The Curvy Opinions series is about sharing personal experiences and providing honest individual perspectives. The posts will sometimes be controversial and not everyone will agree with them, but they will always be positive! We would love to know what you think in the comments.
I am a curvy gal. I was raised in an atmosphere where I felt good about myself and my body. Of course there were those kids growing up who teased me about my weight and came up with inventive nicknames for me. And there is always the internet meanie who hides behind an avatar and makes rude remarks. But these slights have never stopped me from becoming a confident woman who wears and does what she pleases and could care less about societal norms in our Western slim obsessed society. I have never hidden behind dark loose-fitting clothing nor have I stood with my back against the wall while others have stood in the spotlight. And although I am an introvert at heart, I don’t dress like it.
I have always been a big girl. I’ve been tall and chunky since I was a pre-schooler. I abhor the labels we use to describe our physiques and yet I use them. The one I generally prefer is “curvy”, but I often use “plus size” as it gets my point across. The ones I don’t like to use are “fat” and “chubby”. I also don’t like “chunky”, but hey, I just used it in a previous sentence. I really don’t have much of a choice at being a bigger individual. My ethnic makeup includes strapping Polynesian, stout German and sturdy Scottish ancestry. There is not a male in my family under six foot and my Nova Scotian great-grandmother was the spitting image of Chummy from Call the Midwife. There was pretty much no escaping the fact that I would be a big girl. At 5’8 I’m at the lower end of the “tall girl” spectrum, but I generally seem to tower over most women.
Of course I could be thinner. But does that mean that I’d be healthier? Other than my degenerative eye disease which has nothing to do with my health or lifestyle, I am a healthy individual. I have no health problems. I’ve never broken a bone. I’ve never had an overnight stay in the hospital. I’ve never undergone surgery. I don’t take any prescription medications. I hike, bike, and walk. I have a very healthy diet of fruits and veggies and meals made from scratch with unprocessed foods. I’m bigger than most people and yet I often have more stamina than my thinner counterparts. I learned long ago that although I carry extra weight, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m unhealthy. If I ever dropped down below a 14, I think I’d look pretty sickly with my frame and stature.
I was not always overtly fashionable. I used to dress with the crowd. I mostly wore boots and jeans in my cowgirl uniform as I spent most of my time around horses and cows. When I was in undergrad I decided to start wearing dresses and skirts and change it up a bit. Not only was I more comfortable wearing a dress, but I looked better and received compliments. I don’t remember hearing too many compliments when I ran with the herd in jeans. I fell in love with espadrilles and added heels to my repertoire. Yes, I had become a girlie girl!
Now I dress autonomously. My passion for sewing has opened a world of possibilities that are rarely available in the RTW market. I am no longer limited to what stores like Macy’s or Lane Bryant want to offer me. I don’t have to go around in dresses that are too big in the bust or pants that are too big in the waist because my hips are wider than the RTW ideal. I can make clothes that fit ME. I can create whatever suits my fancy – be it retro inspired or with a quirky novelty print. I can wear clothing that reflects my interests and my heritage. I can copy that high end designer make. I can reproduce that vintage dress. The wardrobe possibilities are endless and the more I sew, the more I want to sew!
I’m a big girl with big hair. When I wear heels, I’m even bigger. Most of the women I see out and about are 5’6 or under, so I tower over them anyway. I stand out due to my body frame, so why not dress it up even more? I’ve found what silhouettes work for me and I know what suits me. Where I live in California everyone dresses ultra casual. I’m lost in a sea of jeans, yoga pants and short shorts and they all pretty much dress the same. 90% of the time I am the only person wearing anything remotely “dressy”, although in past decades my dress would be considered “casual.” Maybe I’m lost in a past decade, or maybe I’m just trying to dress up the here and now and stand apart in a world of monotony.
My point is that be it by genetics or lifestyle – I’m a curvy woman. I’m going to look different with my height or my shape or my wild curly hair, so why not capitalize on that? I used to be a bit apprehensive about wearing big skirts, bright colors or kitschy prints – but now I just don’t care. I want to wear clothes that make me happy. I’d rather be the unique individual that I am and feel good about myself. I want my clothing to put a smile on my face. If people want to stop and stare because I don’t “fit in” – oh well. I can look in a mirror and know what flatters me and know that at least in my mind’s eye that I look good. My confidence in myself has broadened with every positive remark and by hearing: “I love your dress!” from strangers. I even started stepping it up a notch recently when I began wearing my scleral lenses and I could finally SEE the world around me. It was a bit of a shock to see my face without a “filter”, but I’ve learned to embrace myself and love the person that I am. So here’s to more colors and prints and big dresses and a sewing list that is never-ending. I’m looking forward to embracing more novelty prints and sewing whatever suits my fancy. I was born to stand out and now I’m going to dress like it.
P.S. Even if you don’t have a blog, I recommend taking full-length photos of yourself in your handmade garments. Whilst looking back on my computer for photos for this post I noticed the absence of full-length photos of myself. I was hard pressed to find ones without other people in them. By photographing myself I’ve gained a lot of self confidence, seen what styles work for me and learned what to avoid. It’s also great to have a photographic archive of clothing that you’ve sewn.