As the quote goes – Vanity, thy name is woman.
Women are saddled with societal baggage of conforming to the beauty norms of the day. In this day, it appears that being thin is still in. I would however, prefer if we were allowed to look like Ruben’s women! This pressure is, I feel, further exacerbated by visuals we are presented with, especially online. Just look at any ad campaign or successful blogger/influencer/model and the trend is there – you must be thin.
There is also the other movement for people to be lean. I often stumble on before/after pictures on Instagram, of women who have successfully shed a lot of weight, or who promote “clean eating” and exercise, and the common thread is this – they’re all fairly thin and lean.
So, how does that make you feel, when you realize that the clothes in your closet fit a touch too snug. Or that you have to hold your tummy in when wearing that favourite dress, that you’ve owned from 5 years ago, when you were a tad more svelte? Or that your butt looks larger than ever before 😛
Do you make a resolute decision to exercise and go on a diet, or do you say sod it! And size up in your clothing? I’m curious because I went through this exercise! 🙂
I have never been conventionally thin all my life. At some points of my life, it might have bothered me. This would be when I was at College and University. I’m thankful however, that social media was not a thing then, or I might perhaps feel it more than I did. In actual fact, I never really felt very bad about being larger than the regular Asian girl. Granted, I was not obese either. Just overweight from eating too much LOL! 😀
When I started working, what with late nights and irregular meals and stress, I lost a lot of weight. My late grandmothers back then, every time I met them, would lament that I was quite literally fading away. Asian grandmothers lay a lot of score by seeing their grandchildren well-fed – a leftover from their lean war-torn years, I’m guessing 🙂 Later, I stabilized in terms of weight and size, and remained that way for quite many years. I was never lean, just thinner than I am now (and looking much like a lollipop thanks to my big head LOL! 😀 ).
Then, I hit 40, and suddenly, it was as if my metabolic switch was turned off LOL! 😛 Do what I might, eat as little as I did, but the weight and fat came creeping in. Couple this of course, with a slightly more sedentary lifestyle that came with more stability and comfort, and suddenly my favourite skirts failed to zip up properly, or they’d bunch up and pull around my hips and tummy in an unflattering manner. I did also partake in some exercise at this time, which helped me feel better, but did not help much with my shrinking wardrobe.
Early this year, I sat myself down, and told myself that I had to be realistic. My clothes cupboard was bursting, but I could no longer realistically wear half of them. So, I did a brutal exercise. I took out every piece of clothing and tried it on. If it still fit, and I would still wear it, I kept it. If it didn’t, out it went.
But I realised then that the majority of my clothes were ill-fitting. I was still holding on to dresses, skirts and pants that served me well say 5 years ago when I was a little more svelte, but which I could barely do up now. So, I gave away most of my wardrobe.
When it came to buying new clothes, I decided to be more realistic. I was previously a size UK8-10, or S-M. When I went to try on clothes, I realised that for the clothes to fit better, and for me to feel more comfortable, I had to size up to a UK10-12 or M-L/XL (Asian sizing is pretty screwed up thanks to the pressure for most Asian girls to be waifs, so I rarely use it as a gauge – my UK sizing is more consistent).
Granted, some of you may not think this terribly significant. But for a spell, I felt a little out of sorts. I think it’s to do with societal expectations. You are supposed to size DOWN, not UP! 😛 Sizing up is almost like admitting defeat in the battle of the bulge. You don’t take to Instagram to happily announce that you’re now up a size in your clothes!
But that feeling soon passed.
What was more important for me, was that I was healthy. I had not put on a significant amount of weight in an alarming manner, and in fact, I was actually visually more proportionate now. It was just vanity that made me feel out of sorts for having to size up when shopping for clothes. But really, ultimately, it was about looking more presentable in clothes that fit, feeling comfortable in what I was wearing, and not kidding myself that I was still 25 LOL 😀
I think sometimes, we lay too much score by what we see in others, and forget that many factors come into play. The most important of which is genetics, and self-discipline and to a very large extent, self-deprivation. I have always said that I enjoy my food too much to give it up in the name of vanity, and I really hate exercise and sweating 😛 I do the minimum to keep my joints limber, but really, that’s about it. I don’t recommend that anyone follow my lead, but I will also say that you should do what you feel comfortable with.
