Wide load

Today I’m all about the curves. I’ve been putting off wearing this skirt because, well, it’s a little on the tight side. It shows off more of my shape than I would really like. And I’m very aware that if you are blessed with curves, with hips, with a sizeable rear, and you dress them up fitted style, you will always look more glamourous and sexualized than a slinky skinny type in the same get-up. It’s just a fact of life: put Marilyn and Audrey in identical 60s black shift dresses and one will look classic, elegant and demure while the other will look soft, sexy and possibly (as my Mum would say) “a bit common”. Neither can help it, it’s just what their body shape does to the dress in question.

But then I found Musings of a Fatshionista blog, and in particular, the below catwalk shots. And I thought, to hell with it! Because I felt such a lifting of spirit looking at these images, such a connection to the clothes. For the first time I looked at models on a catwalk and thought “Oh – I can look like that!” Followed by “And why shouldn’t I??”

Note: I’ve picked images that depict women whose shape I identify with.
There are more models of varying shapes and sizes over on Fatshionista’s blog
.

If they can wear pencil skirts and bias cuts and floaty chiffon and look so good in them then why am I so ashamed of my shape? The experience really threw a spotlight onto my relationship with my body, with other people’s bodies, and with “fat”. Because – and this is a confession I am far from proud of, and aware might lose me a few readers – despite hating myself for it, I do look at random strangers’ lumps and bumps and think “that ruins the line of that” or “she’s too big to be wearing that” or, most painful to admit, “Ugh! She looks horrible!” I constantly compare myself to others, my internal monologue asking “Am I bigger than her?”, wondering “Is that what I look like from behind?” and stating “God, I hope I never get that big.” I am my own harshest critic, but I mentally criticize others as well – which makes me more critical of myself because, well, if I’m doing it, other people must be too!

(That paragraph was so difficult to compose! I had to go back several times and rewrite my thoughts into exactly what I think, rather than the cotton-wool-wrapped alternative I’d like you to believe of me. Honesty can be painful to write.)

I know this says more about my own state of mind, my own relationship with my body, than anything else. And what is hardest to admit is that it’s not a relationship based just on aesthetic. It infiltrates every aspect of my life, from public eating (“What will people think of me eating this chocolate bar? Will they think I’m fat because I’m unhappy and lonely? Will they think I have no self control?”) to work (“Will the interviewer think I’m lazy because I’m overweight? What about the other people at this networking event – what will they think if I have a cake instead of an apple? Will they think I can’t do my job because I’m too hung up on food?”) via the commute (“Oh god, there’s not enough seats on this train… what if people think they can’t sit next to me because I’m too fat? Let me tuck my coat in and my elbows and make sure I fit into my side of the seat… oh god, are they not sitting next to me because they think because I’m overweight I might smell sweaty?). In recent months I’ve considered signing up for online dating, but haven’t, partly for fear that meeting me in the flesh could potentially be so dishearteningly disappointing – for both parties. And as I walk down the street – and I walk FAST by most people’s standards – I will actually alter my breathing as I pass someone, trying to ensure that I don’t sound out of breath because, horror of horrors, they might hear me and think it’s because I’m so unfit. Which, and here’s the thing, I’m not! I could be fitter, yes, but I walk EVERYWHERE (I don’t drive, and as well as being too tight to pay for buses if I can walk, am afraid the bus driver will think I’m fat and lazy!). My relationship with my body affects every aspect of my life.

And I can’t be alone in feeling this way. I can’t be the only one carrying the extra load emotionally that comes with being overweight. I can’t be alone in worrying that my appearance will give people certain preconceived ideas about my health and mental state. I can’t be the only one who has actually started to believe the hype that if I were just  a bit slimmer things would be better. Everything would be alright.

(Woah, this has turned into a therapy session!)

Getting back to the point, these images provided more than just a breath of fresh air. They provided hope. They provided inspiration. They gave me something to aspire to, to recreate, and to know I could emulate. Because they don’t look like the token plus size models sent down the runway to demonstrate the wearability of the catwalk collections. These girls look like they’re leading the revolution. They look amazing.

