On Ankle Booties and Acceptance

I don’t like my legs. I walked on my toes as a child and teen (and still as an adult when I am low on sleep) and that made for muscles in strange places. Large shins, large calves, thick ankles, and even strange lumps in my knees. Add to the fact that I am petite, naturally large boned and overweight… well my legs aren’t the most conventionally attractive part of my body.

My stomach was never my best asset. Even when I was starving myself into a size 2 and doing crunches every commercial break during Must See TV, I still had a pooch. Now with extra pounds and having a child, it’s even softer and saggier.

I have always had broad shoulders and full arms. My swim coach told me I had shoulders made for butterfly, and that was the first time I saw them as a benefit (and I must say, butterfly was my best stroke!). A high school boyfriend told me I was built like a body builder – something that a teen male would like, but not a teen female already self-conscious about her figure. With broad shoulders comes full arms, which do tone quickly with weights but never thin down, no matter what diet I try.

I have weird feet. Very short and fat toes (so short my pinky toenail grows upwards not out), short but wide feet that are also puffy/thick meaning I can’t easily find strappy sandals or ankle and T-strap shoes that fit. guess it’s from all that toe-walking. I have been known to joke that shoeboxes fit my feet far better than the shoes inside them.

I can spend every morning pinching my flesh and cursing my reflection. I could shop just for clothing that hides my flaws and draws attentions to my assets. I could dress in shapeless black clothing so one can’t tell if that curve is my belly or my sweater. Maybe wear really flashy necklaces and colorful glasses and get a flamboyant hair color to draw all attention from my body, hoping the world doesn’t realize the rest of me exists.

Or I can accept the figure I have now. Embrace it. Celebrate it. Love it and nurture it and be grateful that I have it and be proud of all the amazing things it can do.

No matter what, your hips will be there. You’ll still have that jawline, those thick ankles, that full belly, that scar. It will be there no matter what you wear, and the person who will notice it more than anyone else is yourself. You have the choice on how much of an impact it will have on your life.

You can dress to hide your flaws. I obviously do that by not wearing fitted dresses or many ankle strap shoes. Sometimes it’s easy to do (not buy fitted dresses), and sometimes it’s not (hiding full upper arms in August). What you need to decide is how much you’re going to let your so-called flaws rule your life.

No one notices these things about you as much as you do.
 
Seriously.
 
No, really. They don’t notice it like you do.

You’re a moving target. You’re laughing, you’re commiserating, you’re providing a shoulder to cry on. You sing and dance and gesture with your hands. You’re not a statue that people surround and analyze. You are so much more than your “figure flaws.” When you obsess over your flaws, others then notice those flaws. When you accept your figure, others accept it too.

I used to make self-deprecating comments about my “mama pooch” after Emerson was born. I was extremely self-conscious about my belly, and swore that every reader saw it, thought it gross, so if I called it out first, I wouldn’t look like some clueless idiot putting my gut out on display. And a reader called me out, but called me out for the self-deprecating comments. It was such a wonderful lesson learned; we decide what people will focus on.

That reader put me in my place and I am forever grateful to her. I stopped mentioning my “mama pooch” and with that, embraced my midsection. So it doesn’t look like it did 15, or even 5 years ago and it never will. So what. SO WHAT. Do I let my belly rule my life? Do I let it keep me from beach weekends and cocktail dresses and being naked in front of my husband in broad daylight?

So I wear booties that cut off my ankle and make my legs look thicker. I wear short skirts with bare legs. I’ll rock a halter or racerback top and go sans-Spanx if I feel like it. It’s MY body, not society’s. Accepting and embracing this body as-is has made it easier to care for it, to dress it, and to feel more confident on a daily basis.

