In Love With the Shape of You

-The Shape of You – Ed Sheeran-

Not long ago, I was privy to a conversation about fatness. I was lounging at the pool (in my fatkini).  Two young ladies were dangling their feet in the water at the pool edge just at the end of my lounge chair.  I think it’s also fair to say that neither of them would classify as a “Skinny Minnie.”

I won’t bother with most of the details, but basically the conclusion of their conversation was that a) fat people really didn’t love themselves b) that fat people were the cause of their own hopeless state and c) that basically no fat person should ever, ever, ever be able to get great clothes because that was just a big lie that led to an early grave. To top it off, these two absolutely trashed body positivity.

Another detail that I feel I must share is that this conversation was prompted by a plus-size girl who looked incredible.  She was wearing a very cute skater dress with a pair of heels.  Her thick hair looked flawless beneath a beach hat and I sincerely wanted to walk up and ask her how she did her makeup.  In other words, she was rocking it!  She entered the pool area, sauntered over to the good-looking guy that nearly every woman at the pool noticed as soon as he came in. From their interactions, it was obvious that they were very into each other.

While I was sitting at the pool listening to these two talk, I thought about a friend of mine.  She was a bit of a stickler about being healthy and thin.  So much so that she became sort of an “expert on all things fatness” and felt that her cause in life was to point out all the things others were doing wrong.  She was particularly harsh on anyone that wasn’t perfectly in their BMI range…which is pretty much everybody.

A few years ago, she became very ill with a rare genetic disorder. I recall visiting her just after she was diagnosed.  She still looked the picture of health, but the prognosis was bleak and there was no coming back from it.  I recall the stricken look on her face as she looked at me and said, “This can’t be!  I did this right!”

Probably there were some that felt that this was comeuppance for all her healthy pushiness through the years.  I didn’t see it that way.  She truly believed every single time she berated someone that she was helping them.  There was love in her shaming, though I know how strange that sounds.  She truly believed that her advice was making people better.

Her illness was not an easy one.  She suffered terribly.  In a way that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.  And I take no pleasure in knowing that her healthy lifestyle didn’t give her extra years.

As I listened to these two girls talk, I thought it was possible that neither of them had actually lived long enough to know that things don’t really work the way they thought they did.  Being healthy and fit doesn’t always equal longer life and being fat doesn’t always equal early grave.  I do believe these two sincerely believed that their negative opinions on fat people were absolutely correct and there was probably no changing their minds (especially not from an old broad in a fatkini, though that hottie in the skater dress was doing a fairly good job of causing a lot of envy).

But for those with open minds, I can sincerely say that shaming a fat person isn’t likely to change their behaviors, unless maybe pushing them into a closet to eat a bologna sandwich is the goal.  Body positivity, at least for me, isn’t about telling people, “Hey you fatty, feel great about yourself and gain all the weight you want.  We’ve got you covered.”  For me, it’s about teaching people to love themselves, no matter their size, so that they can live happy and fulfilling lives.  A person who’s been skinny all their lives may never fully understand the struggle it is to do everyday normal things when you’re carrying extra weight and it’s even harder when you know for a fact that what you have on is going to have the added effect of making you look fatter and frumpier. 

Having something nice to wear that fits well has the effect of encouraging you to get out of the house, to get active in your life.  It’s a starting place and without it, many not only will gain more weight, but they’ll live with more and more depression. I can truly say that being able to have a wide range of clothing that doesn’t feel boxy has greatly improved my life.  I won’t say that it’s so life-altering that it will put us on the path to world peace.  But I do know that I’m happier and that I feel more at ease in my own skin when I’m around others.

From time to time when doing photo-shoots, The Dane will encourage me to pose sitting down, which I balk at and almost never do.  There is just no way to slim the bulge in a seated position.  This time, I decided that it’s time not to hide it anymore.  It’s my small way of choosing to love myself a little more. 

Something about this dress made it feel right.  The fabric is super soft and the cut creates a little bit of a fitted look to enhance natural curves.  Overall, I really love wearing this dress and can’t wait to find even more ways to wear it.  (I paired it with a sweater the last time).

So, do I love myself?  Yes! 

Was I the cause of my own hopeless state?  Interesting.  I’ve never thought of my fatness as a hopeless state.  There were times when I held back going somewhere because I didn’t have clothes that were nice enough.  I can assure you that it caused me a lot of angst and kept me in when I would much rather have gone out.  Maybe if I’d had a fatkini when I was 17, I might have learned to water-ski.  Who knows?  Maybe I wouldn’t have.  But I believe that it would have made a difference in my life.  If it’s true that it would’ve help me, isn’t it logical that it would’ve helped others my age?  And maybe because it’s available today, Skater Dress Girl has the hottest guy at the pool? And who knows, if we all learn to love ourselves a little more, maybe it could lead to world peace.

And as to their final conclusion, should I have pretty clothes to wear?  You’re damn right I should!  And so should you!

Thanks for stopping by!

~PJ

Dress – Old Navy; Shoes – Italian Shoemakers (similar here); Crossbody bag – Patricia Nash (similar here); Hat – Tula

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