Since I was young, I always had this need to not look short. I attribute my fear of looking short to the years of television shows, magazine articles, and people sharing tips to “elongate” my body. What the heck does elongate even mean? It means to make something appear longer than in relations to its width. Being plus size, my width was always a topic of discussion around family events and even outings with friends. Not that people were trying to tell me it was a problem, but how the right clothes can help anybody appear longer, taller, and in result, slimmer.
The pressure to elongate my body
On my previous blog (The In Between Girls), a lot of my OOTDs featured me in heels. There are a few reasons for why heels were important to me at the beginning stages of my last blog.
- Heels made an outfit seem more “fashion-y”
- Heels made my body look taller
As long as I was making an effort to avoid looking stout, it seemed like a good outfit. Unfortunately, that mentality pigeon-holed me and I was stuck in a rut between outfits that elongated my body vs. outfits that made me happy.
Built like a Clydesdale
This need to appear taller gave me an easy workaround for the fact that I am short, plus size, and pretty stocky. When I was a cheerleader in high school, I was a base for our flyer. My coach said I made a great base because I was built like a Clydesdale. When I was in high school, I was very aware and conscious of my size. The fact that I was being compared to a Clydesdale horse instead of, say, an Arabian, stuck with me all of these years. How I chose to interpret has changed since the 16 year-old me was compared to the Scottish field working horse.
Beauty is subjective
Women across the globe are pressured to appear feminine. For centuries femininity was characterized by a woman’s physical form and their ability to hold up patriarchal values of being nurturing, family focussed, etc. We see it in history and modern day cultures where women go through extreme lengths to appear more feminine and, in such, more beautiful. In parts of Africa and Asia, neck rings are used to elongate the neck to appear taller and more feminine. We’ve all heard of foot binding in China, right? It’s amazing the lengths we will go to uphold a value that is so arbitrary.
You don’t have to elongate, but adjust your way of thinking
It took me until college to realize that being “built like a Clydesdale” doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I recognized that my own insecurities about my body type and the size it is was playing a role in how I interpret that statement. At the time, I was much skinnier than I am now — probably 60 or so pounds less. A lot of that came from years of yo-yo dieting, lots of exercise (I was on track and field, plus cheer leading), and the pressures to be likeable by the opposite sex. Don’t get me wrong, I was not healthy. During this time I was at my lowest weight, around 150 lbs, I didn’t eat often, but when I did it was Jack-in-the-box breakfast jacks.
Being “built like a Clydesdale” horse does not have to be a bad thing. I always thought Clydesdales were some of the most majestic and beautiful horses growing up, so why did I think it was an insult now? Oh right, because society says to be feminine and woman-like you have to slender, elegant and dainty. Which a Clydesdale definitely is not. I am also half raised with Asian cultural preferences. The expectations of Asian women put on my mom was retroactively lightly applied in our household.
Once I started to accept what I could not change things started to come easier. Contrary to what the stars of White Chicks suggested, you can’t get your knees done. But you can change your mindset. Once arbitrary judgements are no longer important to you, you can embrace personal style. Like I said in a previous post, style happens when you throw out the rules. Stop dressing in things that “flatter” your figure, as that is arbitrary. Start dressing in things that make you happy.
Grey high neck sweater – H&M – $20 (get one like it here)
Hexagon necklace – Urban Outfitters – $10
Lizard geo tote – Henri Bendel – $350 (get the studded one here)
Outfit total: about $630
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