Sunday, October 20, 2013


      You know, I established long ago that there is just nothing you can say to a pregnant woman that won't piss her off. "Oh my goodness! You're about ready to pop, right?"  Um....no. I've been told that since I was 5 months along. Thanks, everyone. Thanks. It's probably my fault for being so sensitive. After all,I need to give everyone a break, because it's a HUGE relief when there is something OBVIOUS to talk about with people, and you don't have to strain your brain trying to find common ground. Babies are the great equalizer of people and their conversations. We all want to connect with other human beings on some level, and it's so much freaking easier when there's this "elephant in the room" so to speak (definitely what I feel like lately). You get to talk about the obvious huge projection out of the woman's belly, or the little, sweet infant she's holding, instead of forcing those contrived conversations about "yeah, we've just been really busy."  and "Oh, yeah, I know! We have been soooo busy lately."  Yup....busy, busy, busy.  cricket. cricket.  However, at this last festival, where I must have appeared prodigiously "ripe", I had about 20 people come up to me and ask  if I had swallowed a watermelon. Haha, funny, funny *cries into hotel pillow that night*

        This has been a really good learning experience for me. Many of you know how frustrated I get with women insulting their bodies incessantly. Any of you who have ever come into my booth at a renaissance festival have probably witnessed me clicking my tongue, shaking my finger, and soundly chastising another grown woman for using the "F" word in my booth (in other words, them saying they're FAT.)  The thing is, I spent about a whole entire year trying to reverse all of my bad brain patterns and habits.  I even started writing a book about it (which will probably never see the light of day, because I do so much dang sewing that I don't have time for much else.) because I realized one day that all of the diets, exercise programs, surgery, beauty products, and yes, EVEN corsets in the WORLD couldn't make you learn to  love your body unless you jump-started that mental journey on your own! I had worked my way down to 50 pounds less than I was after I gave birth to my son 7 years ago, and yet, when I looked in the mirror, all I had was shame, judgements, insults, and the most abusive language you can possibly conceive! I had honestly thought that once I lost the weight, the self-hatred would go away. Wrong.  
           I started to do a "brain-re-washing" as I thought of it. I knew that all of those thoughts that I had were just habits I had developed, and they were so powerful that they literally affected what I saw in the mirror. I knew that if I wanted to help other women learn to love their bodies, then I didn't want to be a hypocrite and spend all of my free mental time trashing mine!   Here are a few of the things I did. 
*Step out of the shower. Stare at completely naked body until I could say something genuinely nice about it. Sometimes this took about 10 minutes, and lots of tears. 
*Practice a simple "thank you" to compliments, instead of immediately shooting down whatever kind thing had been said. We're all guilty of this, and it sucks. Just say "thanks" and smile. Both people go away feeling better. It doesn't NEED to be "Wow, I like your shirt." with "OH my hell! I'm so fat and bloated today! This color makes me look like a sickly manatee!!!"  Seriously, friends. Did that help anyone? Nope.
*Find things you like about other people, tell them firmly, frankly, and without pause. The only way you can truly build yourself up is to build others up. Funny how that works. The more self-centered we become, the less happy we are with....ourselves! However, the more we think of OTHERS, and become self-LESS, the more we like ourselves. Ah, irony. 
*Wake up every day and TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. I work from home, so technically, there's no reason for me to put on makeup and do my hair....except for the fact I can either have an awesome, productive day sewing the heck out of corsets, feeling beautiful, OR I can wear pajama pants that hang around my legs, be in a bad saggy bra(those don't exist for me anymore. Push up, all the way, baby!) and be afraid to answer the door, even for the UPS man. In fact, ONE single time this last year, I just wore my pjs to work and didn't do my hair of makeup. I was in such a bad mood the whole entire day that I snapped at people, accomplished very little, ate straight junk food, and didn't drink enough water. Yuck. 
             Yet, with this last point, there's a catch 22, and I've only noticed it now that I've gotten back into all of my bad mental habits.....ALL of them. I realized that you don't even WANT to spend time making yourself fixed up and pretty if you don't BELIEVE that you even have a "best self." This is so deeply sad, but I'm gaining more compassion for lots of these women that I meet where I can clearly, plainly see their beauty, and they can't even get a small glimpse of it themselves. See,  with all of these drastic changes in my body, and all of the...uh...emotional trauma I've suffered this year, all of the positive affirmations I've been building up  have diminished. I no longer step out of the shower and thank my body for all the hard work it does for me, while praising its pale skin and womanly shape. Now, I'm back to yelling insults, profanities, and criticisms at the poor thing. I very quickly went from a pretty dang healthy body image right back down to square one..no, not even square one. Rectangle Negative 5. That sounds about right.
           The other day, I was trying to clear out excess clothing, and I was pulling out all of my "skinny" clothing, which I loved and made me feel like a rock star. This horrible, sneering voice said, "Michelle, you'll never EVER get back to that size. It's just going to be sitting there taunting you while you keep on wearing maternity clothing on your ruined body.  You're not like other women.  You don't lose the weight from having babies like all those other women magically do!  It just clings to your body, and you can't do anything about it!"  Into the trash went my leopard print jeans.   I pulled out several metallic foil ink printed V neck tshirts from Express. I looked at them. "Michelle, you'd have to starve yourself for months to get back into remotely fitting into these again! What will you do? Starve yourself while you're trying to breast-feed a baby? Not going to happen. You're up over 200 pounds right now, and you're going to stay that way. That weight looks like crap when you try to squash it into these clothes."

