Fashion intervention

Recently, a friend posted a link to this article giving a big fat middle finger (or two) to the idea that anyone should have to “dress for their shape.” Everyone should be able to wear what they like, it claims, regardless of body type. I agree, in theory. That said, I wonder if in all our conviction about avoiding body-shaming, fat-shaming and recognizing the sad reality that most people don’t receive a loaded credit card one morning to turn their wardrobes around we haven’t thrown the baby out with the bath water. By this I mean that some people might want to know if they look ridiculous.

Case in point: me.

I am the type who gains weight while breastfeeding. My body is a wonderful baby-making machine. It conceives easily, carries uneventfully, delivers at home and breastfeeds for years. Only, it’s taking its job too seriously, to the point of overdoing it a little. This would have been an important survival scheme  in prehistoric times but in today’s context of overabundance, it bites a little. Especially since fashion is so cruel to the curvy. I used to consider “extended” breastfeeding to be anything past the introduction of solid food and never had trouble regaining my pre-pregnancy weight before conceiving again. Now that I get pregnant with the next child while still nursing the last one, I just pack-on the pounds.

Last winter, I found myself weighting just shy of 200 lbs and that was not cool. I shared about my weight-gain-loss journey on my babywearing blog. I started a Whole 30 program and lost almost 20 lbs. I kept eating Paleo but the weight-loss leveled-off. Oh well. I’m 15 months post-partum, I have back fat and love handles, a twin muffin-top and cleavage. I went from being a boxy size 6-8 to an apple-shaped size 12-14 and I don’t know how to dress!

Whole 30 before and after
Whole 30 before and after. I’m still as heavy as I was 38 weeks pregnant with twins on the after picture. For realz.

My idea of clothes-shopping involves grabbing a pair of jeans between a box of pancake mix and a head of broccoli, thank you Joe Fresh. You can do that when you’re a size 6. Recently, I learned an important lesson upon returning from a family walk during which my oldest daughter held the camera: you can’t do that when you are not mannequin-shaped! Exhibit A:

Whose butt is this anyway?
Whose butt is this anyway?

What? Is this really what I look like with skinny jeans? I used to look great in skinny jeans! Those skinny jeans were $19 between the tea bags and the Epsom salts! But the most pressing question is: WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME I COULDN’T WEAR TAPERED LEG ANYTHING ANYMORE? WHY? It wouldn’t have been body-shaming, it would have been good judgement!

Now can we talk about low-rise jeans and t-shirts? Regular normal t-shirts? Once again, you can’t do that when you carry 45 extra pounds between your chest and your midsection. Listen, it’s not that I’m ashamed of my muffin: it has successfully nourished my last 3 children. My belly has accumulated the pounds where my children needed them. But! Being body positive doesn’t mean I have to flaunt my muffin. So why am I still wearing low-rise jeans with fitted t-shirts I ask you?

My body likes being pregnant so much that it wants to look pregnant all the time. Nice.

Because I don’t know how to dress that body, that’s why. It’s a new body that came to me in my early fourties and that I have to tame.  I want to see that body as beautiful and it’s hard to see a size 12 as beautiful when you’re trying to fit it in size 8 style.

This article is an invitation. And invitation to send me a fully loaded credit card your best fashion tips, tricks and resources for turning my wardrobe around on a dime. Style inspiration, shopping websites, links, how you do it (especially if clothes shopping involves a lot of little people and very little time), banks to rob, you get the idea. Post your best links, tips and recommendations in the comments and be assured of my eternal gratitude. Friends don’t let friends go out looking like that.


17 thoughts on “Fashion intervention

  1. All I can say is that you write so well!

    As for tips, I have older daughters who help me know what looks good and what doesn’t. And for the record, you are beautiful. But knowing what to wear to best suit our individual size/shape is helpful. (That’s wear some of my daughters who have that knack, come in). Long shirts are good. Nice and long.

  2. You and I both live in Ottawa and have babies the same age. Only mine is number 3. I, too, was born in the early 70s and since this last pregnancy, my body has not bounced back, despite weaning. I don’t allow photos to be taken of it! Not a great tip!

    bah… I don’t care terribly much about my new, lumpy reality. I did ask my MD about my weight, she was helpful and focussed more on health, fitness, nutrition. I would recommend you get a panel done: glucose, thyroid, cholesterol. Talk to your doctor… if you are healthy in numbers and bloodwork for your gender, age and situation, I wouldn’t worry about it. I don’t think your body is at fault, it is our culture.

