Body Image

So last week I accidentally hit ‘publish’ on a post that I was nervous about. It’s the one that follows, and it was very hard for me to write and was mortifying when I hit the wrong button before I was ready to share. Gah! as they say – so typical of something I would do.

In a fit of embarrassed panic, I unpublished it, but it ended up showing up in readers, and then I got several amazing emails and comments from people who shared their own stories and were so supportive — I was surprised and overwhelmed in a good way. Since it’s already been out there in the interwebs albeit accidentally, I’m going to go for it and publish it officially (with illustrations! To break up the endless text!). I’m going to ramble a bit so brace yourself – I’ve left the original post largely intact but did add a few bits to make things a little less brain-dumpy.

The reason I haven’t sewn for myself regularly is because I have some severe body image issues. I didn’t want to have to measure my body, to take pictures of myself and post them here (I mean, how un-fun would it be NOT to see the self-made garments worn?).

OK, not an earth-shattering confession, I realize, and I’ve already admitted to it previously. Quite frankly it would probably be more worrisome and off-putting if I was eager to post a gazillion pictures of myself. The fact of the matter is that I kept thinking I might lose some weight before I launched into sharing adult-sized clothes. Vain and ridiculous, I know.

I blame most of my body dysmorphia on being from Los Angeles, where looks are placed at an unhealthy level of importance. But the other day something happened that made me re-examine this hang-up of mine. K was getting dressed in the morning and she refused to wear one of the dresses I made. “It makes me look fat,” she said, “I’m fat”. My heart stopped.


Suddenly I was twelve again, in a bathroom stall in middle school. I was about to flush the toilet, when I heard my name and stood stock still with my hand poised on the handle.

Girl 1: “Did you see Sanae?”
Girl 2: “Yeah, what about her?”
Girl 1: “Have you noticed that she’s getting fat?”
Girl 2: “Totally. Her legs are getting so big.”

Then they laughed and left the bathroom.  I’m pretty sure they knew I was in that stall. I wasn’t certain who the girls were, but I was in a special program at the school for “advanced” students and teasing came with the territory. I believe that middle school is a minefield of awkwardness and uncertainty and maybe even cruelty for most kids, but until that moment I had never thought about my weight and it changed the way I saw myself completely. My self-esteem plummeted.

What strikes me as especially heartbreaking about that incident is that I wasn’t fat at all. When I see pictures of my twelve-year-old self, I see a normal, healthy-looking little girl. But that conversation planted a seed, and ultimately it grew into a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believed fiercely and uncompromisingly that I was fat and therefore not good enough.

I was somewhat heavy throughout high school and college, making myself look even bigger with ginormous t-shirts day in and day out. The irony was that I adored clothes and secretly thought that I had a keen eye for fashion. I had a particularly stylish and slim friend in high school who often invited me to go shopping with her (I think she was trying to get me to wear something other than t-shirts), and she was cutting-edge for the times and liked to go to thrift stores for one-of-a-kind outfits when everyone else was wearing Benetton rugby shirts and Guess jeans. I rarely bought anything because I was too self-conscious about my body to try on the clothes, but I admired her ability to mix and match pieces to create her own distinct look. She was able to rock overalls and make them look hip. I thought to myself that one day, one day, I will be like her and have my very own style.

In my twenties, I lived in Japan for a few years where I was considered enormous, and this did nothing to alleviate my body image issues. The Japanese can be surprisingly blunt in some ways and I couldn’t believe the number of times people told me I needed to lose weight. One time, as an activity, a friend took me to a bridal shop. Did you know that in Japan women often rent wedding dresses? The brides usually change outfits several times and that can get pricey, so bridal rental shops are quite common. I kind of think it’s a brilliant idea. Anyway, I didn’t want to be rude so I agreed to put on the astoundingly frou frou dresses ‘just for fun’. “Oh!” my friend exclaimed, dismayed. The largest size wouldn’t fit me.

Guess what size that corresponded to in the US? 10.

So there I am, looking like a giant neon pink cupcake (the bridal dresses also come in all sorts of colors) with the zipper half-done, cameras snapping all over the place. It was epic.

