Sunday, July 26, 2015

Self-Esteem and Other Such Nonsense

I didn't start this blog with the intention of appearing so often within it. I was content for most of the first years of writing to appear here and there. It wasn't initially all that important to me to even include pictures. Eventually, I began to realize that the best way to share what I was accomplishing was to make sure I got photos of my finished work. Appearing in my garb started to be a key component of how I shared my progress. Only I was horrible in front of the camera.

My first fitted dress. I use that term loosely. So did the dress.
Much of the timidness I experienced was directly related to my size. I've been plus sized my entire adult life, but social conditioning told me that wasn't acceptable, and I felt embarrassed to put photos of myself in my garb out there. How could anybody find a fat girl who doesn't exactly know how to sew in the first place at all inspiring?

The camera angle highlights everything wrong with this dress.
To be fair, this was our first "photo shoot".
I kept at it, though, and started to take post-project photo shoots seriously. Not because I was trying to break through any body image barrier, but because what I was trying to accomplish with this blog required it. If I was going to make an impact with my readers, and keep people interested in what I had to say, I couldn't leave them hanging with no visual record of what I had been talking about, and no context for its success or failure.

One sack of potatoes, comin' right up!
After a while, taking a bit of time after completing a piece to take photos became a part of the process. I've never put on my garb, handed my husband my camera, and said "screw negative body image, I'm perfect!". In fact, my husband can attest that when I'm dressed and ready for the photos to start, I always ask "Does this look okay?" But I stopped letting that insecurity be a barrier to me sharing all the hard work I put into doing better, and walking the long road toward mastery of a craft I most certainly do not have a natural talent for.

As bad of a picture as this is in general, I do enjoy when a
genuine and hearty laugh gets caught on camera.
What I share with you here on the blog is curated. When we finish a photo session, my camera roll has 50+ new photos. We get silly. Something weird is going on behind me. My husband always does one of those stupid "Batman villain" angled shots. Mostly, I'm talking or adjusting, or squinting because I'm not wearing my glasses. Occasionally, I'm talking to a child just out of the shot. Then I spend about an hour reviewing each photo, laughing at the funny fails, and pulling out the photos I want to share.

Oh yeah. Here's the money shot.
Here's the thing, though. I don't weed out photos simply because I look bad in them. I pull them out because, at a certain point, I decided that I wanted this blog to be a source of inspiration for what's possible regardless of your size. It's incredibly important to me that plus-sized costumers who find my blog leave it feeling a little more confident in their own potential, even if only a little. In order for that to work, I include in my "project logs" images that show the garment in the best light. I want you, my readers, to see the outfit and go "that's pretty nice." Excluding less-than-pretty photos has less to do with my personal level of self-esteem, and more to do with marketing. In other words, it's part of my job to visually sell you guys on the idea of the piece in the hopes that you too will give it a try.

Photos like this are why I tell my husband to tell me to just
stop talking when we're doing this.
The fact of the matter is that, in this hobby, we all look ridiculous. It's rather silly, isn't it? It's lovely and awesome and the coolest thing ever, but it's a little weird. It's clothing, but it's costume. Garb tells a story, and builds our collective culture. Some people care about it a whole heck of a lot, other folks would be just as good without the whole garb thing. But I guarantee you that you've done your fair share of "well that looks...interesting". We've all seen people wearing something we wish they hadn't attempted. Even people who look absolutely fabulous in their garb look positively looney when you consider what it is that they probably wear to work, or to the grocery store, or walking the dog.

Now here's a lady you don't want to meet in a dark alley.
The bottom line is that we're all trying the best we can. If I don't look perfect in my clothing, that's all well and good, because at least I tried, and I'm learning in the process. I self-criticize like the best of them, and those failed photos that are particularly unattractive undoubtedly give my confidence a hit. But way more than that, I'm having fun. And I hope you're having fun too. I hope what I share with you here helps to make you happy to be a part of this silly hobby, and to know that you aren't going it alone, no matter your talent, size, or situation.

"Did we get a good one yet? No? You have got to be kidding me."
BTW, I'll be at Pennsic next week, so I won't have a post on Sunday. I plan to do another round of #whatedythwore over on Facebook, though, so make sure you're following me if you want to keep up with that. As always, if you spot me, please stop me and say "Hi". It means so much to me to know you guys out there really do exist.


  1. While I've only recently started reading your blog, I have to say it's become a source of inspiration. You may not have started it as a force for body positivity and acceptance, but as a fellow plus-size costumer, it has become that for me. It's also a resource for new techniques and skills I want to learn. I hope you keep it going for a long time!

    1. I'm so glad to hear this, Hannah. Thank you for reading, and I'll do my best to keep it up!

  2. wow, clicked on this link in a fellow Scadian's Facebook profile and you have almost brought tears to this girls eyes. I am both plus sized and a beginning sewer surrounded by the Lovely Ladies of Antir, and seeing truly breathtaking garb when I am in my horribly loved handle hugging Simplicity pattern has made me question why I even have this hobby. I hide behind the camera most events because I don't want people to see, but as you said, it's not about all that. It is about having fun and enjoying myself. Thank you! and I shall be following this blog from now on. ~Sarah

    1. Oh man, you are so welcome! Your comment gave me a lump in my throat. :)

  3. I loved this post, it's just amazing.
    I struggle with post baby body (and a bit of body image in general), but love the fitted styles, yet always feel they don't suit me. Seeing what you make, and how amazing you look is so encouraging, thank you.

  4. Thank you for the posts with pictures. I'm just getting into the SCA and fuller figure and it's hard to decide what type of costuming to make when all the pictures I see other places are of women so much smaller than me. It really helps me to look at the dresses and think, "Yeah, I could make something like that and pull it off too." Please keep posting!

  5. Thank you.
    Thank you.
    Thank you so much.

  6. I discovered your blog today while looking up information about medieval embroidered purses. I was deep into appreciating the beginning of your article about turning an embroidered panel into a purse when I glanced to the side and recognized your face. If you remember me, I camped with Lozengia at Pennsic this year (I go by Adealis = "Ah-day-leece). It's so cool when the big wide world of the internet and the SCA shrinks to someone you've met. I was very impressed! I encountered this blog from a google search, so you obviously have a lot of content and a good deal of traffic for me to have zero'd down on you accidentally.

    Your blog is inspiring to me, regardless of body types, because you meticulously and methodically explain the processes, techniques, materials, and tools you use to create your projects. I am very new to much of SCA garb construction, and I am learning this much on my own, so I cannot express how much I appreciate that your posts are written in such a way that a CLUELESS peasant can understand them. The pictures are immensely helpful, especially when you picture and describe your tools and materials -- I hate trying to read about, say, how to hand sew garments and NO ONE mentions what thread they use. It may seem stupidly obvious to most people, but not to me, and I need bloggers like you for that reason.

    This post in particular really inspired me to comment. I am not overweight, but I have my own flaws and weaknesses -- we all do. Having the strength to reveal your true inner self allows me to read your blog and not only marvel at your skill but also marvel at your character. The personality you provide on your articles humanizes this blog and all the work you put into it. It inspires me to see a PERSON behind this page. Thank you so much for opening up like this for all of us. :)

    1. Thank you so much! I am always hopeful that my writing and photos show exactly what you're saying here that they do, so I'm really appreciative that you commented. :) I do know exactly who you are- I saw you just this weekend. Please don't hesitate to come talk to me in person whenever you'd like!