The long and short of it

It started back in October, when Sal from Already Pretty blogged a post about her measurements, illustrating her numbers and explaining the story behind her stats. It got me thinking about my own body, and just how much I understand or didn’t know about it. This post is a while in the making, but it’s never too late for a topic like this.

Here they are, guys, for everyone to see: my measurements.

Shoulder width: 16″
Bust: 47.5″
Underbust: 36.5″
High waist (2″ above belly button): 42″
Natural waist: 38″
Hips (fullest): 52″
Thighs: 27.5″
Calves: 19″
Arm thickness: 15″
Arm length: 20″
Shoulder to waist: 13.5″
Inseam: 30″
Height: 5’4.5″
Foot length: 9.5″

What does these mean for me in terms of pre-made, store-bought women’s US sizing?

Dresses: usually 18-20
Shirts and tops: between 14-22
Skirts and pants: between 18-24
Shoes: 7-9
Bras: usually 36K

Some may think these should remain private, that a lady should not speak of her measurements outside the dressmaker’s shop, much like she never reveals her age or weight. (For the record, I’m 33 years old, and the doctors put my weight in the “morbidly obese” category. I don’t own a scale). But I think these numbers are helpful, not only to me, but to other people who may stumble across my blog and wonder if a cute shirt or pretty dress could work for them.

ModCloth recently added the option of providing your measurements to your profile; I quickly added mine, but a majority of users have opted to keep theirs private. “it’s easy to feel insecure due to body-perfection pressure,” the blog reads. “After all, anything we divulge puts us at risk for judgment.”

Until I discovered theories about size acceptance a few years ago, I was terrified of judgment. I thought there were problems with my body. Lots of problems, actually. In order to fit into all the cute, sexy, and stylish clothing, I thought my body had to conform to a certain set of standards. I’ve since cast off those thoughts, and little by little have seen my measurements as an ally, not an enemy to be feared!

Knowing my measurements has helped me figure out a few things about my body and they way pre-made, store-bought clothing fits me:

  • I’m on the cusp of petite/regular. I’m too tall for some petite pants, but too short for some regular. I either wear heels or get pants hemmed.
  • I’m short-waisted and I have a short rise. This explains a bit about my aversion to wearing pants.
  • I have a tiny waist, compared to my bust and hip measurements. It’s almost an “hour glass” except I do have a round tummy.
  • I have a “fold” at my belly button, making it my natural waistline. Most guidelines claim natural waistline and belly button are not the same.
  • I have average-to-narrow shoulders, which is why button-front shirts rarely fit me properly. I have to go up sizes for my bust, which makes the back and shoulders droopy and ill-fitting.
  • I have a smaller ribcage than bust, waist, or hips. My small underbust measurement, coupled with my large bust, makes it difficult to find good-fitting bras.

…and these are just some of the things I’ve learned.

However, I make the decisions for myself about what clothing or styles I want to wear. There are a lot of “rules” for what certain body types are supposed to wear, but all these rules are meant to “hide flaws” or “balance imperfections”. Eff that shiznit, I come up with my own rules, based on trial and error, experience, and my own blog of photographic evidence—now almost six months old!

I think Tia from Reading in Skirts said it best:

I like the idea of my blogging being a public diary of what I wore and why. A lot of the “why” for me is managing my interactions with my body, and learning to love it. It might be hard to understand that if you don’t know what my body is really like.

Learning about my body has helped in building my self-esteem, which in turn forms my opinions over what I like to wear, and why. It allows me to experiment with clothing I find pleasing, adorable, classy, or wild, without worrying about what rules I’m supposed to be following.

For example, short-waisted women are told they should never wear wide belts that draw attention to their middles; I’ve done that in October and in December, and really like both looks. Rules also state that short-waisted women should wear tunics to hide the position of their waists, but tunics often look frumpy or baggy on me because I have large bust, small waist, large hips.

Publishing my measurements puts me at risk for judgment, yes, but I also think that it could lead others to think about their own bodies, and possibly foster a discussion about fashion styles, in an encouraging, body-positive manner. No more snarking, no more bitchy comments about who shouldn’t be wearing what. Take the good things and come up with your own comfortable style, then share it with the world.


3 thoughts on “The long and short of it

  1. Mia says:

    Applause from over here! I mean, I’m the kind of person who compulsively discloses everything, so I think this sort of thing is a great idea. I keep meaning to do it myself, but I also keep forgetting, derp derp. Maybe tonight? There are plenty of things I sort of know unconsciously about my body, but conscious and critical thought (critical in the sense of analytical, not in the sense of fault-finding) is so important too.

  2. I think that kept me from doing this before was the fear of being too critical (in the sense of fault-finding). If I had done this exercise a few years ago, or maybe even just one year ago, I probably would have used the results to find all sorts of things “wrong” with my body. However, after being involved in the size-acceptance community and reading other people’s awesome style blogs has helped me figure out the good reasons in knowing this! Critical (analytical) thought has taken over the shame and blame.

    In other news, I tried on 5 different pairs of jeans last night and bought none, which is probably going to lead to another blog post about fit!

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