“Mom,” I groaned, “do I have to go??? I HATE that place!”
The place we were going to was an outlet store. Not the kind of outlet store that offered name brands for less, but déclassé duds for dimes. Not to mention the infamous Pretty Plus section. Pretty Plus, symbolized by a smiling head-shot of a presumably overweight girl, was the dreaded basement of clothes that fit girls such as myself. It was ironic that even the Pretty Plus model was ashamed to show her body. Pretty Plus was anything but. Unfortunately, it was the only option for an obese girl like me.
At a size 14 today, I am still technically a plus size girl. But, times have changed. The average American woman is a size 12, which means I can quite easily shop for clothes in the previously uncharted territory of “Misses” instead of “Women’s”. I spent most of my life being miserable at the very idea of clothes shopping. It took me several years after losing 90 pounds before I really grasped the idea that I should update my wardrobe to reflect my new reality.
One of my greatest triumphs of all was crossing the divide between “Women’s” and “Misses”. “Women’s” is all about shapeless tunics, stretchy leggings, and outdated, grandma-style patterns that no one in their right mind should wear. I’ll never forget the amazing freedom of knowing that my fashion wasn’t restricted to the sidelines or basements of my favorite stores. I’ll always cherish the humbling satisfaction of trying on a size Large instead of an XXL, and having it fall off of my hips! I’ve never been so empowered in my life as the day I finally bared my arms to the world. My relationship with my arms was as dysfunctional as some women’s relationship with their bellies or thighs. I spent my whole lifetime hiding my flabby, stretch-marked arms from anyone’s sight, lest they recoil in horror. Now, I shop for sleeveless tops, of all things! Thanks to lifting weights, I actually have enough definition in my arms to look shapely instead of doughy. I have come to realize that clothes-shopping doesn’t have to be an annual chore to be suffered through, but a weekly pursuit worth enjoying!
Image is very important to self-confidence. Why else would shows like TLC’s What Not to Wear be popular? I’ve always been confident in my intelligence and abilities, but never in my image. Through the years, I’ve slowly replaced my over-sized T-shirts, bulky sweaters and elastic waist pants with short-sleeved blouses, fitted jackets and curve-hugging jeans. My new wardrobe has not only validated who I am, but also given me glimpses of who I can become. Just this past Sunday, I had the amazing opportunity to be professionally photographed for a national women’s magazine. My team of photographer, makeup artist and wardrobe stylist all told me I was a “natural”. Ten years ago, I never would have been confident enough to pull it off. Adios, Pretty Plus!