It’s more than just a dress.

“When was the last time you blogged?” my husband asked. He wasn’t referring to “created content,” but to writing something that wasn’t a sponsored post or the outfit of the day. The question did not imply any malicious intent or judgment: Steve is the most direct person you will ever meet. He’s heard many of my self-reprimands and complaints of frustration because he went another week (and another, and another) without sharing anything here. He simply asked a question I’ve asked myself many times over the past year and I appreciated the gentle nudge from him.

For the past 14 years, I have shown up in this little online home and shared a lot of my heart. There have been major ups and downs, with extremes on both sides of the spectrum that fall far outside of what I imagined I would ever experience.

I have also shared a lot of clothes. Especially dresses, because pants and I have a complicated relationship. Life (thankfully) doesn’t always deliver knockouts that evoke every feeling spilled onto a screen, but life always needs clothes, which is why it’s been shared more frequently in recent years.

When someone I don’t know asks me about blogging or *influence*, I often joke that I share too much and likes to shop. This response is usually accompanied by a laugh and a shrug, in the hope that the conversation will quickly move on to the next topic that isn’t me. I understand that many people have negative assumptions about influencers (sometimes I’m guilty of those thoughts) and if I can be light-hearted about things and move the discussion forward, there’s less risk of me spewing out a bunch of stuff to try to justify that. my existence is valid and useful. There is a lot of deep-rooted mess that I have been carrying for a long time. the cheerful “I am a person who shares too much and likes to shop” The answer is usually an effective redirect. Is short. Is vague. It evokes a superficiality that can prevent strangers from immersing themselves while I’m in front of them. If you want to go deeper, you can dig into my archives remotely. Normally they don’t.

While it’s true that I share personal stories online more often than others, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Opening (share too much) always feels like a giant risk, like ripping a bandage off an open wound that, in theory, anyone online can see. And while it is true that I share more photos of myself (um, he likes to buy) than a less “online” person, the work at hand may seem just as vulnerable. The process of getting something from an e-commerce site, to the package that arrives at my door, to my body, a photo, this blog or instagram It can require as much emotional processing as speaking words on a screen.

For those of you who think “Girl, the clothes are not so deep.” I understand, but do not share, your perspective.

Before you see several hundred words on this site talking about things like not being able to get off the bathroom floor due to pain or discussing my experience at fat camp, many hours of processing have passed. Bottling up feelings only to have them surge unexpectedly when the pressure of keeping them inside far exceeds the capacity of my container. There’s the tricky work of unraveling how to feel it all while still being sensible enough to try to make sense of it, or at least making it manageable enough to not let it take up more space than I have to give. Here’s an assessment: Could sharing this help other people more than it could hurt me? Will it help another person feel seen or help you gain perspective? and there is In fact What is the true potential for self-harm in sharing, or am I holding on to a long-held, ingrained fear that others might see me as weak/emotional/proud/braggy/pathetic/narcissistic/anything less than perfect?

It may seem less stimulating to share a photo of myself in a dress I like. Some days it doesn’t seem like a big deal. Many more days need to overcome the body image obstacle course I’ve trained myself on for years. On good days, muscle memory kicks in and everything flows as it should. There is thought, but things are processed quickly and efficiently. The transitions in my mind are smooth and free of distractions. There is a practiced precision. It doesn’t matter what scores the judges want to give me, because deep down I know that I got all the scores right. I look and feel good. 10 out of 10, no notes. Sharing might help someone find the style they were looking for. Or maybe someone will see that having a body size or shape like mine is still worth seeing. But on these good days, I go about my day and don’t really think about it anymore. People can take what they want and leave the rest.

Those good days are pretty rare, no matter how long you work at it. Still, the fact that they exist is a huge step forward.

The past few weeks have been a reminder of how hard it sometimes feels to show up. She had a photo shoot scheduled. He was excited to take photos in beautiful weather, with a talented photographer, and in a wonderful setting. He had a clear vision of how he wanted to look and how he wanted to feel. He wanted to convey style and confidence. I could *see* the looks in my mind and was excited to take on the task of sourcing the perfect items. As I tell others, I’m good at shopping. This was my moment!

