Imagine waking up one day and realizing that every action of yours is to maintain the comfort of those around you. Imagine waking up one day and realizing that the comfort of others is more important than the value of your own self-expression.
Thankfully, I woke up, and had a conversation with myself about reframing the term “dress to impress”.
Looking back, I would say that my teenage years had a short span of budding but fragile confidence. I have fond memories of going to school parties with my best friends Ellis and Nana Aba wearing our backless, bodycon, super tight super short spandex fabric clothing with platform heels. The best part of those years was having friends who never made me feel like I was any bigger than them.
However, one day after a school party, I was pulled aside by someone older than me and told politely that I shouldn’t have worn that dress to the school party because it wasn’t appropriate for someone my size. If you know anything about growing up as a student of G.I.S, you will know that during summer vacation I had purposely picked out that outfit for the first party of the year. I remember it vividly, a one-arm dress with sequins down the side made of stretchy but firm fabric. Yes it hugged every curve and fold on my body but those curves were a part of me right?
The truth about that era of my life was that, I lived inside my body without an outwards view of it. Before the comment even fully settled, the physical Hayet separated from the inner Hayet. From that moment I gracefully stepped outside of myself and started to view myself from the point of view of everyone around me. I started to see me, how they wanted me to see me.
It is hard to write and tell stories of experiences I have had, because sometimes I feel like I owe it to each of you to have a full success story. The truth is, till today my turning point has still not fully manifested itself.
I did this photo-shoot to push me a little bit closer to a turning point. Yes as I picked out the red dress to wear I asked myself how I could miraculously spill myself into spanx so that my love handles wouldn’t find a place in the final shot. I asked myself if the slit was too high for my thighs. I asked myself if the cut of the neck and sleeve was high enough to cover up as much stretch marks as was fashionably appropriate. I asked myself if it was appropriate for someone my size to feel sexy.
I had to ask myself who I was asking these questions for? In all honesty, I was asking myself those questions to fill in a mental checklist that would lessen the paranoia I had about others views of me. I then paused and asked myself what I wanted to know about the outfit. Taking a long minute I asked myself again, what questions does Hayet have about Hayet wearing this outfit?
As women, we often place the power of our own thoughts into the hands of others. We see ourselves through the filter of someone else’s paranoia. Think about insecurity for a second. Realize that it is impossible to be insecure about yourself solely based on your own independent un-influenced thoughts.
The truth about insecurity is that we as women are not born insecure, we become insecure as a result of others insecurity in response to our own sense of security.
Read that line again, and let that sink in for a minute…
Now, imagine waking up one day and realizing that every action of yours was to maintain and sustain your own comfort in yourself. Imagine waking up one day and realizing that adjusting your sense of self in order to maintain the mental comfort of others was not your responsibility.
Now go and rock your own version of that red dress.
Body Positive fashion and lifestyle blogger.