Fast forward many years and several thousand unsuccessful diets and pregnancy. When K was just a wee baby, we lived on the side of a hill that I walked up and down every day, hauling K in an Ergo baby carrier. Without even trying, the daily uphill walk combined with nursing resulted in massive weight loss. I fluctuated between a size 4 and 6, and I’d never been that thin. And yet, I still thought I was heavy.

We don’t live on the side of a hill anymore, and the weight has crept back up. At an intellectual level, I know that I’m not big. Sure, I could stand to lose 10 or so pounds, but I know that with the right-fitting clothes, I could look slender, even (OK, that might be a stretch). But the old body image problem is still very much a part of me, and when K said she looked fat I knew that I had to get over myself. Now. That I needed to be proud of the way I am — just as I am — so that she too will learn to be self-confident. To be healthy and strong and beautiful regardless of size. I can’t preach what I don’t practice. It doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t strive to be healthier, more fit, etc. etc. But if I don’t show her what self-acceptance looks like as a girl, a woman, a human being, how can I expect her to learn it? Soon I won’t be her main role-model and she will turn exclusively to peers. Being a girl is hard. Sorry boys, I might be biased, but I speak from experience. In this society with the blitz of photoshopped and sexualized images of mixed messages, no wonder a six-year-old is worrying about her appearance. I may not be able to have an impact on how she views herself in the future, but I can plant the right seeds now and hope for the best.

So, all this to say that I’ve done it! I’ve started making clothes for myself and I’m going to learn how to accept the way I look. I think painstakingly stitching garments for myself will help me understand and embrace my body in ways that buying clothes never has. I haven’t told you that I stopped buying clothing for myself since I started sewing regularly for K, have I? It’s been almost 10 months. I graduated from my oversized t-shirt phase ages ago, and it should come as no surprise that I’m a bit of a clothes horse. I used to buy clothes to make me feel better about myself, but it would usually have the opposite effect. It wasn’t a conscious decision to stop buying clothes, but it turned out that way and I noticed that it’s made me a lot happier.

All those years ago when I wanted to have my own sense of style, to be unapologetically me — I’m ready to literally start creating it. There will probably be some stumbling and some heinously fugly style faux pas along the way, but hey, it’s a start. And as my latest celebrity crush Malcolm Gladwell says, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” (Seriously, I am obsessed with MG – have watched every available YouTube video and interview out there this last week. Even the ones that have only 100 views. That man knows how to tell a story, which in my eyes make him brilliantly handsome).

I would be astonished if anyone is still reading this. But this year is all about trying things that feel right for me, and writing about this felt right. So thank you if you’ve made it this far. And now it’s time for me to go sew some more. I just might have something to share tomorrow…

65 thoughts on “Body Image

  1. oh sanae, thank you for such an honest post. your daughter is very lucky to have such a smart and reflective mother, and you are lucky to have her to prompt you when you need it! fashion and body image are such a minefields but sewing for yourself absolutely helps to develop your unique style (even though taking your measurements is not fun- my chest often doesn’t rate on a pattern and my waist is about 4 sizes bigger as the result of my babies) and i’m really looking forward to seeing what you make for yourself.

    1. The clothes you make for yourself are an inspiration to me, so it’s so heartening to know that I’ll finally be able to make clothes that fit my body (at least in time) AND develop my unique style. Thank you Cate!

  2. I totally understand and sympathise (I wrote a somewhat related post here: ) I’m in my 40s now and just learning the real importance of loving oneself — in a balanced way of course — and how that in fact helps one to be more loving and merciful with others. I am so much more careful of what I say about myself (and others) now that I have kids — they are listening and learning! (I am reminded of another somewhat related post: ). They need to grow up knowing they are perfect just as they are, as are you — God does not make junk!

    1. Jan! These posts are so, so great and very related! Kids are definitely learning and listening. There’s a quote posted in K’s school staff room that goes something like “don’t worry that your children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you”. I always stare at it while making copies when I’m volunteering and chew on that thought…

  3. Body image is such a hard thing- I am also a mother of a little girl and I too am working every day to be more confident and ok with who I am, and what I look like. Thank you for sharing this, and I look forward to seeing the beautiful things you make yourself!

