Monday, 12 August 2013

Sewing And Body Image - My Two Pence

Sewing blogs periodically come around to this issue, and I guess I am jumping on the proverbial bandwagon now as my own body is something I am particularly struggling to deal with at the moment.
Last week I read THIS article on the Guardian website, written by a lovely blogger I follow, Karen at Did You Make That? where she talks about how making clothes from scratch freed her from the tyranny of ready to wear sizing numbers (12, 14, 16 etc) and let her appreciate the uniqueness of her body, perfect looking to others or not.
I have to confess my own thoughts couldn't be more different. Those tape measure numbers were/are
horrible. The first time I sized myself up for a pattern (free from Prima magazine, a much appreciated gift from my mother) I cried. At that time I was fitting into a size 14/16 bottom half and my top half varied with fabric due to my overly large bra size. The bloody tape measure told me to cut out the pattern larger than they had graded for. And the patterns go up to size 20. So I cut out the 20 figuring I would just use a smaller seam allowance and basted the bodice together, then basted on the skirt. I tried it on and it turned out to be huge. Really huge! I was relived by this but also confused at the relationship between the tape measure and the non stretch polycotton sack in front of me.

In time I came to understand about ease, big four patterns being very generous with the ease and how a perfect fit involves tweaking everything in relationship to my own shape and proportions. I also realised just how much the high street likes to massage the fragile egos of their clientele. I mean everyone knows a M&S 12 is much larger than a Topshop 12, but most people don't realise how much these sizes differ from pattern sizes.

Even now though, despite improved knowledge, I still get a sense of deep dread when I read those numbers off. It makes everything so much more real. My work trousers are sized in cm, this is just as depressing, it is a big number. I know that I am overweight, and until some personal circumstances interfered, I was slowly losing the weight to feel better about myself. but those numbers still haunted me. I had a hard time shifting the weight despite a 1 hour, 5 times a week gym habit (and no, I wasn't pigging out) and it took a long time to notice anything. I did track my actual weight loss, but I was primarily concerned with those darn numbers.

I guess what my point is really, is that personally, hiding behind that M&S 14 label (despite knowing its lying ways) makes me feel better that those raw, real, numbers. Even if no label = no evidence of size, I know, and my own opinion on my body is the only one that is truly important.

Thankfully cats do not have these worries!
(This is just an unfortunate angle, my cat is a chunky monkey but not that bad!)

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