Growing up, I was the “Big Girl”.
Not as big as I am now, mind you, but having reached my current height of 5’10” by tenth grade, I usually stood out in the crowd. As the big girl, I developed certain coping mechanisms to deal with the fact that I didn’t fit in, physically speaking. While some would have turned to humor or being the tough girl, I became the good girl (straight A student, varsity athlete, church-goer, etc.) – partly in attempt to shift focus and redefine how others saw me…and ultimately how I saw myself.
After high school and into my 20s, I began to use fashion to hide my insecurities about my size. By wowing people with my impeccable and sometimes outlandish style (see pleather skirt example below), I was covering up, no – dressing up – my issues with my weight.
I took comfort in knowing that if I couldn’t lose the extra pounds or change my height, shape, etc., I could at least dress it up to make it more palatable to the rest of the world. I’m now 36 and I still have a hard time feeling pretty, sexy or acceptable if I am “dressed down”.
That is, until recently.
A friend of mine was in Dallas not too long ago and wanted to hang out. We had plans to go to Uptown – a notoriously pretentious area of restaurants and bars. Needless to say, I went overboard planning the perfect outfit. I knew my friend couldn’t have cared less what I wore but in an effort not to feel like Amy the Jolly, Old Giant in a sea of young, petitie socialites, I pulled out all the stops. I wore a new, crisp white blouse featuring shoulder cut-outs and ruffles (tres trendy, oui?) and paired it with distressed jeans for a little contrast and cool factor. Add T-strap heels to my feet and Laura Mercier gloss to my lips and I felt as “IN” as an almost 300 pound woman possibly could.
Sadly, it didn’t matter. I still felt old, fat and out of place. And here I thought I had come to terms with who I was already! So not only was I out of my element, I was disappointed in my back-sliding sense of self and misplaced worth.
I was in a funk for the next 24 hours.
Then she wanted to hang out again the next night.
Still nursing a bruised ego from the night before, I decided not to waste my time trying to wow with my outfit, makeup or overall style. This time, I would opt for comfort and focus on spending quality time with my friend over fitting in with total strangers.
Dressed in my athleisure best with slip on vans on my feet and carmex on my lips, I met my friend for cheap margaritas and Mexican food.
That’s when something amazing happened. (I mean, something besides $2 margaritas.)
I had a truly great – no insecurities – body positive, fun night.
But how was this possible?
According to my “Big Girls Don’t Cry (As Long as They are Dressed to the Nines)” theory, the first night out should have been the clear winner. How is it that I felt better about myself in stretchy workout pants and no foundation?
I have a few theories here but the bottom line is, I definitely turned a corner in my body-acceptance journey that night.
I will always love getting dressed up and being a glam girl and I will always have a plethora of high heels in my closet but I will also make room for stretchy pants and sneaks.
And whichever one I chose to wear, I will wear it with confidence knowing that I am so much more than a number on a scale.