Feb 3, 2015

Smile to Flatter

I feel there has been a lot of discussion in my twitter and Ravelry feeds, in books, in podcasts and even in Instagram hashtags about knitting sweaters that flatter your particular body type. I don't really have an issue with wearing clothing that flatters. I know, as a tall, fat 30-something, that I cannot pull off a tube-top paired with pedal-pushers. I shudder at the thought. When I clothes shop, I look for items that hide the rolls, accentuate the breasteses, and just generally give me a pleasing appearance. However, equally important (if not more so) is that I am comfortable and enjoy wearing the clothing. So, while a tailored, lined dress might look amazeballs on me, I would be constantly fighting the urge to go Hulk on it. I also find that if I am unhappily uncomfortable in clothing (be it the fabric, the bulk, the movement, whatever), it doesn't matter how objectively flattering it is, I feel like I am in that tube-top and pedal-pushers.

When it comes to knitting garments, these feelings are amplified and more complex. The time commitment of knitting means that if I knit something I do not find comfortable or pretty, I hate it and myself in it exponentially more than if I had bought it. That I knit for the enjoyment of knitting (I am 80% process, 20% product), if a pattern is full of aspects of knitting I find to be torture (more purls = more misery) or just boring, I'm going to both hate the knitting and the FO, and as such, hate myself in it. How I see myself in a handknit is influenced by the level of joy the knitting brought (a combination of pattern and yarn), general opinions on design (cables, lace, etc.), and fit. Emotion and preference are intertwined with objective elements of fit.

While I do consider objective fit and style - I do pass over patterns that I find unappealing based on that - it is not a primary criterion for pattern selection. This is mainly because when I look at sweaters that are meant to flatter my body type, they are all of a style that I find, well, hideous. My personal sense of style and preferences in clothing just don't mesh with what is "objectively flattering." When leafing through a certain book that caters to knitting sweaters that flatter different body types, I find my eyes drawn to precisely those patterns and styles that, apparently, look like dog shit has been flung upon my torso. I see people post photos of gorgeous aran sweaters and bemoan that it would make them look even heavier, or comment sadly on how heavy cables just aren't for fat girls. I see designers and knitterati champion accepting your body and knitting for it, I guess rather than for the body you wish you had.

Fuck that.

I accept my body, and I won't constrain it within clothing that others, not I, find acceptable. Isn't the whole idea of "flattering clothing" predicated on accepting that there is in fact a beauty standard and that we must dress in such a way as to get our nonstandard bodies as close to "ideal" as possible?

I say again: Fuck that.

Here's the deal: I love cables. I love big, heavy, intricate cables. I yearn to knit them. I don't give a rat's ass that they add weight to an already weighty body. Big girls can't wear cables? WATCH ME. Facts: I will enjoy knitting a cable-heavy sweater (a lot). I will find the FO to be exquisitely beautiful. I will have glee in my heart when I wear it. That glee will do something to my brain to make me secure in the knowledge that no other sweater could make me look as fucking awesome.

Perhaps a cabled aran sweater won't "objectively flatter" my body type, but so what? I am happy, and that is the most flattering thing for any body type.

Knit what makes you happy.

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