This week all three of us have been struggling with anxiety in our personal lives, which can easily lead to self loathing when it comes to body image, doubting our choices, and genrally forgetting that we are just who we should be, and doing just what we should be. So we decided to talk honestly about what makes us anxious and how we overcome, cope with or at least acknowledge those feelings.
Shopping is always hard for me. For a long time I was between plus size and large so I could shop everywhere and nowhere. Finding large sizes in regular stores didn't always work out. Even when I did find something in a size I thought would fit, I would be stuck in the change room unable to fit in the cloths I picked.
This is the thing of nightmares for many plus-size folks. Seriously, I have nightmares about this feeling. Not being able to fit into anything. Having pants not go up past my thighs, to not be able to get a top over my boobs.
For a long time I had hang-ups about going to plus size stores. My Mother and aunt would shop at Addition Elle and they would jokingly call it "The Fat Lady Store". I don't think they meant to give me a complex about this, but it really did end up sticking.
I'm so happy to see that with the body positive movement there are more and more stores for different body types. There was a time where fashion was limited to a size 12. If you were bigger you were stuck in Walmart jeans and oversized t-shirts. Fashionable plus-size shops were few and far between. After years of avoiding plus size stores and trying to squeeze into clothes that just weren't made for someone like me, I can now walk into plus size stores with pride and excitement to try on cloths with will fit me well.
I'm very grateful for this as I love fashion and am a self proclaimed 'shopoholic'. When I feel down about my body I am able to simply visit my closet and put together an outfit that not only flatters my shape, but is also an expression of myself.
Aside from the anxiety I feel being a curvy girl, one of the other things I agonize about is the notion of feeling feminine enough, or feeling too feminine. Finding the balance of gender identity in my personal style has been something I have struggled with forever.
I remember a turning point in 3rd grade on picture day at school. My mom choose my dress (a cute pink floral number) but allowed me to wear high tops and my jean jacket that day, since neither of those things would be in the photo. By grade 4 I fully took over my fashion choices and rocked baggy overalls, a t-shirt and my reebok pumps.
I've always been a bit of a tomboy. I struggled as a kid and teen because people want to put you in boxes and label you. In 7th grade my crush asked me if I was a lesbian because I wore ripped jeans and band t shirts. "You're not like other girls" is a phrase I have heard countless times in my life, and I never know how to feel about it.
I dug myself so firmly into the tomboy trenches that I found it really difficult to then try to accept my inner feminine side. It took me until I was 18 or 19 to wear a skirt, consider pink as an option and master the art of putting on mascara. By the time I was taking an interest in those things, I almost felt like it was "selling out" to embrace my more feminine side.
Throughout my 20's I experimented a lot with my fashion choices, especially as I started doing gigs as a vocalist. I learned quickly that there is a certain expectation, particularly in the jazz gigs I was doing, of looking the part of a "chick singer". The cocktail dress, kitten heels, perfect makeup and air of flirtation were things I found emotionally challenging to embrace.
Even within The Spandettes it took me until this year to share with my sisters that I don't feel comfortable in sequinned dresses. That I didn't feel like myself on stage. There are so many pre-conceived notions about what a girl group looks like. How we should dress, talk and move on stage.
But once I had the courage to be open with my feelings about it, we decided collectively to embrace our personal styles more. Now I have super slick black and gold high tops to wear on stage. I'm finding my own personal style that balances hard and soft, masculine and feminine. And it feels amazing. Just as we have three distinct voices, we also have 3 distinct personalities and senses of style. Exploring that openly over the last few months has been nothing short of liberating for me.
Anxiety. It's not something that necessarily shows on the outside for me, but it effects my entire body. Instead of getting things done that I want/need to do, I sit (or sleep) and internally struggle. At my best I feel this hard to describe pit in my stomach and haze in my mind that's racing with doubt. At my worst I can't breathe or move and my mind spins out of control.
When it comes to The Spandettes, this music is my therapy. When I'm on stage my mind is clear and happy. I forget everything that normally weighs on me and just live in the moment. I feel surrounded by support knowing I have a whole band to be there for me (even if I forget a lyric or harmony). I push through my anxiety because Lizzy and Alex have my back and make me realize I can do it despite feeling like I can't.
Even writing this post has taken me hours, but knowing the girls will except whatever I write makes me write on. They are truly my sisters.
Most people deal with anxiety and self-doubt on the regular. We wanted to share some things that have helped us cope and feel ready to face the world, even when we are anxious or having a body-not-so-positive moment.