I am back from Texas, but sick…still…again. It seems like I am always sick these days. The flights back from Texas were so unbearable on my ears that I couldn’t sleep when I got home. I rocked on my bed until the walk-in clinic opened. Turns out I have a double ear infection in both ears and a cold. I was promptly given prescriptions and sent on my way to rest the remainder of this week, as my balance, equilibrium, will be off for a while.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t met anyone who feels sexy when they’re sick. Lying in bed in pajama pants and a tank at times, a hoody at others, as I cuddle a box of Kleenex tissues and force myself to stay hydrated is not my idea of fun. The fact that I’m shivering sometimes and sweating at others only amplifies my ick factor and makes me feel worse. Make-up is the last thing on my mind, though it would cover my Rudolph nose…temporarily, and my hair, despite getting a make-over, is in a permanent pony tail as long as a z-pack is my friend.
BTW, for those wondering, traveling when you’re sick isn’t a great traveling experience. Though I was taking medicine the entire time I was away, if you so much as sniffle, your fellow travelers will profile you. Add to it the fact that I’m a plus size girl on a plane with rows and seats built for kids, and it’s a wonder why no one wanted to beside me unless forced. (I flew Southwest. Open seating policy.) I wasn’t offended though. I went through Kleenex and hand sanitizer like they were water. I turned my head and covered my mouth when I coughed, and merely smiled politely when others speculated over what germs I was spreading.
Did it make me uncomfortable? Heck yeah! It was embarrassing, but unchangeable. But that’s where it stopped.
I’ve been overweight most of my life. I noticeably started gaining weight after my parents passed away. (My dad when I was seven; my mom when I was eight.) I know to any psychoanalyst that was a trigger, as, according to most of them, fat people are not eating food, but rather eating their emotions.
That is not what I’m focused on though. I’m focused on the fact that I’ve spent most of my life in the husky, plus size, big women’s section of the store. I was there back in the late nineties when the section was small and matronly, and, ironically, didn’t even look good on the matronly. I was there when it consisted of two racks in the back corner of a store, you know, the place where anyone who dared tread back there beneath the flickering light was looked at like the evil stepchild who’d suddenly developed a contagious disease.
But I withstood the stares of disgust, the catty phrases teen girls said in passing loud enough for me to hear on purpose; I ventured into cobweb ridden territories with hope, with innocent social aspirations, because I wanted stylish clothes. I wanted to ‘fit in.’ Beyond looking good, I wanted what everyone wants: to FEEL good.
That seemed impossible though, insurmountable, especially when my own (adoptive) parent seemed to perpetuate the stigma.
Every day, I heard that I was a fat, lazy –curse word-, that I wasn’t good enough, that I needed to lose weight. Every day, I was put down, and, most of the time, my size was attached to the insult. So I did what everyone does at some point: I hit a wall, I shut down; I gave up. I didn’t have the confidence I do now; I couldn’t find clothes that were affordable or fashionable for my size and I had a mother figure who never deemed me good enough. If my own parent said I wasn’t good enough, and parents are supposed to be biased, then I wouldn’t be good enough for anyone, I thought.
So I hid my curves in oversized t-shirts and ill-fitting pants. I met my children’s father in my only pair of jeans at the time, that I was outgrowing but couldn’t afford to purchase a size up in, and a supersized, red, Aeropostale hoody – from the men’s section mind you.
Essentially, I’d been told by the fashion industry that fat people didn’t deserve to look good, that I ought to be ashamed of my body and hide it beneath an unflattering, navy blue, Amish style dress. My family re-enforced the silent message by commenting on what I ate between verbal blasts from my grandmother (my adopted mother) and sister. Society pounded the same message into my head, deeming me unfit for social integration into the popular, mainstream crowd. I was an outcast. I was told I would never be good enough simply because of my size.
It didn’t matter that I was smart. It didn’t matter that I was a talented artist taking an honors course no sophomore had ever taken. Nothing beyond my shell mattered, and the fact that my shell was being smothered in blankets rather than draped with class multiplied their ammo.
Fast forward a decade and plus size clothing companies with fashionable offerings are bursting from crevices around the globe. Fatshionistas, as they’re called, are rocking the runways beside their thinner counterparts, working the hell out of the latest trends. What did it take for that to happen? Confidence.
It took a team of confident, headstrong women demanding equality over their unified passion to make it happen. It took determined, curvy pioneers willing to make their own clothes before sharing them; it took persistent, plus size divas who rejected the rejecters to make this happen. Shadowing the details, the one bold adjective that surrounds every single person who turned the fashion world on its head is CONFIDENT.
Fashion and confidence go hand in hand.
