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Gosh I used to hate when Karl would take photos of me in direct sunlight. You could see every roll, and often the seams of my Spanx. Karl took this while I was waiting for my Uber to take me to the Washington Post to see Robin Givhan interview Derek Lam. I tried a few different convoluted outfits for this event, not sure exactly what to wear that wasn't too try-hard, not too fancy, but not lame. And then I stopped, my bed piled with clothing and thought duh, why not wear a look from my real life capsule wardrobe? It was the easiest, and the best decision. I may have been on the higher end of dressiness at the event (I believe it's better to be overdressed than underdressed), but I didn't feel try-hard, and Derek Lam even said he liked the asymmetry of my sweater. The fangirl that I am I replied, “Thanks it's Universal Standard!”
A year ago, this photo would have been deleted. I would hop in the Uber, we'd get on the road, I'd swipe through my photos, see the rolls, the fallen hair, the pant leg tucked into the back of my heels and I'd be so angry and frustrated. I'd delete the photos and spend a good amount of the ride scrolling through my own Instagram reminding myself that no, I'm cute, going out and being social is good for my business and my business is good and useful and honorable and all of this is worth it. And once at the event, I'd spent a lot of time readjusting my hair, my pants, my sweater worrying that everyone could see how uncomfortable I was in this setting but also my body.
A year ago I would have instead taken this photo… and depending on my spirit would have shared it on Stories or the actual ‘gram. Same outfit, same night. This is in the bathroom at the Washington Post, after we met Derek Lam. After Kaarin and I took cheesy giggly photos of ourselves in front of the Washington Post sign both likely thinking how much our 16-year-old selves must be screaming about this occasion.
This is my M.O. I bet a lot of you have one. Your set, how you pose and look when taking a picture of yourself. It's the way you think you look the best, but also the most you. Your legs look long, your smile looks brilliant, your waist looks small, your booty looks big, whatever makes you feel good about what you see. This pose, you can't see how big my upper arms are. The legs slightly apart make my legs look longer, but also lets me pop out a hip a bit so I can create a curve in my waist and look slimmer.
But the thing is, I am not the same body I was a year ago. I am only ten pounds lighter than I was last December. This morning when I weighed in at the gym I was 190 lbs. Yet at 200 lbs I was a 16 and now I am mostly a 12. I have always weighed more than people thought. I've always been solid, but pretty much once I turned 40 that solid started turning into liquid. And my body wasn't handling it well. Doctors who had always been cool with my size if my health numbers were good told me I needed to lose weight. So to see this body in the bright sunlight wearing an old-ass “flat tire” bra that's the wrong size and a little pair of Knix with pants of the same fabric of the Express Editor pants I wore the helllll out of in the late '90s and early oughts and not be angry or sad or mad or frustrated with a photo of it and to only be 10 pounds from when I was slimming the handful of photos that didn't embarrass me it's a bit surreal and exciting.
I didn't weigh myself for years. Sure, the doctor would but it's not like I owned a scale or sought one out when I was at places that had one. Since I've always weighed more than I looked I judged my body by my dress size. And with each size, there would be a bit of time when I had to get used to it. Learn how to dress it, what skills it had, and how to pose for it.
This week I went to an event an event related to Diner en Blanc, an event I attended last year and plan to again this year. Again, I was stressing out about what to wear. Should I wear white? I don't have all white. Should I order something from Amazon, it would come in time. That's insane Alison, you're going to spend money to dress for an event where you're not getting paid, you're not a host or speaker, and the invite didn't state a dress code? The doorbell rang, it was a delivery person with a box from Chico's full of things from the Semi-Annual sale and one was this jumpsuit. I put it on, and knew I was done. But the legs were too long (welcome to my life) and the matte jersey wasn't the kind that looked good with Stitch Witchery. So I whipped out my highest shoes (the wedges I wore in this blog post) and straightened my posture and I could walk without being a tangled mess. Grabbed the “this bag is too expensive this is a ridiculous purchase man this bag goes with everything and was the best purchase” bag and some “me” silver jewelry and headed to the atrium next to the Old Ebbitt Grill (the event was to be on the rooftop but it rained).
I asked to bring a plus one (I always ask) but didn't. The room was half people dressed in white, half people dressed like they just came from work or else also just decided to wear whatever the eff they wanted. Long lines snaking around the space: one for drinks, at least two for food. I scan the crowd for a long while trying to not look like I was desperately scanning the crowd for a familiar face and see my friend Angelica with a group of people, some I know and some I do not. The event photographer stops to take a picture of three of us talking. I go to my usual side of the row of people location, the place where it's easier to hide parts of my body with a leg or a bag or an arm. They move me to the middle since Lisa and Angelica are both in white. Angelica asks the photographer to take a second photo with her phone and shows it to us. I'm surprised by how small I look, it boosts me and I feel more confident.
We head next door to the Hamilton and before we go in, I remember that I am a fashion blogger and I'm wearing a cute jumpsuit from a super nice brand so I ask one of the people in our party, a photographer I just met, to take my photo. I stand where I think it looks good, and I do The Pose. It's a mix of the pose in the bathroom selfie and the one I did with Lisa and Angelica. He takes a few shots as I slightly move a leg or an arm, look at him or to the side.
Then he doesn't ask me to move, but he moves to the side saying it's a better angle. And it went from being a burden (because every friend I have has had to take my photo of me popping my hip in an outfit at some time in our relationship) to being, well what we do. Two shots, he gave me back my phone, this was one of the two. Again, a pose and angle I wouldn't have considered before now works. I'm, not used to this body and I'm finding I need an external point of view to help me see it for what it is now and not a year ago.
I was never athletic before, and now my trainer is talking about how I'm strong enough to do a pull-up. I couldn't even do a pull-up for the Presidential Fitness test back in elementary school. Things that had turned into a liquid are becoming to form a solid, but this sold is different. This solid may be larger than I was in the past but I respect it more. I'm proud of it and never before can I recall using such a word for my body. This is unchartered territory for me.
I have nothing to look back on for reference. There was no time when I was this size as well as this shape, this size as well as this weight, this weight as well as this size, or any of the above and this age. There's no box of clothes in the attic I plan to fit back into because I realize I will never be what I was before, be it size, shape, or even mindset or style. Nothing will be like as was before, and that is an incredibly good thing. There's no way to go back, the bridge has collapsed, I can only go forward. So I better get a new M.O. because my old one no longer fits. But no need to worry, this path I am taking looks to be bathed in direct sunlight.