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16 thoughts on “Wide load

  1. Love those models but wish you would realise how beautiful YOU are and that’s not just a mum talking. You have a unique style and are brilliant at carrying it off.

    The trouble is, you don’t realise we all have many of the same worries and think the very same things, regardless of size or age!

  2. Firstly, can I say that I think you look REALLY good in that skirt. A woman with curves will always look better in a pencil skirt than someone with a more androgynous shape, I think.

    Secondly, one of the things that made me keep reading your blog is your honesty and your voice (and it is something that I really like about you in person as well!) and I think this post is excellent. It’s so hard to always feel like if you were a little bit different in one way or another, that your life would be better – it bleeds into every area of your life. All I can say is that those pictures ARE inspiring, but so are the pictures you publish of yourself. I’ll stop before I get all soppy, but I think you are beautiful.

  3. Just echoing what Roisin and your mum have already said: you have a wonderful, hourglass figure, and you always look fantastic. With that said, I think we all probably think and feel things about ourselves (whether it be weight, or something else) that other people just wouldn’t notice or agree with. I guess the small comfort in that is that we’re probably all far too busy thinking about our own flaws to notice anyone else’s!

  4. Caroline – you have body dysmorphia! Seriously! If you didn’t mention it as much as you do – I would probably tell you that you looked a size 12 – max size 14.

    😛

  5. Caroline Short – we are about to have words! You are beautiful, have a wonderful figure that I’m sure is the envy of most and are a fabulous person to boot. You have such style, creativity and a refreshing honesty – I hate to think of you feeling this way about yourself!

    You are absolutely not the only one who has emotional issues connected with their appearance – I have such empathy with what you’ve described here as I’ve had weight struggles for as long as I can remember. I too play out in my mind what people might think of me if I eat such and such in public, or if I wear a certain dress etc. I work-out a lot in my efforts to keep my weight off and always think people smirk when I say that, as they must be thinking – how can this fat girl possibly ever work-out?! Take it from me that being that bit slimmer doesn’t make a damn bit of difference – I’ve gone from being a size 22 to a 14 and although I am happier I think that’s mainly due to being healthier as a consequence, any emotional problems or issues that were there before, are by in large, still there now – you don’t lose those with the weight.

    I think it’s important to try and be grateful for the bodies we have now, the ones that we, as women, tend to berate constantly for being too curvy, too flabby, too short, too tall, too thin, too wide – they do their job in holding us up every day, allowing us to move, breathe, dance, laugh and live. We’ve got to work with what we’ve got and just be as fabulous as we can whilst doing so!

    Oh, and us curvy girls look better in a pencil skirt every time!

    Much love to you Cie,
    A x

  6. First, you look stunning in this outfit. Secondly, I think body acceptance of ourselves and others is a feminist issue. I think we are so inundated with this ideal woman that we pick ourselves and other women apart. Being conscious about how this ideal woman tries to get between the wonderful relationships I can have with other women helps me to squash the destructive chatter in my head. It’s something I have to constantly fight as a recovered anorexic and even more so now that I don’t want to pass that baggage on to my daughter. Honestly, sometimes becoming a feminist was one of the best things that could happen to me because it made me realize what’s important and just more aware of things that I don’t have to buy into anymore.

  7. YOU LOOK AMAZING. Tell your inner self to shut the hell up.

    Also, I think this is my new favorite skirt of yours. You know I love the black & white one, but this one takes its place. Do you have a wide belt? Try that over your top to accentuate your tiny waist. Just an idea…not a criticism…because you look fabulous AS IS!

    And um, I won’t stop reading because you eye people who could use a little help in the wardrobe department. We all have those days. I always just try to imagine how I could fix their look or accentuate their particular body shape in a better way. That way I don’t feel so judgy mcjudgerson about it. 😉

  8. I’ve followed your blog for months now and you always look beautiful, I love your style and wish I had the confidence to wear clothes like yours. I’m a size 16-18 and wouldn’t have said you were a similar size to me. You have a shapely figure which men love and women admire so love your body GF!
    That skirt looks fab, I bet you have lots of admiring glances when you wear it 🙂

  9. Y’know sweetheart, not only are all the other posters totally right (rock on, ladies) but even Gok Wan has been known to say that pencil skirts suit everyone but especially shapely women.

