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Recapturing a Childlike Wonder at How We Are Made

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Girl In Front of Mirror, Norman Rockwell, The Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge (detail).

My 6 year old daughter Sierra, comes to my wife and I and presents what she is wearing and how she looks. She wants more than approval, she is seeking validation; for the choices she has made, yes, and she is looking for more, she wants to know that she is ok. The external validation supports and gives shape to how she thinks about herself.

The Triumph of Individual Style is a book that speaks to us in this way. We are able to find ourselves in these pages; the works of art teach our eyes to see and believe that we are beautiful.

Feeling beautiful and being Ok
are often the same thing to a girl.

If we are brought up in a home where this kind of external affirmation is non-existent we become alienated from our own bodies, we become split, our sense of self is diminished. The Triumph of Individual Style reconnects body, soul and spirit. It speaks clearly and directly to us in the loving tones of a parent with a vision for our wholeness.

Starting with the Introduction, Carla Mathis and co-author Helen Villa Connor place before us Norman Rockwell’s, Girl In Front of Mirror. They speak of the beast of self-hatred, that troll at the foot of the bridge that leads to self-acceptance, to a lifetime of being beautiful. It accuses; “I hate your nose. Your eyes are too small. Why does your hair have to be so curly? And my God, your feet are HUGE!”. Mirrors are designed to be our friends. They are often our enemy.

Using artworks from all over the world they present feminine beauty in all her lovely forms. In chapter 2, for example, they show us how to identify our bodies natural silhouette.

Are you a RECTANGLE? rect
(Your shoulders are as wide as your hips/thighs, your waist is relatively the same width)

Mars and Venus United by Love, Paolo Veronese, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1910 (detail).

Mars and Venus United by Love, Paolo Veronese, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1910 (detail).

Are you an OVAL? oval

(Your shoulders are narrower or as wide as your hips/thighs, your waist is wider)

Girl in Red, Edgar Degas, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Chester

Girl in Red, Edgar Degas, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Chester

Are you a FIGURE-EIGHT? figure8

(Your shoulders are curved and as wide as your hips/thighs, your waist is narrower)

Parvati, standing, Islamic, Sculpture, South Indian, Chola Dynasty, ca. 900, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Cora Tinken Burnett Collection of Persian Miniatures and other Persian Art Objects, Bequest of Cora Tinken Burnett, 1956 (detail).

Parvati, standing, Islamic, Sculpture, South Indian, Chola Dynasty, ca. 900, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Cora Tinken Burnett Collection of Persian Miniatures and other Persian Art Objects, Bequest of Cora Tinken Burnett, 1956 (detail).

Are you an HOURGLASS? hourglass

(Your shoulders are square and as wide as your hips/thighs, your waist is narrower)

Madame X (Mme Gautreau), John Singer Sargent, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Arthur H. Hearn Fund, 1916 (detail).

Madame X (Mme Gautreau), John Singer Sargent, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Arthur H. Hearn Fund, 1916 (detail).

Are you a TRIANGLE? tri

(Your shoulders and waist are narrower than your hips/thighs)

Bather Arranging Her Hair, Auguste Renoir, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Chester Dale Collection (detail).

Bather Arranging Her Hair, Auguste Renoir, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Chester Dale Collection (detail).

Are you an INVERTED TRIANGLE? inv_tri

(Your shoulders are wider than your waist and hips/thighs)

Nude, Roger de La Fresnaye, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Chester Dale Collection (detail).

Nude, Roger de La Fresnaye, National Gallery of Art, Washington; Chester Dale Collection (detail).

In each of these beautiful paintings the artist has celebrated these women and their bodies AS THEY ARE. There are no value judgements! We look at these paintings and marvel at their beauty. The Triumph of Individual Style teaches us to look at our body’s with the eye of an artist.

You are a work of art.

To be painted by an artist is to see yourself in a new way. To see what she or he sees; an extraordinary creature with a form unlike any other!

This book elevates self-perception to an art form. It guides us step-by-step through every feature and facet of our bodies on a journey of self discovery, a journey of self-acceptance at a level that is at once new and as old as art itself. We have forgotten how to perceive ourselves aright. We have forgotten how beautiful we are.

work_of_ArtThis book will help you recapture a childlike wonder at how you are made. It will change how you approach getting dressed in the morning. It will transform what for many of us has been a painful reminder of our own failings (Putting on clothes and still not looking as good as we had hoped) into an opportunity to express what is unique about us, to affirm what we now know to be true; we are beautiful and worthy of recognition.