I don’t expect women to read this, look in the mirror and scream, “I LOVE ME!” and run around town in a bandage dress, but to take baby steps. My ankle-based baby steps took place in 2010 when I bought my first pair of ankle booties. I never would have done it myself, but a person I trusted (my sister) said they looked good. And then a stranger (salesperson not on commission) agreed. I took the plunge. At first, I only wore them with black opaque tights to not cut the line of the leg, but with wearing I gained confidence. And now, I’m on my third pair of those same exact booties and rock them all the time, even though almost each time I do I get a comment that they aren’t as flattering as classic pumps.

I know classic pumps are more flattering and own quite a few of them for that reason, but embracing my body means dressing it the way I want, and sometimes I just want a pair of damn ankle booties.
 
We all deserve ankle booties!
We deserve to have fun with fashion without feeling embarrassed!

I encourage you to take a baby step. Try a different cut of shoe, a skinny belt, a new neckline, an unexpected color, a bright lipstick. Go small, low-budget. Don’t give up after one wearing, give it at least two attempts. If you feel dreadful, then give it up, give yourself a chance to bounce back, and try something else. Dip your foot into the pool before hopping off the high dive. Some of us just like to wade in the shallow end, some like to swim laps in the 4’ section, and some love to do cannonballs off the high dive. No one is better, each started with that first step.

Much love to Nicki, Andrea, and Claudette for inspiring me.

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49 Comments

  1. AhnTarget
    November 13, 2014 / 5:51 pm

    I follow you on Twitter and just today bought some ankle boots. I was lamenting the chore (In my mind) of putting together an outfit for them for an upcoming trip… and I found this post. You are so inspirational and helpful and I really appreciate your thoughts on how to dress stylishly with a larger silhouette! Thank you!

  2. JM
    May 15, 2013 / 12:31 pm

    Loved this post!! I heard someone say once that just because you are a woman, you don’t owe it to anyone to look attractive (maybe not those exact words, but that was the basic gist). This has really stuck with me. Sometimes I’m wearing a favorite T-shirt that isn’t exactly figure flattering, and I think “I can’t go out like this, I look like I don’t even have a waist. I look like a boy!” and then I remember that I don’t owe it to anyone to look feminine and curvy, and if I feel like wearing that T-shirt in public, I can. I have caught myself so many times being worried about leaving the house without makeup, or wearing something that doesn’t hide my flaws, and every time I remember that no only am I not on display, but it isn’t my responsibility to be pleasing to the eyes of everyone I interact with. Besides that, so much of what we consider attractive is just arbitrary decisions by society, and can and likely will change with time. As long as I am cleaned and (fairly) recently showered and smell fresh, that’s the extent of what I feel obligated to contribute to society. It has really been life-changing to reach this enlightenment. 🙂

  3. Sarah G
    April 18, 2013 / 3:20 am

    Damn, I love you Allie! I’ve been on a downer for the last couple of weeks because my 6 year old daughter used the words “mummy’s fat tummy” as a password for a game we were playing. These issues are very emotionally hard to tackle, but I use you for inspiration over and over again!

  4. April 13, 2013 / 3:05 am

    GREAT POST!!! I am sharing this on my FB account. Through my blog, i am hoping to promote body confidence, partly in showing that short curvy girls can rock fun fashion too. I dress to hide some of my flaws too (particularly my mama belly), but as I get older, blog more, become more confident, I dress more to please my sartorial whims than to create the most flattering silhouette.

    Thanks for sharing your story and inspiring others!!

    Cassie
    http://stylecassentials.blogspot.com

  5. DorothyP
    April 12, 2013 / 7:07 pm

    I guess I don’t understand the appeal of something that’s not flattering, and not in a “Vivienne Westwood so weird it’s great” way. I pretty much like how I am, but I think booties aren’t going to make me look great, so why bother?

  6. Christina C
    April 12, 2013 / 12:09 pm

    This was an incredibly well written, thoughtful, and positive post. Thank you for writing what we know what we should do, but something that is probably one of the hardest things for women to execute. I try to tell myself the same things and even when I get positive compliments, I start to fixate on what could be better.