If “eating clean” makes you feel better, do it. If you want to indulge in a roti canai or a salted egg croissant, or conventionally, a cupcake, do it. If hitting the gym or running gets your adrenaline pumping, then by all means, do it. If that helps you keep your weight off or lose it, even better. If you feel out of sorts every time someone mentions going for a run, or going to the gym (as I do) then don’t. Find something else to do that makes you feel comfortable. For me, it’s yoga. Some people tell me it’s too minimal and low impact. But I say, so be it – minimal is better than nothing. Besides, ever tried doing yoga properly? You sweat buckets and freaking ache after! 😛
So yes, I’ve gone up a clothes size, but really, it’s not the end of the world and it never should be 🙂
Do you feel bad when you realise you have to go up a clothes size?
I actually do not own a weighing scale. I never have. I weigh myself if I see one lying around, but really, that’s about it! 😛 So I don’t actually know how much I weigh at any one time and maybe that’s a good thing LOL! 😀
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Going through the exact same thing, Paris! I’ve noticed the slow down in metabolism over last year and this year and some pieces in my closet don’t fit so well anymore. I’ll be honest and admit it’s not easy to swallow the fact that my waist is a little thicker, there’s a bit more padding above the bra line on my back and my upper arms have more “muscle” (or so I tell myself!).
I’ve always been on the slim side -a trait that runs in the family -and have been able to eat pretty much anything I wanted without gaining. This is something quite alien to me and so, yes, I do something feel down about it.
But every time the self-condemnation about the body happens, I consciously remind myself that being healthy and happy is way more important. I want to be able to enjoy my food and the company I’m with. I want to eat a balanced diet which is sufficient to make me not feel hungry constantly. I want to be able to sin occasionally because sinning food-wise makes me happy!
But most importantly, denying the self to conform can have ever greater impact than just what is visible in the present. People in their teens and 20s who deny their body sufficient nutrition can result in problems like bone density loss leading to issues such as osteoporosis in their latter years. This is even more acute, I imagine, for those in our age group where bone loss is definitely an issue already.
So yeah, getting bigger isn’t nice at all but I’ll keep reminding myself not to let it get to me too much, get my fair amount or exercise, eat healthily and sin occasionally. Thanks for the reminder!
Paris B says
I swear it’s an age thing Isabel! No one warned me that I’d expect to put on more weight as I age! haha! 😀 I’m so feeling that thicker waist (sigh) and that back fat! I’ve changed my bras too to minimize that problem 😛 But that said, I have found that regular yoga has helped a little with controlling the accumulation of back fat. But I think anything that helps build upper body strength or that makes you work your back muscles will help too.
I think you’ve made a good point about potential nutritional issues arising in future, from our diet or lifestyle. We aren’t quite sure yet how this instagram life will affect everyone in another 10 or 20 years. I live by the philosophy to eat everything, but in moderation. Some people have told me that they have to deprive themselves as they can’t gauge that moderation, which in a country like ours where good food is abundant, is understandable. I guess then it comes down to self-discipline, not being too hard on ourselves, understanding there is no need to conform, and to above all, be healthy and happy. Going up a dress size should be the least of our worries! 🙂
Clothing sizes, especially women’s clothing sizes are essentially made up wholesale by manufacturers. Even within the same brand it can be widely disparate. So I stopped caring a while back.
Paris B says
I fully agree with you! But in recent years (past 10 years or so) vanity sizing has been a thing. So, a Size 8 today should actually fit someone in a Size 10. So going up a size is actually a big thing haha! 😀 But that said, I do personally find that UK clothes sizes tend to be a little more consistent across their brands. US sizes are very hard to gauge and don’t even get me started on Asian sizes, which are deliberately sized for waifs or perhaps children! 😛
Jan Kelley says
First, I must say, you are lovely as you are. Like you, I have never been model thin. I used to become very upset over having to go up a size or two. But then I realized there is really no standardized sizing. Plus, now more than ever clothing companies often “lie” about the size of a garment. Most women will gladly purchase an item that is labeled a size smaller than what they usually wear. I have recently lost a great deal of weight. I did it purposely to help myself. I have very bad arthritis and the excess weight was exacerbating my condition. I also started taking yoga classes. I totally agree it is a real work out when done properly with attention to form. It is also excellent to maintain flexibility and balance. I still eat what I enjoy. Only now I am more conscious of the quantity!
Paris B says
Thank you Jan 🙂 I fully agree with you about the non-standard sizing in clothes. I guess what I was getting at was really about outgrowing your wardrobe, which might be more accurate LOL 😀 It’s good to know that you’re putting your health first – losing or gaining weight is no use really, unless you’re healthy. Without our health, we really have nothing. Thanks for sharing!
