I’m almost tickled to tell this story. Partly because it’s lightweight embarrassing, but what the hey – it can’t hurt, right?
In 2007, I ordered a dress-I-had-no-business-buying-and-never-would-wear-in-public from Fredericks of Hollywood. Well, I purchased three of ’em but this one… this one was different. I knew it would be my “Awww, snap!” dress.
That is, until.. I couldn’t even get this mug over my head.
I mean, it wouldn’t even touch my shoulders – I was so wide up top that I couldn’t get my arms in it to try to slide the dress down. I was pissed! How dare this dress not conform to the awesomeness that is… me!? How dare this dress offend my delicate sensibilities! I even got a little gangsta with it – how you gon’ just… do me like this!
I didn’t throw the dress away, though. I didn’t even have the sense to return it. Returning the dress would’ve been a blow to my ego – admitting that I couldn’t fit something, admitting that I was too large for something (an extra large, at that – as if to say, “The dress is an extra large, I’m extra large.. this should work. Right? Right?”), or that my size was getting in the way of something. I quietly tucked the dress in the back of my closet, occasionally seeing the sleeve poking out and glaring longingly at the front of the dress, fantasizing about rocking it red-carpet style.
I left the dress in the closet for two years.
In 2009, long after I had seriously started gaining traction on my journey, I started feeling a little ballsy. I started going through my closet, reclaiming the bajillion pieces of clothing I’d collected – mindlessly buying the size I thought I was, only to come home and find out how sorely mistaken I was – and trying them on… one by one. After several skirts (one skirt – seriously – was so seriously TOO small for me, it would’ve taken an extra six inches of fabric to make those clasps meet) and pairs of pants… I finally got to the dress.
It didn’t fall on like I hoped it would – in fact, there was some pulling and tugging goin’ on. But… I got it on. And thus.. the challenge began.
All I wanted was to be able to rock this dress like the girl in the picture. I wanted to look sexy – to feel sexy. I wanted to stop taking pictures of only a part of me in the dress. I wanted to no longer hide me – and hiding the fact that I was hiding me – like there was some logical reason I shouldn’t be seen. True, my own personal sense of self-worth wasn’t linked to any perception of beauty but I also wasn’t going to let my own perception of my beauty begin to affect my sense of self-worth… hence why the dress hid in the back of the closet in the first place.
The dress hung in my bathroom, right on the closet door. It served as my polite reminder. “You’ve got a long way to go, baby… so never give up!” And every two weeks, I tried on that dress and pulled, tugged, and squealed at my progress.
And one day, that dress fell on so fast, it almost fell off. It was then that I’d realized a few things: 1) that just because they make it in your size, it certainly doesn’t mean you’ll look like the girl in the photos when you rock it. Mind you, that’d never applied to me before, because I was always extra careful with my clothing.. trying to not be the “sloppy big girl.” 2) just because you can fit it without wrinkles and rolls, doesn’t mean you look like the girl in the advertisement. It doesn’t even mean you look good in it. It means… you can fit in it without wrinkles and rolls.
Lastly, 3) although I’d reached my goal of being able to wear the dress – and that was an awesome goal to accomplish – I needed to be realistic with myself about what I wanted out of my body and what my “wants” would really bring me. Sure, I could fit into an XL dress with no problems, but did I want to rock an XL, or a medium? Did I want to look good in a tight dress (which you can do with a good corset), or did I want to look hot naked?
Hey, I’m just keeping it real.
So… I’m an advocate of the progress dress. A dress that you can use to show yourself how far you’ve come, and how far you’d like to go. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there’d be months where I’d lost pounds by the tens, and couldn’t see where the pounds went when naked, but it’d be that much clearer when I threw on the dress. Shoot, if it weren’t for the dress, I wouldn’t have known I’d lost all my boobs!
My progress dress helped me to actually see what the changes to my body meant for my wardrobe possibilities. I mean, be honest – we look at ourselves naked every day. Especially for those of us who might criticize ourselves [unnecessarily] every day, it may be hard to see our progress because we expect to wake up one morning and see [insert “problem” area] gone away. Having one dress to turn to every couple of weeks makes a great deal of difference in appreciating our progress.
Eventually, I out-shrunk the dress (wow, it even feels strange to say that), and donated it – along with the rest of my wardrobe – to charity. It’s certified hoochiewear, as you can see, so I can only help but to wonder what the charity thought of receiving that. I have a new progress dress now, but since my perception of my body has caught up with the actual progress of my body, it serves a new purpose for me.
So… I said all that to say… what’s your progress dress look like? 🙂