body image, body love, pregnancy, privacy, Tess Holiday

Do I Look Fat In This Dress?

This morning, my dress and I had a prolonged, ugly battle. It wanted to be worn. And I wanted to wear it. But did I look too fat? Would people think that I was pregnant (I’m not) and gossip behind my back? Would I feel self-conscious all day?

And the dress yelled, and cajoled and told me to get over myself already.

And to live my life.

“I’m growing dusty,” she said to me. “Stop thinking about tomorrow. You’ve been saying you’ll wear me when you lose those 15 pounds for like, let’s see, 4 years. Get over it sister.”

And so I finally listened. And just wore the damn dress.

And I’ve been thinking about that dress all day. Because why, simply why, should I stand in my closet in the morning and wonder which outfit to wear? Why should I worry so much if I’m going to look fat in this or chubby in that; if I’m going to look pregnant with that stomach I have left over from six glorious babies? The stomach that just…does…not…want…to…say…goodbye.

And these thoughts, which have been brewing for a long time, came to a head recently. Someone posted something on Facebook and ended up being criticized for the way she dresses. And another friend posted on her Facebook page that she was asked today if she’s expecting twins. 

And I started trying to figure out why that dress has been sitting in my closet for so long. What am I scared of? I’m scared of people noticing that I’m not as thin as I am in my head; that life and children and age have gotten in the way of my skinny self. I’m even more scared, I believe, of people assuming that I’m pregnant. 

But actually, I don’t care all that much if they think that I’m pregnant. It’s when they ASK if I am that I want to scream.

Because really, what business is it of anyone’s what I look like and what business is it of theirs if I’m pregnant, not pregnant, overweight, trying to lose weight or somewhere in between?

Obviously, it goes without saying that we all want to be healthy. Being extremely overweight is not good for the body or the soul and I’m not advocating for obesity. What I am advocating for, however, is an ability for us, as women (and I’m sure some men feel a degree of this as well), to be able to embrace our forms in whatever shape they are in.

Without other people commenting on them, judging them or making suggestions.

I follow a few plus-size models on Facebook and I love their ability to embrace their forms as they are. And yes, while some plus-size models are actually only size 10 or 12 (isn’t that ridiculous that it’s considered plus?) there are some really quite large models out there who simply appear to love their form. 

Our bodies are glorious. Every pregnant person should have the ability to enjoy every minute without judgment. And so should every other woman who isn’t pregnant, might be pregnant, might be trying to get pregnant, might have recently miscarried, might be carrying extra weight for years after a birth, might be taking meds that prevent weight loss, might be this and might be that.


A number of years ago I went to buy a bathing suit at someone’s house. And after I tried on the suit, she said “How do you like it.” And I said, “It’s great. It fits perfectly.”

And she laughed. She said to me, “You’re the first person who has ever tried on one of the suits without saying, “Well, I plan to be 10 pounds lighter by the summer so maybe I’ll get a smaller size.” Or, “Well, it fits now but I’m hoping it won’t when I need to wear it.”

And it struck me then, as it does now, that so few of us are ever happy with where we are with our weight.

Right now.

That’s not to say that we can’t have goals. I can certainly keep trying to lose this never-ending, “I don’t want to leave” 15 pounds. And I can work at it and hope that I’ll fit into my clothes in a different way when I do. But for today, I want to be able to embrace the me that is here, now, 15 pounds and all. And just enjoy her body and her being.

I read an article not long ago on CNN about a woman who was dying of cancer. And when asked by the interviewer, Kerry Egan, about the things that she regretted from her life, she said,

“I’d never admit it to my husband and kids, but more than anything else, it’s my own body I’ll miss most of all. This body that danced and ate and swam and had sex and made babies. It’s amazing to think about it. This body actually made my children. It carried me through this world. And I’m going to have to leave it. I don’t have a choice. And to think I spent all those years criticizing how it looked and never noticing how good it felt — until now when it never feels good.”

I’ve seen what death looks like and what it means to have your body betray you. And to betray our bodies by treating them poorly, thinking poorly of them and acting poorly towards them – when they give us so much – is truly a tragedy.

And so, today, I enjoyed my dress. And I’m going to try to continue enjoying my clothes and the way that I look in them.

It won’t work every day. I guarantee that. And my clothes may have to continue putting up a fight with me and reminding me of what is important – and what isn’t.

And I will keep reminding myself. One cute dress at a time.

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