Sewing Meditations, Week 5: Bodies, Part 2

Ever since my post last week about my relationship with my body, I’ve been thinking a lot about that topic, especially since I felt that I didn’t express myself very well in that post. And then, this week, I had a very interesting experience with my dress form that I wanted to share with you all. That may seem like an odd place to find a body-image epiphany, but really, it makes a lot of sense, since the dress form is supposed to be an extension of your body to use for fitting and draping.

I have a very lovely dress form that I have padded with foam to mimic the curves, lumps, and bumps of my body. I remember when I first got the dress form last year, I thought it looked so gorgeous right out of the box – its slim lines and sleek look seemed to me to be the ideal body. As I padded out her tummy, hips, and bum, I was saddened to see my lovely little model “filling out.” She seemed much less ideal with all those extra inches!

A few weeks ago, I had removed the padding to photograph my bras, since the large body sock holding the foam in place wasn’t very photogenic. Then, earlier this week, I had put a new dress on the form, and since I was just letting the skirt hang before hemming, I didn’t bother re-padding it. That evening, I looked over at the dress form and thought, “huh, the dress looks weird.” I was surprised, because when I had tried the dress on my body, I had loved the result. And then it hit me – the reason I loved the dress on my was because of my larger hips, bum, and yes, even tummy. My curves gave the skirt the fuller shape that I prefer, instead of just falling straight down to the floor as it did on the dress form.

And then it dawned on me – maybe I actually like my body just the way it is. After months of exercise and diet in an effort to change my body, this realization was nothing short of amazing. Maybe I can exercise and eat well to be healthy and to feel good, and simply leave it at that.

The more I thought about it, I started to realize that my whole sense of style has, albeit unwittingly, always been based on my unique body shape. I’ve always loved the “fit and flair” style of more fitted tops and poofy skirts. I’ve always struggled with pencil skirts and trousers. When I wear a top with a full peplum or a dress with a dirndl skirt, I feel like a princess. And it’s not because I’m hiding my tummy or bum; it’s because those outfits reflect my personality. They’re fun, cute, and quirky – just like me. Instead of a stumbling block that needs to be altered or “fixed,” maybe my body shape is actually an integral part of who I am. Maybe I can just be – and here’s that word again – content.

I have since put the padding back on my dress form. Now I look at it with a new sense of appreciation – those curves are part of my personality. They’re part of what makes me me. To hate my body is to hate myself; to appreciate my body is to respect myself.

So, for the remainder of Lent (and beyond!), I’m going to try giving up something far more difficult than peanut butter – I’m going to try to give up making self-debasing comments about my body. I often complain to my husband about “how fat I am,” etc., etc. I know it’s not true, yet somehow I have felt that these comments are necessary to keep me “on track” with diets, goals, etc. No more. As I said last week, our bodies are a gift, and should be treated as something special!

What is your relationship with you body like? Do you struggle with body image issues, or have you worked through them? Or both? I would love to hear about your experiences – we all have a unique story, and we all can learn important lessons from the stories of others.

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2 thoughts on “Sewing Meditations, Week 5: Bodies, Part 2

  1. Interesting post! Me? I am what I am. I like to eat chocolate. And I like my treadmill and running my races – even though there hasn’t been any dramatic improvements in my race time ever since I started… I’ve gotten older and I can still do it! I love sewing. I love the challenge of taking a pattern meant for someone else’s body and making it my own. I don’t need any size labels in my clothes because they are all “my size”! I could go on forever about this, but let me just end by saying I’m happy with what I am!

  2. This is a fantastic post! Why is discussing body image such an American taboo? I am drawn to the (clothing) sewing community because most women are forced to address their body image “problems.” Often in this process you see the “problem” transform into a “feature” or at least help women gain more acceptance towards their own bodies.

    Though body image issues are typically discussed regarding women (eating disorders, media perception, ect), men also experience similar insecurities. I am actively involved in endurance running and cycling where smaller individuals thrive. I have many male friends who are under pressure (usually from their spouses) to bulk up and not look so skinny. This is so disappointing. We are not a genetically homogeneous country, people come in all shapes and sizes.

    Healthy diet and exercise are important; but you should be living a healthy lifestyle to feel better not to look more like a media designed image of “attractiveness.”

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