A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Friday, July 29, 2005

Body Image for Knitters

Reading over my comment in yesterday's post about wanting to stay the size that makes this new tank top fit, got me pondering my life-long battle with myself over body image. I have always fretted about my weight, my entire adult life, even when it was the right one. Now, in middle age, I have gone up and back down a few times, trying to get to a healthy diet that works for my aging metabolism... when I was in my twenties and thirties, I ran really fast on sugar and coffee, and hardly gained anything. Not so as I approached and crested the hill of 50. Now, I really need to be health-conscious to keep my energy up, food allergies and destructive cravings down, and to maintain a healthy body-fat percentage. I have been so skewed in looking at the scales over the years, that I turned to research on healthy body-fat as a balancing factor, only to learn a week or so that I had been reading the charts wrong, and a higher percentage was ok at my age (is this a pattern?)

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...


Anonymous margene said...

There are advantages to age. I don't care as much about fashion nor am I as particular about my looks. And while I love going to the gym and moving my body (which should help with the aging thing in the long run), it does get harder to do the things I used to do. The aging skin is the hardest thing to watch.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Lynette said...

You're right, knitting *does* keep us honest about our shape and size. It has taught me to be particular about what I knit; this has subsequently influenced my clothes shopping. I am also a petite and I used to buy clothes just because they were "S" or "XS". Because I've become so aware of shaping and fit due to knitting, I'm more discriminating in my purchases now. This means, though, that I'm buying clothes from only 2 stores these days - J.Jill and REI! LOL

8:20 AM  

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