For me, it was wrap dresses.
They’re supposed to flatter every woman’s body, but they always hit me the wrong way, emphasizing the thickness around my waist and my big boobs. They’re usually made of jersey, which never hit my body right.
The day I knew I had made a difference with my body was the day I tried on a wrap dress – and it flattered me.
I have set a goal for myself to get to Fashion Week in New York at some point during my blogging life, and I’ve been doing research ever since I made that promise. I’ve especially been reading as much as I can from other bloggers who have been there. Amy Odell (now formerly) of The Cut even had 10 tips on how to be photographed during Fashion Week, and as I clicked through her post, visions of myself twirling in Lincoln Center filled my head.
Those visions quickly scattered as I flipped to her next tip: “Be thin.”
Amy went on to reason, “The rule isn’t fair, nor is it news, but it is true: Fashion likes thin, as anyone who lives on Earth knows.”
Oh, believe me, I know how important those on high value being thin.
The only thing thin about me is my budget – and maybe my baby fingers. I was born into a family of tall people; while I’m the tallest granddaughter at 5’10″, most of my male cousins tower over me (though my height means I abide by one of Odell’s other completely unfair tips – hurray for me). I also was born with my mom’s body, which I love, but it means I will never be – according to high fashion standards – thin.
That’s just fine. But it still makes a small part of me feel like shit hearing someone else reiterate in my opinion the very worst part about the fashion culture.
I made a big change in my life over a year and a half ago. I had just had a quick physical and found out my bad cholesterol was too high. I knew I needed to lose some weight, but I had never really been faced with an actual health problem. I was only 25 at the time – and my bad cholesterol was too high? Not a good sign. It took me five months to gear myself up to take the next, very scary (for me) step: joining a gym.
I am not an athlete. My first non-A in high school was in P.E. (and I’m still bitter about it). My dad had to pay me to score a goal in soccer after five years of playing. I was the only eighth grader who could not serve overhand in volleyball. I wasn’t born with the athletic gene, I hate, hate, hate working out, and I love food. It was a wake-up for me realize I couldn’t shovel McDonalds down for lunch, have two bowls of pasta for dinner and still fit into my favorite jeans. College and the endless buffets of fried food and boxes of sweets didn’t help. Somewhere in the span of five years I gained weight and didn’t leave it behind when I graduated. Walking my dogs wasn’t cutting it. I had to go to the gym.
Naturally, this was made slightly better by buying cute workout clothes. But the most difficult part was going for the first time. Here were all these people who were all fit and knew what they were doing and knew how to use that scary workout equipment that terrified the hell out of me and OMG what the hell am I doing here?!
But that’s the nice thing about the gym, or at least my gym: no one cares how bad or good you are at fitness. It’s a victory that you’re even there. And if the most difficult part is actually going in the first place, working out is the
easy easier part. Sort of. I still secretly hate it.
Six months after going to the gym religiously, I had only lost six pounds. Not good enough. So I took the next not-quite-as-scary-but-still-stressful step: I joined Weight Watchers.
This program worked miracles for me. It completely changed my diet and made me truly consider what I was eating. It also didn’t deprive me of anything, unless I made that call for myself (bye-bye, peanut butter. I still miss you). After around four months on Weight Watchers, I lost 25 pounds. And I’m really happy with that. I feel good about myself.
And then I read a comment like that from Odell, almost flippant in her bluntness about the reality of the fashion industry.
Perhaps that is what makes me the angriest: not the insistence that thin will always be most acceptable in the fashion world, but the indifference of the people who could do something to change it. If Odell did anything right, she at least acknowledged the truth. “The rule isn’t fair,” she wrote, as if this rule is the way it will always be and she is powerless to stop it.
To be fair, Odell did have some pretty critical comments to say against modeling agencies and advertisers after the American Medical Association denounced the overuse of Photoshop – which made her “tip” even more unlikely and hurtful.
I will never model in a Chanel show. I will also never be a fitness instructor. But at my next wellness check a year after I started working out and eating right, my bad cholesterol was at a healthy level.
That is worth more than a Louis Vuitton bag (or two) to me.