This morning as I was standing in the kitchen with my father, waiting for my mom to leave for work, we had a tender moment. My father is a Mr. Fixit, Garage God, car loving, sports watching, retired police officer and man of few words. But when he speaks to me, he makes the absolute best of it.
Dad: “Those shoes look really good on you.”
Me: “Thank you, Dad!”
This is not a weird exchange. My dad has always been my favorite fashion critic (not always, but life is a journey after all). We’re a fun loving, all American family with whats left of our old school Italian values. Basically, we don’t sugar coat shit. At least, not when we talk to each other.
Ever since I was little, my Dad, and my grandpa always told me the same thing: dress comfortably. I heard it all my life growing up, and disregarded it for a short time during my college years.
When I would get dressed to go out for the night (mostly to the bar to no doubt attract a ne’er do well for the evening), I could not leave the house without first being critiqued by my dad. He would be sitting in his recliner watching T.V. (stationed next to the back door) and I came to realize I was not leaving the house without his 2 cents. At the time, I felt ultimately confident in the way I dressed, but lets face it, sometimes, especially when we’re in our early 20’s, we don’t look as good as we think we do.
My dad would see me confidently walking toward the door the to leave for the night and would nonchalantly comment:
“You look like 10 pounds of sausage in a 5 pound bag.”
I would roll my eyes, jiggle myself further into my pants (you know the move I’m talking about), and carry on with my “I-know-I-look-good” 21 year old attitude and out the door I would go.
And I would be uncomfortable for the entire duration of my evening.
I was not obese by any means, and that’s not what he was saying. In a colorful way, what my dad was saying was what he’d said to me all my life: “Be comfortable.” Anyone who has ever worn clothes that clearly don’t fit them knows exactly how uncomfortable that feels. What he was telling me was, “Its okay to dress the body you have.”
My dad is like Rafiki from the Lion King- dropping totally dope wisdom in so few words.
My dad’s comment had not meant to be hateful or mean or cruel. It did not tear apart my confidence and make me self loath and hate my body. He wasn’t trying to be cruel. He wasn’t cruel. My father at no point in my life had ever been a cruel human being. He always wanted what was best for me, and to see me thrive as no one else but myself. He never missed a chance to tell me how proud he was of me as a person, and when I was struggling would lift me up and give me the confidence I needed.
He wasn’t being mean. He was honest.
And you know what? He was right! That’s exactly what I looked like! His comments gave me a stronger sense of self-awareness and realization that a size 8 shoved into a size 6 was both painful and unnecessary.
I was desperately holding onto my size 6’s because I didn’t want to face the fact that I had gained weight. I gave the number on the inside of my jeans so much power that I would feel the most immense shame having to go up a size.I would be wearing a super padded Victoria’s Secret bra to offset my flat chest and heels that were no less than 3″ because basically, I’m a hobbit. I would be creating a look that was anything but an authentic representation of what I really looked like.
It took some time, but eventually, I began to listen to him and value his input and opinion. He wanted me to look nice and be comfortable. He didn’t want me to go out looking like a hot uncomfortable mess. He didn’t want me trying to please anyone but myself.
Now, when I get dressed for work, or to go out and I feel uncertain, I ASK for my Dad’s opinion and he never fails me. He has set a standard for my future husband in the sense that he has ALWAYS told me the truth and I have learned the value of this kind of truth. (Note:my future husband will NOT be allowed to compare me to an over-stuffed sausage; Dad is the only one allowed because of our awesome father daughter camaraderie)
To this day, I dress my body in whatever sizes fit me well. I don’t give the size number in my pants any mind. I just dress myself in what fits and what looks good. I also threw out all my padded and gravity defying bras and opted instead for bralettes that make me feel way better than the padding ever did. (Aerie has some great ones!)
Doing this has boosted my confidence and made getting dressed everyday exciting. I’ve also never in my life gotten so many compliments on what I’m wearing.When you look good, when you feel comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing, it radiates and people are going to notice. The validation is a nice feeling.
I dress for myself, I dress comfortably, and I love my body and the clothes I put on it. I don’t punish or diminish myself for being a size 8 or size large. Its more important to care about how the clothes fit and how I feel when I wear them.