    Clothing sold at JoeFresh and elsewhere does not cater to a postpartum, lifegiving body. I have noticed that women’s clothing does a lot to promote sexuality and getting pregnant (sex sells) but there’s not much to actually WEAR once you get pregnant. There’s even less to wear if you have been pregnant several times. So our culture seems obsessed with dressing to flaunt female assets, to promote her fertility. But hey, don’t use your fertility to make babies because there will be no clothes for you! Frustrates me.

    Look at the way multiparous, or grand multiparous women in other cultures dress. They don’t wear skinny jeans! They are allowed to wear flowing, comfortable clothes. Not in the West. It ‘s ridiculous, if you ask me. I am not recently pre-pubescent. I can’t wear JoeFresh, Gap or any of the other lines that cater to the young and child free! And I don’t care. Perhaps I should, but hey… I work in a hospital. My professional clothes look fine, honest. My leisure wardrobe, not so great. My final point is that working in a hospital has given me a much different outlook on life, on health. I’ve seen a patient twenty years younger than you and I with postpartum stroke. Muffin top? I’ll take it!

    But I get your point. I get it. I ‘m there.

  3. ( and, okay, Gap and JoeFresh is not for strictly the child free) but I feel your pain. Honestly, I do. I went on a rant about Western clothes…

    Things are just different for my body now. I never had a bulging, lumpy belly after my other pregnancies. It’s as if my body has said “you have exceeded your natural bounce-back ability by having another baby in your 40s” Honestly. The bounce-back, she is gone. The body has not bothered. Baby is 16 months old.

    Plus, being pregnant back to back, no sleep for what, in your case… a decade? Two decades almost? I mean… lack of sleep and weight gain… big links, no? Shift workers… lots of research there.

    Finally, I, personally, have had to very reluctantly consider that there was a possibility that the approach, hormonaly, of menopause in 10 years… what affect does that have? Does your body change leading up to peri-menopause?

    I know you have been very fertile. I have been very fertile. In my head, I still think that I am 33! Baby, birth, breastfeed, repeat. I have lost track of time. In the background, however, my body ages, fertility may change and with it, the body… this baby business, I think it will go on and on, status quo forever! However… is time marching on for me and I have been too busy to notice? Could my hormones, my fertility, my metabolism be shifting? Gearing down? Preparing? Does an apple shaped body come with that? I don’t know!


    1. I think that you are on to something: body is definitely gearing down: I know that because of NFP, my cycles are definitely not what they used to be. I find a lot of hope looking at my friends who also have many children, once twit baby is like 6 or 7. Of course they don’t look like a Victoria Secret model, not that they would want to. But you can see that their bodies no longer looks pregnant. It’s like it got over it. I can deal with the baby making years being what they are (with not a whole lot of sleep, you are right about that!) as long as there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  4. I shall be haunting this post. I only have two little ones but I’ve basically had them in the last 3 years and the resulting body 9 months post partum is something I’m just realizing is here to stay. I’ve never been a size 8 but I am starting to realize curvy pre babies is very different from curvy post babies. My one survival tip so far is remembering old What Not to Wear episodes I sort of ignored but now pop into my head when attempting to shop. They often dealt with women who have has children and focused on accenting good things and using style camouflage for your less favourite areas. I recently bought an out of character dress based on their advice for a wedding. It is a larger size number than I’m comfortable with but it is the size that fits best, and it skims rather than clings. We’ll see if that boosts confidence a bit…you are inspiration Véronique and I appreciate your healthy attitude towards your body!

    1. “Bring the focus to the narrowest part of your waist…” I too can hear Stacey and Clinton when I shop! There’s been a lot of good stuff on my Facebook wall too if you want to check that out.

  5. I just scored at Ricki’s :). I too am hiding mommy bits. My usual haunts include Joe Fresh and Reitmans but lately they disappoint….pleasantly surprised that Rickis had some awesome higher waisted stretch pants that look good, fit well and are super comfy.

    This such a funny coincidence because my hubby and I were just talking about this very topic last night.

    Good luck

    1. Wonderful! This web site is amazing: fun and actually useful! So the problem with my jeans (in the post) is not my butt but the pocket placement! I love it!

      1. Exactly! You’ve been stuffing yourself into mom jeans unawares 🙂 — bad pocket placement (hello, longbutt) and probably boot cut would be better than skinny. Remember: no bad bodies, just bad clothes (repeat as necessary).

  6. I’ve been thinking about this one all day. Last night, before church, my husband mentioned that a few weeks ago a woman sitting next to us mentioned how exciting it was that soon we would ‘have another’ (baby). Our youngest is 13 months old, and I am not pregnant. It stung on so many levels. I’d worn a dress that evening to feel lovely, I’d just started running again, and sheesh, didn’t she know that I’d been nursing and/or pregnant for the last ten years! I cried a little, then asked my husband to comment to me when something looks lovely on me. I’m going to pay more attention to what I’m wearing…and start that mutu plan!!

