Monday, 10 August 2020

Lessons Learned | You Can Dress The Way You Want No Matter Your Size

- Lessons Learned is a new series of chatty blog posts where I talk about all the lessons I have learned in adulthood so far which I wish I had learned earlier -

TW: Weight, Body Image, Eating

The background

I skim the edges between being midsize and being plus size. In some shops, I fit into straight sizing and in others, I have to shift along to the plus-size section. My weight fluctuates a lot and I can never tell whether I am closer to a size 14 or a size 16. Sometimes a size 16 feels way too tight, sometimes way too loose. Basically, my sizing is a mess. I carry a lot of my weight on my lower tummy (thanks PCOS) but generally everywhere is a bit large. I'm learning to not hate this body, and believe me my confidence has grown in leaps and bounds since I last posted on this blog, almost exactly a year ago! 

I have always been a yo-yo dieter, trying everything I can (for short but restrictive periods of time) to be a certain size or weight. I am also a comfort eater and an emotional eater. For as long as I can remember, food has always been a coping mechanism for me when I have been stressed, upset, angry, anxious, depressed or just generally in any mood that isn't contentment. Someone once said to me "when the going gets tough, Jess starts eating" and it kind of stuck in my head like a mantra, repeated when I'm stood at the open fridge door trying to eat shredded mozzarella without dropping it all over the floor. 

I feel it's also important to point out that I have had periods of confidence in the past before reverting back to feeling ashamed of my body. College was a good time for that, armed with my pixie cut and an attention span that allowed me to bury myself into books rather than into the cupboards. I'm not sure what happened to that confidence; maybe it was my body ageing and carrying weight in a different way, maybe it was the relationship I had with someone who told me I wouldn't be beautiful unless I dropped two stone, or maybe it was just the stress of uni/job/life getting in the way of prioritising my mental wellbeing. Whatever it was, I ended up at square one again and that was the beginning of this little self-acceptance journey I found myself on.

Growing confidence

This is by no means a guidebook to becoming a confident queen because, believe me, I have days where I loathe my body just like many other people. I still often feel shy allowing my partner to see me, despite having pretty much seen it all before, and it was only yesterday I stepped out in public in leggings for the first time without using a long sweater or dress to cover up the jiggle of my thighs. Despite this, I have learned to not scrutinise my body shape every time I catch my reflection in a shop window. I can give my tummy a little squeeze without feeling disgusted. I walk about in tight dresses that accentuate my curves and wear crop tops probably more often than I wear full-length tops. This isn't me dressing more revealing in a way to make myself appear more confident like I have done in the past, this is me finally dressing the way I have always wanted because I am more confident.

This has been the main switch in my thinking when getting dressed in the morning (or afternoon because it's an odd time and I don't tend to have anywhere to be at 9am anymore):

From "this outfit looks okay despite my body" to "this outfit looks great ON my body".
My body is no longer the limiting factor in how good I look. I don't have to be confident 'despite my body', I can just be confident in my body. I can look good and be fat. And I don't want to shy away from that word 'fat' anymore. 

Sofie Hagen, the author of the brilliant book Happy Fat, speaks out a lot about reclaiming the word fat and she has really shown me that there's nothing to gain from hiding away from a word that is, in essence, a neutral word. "Fat" as a word does not have a positive or negative connotation, it's just a word. I'm going to post links to Sofie's social media at the bottom of this post and I would highly recommend checking her book out if you want to read more about fat-liberation, fatphobia and self-acceptance.

Dressing the way I want

It started with checking where I draw my fashion inspiration. When your Pinterest boards, Instagram feed and TikTok For You page is full of people who dress the way you want but also have the body you think you want you can tend to gravitate towards inner phrases like "if only I could dress like that" or "I wish I could be her" as opposed to "wow I want that outfit" or "I should try that look". I go to those places for outfit inspiration, not self-doubt. I'm not stating that you should unfollow all the people who don't have your body type, you can draw outfit inspiration from anyone! What I did was balance out my feeds to show more body diversity. I followed more plus-size and mid-size bloggers (or just general people with the style I gravitate towards) and began to expose myself more to media in which the people look like me. To say that this has done wonders for my body confidence is a massive understatement! I have become more used to seeing my body type reflected on these platforms so it has become very normal for me to see it. When I catch glimpses of my body's side angles in the mirror it feels less out of place and I feel much more normal. I no longer feel like 'the fat woman' in a world of people with a different body type to me. I feel normalised, accepted and, more often than ever, I feel good. I like my body more. I want to dress it how it's always deserved to be dressed and not to try everything I can to cover it up!

So, I started to wear dresses more often. I started wearing bodycon styles more often. I started to dress more to stand out than to remain inconspicuous. I have always been more into alternative fashion than any other type of fashion but I was scared to stand out because that would draw attention to myself, and ultimately to my body. I bought the ASOS chain belt I have been looking at for forever. I started buying nicer clothes for every day wear rather than reserving my favourite styles for when I would be in a dark club where nobody could see my curves clearly. I went out in a dress without tights on underneath for the first time in I don't know how long! When I dress the way I have wanted to dress for years it gives me a whole new level of confidence.

Below I have some outfit pics I have posted on my Instagram over the past few months. They were taken by Chloe, Jake and Justin and I absolutely adore them! It has been refreshing to have outfit pictures taken again for the first time in what seems like forever. If you would like to see more of these, my Instagram is @jessistryingblog and I try to post these pictures and to share some self love talk as often as I can!




Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to read this post. Writing on here for the first time in so long has felt so therapeutic and I can't wait to post more content on here again! My socials are below if you would like to see what comes next!

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