    1. The motherhood thing is definitely a kick in the pants, isn’t it? If it weren’t for K’s comment, I probably would wallow in my body-obsessed self-pity party forever!

  4. This is an amazing post. I have a 3 year old daughter, and love that she is blissfully unaware (at least I think she still is…never know how deep these messages go) of body image, but I know it’s coming. Our mothers are so integral in how we perceive ourselves, and we all can build up more self-confidence. Looking forward to seeing your personal style reflected through your clothing.

    1. Hi Jams! The image distorting messages are pretty insidious, and I too wonder at what age kids start to internalize them. I don’t think K truly meant it when she made the statement but I’m sure she’s picked up my attitude toward my body. Mothers have a HUGE influence…

  5. I know how vulnerable you must have felt posting this- thank you for being brave and sharing your thoughts and feelings about this! It’s so important as a mama to take a good long hard look at what has been passed down to us in our culture and to try and offer our children better and healthier alternatives to negative way girls and women are made to see their bodies and themselves. i don’t have a daughter but i have 2 sons that i also want to be compassionate and caring- there are so many things that boys have to overcome as well- yes, it’s OK to cry and show weakness and to be yourself and love others for being themselves. Anyway, THANK YOU! I’m new to your blog and I really appreciate the inspiration you are sharing.

    1. So true about expectations for boys, Gita. The unrealistic and in many ways unreasonable expectations, that’s what trips us all up, it seems.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing something so private and in a way painful for yourself, it is a struggle I bet. I have never been worried about weight, I have been the other way, always was very skinny and kids at school would give me nicknames for that, I guess you are never never really never good enough for people. Once I had my kids I did gain some weight and a bit more but don’t stress about it either, who cares what people says about you, the only people that matter to me are my husband whose been so good to me and since I met him he inyected me lots of self confidence that led to permanent happiness about yourself. I have a daughter too and I want her to be happy with herself and never let anybody tell her different. I sew more for the kids because is easier and quicker and of course cheaper because you use less material, but I have made lots of stuff for myself that need to share with you all. It was good that you shared this amazing story with us and I’m pretty sure we will see amazing outfits made by you for yourself in the near future! You are pretty and an amazing mama to your daughter, life is short and we should enjoy everyday as the last. I have a good story about how by a miracle I’m writting this lines to you right now and how I survived a horrible civil war. Soon maybe I get inspired about writting and sharing something too. Please sew something for you and share it!!! Have a great week suns shinning here in Canada today maybe summer is here! lots of hugs to you.

    1. Oh Patty, it sounds like you’ve gone through astounding trials and come out victorious, by all counts! And kudos to you for valuing yourself and not paying attention to others’ opinions!

  7. Thank you for sharing this, Sanae. I too suffer from body dysmorphia and when I was about 12, not only did someone say I had big legs, but they said it to my face. I was mortified. Since then I stopped wearing shorts, skirts or dresses unless it was a really important occasion and even then I had to wear tights or boots. Hubby and family has been telling me for years I look great always asking me to wear something other than pants, but I couldn’t do it. Now being forty, I am slowly letting go of my hang ups and realizing that I’m okay. I’m starting to wear more dresses WITHOUT tights or boots and shorts. This is a huge feat for me.

    Oh Sanae, I can SO relate to you. There were several occasions where I had written posts on body image, but I was too scared to share it with anyone and just deleted it. You’re a very brave woman to open up and share this to the world. I applaud you!

    1. You are fabulous, Venus, no question and thank you for being so open and supportive. I hate that a single negative comment can have such lasting effects, but the opposite can be true too (positive comments lasting forever, I mean). And that’s what I’m hoping I can nurture.

  8. Thank you so much for posting this. As a mother to a daughter (almost 20 months old), I constantly have to remind myself to watch what I say about my own body when I’m around her. Having grown up with a mother who was terribly self-conscious about her own body, I have always been keenly aware of an extra pound here and there. I want so badly for my little girl to embrace every inch of her body and be confident and proud of who she is in her own skin. I know your daughter will be so proud of you for being so open and honest!

