I met Elisa in 2003 in the dorms at BYU. We were brand-spankin' new freshmen and she lived just down the hall. She did the first 30 for 30 with me, much to my delight, and we have an annual shopping date each December when she comes to my neck of the woods to visit her mom. Needless to say, I very very much look forward it (only 9 more months!).
When I asked Elisa to be one of my guest posters I didn't tell her I was hoping she'd write about her curves. She read my mind though and totally delivered. I'm a little horrified by her post (you'll see why. Fortunately, she has forgiven me) but I love it and her.
Elisa's fabulous photos are courtesy of Judith Rinehart at the Foster White Gallery.
Allow me to begin with a word: BOOBS!*
One of the pivotal moments in my fashion existence actually happened because Kayla made a comment about my boobs. I have never blogged about this and I doubt she remembers this conversation, but it changed my life.
First, a little background. I would describe myself as a tomboy, but that would imply that I’m good at sports, and I’m not. If there were a word for a geeky tomboy (Gameboy?) I would be that. I am not a girly girl. I don’t wear much make-up, I have short hippie hair, and I wore sandals with socks until alarmingly recently.
I was also one of those unfortunate kids who started puberty really early, before it was cool. I was a C-cup by the time I was ten. My best friend’s mom asked me, at the age of sixteen, to be on deck as a surrogate, should said BFF be unable to conceive (no lie). I was a finished woman before most of my friends had started. I felt like a freak, so I did my best to wear clothes that hid my body, and/or made it clear that I so did not care about clothes. This look works for no one.
Back to Kayla. It was freshman year. We lived on the same floor in the dorms at BYU. We were forced to eat cafeteria style on a regular basis, which made me feel younger but also forced me to make friends, so overall a good thing. Kayla, our mutual friend Rachel, and a couple of guys were sitting around, eating and talking. I don’t remember exactly the topic of conversation, but I think it had something to do with Halloween. I mentioned needing, for whatever weird costume I was planning, a white sweater.
Kayla mentioned, “I have a white cardigan,” and I responded, jokingly, “Well, maybe I’ll borrow it sometime.”
To which my dear blunt friend replied, “Um, I don’t think it would fit. You are a LOT bustier than I am.”
What she said didn’t hurt my feelings, let me be clear. It’s just that I had NO IDEA that such a female-sounding word could be applied to me. I knew my boobs were there, obviously. I’m not an idiot. But when I was talking to Rachel later that day and mentioned how silly I felt that Kayla had said I was busty in front of a boy, the equally blunt Rachel said, “Well, c’mon, I’m sure they’ve noticed.”
That revelation was akin to Jor-El appearing to Clark Kent for the first time and explaining to him his extraterrestrial origins on the Planet Krypton—a simultaneous revelation as to why he had always felt different, and the source of his superpowers.**
It’s hard to describe how much this conversation changed how I feel about my body. I genuinely had no idea that as a woman, having hips and breasts is perfectly normal. Some men even (gasp!) like them. It blew my mind. And from then on, I stopped trying to hide my body in clothes that don’t fit or resemble tarpaulins.
|Black skinny pants, Target. Pink t-shirt, also Target. Black fake leather jacket, Target (WHICH IS APPARENTLY MY FAVORITE STORE). Black pumps, thrifted|
Nowadays, I enjoy shopping for clothes and coming up with outfits. I find clothing that emphasizes things I like about myself. After years of sports bras and baggy t-shirts, I now enjoy my bustiness (is that a word?). I also enjoy my legs, even though they are oddly short. I try to find things that make my curves look like I meant them to be there, not like I wish they were dead.
Also, I try to think of clothing as art. Some people like Rothko, some don’t. Not a big deal. Accordingly, if a piece of clothing does not fit or does not look good, that is not a negative statement about me. It doesn’t mean that I am freakishly shaped or fat or whatever. It means that the piece of clothing is wrong. That’s it. There is no single item of clothing that was manufactured to fit everyone and look fabulous. Find the things that were made for your body and rock them, sister.
Your curves are here. Get used to it.
Here are some things I wear a lot:
- I wear a lot of black. I also wear a lot of bright colors. I try to mix it up a little bit, to avoid looking like a squashed Morticia Adams or a carnie.
- The more I thrift, the more I discover what I really like to wear, as opposed to what THE MAN is TELLING me I should wear. Also, I am cheap.
Turquoise blazer, thrifted
- For a vegetarian, I wear an awful lot of “leather.”
Brown fake leather jacket, Target
- Never wear anything that you cannot easily wash in case you get baby puke or muddy doggy paws on it.
|Black pumps, thrifted.|
*Sorry if that alienates half your readership, K.
**Sorry if that alienates the other half of your readership.