I stopped caring more than 10 years ago, since the birth of my daughter. It is actually too tiring to watch the diet. Besides, I have always been on the bigger side (Peranakan roots), whatever I eat WILL go to the bum and thighs (and stay there). I love food to much to stay slim. Being healthy, to me, is more important than staying slim. I would rather be a healthy size 14 than a sickly 6 or 8.
Paris B says
Amen to being a healthy size 14 vs a sickly size 6! 😀 I think people tend to forget that in the chase to be skinny in the belief that being skinny is what makes you beautiful. Also, these days, there are lots of beautiful clothes and outfits that come in larger sizes and fit well. So there’s no real need for anyone to try to fit into a cookie cutter mould 🙂
I have actually gone through the exact same thing as you and I think this weight thing continuously plays in my mind. To say I stopped bothering about it is a lie because it still bugs me that I need to wear a size ‘L’ for dresses and pants and since my boobs went up 2 size after i was pregnant in 2014 until giving birth in 2015, I still wear a size ‘M’ for tops but it cannot be those tight-fitting ones.
I also recently got rid a lot of my clothes which I had been keeping for years thinking that I would still be able to wear them one day. I told myself I need to be realistic as unless I am practicing a specific weight-loss diet and regularly exercise, I am never ever going to be able to be my slim size again when I was in my 30s.
But now that I am in my 40s, I just try to eat healthily, cut down on carbs, try not to eat too much meat (although I still do) and walk more. But I love my food too much to diet so a diet like Keto is definitely not practical for my lifestyle.
We all just have to do our best to accept ourselves the way we are. Not easy I know but life cannot be all being thin and pretty. LOL.
Paris B says
I feel you Victoria. I don’t even have a child to show for it! LOL! 😀 I went through the same exercise you did – had to be realistic that there was no way I’d fit into my tiny Size 8 skirts anymore when I’m now a Size 12. Meh… Like you, I have a problem with proportions too. My bottom is a whole size larger than my top. Such a bother LOL! So what I did also, was to change my clothing style – more flare skirts (more forgiving) and it’s helped. I too cut my carbs – hard in a country like ours where the good food are all carb laden! Noodles! Rice! LOL! Ah, the pains of loving food eh?
Yes I’ve been feeling bad these past few years, past the 35 y. o. mark. I’ve been hanging on to clothes i can’t fit into anymore, thinking that I’d hit the gym and eat right to lose the pounds. It hasn’t happened in yet 🙁
Paris B says
And you’re still so skinny! LOL 😀 I went through that exercise, but in the end, caved in and got a new wardrobe. The stress of not finding anything to wear was wearing me thin – figuratively. Wish it was literal 😛
It really breaks my heart. Then I try something easy (because I’m lazy) like eating less and walking more but it didn’t rewind back time so I donated all the clothes that didn’t fit, wore more baggy clothes and just suck in my stomach during photo-taking. I also plan to have more home-cooked meals instead of eating out all the time and take exercise more seriously one day (because I’m still lazy). Sad but that is life.
Paris B says
LOL I so feel you Liz! But you know what I’ve learnt? Baggy clothes aren’t really the answer because they can make us look frumpy. So the trick is to get clothes that fit. I find that a waisted skirt is particularly flattering, and I wear flare midi skirts, because they hide a multitude of sins 😀 Also, tucking in clothes is really underrated. A good cut will flatter, and not accentuate bumps and lumps (Oh I know all about those!) 🙂 Home cooked food definitely helps a lot. Outside food tends to be laden with salt and sugar that we may not notice. I’ve actually found that cutting sugar and dairy from my diet very helpful. It’s also healthier! 🙂 Do what makes you comfortable. Not all of us are cut out to be gym bunnies. I’m not!
hi paris! been through the exact same thing and size upgrades lol. however, mine was brought on by hyperthyroid medicine. i ballooned from a uk8 to gain more than 12 kg in a year (still gaining now actually since i was only diagnosed a year ago). i am now a uk10 for tops and uk12 for bottoms and swimsuits. but u know whats the absolute WORST?? my boobs remained the same puny ones. i just went from banana to a pear shaped body.
the only good thing that came out of this is that on hindsight upon looking at pics, i DO look better with more meat on my bones. i looked scarily scare-crowy in the past.
i do run more and eat less carbs to try to limit the gain while on the meds. meanwhile, i overhauled my wardrobe and bought pretty new stuff to comfort myself.