Stand next to a standard runway model in massive, misfit clothes meant to hide your body and you will undoubtedly feel less than, undeserving in a way. It’s hard to defend your beauty when it’s hidden from the world.
Stand next to a model in a bright colored frock that highlights your assets, skims your excess sexiness elegantly, and is on target with the latest trends and I guarantee you would be able to hold your head high. It doesn’t mean insecurities won’t peg you, but when the playing field is even, then who is more beautiful becomes what beauty always was: subjective, and confidence becomes what it was always meant to be: a deep rooted enhancement.
I wish they had the clothes they do now back when I was in high school. I wish I had loved myself unconditionally back then. While I would still have scars, they wouldn’t run as deep.
Today, I am confident enough to say that I am what a medical chart deems obese, I weigh far more than my family is comfortable with, and I am, at times, embarrassed by my size. But the moment I dress my curves stylishly, my mood lifts and forgiveness returns. No, I’m not forgiving myself for being fat, because being fat is not a sin. I’m forgiving myself for momentarily becoming who all those plus size vixens had to fight past in order to dress me this way: a nonbeliever.
You have to believe that you are worthy of fashion in order to wear it. You have to trust that you are beautiful enough to wear fashion in order to rock it. You have to be courageous enough to try fashion in order to fall in love with it.
Fashion is a risk, a chance, a flurry of fabrics and styles meant to enhance one’s beauty, not dismiss it. To welcome fashion, regardless of your size, is to welcome confidence.
While, admittedly, I am a casual queen, I make sure I pick pieces that show off my curves rather than hide them. And, surprise! It turns out, dressing your curves up actually slims them down most of the time!
These days, I’m dressed in confidence, even when I’m wearing sweats. If I wear oversized pants, I’m rocking a fitted shirt or tank. If I’m wearing a loose, free-flowing top, you’ll find me donning leggings or skinny jeans to balance it out. I am always highlighting my curves these days in some way. Yes, I have days when I feel like a fat blob, like today; ironically, when I force myself to dress nice on those days though, I tend to feel better.
Investing in fashion is investing in yourself. Embracing flattering fashion is embracing confidence. You can’t hate your body and dress it beautifully at the same time. Somewhere in your conscious mind, you must admit that your body is deserving of that silky fabric swaddling it, that you are worthy of the hippest trends that work for you, whether the popular crowd says so or not.
Don’t take for granted what is available to you. Had I been given the chance to dress myself in confidence at a young age, my life would be completely different. I would have learned to love myself much sooner, and realized that anyone not able to love ALL of me the same, my fat included, doesn’t deserve to be in my life, regardless of their kinship.
Those who have something negative to say about my figure often have issues with their own. For bigger women snarking on ‘Skinny Minnies’, jealousy often runs deep. For my thinner counterparts with a quick cut, I am often their biggest fear in form.
Believe it or not, I’ve found a pattern in how I respond to them based on what I’m wearing. When I hide my body beneath huge clothes, I tend to cower as my mood plummets; I give their words power over me. I gave my grandmother’s and sister’s words power over me.
When I’m dressed in clothes that I feel confident, sexy and beautiful in, while their words can sting a bit, I’m more likely to stand up for myself; I don’t treat their words like the veil being lifted before the public, but rather dismiss their words as a personal issue, not my own. For when you embrace fashion, embrace fashion around your curves, you embrace confidence. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a woman who wanted to dress themselves in doubt, clothe themselves in shame or cloak themselves in insecurity. Regardless of your size, you should wake up each morning and dress yourself in confidence; I’ve learned to never leave home without it.
So, all you people who traveled with me on those four flights I took, sorry you were exposed to my germs. But that’s where it stops. I’m a curvy girl who dressed super cute on the flights and accessorized perfectly. I couldn’t smell myself, but I was dolloped in Bodycology’s gardenia lotion, which I adore the scent of, and therefore know I had no foul odors wafting forth. My extra wide birthing hips miraculously fit in my tiny plane seat and didn’t spill over into anyone else’s space, though my plump thighs ached at the end of each flight from being forced to squish together when they wanted a wider stance. I will never apologize for being who I am, the size I am, the way I am because I’ve learned to love myself. And on those days when I feel less than confident, I know I can dress myself beautiful again. When my nose clears, my ears stop hearing through a bubble tunnel, and my cough doesn’t make me sound like a chain smoker, when I’m ready to give up the tissues, the humidifier and the vicks vapor rub, and finish my prescriptions, I know that I can take a shower, put on something nice before I curl my hair and cover any traces of insomnia with make-up and instantly restore my confidence. And that level of security, that level of body acceptance, is priceless.
Have a fabulous night everyone! I’ll be in bed dreaming of sexy cowboys.