A Unique Resource for Treating Eating Disorders and Body Dissatisfaction
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by Dr. Deah on Aug.27, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

My niece is getting married.  She is the bride.  Her dress is important. Mine?  Not so much.  And yet I find myself in my own personal episode of, “What Not to Wear!”  There is an aura of importance surrounding my attire for this wedding.  After all, I am the one in the family that is strident about self-acceptance.  I am the one that writes a blog about redefining beauty and challenging societal standards of perfection.  I am the member of the family who is the co-author of a book about size acceptance and women calling a truce in their battles against their bodies.

My niece is getting married. She is the bride.  I will be scrutinized. This is not narcissistic, grandiose, or ego maniacal. This is fact.

The last time I had to dress up for an important family event was six years ago for my son’s bar mitzvah.  (My blog post, The Other Woman, discusses that in all of my “Jewish Mother’s Glory.”

When I was shopping for that dress, I was a “nouveau riche” size 4.  I had never been that thin…and of course I was “just visiting.”  I was so inexperienced in shopping as a thin person, that I accepted Sax Fifth Avenue’s offer of assistance from a Personal Shopper.

“I’m sorry I’m such a challenge.  It’s my butt and these thighs; they must make your job so much more difficult.” 

Did I mention I was a size 4?  And there I was apologizing to my personal shopper for not being a size 2.

Today, six years later, the “mother of the bar mitzvah boy suit” that I purchased won’t get past my shoulders.  And I no longer have a personal shopper.  Flying solo, I dared to go where all too many women before me have dared to go…into the belly of the beast…charge card in hand.

But I was not shopping completely alone.

I entered the store with the belief that I deserved to find a dress that made me feel good.  I shopped with a self-confidence that hugged my shoulders with an attitude of, “I can look just fine…beautiful even…at this size.”  Most importantly, I was accompanied by my newest companion, ME.

I was NOT shopping with the eyes and opinions of my family or the media.  I was clad in the bullet proof vest of MY eyes and MY opinion.   I was draped in a comforting serape of conviction that how I looked and what I chose to wear was the only opinion that held any weight!!

I began looking around the store.  I focused on fabrics and colors that I found pleasing. Then I included the elements of comfort and a dash of pizzazz.  I was almost enjoying myself!  I wasn’t obsessing over what size I was or whether my arms, thighs or butt would be offensive to someone.  In a way, that opened up a wider range of possibilities.

A sales woman approached and I waited for my usual wave of apologetic embarrassment to wash over me.  It didn’t!

“That’s a gorgeous dress,” I said pointing towards the rack of Elie Tahari designs.  “Expensive but beautiful!”

“This dress is a classic. You’ll be able to wear it forever!”

I smiled when I thought of the size 4 bar mitzvah suit gathering dust in my closet. The personal shopper had told me the same thing and I hadn’t been convinced.  After all, a part of me knew I was “just visiting” the land of size 4.

But this time I had a feeling she was absolutely correct!  After years of working personally and professionally on size acceptance, my years of yoyo dieting and shape shifting had finally come to an end!

“What size are you,” she asked flipping through the hangers?

I smiled, and said, “I’m a perfect size ME!” 


12 comments for this entry:
  1. Dr. Deah

    After thoughts…This is really a blog post that puts an entirely new spin on the phrase, “vanity sizing!” Which I always called, “vanity sigh-zing!”

    I also want to say that it is important for women and men to continue to be activists and apply pressure on clothing companies and fashion designers to create equally beautiful and accessible clothing for women of ALL Sizes!

  2. Teresa

    I love this! It reminds me of a time before I hated shopping, before buying new clothes was a dreaded chore. When I was a very little girl, I was in a fashion show, a fund raiser with my sister and my mother. I felt beautiful, I had a pretty new dress, shiny patent leather shoes. My hair was combed and braided with ribbons. My mother wore pretty lipstick; she and my sister had new dresses too and they were smiling, because we were having fun. We felt pretty. People smiled at us and clapped because new clothes are fun. It never occurred to me that one of us wasn’t perfect, that we weren’t absolutely beautiful. This was before I was made to understand that clothes weren’t about fun and feeling pretty–they were about striving to look like Madison Avenue’s definition of body perfection. This was before I allowed myself to be brainwashed into thinking that beauty is only skin deep.

  3. Susan Koppelman

    Why don’t you tell us where you were shopping, if you were able to find and buy a dress you loved, what size you are and what that size means, and show us a picture of you in the dress?

  4. Lisa

    Deah- I will ALWAYS love your stories and your special flair with the written word. I’m impressed with what you are doing and where you are going AND your conviction to make a difference and to take us with you…where do I get a ticket? Love you!

  5. vesta44

    When my son got married 5 years ago, I looked and looked and looked for something suitable for me to wear to his wedding (as the mother of the groom, I thought I needed a dress that spoke to that “image”). Yeah, nothing in my size, nothing even close to my size, nothing even in the fancy pantsuits for mothers of the groom (not that a pantsuit set would have worked anyway, ever tried to find one that has 3X pants and 5X top?).
    Good thing I can sew. I found a pattern I liked, the perfect material for the top, hunted around for the material for the pants, and I made my own pantsuit for my son’s wedding. I got a lot of compliments on it and questions about where I bought it (and lots of astonishment when told I made it myself). When I got married 3 months later, that’s what I wore for my wedding (saved me the trouble of having to hunt for a dress, which I knew I wasn’t going to find in my size).

  6. Dr. Deah

    Lisa, thank you so much for your feedback! And yes tickets are on me! :D

  7. Dr. Deah

    Susan, I try not to use my blog as inadvertent advertising, but I did include the link to the store and the dress in the blog. Click on Elie Tahari and it will lead you to…Bloomingdales! What can I say? You can’t take all of the New Yawk out of the gal! ;-) RE: a photo..I’m sure there will be wedding photos galore! I’ll post one when I get them! Thanks so much for taking the time to read Tasty Morsels, as always your comments are always so enjoyable!

  8. Dr. Deah

    Thank you Teresa! As I said, it’s time for a new definition of vanity sizing…the size of me! And each me size is perfect and different!

  9. Susie Kline

    I love that–perfect size me! There are times when I shop and I feel great. Others when I feel less great. I remember being freed from the “how” of how I was supposed to dress and look as a fat woman after reading a magazine featuring a fashion shoot with Camyrn Mannheim. I marched into the store and thought I looked great in everything. I need to do that again!

  10. Dr. Deah

    Vesta, what kind of selection exist in patterns for plus sizes? Is their the same discrimination?

  11. Dr. Deah

    YES!!! It’s amazing how helpful it is to have even one role model! And I’m sure you did look great in everything!
    Thanks so much for supporting this blog and sharing your experience.

  12. Amy

    This blog created such a feeling of liberation, liken it to the bra burning in the 70′s when women were shouting from the rooftops, I am a woman and proud of that fact, so there!!! Media and realities shows of this decade has made us go back into our closets to cry about our size, so this voice reminds us to be proud of ourselves, women and men, liberation is for us to embrace and enforce, we are all allowed to be the Perfect Size Me, so there!!! Thank you, Dr. Deah.

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