Trigger warning: This post discusses mental illness and body image issues.
This is a dressy outfit for me.
I spend approximately 98.8% of my day in varying stages of questionable athleisure. Very often in the shirt I slept in last night, tucked in to my skort to give the appearance of an intentional, thought-out outfit.
So, yes, ripped denim and my “fancy” Birks are the height of fashion and togetherness in my world.
And my dressing, or lack thereof, isn’t born out of laziness. I wake up most days and assess how I’m feeling. Am I having a flare-up? Do I feel particularly anxious or depressed? Wait, is my toddler already awake? Sometimes that isn’t even enough to determine my wardrobe for the day. Until I step into my closet I don’t know if clothing will overwhelm or inspire me. Sometimes it takes putting an article of clothing on to know where I am at and what’s going to work for me that day.
This was a bigger struggle a few years ago when my body image issues were at their peak. I would put on a tee shirt and if it felt the tiniest bit too tight or I saw something I didn’t like in the mirror I would immediately rip it off and throw on an oversized tee or a hoodie, my brain flooded with negative thoughts. It’s hard to describe, but on bad days I felt like I was crawling out of my skin. Like I wished I could exist separate from my body for one day so I didn’t have to care about it. Nothing felt good on my body. I wished I could just turn off the cycling of negative thoughts in my head – a byproduct of OCD – and have some peace and quiet. It’s not even that I necessarily cared too deeply about what I looked like, but I felt bad. Again, it’s really hard to put into words this sensation, but it was a daily struggle.
Oddly enough, fashion blogging helped break me from this cycle. My first “ah ha” moment came when I realized I was the perfect size – in terms of the website needing 8-12, M-L representation. I was a missing piece to the puzzle. “What if I’m just right the way I am?” I thought to myself. “What if I wasn’t continually looking for ways to lose weight or look better? What could I accomplish?” It was somewhat revelatory and since that moment nearly two years ago I haven’t weighed myself and worked very hard to deprogram myself of societal messages about beauty, body size, fatness, etc.
Fashion blogging was kind of like exposure therapy. I had to try on so many clothes that after awhile I stop assigning importance to them. It was also eye-opening in terms of how much sizes vary depending on brand. If I got upset every time a pair of shorts didn’t fit correctly I would have been stuck rocking in the corner in the fetal position.
While body image improved, I couldn’t shake the feeling of imposter syndrome. Mostly because I realize now that some of the outfits I was putting together was for a version of myself that I wanted to be, not the real me. I want to be someone that wears pretty dresses and heels and bold lipstick on the daily, but I’m not. In reality I was putting on a full face of makeup, doing my hair and squealing over these outfits that were SO GOOD and then promptly wiping off all my makeup, throwing my hair in a ponytail, and putting back on my sweatpants – usually to take a nap – because try-ons are actually exhausting.
And part of any sort of influencer/fashion/lifestyle blogging is selling that #goals life, even if it’s an influencer or blog espousing honesty and realness. There is some amount of curation that goes into every post.
Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself, but one of my regrets while fashion blogging was not exploring dressing as a mom with an autoimmune disease and mental health issues and how that impacts my style. While I certainly never hid that I had Hashimotos, I didn’t explore how that effected how I dressed day to day. I think that would have connected with a lot of moms, but I was more focused on how my size connected me with people, not the other stuff.
I appreciate what fashion blogging did for my body image issues, but I don’t miss it. Oddly enough, now that I’m not fashion blogging, I think I’m finally starting to find my own style and it’s freeing to not have to monetize it all the time. I still struggle though and go through weeks where I’m living in the same 2 tee shirts (they’re soft and don’t hug my body) and athletic skorts because putting together an outfit that may not feel good is entirely too overwhelming. Don’t even get me started on doing hair and makeup.
So, with that, I’ll take any day I throw on a duster or a necklace as a win. Heck, even sweatpants and a tee shirt is a win. I’m navigating an overwhelming world while dealing with an overwhelming amount of internal shit. I’m doing the best I can.
We all are.