Stripes

Limit #16: fat girls shouldn’t wear stripes.

This limit never really bothered me before, because I don’t like stripes. Horizontal, vertival, thick, thin; doesn’t matter. I do not like them.

But then I was out shopping, and I spotted this:

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It’s totally stripey. About as stripey as they come. And yet, I instantly wanted it.

After years of being told fat people shouldn’t wear stripes I was sure it would look awful. But being stubborn and contrary as I am, I picked it up and tried it on anyway.

Result.SAM_3428

The reaction wasn’t even “well it’s nice, but see how it makes your hips/bum/chest/arms/other random body part look. Ugh.” – I tried it on, looked myself up and down, and thought “heck, yes!”.  Then I bought it.

Now I don’t really want to take it off.

I'm eating ice cream, in case you're wondering.
I’m eating ice cream, in case you’re wondering.

 

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Wet hair. Don’t care.

I think you’ll find I can wear stripes. I’m actually finding it quite difficult to stop!

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All change (or not)

Shop changing rooms. They’re tricksy little beasties, somehow highlighting every ‘flaw’ you have while making new clothes look amazing. I’ve always wondered how they do it. Sorcery, probably.

I would hate to count up the cumulative hours I’ve spent in those cubicles, cataloguing the parts of my body I hate most. What a horrible, sad waste of my life.

But since jumping feet-first into body positivity, I thought I had left that changing room self-hate behind me. I’ve completely turned some of my most hated parts into my favourites. I love my body now, so how much better would it be to see it in full, lit up, in shiny new clothes? Surely it would be fun!

Turns out, no.

I went in to try on the most beautiful dress in the world, and some other fairly nice dresses, and the inner snark started from the second I closed the door. It went for my socks, the size and shape of my feet, my thighs, my hips, my stomach, my arms, my overall size, my hair, my stretch marks, the clothes I was wearing that day, and the clothes I had taken in to try on.

Honestly, it nearly overwhelmed me at first. It’s been so long since I faced such a tirade from my inner Nasty Voice that I couldn’t remember how to defend myself. My eyes filled up, and I was on the brink of a major meltdown.

Then up popped the Body Pos voice I’ve been working on for months.

“Excuse me? You seriously think it’s okay to speak like that? Would you say that to your friends? Would you let your friends, or anyone for that matter, say those things to you?

No. No you wouldn’t. So what makes you think it’s okay to speak to yourself that way?”

*Nasty Voice mumbles something incoherent*

“You can shut up now. We have, in fact, noticed that we’ve become bigger recently; you don’t need to point it out. We also decided that size/weight/body fat percentage have no effect whatsoever on our inherent value and self-worth, remember that?

You know only 5% of the population can achieve that shape you’re comparing us against. You know we are not in that 5%, never have been, never will be, no matter what. And you know that doesn’t stop us being hella sexy and downright fabulous.”

At which point the Nasty Voice died a violent death and vanished, leaving me and Body Pos voice to live in peace forever more!

Except this is real life, and I’m only human.

I silenced the Nasty Voice long enough to not cry, and to try on the clothes I had picked up. But when I tried on the most beautiful dress in the world it pointed out that a size 12 would have fitted me 6 months ago. I tried another and it sniped at the way the material lay over my hips and bum. A third and it laughed at the sag in the chest area that I can never quite fill.

The difference this time was that the comments slid over the surface instead of cutting in deep. They flitted across my mind and then they were gone.

Then I tried on a jumper dress. It’s the kind of thing I would never normally go for, but I tried it on anyway and Body Pos voice said “Heck yes!”.

This is what progress looks like, I suppose. I am changing. I am kinder to myself now than I ever have been before. But when the simple act of walking into a changing room can cause a meltdown, I clearly still have a lot of work to do.

8, 10, 12

I was in New Look today, and across the store I spotted the most beautiful dress I have seen all year: skater style, black mesh with deep blue velvet roses, that shimmered in the light like an oil slick.

I had to have it.

I went through the rack and picked out the biggest size they had in stock, a 12, knowing it wouldn’t fit well but would give me an idea of whether I liked it.

Into the changing rooms, and I didn’t just like it. I completely loved it. But I was right; I needed a size 14. So I gave the-most-beautiful-dress-in-the-world  back and decided to order the right size online when I got chance.

Skip forward a few hours and I’m shouting at my laptop in disbelief.

They don’t make the-most-beautiful-dress-in-the-world in my size. In fact, they only make it in size 8, 10, and 12.

Three different sizes. When people exist from size 6 to 26 and beyond, New Look have decided to stock an item of clothing in only three different sizes. All of which are below the average female dress size in the UK (16, if you’re wondering).

So there’s £30 they’ve missed out on because I can’t buy that dress. Multiply that by the thousands and thousands of women who are also not size 8, 10, or 12 and there’s a bucketload of money they’ve lost.

It’s kind of frightening that fat-shaming is so pervasive that companies are willing to lose business by contributing to it.

But here’s the thing. Even after a mini-meltdown in the changing rooms (post about that coming up later), I’m not bursting into tears and hating my body for not fitting this dress.

I am raging that New Look dare to think my size-14 body isn’t worthy of it.

Their message is loud and clear: only small bodies deserve the-most-beautiful-dress-in-the-world.

So I’m going to send them a message back, telling them that I deserve every beautiful thing they sell, and so does every body. That fat-shaming is not even a little bit okay. That their dress, although it may be the-most-beautiful-dress-in-the-world, is contributing to fat-shaming. And that this kind of message needs to stop. Right now.

I can.

Yesterday I spent a solid 5 hours immersed in body positivity blogs. When I surfaced, my mind was spinning but I felt a-flipping-mazing. Like I could do or be anything I could think of.

Today I went shopping. On the way out of this one shop I saw a beautiful floral-print dress. I looked at it longingly, then thought “no, that neckline gives you man shoulders. You can’t wear that.” and walked away.

So I failed my first body-love test. But it wasn’t a complete fail, because I’ve decided to learn from it and take action. Because do you know how many times I’ve been told I can’t do something?

Women can’t do proper push-ups.

You’re too white to dance like that

Fat girls shouldn’t wear stripes

You will never get a B for this subject

That last one is actually my favourite. Because I did. What would have been just a good mark became the result I was most proud of (even more so than my two A’s) simply because I smashed a limit that somebody had tried to put on me.  I wonder what my life would be like if I broke through all the limits I’ve been given by other people, by society at large, and even by myself.

Today I decided I will find out.  I’m going to take everything I have ever been told I cannot do, and do it anyway. Then blog about it, of course.

And if anyone tries to limit me in the future I shall just tell them, “I think you’ll find I can.”