We know how to admire paintings. Let’s learn how to admire ourselves.

In each chapter you will learn how to make the connection between an element of art and your body (In the example above, you learn how to identify the SHAPE of your body’s natural silhouette). You then learn how that art element translates into selecting clothing and accessories that are in harmony and balance with your body. You become a living work of art.

art-to-body

There has never been a book like this one that not only helps us to see ourselves as works of art, but also teaches us step-by-step how to create a beautiful and artful composition every day.

As a father, I am in awe of my daughter. As a son, I am in awe of my mother. She has created something (So beautifully expressed with co-author Helen Villa Connor) that teaches us all how to see ourselves in a new way. I use this language with my daughter all the time. It has helped me see myself in a new light as I look in the mirror every morning and throughout the day. I look at myself with affirmation now. The negative, critical thoughts have been replaced with a new language, the language of art and affirmation.

Thank you mom for a new vision. It is now up to us to open our eyes and hearts to this new way of seeing ourselves and other people. Together, let’s make the world a more beautiful place.

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TIS_Webinar_SeriesWant to learn more? Join a live, interactive chapter-by-chapter walkthrough of “The Triumph of Individual Style” with co-author Carla Mathis being held July & August 2015. Participants can send photos for personalized advice related to each topic. Following the live sessions each webinar will be available as a recorded session. Sign up here…

Get the Book here

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Style Lessons From The World’s First Size 22 Supermodel

Bravo, Tess! Congrats on your cover for People Magazine last month, “The World’s First Size 22 Supermodel!” You are an inspiration. Finally, all of our bodies are being celebrated in print. Tess made her dream of being a model happen. What an encouragement for women the world over…of all sizes and shapes to go after our dreams…to embrace our beauty.

So, how does Tess do it? What tips can we pick-up to make our plus size and full figured bodies work for us at play, at work and on camera?

First, Tess intuitively chooses clothes that work for her Figure-eight silhouette.

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Tip 1: Discovering your Body’s Silhouette is the first step to creating looks that flatter your body from every angle.

Tess’s shoulders and hips are relatively the same width, while her waist is smaller, creating a classic figure-eight.

Let’s look at how Tess accentuates her small waist. She has a high hip with a shelf right below her waistline. She places her hands on that shelf, drawing attention to her small waist. Voila, a great pose for her and anyone with a figure-eight!

Tip 2: Tess takes advantage of her beautiful skin and balances her body’s width proportions with those deep wide necklines.

Her shoulders are proportionally wide for the width of her face. Showing all that skin focuses attention on her face and allows us to enjoy her gorgeous complexion.

Her long full hair balances her shoulders, and also balances her long torso.

Tip 3: Tess wears high heels to elongate her short legs relative to her long torso.

Her high heels draw a long line up her leg so we don’t notice that her legs are relatively short. She’s also showing skin below her ankle teasing our eye to travel quickly up from her feet to her beautiful face.

Ok, so what about the rest of us? How can we make ourselves look this good?

Let’s start with Tip 1: Discovering your Body’s Silhouette.

Are you a Rectangle?

rectangle

If so, don’t even think about highlighting your waist! Instead find a garment with a deep and dramatic neckline that highlights your beautiful upper chest…. Then have the garment drop tunic length and wear slightly narrower skirt or leggings. Choose sassy shoes, and no one will notice that your waist has gone into hiding!

Are you an Oval?

oval

You’re wider thorough the tummy and chest area but narrower through the thigh and hip. Highlight your shoulders with an interesting neckline or collar and have what you’re wearing on top slip right on by your not really there waist. Bring attention to your relatively narrow hip with a sash or scarf. Show off your curvy legs with a pencil skirt that peeks below that hip band, and va va voom— you’re looking gorgeous!

Are you a Triangle?

tiangle 

Your thighs are wider than your hip and shoulder. That pencil skirt is not for you, my dear. Worse, a pair of white jeans that shout, “Look down here at my behind and not at my face!”. Your deliciously sensual and curvy body is asking for a lighter color on top and a nice flared skirt (Gently flaring from your thighs) or a flared trouser. Flare is your friend. Leggings and pencil skirts—the enemy!

Are you an Inverted Triangle?

inverted_tri

Your shoulders and chest are wider than your hips. Now, you have the body that IS asking for leggings and pencil skirts! Accentuating your slim legs and feet is dreamy. Flared skirts on you “box” out your natural V silhouette. Draw attention to the slim end of your triangle. The eye will then dance back up to your face for balance.

