The struggle is real.
Dreaded, loved, hated, hidden, feared, craved. The go-to secret desire.The prize and the enemy.
Every woman’s closet out there has (at least) one: THE DRESS. And I ain’t talking about your wedding gowns!
Two days ago I found myself invited to a big party after an intense and very trying few weeks (meaning free time spent in pyjamas. Yes, well, silk ones, however still pyjamas) and all of a sudden there was only one possible choice for me: The Dress.
Black, tight, body-hugging, cleavage-showing. A traffic-stopper, a statement and a provocation all in one. The true Dolce&Gabbana classic that never goes out of style and reminds me of those ’90s ads with Monica Bellucci in the role of a sicilian young woman that has men lusting over her all around the town.
I haven’t worn that dress for around two years. In fact, I got it when I was in a very “thin” period (well, thin for my own bodytype) due to wearing braces (essentially non eating!), wore it twice and put it away. Since, I’ve had my yo-yo moments: gaining back some weight, then kicking my everyday routine in gym and getting into better shape – yet somehow never reaching what is universally regarded as my “wowza” year.
As I pulled it out of the closet, I felt a lot of things: anxiousness, adoration, malice. And a big fat question looming over us both: will I look good in it?
I took courage and tried it on. The zipper went up, curves were hugged, and my over-criticizing eyes were roaming all over the mirror.
“Hips.” – check!
“Tummy” – check!
“Bootie” – check!
“Cleavage under control” – check!
“Zipper not threathening to explode” – check!
Everything checked out, and I was still looking for a fault. Except that I wasn’t looking really for a fault – I was looking for a reason not to wear it, and to slip into something more in the “comfortable zone”. As this thought hit home, I simultaneously remembered who I was and everything I stand for, and I felt ashamed. Here was I – the poster child of acceptance of one’s own body, the champion of the fight against body shaming, the woman who is never afraid of her own curves, yet still bodyshaming myself. Being a troll of my own self!
I went to my husband. Without a word, when he caught sight of me, he whistled and said, I’m just not sure anymore I should let you go to this party without me 😀
Agreed: this coming from the man who swore to love me forever, it could be expected. Yet I know him better than anyone: his praise is hard to gain, and he is never afraid to tell me the truth – even painfully, non-politically-correctly so. When God was distributing diplomacy, he just wasn’t there! If he was there looking at me with a big smile, I was starting to believe that I actually looked good.
I went back to my bedroom and took another hard look at myself. Yes, I am curvy. Yes, you could also label me plus-sized if ticking off a box you can put me into makes you happy. Do I own it every single day? You bet I do. Do I know my worth? Hell yes! Did I ever get the “must be skinny” hype get to me? Nope.
So, just why in God’s name did I wait two years to wear a dress?
This thought struck like a thunderbolt, with all of its implications. Yes, I succumbed to society pressure and I thought that, as my body was not exactly as it was in my “great” period, it was automatically wrong. My thighs and hips were too big, I had a tummy, my breasts were too much – I was wrong again. I was afraid of being judged, perhaps mocked, and I forgot everything I ever stood for. I forgot that I had pushed the boundaries when it came to being fearless at any size, I forgot people went into stores with my pictures asking for what I was wearing, I forgot I defied the whole merciless Milanese fashion system by merely existing, smiling and talking at events populated by people who only cared for the latest cleanse, the latest size 0, the latest way to be skinny – I forgot I was worth so much more than my dress size!
All of a sudden I was fired up and ready to go: I did my hair and makeup, pulled out the sexiest Louboutin heels I could find and got my inner bombshell to appear.
By embracing that dress I was really embracing my values again, I was telling myself, it is great that you’re different, it is precisely because of the “don’t give a damn” attitude that women email me with lovely words, saying just how I changed their own point of view.
Women do this every day, most of the times without even realising the implications. We all have The Dress, or The Skirt, The Trousers – you name it. We keep them in the closet and scream like a harpy if a friend dares to suggest we give it away if it no longer fits, outraged that anyone could think we are beyond saving from weight gain and absolutely sure that we will get back into shape in a jiffy. You know, as soon as you have a moment to go to the gym, to eat properly, to relax a bit – to get a break from everyday stress. It’s our go-to piece of clothing that means so much more than a bare scrap of fabric: it is hope, it is potential, it is reserved for those days when we feel absolutely great, as if we conquered the world.
You pull out The Dress when you have that special date. You take it out when you’re planning a night with your girlfriends, hoping to be admired (ladies, we all want that. let’s not beat around the bush!). Whatever size you are, you have The Dress in your closet. It also makes your life happier, knowing it’s there, waiting, perfect and with the unfailing ability to make you love yourself more than ever. It is so much more, yet it is just what it is – a dress. An object. Yet somehow, it represents all that is holding you back.
So what exactly is stopping you from wearing it?
I want you to break this circle with me. Hell, I’ll even start first by publishing a picture of me wearing my own personal Dress, the even tighter version of the party black one I wrote about above:
See? Hips, legs, breasts, I’m a curvy girl and I am owning it. No more excuses, no more expectations – IT IS THAT EASY. You don’t like it? You think I should cover myself with a black trash bag? Well, honey, too bad – I will not. And neither should you!
So, in the name of everything I ever stood for: positivity, loving yourself, body-acceptance and diversity, I am inviting you to email me a picture of yourself in your Dress. Obviously, it does not have to be only a dress: just grab that thing that makes you feel amazing and you haven’t worn out of fear / prejudice / shyness. Wear it now, and most importantly – explain to me why you haven’t wore it, and how it makes you feel when you wear it today.
Your size does not matter, nor does your race, your background, the label – none of that. I want your thoughts and I welcome every single one!
I will be introducing the #SayYesToThatDress hashtag and weekly appointment both on Instagram and this website, hoping that many ladies will join me in this message of positivity. Mind you: nobody will do this for us. The only way we can make change happen is by making it happen on our own… and it’s like wildfire, once it starts, it cannot be stopped.
The email is: firstname.lastname@example.org . I will be waiting with open arms. Fired up, ready to go.
XO, Lady V