ODP Summary (a.k.a My Manifesto)

I’ve successfully completed my October Dress Project and I couldn’t be happier. I got a little bored and frustrated at the end, but I stuck it out. I’m not sure if I will do it again, but I learned a few things about myself. It took a bit of bravery for me to participate in something that drew attention to my body and I have to say that I feel a more comfortable in my own skin now.one of my more funky looks While I did get comments on a few of my outfits- especially the last 4 days when I wore some wackier things- no one really noticed or cared what I wore or how I looked. This is something I need to have tattooed on my forehead or at the very least engraved on my mirror. I am the only one that cares how I look. My husband and my mom think I am beautiful and my friends often have compliments for me. But I am the one that makes a big deal out of my physical appearance. For years I have hated my body, my face, my shape, my height… and the only thing I have gained is depression and bad habits.

Stop the hate, Kate, it’s self-destructive and it benefits no one!

Besides some self-love, the best lesson I learned from my ODP was to stop waiting. In the immortal words of Sound Mound (watch until 3:30, worth every minute), “It’s never too late for now! “ Time to stop waiting and do it now, wear it now, have fun now. When I was a preteen I loved to go crazy with my clothes and accessories. I carried a hot pink Minnie Mouse lunch box, loved to mix and match bright colors and patterns, and always had at least two colors on my braces (usually corresponding to the month of the year: red and green Christmas braces, black and orange for Halloween). One time my teacher asked me in front of the class if I knew I was wearing two different earrings. “Of course,” I laughed! One was a hot pink crescent moon and the other was a blue star. Stars and moons match, right? (Gurl, my style was the bomb in the 90s. Side pony tail with a hot pink and turquoise scrunchie? Wicked! )

Somewhere along the way I stopped having fun and started feeling obligated to be beautiful to look at. I believed that I could be anything I wanted, I could do anything I set my mind to. But I should look good doing it. You can change the world, but there’s no need to look ugly while you go about it.  You can be president of the United States, but you better do it while wearing heels and lipstick. I bought into the objectification myth; the myth that being beautiful is the most important and the most POWERFUL thing a woman can be. So often as women we are told that our appearance is our currency. It may be true that you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but I’m hunting eagles and the flies are just a nuisance.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be beautiful or even wrong to take time to look good. But what is wrong is believing that our looks are the best thing we have to offer. For so long I’ve felt that because I am overweight or not the most beautiful girl in the room, I don’t have the right to say what I am thinking or to act on my ideas. I put myself in the place where fat and ugly girls “should” be- the sidekick, the funny friend, not the main character in my own life.

Here’s what I’m learning: when I focus less on my physical flaws I can appreciate everything else I can offer.

When I’m not estimating the weights of the other women in the room, I can brainstorm and share my ideas in a meeting at work. When I’m not making myself feel like I need to be feminine and delicate and not take take up too much space, I can make jokes and laugh loudly and have fun. I’m not here to be a pretty face for you to look at or a curvy body for you to desire. I am here to be myself, to have strong loves and overwhelming emotions that spur me to action, and to be missed when I leave the room.

Before: Good Morning!
After: Two hours of primping later

Renee Engeln says that you cannot chronically monitor your body’s appearance and also be fully present in the world. I’ve decided that participating in my life and the lives of those that I love is worth so much more than looking good all the time. I’m choosing to be present and to be real. And if my soul is so filled with love that joy shines from my eyes, my smile lights up my face, and compassion comes quick and often- I will be gorgeous.

October Dress Project: Halfway there

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By the time I post this I will be over the halfway  hump. October is going by super-crazy-fast and I am so happy that decided to participate in the ODP. There’s only been about 3-4 days that I haven’t worn The Dress for at least part of the day and all but one of those days were spent in my jammies cuddled up with a heating pad. (Boo!) A few of my friends view it as their personal entertainment and question me about my look everyday to make sure The Dress is still there. So here’s another list of things I have learned thus far:

1. I have WAY too many clothes. I have only repeated one or two looks in almost 3 weeks. I think it’s time to downsize my wardrobe. Also, why do I have so many pieces of clothing that I don’t like and/or are unattractive?  Less clothing means less money and less laundry. It’s a win win! Part of the ODP is to become aware of consumerism in your life and I have  realized that I’m buying into the consumer worldview. It pains me to admit that I have bought  2 or 3 pieces to go with my dress this month, but I’ve bought things that I love and that I can use in multiple ways. However, it speaks to my shopper mindset that my first reaction is buy new things and not try to shop my closet. This is something I definitely want to work on.

2. Sneaking creativity into the daily grind brings me great joy. So often I feel like my days are just a giant to-do list and I come home to sleep and then begin again. It’s a small thing, but putting together a new outfit each day  has given me something creative to do. Before Piper was born I prided myself on being able to pull together inventive outfits with the things I had in my closet. Somewhere along the way, I stopped taking the time to do this. It’s been fun to get back in the groove.

3. I’m making peace with my body. For about 75% of my life, I’ve hated my body. This is something that I still struggle with and hope to overcome eventually… but the going is slow and often painful. Seeing other women post their not-perfect ODP pictures has been encouraging to me and I’ve been enjoying the positive feedback I’ve gotten on social media and in person.  Many times I feel there is a disconnect between my brain and my body. Subconsciously I think ,  “Brain is good, body is bad.” Choosing to focus on the parts of my body that I do like has been helping. Also, I’ve decided that I don’t need to wait until I am thinner or tanner or taller or younger to have fun with my appearance. I keep repeating to myself “Perfection is the enemy of good.”

