JKG | jkgphotography.co.uk
Location: Balham, London
For today's post I wanted to talk about why dressing well makes me feel so powerful. It is something I've wanted to share with you all for a while, because the way I dress and the outfits I put together is so SO important to my identity. It plays a part in my confidence, my personality and generally just who I am as a person.
I have loved fashion for as long as I can remember. Not the Vogue inspired outfits or magazine advertorials, but simply just having the creative
freedom to put items together and wear them.
Throughout my life, my style has often changed and I'll be the first to admit, that I have often tried to dress a certain way so that I could please others. My mental health in the past has also determined how I dress, which I'll explain a little more later. However, in 2017 I went back and developed my core style which is colour, prints and texture. Getting dressed for me is about fun, feeling good and also feeling powerful.
Firstly, I wanted to talk about size, which is ironic because I'm really trying to minimise the importance of size in my life - post coming on that soon lol.
Anyway. As I've grown and learned about the world, I've also discovered society's obsession with size. It became apparent from a very young age that being big wasn't ok. If you were big, you were to hide. You were to be hidden from yourself and from the world. You were to become invisible.
This ideal was ingrained into me and something I subconsciously always felt. Fortunately for me though, no matter how hard I tried to shrink myself, no matter how hard I tried to fit in - I was obviously always meant to stand out.
Although I knew this, it wasn't always easy. I loved fashion and it became a way to express myself, maybe sometimes a way to show the world who I wanted to be, instead of the scared little girl I was at the time. But when you grow up in a world that teaches you 'you can't wear that' if you're not a size 8, it reeks havoc on your confidence and in turn,
causes a bitterness to erupt inside of you.
"I'll wear this when I'm skinnier"
"THAT top will be what I wear in my after photo on Instagram"
"I wish I was her size so I could wear that"
Being ashamed of my size, pushed me towards wearing clothes that were too small, or only wearing something if it was a certain material, in a size 14 that I could get into. I restricted every part of me, in the hopes I would become smaller and be able to dress the way I always wanted
- which is how I dress now.
I believed being thin would be the answer to all my prayers, and happiness, style, success and good relationships were all waiting for me at the end of my weight loss rainbow.
But no matter how much weight I lost it was never enough.
I was never enough.
I suppose I should also talk about another reason I desperately wanted to lose weight. It was because of fashion itself. Growing up, plus size fashion just wasn't a thing. Of course there was Evans but who the fuck wanted to shop there, honestly.
I already had a complex that I was too big and then having to shop in a random shop that my friends didn't need to shop in just wasn't okay. As a teen I was a 14/16 but I didn't understand the concept of size, shapes or the fact that some clothes stores just come up small, or don't actually fit ANYONE with hips and thighs.
Plus size fashion was scarce and when available, it was bloody awful.
Again, it plays into the narrative that big people should stay inside and wear bin bags. Why would they want to wear clothes? Society and the fashion industry literally tell us 'sorry but you're not even worthy of getting dressed in the morning so in order to actually wear nice clothes, please lose weight in whatever way you can because being thin is part of dressing well so just get over it'.
When I look back now, the subliminal messages are bloody horrendous, and what's even worse, is that these fatphobic messages are still very much alive today.
As I mentioned earlier, I also want to touch upon how my mental health has played a part in how I dress. Its a theory I have had for a while, as I look back at photos of myself when I had just started therapy.
I don't know what the fuck happened lol.. but the moment I began to open up about my trauma, is the moment I started to live in leggings, big t-shirts and hoodies. It was as if I was trying to cover up my vulnerability. I wanted to become invisible and hidden. I wanted to blend into the concrete walls and the pavements. It was as though I had lost myself and it manifested outwards in so many ways - one of them being fashion.
I actually knew it was happening, but once I became at peace with my trauma, I became at peace with looking a bit shit for a while lol. I just wanted to get well and I honestly didn't care about anything else.
So as you can see. My experiences with fashion and style haven't been that positive. For me, dressing is so intwined with how I feel about who I am as a person, so over the years my style really has been all over the place.
That brings us up to now. Its the start of 2018 and as I type this, a giant ASOS order has just been delivered full of new bits and bobs to shoot and style. I guess its pretty obvious that I now adore dressing lol. It has become my staple for content across my blog and Instagram, and I share as many outfits as I physically can with my audience.
The love I have for looking good has developed due to a variety of reasons. Obviously a huge shift in plus size fashion (there is still ALOT of work to do though) and secondly, I have become comfortable with who I am. Liking what you see in the mirror 90% of the time, makes getting dressed just a whole lot easier. I also now value myself so I wear things that actually fit and if I need to size up, I don't have a breakdown - like I used to do.
However the most important change towards dressing well, was becoming empowered. An unexpected part of my ED and childhood trauma treatment, was this sudden energy inside of me that felt powerful. And it was something I had never felt before. Ditching diet culture, celebrating my size, discovering my identity, and just generally going on a spiritual journey (which I am still on) to find who I am, honestly made me feel like YES BITCH I CAN DO ANYTHING. This is where my love for the saying 'empowered women, empower women', came from. I had never heard it before until my therapist said it to me in a session.
This new wellness I had inside of me began to manifest outwardly too. I wanted to match the outside with the in and that is where dressing well came into play. I wanted to be seen because I had nothing to be ashamed of. I wanted to like my outfits because I learned I was worthy enough to wear nice clothes. I wanted to walk down the street and not give a fuck about people looking, because I was okay with being 'a fat girl who dresses well'. When the world wants you to be invisible, it is radical to be unapologetic. That alone makes me feel powerful.
Fat girls aren't supposed to look good, but I do. And every damn day I get dressed and feel bad ass, I am sticking my two fingers up to society and
changing the narrative of what is appropriate clothing for
someone of my size.
Appropriate clothing is whatever the hell I want it to be.