I dream of the perfect fit... of clothes that are simply perfect when I put them on, the grain hanging right, the ease just enough, the curves and shapes flattering. But in order for my clothes to be perfect, my body image must be accurate! And (as making my sister's block shows) understanding a body is easier said than done.
It's a peculiar pathology of our culture that we think of bodies as things to be seen, not as things to walk, talk, digest food, lift burdens, run races, help others, et cetera. We treat being seen as a function, and worry that we are not pleasing to the eye. So we carry around all kinds of burdens of imagined "ugliness" or "figure flaws". We talk about "pampering" ourselves with manicures and "investing" in good make-up. And women are so used to being judged by appearance (and so used to judging other women the same) that we pre-emptively talk ourselves down lest someone else do so first.
Yet despite all our obsessing over how we look, most of us have not updated our self-image since our teens (or the last time we felt either particularly good or particularly bad). When we go through big bodily changes, like pregnancy or illness or aging, we hold onto the mental image of our bodies before. And when we see a camera or a mirror, we automatically present ourselves to best advantage. (Ever caught your reflection unexpectedly and realized that you were slumping, or scowling, or looking vacant? Then you nearly get whiplash pulling yourself into a better-looking attitude!)
In order to sew clothes for myself, I need to have a real image of my own body. Plus, in fairness to my sister, whose body I have over-analyzed on this blog already, I ought to scrutinize my own!
Here is what I know about myself, based on un-posed photographs and other people's comments:
So when I'm working to improve my posture, how should I make my clothes fit? The answer is simple: I dress people, not new year's resolutions. There's no point in making clothes to fit my someday-body (or anyone else's)! If I intend to have better posture at the end of the year, I'll still sew back-shoulder darts in my blouses now, since now is when I'm wearing them. If someone tells me that she intends to lose weight, I'll still make her dress fit her now, since now is when she's wearing it. Now is the only time we ever really have.
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