1. Learning to embrace my body as it is
As per my previous blog 'When Self Forgiveness Looks Like a Pin Up" I realised that what I found so sexy, fun and liberating about the vintage pin up was that the women rocking that look embraced their bodies. A pin up doesn't have bulges, she has voluptuous curves and she loves all of them. The look is strong and feminine. It's a woman who feels sexy in her own skin and if I was going to go there, then I had some serious apologies to make to my body. I have hated the way my body looks since I was 16. I have always felt fat even when I wasn't and yes I've had two children but to be fair, I was big before I had children. I tipped the scales at 90KG when I was just 27. I was disgusted at myself for allowing the weight gain to happen in the first place. Yet at the same time, I know why I was big. I was going through some serious bouts of depression and I was on an antidepressant known for causing rapid weight gain. Before I could try the pin up vintage look I had to accept that I have always been doing the best I can. I truly believe that everyone is.
2. The dress
For the first time ever I hit the vintage fashion stores in Dunedin. There were so many gorgeous dresses! However, I soon learned that although I have a body shape that works with the cut and style of vintage dresses, my size was too large for most dresses. It's no secret that as a population we are bigger than previous generations. Food is readily available, processed to hell with god knows what in it. The fabrics of these original dresses are also quite stiff with no give. I had to be helped out of some pretty tight fits and was relieved that all my curvaceous glory didn't rip any of the amazing dresses I tried on. I was starting to worry that I was too big to do pin up until I found Kylie May's store - Bop Crazy Baby. I was so excited to see her range of modern vintage style dresses and even more excited when the one I tried on fit! Well, to be fair I was a little worried about the fit. In short, it seemed my boobs were trying to escape. I was showing a whole lot of cleavage in this dress which had me constantly pulling the dress up. I mean, I know I have boobs but does everyone else have to? But this is what my journey to pin up was about. Embracing my body as it is and as it stands I have some sizeable bosoms and I had to come to terms with the fact that they were going to be on display. Actually, I'll add in here just a quick apology to Sam from The Powder Room Salon. I was bent over trying to put on my shoes and when I raised my hand up to wave at him my boob popped out of my dress - I told you they were trying to escape! Thanks for waving back Sam like it aint no thing.
My shoe search started much like my dress search. I knew I wanted to wear heels but usually I don't wear them because I'm not sure it serves women to walk on their tippy toes all day and also I walk toe first which means when I walk in heels, I trot like a wobbly pony. However, this was a dress that yearned to be paired with a pair of fantastic heels and so I resolved to find the most comfortable but pretty heels I could. I decided when I started this journey that getting out of my comfort zone would not mean I would need to be physically uncomfortable. This was about embracing my body, not torturing it. And yet, all the heels I tried on at first were akin to torture devices. I love my feet for all they do for me and they just happen to be similar to square boxes at the end of my legs. I have size 6 feet that are incredibly wide. In other words, stuffing them into narrow, pointy, dagger like shoes resulted in some serious toe cleavage and muffin top action around the top of the shoe. I came close to just buying the torture devices just to have the shoes ticked off but instead I decided to try again for shoes in Wellington and I found a delicious pair that were able to handle my voluptuous and curvaceous feet.
I have some knowledge when it comes to beauty treatments but it's very limited. I think I was in my mid teens when I learned about the need to pluck your eyebrows. It was something you just had to do like shaving your legs and armpit hair because, well..... I don't know the other girls were doing it and if you didn't you were some sort of freak. I didn't have a clue how to pluck my eyebrows and thankfully there were quite light in colour and not overly wild so I got away with just kind of leaving them alone. I got the odd brow shape done now and then but really, I didn't get the point. From my perspective, as long as I didn't have a mono-brow then I was doing good. I had gone for a deep rich brown colour in my hair and I knew that I was going to have to get my eyebrows tinted to match. I could also tell from the pin up pictures I'd been looking at that strong eyebrows were a part of the look. So off I went to Phoenix Cosmetics to get my brows done. It had been so long since I'd had a brow shape that I actually forgot that it involved ripping my eyebrow hairs out of my head and how much that freakin hurts. Thankfully the tissues were nearby for my watering eyes and I was going to need them. My brows were tinted and plucked and I looked at myself in the mirror in disbelief. I truly felt that I looked absolutely ridiculous and started to cry. I had never had eyebrows that were so obvious before. I had never made any attempt to make them stand out on my face. So now I was looking at these two very dark and shaped lines above my eyes and I was very confronted by how daring this was for me. As I walked the shops in Wellington I was just waiting for someone to laugh and point. Everyone I spoke to about it assured me that they looked great and completely natural with my hair colour. How was it that everyone was seeing something completely different from me when they looked at my face? It's like when a group of people look at a busy painting and all notice something different first. Our eyes are both receivers and projectors. I had to trust that my eyes were distorting the truth and deceiving me into thinking that I looked like some crazy eyebrow lady. Deep breaths were required but I loved that I had Marilyn behind me cheering me on.