       What the JUNK? Where the devil does this maniacal voice come from??? If someone in my life EVER said ANY of these things to me, even the lightweight ones, I would shut them out of my life immediately. I wouldn't want to spend any time with this sadistic voice. She's a freaking B-otch, and is most likely jealous of me....or something.  Yet, instead of throwing her out the second she starts the insulting, I agree with her, submit to her, validate her, and INDULGE her.  Why would I do this? Why do women do this? Especially, in my life right now, when my body is doing something wonderful like building a human being(and don't ANY of you deny it! It's the freaking reason  YOU are here to even have an opinion. Your mother sacrificed and went through all this mental, physical, and emotional turmoil so that you could be here! Be grateful!)?

       It must have something to do with the triumph of the human spirit. It's easy for us to do the...easy thing. It's much easier to feel sorry for ourselves and retreat into our own selfishness, whining, victimizing, and bitter self-pity. The hard thing to do is to battle the natural voice, inclinations, and weaknesses!  Think about it. How much work is it to find something you hate about yourself? Um. No work at all. It doesn't take brain power. It doesn't make you unique, strong, or resilient. It makes you like every other woman who "hates her fat thighs and stupid belly pouch."  You won't be anything impressive, to yourself OR to others.   On the other hand, how HARD is it to find something you truly love and appreciate about your body? I'm not talking about vanity and narcissism, I'm talking about a  humble, quiet gratitude for something you have been blessed with. I'm talking about a peaceful feeling that makes you cherish what you have so that, instead of loathing yourself, you're able to channel that positive feeling outward and help people cherish what makes them unique.  
        When I'm at a positive level with my own body, I look at others and see beauty, character, passion, and absolute wonder! I can go and work festivals, and the women I meet are so lovely that I get emotional and teary-eyed when I talked to them, because their inner and outer beauty are nearly blinding.  When I'm filled with negativity and deprecation, I constantly compare myself with other women, berating my own body for falling short, and HATING those women for having what I can't have. Not healthy or productive.

      Crap, maybe I will write that book. Maybe. For right now, I've got to get to bed so I can sew frantically for the last week before Halloween. As always, thank you for all of your support. Even though lots of people told me I looked like a watermelon, an even bigger number of women told me how beautiful my belly looked, and believe me, I NEEDED that desperately. You gals must be in a better mental position than me! Keep yelling at that horrible inner voice. I hope to one day shut all of them up!


  1. You are amazing and gorgeous and glowing because you are doing what your body was made to do. Hey, we all looked like watermelons when we were pregnant, but I never felt sexier than when my body was doing what it was made to do. LOVE your body - and write that book. I would buy it!

  2. I can't tell you how much this post means to me.... and how very much I LOVE you even tho I've never actually met you. <3 You are SOOOO beautiful inside and out and your positive energy and thoughts and words constantly boost me up... can I can never thank you enough for that! You are truly an INSPIRIATION!!! I REALLY hope you will come back to AnomalyCon, or ANY Con in Colorado so I can make a point of coming to see you... we LOVE YOU HERE!!!!

  3. You are gorgeous inside and out! I love the baby bump, enjoy the wonder and beauty of your body!
    I'm one of those woman with an insane positive self image (even though I'm size 24). I just love myself! We love you AND you should too!

    ~ Emily

    P.S. Thanks for making rocking clothes that fit my hot (plus size) bod!

  4. Thank you for this; I needed the reminder that my body is the container for a lot of special things--my personality, talents and gifts--and when I disparage the container, I am also kind of crapping on the contents!
    Your work, your gifts and talents, have blessed SO many of us sisters-under-the-skin. I love your clothing, and I love how it makes me feel to wear it. You're a mission in the flesh--be proud of what you've given us; it means more than you may realize.
    Keep on building that new human; he or she is going to have a fantabulous mama!

  5. Hugs Michelle! you look wonderful. People have no idea what we are going to hear when they say such things. You look like a mom making a baby. You will get back into anything you truly want to and nursing helps that happen better than anything else. Lots of Love to you and your family. See you in the Spring.

  6. You are so freaking cute! And BEAUTIFUL! You make a great point about us (women). I try eveyday to see something positive, but it is hard. You should write that book! I would buy it!

