Body Image for Knitters
Actually, there are a few things that have helped me to perceive myself better in recent years. About five years ago, I dropped twenty pounds and could wear flattering clothes again. I am only 5'3 1/2 inches tall, so a little bit can make a significant difference. When I went out to buy new clothes, I mostly bought petite sizes. These clothes were proportioned to fit my shorter body... amazing, they worked! The waists and hemlines appeared in the right places and I could enjoy what I was wearing and face my reflection in the mirror.
I also had to have a complete physical three years ago, when my employment changed. I "discovered" that I was shorter than I had thought, and even freaked out and called two doctors that I had seen over the past fifteen years to make sure I wasn't shrinking with age... actually, it was just that all along I had thought I was taller, and I was - when wearing shoes! Sigh... I was already the shortest person in two generations of my immediate family, but I still had to adjust my perception of myself slightly. I made a firmer commitment to not buying clothing that was too big (i.e., too long) for me, and have stuck with it to the point of really despising clothes shopping. Now, I order a lot of things from catalogs, and am thrilled to find a Penneys with a large petite department. However, I find cookie-cutter clothing to be dull, which brings me around to knitting (I know, you were beginning to wonder if I was EVER going to get there).
Knitting allows a person to love the body they have, since you need to measure and adjust and construct something that is the right size for you. You also don't get to try the garment on until you are pretty close to done, avoiding misconceptions about you not being the right size... when really it is the garment that isn't the right size. This promotes a healthier body image...and I am thrilled to have made a tank top that I love the fit of. I also tend to turn to clothing in my closet that I like and measure the actual clothing to get an idea of adjustments in length I should make for a particular pattern, and in this instance, measured two tank-style sweaters to make sure I was on track before making the armholes.
I am still learning to love an aging body, with skin that isn't as elastic any longer, and a tummy that has decreased with the rest of me, but still isn't very flat. I think this love is one of my life tasks, but knitting for myself has helped me to have unique garments that fit the me that I am, not someone else, and to love my body more. I hope it works for you too...