Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sleeveless Dresses

I don't usually wear sleeveless dresses.

Actually. Scratch that.

I haven't worn a sleeveless dress, without some kind of coverup, since 2006. I was in a wedding, and we had sleeveless bridesmaids dresses.

Before that?

Probably 2000. Prom night. (A night that really deserves its own post, but, even 13 years later, it's still kind of a sore subject.)

I haven't worn a sleeveless shirt without something over it since...2001 maybe? I wore a sleeveless cheerleading uniform, so that was probably the last time.

Of course, I've worn tank tops around the house, and I definitely took the dogs out in one yesterday when it was a billion degrees. And I run in sleeveless stuff sometimes. But only if I go really early in the morning when I don't think anyone will see.

For the past 15 or so years, I've been completely ashamed of my arms.

For at least the past 10, I've refused, unless forced to, to wear anything where you can see the tops of my arms.

I'm coming clean today.

Part of the issue is, honestly, I think (like many women) that part of my body is weird, even though, well, some parts are just weird. Shoulders are just strange. There's no getting around that. I think mine are too broad, and they are, conventionally, for my frame. But that's not the whole issue.

Another part is that I used to have some scarring. I talked about how I had some acne issues from sports, and the place I would get it most would be my upper arms (sun + sweat + too much hairspray and long hair = acne). So I didn't want to show that. I also have a scar from running my arm through a glass door that my brother slammed and I tried to catch, and I'm super freckly. And pale. And will never really get any tanner, so I'm a little self-conscious about that.

But, mostly, if I'm being honest, it's a weight issue.

Weight is a difficult thing to talk about for anyone. I have NEVER been happy with my weight. Even when I was kind of scary skinny in high school. Even as an athlete. And certainly not today.

That's not to say that I think I'm unattractive (which was super shallow, yikes). I just think my life would be so completely different and so much better if I were 20 lbs thinner.

I know that's not true. I know lots of skinny people who have plenty of problems.

And I am absolutely working on being a weight that I'm happy with - hence why I can barely walk from my couch to 5K program, and why I run almost everyday at an ungodly hour in the morning. I'm happy with my life now. But I want to be healthier and happier with the way I look.

I'm healthy. I don't NEED to lose weight. But I want to. And I kept saying (for the past 10 years, when, at various points, I was about 30 lbs skinnier and about 20 lbs heavier than I am now) that, when I got to a weight I liked, I would wear sleeveless stuff.


I'm about to say it.

Hide yo' kids.

Fuck that.

Yesterday I wore a sleeveless dress for the first time in years. I wasn't forced to. I have plenty of clothes (oh boy do I...). But it was so hot. And I knew I would be more comfortable in something sleeveless. And light.

So I dug out a dress that I usually only wear with a cardigan, and, after making sure I had, indeed, shaved that day, and putting on copious amounts of deodorant (it's hot in Memphis, y'all), and that I was wearing the proper color bra, I left the house. And didn't go back and change.

And honestly didn't think about it all.

Well, except when I asked Kirby if my arms scared small children. She said no, and I trust that if were scaring children with my arms, she would have told me.

Or there would have been a bunch of small children clustered around me.

Instead, no one cared.

Or if they cared, they didn't tell me.

They certainly didn't look at me like I was some obesity laden slob who couldn't take care of herself (which, of course, I'm not).

No one said "oh look at that girl's chubby arms!"

No one said "oh look at that girl's arms" period.

I'm sure no one even noticed my arms. (This is also part of my "not everyone is looking at you all the time" realization.)

Which, in all honesty, aren't that bad.

Yeah, they're bigger than I'd like. But they aren't scarred anymore really (except the door scar, and that's kind of a funny story). I have a little color (not too much, I used sunscreen). And they're my arms.

I needs them.

I like them.

I wouldn't want to not have arms.

My arms let me pick up books, and write, and hug people, and talk on the phone, and eat yummy food, and take photos, and do laundry, and brush my hair, and drink fruit punch.*

I want my arms.

Why should I be ashamed of something that I need, and love, and want, and that aren't grotesque in any way, just not perfect?

What is perfect anyway?

I'm not saying I want to go parade down Madison wearing a bikini. We're not quite there.

And actually, no one should walk down Madison in just a bikini, because you'll get sunburned and the pavement is hot and cars are driving past and could kick rocks up at you. Plus no one will let you in to their restaurant without a shirt or shoes, so really you're just that creepy person walking down the street for hours.

But when it's hot, I'm damn sure going to wear a sleeveless shirt or dress if I want to.

