each other, and thus, are one.
My awareness of not living up to the American standard of beauty has affected me all of my life. I grappled with each of those problems because I understood that beauty mattered and I wanted to be beautiful.
While I have never believed that short people got no reason to live (Randy Newman), I have often longed to be taller in the hope that that would make me look thinner.
I could go on and on about hair and skin color and beauty, and the great unlearning, but let me just say that I have mostly made it to the other side on those issues.
But weight. That has been a tough one. And it has affected my quest for and love of style in ways I probably still don't fully understand.
I only intend to share a little of that struggle today, and that's because it has been such a big stumbling block.
Everyone needs a little encouragement now and then to share what Montaigne called our “true portraits.” - Nick Maccarone
Plus-Sized Fashionista with Issues
This is the story of how my belly has been in my way almost all of my life. I am shaped in such a way that it would be natural for my stomach to protrude.
How do I know it is natural? I have seen the skinny model version again and again, and realized that if she gained any weight at all, she would grow forward - not just sideways.
But on top of this natural inclination to protrude, we must pile on five belly surgeries. Count them, five!
One of them gave me my beloved son, but we must give the side eye to the other four.
No amount of sit-ups has fixed this particular problem. So, I learned how to hide in my clothes. I became a master at it.
But three things are keeping me from doing that these days.
The first is that I have come to believe that you can't really hide anything. People will see you.
The second is that I believe that the more you present yourself as you, the more you will be loved and adored, no matter what your stomach is doing.
And finally, the third is that I am a style type that loves fitted clothes. Believe it or not, I actually look better in clothes that fit closely enough that you can tell where my belly is. Imagine that. Hard to believe, but true.
Gamine and Plus-Sized
So, here's what happened.
I gained weight for a combination of reasons, and some of them were medical - which means I gained weight more quickly than I might have otherwise. And I couldn't afford to buy a whole new wardrobe.
Since I only wear knits, and I have that tendency to buy clothes that leave room to grow, a lot of my clothes still fit. But they fit a lot more closely.
And I was forced to notice that I actually looked better in them than I have sometimes looked when I was thinner. When I got really clear on why the gamine style is right for me, I understood why and made the commitment to keep dressing that way.
But then, spring came and I had to temporarily retire my dusters and cardigans. Talk about revealing the truth!
A fitted base is one thing. But what if there is only the fitted base, because it's too hot to layer?
This has been my struggle year after year, but is even more so when it comes to gamine style.
And do you know that it is really hard to find good information about creating plus-size gamine capsule wardrobes? Apparently, I will have to create that content myself, as I come to terms with it all.
So stay tuned, gamines. or other plus-sized women navigating style at a size or body type that is not getting enough attention from the fashion industry.
How do you deal with your own fashion imperfections?
See you tomorrow!
My mission is to help you discover, embrace and celebrate your own beauty and style.
Thanks for dropping by! I'll see you soon.
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