I was recently featured in an article by Katharine McEntee, for Bustle, entitled '15 Feminine Fashion Bloggers Who Use Their Traditional Sartorial Femininity In Empowering Ways'. It got me thinking about the way I define myself and my style, but also how I feel about seemingly falling into society's ideal of how a woman should dress.
'Dress' being the key word here because I practically live in dresses, and have done for the last handful of years or so, but it hasn’t always been that way.
My mental state when I was in my teens and early 20’s, in regards to my body, was in a bad way. I hated the way I looked and hated that I did not fit into the media’s ideal of how a young teenager/ woman should look like. I was already at a disadvantage being black, but then I had to contend with my body growing little by little as I got older – and not in the good way. My hips widened, my tummy grew along with my upper arms and thighs and it didn’t matter what I did to stem the flow, my body had a life of its own whether I liked it or not. With that, I decided that I needed to wear dark jeans, baggy tops and hide my “incorrect body” as much as possible. I didn’t feel girly, I didn’t feel sexy, didn’t feel desired or worthy of positive attention, didn’t want anyone to see me – if I had an invisibility cloak (ala, Harry Potter), I would have lived under there.
Being feminine at that time was the last thing on my mind and I certainly didn’t identify with the word. Feminist I got, but feminine? Nope. Because I identified with being a feminist, in my naivety I thought it was impossible to be girly and wear makeup, etc. I was a full-on tomboy and at the time I felt like that was what I was supposed to be…. but then I started reading plus size blogs. Suddenly I had girls and women talking about being a feminist while wearing girl clothes: skirts, dresses, fitted tops were all on show and I was introduced to a world I didn’t know existed. My mindset started to slowly but surely shift and my style has changed so much from those teenage years, but it has been over the last four or so years where my style has settled and now I really feel like I have homed in on my style and how I identify myself. It’s funny, the change in me didn’t come from the ignorant media at all, it came from my fellow fat babes showing the world that women could be anything they wanted to be without apology, yet there have been various comments and posts made over the last couple of years about female bloggers falling back into the media’s ideal of beauty. Falling back into what?! For me, the message has always been the same- wear what you want when you want and to never allow yourself to be dictated to irrespective of what people had to say. That’s the message.
The wonderful thing about plus size blogging is that there is an array of people dressing to their own style and refusing to stay hidden and quiet just because the world is scared of a fat body. Surely it shouldn’t matter how it’s done as long as it’s done, right?! It shouldn’t matter that one wears jeans and one wears a skirt; if one wears dungarees and the other wears a dress, because promoting self-love and acceptance isn’t about an ideal, but instead, an expression of how you feel about yourself and how you celebrate yourself, through your clothes.
That’s how it is for me. After years of hiding myself and hating my body, I have finally reached a place where I feel nothing but utter love for what I see when I looking in the mirror. I will not have anyone take that away from me or tell me that I have fallen into any sort of ideal. How I dress my body is on my terms and the dresses I have in my wardrobe were and are my choices. It’s so hard to feel comfortable in your own skin so whatever we need to do to feel that way should be embraced and encouraged by those around us.
Be feminine, be a Goth, be androgynous, be a tomboy; there is no-one to answer to but yourself!
‘til next time!
Love and hugs,