Growing up, I was told that I had certain features that should be highlighted, while others were best concealed. Example: accentuating the waist with belted dresses made me look ‘good’ and wearing skinny jeans highlighted thighs that were better tucked away under a voluminous skirt. These weren’t my thoughts to begin with, but were judgments from others and outside resources reminding me that when choosing my clothing, dressing for my ‘shape’ would yield the most favorable results, i.e. following standards or rules would ensure my body was enclosed in whatever was most ‘flattering,’
The concept of dressing for your shape was evident in shows I used to watch, whereby women would undergo makeovers to replace and replenish their ‘outdated’ or ‘unflattering’ clothes, and they’d emerge in their after shots reporting that they felt great or renewed in some way. Both the hosts of these shows and many magazine articles talk about hiding ‘unflattering’ parts, accentuating others, and considering the body shape (pear, apple or hourglass, for example) to make us feel confident, sexy and better about ourselves.
On the surface, one might assume that considering our body shape and dressing in accordance with rules allows for our body to look its best, and in turn, create a higher level of confidence. However, there are problems which arise with being told we need to dress for a particular body shape. Telling someone that they have a shape which requires them to accommodate their clothing choices goes at increasing confidence from the wrong angle, as it neglects them actually learning to enjoy the body that they have. That is the angle we need to be coming from, rather than shaming certain body parts in favour of glorifying others instead. Sure, not everyone may love every aspect of their body, but perhaps the most realistic and empowering notion is to say your body is amazing and you can wear whatever makes you feel good.
So no, the keys to confidence aren’t simply in creating an ‘illusion of curves’ or ‘accentuating’ one’s bust. These could perhaps be byproducts of what makes you feel good, most comfortable or sexy, but you could also feel most comfortable wearing a sack that goes against the ‘rules.
It’s simple, really; if wearing a certain style makes you feel great then that is what you should wear, independently of what is supposedly ‘appropriate’ for you body, which is bullshit.
A physical ‘transformation’ isn’t just about how you look. It’s about the feeling that can follow a shift when you feel more comfortable within yourself. I’m all for doing what you need to do to feel better about yourself, but I want to highlight that simply doing so within the contraints of rules isn’t the right way to go about it. We need to be promoting a culture of ‘your body can do amazing things, be kind to it and wear what makes you feel great.’
Different body types and shapes are an inherent part of human diversity and should be celebrated, but we don’t need to dress according to the damn fruit our body ‘resembles’; we need to wear whatever makes us feel f***ing fabulous.