    1. Thank you for sharing, Jaime. It’s amazing, the pervasiveness of body image issues. I’m still trying to figure out the specific mechanics of being OK in this bod, but just discussing it with you and everyone else makes a huge difference in my mindset already.

  9. good for you for posting this (again!). i even read it all the way through a second time. love the illustrations you added. you already know what i think of these words, so i won’t repeat myself. can’t wait to see your first outfit!

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this!! I eagerly anticipate seeing your outfits so I can shamelessly copy them, as I have been doing for my little girl. 🙂

    1. Haha! Vanessa, I think the first few (dozen) outfits may have to be chalked up as practice, but I’m eager to get better at sewing for myself!

  11. Congrats on this honest post! And the good thing about being able to sew for yourself is that you can make the type of clothes that will emphasize your body’s (whatever it looks like) best sides in the fabric you love the most. Score! Get set….go! 😉 Can’t wait to see what you make 🙂

    1. Yes! Totally looking forward to figuring out how to make flattering clothes! In the past I could only be called a mumu-making expert 🙂

  12. Thank you for your honesty – I need to pick up on your words – my eldest girl is 4 and I would hate her to pick up on my insecurities – thank you for a timely reminder.

    1. Thank you for your honesty as well, Clare! What is flooring me is how validating and strengthening all these comments are. Thank you!

  13. Brilliantly summed up… my life has been like that since college. Hiding under baggy shirts, etc. In the last year I started sewing for myself and finding my style and IT IS LIBERATING!!! I have started wearing skirts and dresses (for everyday) which I didn’t even really own before and along the way have tried and failed a bunch (that makes me look like I’m pregnant, but I’m not!), but won a bunch and been floored when something I made looks good on me! You can do it!!! 🙂

    1. Liberating is what I like to hear! You’re my hero, Kristi for sewing for yourself and four kids!! I’m so inspired to make my own stylish handmade wardrobe!

  14. Beautiful and painful words…Thank you for sharing them. Your post touched me deeply and made me realize how important is try to sort out the image issues I have at the moment, not only for my daughter (she is only 2 and a half years old, but kids do understand more than we think) but for me. Very looking forward to see your creations!!!

    1. I am so appreciative of your comment, Maria. When I write these rambling posts, they’re for me (mostly and are also a kind of time capsule letter to K). It’s been a remarkable and unexpected discovery to connect with such kind and accepting women like you!

  15. Sanae, whatever article you posted, we love to read it. I feel touching by your honesty. When I was a kid to early 20’s, I was sooo skinny. Any clothes (dresses or T-shirts) weren’t looked good nor fitted nicely on me. My friends like to tease me and gave me nickname too. Years passed by, I’m being remembered by my old friends because of my skinny figure :). After having JC until now, I have problem with my tummy area, have much fat belly. I have been starting make my own outfits too, let’s make together. Just finished two blouses and one dress but I haven’t share them on my blog as I don’t have picture of myself wearing my new clothes :). I look forward to seeing your creations, Sanae, thank you for sharing and I like your illustrations too.

    1. So sweet, Yeka – thank you for reading my crazy long posts. I would love to see your blouses! Knowing your fantastic craftsmanship, I bet they’re beyond lovely.

  16. Thank you so much for posting this again. I can relate very much to what you wrote. It can be difficult to be a woman in this society and it is so good when we reach out to each other and share things like this. Thank you for showing yourself – in a photo and through your words. (And I can see now where K gets her beauty from!) In this “perfect blog world” it feels so good to read words like yours. I am quite new to reading blogs and yours was one of the first I started reading regularly. I enjoy the beauty I can find in so many little things on your blog, your humor and your honesty. And your style! I can´t wait to see what you sew for yourself! I would love to wear all your creations for K! I just recently started sewing and I am totally addicted by now. I mostly sew for my best friend´s little daughter and since I learned so much from this, it made me confident to start sewing for myself. And the funny thing is: All I want to sew for myself is dresses! I never used to wear dresses! But making pretty dresses for Zoe made me realize how much I like dresses! I love how feminine they make me feel. I have been struggling with my body image for years also (starting ballet at age 5 did not help at all – I always felt like the “fat” girl in a room full of mirrors) and it has happend more than once that I made a dress in a size too large for me! Even though I measured myself before! My goal is to wear only dresses I made for myself during my vacation in Greece this summer! Today I finished a wonderful dress from the nani iro dress book (of course in a size to large 😉 but it was just the test version!). So now I will go and walk my dog and feel beautiful (and skinny!) in my new too large dress! (And proud that I decoded a japanese pattern all by myself!!)

