Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Hips Won't Hide

Not all Black women are curvy, thick, round (whatever we’re calling it)…but some are. I am somewhere between a pear and an hourglass (see above). At school this was fine: sweat pants, maxi dresses, stretchy jeans and flowy tops… I could wear what I wanted, no matter how ill-fitting or misguided the choice.

Now, I work in Corporate America. My office is business casual, but even that can be complicated.  My big, Black body is just not corporate.
I realize that curvy women of all races deal with fashion struggles, but being Black adds a layer of hypersexualization and stereotyping that is rooted in society. When my shirts or pants are too tight, I run the risk of being compared to video girls or reality-TV personalities.

To the hips -- Even as a summer intern, I knew what professional attire for an office was. But I gained weight during the summer and my clothing got tighter. Those summer lunches and sitting in an office chair all day widened my hips and raised the hem on my sheath dresses. My blazers had started giving way to my boobs. It got so bad that a few female higher-ups pulled the all the interns aside to talk about attire. I knew they were talking about me. I was so embarrassed, especially because I knew better. I knew what was work appropriate and what was not. As a curvy woman, I had to be ever-vigilant.

I spent the rest of my summer in baggy work pants and over-sized dresses. It was a fashion nightmare, but I was so self-conscious about my not-so-corporate body. Years later, I can look back and realize that I needed to invest more energy in to looking good for my shape and size. I'm doing pretty well these days.

The next frontier: A good tailor. I haven’t gotten there yet (a combination of finances and finding one I can trust). I know a tailor is the way to go. I just didn’t grow up around people who used dry cleaners and tailors or even in a neighborhood that had them. From a fashion standpoint, transitioning from a mostly Black, lower-class neighborhood to a mostly White middle-class, corporate community and all of its cultural differences can be challenging. 

Photo Credit:  http://emmaforsberg.com/a-girls-guide-to-vintage-dress-your-shap/

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