Hello! I’m Carrie-Ann from Something Definitely Happened, and I’ve recently started a new project on my blog, the A-Z of vintage girl in a modern world. As part of this, a few weeks ago I wrote about body confidence and body positivity, and a big thank you to the lovely Jessica for inviting me to talk to you about it!
As I get a bit older (I’ve reached the grand old age of 30. I feel wise), I realize how important it is to be comfortable with who you are.
When I was younger, I had very low self-esteem. I spent hours considering what I’d change about myself if I could (everything, from the shape of my ears to my sticky-out little toes), and wished I looked like all my friends, whether it was their long legs, swishy hair or piercing eyes. I’d also sycophantic-ally agree with everything they said, terrified that if they found out I liked reading, writing, and history, they’d stop talking to me.
Of course, now I realize that was all nonsense (because they’ve told me so. And because I now talk about reading, writing and history all the freaking time while wearing giant petticoats, and they tell me they’re proud of me). I hid my feelings by being outwardly confident, loud and – I’ll be honest – a bit of a pain sometimes. And once I took up drama classes, I spent my lunchtimes onstage, making up scenes and the like (giving me a cast-iron excuse not to eat my lunch).
So, with a lot more time to consider my failings, my self-esteem shrank to almost nothing. I felt like people would like me more if I was a bit taller, a bit thinner, a bit quieter/louder/funnier/more sensible…basically, a little bit less me.
They didn’t of course, and I became a lesser person for it. Trying to be someone you’re not is exhausting, like being some sort of sham chameleon, constantly changing yourself depending on who you’re with, and my friends around me at the time were at a loss as to what to do or say to snap me out of it.
I finished university, moved home, and carried on wearing the same clothes as my friends, not quite liking what I saw in the mirror, and wondering why I continued to wear jeans that were so long they covered my shoes, without actually doing anything about it.
But, a few years ago (six and a bit, to be precise), a few things happened. First, I met The Boy – now my husband – and he gently encouraged me to embrace the things I love, to love the bits about me that others might find a bit odd, and, most importantly, not to give two figs either way if people do think I’m odd.
I also started burlesque lessons, where I had the most wonderful teacher. She focused on teaching us to be confident, because that’s what comes across on stage. Oddly, that stuck with me outside of the classes too, and I started to hold my head a little higher.
And, finally, I discovered the Twinwood Festival, a 1920s-1960s music festival, held in the U.K. I started volunteering in the museum with my lovely granddad, and, because everyone used to come in dressed up, I started wondering if I should try it too. (The poster of Rita Hayworth featured strongly in those wonderings).
“I’ll do that next year.” I promised myself, and Grandad.
I did. And it felt awesome. So I started doing it a bit more, then a lot more, and now I do it every day.
I’ve been a few different sizes since I started dressing in 1940s and 1950s inspired outfits – none of them as small as when I wished I was thinner – and I’ve never felt more confident or beautiful. I pop on a petticoat and pearls, and feel like I can take on the world. I can’t explain why, and it’s not for me to tell other ladies and gents how to dress, but I’ve found my style, and every time someone tells me that “it looks great, but it would never suit me”, I trip over myself to tell them to give it a try, because you shouldn’t let fear hold you back from anything, certainly not slinging on a dress and smearing on some red lipstick.
As I’ve alluded to, I recently got married. Which could quite easily have had my self-esteem slithering back towards the floor (and I have to admit, during an epic search for a wedding dress, it was touch and go for a short while). But, I came through it feeling pretty darn good about myself. I had the best day, surrounded by friends and family, and got a pretty awesome husband at the end of it (well, actually, at the beginning of it). I’m proud of myself for how far I’ve come, from that painfully unhappy girl, who wanted to change everything about herself, to being comfortable in my own skin on what was possibly the most photographed day of my life. This includes leaving in one of the most unflattering photos of my face I’ve ever seen. Because it made me laugh, and reminds me exactly what I was thinking at that moment (“Oh cripes, I’m literally minutes away from getting married. And I think I’ve just broken my dress.”).
Whether dressing in vintage is your thing, you rock a modern minimalist look, or you’re a jeans and a sweatshirt sort of a person (or anything in between), know that you and your style are awesome. The size of your waist defines the clothes size you wear in a particular store; it shouldn’t define who you are. Clichés, perhaps, but that’s only because they’re true.
Do you guys have a happy outfit? This is mine. I wore it on at my hen party (bachelorette party, for you Stateside lovelies) and it makes me smile. Firstly, because it’s a gorgeous dress, but secondly, because it has exploding TARDISes (TARDISi?) all over it, and proudly proclaims that I’m a Doctor Who fan – not something I would have admitted just a few years ago.
I have six tattoos, piercings all the way up my ears, I’m short, chubby and have a giant scar across my side (from a kidney operation when I was younger, although I used to tell the kids I babysat that I’d had a fight with a shark and won), and it took me almost 30 years to love my body.
I’m so glad I did.