My weight fluctuates a lot but I’ve always been “thick” in the middle. I’d say I feel OK about my body but not great. Over the past year, I started following a lot of plus size bloggers on Instagram. I love seeing them wear crop tops and bikinis with so much confidence. I want to be able to wear clothes like that too, but I’m freaked out by the idea of showing my stomach, stretch marks and all. Any tips?
I follow a lot of fashion bloggers of every shape and size and as a fellow curvy girl I also love seeing them rocking form-fitting and revealing clothes. Their awesome fashion sense and the confidence they exude is inspiring, no matter what your size. I’ll admit that I’ve gone straight from Gabi Fresh’s Instagram feed to online shopping for crop tops and pencil skirts on more than one occasion. And seriously, how cool is it to see how far we’ve come from even 10 years ago? We might still be a long way from truly accepting and celebrating all body shapes, but these days, bigger girls are widely lauded as fashion icons and women of every size are encouraged to find their own personal style and rock it with no shame or insecurity. Plus-size women are no longer a fashion afterthought. They’re a main event.
So my dearest Jen, my advice to you is twofold. The first part is practical, the second part is more abstract. Practically speaking, if you want to try a fashion trend that you’re not initially comfortable with, approach it the same way you would an awkward convo with your mom or a spontaneous skinny dip in a freezing lake: ease in. In this case, that means not just expecting to move straight from a more modest wardrobe to wearing short shorts and bralettes to brunch. Create some looks that bridge the gap from styles you’re more comfortable in to the style you’re trying out.
Take a crop top, for example. Go find a cute one you love and buy it. Don’t feel like you have to show a ton of skin right off the bat if you’re not ready, though. Pair your crop top with a high-waisted skirt at first. You’ll get a similar silhouette and a feel for the garment without breaking too far out of your comfort zone. Then maybe slide the waist of that skirt down a half an inch every time your wear it, exposing just a little sliver of skin at first, adjusting at your own pace. In the meantime, wear that crop top around the house with wild abandon, belly out and proud. Watch TV in the crop top. Do dishes in the crop top. Wear your crop top to pace around your room talking to your best friend on the phone. Wear it to fold laundry. Then maybe wear it out to get the mail, and see how that feels. Then maybe to the coffee shop. And so on. Don’t get down on yourself if it takes you a long time to get used to revealing a certain body part, or even if you never get used to it.
Worst case scenario: you have a fabulous crop top to wear around the house.
Which brings me to the more abstract, personal part of my answer: you might find that you’re just not comfortable revealing your stomach (or any other body parts that are trendy to reveal at any given moment), and that’s also totally, completely, absolutely fine. As awesome as it is to see plus-size women showing off their bodies with confidence and style, I think it can also create a bit of unexpected pressure for curvy women who don’t feel comfortable in more revealing styles. Like, “Am I still a badass, confident, body-positive woman if I prefer one-piece swimsuits?” It’s a strange paradox that we’re honestly very lucky to even be dealing with, but it can be confusing. Here’s what it comes down to: if you’re not wearing styles you want to wear because of fear, then that’s definitely worth examining and maybe working on. If you’re not wearing certain styles because you simply don’t feel comfortable wearing them, or they don’t mesh with your aesthetic, then more power to you.
Just as you have every right to wear a crop top or a bikini or a mini skirt, you also have every right not to. Style is about personal choice and wearing things that make you happy, comfortable, and confident. Maybe someday your personal style roster will include crop tops and bikinis. Maybe it won’t. And either way, no matter your size, you can still be a confident, current, stylish woman.
Do you have a question about fashion, personal style, trends, where to find your dream pair of wedge sandals, or why that one outfit you love in real life always looks weird in photos? Send all your style queries to firstname.lastname@example.org!