    I was sitting in the bedroom lamenting to my husband about how thick my thighs look and how big my butt is and this is after I have lost 50 lbs and am now in a size 8. What the hell is wrong with me? I asked myself that over and over again. I look at friends and family that have struggled with health and have seen people pass away this year. I’m complaining about a supposed big thigh? I have to constantly repeat the exercise of loving myself. Loving what my body can do and what I have done. It’s harder than any diet or any workout. This is a workout in positivity and needs to be done daily and often. Thank you so much for this post.

  7. Natalie :)
    April 12, 2013 / 8:57 am

    I always look to you as inspiration. I have the same body issues but try to celebrate rather than berate!

  8. Allison
    April 12, 2013 / 8:35 am

    Best.Post.Ever. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  9. Trillium
    April 12, 2013 / 1:39 am

    Really great post! At around 40 I pretty much made up my mind to wear whatever I want for the simple fact that I like it, and I’ve never felt better about my style and about myself in general. It can be quite liberating. This is why I love your blog-so many of your posts sum up my very thoughts. Rock those ankle boots! 🙂

  10. Barcy
    April 11, 2013 / 10:27 pm

    Love, love, love everything you said. My inner critic says things to me that I would never think, much less say, to anyone else. I just want to crawl thru the Internet and give you a big hug.

  11. April 11, 2013 / 7:01 pm

    This is one of the best things I have read in a while, and a great reminder of the kind of blogging I want to do. I am so with you on the “No one notices these things about you as much as you do.” bit. I am always shocked at what people identify as their flaws. Eventually I had the thought that maybe people feel the same way when I comment on my thick thighs…

  12. Sinead Casey
    April 11, 2013 / 6:34 pm

    I love you. Seriously. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read today. Thank you for being so grounded sharing it with the rest of us. I am almost there, but some days I need the jolt 🙂

  13. cheapchicinchicago
    April 11, 2013 / 5:46 pm

    Who are these people making comments that classic pumps are more “flattering”?! I happen to L – O – V – E ankle booties. They are much more comfortable than pumps. I wear them all year round. Ankle booties FTW!

  14. crtfly
    April 11, 2013 / 3:30 pm

    Allie,

    You’re so wonderful in so many ways. It’s a good thing that I live on the other side of the country instead of DC because I would be bugging you all the time to go for coffee. It would be fantastic to sit with you and bask in your wisdom and good humor. Your Sister and Mom seem really cool too. You are a family I would love to have as friends.

    I come from a very dysfunctional background so seeing a happy, healthy family makes me happy and inspires me. E is so fortunate to have you as a Mom.

    Thank you for the post. It made my day.

    Chris

  15. deedee
    April 11, 2013 / 3:04 pm

    teeheehee, we are built alike — part of why I LOVE to see what you are wearing daily.
    I totally agree that most folk do not notice — however,I noticed every flaw when I was younger. Now that I am a senior, I TOTALLY LOVE my body, and know how to dress/style it. (took long enough for me to LOVE me just as I am — so glad to hear you learned so much sooner)

    Keep up the good work — I look forward to reading your comments and those of guest fashionistas.

  16. ONEWEIRDWORD
    April 11, 2013 / 2:25 pm

    For me it was shorts. Too self conscious to weat them. Then I rowed for two summers with a woman, about my age, who’d lost a leg to cancer when she was a kid. Nasty-looking scar. But she was totally unselfconscious about it. Rowed, skiied, swam competitively. I decided to get over myself and wear shorts on a hot day. I still like the longer lengths, but why the heck shouldn’t I be uncovered and sporty when it’s stinking hot and humid?

  17. April 11, 2013 / 1:40 pm

    This x 1 million. *Especially* as the mom of a little girl who I hope will grow up only loving herself and the way she looks.

    Not to mention the fact that sometimes those “flaws” are even things other women wish they had–curly instead of straight, tall instead of petite, [this] instead of [that].