    1. Oh Ute, how wonderful! I love everything you wrote and am so flattered that you check in here regularly. I’ve heard of the intensity of the ballet world and hooray that you’re beyond all of that! From reading your comment, I’m imagining a beautiful woman in stunning dresses in the Mediterranean and that makes me happy. 🙂

      1. Thank you so much for responding!
        Yes, I am beyond ballet; I am a taji teacher now and this is all about inner strenghth instead of looking perfect on the outside.
        And guess what? I made the nani iro dress again, a size smaller and now it is too small! I laughed and cried at the same time! There goes my nani iro peaceful cooing fabric! The width is fine but I totally miscalculated that the top part of the dress is shorter in a smaller size! Now I have a seam right across my chest which is not very flattering! So now I will walk my dog in a dress that is a bit too small and still feel beautiful! 😉
        And I love your new top! When you smile you don´t look tired at all!

        1. Oh I love Nani Iro, especially the Peaceful Cooing line! I’m no stranger to pattern miscalculations, and it sounds like the smaller dress is still lovely so that’s a win in my book. 🙂 is Taji the same thing as Tai Chi? I’m so curious. Whatever it is, it sounds awesome!!

          1. Yes, it is the same! Just different spelling! Yes, it is awesome and it makes me feel good in and with my body. Which is worth a lot more than just looking good – of course the best is both ;-). And wearing nani iro double gauze helps a lot! So luxurious and soft. I squeezed out the seam allowance of the dress as much as I could and now it works. So, defenitely a win! Have a nice weekend – and please be curious, it is nice to step out of “virtuality”!

  17. What a courageous, honest post – one that must have been cathartic to write, and one that rings true for most every woman who is reading it. I don’t know any of my friends that are completely satisfied with their body, but as they (and I!) get older, we learn to live with our post-baby, post-nursing bodies and give ourselves more grace. It is so difficult to develop – and then maintain – a positive body/self image in a world inundated with air-brushed size 0 models. Such a disservice the media is doing in this regard.
    I struggle with how to raise two girls in this beauty-obsessed world. My 9 yr old complains often of her round belly. How do I balance helping her develop a healthy self-image with also teaching her to make healthy choices and eat less “junk”? How do you carefully toe the line between those two approaches?
    Thanks for your honest, candid post. I look forward with great excitement to the garments you will skillfully and tastefully create for yourself. You’re a little bit of a superstar in my eyes . . . 🙂

    1. Hi Lucinda! Ah, such a thought-provoking comment – how DO we find the balance? Part of it might be to dismantle the myth of the media early on for kids. I used to work for a company that sold photos of celebrities and the team I supervised did the actual re-touching. We all know that they’re airbrushed, but I don’t think people know to what extent. In some cases thighs were halved and the before shots revealed that many of the celebrities and models are a lot more average-looking than you’d think. And I think for myself it’s about learning gratitude. Gratitude for this strong body, functioning mind, the enormous privilege of living a good life.

  18. I am so glad you decided to (re)post this! It showed up in my reader last week, and I figured you became a little gun-shy when I clicked through to comment and the post had been removed!

    However, as the mother of a now 5 month old I can’t tell you how much your honesty meant (and means) to me! I am struggling with my post-baby body, especially since my husbands is in the fitness field and I have SO many eyes watching me! It can be difficult, sometimes, to put my own obsessions about my body aside, and to step back and realize that not only did I GROW this beautiful girl in my belly, but my post-baby nursing body nourishes her and comforts her, holds her tight in a warm embrace. I only see love in her eyes, so what does it matter what everyone else think? I am proud of who I am, a healthy, strong mama. I can see that you are too! That’s what I want my daughter. We lead by example, and if I can be proud and confident, so shall she be.