4. How I feel (and therefore act) towards my body affects Piper. For better or worse, our daughter’s body images can be shaped at home. As the self-appointed queen of girliness, Piper often focuses on how pretty she looks and what other girls are wearing. I want to be an example to her and I’ve made it my goal for her to never hear me say anything negative about my body or criticize anyone else’s bodies.

I’m enjoying the project so much and I am surprised how quickly the time has gone by. I’m gearing up to get in some more creative outfits before the month is done and I’m thinking about a project for next month. Any suggestions?

October Dress Project Update

DSC_0254My ODP has been going well. I skipped a few days when I was working outside and when I was doing a service project at Friendly Chapel, so I worn the dress about 9 days total. My only issue I’ve run in to that since my dress is black and has a flared skirt, it looks a bit formal at times. I’m planning on trying to tuck it into jeans tomorrow for casual Friday, so maybe that will give me some new options. Even though I’m only on day 9, I’ve had lots of opportunities for self-reflection and evaluation. Here’s a few things that I’ve discovered.

1. It’s fun to break out of my (non)fashion rut. Outfits that seemed a little out of my comfort zone got lot lots of compliments and I found I enjoyed mixing it up a bit. After the first couple of days when I felt self conscious, I’ve really enjoyed wearing fun things and feeling put together at work.DSC_0272

2. No one notices that I am wearing the same thing. I’m going to get rid of some clothes that I don’t really like and repeat my outfits that I do like more often.

3. Being plus-sized doesn’t mean you have to be matronly or unattractive. Instead of waiting until I lose weight to wear fun clothes, I am doing it now and loving it. In fact showing a bit of leg and wearing simpler pieces that flatter parts of my body that I like has made me feel more attractive and confident.DSC_0243

4. It’s worth spending a small amount of time to look good. I feel like since I had Piper (5 years ago!), I’ve felt like everything else is more important than me. I don’t think I will ever go back to spending two hours getting primping like I did when I was a teenager, but if I take the time to pull an outfit together or throw on a few accessories I feel better all day.

I never thought it would happen to me

I resisted the idea of being a mom for many reasons; poop, snot, the alien pod-like idea of growing another being inside you, etc.  But I never worried about mom jeans because I planned to be a cool mom. I had a great example in my mom, even though I did spend most of my teenage years making her life almost unbearable.  She was always very fashion forward, even in her agony. For example, we shared a pair of lace up leather boots when I was in middle school and I have photographic evidence of her rocking many facets of the big hair that defined the 80s and 90s.  So you can imagine my surprise this morning when I realized I was wearing mom jeans. My mom doesn’t even wear mom jeans. And since I was at work, I couldn’t even change clothes.

I am sure you are frightened and worried that someone as cool as me (example 1: hipster glasses, example 2: I know what steampunk is) is wearing ill-fitting jeans. “But Kate”, you are saying, “how did this happen? Is it catching? And most importantly, why should I care?” You should care, my fellow moms, because it can happen to you. Let me guide you through the inevitable slide (or wiggle as it were) into mom jeans.

Step 1: Early pregnancy: “yeah, but I am not going to let myself go just because I am pregnant. I mean my jeans still look great, I’ll just wear a belly band and regular clothes.”

Step 2: Mid pregnancy: “Wow-these stretchy maternity panel jeans feel awesome. They are like yoga pants with jean legs! I’ll take two pairs; they’ll look great with tunics, right?”

Step 3: Late pregnancy: I can’t leave the house because I refuse to wear pants anymore. “Do you think I can snag some of those gowns from my OBs office at my next visit? Dr. Marks always makes me feel like I look beautiful in them.”

Step 4: Post birth: Still no pants, now no shirt from constant nursing and pumping. “You guys are lucky I have on underwear. Yes, they are my husband’s briefs. He’s just lucky I am letting him live.”

Step 5: Six week check-up: Terrified by the thought of a metal zipper being near my c-section incision, I gratefully slip into those stretchy maternity jeans. Strangely, they still fit quite well- no worries, “breast-feeding is even harder than being pregnant, so it has to burn like a million calories, right?”

Step 6: Night before one year birthday party: “Oh my freakin’ God! I cannot wear my maternity jeans to the party tomorrow!” I try on every pair of pants in my closet, most only make it to my upper thighs, I few pairs come within 3 to 4 inches of zipping. It’s 10 pm and no cool stores are open. I decide that K-mart is better than Wal-Mart (Jacqueline Smith!) and head to the jeans section. If a dark wash is slimming then black will be even better, right? I buy two sizes up from my pre-pregnancy size in the cheapest style available (no way am I paying any extra money for something this depressing) and head to the check out. I try them on at home; they fit on my body and are mostly comfortable. Done and done.

So I have been wearing these black denim mom jeans for a while now. How did I just realize that they look terrible? I have stopped looking at myself in the mirror. I look at my hair, or my teeth, a pimple, or a weird-shaped bruise on my butt that I don’t remember getting. But looking at my whole body in the mirror- post marriage, post baby, post 28? No thanks.

Today when leaving the toilet stall, I caught a glimpse of my mom jeaned butt in the mirror as I was leaving the restroom. Yikes- is that me!? Maybe I need to go one of those make over shows. Like the ones that say, “Let’s have a Mom-versation, ladies. You need to take make time for yourself. Have a mom playdate at the spa!” Sounds like fun, but  I have spent all my money buying clothes for Piper.  Seriously, if you have seen her in a pair of sparkly pink jeggings with a leopard print top, you know it was worth every penny.