    Getting to a place of body acceptance, however begrudging it might feel sometimes, is a journey for all of us (and the reason I wrote this as declaration #2 of the Fab Mama Style Manifesto: “I will love my body as it is today. I will honor it by taking care of it and dressing it in clothes that flatter my shape and bring me joy.”)

  18. April 11, 2013 / 1:02 pm

    Oh yes, we are our own worst critics. I’m so grateful to read blogs like this that inspire me to forget my “flaws” and embrace what I do enjoy and what others may not even notice. We’ll never “satisfy” everyone and someone will always say something that feels negative but how we decide to deal with it is what will make us different. =) Thanks for this post.

    xo,
    nancy

    http://adoretoadorn.blogspot.com

  19. Christina
    April 11, 2013 / 12:37 pm

    Thank you…with tears welling up…thank you! You’ve finally made me understand why my husband sees me as beautiful…he’s seeing the whole package and not picking me apart into every minuscule imperfection I find. Thank you.

  20. AD
    April 11, 2013 / 12:31 pm

    “I could shop just for clothing that hides my flaws and draws attentions to my assets.”<–THIS is what I do.

    For instance, I banned myself from wearing horizontal stripes because I'm petite and have big boobs (something I don't like to emphasize). But you mentioned once that you know stripes aren't the most flattering thing in the world and you don't care because you love them. And after seeing many, many photos of you in stripes, I bought a striped shirt a couple of weeks ago.

    And I'm not 100% secure with the way I look in it, but it feels pretty awesome to break my own stupid rules. I know that it's true that other people don't notice all of my flaws, but I'm trying to really believe that and lighten up on myself.

    Beautiful post.

    • April 12, 2013 / 5:41 am

      I wasn’t 100% sure about horizontal stripes when they first became a Thing a few years back, but I guess the pile of around 8 striped tops in my closet says I now feel differently! You’ll grow to love them and become an addict like the rest of us! 🙂

  21. Sara
    April 11, 2013 / 12:31 pm

    What a fabulous post!! I battled insecurity with self-deprecating comments for most of my life. Last year I finally decided to do something about my weight (something I could change) and embrace the rest of it (what I couldn’t change). It’s been an amazing year!!!!!!!! Yes, I still have wide hips, long arms, and a big birthmark. But I also have great hair, a big smile, and the beginning of runner’s legs. It’s great to be me!
    Also, I’m a little tired and misread ‘…run around town in a bandage dress…’ as ‘bondage dress’. I’ll probably never be *that* confident. 😉

  22. April 11, 2013 / 11:51 am

    Amen! Nit-picking your body is exhausting and pointless but I still struggle with it from time to time. Thanks for the reminder that no one else notices!

  23. suzanne
    April 11, 2013 / 11:49 am

    As women we seem to do this all the time. I don’t know if it is naturally engrained in our DNA or what but so many of us do it. I have yet to hear a man do the same injustice to himself. They are quite the opposite, normally touting their strengths and generally feeling great about every bit of their bodies no matter what their shape, size or age. We need to rip a page from the men’s books and learn to silence our ever menacing negative body voices and listen only to the positive joy affirming ones.

    As you wrote this isn’t an easy habit to break. It takes baby steps. Learning to love ourselves as women is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and those around us.

    Great post.

    bisous
    Suzanne

  24. Kate
    April 11, 2013 / 11:32 am

    “I don’t expect women to read this, look in the mirror and scream, “I LOVE ME!” and run around town in a bandage dress”…

    oops too late. 😉

    Allie, I rarely comment, but I read everyday. I find you inspiring, insightful, and you make me take my own self-critiques with a grain of salt.

  25. April 11, 2013 / 11:30 am

    Hi Ali, This is nicki. Thank you so much. I am sitting here smiling to myself on the train home from work. Thankyou for the post. Its really helped x x

  26. Michelle
    April 11, 2013 / 11:29 am

    Word. Thanks for this.

  27. April 11, 2013 / 11:15 am

    Oh Allie, you are my most favorite fashion blogger in the whole world, and this is why! Such a wonderful post. You are truly beautiful.