I'm not going to think that everyone is looking at me.

But if you are, I'll be the one with the fabulous hair and makeup and wardrobe and shoes, and whose arms you probably won't even notice. :)

So yeah.

*This is absolutely a play on one of the saddest scenes in Buffy ever. Buffy's mom has died (RIP Joyce) in maybe the saddest hour of television ever made. Willow, Anya, and Xander are about to go to the funeral and Anya (a vengeance demon turned human because she was kind of shitty at vengeance one time, for those of you who don't watch Buffy and should get thee to the Netflix immediately...) is confused about humans, as usual:

Anya:Are they gonna cut the body open?
Willow:Oh my God! Would you just... stop talking? Just... shut your mouth! Please!
Anya:What am I doing?
Willow:How can you act like that?
Anya:Am I supposed to be changing my clothes a lot? Is that the helpful thing to do?
Willow:The way you behave—
Anya:Nobody will tell me.
Willow:Because it's not okay for you to be asking these things!
Anya(crying):But I don't understand! I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's, there's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore! It's stupid! It's mortal and stupid! And, and Xander's crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why. (She puts her hand over her face, crying.)
Willow(after a long pause):We don't know... how it works... why.




  1. 1)I love you.
    2)You're gorgeous just as you are, but I will continue to encourage you however you want/need when it comes to clothes, food, exercise, or anything else. Ever.
    3)This post makes me smile. It makes me proud of you & proud to be friends with such a BAB. :)

  2. I try as hard as possible to avoid sleeveless dresses (without a cardigan or something) because I sweat SO BADLY and I am the smelliest person ever when I sweat. It has to be cold or cool wherever I'm going to wear one, like at your party. I think my stink would probably scare small children, cute men, and polite women away.

  3. Kirby, thank you! I'm so happy that we're friends, and thank you for being proud of me. I mean, you're a BAB too, so it just makes sense! I love you too. :)

  4. Katie, I absolutely would hang out with you even if you were stinky (not that you ever have been!). :) I understand though, and I think it's interesting that men can be sweaty and it's kind of hot, because it's manly, but women can't be because it's not "ladylike" or "feminine." Not exactly on the same level, but I feel like I have to wash my hair everyday, even though you're not really supposed to, because it just gets SO greasy, and I feel disgusting, even if no one else notices.

  5. I feel that way about my legs. They're larger than the rest of me, I think knees are ugly (on everyone, not just my own) and they're weird looking. I wore pants, and only pants, until I moved here and got a job. Then I wore skirts--but usually ones that hit me close to the knees. I wore shorts for running, but certainly not if I was running inside that day with all the mirrors (and in fact, in my first half-marathon I wore running tights under my shorts. Yes, it was cold, but it wasn't that cold--I didn't want photos of my legs.) It wasn't until last summer that I wore shorts, like real shorts, that didn't involve going to the beach and taking them off immediately. I bought three pairs and wore them all summer. And not a damn thing happened. That's when I realized that the only person that gives a crap about my legs was me...and that's OK (we're allowed to have hangups!) but if they were making my life harder, or I was making myself uncomfortable, then that was a problem. I'm glad you had sleeveless success!

  6. So many thoughts!

    1) You should start reading some folks like Lesley at XOJane, Gabi of Gabi Fresh, and other fatshionistas, because they def rock the sleeveless, and even bikinis, regardless of the sizes of whatever body parts. I'm a big fan of Lesley especially, so find her on twitter, she's @52Stations.

    2)Every single person regardless of size has some sort of body insecurities. For a long time I did not wear anything that showed my knees because I got called knobby knees in school. Eventually (and I really don't remember how), I got the eff over it. And realized ain't nobody caring nearly as much about my knees as I am.

    3) A major thing that has changed my life is not letting myself talk about myself in a way that I wouldn't tolerate a stranger talking about a friend. I'd slap someone in the face if they said something about a beloved friend's "fat chin," and yet I say things like that to myself a lot. A few years of working to nip that in the bud has really helped.

    4) And yet, despite all this, I keep saying I will never wear a bikini again because of what gestating twins did to my belly skin and belly button. The whole situation, between stretched skin, a belly button that never went back in, and a strange dent caused by the fact that my abdominal muscles literally ripped apart in the middle, and you've got a large area of insecurity. And no matter how much I try to talk or reason myself out of how I feel about it, I feel really weird about that area of my body. So, I am no expert in body love, just a fellow traveler on the road, trying to love a body I don't really completely love.