Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Body Image and Clothing

This post is a bit different than what I typically post about.  I have seen a lot (especially in social media!) of posting of girls in seriously revealing outfits lately, including lingerie.  My first thought was, "seriously, why would you plaster pictures of yourself in lingerie all over the Internet?"  I post my fair share of pictures on facebook but certainly not of myself in lingerie.

I also recently saw two girls wearing lingerie out in public. My impression of them? That they were looking for attention and wearing their bedroom clothes in public was the best way to go about that.

Okay, here's where I'll stop and get off-track for a minute...

I realize I sound judgemental again.  Please note that I am sharing what has gone through my mind. I'm not saying anyone who dresses in that way or posts such pictures is a.... (insert derogatory term here).

I am not saying this is true of ALL girls who dress this way.

I also do not want anyone to take what I'm saying out of context. Dressing in this manner does not give others the right to mistreat women simply because of how they're dressed. While women may want attention, they may not want it from everyone they see and they may not want what someone else thinks they do. I hate that whole  notion of "she was asking for it."

Alright, back to my topic... The way we (women) dress. This is an age-old topic. A lot of what I'm thinking has already been discussed, researched, shown to the world....I'm sharing my personal thoughts on the topic and how I feel it relates to me.

First, I can't help but wonder how much a woman's body image plays a role in what she wears. 

At times this might be because she thinks she's so sexy she should flaunt everything she has.  Maybe she's lost weight and can wear things she couldn't before.  That's wonderful! I can do the same thing and I LOVE it! However, I do not go around wearing my underwear as tops.  Corset tops DO exist and can be very cute as part of an outfit. A girl shouldn't mistake a corset that's made for "intimate" use and a corset top. Corset tops are designed to be worn as a top....Lingerie is not.

I understand wanting to show off your hard work (even if you've always been thin but you workout a lot or you have the luck of having a naturally wonderful figure). I understand wanting to feel beautiful or sexy or whatever adjective fits your idea of looking good. What I don't understand is why you want to go around nearly naked or in your underwear. This especially seems true when girls are out at a bar or a club. If they want to attract a man, that somehow translates to "wear the shortest skirt or tightest jeans you have, and don't forget that your boobs should be hanging out."

I often wonder if they're honestly that confident in how they look or if they experience delusions of grandeur regarding their appearance. Or maybe they have a trick mirror? Sometimes I think that's inside just as much as the opposite. How we see ourselves is sometimes different than the way that others see us.

Now my thought process has shifted and if I think this is inappropriate...Why do I feel that a bikini is perfectly acceptable?

To answer my own question, I think it has a lot to do with the setting. Most people I know do not wear their bikinis (and only their bikinis) to dinner. If I saw a girl wearing her bikini at the bar, I'd think that it was inappropriate. It's okay if you're on a beach, a boat, laying in the sun, whatever... It's the setting.

I don't think a bikini is appropriate for an evening out anymore than I think that it's appropriate to wear holey jeans and a t-shirt to work (unless you work somewhere that it's expected). 

Have I mentioned that I love Clinton and Stacey? Fans of "What not to Wear" will likely understand.

On the flip side to girls who may be a bit too confident in their bodies that they dress in this manner, there are the girls who might be lacking some confidence. 

I can't help but observe people. It's in my nature. I've always been very observant and I love human behavior. That being said, I have watched girls who, to me, seem to have a need for attention and they want it met by random strangers (generally male, assuming they're "straight") at the bar. They may dress in a manner that's super revealing. They sometimes wear clothing that is just inappropriate for their body and makes them look the opposite of what they intend.

I watch these girls and notice that sometimes they appear as though they feel a bit awkward; fidgety, distracted. Sometimes they're drinking so fast I can't count (not that I pay that much attention) how many drinks they had in a thirty minute period. Sometimes they are loud. Honestly, that's probably the most direct way to get attention. Just go stand in the middle of the room and yell "hey look at me!!!" I'd rather see you do that than see more of your body than I'd like. 

I used to be one of these girls.  I used to wear clothes that revealed my cleavage...Likely too much. I was a big girl and sometimes this was accidental because my girls just couldn't be contained well enough. I also may have taken that advice; "play up your assets" or "draw attention to your top half if you're smaller on top, bigger on bottom" in a manner different than it was intended.  When I went out, which in those days was often, I wore a lot of cleavage revealing shirts. I thought this might give me confidence, I guess. My hope was that it would make me feel better about myself, which would then attract the attention of a guy. Generally, it would, but those guys were after one thing and would blow me off as soon as they knew they weren't getting it. What didn't change in those situations was how I truly felt about myself. I still felt awkward. I still felt like a big ol' cow. I still had low self-esteem.

Showing off my cleavage didn't make me shine through....They couldn't see my personality (although my thought was that I could show that after I lured them in). They couldn't see my intelligence. All they could see was the physical; the same as those people who looked down at me for being obese. I probably would've had more success if I dressed more appropriately and didn't go looking to meet people in bars. I had boyfriends and not one of them was met on an evening out. They were met when I was sober. And fat. And myself. And? They liked me for who I was.

Maybe some girls are just looking for attention and the fun (?) of a one-night stand. If that's who you are, then okay...Do what you've gotta do. I'm not writing about those girls.

Inspired by either positive self-thoughts or negative, I believe that our body image (good or bad!) plays a huge role in how we dress. 

I dress differently now than I did before, but not that much different. I can wear outfits that are more fitted, which definitely wouldn't have worn then. I was still as stylish as possible. I dressed well and liked to look nice. I have always loved fashion and shopping. I didn't wear horrible things that made me look even bigger than I was. I followed the rules of plus size dressing as much as I could, and the rules for my body type. The mistakes I made were sometimes wearing things that were a little too tight simply because I refused to buy another size larger and I showed too much cleavage.