    1. In response, this has happened to a lot of people. LOTS. It has happened to me when I was not post-partum, when I was thin and 20. So don’t feel badly. People are silly. I told my husband to never ask when a baby was due if he didn’t see the head actually crowning! LOL! Try not to take her comment personally, I think those gaffes are quite common, unfortunately.

  7. Hello dear friend! I don’t know if I ever told you, but I think that you rock the uncooperative body most days. Here are my thoughts:
    -skinny jeans can be good, but with a shirt that comes down to low hip area. Not a skin tight shirt, but not too loose either.
    -low rise jeans are a sign of the collapse of society. Beware the low-rise jean.
    -bra’s that lift are worth every penny. A $100 bra will make a $10 JF shirt look like a $30 dollar shirt from-somewhere-nicer-that-I-can’t-think-of-right-now
    – v-necks are your friend
    – sleeves that hit higher than 3/4 to your elbow are not your friend, with the exception of sleeveless preferably with a bit of a racer back silhouette to the back of the straps (I notice that you have a lot of boob B&A tees, and the sleeves on them aren’t’ doing you any favours
    – buy some of these: (these have revolutionized my summer wardrobe) and buy a couple pairs and embrace full skirts with a tucked in shirt and a skinny belt (must wear the skinny belt) OR stretchy pencil skirt a la Old Navy and a boxy tee. Skirts should hit juuuuust above the knee.
    – follow the ‘rule of three’. That is, wear three things. Jeans, t-shirt, scarf. BaBAM suddenly the jeans and tshirt looks grown up and put together. Jeans, tshirt, cardi. Jeans, tshirt, blazer. Jeans, tshirt, big necklace. Full skirt, tshirt, skinny belt. Dress with full skirt, skinny belt, gauzy scarf. etc etc etc.
    – and last but not least, don’t judge your wardrobe or how you look overall on pic taken while babywearing. There is a certain amount of, shall we say, muffin embracing necessary to babywearing.

    That’s all I can think of for now. I’ll tag you on some photos of me on FB to better illustrate some of my above points.

    And, as a bonus, I’ll give you my oldest friends foundational fashion advice: ‘no one over the age of 20 should wear shorts’.

    1. Oh! I forgot. A size 12 will always look better wearing a size 12 than wearing a size 8. So, try everything on. And try the size above and below. Sometimes, just wearing the right size can make a big difference.

  8. Another bit floated to the top of my brain: I always try to balance tight and loose on the top and bottom parts of my body. So, loose top, tight bottoms. Or loose bottom, tight top half. Like, skinny jeans and loose tunic. Or, loose linen pants and a snug t-shirt. Or a full skirt with a snug bodice. I also balance patterned and solid, half and half.

    You know that I sew a lot of my own clothes, and that’s not what I’m about to suggest you take up doing, but hear me out. I follow a whole bunch of sewing blogs. Every year in May, lots of these blogs participate in a series called ‘Me-Made-May’ where they challenge themselves to wear a handmade garment every day in the month of May and document it with a photo posted on their blog or FB or instagram of Flickr etc. Lots of them find it to be a good way to re-examine their wardrobe, what looks good and what doesn’t, what kinds of clothing items they need more of, or less of, etc.

    I’d suggest googling ‘me made may’ or ‘MMM15’ and take a look at some of the composites to see how different silhouettes look on different people. I quite like ‘Crafting a Rainbow’ and ‘Thornberry’ because they are curvier women, and Thornberry in particular doesn’t have a very defined waist. But she’s got rockin’ style.

    They both wear skinny pants all the time, and CAR is a kindergarten teacher so her wardrobe is very kid friendly.

  9. I agree with this from Faustina:

    “There is a certain amount of, shall we say, muffin embracing necessary to babywearing.”

    Yes! This. This. This.

    Especially wraps. I always had unexpected muffin bulges. EVERYWHERE while wearing a stretchy wrap. Never judge yourself as lumpy when photographed wearing a wrap!


    PS. I recently read that Jennifer Aniston (not a fan, but hey…) would have every single one of her t-shirts tailored. This is something I found quite interesting, actually. The concept of having even casual clothes tailored to her (near perfect) body. She has a fabulous (child free) body, but still has very simple things like t-shirts tailored to fit her better. I thought that was something that might work for myself. I can sew straight lines and squares. So I could alter a t-shirt, probably.

    Food for thought!

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