Warning: super long. Sorry. Mostly.
I grew up with a mom who loved to sew and loved to dress up her daughter, in equal measures. Yes, I'm sure you can imagine the dresses and matching hats and all that. Don't worry, I'll relieve your imaginative powers and let you have this:
|Bonus cousin! He's taller than me now.|
He's three months younger.
I resent it.
Then, when I was in the third grade or so, I started growing out of these dresses (I mean this more metaphorically than physically, really). All I wanted was a pair of jeans. I started dressing a lot more tomboyishly around the fourth grade. Coincidentally (or not), this was when I moved out of the realm of Little Girl to Little Chubby Girl.
Middle school was made of yoga pants and tee-shirts. I was still the Chubby Girl. I know, right? I didn't think much of clothes then, though. I didn't wear that as camouflage or even a personal statement—it fit, and I could move in it, and it was comfortable. Those were my only real criteria. I know, it's crazy to think that I simply couldn't care less for years. And now she's mildly obsessed with clothes. Take that, twelve-year-old me! Ha!
My freshman and sophomore years of high school were basically me in jeans, tee-shirts, cargo pants, and hoodies. Always the hoodies. I mean daily. Come rain, shine, summer, winter, you would very, very rarely find me without one. At this point, it was from crippling self-consciousness. I was moving out of yoga-pants-and-sneakers and into jeans-and-flats, slowly getting more interested in fashion. I discovered Torrid, and that was definitely a major catalyst towards, well, this. What you're reading now. I have no photos of me from these two years with a few group-shot exceptions from the neck up,
Honestly, it was thanks to brands like Torrid and Lane Bryant that I started gaining confidence in my body and the stuff I put on it. Buying from places that cater mainly to straight sizes, like Old Navy and Wal-Mart (my two oldest go-tos) (especially a few years ago), could sort of skew your opinion of your body. The clothes that they did offer in higher sizes weren't as cute as those in smaller sizes, and honestly, most of the things that you could get fit neatly in that one terrible, unfortunate word: frumpy. Seriously, though. No fourteen-year-old wants to be frumpy!
Junior year, I bought one of my first skirts. And wore it to school. And didn't burst into flame. That same year, I bought two dresses (from Wal-Mart, with deep surplice necks that I can't really pull off, actually, but what are you gonna do?) and wore them to school without the hoodie and didn't burst into flame. It was incredible, freeing, something else entirely.
To quote a Disney movie, it was, "A WHOLE NEW WORLD, A NEW FANTASTIC POINT OF VIEW." I still wasn't quite comfortable with my body, and wore a lot of leggings under skirts and dresses that I wouldn't even think twice about now.
Senior year was a lot of the same, but I wore skirts and dresses pretty exclusively. It was like the beginning of what I am now. I was still extremely self-conscious, but that same year, I discovered the Body Acceptance movement and the concept of Fatshion, and that was that. I mean, seriously. 2010 saw me take a complete 180 approach. I think that was a whole bunch of things, though. The discovery of BA/FA (body acceptance and fat acceptance, respectively), the concept of Fatshion, the fact that a Forever 21 opened in my mall (or was that the next year? I don't even remember), and graduation all sort of collided and punched my old issues in the face (for the most part).
|January 2010. You don't see the leggings. Which is good.|
|June 2010. Now we're getting somewhere.|
|Wildly awkward me next to Dog the Bounty |
Hunter. We were friends for two minutes, and
then he described his mullet as sick and I gave
up on that friendship. Not worth it.
|Just last month. Where did that bruise come |
To make a long story short, and to make it apply to a life that isn't my own: it can be really, really difficult to take risks and wear what you want to when you're constantly being bowled over by self confidence issues. I won't sit here and tell you not to have them. I will, however, sit here and tell you to look into this fantastic world/community/planet and get inspired. Get inspired to wear what you like, and not what you're told to wear. Get inspired to be a bit braver than you ever thought you were. Get inspired to wear black lipstick or short skirts, or spaghetti straps. Life is too short to wear muumuus and deep-V tees (unless you have a particular fondness for them). What I'm saying is: wear what you want. Seriously. Go for it.
Inspirational tirade over. Here's another picture with my face, because my Pattern Party is still my favorite outfit of all time and now I'm hideously vain.