Remember the great Diana Vreeland’s maxim, “The eye has to travel.” She ruled the fashion world as editor of Vogue for all those years for good reason.

 Alright, Tip 2: Proportion.

Example1No matter what your size, if you dress for your height and width proportions, you will look terrific. It is all about your face. Balancing the width and length of your head and face to the rest of your body is a secret used by all the top fashion stylists and photographers.

  • Is your torso long or short relative to your head and face?
  • Are your legs long or short relative to your head, face and body?
  • Is your face wide or narrow relative to your shoulders and hips?

For example, this beautiful woman on the right has picked a perfect dress for her body. She has wide shoulders and upper arms relative to the width of her face.

By opening the neckline to her shoulder, our eye rests on her face and then jumps down to her curvy leg revealed by the medium length slit. Brilliant. Do we care that she has a tummy?! Do we even notice, she’s gorgeous!

latifaQueen Latifah got it right! The lighter color draped blouse shows off her beautiful neckline as well as diminishes her tummy. The loose deeper-colored jacket slides right by her waist… We don’t care if she has one or not…. We only look at her beautiful smile and presence.

Discovering your body’s silhouette along with your width and length proportions are only two of the many features we analyze to reveal your unique VIDA Signature. Visual IDentity Analysis (VIDA) is a new way of looking at your body and your self. Seeing yourself in a new way and learning techniques to make who you are beautiful every day is what we do at The Style Core.

Tess, you inspire us! Let’s celebrate our beauty and make tomorrow the day we too become memorable, more ourselves, more at home in our own skin.

 

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Want more tips and tricks to help you look your best? Find options here.

 

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Living from the Center

Living from the center of who you are always leads to the most rewarding life. Locating the center, finding what’s essential about your identity, about what makes you special is not always easy. Very few of us are raised to cherish these discoveries. We all have them growing up; those moments when we connect with something in the created world, a sound, a fragrance, a way of putting things together that resonates down to our core. We need help capturing these moments, identifying and naming them as central to our existence. There is something about them that speaks to our reason for being, our calling, our destiny.

The Style Core was created to help you gather these discoveries, reconnect with past moments of “Aha!”, learn how to identify what makes you special and never let go.

Here’s a surprising exercise to help you touch your center.

Create a Pinterest board or pull together 10 images that you absolutely love from favorite magazines. Next, describe in descriptive phrases or several short sentences why you love each place or beautiful thing.

Spoiler Alert: It’ll be more meaningful if you gather your favorites together first, before reading on ;)

Surprise, you’ve just described yourself! That’s right. The same qualities that you love in your favorite places and things are qualities that you have as a person. Its easy to describe why we like our favorites, its harder to identify who we are, to describe our essential qualities and characteristics. We have so little practice. Identifying our favorites, we do this all the time.

Ready for another surprise? Your favorite places and things look like you. You are attracted to places and things that share the same design signatures as your body. The same line, shape, form, proportion, scale, color and texture. See VIDA Styling for a deeper explanation.

Erin’s favorites share the same inherent color palette as her hair, skin and eyes. She loves the cool blues and greens of her eyes, the sun-lit earth tones of her hair, the soft reds of her lips. Her descriptive phrases speak directly to who she is as a person.

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As Erin’s husband, I can attest to the accuracy. Even the phrase “mosaics” is so her. She is always pulling together colorful moments into a beautiful whole. This is who she is, what she does, how she lives. Erin’s Favorites Board is a reminder to her of the many ways she is special, to those of us who love her it helps us to see her more clearly.

Once you have your Favorites Board together, share it with your friends. Their affirmation will enrich your friendship and encourage you to share more of your self and your story. Then connect with us and have your body’s VIDA Signature analyzed.

Live from the center where you belong. Its where your friends want you to be. Its where life becomes more beautiful, more meaningful, more yours.

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Reflections of Self

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we have it not.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).

When you are ready to go out the door, and check the mirror for that last-moment look, you might say, “Wow, this is good.” If you can say this and mean it, you are one of a small percentage of women who likes her reflection. If, however, you give a sigh or a groan it’s important to know what prompted that sigh or groan. Is it your body? You might wonder why you were born the way you are, and would like to change things about your body. What would you change if you had a magic wand? What is your list? Whatever it’s, there are ways to dress in a way for you and your friends,and everyone you meet to say, “Wow, she’s beautiful!”