    And to reassure you, I had a conversation with a lovely man yesterday who was telling me that he finds pretty, shapely women far more attractive than the svelte stunners we’re all supposed to aspire to (even me, with my extra chocolate brownie weight) so clearly curvy women like us are where it’s at! 🙂

    We all have days where we feel as if we wouldn’t compare favourably to the back end of a bus but (a) this is definitely not yours and (b) You have the sort of style that would make the bus feel better about itself.

    At the end of the day, our weight and shape is not actually the issue but dressing in a way that makes the best of what we have IS.

    Chin up. xxx

  10. You’re so silly…(is that how you wright it?)
    I guess that everyone of us compares lumps and bumps, for better or for worse.
    You’re just being to hard on yourself.
    You look great in that skirt if you wouldn’t try to cover up with the cardigan you would look greater.
    Of course you (and I) will never achieve the demure look in a pencil skirt.But why do you want to look demure? Accept yourself for the sexy woman you are instead of thinking that you’re fat.
    Men like women who like themselves.And you have every reason to love yourself.

  11. Firstly, all the above commenters are right.

    Secondly, everything you just said resonates so much with me. It’s *exactly* how I feel, and I do all those things as well; second guessing what people are thinking, trying not to eat in front of certain people in case they judge me, and particularly looking at other people and comparing their bodies to mine. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve used the phrase “is she bigger than me?” or “but she’s waaaaay thinner than me!”.

    It gets to the point where it’s difficult to look in the mirror and really know what you look like because you’re too busy staring at the flabby arms / big belly / chunky ankles that nobody else notices. I’ve come to the conclusion that being somewhere in the middle weight-wise (you mention the word ‘fat’ above but you are clearly NOT) probably makes people more weight obsessed than people who are super-slim or very large.

    But the important thing to remember is that nobody else notices this stuff. When you mentioned your dress size in the post below this I was shocked because I always looked at your outfit pics and pinned you as much slimmer than me (I know I’ve said that to you on twitter too). Turns out we’re about the same size (unless you’re freakishly tall – are you?!) You clearly know your shape, you know how to dress to show off your best assets and you always look fantastic.

    On another note, regarding the online dating, if you want to do it, you should go for it. Any guy you meet who has issues because you’re not a size 6 isn’t worth the trouble in the first place.

    …and that’s how I met my boy 😉 !!

  12. You look amazing in that skirt! You should definitely wear it more. And as for the rest of the post – you are the average size for British women and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, there will be many girls smaller than you but there are just as many that are far bigger.

    Give internet dating a try if you want to (that’s how I met my man & we didn’t exchange pictures first – too cheapskate to pay for that part of the site lol!). Turn up in that skirt and if he’s not blown away, there’s definitely something wrong with him.

    xx

  13. Delurking – Love your blog, love your outfits, love your curvy self, love your new found love of Liberty’s

    And without wanting to be bossy – read Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby. I’ve just finished it…its kind of a check list of ways to learn to love yourself just as you are…..and one of the steps is to stop the commentry in your head about other peoples size and shape, cause when you judge other people harshly, you judge yourself the same way, and it just makes you miserable.

    xxx

  14. I hope you don’t mind me replying to your post. I read it not because I am interested in fashion (I wear clothes just so I’m not naked!) but because you always look so nice, the clothes you wear really suit you and you mentioned Stratford in some of your posts and that is where I was born. In fact (and this is a little scary) you look a lot like I did at your age and the clothes are very similar. Goes to show what goes around comes around. If, as an oldie, I could give you one and only one piece of advice it would be this – No one is looking at you and judging you. They are all way too busy thinking about themselves and what YOU are thinking of THEM.

  15. You really do look great there, I wouldn’t think someone who looks as you do would think they are “fat”!

    I used to be a size 3/4, and I never thought I was skinny. I had problems with my lumps and bumps just like everyone else, and when people would say how “small” I was– I just thought they were being polite. I am now I size 8, and really struggling with it. I don’t think the “size” really matters– no one knows but you. Everyone is so different in height and looks, I know superficially it is all about confidence and clothing choices. I love your candid blog post!! You look great.

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