What really happened was a stark reminder of how much work it takes to reconcile a vision with the realities of occupying a body my size:


  • Pre-planning to order items well in advance since there are only three possible stores where I can buy clothes close to my size in my city.
  • The harsh reality of the lack of styles available, even online. Designers and brands are only offering the watered-down versions of the same silhouettes they’ve been giving plus-size women to for decades.
  • A budget ruined due to lack of availability means there are no alternatives. You take what you can get and it will be at the price they tell you because there is no competition.
  • The additional costs of expedited shipping and inevitable returns. Just for the luxury of trying them on, I’ll have to pay a return fee for what doesn’t work. And even for those that offer free shipping, items need to be repackaged and returned to the carrier you specify within a tight time frame. Then I wait over 4 weeks for the refund to be issued.


With each element that failed to come close to my vision (which was MANY. SO MANY BAD THINGS!), the dam cracked and allowed old messages to seep into my thoughts:

  • Fashion rules: outdated “rules” return to my consciousness. Fat people should not wear horizontal stripes. Don’t show any skin above your knees. Packages are not accepted; you must wear girdles. Don’t wear sleeveless clothes if your arms are not toned. It was a barrage of the greatest hits from women’s magazines of the 80s and 90s.
  • Troll Resurrection: So many bad words from the past suddenly made me feel dizzy. The regurgitation of atrocious things said by people with so little to do that they can criticize strangers. In Internet. At school. Passing by car. Whispering loudly in my direction.
  • 30 years of dieting and parental disapproval: the constant drive to be smaller by any means necessary that started when I was five. The message was loud and clear: the smaller the better. You were always too big. If you were smaller, you would have more options. You are an example of lack of willpower.


Current pop culture and the retreat of body acceptance in the mainstream were a lighter fluid for the whole situation. Every time I told myself not to get upset because a piece of fabric didn’t look good on my particular shape, I came across yet another article about miracle weight loss injections. On social networks. On podcasts. On news sites. At the damn EMMY broadcast. Overheard in a restaurant.

Then, perhaps only some of us who have followed the plus fashion space for a long time notice it, the lack of body diversity at each Fashion Week. Then came the inevitable think pieces about why this is the case, written by publications that are known for lacking size diversity.

It's more than just a dress.  1
My drink (and Taylor Swift) says it all. I spent weeks telling myself I was the problem. I thought I was over this.

After 3 weeks of searching the internet for no less than 20 hours total, thousands of dollars spent, and 12 packages received, I was out of time. Of all the things I bought, about 20% fit satisfactorily. I felt good about 10% of them, but still, they were a compromise. None of them came close to what I had imagined.

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2 of the many WTF moments I had

This is the most extreme example of the work that happens when I find an outfit and share it. But it was a reminder that hunting is work, not just buying for frivolity. For me, clothing is an incredibly important part of identity. Not only do they offer a creative outlet for expression, but they are a tool I rely on to communicate to the outside world that I belong. They are the armor I use to combat all the horrible stereotypes some people have about fat people. I want my style and effort to convey what I’m trying to do. Have good hygiene. That I can go unnoticed, even if I take up more space. That I am someone worth looking at and noticing, and not an open target for snarky comments.

And if I’m honest, I use clothes and style as a way to show myself that I belong That I am someone worth seeing. That I am more than my size. That I can stand out and not shrink. I can take up space.

I’m just a girl, standing in front of a mirror, asking you to love her.

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Or more accurately: “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a mirror, asking my mind to accept her reflection as a complete, worthy, beautiful being no matter what she’s wearing.

All this to say, if you see me sharing more outfit photos than words, you should know. It’s more than just a dress. I need to remember this too.

And the photo shoot that started a month of shopping stress? The outfits looked a little different than I had imagined, but I saw the photos and got it 100% right. The woman I saw in the final photos was someone I wanted to be. She was authentically me. ❤️

It's more than just a dress.  4

(More to come in this session soon!)


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