Paris B says
Hey Zeezee, sorry to hear about your hyperthyroidism but glad to know that it’s being treated. And I’m sorry but I had to laugh at your story about your boobs haha! It is so frustrating when that doesn’t grow along with the rest of the body right? When I was bigger before, and lost weight, one of the first places to lose fat was my boobs. Sigh… One consolation will be this – people with more fat on them, especially on their faces, don’t age as quickly. Nothing worse than looking gaunt around the face 🙂 Take care, girl! 🙂
Clothes size give me headache most time because my body has different sizes at different body parts i.e. torso is S/M, chest-boobs is M/L and pants are L/XL. So if I buy a set, do I get M which the top may fit but can’t pull up the pants? Or as simple as shirts, do I get L size which can fit nicely around my breasts but baggy at the rest but get M but I have to leave half buttons pop open for comfortable wear lol.
Don’t get me started with lingeries haha.
So in the end, I enjoy food and do exercises that I love to get balance lifestyle … but when it’s time to buy clothes, don’t rush me as I need hours to decide as it’s a difficult process!
Paris B says
Actually, my top and bottom are different sizes too LOL! Thanks to having hips 😛 That’s why I’m thankful that we can buy separates these days especially in suits. I remember in the past when suits were sold as a set, I’d always have an extra baggy blazer because I’d have to buy something that fits my bottom – can’t possibly walk around with my zip and buttons undone can I? LOL! 😀 I found that changing my personal style helped me find clothes more easily. I now go less for fitted clothes and more for clothes that skim the body, so I can gain or lose weight and still be able to wear them comfortably. Also, I go for more flare skirts because they help hide a multitude of sins and make great buffet wear LOL! 😀
I love your writing style, as always ???
That’s a positive and tolerant message, much needed while we’re being bombed with photoshopped images.
Especially in Asian culture, where as you said, being stick thin is desirable.
My family would usually greet me with “You gained weight” or “You lost weight… Did you go on diet?” Instead of “Hello!” MEGA LOL ???
It used to affect me a lot as a teen but now, I’m a confident woman and I couldn’t care less cos I know my inner value.
I’ve always been a sport lover with quite broad shoulders, strong calves and a tendency to gain weight on my upper body. Not really petite!
But now, I’m proud of my athletic shape because building muscles requires dedication and hard work.
I also never been on diet, simply because eating is a pleasure and I find the concept of ‘treat’ a bit obnoxious. I love my greens as much as I love my cakes!
Greens is an everyday treat to me, not a self-punishment, far from that (I often have cravings for spinaches ?)
If I fancy cakes, I would eat them to my heart content until I’m tired of them and naturally crave for something more nutritious.
Anyway, I appreciate your honesty and the fact that you’re not lying to yourself… That demands a lotta courage ?
Weight fluctuates but heart doesn’t change…
Paris B says
Hi Piou Piou! Thank you for your kind words and for sharing! 😀 You are right, Asians serve great score by how thin we are right? Oh and by food too. No such thing as weight being a taboo subject in an Asian home haha! 😀 I used to be quite irritated by it, but now consider it a cultural quirk. And as for eating, yes, I eat everything! If I feel like eating deep fried foods, I do. Just because they taste so much better. After all, it’s not like I eat it daily! 😀 No need to starve ourselves for beauty I say – as long as we’re healthy, that’s what really matters.
I’ve not been reading blogs but when I visited yours, I clicked on this and enjoyed it (and your travel photos) a lot .
Thanks for this honest sharing that you’ve been sizing up too because I am a 40+ woman and mother and I thought it’s due to the “motherly” shape I’ve been having. I hope you don’t take offence and I am stumbling all over my words but I do feel a bit relieved to see that the single ladies are also getting back fat etc.
I’ve turned up the yoga and weight training frequency too (well, as much as a working Mum with kids can) but the focus on fat was stressful and self-defeating so I am now doing it because I enjoy it. Plus, it’s cheap entertainment for my kids 😀
I have a ton of much loved clothes in my wardrobe too but I think that it is TIME TO SAY GOOD BYE to them.
Thanks again, dear, for this heartfelt post and hope that you’re having as happy a time as you are in these photos.
Paris B says
Hi Kit, nope no offence taken at all! 🙂 I do understand that being a mother does change a person’s body physically, but yes it happens to us all. I think a lot has to do with our natural built and genetics as well so there will always be something beyond our control. That said, I think being realistic about not fitting back into old (smaller sized) clothes is quite a relief and less frustrating every time you open the wardrobe. So, out with the old and in with the new! A good excuse to go shopping LOL! 😀 Happy weekend!