How Sewing Made Me Love Myself
Your chest is too flat, your hair too thin. Your upper lip could be fuller, your legs just a little bit thinner. Your knees stick out just a little too much and maybe you should buy the anti-cellulite cream after all.
Imagine someone telling you all these ugly things. Imagine this person repeating them over and over again. Everyday. It’s pretty awful, right?
“Get rid of this person as fast as you can!” you might say now. “Nobody deserves to be treated like this!” And right you are.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Because the person I am talking about is me. I’ve had this ugly voice inside my head for as long as I can remember. There was always, ALWAYS, something about my appearance that needed fixing or could be improved in one way or the other.
I knew that I struggled with perfectionism in every aspect of my life. So much, that this wish had led me to loathe myself, which is only logical, because the wish for perfection only leads to one thing: failure. From my perspective, I was failing all the time. Despite being good at my job, having the most amazing man, a beautiful apartment, and a healthy body.
It still wasn’t enough.
So when I became pregnant and found out that I was having a daughter I was nothing less than terrified. Afraid of her having to go through the same things that I was going through. Don´t get me wrong: I know that there are plenty of men out there, that struggle with body image. Unfortunately, it’s undeniably mostly women that fight this battle. And as a women, it can be difficult when you are be surrounded by other women criticizing themselves.
Personally, I never saw other women’s imperfections. I didn´t see the “big bum” my friend Anni kept complaining about. I thought it was just fine. Nor the “awfully crooked” tooth of my pal Laura. I always found her front teeth exquisitely charming.
The thing is, women constantly criticizing themselves was something absolutely normal in my world. Something I never even questioned.
As I am lucky enough to have a husband who is more of a feminist than I am, we talked about this issue early on in my pregnancy. From these conversations, we decided to avoid talking about people´s appearance in front of our kids altogether and to try analyzing our own body image in order to bring up children, that would be able to accept themselves.
By not talking about the physical appearance of others, nor questioning my own body image I really progressed in my journey towards a positive body image.
What changed everything for me was sewing: I had learned to sew at the age of 22, but it had always been an on-and-off-passion. When my daughter, Lotti, was born and almost drove me mad by screaming 24/7, I knew that I desperately needed something to take my mind of things. Something totally Baby-unrelated. Something I could do all by myself and all for myself. So I took on sewing again. It lit a fire in me: I started to hand Lotti over to my husband as soon as he arrived home and entering my sewing room for at least an hour every day (I know, I know – best man ever).
I had gained about 25 Kilos during my first pregnancy, so my wardrobe essentially lacked any clothes that I could possibly fit into. Shopping wasn’t an option, as my first visit to Zara made me leave the shop crying my heart out. My body had changed so much, that I just didn’t know what kind of clothes to wear or what size to chose. So I kept wearing my maternity clothes and decided to start creating my own wardrobe.
Suddenly trying on a new piece didn´t cause any sobs or desperation: If an armhole was too small, I just had to open the seams and make it bigger.
The clothes I liked suddenly didn´t come out of a fancy magazine anymore. They were for normal women, with normal, yet beautiful bodies. It shaped my view on fashion from then on.
One and a half years later my second daughter Freddie was born. It was an easy delivery and I was sitting in my hospital bed all glowy and happy only three hours after giving birth. The lady in the bed next to me wasn´t so lucky. She had had a nightmare of a delivery and poured her heart out to me. Interestingly, right after talking about the most life-changing experience she might ever encounter, she started talking about how awful she looked and what kind of a diet she was planning to do as soon as she left the hospital.
And you know what? I think one and a half years earlier I would have just tuned in. Now I didn´t.
I felt proud of my body, as it – hello! – had just managed to produce a new human being. When my husband came to take Freddie and me for a little walk through the hospital floors it dawned to me: Sewing had made me love myself. Without restrictions and just the way it is.
It almost felt like someone had pushed a reset button on how I saw myself.
And that was the very moment our sewing makes you love yourself (#smyly2018) challenge was born, because it was the moment I started to realize that sewing had improved both my body image and my mental health. Well, and because I was curious to know, whether there were others, that felt the same.
Please don´t get me wrong: I don´t feel like the bee´s knees every single day of my life. But I have learned to profoundly accept myself. And this process has without a doubt been catalyzed by sewing.
So why not start all over again:
My chest is pretty amazing, it has fed two kids. My hair is fine, but therefore easy to tame into one of my beloved vintage hair styles. My husband Mimi wants me to tell you, that my mouth is just perfect, as it gives the most tender kisses. My legs are strong enough, to carry two little girls around all day. Who the hell cares about out-sticking knees anyways? And: No! Don´t buy this bloody anti-cellulite cream. Go buy yourself a nice ice-cream instead – cause you and your body bloody well deserves it.