I am a modest person and I spend a lot of time covered up. I don’t go to the beach. I don’t lounge by the pool. I don’t go to the gym. I have no physical features I really want to flaunt. I don’t like drawing attention to myself.
Absolutely no plunging necklines (which would be pointless anyway with my build). I sometimes wear a short skirt, but always with tights. It’s rare I even wear sandals!
I was fearless as a teen because my life was different and so was my body. I worked for a couple of summers as a swim instructor at a lakeside beach and lived in my swimsuit. Later, I enjoyed “skimpy” outfits for going out to nightclubs and concerts, but the community norms were not very extreme.
I mentioned recently that in my 20s, I lived on the Prairies where I found young people very conservative. My eyes popped the first time I went out clubbing in the winter and everyone was wearing big fuzzy sweaters and jeans 🙂 I, too, learned to dress for the weather there.
As I gained a few pounds, from teenage weight to adult weight, I felt I was becoming less attractive and had nothing to show off. But my peer group was in the same boat. We would rather wear a sweater we knit ourselves than a Little Red Dress!
In and out of various relationships, I tried to wear clothes that fit well and helped me feel confident, rather than something flirty. I was never immune to how I looked, and I was never completely out of the loop when it came to fashion. I just didn’t push the boundaries much. I didn’t think it gave me an edge.
Some readers might ask if I felt, or still feel, comfortable being a woman. Historically, yes, I did. In recent years, I almost feel it’s a moot point – I am just a person. I don’t try to be feminine. I don’t try to be not feminine. I just am. Everyone reads me as a woman and feminine. I am OK with that; I’m not actively trying to be otherwise. But it’s not something I try to accentuate, and it’s rare that anyone comments on how I look. (This is partly due to being a manager at work – the staff may not feel comfortable speaking about my hair or clothes as they might with each other).
I suspect I spend a lot less time thinking about my body or my body parts or my features, compared to other women. But maybe that is normal and it’s only the media that makes us think others do! I spend a lot more time focusing on what I think and do, versus how I look to others.
Given my current fitness craze, I am actually quite happy with my fitness level and weight and how my clothes fit and and how everything is working! It’s not a matter of shame. If I feel proud of anything body-wise, it would be that I have good strength and endurance – I can walk far and carry much 🙂
If you asked others about my best features? Errr, more than one person has told me I have a good rear view in a pair of yoga pants! Which I never wear outside my own house.
I am always surprised when I see people out-and-about who are so comfortable in their own skins that they sit on their front porch drinking coffee in their dressing gown, or stop at the grocery store in their sweaty workout clothes after a run, or pick up their kids from school in a bikini top, shorts and flip flops. I am not shocked or offended and I don’t feel the need to mock anyone. I am just surprised that we are all so different. My way of being comfortable is to cover up. For others it is to dress for the weather. For others it is to Come As You Are. Some want to draw attention to their best features while minimizing their worst, whatever they think they are. There is such a tension between being comfortable with yourself and trying to impress others. Or being judged and found lacking. I know a lot of women would say they feel more judged by other women.
Maybe it’s my age, but I feel beyond it now. I have such a strong sense of who I am and what I look like, that almost nothing could influence me to try a whole new approach.
Well, strictly speaking, that’s not true. Who would I be and what would I look like in a hot climate? What if I didn’t have to go to work every day? I don’t think I’ll ever seek attention. But maybe someday I will wear less 🙂
Do you cover up, or are you more of a “if you got it, flaunt it” type?
I don’t own a pair of shorts, and I wear a t-shirt with swim trunks at the beach. I guess that makes me a “cover up” type. Or.. perhaps sunburns in my youth might have something to do with it.
I find a lot of guys are self-conscious especially at the beach, but of course sun protection enters into it. Maybe your weather and your workplace are just not so shorts-friendly!
