I recently re-tweeted this image. (oh, yeah, I'm tweeting now - @ClioPhineas).
|Real vs Ideal??|
This is an average size woman holding an average size RTW window mannequin. I have mixed feelings about it. I'm closer to the model than the mannequin in size and shape, but have women in my life that are closer to the mannequin. I'm kind of sick of the "real woman" debate.
I could say a lot about a beauty and fashion industry that promotes a very narrow beauty ideal and an entertainment industry that labels non-slim, non-white, non-young beauty as alternative or "real". Is it any wonder that only 4% of women would describe themselves as beautiful?
Body image is inextricably linked to my feelings about beauty, my style and sex appeal. I have always been curvy; I haven't always loved my curves. When I was in my teens and 20's I struggled with my weight. My hips and thighs are not the Hollywood approved standard and I was always self-conscious about them. Sheaths and pencil skirts were for other people; my strategy for dressing was to camouflage my lower half.
But around 30, my perspective changed thanks to my hobbies. The first time I snorkeled, I was utterly mesmerized. And I realized that I had been denying myself the pleasure of swimming - an activity I loved up until adolescence - because of my self-consciousness about my weight and shape. It was a moment of reckoning for me.
|Did you know that I'm part mermaid on my grandmother's side?|
Now I am a certified scuba diver and have even done the unthinkable - posted a picture of myself wearing a bikini. My teen and 20's self would be mortified - MORTIFIED!- by how not Hollywood perfect I look. But I'm getting ahead...
Soon I began to practice yoga and then later to sew and run. Perhaps it had to do with being able to sew clothing that fit and flattered me or with the strong and healthy feeling yoga and running give me, but my relationship with my body fundamentally changed. I became less critical and more appreciative. The mirror became an ally in finding the things I like about myself instead of a critic.
|I channeled my inner superhero - Elastigirl!|
As I began to feel more comfortable in my own skin, I made a conscious decision to be part of the 4%. You can always spot a woman who feels like she looks beautiful. There is an ease and confidence that amplifies everything about her, and it has almost nothing to do with how she actually looks. For me, beauty has almost nothing to do with the reflection in the mirror and everything to do with the happiness I feel and project. Happiness is beautiful; smiles are beautiful; laughter is beautiful.
Circling back to the beginning of the post, one of the reasons why I dislike the term "real woman" is the unspoken notion that real is in contrast to some ideal. I am ideal. Exactly as I am and without any changes. And so is each of us, whether we see ourselves in the model, the mannequin or whether we are not covered by either.
In my 20's, I never would have worn something close fitting or that showed my hips and thighs, which I thought made me look huge. In the last few years, I decided it's an asset - the 13-14 inch difference between my waist and hips is sexy. Instead of dressing to camouflage my figure, I've let my figure lead the way with the styles I choose - unfussy, simple silhouettes that don't hide all that much.
|Titian's Venus of Urbino - curly haired and curvy|
So, what is sexy to me? It's not the difference between my waist and hips; it's that I like and celebrate that difference. It's not that I wear a neckline that others might not dare; it's that I dare it. It's that I smile a lot, think happy thoughts and take pleasure in life. In my very first post about the Sew Sexy Sew Along I said that confidence is the most sexy thing a woman can wear. I truly believe that.
Anyway, all of this is not to say that I have reached any destination or have all the answers. I don't, and there are still occasional days when my thighs seem huge. But I'm on the journey and committed to it. And now I'm about to take myself to the Craft Lounge to begin work on my Sew Sexy lace dress, which will most certainly not hide my hips.