Self-confidence has never been something I’ve had in abundance. I’ve always been shy and introverted, preferring to fade into the background. If I could choose a super power, I’d want to be invisible—not to do anything sneaky or forbidden, but just to rid myself of the perceived notion that people are staring at me. Being the center of attention is a nightmare!
For many years, my wardrobe consisted of items in shades of black and gray. I thought that if I wore dark colors, the chance of someone noticing me was lessened. I was incredibly uncomfortable with my size, fearing rude comments from others.
A couple of years ago, I had a burst of self-confidence and decided I needed to be true to myself and stop worrying so much about the thoughts and opinions of others. I’ve always loved prints, but refused to buy them because of the idea that they would make me look even larger or cause someone to give me a second glance.
In a rare moment of clarity and self-assurance, I bought things I loved. I put dresses with loud prints on my Christmas list. I bought tights in bright colors and patterns. I purchased a pair of over-the-knee boots in blue suede.
Of course, that period of contentment didn’t last long. Dresses were worn once, then left in the closet to collect dust. Pants remained folded in a drawer, tags still attached. Some things would get put on, only to be discarded before leaving the house, exchanged for solids and muted colors.
Shopping is hard for me. I’ll see a dress in a print I love, yet self-doubt almost immediately creeps in and negative thoughts invade my head. Yes, that’s a pretty dress, but it would look better on someone thinner, taller, with a differently shaped body.
A few days ago, I started browsing for a swimsuit, anticipating the blazing hot days of summer and spending time in the pool. Bathing suit shopping is always a panic-inducing event. I don’t wear shorts or tank tops, so finding something I like and feel comfortable in is nearly impossible. I always stick to things with shorts, flowing dresses, or a skirt, at the very least.
There’s a new(-ish) trend in swimwear for chubby ladies that keeps popping up in my searches—the fatkini. These two-piece, high-waisted suits are designed specifically with plus-size women in mind. Almost daily, in the fat fashion groups I belong to and on the blogs I follow, I see women posting photos of themselves in these suits—at the beach, in the pool, or just in a dressing room as they shop.
I envy these women.
I struggle to leave the house in a floral-print dress. These women would probably laugh at the absurdity of my thoughts. They’re confident and strong, refusing to conform to the standards society has placed upon them. They’re proud. They aren’t hiding any perceived flaws beneath dowdy fabrics and monochrome colors. These women are fabulous.
I want to be a woman like that.
It’s not that I actually want to wear a bikini. My modest nature definitely precludes any such behavior. I do, however, want that confidence. I want to be comfortable in my own skin, to be able to accept myself, flaws and all. I want to be able to pull a pair of printed pants from my closet, put them on, and go out the door. I don’t want to stand in front of the mirror, debating with myself for 20 minutes, then discarding the pants for jeans or something in boring black.
What does it take to gain that kind of attitude? Are my thoughts merely the product of low self-esteem, the burdens of expectation weighing down on a person that has been overweight her whole life? Am I simply hindered by society, fearful of the way I’ll be perceived by those around me? Am I going to feel differently as I lose more weight? Or am I forever going to be a chubby girl, even if I find myself in a smaller body?