Now I can wear things from different stores; things that are cut a little differently. I may be smaller but my body type is still the same; smaller on top and larger on bottom. I feel like I dress, overall, in a classy manner even if I through something edgy into the mix. Sure every now and then I may show some cleavage over the top of a tank top. This is unintentional.  Now that I'm smaller, I can probably wear things without a bra, but I wouldn't do that unless there was absolutely no other way to wear something. I'd feel uncomfortable the whole time.  I do not wear super short skirts because I'm sure that these just draw attention to my thighs, which is where I most certainly do not want the eye to wander.

I realize that part of dressing in a certain manner is comfort. Maybe some people are honestly more comfortable without a bra and their big, nasty boobs hanging out.

Side note: Sometimes I think I want to buy boobs in the future. Then I realize I'd be happy with just a lift, and they do insert a small implant.  This would be for me though because of how I see myself. NOT so I can run around with them in the faces of everyone I encounter. Gross!

Anyway, dressing ultimately comes down to our own style and how we feel.  Sometimes I think that we are not true to the way we feel about ourselves. Sometimes we wear inappropriate things for the sake of gaining attention. We forget that often it is negative attention.

I am not saying people shouldn't dress how they want. I'm not Miss Conservative trying to convert everyone.  I just like to think about why people do the things that they do, and this is one of them.

If you are a girl who dresses this way for attention...Why do you need attention like that? What is missing in your life that makes you feel that strangers hitting on you only because they want to "take you home" is going to make you feel better? Who do you really want to meet your need for acceptance that isn't? Is it your own thoughts on your body holding you back? Is it your self-esteem? Take a minute to examine your body image; even your public behavior. 

I would also looooove to hear (or read) a man's thoughts on how women dress. Does an ass hanging out and boobs in your face make you want to genuinely get to know a girl? Sure, there's the element of sexual attractiveness, but is that what draws you to someone you may like for dating purposes? When you see a trashy (just a word, for illustrative purposes) dressed girl, what do you think?  Do you guys realize that when a girl wants your attention, it's generally not because she wants to have sex with you and that's it? A lot of times a girl wants you to be drawn to her, to get to know her, and hopefully get her number (and use it!! That's another topic, but don't get numbers if you're never gonna call). What type of girl are you attracted to when you're out (bar, party, barbecue at a friend's...whatever the social situation)? To you, does dressing sexy automatically mean a girl is confident?

I'm just interested in the male perspective is different than my own. For that matter, I'd love to hear what other females think about this topic. 

To continue with my personal experience....

I no longer dress in a manner that draws too much attention to my chest, or anything else really.... Except my butt sometimes, and I honestly cannot control what that thing does...but it's not like I'm wearing jeans with studs on the back pockets to draw the eye to it. I dress in a way that makes me feel good. If I feel like I look good, I'm happy. This might also be the case with the girl across the bar who is dressed in a different manner.  I'm typically covered up (and I'm referring to going to any place, really...not just bars). I like to dress nice and usually I tend to be a little more "dressed up."  That's my style and how I feel my best. I can rock a t-shirt and jeans, when I feel it's appropriate, but I don't feel my best when I wear them out and about, and I like to present my best self to the world. It's how I'm most confident.

I have been places wearing tops that have completely covered my chest.  As an example....I was out for dinner, wearing a tank top that has a  higher neckline, it's long, sheer-ish tank (but not like see-through mesh or something).  I wore with with leggings and some black heels. My arms were all that was exposed and I attracted male attention.  That was not my intention. My reason for wearing that outfit? Because it was cute and fashionable, and I like to look like I'm at least attending a fashion show. I like to show my style to the world, not my body parts. 

On numerous occasions I have proven that you can dress classy, fashionable, and still be attractive to others. You do not have to dress like an adult actress to attract attention. Does that attract attention? Of course....But what kind of attention is it?

I feel much differently about my body now than I did before I lost weight and I think that shows. My self-esteem is higher. I think my confidence is able to shine through. I wear clothing that I feel is classy, generally with a bit of a twist, and flattering. I know what I should and should not be wearing. I know what looks good and what does not.  For example, I have recently shopped for bikinis. I cannot wear a standard bottom. It cuts right through the middle of my hip, where I still have extra skin, and gives me a muffin top situation.  I can wear a bottom that ties low or a higher waisted bottom that covers the netire hop area, and it's much more flattering. 

The question I really want answered is why people post pictures of themselves in lingerie online, on sites like facebook? If you're on some other site that this is the intention, that's fine...I don't want to know about that, actually.  If you've lost weight and want to show it off, that's wonderful but does it have to be in the "I'm so sexy check me out in my lingerie" manner? If you have always been the sexy beast that you are, fantastic! I just don't understand why people feel they need to present themselves in a sexual manner to achieve showing others how attractive they are.

This is on the same topic but is a request for advice for the ladies...

I recently bought a bodysuit (yes, they ARE back!! Check out American Apparel) to go with a neon skirt. I saw a similar look online and liked it. The skirt I saw was dressed with a short-sleeve top (lace, I believe). I went with a basic black knit bodysuit instead. This particular bodysuit has a low back. There's no way I can wear a normal bra with it. The back is too low for even one of those convertible style bras that go low. I am lucky to be small enough in the bust that I COULD go without, but I'd prefer to have something on. I found some suggestions on lines, one of which included bandaids so that it wouldn't be obvious that I was braless. I've seen sticky half-bras, or those gel insert things.  Does anyone have experience with these? What did you find to be the best?

I suppose I've written enough for now...I probably wrote in a circle or two, as I often do (I do this in conversation too...I just have SO much to say!). Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions. As always, I love to know what other people think!!

XOXO

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