In Support Of Wearing Whatever The Hell You Want

by Katey Johnson
Originally Published: 
Katey DiStefano Johnson

This is me in a dress that society would say I have no business wearing. It’s not the first time I’ve worn it, and it won’t be the last. I know it’s not flattering, but I don’t want you to say, “OMG, you look great!” I don’t want you to say, “Good for you!” I want you to know why I’m wearing a dress I “have no business wearing.”

I took this picture while one-and-a-half-proseccos deep during a girls’ weekend with my best friend, and we were on our way to a nice dinner. Someone could say that I look a little pregnant in it because of, you know, that part sticking out in the front. I do look a little pregnant. That’s fine. Once upon a time, I grew two babies in that part sticking out in the front, but I assure you, now it’s just where I keep my cheeseburgers and sauvignon blanc.

I bought this dress for a trip my husband and I took. When I tried it on I knew the dress wasn’t made for my 5-foot-2, 160-pound body, but I felt great in it. I don’t know why. I just did. I’m not known to wear form-fitting clothes. At all. But I wanted it, so I bought it. And I was proud of myself for it.

The truth is, I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been, other than when I was pregnant. Another truth is that I’ve always struggled with my weight, and if you’ve ever struggled with your weight, you know it’s not a physical struggle. It’s about how you see yourself and how you speak to yourself in your mind. After 40 years of telling myself I have no business wearing things I want to wear, I’ve decided to change the subject. I’ve decided to start being kind to myself.

I’m a work-from-home mom. I make my own schedule. I could spend two hours a day at the gym if I wanted to. I could run from here to Manhattan and back if I set my mind to it. The thing is, my mind is elsewhere. Right now, I’m in the business of keeping my shit together. I’m in the business of raising loving children. I’m in the business of maintaining healthy friendships. I’m in the business of having a happy marriage.

For 40 years, I’ve stood in the mirror and compared how I look to how I think I should look. And it’s exhausting. Now, in an ugly world where I have so many other, more important things to worry about, I’m hitting that red “Decline” button when the self-doubt calls start pouring in. I don’t want to do it anymore. I want to be in the business of loving myself. It’s as simple as that.

I’m not saying I’m giving up exercise or anything like that. I’ll still do it, here and there, because I want a healthy body. I’m just taking a break from beating myself up. I’m muting the negative things I say to myself, because as it turns out, I care way more about my own comments than anyone else’s.

So here’s the thing: If I can put on a dress I have no business wearing to go out with my husband or to go to a fancy dinner at a nice restaurant with my best friend because it makes me feel good, you can too. And if I’m putting this picture online for thousands of people to see, well, then you can certainly wear a dress you have no business wearing to a barbecue this weekend.

If the hard part is talking yourself into it, tell yourself life’s too short to worry about things you have no business wearing.

Katey Johnson

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