Apples, Bananas, and Pears…Oh My! (Thoughts on Body Shape)

Recently several friends have asked if I’m still “doing that closet thing.” I am! I’ve been dressing with a limited wardrobe for over a year now, and I can’t imagine going back to my packed closet.

I haven’t written about it lately for a couple reasons. Most of my time has been spent getting my vintage-selling business off the ground, and my blog has languished a bit in the process. But my main reason for not writing about my capsule wardrobe is that I don’t think about it much anymore; this is just how I dress now.

Yesterday marked the end of my three month winter collection. Quite a few pieces carried over from fall, and I added some lovely new (and new to me) finds. I haven’t documented my looks or taken any bathroom mirror selfies this season. I’ve just…gotten dressed.

Capsule dressing has become a way of life for me.

While I haven’t been thinking much about my clothing lately, I have been thinking about fashion and how we choose what we wear. When I decided to try Project 333 last March, I first began researching, looking for any tips on capsule wardrobes, pinning lists of “must haves” and trying to figure out what I “needed” in my closet.

One type of advice that seemed to pop up again and again was the ubiquitous “How to Dress for Your Body Type.” If you’ve ever flipped through a style magazine or scrolled through the Women’s Fashion category on Pinterest, you’ve certainly encountered one of these articles or infographics. Perhaps you found it helpful.

I found all this body shape dressing advice…interesting.

If you are somehow unfamiliar with these types of articles, here’s the overview:

  • You compare your body visually or with measurements to various geometric shapes or fruits and see which one is the closest match. You might be a pear (smaller on top, bigger through the hips and thighs), an apple (larger bust, fuller waistline), a banana / rectangle (straight up and down), or, if you are very fortunate, an hourglass (evenly proportioned bust and hips with a defined waist).
  • You read and follow the advice for selecting the silhouettes and styles that are best suited to your particular shape.

For a long time I read these articles without questioning why they sparked a twinge of shame in me. I have never struggled with serious body image issues, and I generally feel good about how I look. But something about these articles left me feeling like I didn’t measure up.

As I researched in preparation for building a capsule wardrobe, I began to notice this little shame monster and question what might be behind it. As I read more of these body shape articles and how they advised I dress my body, I noticed some common words and themes emerging:

  • conceal
  • avoid drawing attention to…
  • trouble areas
  • problem areas
  • slenderize
  • camouflage
  • create a ________ silhouette
  • even out your body
  • offset
  • create curves
  • de-emphasize curves
  • give the impression of…
  • create the appearance of…
  • give the illusion of…

Notice anything?

Here is what one article had to say:

“The key to dressing a pear…is to create a balanced, hourglass appearance.”

Um, what?!? The key to dressing my body is to make it look like I have a different body? That can’t possibly be right! What if I actually like the body I have?!?

Mathematically, if we are going by bust-waist-hip measurements, I am a pear. And here’s the thing: body shape does not necessarily correlate with size. No matter how much weight I gain or lose, I will never be a rectangle or an hourglass. That is not how my bones are built. And I will not accept that my “pear-ness” demands padded bras and empire waist dresses in order to be presented acceptably.

There are parts of my body I’m more fond of than other parts. I will always prefer to show off my shoulders more than my ankles. And I do love a wide belt, which I guess emphasizes my waist. But I refuse to believe that the best way for us to dress as women is to conceal how we are shaped, to camouflage ourselves, to create the illusion of something else.

I hope I can make fashion choices that reflect more of who I am at the core–a creative individual, a crusader for freedom and redemption, a woman for whom “pear” is not a defining characteristic. I hope we all feel free to make those kinds of choices.

You are more than your dress size.

You are more than your bust line.

You are more than an ankle or a shoulder or a silhouette.

You are more than a number on a scale or a fruit in the produce aisle.

I may not fit in the “lucky you, hourglass” category, but I feel “pear” is not the right word…I’m going with POWERGLASS! It sounds like a superhero shape that has more to do with my heart than my body.

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What are your thoughts? Have these articles simplified shopping for you and helped you find things you feel great wearing? Am I completely overreacting? Do you have a superhero shape? I’d love to hear from you!

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6 comments

  1. lethally

    The body shapes thing is a load of rot, it really is. I don’t fit any of them. There are some people that just don’t fit classifications. So I’m “ME” shaped 🙂

    I absolutely agree about the shaming thing too. You just don’t see this kind of thing in men’s clothing. Makes me wonder if this, too, is a feminist issue? 😦

    • harkathome

      I absolutely think it’s a feminist issue. The advice includes so much language about making oneself “smaller” and trying to fit everyone into one narrow view…it’s disconcerting. Men face plenty of body shaming as well, but this particular sort seems specific to women. It’s not right. Let’s be who we are and dress how we like!

      • lethally

        Yep. My friends and I are mostly women who definitely don’t fit the “supermodel” mould. We’re all different shapes, and yet some of the women I know and care for deeply, and who have made an incredible, positive impact in my life I consider to be incredibly beautiful. They’d never make the cover of a magazine because they don’t fit what someone (who?), somewhere (where?) has decided is female perfection. But their partners and kids think they’re amazing, just as they are – and so do I.

  2. Katelyn Cresmer

    Every person’s body is different and we need to love them all! You’re not overreacting! People think we need to look “perfect” (whatever perfect is… who was in charge of defining that?)

    One example: I have asymmetrical breasts (like completely different cups sizes) and I am perfectly okay with them. I like them. My fiance loves them. It’s no big deal. Except for bra shopping, lol. I tried looking into custom bras so both breasts can be supported properly and I emailed one company to inquire if they made custom bras and explained my situation. She said, “Sorry to hear you have such differing sized breasts. Two different cups is not really the answer as you will not look even in your clothes.”

    WHAT?!? She’s sorry. Like, my breasts are a bad thing and she needed to apologize. And, I don’t care that I look uneven in my clothes, I just want to be supported.

    Lol, this was a big rant just to say, I completely agree with you. Those articles never helped me because I never liked anything they suggested. It’s all about trial and error and finding your style.

    No more shaming! 🙂

    • harkathome

      Wow, I can’t believe that happened to you. Bravo for loving the body you have! I can’t believe they had the audacity to respond to you that way. It’s such a narrow way of thinking. I’m with you–let’s love who we are RIGHT THIS MOMENT and stop with all the shaming! Thanks for commenting!

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