    Thank you!

    1. And hugs right back atcha, Erin. All these comments are making me a bit happy weepy (and relieved that I’m in good company)

  19. Dear Sanae,

    Thank you for this honest post. I’m still struggling with the extra kilos that pregnancy left me with and was shocked a few days ago when I found my 15 month old daughter in the bathroom standing on the scales. To my mortification she did it again the next day, looking at the blinking display with a concentrated critical expession on her face. I have now vowed to stop fretting about my body, put the scales away and teach her to eat healthily and love her body the way it is. It really scared me to imagine that I was showing her how to obsess about your body at this young age.

    Congratulations on your sewing venture and I look forward to reading about your progress!

    1. Oh Laney, what an eye-opening moment! Kids are unbelievably perceptive, aren’t they? Thanks for the encouragement about my sewing – I’m perusing all my patterns and fabrics, trying to figure out the next project…

  20. Thanks for the wonderful, honest and thoughtful post. I have to say, I WANT to see pictures of bloggers in pictures who are not perfect, because I am not perfect myself. Sometimes it seems that so many of the bloggers who do post pictures of themselves are all thin – even when they’ve just given birth. Probably they are the only ones with the guts to post the photos, and the majority of the rest of us hesitate! It definitely makes me reluctant to post photos of myself. So I love seeing photos of bloggers who look more like me, so I can admire how good they look in what they made, and imagine that I’d look good in it too!

    1. Hi Nicole! I completely agree – I love seeing bloggers who aren’t model-thin-fully-made-up-styled-to-the-nines (though it’s fun seeing those bloggers too). I hardly ever wear make-up, my hair is always frizzy and I have a floppy belly, and when I see authentic-looking women celebrating their individuality and singular beauty, I feel even more inspired!

  21. I already talked about this message when I first read it, and think you were right reposting it. It’s something you want to say and explain, it’s good to share and speak about it. Go on, it can only make you stronger, and feel better !

    1. Sharing is a great way to clarify and to move on, I feel – thank you for taking the time to comment again and for being so supportive, Jub!

  22. Hi Sanae,
    I have been thinking about your post almost endlessly since you wrote it. Its so heartbreakingly honest, and so true. It takes courage to put all this out here, and so well (and with gorgeous illustrations too!)
    Thank you.
    I hope you do not mind but I have linked this post to my blog (with full credit to you of course). Please take a look here.

    1. Hello Asmita, of course I don’t mind you linking to my post – thank you for the shout out! And thank you for the kind comment, it means so much to me.

  23. What a wonderful, heartfelt post. I have struggled with many of th same body image issues which I also attribute to growing up in So. Cal. And I’m really am focusing on not passing them on to my daughter. Thanks for havingthe courage to write about this and inspire me too!

    1. Thank YOU, Marjie! Although I didn’t expect any additional comments after my accidental publishing last week, I’ve been so heartened by wonderful comments like yours. I grew up a stone’s throw from Hollywood where every barista/wait staff/shop worker was aspiring to get into the biz, so the body image thing was super intense. It’s one if the reasons I didn’t want to move there when K was born (we considered it briefly to be close to family).

  24. I’m just catching up. Great post. I want to you know that sewing clothes for myself has COMPLETELY changed the way I view my own body. I started almost four years ago now and I have a totally different mentality. I haven’t changed sizes or anything, but I now know how to actually dress my size and shape. I used to be terribly self conscious about how big I am– not so much as in weight- though that can creep in sometimes, but just size. I’m tall, I have giant hands and feet- I’m just generally large framed, I guess. I can remember a girl in middle school telling me I had monkey hands- ha! I’ve always been very aware of how I tower over smaller, shorter friends or how my bigger size is perceived as more masculine. Anyway, since sewing I’ve learned that it’s not my shape that’s the issue, but the “one size fits most” approach to ready-to-wear clothing that is the issue. So do your thing, girl! I’m being a cheerleader for sewing for you. Sew, sew, sew! You’ll be amazed at what it does for your body image. You are perfect just the way you are. Now dress like it!