So interesting, as I sit in a skinny strapped dress with a bikini on underneath. It’s hot – but I owned neither pre BF, and not that I mind either. I didn’t own a bikini as I will always have a white stomach (even if I ever get washboard abs, which I doubt). With that logic, a plunging neckline in a one piece was more my style of sexy. I don’t generally like my upper arms, so I don’t tend to buy skimpy strapped dresses. This one was bought in Phuket and it was cheap. It’s a lovely colour and a soft fabric. Given it’s informal wear, I don’t feel judged when wearing it as seldom do many see it.
Paul raises a good point though – I wouldn’t actually go to the beach in this outfit – I’d get burnt too easily and I’d need to bother myself with too much sunscreen. Easier to just have light, long loose clothing imo. Which is why the below is somewhat out of character
Whilst in Bali, I wore a one piece (colourful) as a top with white linen pants. I felt really self conscious at times, but it was as much as a tank top others wear?! I did wear it all day long, so I can’t have felt *that* bad, eating out for b’fast and lunch in it, and spending the afternoon at a water park (without the pants on, but added a swim shirt)
But on the weight thing – I do feel like I eat a little too much of what I like, and I simply need to move more. It’s a long weekend here, and I’ve not been for a walk all weekend. There’s no reason. Laziness.
I feel uncomfortable when people start cataloguing their so-called faults or “problem spots” and talking about the things they think they can’t show because of their weight! But I realize that it’s actually a bonding thing: “You don’t like your arms? Well, try having my waist!” I think it’s great that your swimsuit doubled as a tank top! And your sundress sounds nice, too. I am a big fan of moving more instead of eating less!
I love-love-love the comment that being a woman is a moot point – I too want to be seen just as a person to the world in general; that is all they really need to concern themselves with.
Thanks. I do keep in mind that women are still oppressed around the world and I don’t want to distance myself from that. But on a day-to-day basis, I prefer being a Person 🙂
I don’t spend much time at all thinking about how I look (to my detriment, oftentimes!) I’m generally a ‘covered up’ type of person, but climate here has a lot to do with it. It can get so hot that in the end, you don’t care what you’re wearing as long as it’s comfortable. The clothes can therefore be skimpier than a cooler climate. I think it’s quite a good leveller, though. You can’t afford to get too body-conscious because invariably, you’ll have to show some skin to stay cool.
I have a specific policy of forcing myself to don swimwear “no matter what” – even as an overweight woman. I never want to end up saying ‘I’m too embarrassed’, ‘I feel uncomfortable’, ‘I don’t live up to societal expectations of appearance’ etc. Swimming is a huge cultural focus in Australia and I think it would be wrong not to join in the fun with my kid out of fear of my appearance.
I’m still a well-covered swimmer. I swim in a plain, one-piece swimsuit if I’m doing laps in a pool. But I have a ‘rashie’ that goes on top for surf swimming or playing with the kids in water. It’s a long-sleeved, UV-50 light protected top made from swimsuit material, that you can wear in or out of the water. Very common here. I also have swimsuit shorts that go in and out of water and therefore can give more coverage. I love my ‘quick-dry’ rashie and shorts! I can swim in them, have them dry out in 10 minutes, then wear them up on a bus or go into shops to buy an ice-cream with my son. I have been known to say I’m only one stop short of buying a full ‘burkini’ (please Google it!) They’re very common in Oz and make great sense with the terribly high rate of skin cancers here.
Not quite the same as a rashguard, but I wore a wetsuit for the first time last summer in California (while surfing) and LOVED it so much more than any other swimsuit I’ve ever worn. Never had to adjust it or worry about getting burned. Amazing.
I have never worn one but I would love that! All the surfers have them here.
I love that you brought up the swimwear issue. I consider myself a “real swimmer” as opposed to someone who mostly uses swimwear for lounging on the beach. Therefore I have always owned a Speedo-type one-piece that I can actually swim in without slippage! I have heard of rash guards but they have not really caught on here yet. More likely to see wetsuits because of the extreme cold ocean water (it gets up to 15 or 16C in the summer!) So I looked up burkinis and can see the logic in wearing them especially as a sun precaution, but it’s too bad about the skirt part which seems like it would impede swimming.
