The Battle of the Bulge and Dressing the Body You Have
I’m going lay it all out here today and be completely honest with you. I’m struggling with my weight right now. I know, no one wants to hear the skinny girl complain about her weight, but I also feel that it’s rather disingenuous to post photo after photo of myself (only the ones that make me look good, of course; I delete hundreds that never make it to the blog) and act like it’s easy because it’s not.
I’ve always had to fight my natural tendency to be a compulsive eater. I’ve done the Jenny Craig thing and the Weight Watchers thing and the MyFitnessPal thing, and I’ve weighed myself daily for the past 20 years. Fortunately I have a fairly forgiving metabolism, so for a long time I could indulge when I wanted and make up for it by dieting for a few days. I’m not saying that was a healthy way to live, but it kept me happy with my size.
The years passed, and with my 40th birthday looming, the numbers on the scale started inching up and my clothes started getting tight. I couldn’t seem to get back to my comfortable weight range no matter what I did. That’s when I started running and working out. I decided if I was going to have to make peace with a few extra pounds, then at least I’d be fit. So I got in shape. And while the scale never did return to my happy place, I was content with my size and felt like I probably looked better than when I weighed less.
But then good old plantar fasciitis set in, and now I can’t exercise like I should, and my 40-year-old metabolism isn’t working the way it used to, and this spring I’ve packed on a few pounds that just. will. not. let. go.
Why am I sharing this for Fashion Friday?
Because my clothes don’t fit, and it’s hard to look stylish in clothes that are too tight. And I’m willing to bet there are a lot of women out there in my shoes. Or, you know, my pants, ha!
If that’s you, I want to tell you that it is okay to go up a size.
Last week I wanted to wear my white dressy shorts to my birthday dinner. I haven’t worn them all summer, and a date night seemed like the perfect opportunity to dust them off. I knew they were snug even last year when I was training for a half marathon, so a few days before our dinner date, I tried them on to see how they fit. And, well… they didn’t. I carry my weight in my middle, so my beloved white shorts were riding up in the rear (wedgie, anyone?) and making an unsightly muffin top that was visible through my shirt. I knew I couldn’t wear them without “looking like two pigs fighting under a blanket” — haha! (Name that movie!)
It was the final straw. I could have worn the white shorts and punished myself the entire night, trying not to eat too much and constantly sucking in my gut and tugging the shorts down. Or I could have worn a safe, stretchy dress with lots of room to expand throughout the evening, but I wanted to feel good about how I look on my birthday! And I certainly wanted to enjoy my meal. So I decided it was time to go shopping and buy the next size up.
The day of our date, I went to the mall and bought new shorts in the next size up. Since I have white shorts that I hope to wear again some day, I decided to buy black ones for a change.
I got home and started getting dressed for our date, and I cannot tell you how freeing it is to wear clothes that fit. For the past few months, I’ve been trying to squeeze into pants that are too tight and I’m sick of it. They’re uncomfortable, and they make me look like a frumpy hausfrau because when your pants are tight, they showcase every lump and bump, and that is NOT what we need, can I get an amen?
My new size eights actually made me look thinner than the sixes in my closet, and they were so much more comfortable to wear. I could sit and stand and bend and squat with nothing pinching or riding up. It was glorious.
If I had any reservations about how I look in my new size, they were washed away when I posted a photo of the outfit on my Facebook page, asking the Internets if it looked like I was trying to hard with dressy shorts and wedge sandals. I was feeling a bit self-conscious and wanted a second opinion. Well, I got 150 of them.
The response was staggering. I honestly did not expect that. When I ask for fashion advice on an outfit I’m a bit unsure of, I usually get some conflicting opinions and at least one or two fuddy-duddies chiming in to tell me that I look ridiculous. But not one discouraged me from wearing the outfit and owning it. I even posted a second picture wearing flats, thinking that was probably a safer bet, but most said they prefer the heels.
So I wore it and owned it, and I felt great the whole evening. The best part is that I could move around and eat without feeling constricted.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that my body is changing and the styles that worked for me five years ago or even last summer aren’t cutting it anymore. I’ve begun buying shirts that aren’t as form-fitting, I’m starting to wear more dresses, and I’ve invested a few pairs of shorts that are a size larger. At least for now.
I’m not giving up, but I’m giving myself some grace.
I’m hoping that in a few weeks or months I’ll get my weight under control and I can pack these clothes away and label them for the next time I need them, but if I can’t and I have to own this new size, then I will, and I’m not going to do my best not to let it get me down.
There may be some people out there reading this with little sympathy for the girl who has to settle for size eight, but the number isn’t the point. The point is that we all age, and as we age our bodies change, and that’s okay.
Most people simply don’t stay the same size forever. The key is to learn how to best dress the body you have, and own it.