  28. Katie Jean
    April 11, 2013 / 10:54 am

    Thank you indeed. This is definitely my favorite post! And so timely as I try to remember what to wear for warmer weather and embrace showing more of my body.

  29. April 11, 2013 / 10:46 am

    My fat knees and I will be making our annual ‘I don’t care it’s hot’ appearance as the temps get warmer. It’s my body, I have horrid knees but I don’t care. Great post 🙂

  30. Lori McKee
    April 11, 2013 / 10:45 am

    Love this. As always. Love your style and your message – whether it is given by the way you dress yourself or the words you used here. A great example.

  31. Stacey Hastings
    April 11, 2013 / 10:35 am

    THANK. YOU.

    I’m bookmarking this post so that I can read it whenever I get overly self-critical (which can be fairly frequent). I’m going to send a link to this so all my girlfriends can read it too! I recently found your blog thru Pinterest and I have to say that you’ve been a real inspiration to me. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your style! And you’re right…when I look at your pics, I see a stylish woman who looks happy and confident, not a belly or ankles or arms. Thank you for the reminder to dress for the image I want to project, not the one I’m afraid others are seeing. Such an important distinction!

  32. Charlene L
    April 11, 2013 / 10:29 am

    what an inspirational post. I’m struggling with how much spanxing I can do to cover my flaws. After this I decided to go with a slimmer and my favorite pewter heels with my purple dress. sidenote: I’m built like you and I use some or dressing ideas as inspiration to step outside my comfort box. Thank you.

  33. Happinessatmidlife
    April 11, 2013 / 10:28 am

    I have just having this same convo with a gf the other day who is super fit and looks great. I told her to stop being so negative on herself and focus on the positives. I am guilt of being hard on myself too (I have the same issues with my legs) and now that I have a giant scar on my shins – people are more drawn to them.

    Alice
    http://www.happinessatmidlife.com

  34. jkbkid
    April 11, 2013 / 10:24 am

    You are so freakin’ awesome, it kills me. I have never felt more confident or inspired as I have since following your blog a year ago. I look 5-10 years younger today because I’m not afraid to dress like the 38 (gasp!) year old that I am, instead of the 45 year old that I felt. I’m full figured and totally rocking my curves these days because these curves (thanks in large part to my two beautiful kids) are WHO I AM. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, girl!

  35. Morgan Rudder
    April 11, 2013 / 10:24 am

    What a good message on the day I sign up for Weight Watchers for the fourth time…. You are amazing, girl. Truly amazing.

  36. Kati LeTourneau
    April 11, 2013 / 10:16 am

    This post was so on target. I had a girls weekend with some college friends, and we spent a lot of time talking about our own internal insecurities and how those impact how we engage with the world (and with our spouses, naked!). One of my friends had a great line that she uses when ever one of her friends starts getting to self-critical. She turns to them and says “hey! That’s my girlfriend you’re talking about!”

  37. April 11, 2013 / 10:04 am

    Thank you for this inspiring post, Alison! I’m trying to accept my body the way it is, while working to change what I can. Some days are better than others. Sometimes I give up completely for weeks or even months at a time. But then I try again. It’s always helpful to read an encouraging post like this one!

  38. Keri Harmicar
    April 11, 2013 / 9:57 am

    i freakin love this post! i needed it today. heck, i need it everyday. thank you for your daily posts and for reminding me to be ME. you rock, sister sledge.

  39. RG
    April 11, 2013 / 9:46 am

    I’ve never commented before but this is such a great post.

  40. April 11, 2013 / 9:14 am

    Awesome post! And I think those Miss Sixty booties look better on you than they do on me – I always feel like they’re flapping about on my ankles whereas they fit yours perfectly. x

  41. April 11, 2013 / 9:13 am

    Love love love this post!!!! This is such a morale booster!!! Every woman must know they are unique and they are beautiful… Be glad for how god made you thats my motto too…..

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