28 August 2015

My Poetry Was Lousy You Said

I remember browsing the "husky" section as a kid, and the "women's" (rather than "ladies" — make what assumptions you will about that choice in labeling) section as a teen, and always being met by absolute drab. Everywhere I turned there were baggy, bootcut jeans and monochromatic tops in a vast assortment of blacks, grays, and dark blues. There was no spark — and if there was an attempt at spark, it was usually in the form of a tragically embellished tunic decked out in more rhinestones and paint splatters than I personally cared to sport on my body.
On the rare occasion there was something printed or bright in a plus size section, it was often a floral: Floral dresses, floral tops, floral trousers, floral skirts, floral wide fit shoes. This was back in the early and mid '00s, though, when any plus size-related content in the fashion industry consisted of headlines like, "TK Ways To Flatter Your Figure," "TK Plus Size Fashion Rules To Swear By," "TK Ways To Slim Yourself Down When You're Plus Size," etc., etc. It was also pre-body-positivity-on-the-Internet explosion, when the thought of actually loving your fat was arguably more taboo than confessing you didn't actually have a crush on Lizzie McGuire's David "Gordo" Gordon.
All this is to say that "avoiding bold prints" or anything that could possibly "call attention to your fatness" was a pretty engrained "rule" for a lot of us chunkier folks. I remember finding a dress not unlike this one (sans the open shoulders, perhaps) in high school. It was one of the first fashion items to ever really cause any kind of sartorial inclination within me since I'd been a kid. I might've been out shopping with a friend or a relative — in all honesty, I can't remember. But I do remember feeling afraid to buy it: A repertoire of negative self talk lines swimming through my mind. What if I looked ugly? What if people stared? What if the flowers were so big that I'd just look infinitely bigger right along with them?
Whoever I was with that day confirmed the monologue I'd been having in my brain before I could really make a solid decision: "Big patterns like that will make you look bigger. Since you're already a little bigger than average, you should probably just go for a solid." This probably isn't quoted verbatim, but you get the idea.
Suffice it to say, I was pretty discouraged from the purchase — opting instead for whatever dress would minimize my body, my personality, and the general amount of space I took up in the world. Which is precisely why — 12 or so years later — I was so drawn to this Haute Cold Shoulder Dress by Kiyonna (F.Y.I. there's a 25 percent off sale going on right now — no minimum!). The print is unapologetically loud and a certainly kitsch and absolutely meant to be seen. The massive flowers do in fact call attention to my body, and in some respects probably make me look a little fatter than I would in a standard LBD with a fitted waist and flowing silhouette. Which means that on days when I'm really feeling myself and loving the way the wrap detailing accentuates my myriad of chunky bits, it's just the ticket.
None of this is to say that there's anything wrong with the aforementioned baggy boot cut jeans or rhinestone-embellished tunic. If they're your jam, that's totally OK. Everyone should be able to express themselves through clothing exactly as they so choose. Back in the day, though, the options for plus size girls and women were so drastically limited that those two things were really the only choices you got. They were choices I was personally forced into and that years later, I realize weren't very me at all.
What I love about wearing this kind of dress as a fat woman is that it doesn't do anything to pretend I'm not fat. It hugs my body and molds to the shape of my roll-y bits and chubs. And along the way, it makes me feel pretty empowered. Plus, the open-shoulder detailing is insanely cute.

Get The Look:
Haute Cold Shoulder Dress, $98, kiyonna.com
(Similar) Plus Size Button-Up Chambray Top, $29, charlotterusse.com

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