Sarah is an online style consult client of mine, and we’ve been corresponding on and off since we first started working together back in October of 2010. She is a truly amazing, giving, wise, loving, and strong woman and I am very fortunate to have connected with her. I asked her to write a guest post for me because I wanted to urge you to check out her own style and body image blog, Curves and Sass, where she shares her thoughts on fashion, fitness, and self-care. But I’ve also had some requests for background and client feedback on my consults, and since I’ve worked with Sarah not once but twice, I thought she’d provide you with an informed perspective.
Sarah made some big changes to her lifestyle after our first consult, and changed her body shape drastically – hence the second consult! As she points out below, she did this entirely independently, as an extension of her own desire to steward her body in new or rekindled ways. Sarah was thrilled with the looks we created in her first consult, and neither of us believes that one must be slim to be stylish. In her case, the consult itself sparked some new attitudes about her body and how she, personally, wanted to care for it.
Sarah chronicled her experience working with me and has generously agreed to let me post it here. Needless to say, her kind words brought me to tears! Read on to learn more about Sarah’s style and body image journey.
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When I first contacted Sally for a virtual style consult, I expected that she would tell me what I was ready to hear: That I was too fat for fashion and needed to shop the plus size department and stop complaining about it. I had been reading Already Pretty for years, and wrote to her, and I really didn’t expect an answer back. I certainly didn’t expect the work that we did together would lead to a total life overhaul, including (but in no way limited to) a 90 pound weight loss. Sally changes lives, you guys, and when she asked me to write a guest spot, I was grateful to get an opportunity to attempt to repay her for all the good she did me.
Sally has talked before about feeling disconnected from her body, running her life as a brain unplugged from a body. I have always loved fashion, but when I gained over 100 pounds in a few short years, I lost all sense of myself. I knew I needed to wear clothes for practical reasons, but I stopped caring at all about the trends and influences that had driven me when I was younger and thinner. I didn’t have a sense of my body, or a sense of myself, and it had gotten to a point where that didn’t even bother me anymore. I have a supportive, loving husband who has always thought I was beautiful, a huge number of friends who didn’t care at all what I weighed or how I looked, and a career as a school librarian that nurtured my creative spirit and my soul. I had a nagging feeling that my disconnected body sense was dangerous and unhealthy, but I couldn’t pinpoint it.
The biggest step of the wardrobe consult is photographic. Sally wants pictures of you from all angles, and she wants pictures of you in your favorite outfits. That was the hardest part for me—I hadn’t taken a picture of myself since college. In order to get a proper sense of proportion in the middle of a virtual consult, I shrugged into a tank top and a pair of yoga pants, took a deep breath, and asked my husband to snap pictures. I hadn’t seen a picture of myself in years, and I didn’t recognize what I saw. But it was so powerful to see myself, after all those years of skipping mirrors and ducking out of pictures. I hadn’t planned, at that point, to lose weight, but what I saw connected me squarely back to myself, and I remember thinking that I was so happy to be doing this work, because no matter what I weighed, I had to start loving myself enough to dress with intention and respect.
And really, that’s where stewardship starts—with the understanding that you are worth the effort. You deserve to dress yourself in fabrics that are pleasing to your skin and your soul. You are worth the extra time it takes to find a pair of jeans that really fit, and when Sally reminded me that being able to button a pair of pants did not necessarily make it the right pair of pants for me, I realized exactly the cavernous size of the disservice I was doing to myself. I could own every inch of my 250 pound frame with conviction and respect, and I needed to. It wasn’t an optional decision. It was a survival essential.
Sally found me a million amazing pieces of clothing, and beyond that, she helped me determine my priorities when it came to figure flattery. She helped me craft my adult style identity and taught me to shop for it. Everything I loved about fashion came flooding back and I felt invigorated and excited. Most significantly – and this was a regular experience in my life as someone seriously overweight – she never, ever told me that I needed to lose weight. Not to fit into clothes, or to be stylish or beautiful. When I asked her, as we wrapped up, if weight loss would change my silhouette, she was supportive and encouraging. When I wrote to her a year later, unfamiliar with my body after a 90-pound weight loss, she helped me reconfigure.
Taking an honest and loving look at myself changed my life. If I had refused to take those initial photographs, I don’t know where I’d be today. If I hadn’t decided that I really was more than a brain stuck in a body I didn’t care about, I wouldn’t have been able to make the changes that have led me to a healthier life. I don’t believe that you need to be thin to be healthy, but I know that I needed to lose the weight that I did to manage the life I wanted: One with less health risks, with the hypothetical potential for healthy childbirth, and full of the athletic pursuits that have always driven me. It makes sense to me that my path to full stewardship started with fashion, since I love it so much. This was the best, hardest work I’ve ever done.
You can’t change your life without a cast of supporting loved ones and I feel so grateful that Sally came into my life when she did. Today, I keep a separate closet for dresses because I have so many. My poor husband is subjected to endless fashion shows that he has to photograph so I can put them on my Facebook account. I run a body image blog, where I write about fashion and image and exercise.
You deserve the life you want to live, and the work it takes to get there is worth all the pain, all the tears, and all the stress. They will pass, and there you’ll be, reborn with intention and love.
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If you’re interested in finding out more about my style consult services, you can read more testimonials and get more details right here. I will be in the Chicagoland area October 9 – 13 and am accepting clients for that time period.
Huge thanks to Sarah for sharing her story!