Friday, March 21, 2014

Learning to love comfort

I've never been very good at fashion, but I definitely got the memo about the importance of wearing flattering clothes and felt "appropriate" shame in looking back at photos of me that weren't flattering.

But seriously, fuck flattering:
Look, you get to dress how you want for whatever reason you choose. You can pick clothes because you like them, because you think they will gain you social approval, because they highlight your shape, because they disguise your shape, because your significant other likes them, because your mom hates them, because you think they are flattering, because you think they are unflattering, or for any other reason. It’s your body and they are your clothes and you are the boss of your underpants and also the boss of your regular pants.
I cannot count how many times I've sighed sadly and put something back on the rack in a store because it wasn't flattering on me, no matter how I loved the color, the fabric, or the comfort of it. But the fact is, you don't have to be pretty:
You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked "female."
Body and clothes shaming is shitty. You don't know anything about a person and why they dress a certain way. They're allowed to have different taste in clothing than you do. They're allowed to wear things that are comfortable and that they like, regardless of whether you like it. And people can't always afford new clothing, especially if they've perhaps undergone a recent weight change. Don't be so judgmental.

Several years ago I bought a beautiful flowing skirt for belly dance but had trouble finding a top to match. I happened upon some gauzy fabric in the same colors, and my best friend whip-stitched it onto a nude bra for me. I adored the colors and the flow and was so eager to perform in it with my dance class. But I felt so bummed out when I saw how unflattering the pictures were.

Today is the first time I've been able to go back and smile at how much I enjoyed that costume and performance and prepping my hair that day. So I'm done feeling any kind of unpleasantness about those photos or any others. I may not be slender, but I really like the visible definition of my stomach in the green costume below.

I've also gotten a lot better at choosing and altering costumes, as you can see here:

Most recently, I picked out a cute peasant dress from the thrift store to wear to a Holi festival, which is a Hindu celebration where everyone wears white and throws colored powder at each other that may or may not ever wash out.

I was SO comfortable and colorful and had fun dancing for hours. A friend saw my pictures and asked incredulously if I was wearing a muumuu. No, I told him, it's a peasant dress and was really comfortable and I had a BLAST.

I actually do own a muumuu. I was so taken by the color, the fabric, and the price that I just HAD to have it. It's enormous and billowing and beautiful. (Maybe I'll remember to return and add a picture.) It makes a great cover-up for dance costumes, and I also like to wear it around the house and outdoors with nothing underneath because it's the next best thing to being naked. Definitely not flattering, but it's SO comfortable.

Most days, dressing however I want to is really easy because I have conventionally attractive curves. There are a lot of days, though, that I worry about how I'll be perceived when I choose clothing based solely on comfort. I'm trying to worry less.

1 comment:

  1. I think you look gorgeous in all of those photos. Probably the very last one the most. And not because you have a pretty face (although you do) or a sexy body (you have that also), but because in the last one you look like you're having such a great time.

    And of course you should dress how you want because it makes you happy, which is enough in itself. But I think you'll find that doing so makes others see beauty in you more than they would if you dressed to please other people. Because when you feel good, you're radiant, and that makes you prettier than any clothing ever could.