A few days ago I found a beautiful Batik handmade dress from Indonesia that was labeled “ONE SIZE” at a thrift store. It looked dubious that I would be able to get into the top but I figured the skirt was worth the price alone, so I threw it in my cart to try it on. I was shocked that not only did the skirt fit, the top fit as well, even over my boobs. That was a miracle.
I felt so damn excited to finally FINALLY fit into a “ONE SIZE” dress, especially one from overseas. I have noticed that most garments from South Asia are NOT made for women of my stature (aka giantess). Usually they are too short, the sleeves are too small and I feel like She-Hulk when I put on any of the tops for fear of ripping out all the seams instantly. My love for Batik clothing has always been hindered by the ever constant sizing for pixie size women! Do they not understand big girls love pattern too?!?
When I was able to fit into this dress, I was overjoyed to say the least because it was a gorgeous deep auburn batik and it was a ONE SIZE! Double win for this boho girl! I wore it, I love it and felt great in it. Yet, in the back of my mind, the whole ONE SIZE thing was nagging at me.
Most of you that know me personally, know I embrace being different and unique. I dislike the words normal, average or boring…and yet here I was literally THRILLED that I finally fit into ONE SIZE. I was effectively conforming to society standards and I didn’t even notice. We won’t even get into the difference in sizing that has occurred over the past 20 years…as a constant thrift store shopper who adores vintage clothing, you all too soon realize a size 12 from 1960 is NOT the same as a size 12 from 1990, its more like a size 16.
I shop at thrift stores because I hate going into department stores and seeing row after row of the same thing. It bores to me. I like different, unusual and on occasion, classic vintage looks. So finding gems is like a treasure hunt for me. I prefer not looking like a cookie cutter Stepford wife and I most certainly have my own instincts about fashion and fabric…even in my costumes & garb as a fighter.
So why was ONE SIZE bothering me so much since I finally was able to actually fit into it?
I think to me, it felt like I was giving up some of myself, that I gave in to what society says is normal. When I was acting and did film work prior to my weight loss I was a specific niche. Big girls who were comfortable on screen with their size were rare, especially when they were ‘super sized’ like I was. When I decided to have weight loss surgery, I had to consider the fact that I would be giving up the very thing that made me marketable. I thought long and hard about it and had I been the next fat Drew Barrymore I probably would have reconsidered, but alas, there are no great films under my name in the IMDB database, so alas, I chose surgery hehe.
But back to the question…why did ONE SIZE bother me?
I am still a big girl. I have traps most men would kill for, my biceps are getting much more defined and I get compliments from guys who would do anything to have my forearms and calves all the time. I am muscular. I am strong. I will never be skinny, waifish or thin. Yet when I think about ONE SIZE, that’s exactly what I think about…THIN. There is so much emphasis on being thin that no one really takes anything else into consideration.
The picture at the top of this blog, taken by photographer Howard Schatz, shows female athletes and the diversity of women’s bodies in varying sports. There is a vast range of weights, heights and body mass, yet they are all athletes, strong, empowered, and beautiful in their individual ways.
ONE SIZE would not fit all of them. FREE SIZE, which is a plus size version of ONE SIZE would not fit all of them. Nothing about them is the same body wise, so why assume one dress is going to meet the needs of the many?
I know it’s a picky point to get stuck on, but today my mind is just that, stuck.
In all my joy of finally being skinny enough to fit into this stupid size, I forgot the most important thing, it really doesn’t matter what size I am, as long as I am happy with myself, and can still do what I love. I am an athlete. I still have excess fat and skin that will hopefully one day be removed but even when its gone, I will never be a size 2. My bone structure will not allow it. If I get below 180 I look like I am unhealthy, sick and weak. Everything I am judged against medically, is on a Male scale because I am built like a man bone structure wise. I used to weigh over 450 pounds my body produces muscle differently than most people. My muscle memory is different, my gait is not normal and we already know I can’t eat the same way a normal person can, and that is ALL OK!
Sometimes that pervasive social stigma finds its way in and I think ‘Ohhh I have to get skinny’ because of (whatever). Well that’s simply not true. What I really have to get is healthy, strong and happy, which I am, and that’s the most important thing to me. For some, not ever reaching a size 2 could be the end of the world as they know it. For others, being my weight would be the worst thing in their lives.
For me, being 207 pounds and a size 14 means I can withstand a full body hit from some of the biggest men in my sport and stay upright. It means I can endure longer than those who don’t take the time to build up endurance. It means I can stay in horse stance, find my center of gravity and dig in when others fall because I have thick thighs & strong calves from working my body correctly. It means I can punch harder and hit with more power because I focus on strength and muscle, not how small my waist is or how thin my arms are.
With all this, you do gain muscle and weight but it’s different and sometimes it gets to you when you see that scale climb but when you know you are doing the right kind of work, eating the right foods and training hard…being ONE SIZE doesn’t seem nearly as exciting as slipping on your armor, putting on your gauntlets, picking up that sword and punching someone as hard as you can to take them down.
So while I love my batik dress, I still love my armor more. I can be ‘skinny’ when I get too old to fight. When my body decides that sitting at home in ONE SIZE yoga pants is better for it than being a warrior.
But today is not that day…
And maybe the ONE SIZE label bothered me so much because it is just that…a label.
One I will never be…