The form, shapes, proportions of your body are what make you distinctive and memorable. It’s critical to the health of your soul that you begin to honor your body and speak encouraging words about yourself. Rather than saying you have thunder thighs, or saddle bags, you might say you have a full womanly curve in your thigh that is asking for skirts that gracefully flow over the thigh and continue on out in the form of an A-line skirt or bell-bottom pants. As you begin to speak positive messages to yourself you begin to see possibility for your individual beauty and style.

It could be that you think your body is fine but you still don’t like your reflection. Trust that something is wrong with the picture in the mirror. Your clothes might be too bright or too dull. Your accessories too flashy, or you need to accessorize your outfit. Maybe you don’t know how to apply makeup, or you need a new hairdo. It could be that you simply want to make the most of how you look. The reality is: You don’t have to change your body, you probably need to change your clothing…. Or your makeup, or your hairstyle.

Diana’s story

Diana came to me having no idea how to dress her size fourteen, five foot eleven inch body. She had a large head for her short waisted, long legged body that looked even larger because of her short permed hair and old-fashioned owl-eyed glasses. She did not wear makeup, and felt hopeless in the beauty department. In her words, her mouth was too big, her eyes too tiny, her bust too small, and her hips too big. Not only that; she was too tall, and her legs were bowed! She was shy and unsure of her social skills so hid herself on the night shift of a large hospital.

After working together for the few months it took for her to believe she had a beautiful body it was as though a magic wand had been waved. She stopped perming her hair, and had grown it to shoulder length, bought new glasses, gone on a major shopping excursion, taken a trip to the tailor, and booked a session with a makeup artist who taught her ‘natural’ makeup techniques. Her self-esteem catapulted, heads of friends and strangers alike turned when she came into a room, and she had the confidence to pursue her hidden dream of becoming a graphic designer.

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Choices

What size mirror do you have at home? Do you have a full length one or a small mirror to use when putting on makeup? If you want to do what it takes to see and celebrate your beauty, get a full length mirror!

Whatever your body…. if you feel you can’t possibly be beautiful because you are too plain, too heavy, too thin, too hippy, too flat or some other “too,” know your perception is not true. You have three more choices:

  1. You can continue to see yourself as ‘less than’. In which case you can keep reading these blogs to explore the possibility you might be wrong.
  2. You can deny that one’s looks make a difference, in which case, keep on reading these blogs to discover that this statement is false. How one looks does make a difference, in both how others perceive you and how you feel about yourself.
  3. Learn to showcase your features as beautifully unique.

Whether you choose one, two, or three, we will start at the beginning in the upcoming blogs to answer three fundamental questions:

What is beauty? Why is beauty important?, and… How do I begin?

How do you begin? First learn to see the beauty of your body as it’s now. Every form and shape, shadow and contour has the potential for creative expression in clothes you choose to wear. You can train your eye to see your beauty potential regardless of your size and shape. Second, learn to choose clothes and accessories that highlight your personality, Third, develop skills to use makeup and choose hairstyles that enhance your features and relate to your clothes and lifestyle. A beautiful reflection in the mirror depends on the total picture.

Virginia

Overweight by 150 pounds, Virginia had no clothes that fit her softly curved oval- silhouetted body.

She so hated her reflection that she dreaded going into a fitting room. Mirrors were her enemy. The only clothes that fit over her tummy were huge through the shoulder and hip, making her look like a shapeless lump with a tiny head on top. Once she began to see her body as an artistic shape very much like a bouquet of large peonies, she began the radical process of changing her self-hating talk and thought patterns. She started practicing self-encouragement thinking, which allowed her to the stop being a victim of available clothing. She took control of the way she looked. After buying the tent shaped clothing that fit over her tummy, she would march down to the alternations department and have the tops re-cut through the shoulders and the skirts and trousers tapered below her thigh and tummy. She changed the jewel necklines to large scoop necklines in order to frame her full rounded face. She shortened long sleeves to three-quarter length and made vents at the bottom of the side seams of her tunic-length overtops to give room for her thighs. She chose colors that repeated her blue green eyes and chocolate-rose skin. Shoes were a challenge until she found a catalog that carried an extra-wide a simple flat in a smoky taupe that related to her smoky deep brown hair. A long, soft rectangular chiffon scarf and pearl earrings that related to the whites of her delicate almond-shaped eyes finished her creative ensemble. Taking control of the possibility for beauty, resulted in self-confidence and self-acceptance. Her weight might be important for her health, but it’s not for her beauty.

