The LOVE Dress (and learning to shine)!


I put on the LOVE dress for the first time in the bathroom of the Houston Airport.

The ‘Travel’ clothes I had chosen that morning were feeling the opposite of comfortable and the love dress was right at the top of my bag.

I had never worn it before.

I had gotten it on my San Francisco trip (just at Forever 21+…not anywhere wild & crazy cool) and had seen this in their plus size section and knew it needed to be my ‘teaching’ dress.  I mean, it says LOVE all over it!

So, there I was, just wandering through the Houston Airport when I noticed something was awry.

Everyone was staring at me.

I mean, I get it….I was wearing a dress that proclaimed LOVE about 50 times on it.

They weren’t looking at me in a bad way though, in fact they were all smiling or looking at me inquisitively with kindness.

But to tell you the truth, being so visible isn’t in my comfort zone at all (either in good way or not).

I’ve spent much of my life kind of being under the radar.  I see women getting cat called walking down the street or having other people look at them as though they were existing only for the consumption of the viewer.  The feminist in me knows that this isn’t the kind of being seen I seek and that it can be not so fun.

Being a plus size woman, I’ve always felt that when my body meandered over the line from a size 16 to a size 18 I became less visible and there is both a comfort in being under the radar combined with a frustration of feeling invisible.  I have a feeling I’m not alone in the mixed emotions that come with feeling visible & invisible.

But as I’m growing this business, I’ve been exploring the ideas of visibility, of letting ourselves ‘shine’, of not hiding, of not getting in our own way and that if we have a message we really want to share with the world, we might just need to be really visible.  I’m having to get outside my comfort zone a lot more and be more consciously visible in the world.

Since then I’ve been thinking about that moment a lot, of stepping into a public space and not playing small, in fact boldly proclaiming a statement I was really conscious in choosing to wear on my body.

Then yesterday, I watched this (if you haven’t seen it…do take a few minutes to watch this):

It makes me think about the ways I shrink myself each and every day.

In my written words (this recent post by the Playing Big gal herself…Tara Mohr…woke me up to this).

In my spoken words, especially the way I say Sorry so much.  Very Canadian yes…but like she said in the video: “I asked 5 questions in class today and they all started with ‘Sorry'”…these words keep us small.

In the way I’m navigating this online creative business and the interpersonal parts of it.  I think about the ways that I keep myself small in order to not have friendships change…as when we change, sometimes they do too. (and yes, as I’ve decided to stop keeping myself small, friendships haves sometimes shifted, both in person and online).

But I don’t want to live under the radar.

I don’t want to live a life unseen.

I don’t want to hide because it is comfortable, or because I might hurt people’s feelings by shining my light.

I crave to become more comfortable with being visible.

And my LOVE dress, well it seems like a good way to step outside of my comfort zone and learn to walk the world a little more boldly!

  • gotham girlOctober 21, 2013 - 7:18 am

    beautiful Viv! Such an inspirational piece. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Alison MiyakeOctober 21, 2013 - 4:17 pm

    Cheering you on over here. I would love for you to spread your message far and wide. And I really do love that dress on you.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle ClementOctober 30, 2013 - 9:29 pm

    Love this post, Viv! I recently got a big half-sleeve tattoo on my arm, and suddenly the day before getting it I thought: what if it makes me more noticeable?! Freaked me out. Luckily, I ended up with these thoughts, exactly – like you in your dress in the airport. At least I’ll be noticed for something distinctly ‘me’ that makes me super-happy and comfortable, right? And that’s a good thing, but it’s hard to step out there and do that when you’ve tried to not be noticed for so very long…:) I feel ya.ReplyCancel

  • KylieOctober 31, 2013 - 9:55 am

    Oh, goodness. Yes! I can totally, totally relate. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, recently. I’m also finding that one of my next steps in growing my business is to be more visible, and it’s surprising to find the places where I’ve been making/keeping myself small. Because I’m a feminist! I’ve been a feminist…forever! And I know that I feel comfortable in the smallness in large part due to gender roles. But it’s feeling right to grow.ReplyCancel

  • Lori-AnnOctober 31, 2013 - 11:35 pm

    I really, really needed to read all of this today. And I recently started a 365 day self-portrait project on instagram for some of these very reasons. To get used to looking at myself. To be seen. To move around ideas of perfection and “good enough.” Thank you for being visible; for showing youself to the world. I found you through Catherine Just, and I’m grateful.ReplyCancel