I do what I want. Especially when it comes to style. I was really young when I started dressing myself. My mom would always buy my clothes in sets; in 3rd grade, I made the executive decision to start mixing and matching. This drove her crazy. I would pair polka dots with stripes or hot pink shorts with yellow tops. My favorite combinations came from Limited Too because they had sizes that would fit skinny girls- and I was very skinny. My choice of outfits would always draw attention to my body. I never cared, but of course the kids in my class would point out how my pants were baggy in places where they fit other girls perfectly. My shirts were a bit looser and because of my tiny wrists, friendship bracelets always slipped off at PE. My legs seemed to go on for days. A pair of pants never lasted a full school year for me; by Christmas break, they were basically capris. You can imagine the jokes that came along with wearing pants that were too short. In the South, we called it “flooding”. So there I was, in 4th grade, too skinny and too tall with pants that were too short. It sounds like a nightmare, but up until junior high I was completely unphased. I wore my home made capris with pride. I looked forward to picture day so I could show off my flower print pants with a tye dye shirt that I made over the Summer. My confidence was through the roof; unfortunately it didn’t stay that way.
The jokes from elementary school were easy to laugh off because I had all of the comebacks. No one prepared me for the middle school taunting. In one summer, every single girl that I went to school with blossomed. The same girls who shared the “skinny” burden with me, were now busty and fuller. I missed the boob train and everyone noticed. Even my mom. When we would go school shopping, I opted away from any patterns that would draw attention to my chest. I wore sweaters all year round to cover up my boney arms and would ask my mom to get pants a size up to ensure they’d be long enough. I was no longer the quirky 8 year old with her unique sense of style and her bright personality. I was ashamed of my body. I hated everything about it. Picking out clothes was no longer the best part of my mornings. I spent the majority of my mornings trying to find the shirt that would make me look “less flat chested”.. as if that we a thing. Because of my body image issues, fashion was no longer fun. I no longer looked forward to showing off new outfits because no one would notice how nice my new Baby Phat dress was, they’d only see a “stick figure” with clothes that didn’t fit. It sucked. I carried my insecurities on through high school.
It wasn’t until college that I got my sunshine back. There was a shift. “Body shaming” became a huge buzz word and people were learning to love themselves and their bodies. An A cup didn’t make me any less of a woman, it didn’t hurt my sex appeal or deny me any opportunities. I’d spent decades covering myself or trying to find ways to make my body more shapely. I was over it. I wore spaghetti strapped gowns to university galas- a bold move considering that I’d wear jackets in the middle of July, as not to show my arms. I was comfortable at pool parties; one pieces were a thing of the past! I didn’t have cleavage hanging out of my bikini tops but I did have confidence, and a sparkling personality. It had been so long since I was able to express myself through what I wore. I learned my body and what made it look its best. High waist jeans? No problem. Tube tops? Sign me up. Growing to love my body really reignited my love for all things trendy and stylish. Whether I’m 110 pounds or 210 pounds, fashion will always be a creative outlet for me. In the last decade, the fashion industry has become more inclusive which has had major impact on commercial marketing. People of all shapes and sizes can see themselves in the media and appreciate the skin their in. My hope is that we continue to celebrate everyone who has the courage to be themselves!