For years I have hated shopping for clothes.
Standing there in the small cubicles, with the head to toe mirrors and bright lights, it was always hard to get away from seeing every single angle of my body and feeling like crap about myself.
But as much as I disliked the whole thing, it was not something I could avoid so I learned some tricks that helped me get through it:
I avoided trying on things at the store so I would take them home and try them on with heels, or while standing in front of a tiny mirror which only showed one bit of my body at a time. I stuck to cuts that were flattering to my body shape, I avoided bright colors and always bought at least one size up for a loose fit that hid my mom tum better.
But something changed recently.
I went shopping one day with friends and I asked them to pick out a few items for me that they thought I would look good in.
They chose dresses, tops, skirts and jumpsuits and every single one of these items was a massive ‘NO WAY’ as far as I was concerned but as I promised I would try on anything they picked out, I had no choice but do it.
I remember standing in the dressing room thinking to myself ‘okay listen, this is not going to make you look “slimmer”. Your boobs will look massive and this fabric will not give your tummy any support, but you know what? I like the pattern and the color is making me feel happy. This fabric is soft and it feels good on my body and actually, there is a good chance I’m going to feel comfortable in this’.
And with those thoughts in my mind, I tried on the first outfit.
It was a shorts jumpsuit with a floral pattern and a v neck cut – something I would have NEVER tried on, not in one million years. But as I looked in the full-length mirror, for the first time in AGES, I actually felt good about myself.
I could see the cellulite on my legs (which frankly I don’t think have been exposed in over a decade), I could see my food baby tum in profile and I was fully aware of the fact that the soft flowy fabric was probably making me look a little bit bigger than I actually am.
BUT (and there is a MASSIVE ‘but’ coming) – I loved how it felt on my body, it was soft and feminine, and my boobs looked pretty awesome.
I walked out of the cubicle smiling and unashamed and my friends all stood still for a moment in shock because they are so used to seeing me in leggings and an oversized T-shirt.
I mumbled, “I like it, but where can I wear it to?” but really what I wanted to say was “OMG this is so amazing, I want to feel this comfortable and fabulous all the time!”.
I bought four new outfits that day – none of them resembled anything I had ever bought before and I felt totally liberated.
It was later that evening when I was putting the new clothes away that it suddenly hit me.
For years my shopping strategy had been buying clothes that made me look slimmer, taller, and basically – different than what I actually look like. This meant that whenever I did go shopping I felt restricted like I had to choose from only a small range of cuts, fabrics, and colors to achieve this goal.
But when my goal changed, when I was no longer focused on buying things that made me LOOK a certain way, but rather things that made me FEEL a certain way (happy, sensual, comfortable), the options were endless and the experience was so much more fun.
And it’s not surprising that this was my strategy for so many years. Listening to conversations all around me in the dressing room that day it’s pretty clear this is something we all do and don’t even realize.
I remember shopping for clothes with friends as a teenager and what we would ask each other was: “does this make me look fat? does it make my bum look big?” etc. Never once did we ask “how does it feel against your body?”, “are you comfortable?”, “does it make you feel happy?”.
So I wore that new jumpsuit a few nights ago when we went out with some friends.
I won’t lie, a part of me was a little bit embarrassed.
You see, I am so used to hiding my body, to hiding my sexuality and sensuality because of this ridiculous notion that if you are overweight then you don’t deserve to feel sexual, or beautiful or even fashionable.
But as I walked into our living room all ready to go, legs showing, heels on, bright red lipstick and NO SPANX (!!!!), I felt like a million bucks when I saw my husband’s face when he saw me (jaw drop, lol), and I couldn’t help but giggle to myself about how ironic it was that this would happen on a night that I am wearing something that was not “flattering” for my body type or making me look “slimmer”.
I have gone shopping twice since that day in case you are wondering – could this new love replace my love for chocolate?
And as I get used to this new “me” that is not afraid to wear shocking pink, cropped tops, jumpsuits and flowy dresses that may make me look bigger but also feel fabulous against my body, I remind myself that real beauty does, in fact, come from within, that sensuality comes in all sizes, and that there is nothing sexier than being REAL.