Melissa from Suger Coat It is a blogger I’ve been following since I started this blog, maybe even longer. I’ve followed her fashions and blogging tips and candid posts about body image and confidence. I really admire her writing and style. And I love her attitude and commitment to appearance diversity.
As I entered my pre-teen years, and I shot up and out. I was almost my full adult height of 178cm by the time I entered high school. And despite numerous attempts throughout the years through disorder eating and manic exercise to starve myself thin, I was never smaller than an Australian size 14/16. I’m a big girl from hearty stock. What can I say? Today I wear an Australian size 20/22.
It occurred to me then that I would never be a lot of things people demand of women. My diversity came in the form of the size of my body. I was different to a lot of my friends and the women I saw around me. I was tall, athletic and large in a world that tells women to be small, dainty and fragile. I began to rebel against the ideas of what, as women, we are told to be. I became bold in my rebellion, backing my own opinion and ideas on things. My differences had made me strong.
Somewhere along the line I became a blogger. A love of writing drew me in and the support of the community I went on to build buoyed me in some of the most difficult times of my life. Later, I’m estimating about 3 years, I made a switch and officially I was a plus-size fashion blogger. Women would come to me with their clothing and body concerns. Through the act of sharing myself, my opinions and my outfits I became their confidant.
You may assume that was for women over a certain size. For women like me. But that wasn’t always the case. Women of all shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds were compelled to ask questions, seek advice and talk back to me in the way blogs are so good for. We bonded over being on the outskirts of what is conventionally beautiful and attractive. Understanding that most women are. Learning in our own ways to appreciate our differences as being our beauty.
And somewhere along the way the hurt of not being accepted, not being the same as other people, disappeared. I was at home in the body I was given. I embraced it as an ever changing outward expression of who I am. Unique. Different. Big, bold and welcoming. It doesn’t mean that I don’t’ still get abuse from people who believe they have the right to offer me their thoughts on my body. It happens. They weigh in with ideas, advice and well-meaning tidbits all the time. Fashion especially encourages, I think.
“Oh dear, fat girls shouldn’t wear STRIPES!?”
“Oh no, honey, with your shape you should wear more volume on the bottom to balance it out.”
“You would be so beautiful if you lost some weight.”
“You’re so brave to wear a sleeveless top. I would never.”
Or the what the heck, is that a compliment or a swipe that goes a little something like, “Great outfit. It’s SOOO slimming, nice one!”.
Those words don’t impact my opinion of myself anymore. I stand for open conversation and demand to know why they feel the need to comment in that way. Slimming huh? Beautiful, if? What’s wrong with the shape I have now? In some ways, I feel that I can challenge their ideas on appearance by asking them to explain themselves. By challenging their ideas on what I wear and how I look, I feel like things change a little for them. Ideas they didn’t even know they could question. It just assumed that you want to appear slimmer, isn’t it?
Who said you need to be a certain set of ideals to be treated with respect? To live happily, even healthfully? Who says that the ideas you were programmed with are the right ones while what I developed for myself is not? I think we all need to be mindful of the idea that we know anything about a person from our first or even fiftieth glance at them. Appearance is just that. The way something appears.
When I started this post, I was going to go into the ways that I feel plus-size fashion bloggers are treated differently by major brands and department stores. Hello, would an invite to the new season release kill them? Buuuuut I’d rather be part of the positive voices than the negative chorus. I look at the plus-size bloggers doing big campaigns and causing real change in places like the USA and UK and I know that our time with come too. We are chipping away at an idea of what is fashionable, just as people over a certain age, people of colour, or people who are differently abled are.
For some time now I feel like living my life in a somewhat public way allows others access to a person (me!) who may just look similar to them. A person living her life happily. Gasp. There I am wearing what I like, when I like. Being fashionable in my own way. I share because I’m not some concept outside of the ideal appearance. I’m a person. A person who sometimes even does amazing things and people, women mostly in my case, need to be presented with that. Maybe there will be one girl, who just happens to be 6 foot tall, who might feel okay about it because she saw me.
That would be my aim. To make an impact like that.”