After having lived in my body for 33 years, and interested in personal style and fashion for many of those, I have only now come to the realization that I have hips. When I say realization, I don’t mean I didn’t know that I had them, oh, I knew; I just hadn’t fully embraced and accepted that very basic fact. I’ve always treated my hips as some sort of alien things attached to both sides of my body that I wished I could take a knife to. They have prevented me from wearing dresses because I can’t find one to fit my wide hips and small shoulders. I carry large bags that hang low so I can hide at least one side. I have a very hard time finding designer jeans to fit me because of my more than adequate hips and behind. It doesn’t help matters either that I’m short and a size 12. So, as you can see, while I have, for the most part, learned to accept my body as a whole, I have been at war with my hips.
Until I called a truce one day last week in the dressing room at Barney’s Co-Op. For me, internal change comes quickly. I tend to have ‘revelations’ that suddenly make clear what it is I have to do to find a solution to whatever problem it is that I happen to <be dealing with at the moment. It only seems fitting that this time that revelation would come where it did.
I had been struggling all week with my wardrobe, not feeling like I had anything to wear, that I was too fat for everything and I just might as well not even leave the house. You know the drill. So, I put on my favorite clogs, a flattering burgandy a-line skirt, my most comfy white v-neck tee (James Perse of course), and threw my large steel Botkier trigger over my shoulder and headed out for some serious retail therapy.
I head first for the sale racks at Co-Op. My eyes glaze over as I look at the discounted prices: $9 for a C&C tank, $39 for a Marc by Marc Jacobs sweater…$29 for an Ella Moss skirt that was originally $129. Doing the math in my head, I’m sure I must buy all these things because they’re such great deals. How can I pass them up? I must have something to wear with them. So I take everything that I’ve been looking at longingly the last three months into the dressing room to try on. A few Zooey tees, a couple of Loy & Ford tops, and the C&C tanks. Everything had one thing in common: length. The tops were all long, long to ‘hide’ my hips, to layer with, to camoflage.
The tops were nice and they fit well, but I didn’t feel good about them. And I felt disappointed in myself that I was so consumed with hate and anger towards my own body that I wanted to hide it. So, I headed out of the store. But as I was walking out, the Ella Moss skirt caught my eye again. It was so pretty, white and pink diagonal stripes with gold thread outlines and drawstrings hanging down from the waist with bold gold beads at the ends. The skirt, however, was the embodiment of everything I thought I couldn’t wear. It was bold, just below the knee-length, and snug. But I took it into the dressing room anyway. And I came out a different person. Sappy, but true.
I saw myself when I tried on that skirt. I saw my HIPS when I tried on that skirt – in all their glory. It didn’t hide much of anything; it accentuated. But I thought I looked great, and I felt great. The skirt was so much fun – I loved the pink and white stripes and the gold detailing. Most of all, I loved how I felt when I put it on: Free.
I can’t say today that I’m exactly in love with my hips, but I believe that I finally understand what it means to “accept the things you cannot change.” My hips are part of me, they make me who I am and will always be there – size 8 or size 12. Losing weight won’t make my hips disappear (believe me, I’ve tried it) nor will all the shapewear in the world. They are here to stay. And life is too short to worry so much about how others may or may not see you, especially when in reality, most people see you in a much more positive light than you see yourself.
The truth is, we still have skirmishes, my hips and me. They taunt me and tell me I shouldn’t wear certain things. But those are the moments when I really need to pay attention – what am I afraid of? Why I am scared of going out wearing that? Will people see my body as it actually is? Curvy? I have learned that then is exactly when I need to put on the thing the voices inside my head are telling me not to, go out, and face the world, hips and all.
That, in all it’s simplicity, is what style is all about: learning to embrace and work with what you have and doing it all with a smile on your face. Feeling good about yourself (and all your body parts) is the first and most important step to looking your best. All the rest is just window dressing.