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Beauty, Nature, and You

“Every soul yearns for the Beautiful”
Beauty —John O’Donohue

Nature holds the key to Beauty. How do you feel when you come across some scene in nature or a magnificent-to-you flower? Whether grand in scale, or dainty in detail, beauty brings joy and a sense of wellbeing. There’s not one definition of beauty. Look at the thousands of different types of flowers: some are big, some small; some have frilly petals, others pointed ones; some have many petals, others few, yet, we don’t say one flower is more beautiful than another because it’s different. Some are fragrant, others merely beautiful to see. We don’t try to make a rose less a rose or an orchid less an orchid.

You can look at differences in women in the same way. Some of us are large-scale with large features; others have small-scale delicate ones. Some of us are curved and others straight. As there is beauty in every flower, there is potential for beauty in every body and every face.

 Start at the beginning

What distinctive body features do you feel keep you from being beautiful? What would you change if you could? Divide a paper into three columns and list what you would change.

 In the first column write down what you would like to change:

– Is it your shape? (Surely, God could not have intended your hips to be so big, so small; so rounded, or so flat!)

– Your hair… (Couldn’t it be straighter, or have some curl; be thicker, thinner?)

– Your eyes… (Couldn’t they be larger, smaller, not so slanted, or less ordinary?)

– Perhaps your body is crooked or your breasts too small, too big, too high, too low, too close together, too far apart.

– What about your freckles or the acne scars, the hair on your arms, the size of your hands, the turn up or down of your nose, your tummy, your thighs?

You might be thinking that there had to have been a cosmic mistake! Surely, you would be beautiful if some things on your body-list changed! The radical truth here is that there has not been a mistake. For whatever reason, no one taught you to see the beautiful truth of your body as it’s right now. You have not learned to dress and to choose hairstyles and makeup that showcase your unique expression and posibility of beauty.

 In the second column opposite each item you listed in column one, identify where your negative body attitude originated. Was it your brother, mother, father, aunt? How we think of ourselves is based on our life experience, and especially on comments of friends, relatives, and acquaintances—well meant or otherwise. An off hand comment like, “Too bad you have thighs like Aunt Velma,” gives a clear message that you are less than, and not quite good enough to beautiful. What were the comments you took into your heart? When did you start to feel dissatisfied with your body?

Perhaps it was not been safe to be beautiful, or some adult told you it was not important to be beautiful, or you compared yourself to some picture in a magazine, or a sibling or classmate teased you, (all in fun that was not fun to you). Each of us has a story to tell around this second column.

Your challenge is to replace the negative attitudes about your body with positive ones.

Column three. Leave this column blank until you discover a positive attitude replacement.

[Illustrate the following example ]

Column 1: overlarge derriere

Column 2: older brother teased me about this

Column 3: Sensuous, feminine derriere that is sassy like a Rodin beauty. I can wear clothes to show it off: Form-fitting dress with interesting detail at the back, or a swinging skirt that sways when I walk, and sassy high heels.

Somewhere along the way to complete attitude adjustment, physically get rid of your old negative ones. On a slip of paper, copy each negative attitude you listed in column one. Place the slips in a box; close the lid tightly, and put the box on a shelf you rarely use, never be opened again—we hope. You can physically do this exercise, or imagine yourself doing it. Once you put all those slips of paper in your box, you can choose to bury the box in the yard, throw it in the garbage, or burn it. Your goal is to one-by-one get rid of the first column attitudes and start living with third column positive, soul-nourishing messages about you.

Next, on another sheet of paper make a list of what you like about your body and your personality. Do you like your eyes, your smile, your ankles, your shoulders, or your waist? Remember when someone complimented you about some aspect of your personality. Are you friendly, helpful, kind? Do your eyes sparkle? Do you have a quick smile? As you start focusing on these aspects of you it will become easier to see the gift of each of the items you listed in column one of the first sheet.

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Whispers of the Soul

Why is it harder to create a list of what we like about ourselves than what we don’t? In our soul, each of us yearns to be special—and beautiful. At some point as children we knew we were. Why is it, then, that most of us as grown-ups don’t believe it?

My Story

I knew I was beautiful until I was nine when the first whisper of dissatisfaction with myself crept into my awareness. One particular outfit stands out in my memory. I was young enough to have time to ponder my reflection in the full-length mirror behind my closet door. Dripping wet from the bath, barefoot, with slicked-back hair, I would step into the brand new back-to-school pale pink and white tiny-striped dress with its soft white collar that touched the edge of my shoulder. I would smell the brand new smells that only a new dress can have, and sigh in wonder at the reflection that happened to be me. Throughout the day, holding pretty me in my memory, I would count the days to the time I could wear my dress, knowing that I was just right.