I always went to the beach and pool with Link and I wore swimwear no matter how I thought I looked, because I think it’s a terrible message for kids if you don’t, but in recent years I have backtracked, more because of age than shape, I think! I have managed to show the appropriate amount of bare skin for hot weather activities at family reunions and the like. But I have to psych myself up for it.
This sentence says it all. “I have such a strong sense of who I am and what I look like, that almost nothing could influence me to try a whole new approach.says it all.” Be comfortable in your own skin. Keith
Thanks, Keith. I have my own ways of dealing with all these things and I’m unlikely to change. Unless I move to Hawaii or something.
Now there’s a plan…I expect that could get very tempting mid winter! 🙂
The most popular (and least expensive) winter sun vacations from here are Florida and Cuba!
What a wonderful post! Count me into the “covered up” crowd. Even more so as I age and find that I don’t have the body to show off and wouldn’t be caught dead wearing skimpy clothes with all of my bulges hanging out! eekkkk
Thanks, April! You must want to cover up for sun protection, too. I do think that showing skin is mostly for the young. The older folks who do so either have exceptionally nice skin that they want to reveal, or they don’t give a hoot!
Interesting. I wear tank tops and skimpy shorts all summer long, but wouldn’t be caught dead in a short skirt. I’m not quite sure what the distinction is, but it feels totally different to me. Perhaps because I associate tank tops and shorts with yoga, dance and working out, which has always been my comfort zone, and I associate skirts with “going out” which I have always avoided like the plague.
I can see that feeling sporty and feeling dressed up would be entirely different even when the modesty level (or lack thereof) is the same! I should keep that in mind whenever I go swimming: I am participating in sports here, not trying to impress anyone with my style!
Very interesting! I wrote a post along the same lines a few years ago. http://thegiraffelife.blogspot.com/2013/02/are-you-modest.html
Being more covered up usually equals more comfort for me, although I am biased because I’m often cold – so I’ve always leaned toward warmer clothes and not showing much skin. I will go shopping after yoga while still wearing my yoga gear but even though that clothing is form fitting, it’s not revealing so it still feels okay to wear in public (for me). That might change after I have a baby – not sure if I’ll want to wear anything tight! 🙂
Thanks for linking to your post! I have felt cold for most of my life, so I can relate to covering up for that reason. Most of the women I work with wear “tops” to work: a synthetic pullover with short or no sleeves and a low-cut neckline. I could never wear them because I would feel freezing! One thing I like about skating as exercise is that I can wear jeans and a fleece jacket and not get sweaty 🙂
I am pretty covered most of the time, but I’m not sure if its conscious decision or just the clothes I prefer. I never wear a skirt or a dress, but I used to. Being a hockey player until my mid twenties I was never bothered about being out and about in a short skirt or wearing a bikini when on holidays. This wasn’t about flaunting it though – I just felt fit and comfortable in my body. These days I’ll wear a swimsuit and a cover and I know that’s because of body issues gained as I got older.
I like the # that gets banded about on instagram alot: #strongnotskinny It’s a good way to think in body terms. Not sure if I’ve gone off topic or not. 🙂
Perfect timing for me to hear that. As I get more active, my weight is falling and some say I look skinny. I try not to dismiss people’s opinions, especially if they are speaking out of concern. My body type is such that I will always look skinny on top and wider below, and that’s just the way I am at any weight. But it’s more pronounced when I am fit, so people notice. I have never maintained a “fit weight” for more than 18 months so I am not sure what the number should be. I am trying to figure out what feels best without pressure from others, but obviously I don’t want to keep a weight that alarms people! The most important things for me are to be active, strong, and be able to eat huge amounts of healthy food 🙂
Always love your posts! I’m tall & slim and am told “you’re so lucky to have a perfect body you can wear anything!” Yet, I dress pretty ‘conservatively’, but very modern. People usually think i’m half my age, and part of that is probably because my style. lol! I live in my Roots sweats, or jeans. lol! I wouldn’t feel comfortable in a dress/skirt/low cut shirt or anything revealing etc…
Thanks, Carla! I wear jeans, Tshirts and hoodies at home, and really just a modified version of that at work (pants, sweater) so I can relate!