    1. Liza Jane – I can’t even tell you how much your comment means to me! It makes me want to dive into sewing for myself all the time 🙂 thank you for the encouraging and inspiring comment – you know that I’ll be digging through your blog archives for tips and tricks 🙂

  25. such a great post. Thanks for sharing what other women no doubt think on their own all the time. After rocky body image issues in my teens, and then some less than desirable consequences to my mom bod after having my second child, I carry around constant discomfort about what my body has become. Broken stomach muscles….stretch marks. Now that our third baby is on the way in July, I’m a little terrified to find out what is awaiting me after he comes out….

    Wow, being in a place like LA would just crush me without mercy. I don’t want my two little girls to be absorbed with fear about their bodies, and it seems like protecting them will be really hard. Just the other day I got a maternity top at H&M, and on top of feeling 7 months pregnant and fat I got to stare at the merch bag with the rail thin and super tan girl in a bikini on it. As soon as I got it home I tossed it in the trash because I know how much my 4 year old girl absorbs about what is perceived as “pretty” in our world, and didn’t want that sticking in her head as an ideal. It’s hard enough having her tell me she needs to be “styled” to be pretty, which means she wants makeup…..sigh.

    1. Congrats on number three, Tara! I’m also wary of the imagery of uber skinny women splashed all over the place. k has asked for “make-up” games in the ipad and she’s always bummed that I won’t get them for her. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

  26. Absolutely beautiful! I’m so glad that you shared this. My “Aha” moment came after the birth of my twin daughters. I freaked out. I was thinking, “Man, I have some serious image hang ups, and I can’t give that to them.” They’re almost 11 now and to be honest, it has taken just about that long to push all the gunk out of my head. Our past can be haunting and ruthless. Yay for “do-overs”.

    I had to laugh at your “heinously fugly style faux pas along the way”. I haven’t heard “fugly” since back in the day.

    Beautiful illustrations, too.

    1. Thank you, Shannon! Ha, wasn’t there a blog called fugly? So glad that you’ve worked through the insidious image stuff, and yes! Yay for do-overs!

  27. What a poignant post and beautifully written too. It brought a tear to my eye….well, okay, tearS to my eyeS. I have dealt with similar issues throughout the years, both in and out of therapy. Weight was a huge subject of discussion (meaning ridicule) in my family. My husband and I have had many discussions about not using the word “fat” around our 1 and 2 year old children. I want them to have healthy body images and understand that it’s not “fat” or “skinny” that matters, but “healthy” instead. On another note, I attempted to make myself a dress ONCE. It was right after my son was born and I had yet to lose all of the weight. I guess my body image was pretty low at that time because the waist of the skirt of the dress would have fit around 3 of me. It was HUGE. I put that project away and have recently passed it on as scrap fabric to a friend. I can totally relate to your description of what is most likely self distortion of your body image. I will hopefully graduate to making clothing for myself, but right now I’m concentrating on the little ones. It’s less daunting. Again, thanks for the post!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment! I really appreciate what you’ve shared – we try hard to focus on being healthy in our family too. As for sewing, it’s definitely easier (and faster) sewing for little ones. I’ve been having a bear of a time getting things I’ve sewn for myself fit!

  28. Thank you for this beautiful post, and for your bravery to share it.This is an important conversation.
    I too hit the need for rethinking my own body image when I had a daughter (and then I had another!), and knowing that what I show my daughter about how I feel about MY body will influence how she thinks of her’s (Also the way my husband talks about my body too). I’ve made a real effort to not comment negatively about my body, and to be comfortable wandering around naked in front of her, e.g. not hiding myself as I dash to or from the shower, because I want her to be comfortable in her body. It’s had an amazing effect (slow, but happening) on how I think about my body too.
    I too am trying to slowly rework my wardrobe (doing as much of my own sewing as I can), but have little time at the moment. Baby clothes are much easier to fit in than fitting and refitting draft garments for myself. 😉

  29. I have browsed your blog on occasions because of your wonderful sense of style and sewing skills but now i am reading your beautiful words and i am hooked.

    You are an inspiration!

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