This must have been the easiest and most fun part of the journey. I loved the dark colour that makes my blue eye pop. It was fun to watch Molly from The Powder Room use a full arsenal of combs, rollers, curling irons and pins in my hair. I have been watching pin up hair tutorials since I've gotten home and I just love experimenting with different techniques and using bandannas and ribbons in my hair. So much fun!
One of the biggest fears I had around the pin up look was the red lipstick. I imagine most people have at least one facial feature they don't like. For me, the winner of which facial feature do I hate the most would have to be my mouth or to be more specific, my teeth. A sizable overbite is something that runs in my family on my mother's side. I was a buck tooth kid and the other children made sure I knew it by calling me rabbit. Braces helped to reign those puppies in but at the end of the day I was always going to be a person with large teeth. On top of that, one my front teeth is a crown. It's a slightly different colour and my gum is slightly discoloured around it, all the more reason for me not to be a fan of drawing attention to my mouth. I know there will be some people who have met me, know my smile and would say they honestly don't know what I'm talking about. I know because I have a friend who's hung up on her nose and another who is self conscious of her moles and I truly can't see a problem with either of these things on them. Stepping away from my fear and embracing red lipstick was quite eye opening for me. Yes it draws the eye to my mouth and my smile but most importantly it draws people towards my message. The vision for the Mothers United Movement passes through these teeth and out these lips. I am the mouth piece of something greater than myself. So paint me up and lean in, this mouth has something to say. Thank you Molly from The Powder Room for your amazing work.
I was deathly afraid of how I would be received when I turned up in my pin up vintage look. Mostly I was scared that it would look like I'd come in fancy dress. I didn't want people to think I'd worn a costume. I was worried that I had misjudged whether this look would suit me. I was worried that people might have thought I was a bit of a show off or trying to steal the limelight. I was relieved that there was no roar of laughter on my arrival. Mostly I spent the time helping people to recognise me. That went for the salon owner at The Powder Room who passed me in the hall and didn't recognise me and my own mother in law who mistook me for one of the hair stylist when she came to pick me up. I was blown away by the kind words I received about my appearance that night. Ladies were rushing up to ask me about my dress and my look. It was so nice to talk to them about my journey. They were all amazed that I'd never worn this look before. I then went further and stood up in front of the whole room to talk about my pin up journey and the vision for the Mothers United Movement. I was overwhelmed with the response. Ladies were lining up to speak to me about both my look and my movement. I was giddy from all the adoration and love I was unexpectedly receiving. I learned that just being me, sharing my journey and my heart was incredibly powerful. How amazing is that? That I can have an impact and connect deeply with others just by being myself - I was moved to tears.
9. Before and After
This is my before and after picture. The before picture was what I was wearing the morning of the networking event. It's what I rock around the house in and to be honest, often what I'd wear out too. I'd tell myself that I didn't need to change my clothes. It's not a fashion parade, I'm comfortable and warm. The truth is, however, that I don't feel amazing in my baggy trackpants and jersey. I feel bleh and I look bleh. Sometimes I'd change into baggy jeans before heading out and convince myself I'd made an effort. What I've come to realise is that this before pic, that's my costume. That's not me. That's not who I truly am. That's a woman who's not taking care of herself and not honouring herself. I think the lady on the right who looks alive, vibrant and having fun - that's me. That's who I am when I'm showing up and I love it.
8. What's next?
Well I've let my husband know there's a new love in my life. I have fallen for the vintage pin up look and I'm pretty sure it loves me back. I've continued to play with make up, hair and accessories and resolved to phase in more vintage look pieces into my wardrobe. I've come home, opened my wardrobe and realised that there isn't much in there that I actually want to wear. A closet full of dark, shapeless baggy pieces of material, ick! I'm ready to invest in clothing that makes me feel amazing.
Another strange thing happened. Still feeling on a high when I returned from Wellington, my family and I went out for lunch. I browsed the menu and saw my usual choices of pancakes or something fried and I realised that I didn't want to eat that food. I was feeling so amazing about the way I looked, I wanted to do more to honour myself and my body. I was drawn to the organic muesli with coconut yoghurt which I would usually have poked my tongue at. What's happening? Much like my wardrobe I have opened my pantry looked at all the processed food on my shelves and realised that I don't want to eat any of that stuff. I realised that this outside change of taking care of my appearance had rippled through to an inside change of wanting to take care of my body from the inside out. I'm not going on a diet or telling myself I can't have things - I just simply don't want to eat that stuff anymore. So it seems one journey has lead to another as I now embark on my next challenge to honour my body by nourishing it in a way that serves me. This is a completely unexpected development but since I've come this far I'm absolutely committed to continuing towards a more loving relationship with my body by learning how to nourish it with foods that energise me and promote health.
So who's with me? If you want connect with me because you love pin up vintage, or want to join me in my journey to better nourishment or maybe you just love my message, vision and want to be a part the Mothers United Movement then subscribe via the button below. I just love connecting and hearing about people's journeys so....sign up and let's get this movement moving.
Bron (Pin Up Mama and Better Nourishment Explorer)
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