  7. Fabulous post.
    I do have a spot of contention though.
    The doing your makeup and hair everyday no matter what. It sounds like you're saying a woman can't be beautiful bare.
    While it definitely makes you more confident at the time I feel that it hurts you're overall opinion of yourself.
    Like saying you can't be beautiful without it.
    I used to work a job where I had to be made up all the time. Sure it made me feel beautiful at the time, but I became so used to my "mask" that I stopped consider what was under it to have any value.
    After a year or so in my new profession I realized that forcing myself to learn to love plain me made me appreciate made up me all the more when I do it (which is not that often in comparison)

  8. This is exactly what I needed to hear tonight! I've been beating myself up the past few weeks over the way I look.I'm finally under 200 but the year old left over baby pudge is just not going away. The more I focus on it the worse it gets. Going to try the mirror thing and focus on being positive. :)

  9. I LOVE the way you look. Yes, you have a big baby in your belly - and it, and you, are gorgeous. Rock on, Momma.

  10. Michelle, you look amazing! I totally feel you on the post baby body blues, I'm fighting that one my self right now. I seem to be stuck with 20lbs left to go that just wont come off (baby number 3 is 9mo old). With the other two I bounced back pretty quickly, but this one is kicking my behind. I know that with determination, I'll get there eventually, probably just when I get pg with baby number 4 (fourth and final). I am defiantly going to try your shower/mirror trick. I know I need it, and maybe, just maybe, I can come to love this new norm for as long as I have it. Thank you for the wonderful post!

  11. Thanks for this. You are a beautiful soul inside and out. Rock that lovely preggo tummy!

  12. In all sincerity, you look like a gorgeous, sexy, exotic life-giving woman with amazing skin and hair. Great post, Michelle!

  13. Thank you for being open and honest. I love your suggestions on how to learn to accept the bodies we have as they are.
    I myself have struggled for most of my adult life with my self esteem concerning my physical appearance. I am 50 pounds overweight from my "healthy" not "Skinny" weight and cannot lose it due to a metabolic issue that makes it almost impossible. I have recently come to the conclusion (after 20 years of struggle) that this is me, this is how I am and I need to learn to live with it and appreciate it. Your words are helpful and make realize I am not alone.
    I know it is hard to feel like it when you are pregnant and feeling large but you look BEAUTIFUL!

  14. What a fabulous post. I still struggle with self image myself. I am healthy, but not skinny.

    And I love your cute watermelon baby bump. You are a wonderful human being. <3

  15. Darcie from OklahomaOctober 21, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    Michelle, YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL. I adore you, I think you look stunning, all the time. Love from Oklahoma!

  16. Thank you so much for this. I've struggled all my life with weight and self esteem and all of it. maybe this is what I need! xoxo.

  17. Michelle!! This picture of you and your baby bump are FABULOUS!!! One of the BEST pictures I've seen of a beautiful body growing another beautiful being!! I am envious of the belly you have grown... because while I was pregnant I didn't appreciate the beauty of the changes (we) were going through. I was in pain most days, and was angry with my body for not being "normal", not being able to 'accomplish' everyday tasks.

    You are such an amazing woman, and I do look up to you and your positivity about women. Your vision of changing the inner attitudes of women about themselves is inspiring! I know that when I am wearing any of your corsets that I *feel* beautiful; I put on make up and 'fix' my hair, but when I'm all done and out of the 'costume' me, I do tend to falter. And then I read another of your blogs, or see more of the fantastic creations you have made (in my size) and I wonder again why I don't feel better about myself when I'm not fancied up.

    It's time for me to put away the measuring tape (except when I'm ordering a new corset or crop jacket/vest) and take on the mirror and the voices. How right you are that shutting up the evil, vicious, nasty voice is a necessity. I have been teaching my daughter to appreciate her own beauty, while still taping up the voice in my own head. It is not easy, true, but what a difference it will make in the lives of those around me if I can love me, and look at me, the way they do. Beauty is as beauty does... to rephrase a popular quote ;)

    Thank you, Michelle, for all you do, and for all of who you are.

  18. I love seeing baby bumps. Mums to be are so beautiful and it reminds me of when I was pregnant with my gorgeous boy. I loved the last month or two of my pregnancy when I was huge and felt glorious.

  19. Thank you very much!!!!
    You're post was a real eye opener!!!
    It's interesting how fast we are back in bad schemes. And you got me aswell in the bad mood. Te last two mornings, after I read your post, I already did a longer make-up session in the morning and it really helps to feel better.
    thank you and have a nice weekend
    best regards

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  22. I can't believe I hadn't read this already! Amazing! You are beautiful! I am so lucky to have you as a friend :) I needed to read this. Thank you!

  23. Michelle you are incredible- I'm so glad I read this. I have this daily battle with myself and quite frankly it's exhausting. Thank you for your honesty and amazing attitude. :)

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