I had the great and unexpected pleasure of meeting Miss Dottie Angel (Tif) this spring, when she came out to our knit night while I was in Bellingham, Washington. I've long admired her work, her writing, her everything, since first introduced to her - way back in the day in the when we both had just begun our blogs. Witty, clever, smart, funny, beautiful, kind and everything in between. Meeting her? Well, that only increased my adoration for her tenfold. She's a pretty special one, that lady. And I'm so glad to have made her acquaintance in the real world too.
Her dress pattern, sold now by Simplicity Patterns, is out in the world for all to enjoy a bit of that style she's so loved for, and I was ever so glad to pick up my very own copy recently and get sewing. This is a dress style I love - sweet, comfortable, farm-girlish, totally adaptable and oh-so-versatile. I chose a Cotton + Steel fabric (in lawn) for the dress, and some scraps of Liberty and vintage cotton (from an old 1800's dress shirt) for the pockets. A few old buttons at the top (the lace collar, in the end, just didn't feel right - maybe next time). The pattern came together quite smoothly, and fits - I think - just right for me. (That said, I had some trouble with the sleeves and ended up improvising a bit on my own. Erin has a really great pattern review here that's helpful.) I love this dress. I really do. It feels like a dress I can wear everyday and feel comfortable and pretty in, and for that I am glad. I have more planned. A whole lot more, actually.
I know when sewing a pattern, I love seeing photographs of it actually being worn, and you'll notice a lack of that above. Ah! What a struggle. I've addressed this here before in bits and pieces, but oh boy, it's a hard one for me to wrap my words around. I am quite accustomed to criticism - it is the nature of the beast in this writing format that I use. It's easy to hide behind anonymous words on the internet, and after all these years I am quite adept at letting it roll. It is never really about me. My parenting, my food decisions, my choice in music, the way in which I earn a living, whatever it may be - criticism is someone else's feelings about those things being voiced and in general, I'm able to remember that. But body snark? Oh my. While it still may be true (that it is never really about me) it's one of the most unkind forms of snark, I'm certain, and I'm simultaneously repulsed, saddened, heartbroken, hurt and angered about it each and every time I see it happening - to me or anyone else. As for me, it happens each and every time I share a photograph of myself. Truly. Don't we have enough of that in our own heads? I am not exempt from feeling the sting. I am, after all, a woman living in this time when each day there are thousands of messages about how my body, as it is, is not enough. That I should stop the aging that is happening. That, despite being healthy where I am, I should lose weight. I definitely need "toning". Or maybe I should paint on some eyebrows? On and on. And while I think we need to work hard to erase those sources of cultural pressure and criticism, and seek out body-positive messages for ourselves and our children...there's also an element of protection that we must give ourselves. This body of mine - the one that has birthed five human beings, and treated me with good health and much joy for 38 years - is one that I want to cushion in love and acceptance. And for me, for today at least, that just might mean not putting myself - or rather photographs of myself - in a space which doesn't feel safe. I guess it's as simple as that. And I bring all of this up, not for sympathy or reassurance, but so that you know precisely why that dress is photographed on a hanger up above. And so that I may say - let us never, ever - never, ever - say unkind things about each others bodies, shall we? Not about a celebrity, a friend or an enemy - or ourselves. Not in person, not behind someone's back, and no, not even on the anonymous internet.
Well now, I fear I ruined a perfectly good pretty frock story with all of that chatter, but I hope you understand. And I hope today, you too are wearing something that makes you feel as beautiful as you are (because, of course, you are beautiful).