Imagine how disappointed I was when on the long-awaited day—hair dried with curls brushed into a shoulder length halo around my face, bright white new shoes and socks—the reflection in the mirror was not as pretty as I had remembered. I was puzzled. What was the difference? Where did the pretty reflection go? The dress was the same, but something was different. I couldn’t figure out why. There must be something wrong with me. I became aware of myself in a self-conscious rather than self-accepting way. At that age I had no qualms about my body, and yet I began to suspect that I was not a pretty little girl after all.

Reflecting on that pivotal memory years later it came to me that the dress was lovely for me but that the accessories and hair style competed for attention, thereby spoiling the overall effect. My shoulder-length curly hair visually got in the way of the large dress collar—better to have pulled my hair back into a ponytail or pigtail. And the new-white shoes and socks were much too bright compared to the soft white in the dress. Their brightness held one’s attention making it difficult to look up to my face and enjoy the dress. It would have been better if I had chosen to wear soft pink socks, and shoes the brown color of my hair. The dress fit and style were appropriate for my schoolgirl self, but the choice of hairstyle and shoes were out of balance with both the dress and my sweet, rather shy personality.

When did you forget your specialness? When did life change your perceptions? Often our grown-up eyes can’t see the beauty even if others tell us so. It’s as though that deep place in our heart of hearts—the place that knows our gift of being—has a locked door that is waiting to be opened. What happened between your child-knowing joy in being beautiful and the critical thoughts you now have about yourself? It is possible to rediscover the special place in your heart that knows you are beautiful.

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Locked in a Lie

There might be perfectly reasonable explanations for why you would like to change things about your body, for why you haven’t yet embraced who you are. Simple reasons that often avoid detection.

Stores don’t carry clothes that fit you.

Clothing manufacturers design and cut clothing based on specific proportions and dimensions. If your body proportions are different than the fit model of the manufacturer, the clothes you try on and buy won’t fit. The sleeves will be too short if your arms are longer than the fit model, or too long if your arms are any shorter. If your waist is wider or smaller … if your hips are wider or more narrow … if your bosom is larger or smaller than the fit model, the list goes on. Typically, we either make do with what is too big or go through life being squeezed into garments like a sausage. Its NOT YOU, its not your body that has a problem…it’s the manufacturer.

The clothing industry shares responsibility for our warped attitudes about ourselves. To stay in business, clothing companies must make a profit, fair enough. Straight seams cost less to cut and sew than curved ones. Almost all affordable clothing is manufactured with straight seams, yet women generally have curved bodies. When we try to put our bodies into these straight-cut clothes and we don’t fit, we think there is something wrong with us. We look at the stick-straight models —the ones whose bones show and look like tall girl-children­—the ones who look good in those straight-seamed clothes—and we wish we didn’t have our curves. Ouch. We compare ourselves to those models and think there must be something wrong with our curves, our bodies, ourselves. The truth, there is nothing wrong with who you are or how you’re made; there is something wrong with how the clothes are made.

Connie

Finding ready-made clothes was a seemingly impossible task for Connie. She was six feet tall and small boned, with long arms, long legs, long neck, tiny head, and delicate features. Women’s clothes are not manufactured for her body proportions. She wanted feminine clothes to wear under her working uniform of white doctor’s coats—not fussy feminine clothes, just clothes with some grace. The only garments she could find to wear were men’s jeans and shirts, which were not feminine; they were simply long enough. She was able to find tops and some sweaters, but she wanted to have trousers and skirts cut for the way she moved. Her long stride called for swinging skirts in fluid fabrics that swirled around her calves. Her relaxed posture asked for softly tailored, loose-fitting jackets or cardigans. Not having feminine clothing had been such a problem all her life that as she approached her 50th birthday she was still self-conscious when meeting strangers.

When she came to see me she felt trapped. Oh, and the truth will set you free. It didn’t take long however for Connie to realize that her body was asking for skirts, trousers and long sleeved jackets tailored to her proportions, not a fit model who didn’t look like her, wasn’t her, never could be her. She is unique, we all are. Because of her narrow waist and fuller thigh, she looked best in shorter jackets that had fit through the waist. We took her boxy blazers to an alterations person who trimmed the bottom to three inches below her waist; made the sleeves longer with the cut fabric and created curves in the side seams to make the overall appearance more feminine. After her first fitting the change in her countenance was remarkable. She was becoming other rather than self conscious.