I didn't feel comfortable in my midsize body until I found other women like me

I remember the first time I went shopping for a bikini: for my friend’s 13th birthday party. 

Excited, I went to my local Asda and picked up as many gorgeous separates as I could in my size, before going into the changing room. But I was soon confused as to why, despite the pieces being labelled the size I was, both the top and bottom were too small for me.

Eventually, I had to figure out a combination of tops from sizes 18-24 to fit my bust, with size 14 bikini underwear – an experiment that left me feeling terrible because A) I completely messed up a display that a retail assistant definitely took their time to make neat, and B) I felt like there was something wrong with my body. 

Why on earth did nothing fit me, or make me feel confident? And how come so many of my friends could simply pick things off the hanger without this stress?

Nearly 10 years later, I haven’t worn a bikini since and I still have that anxiety of going into the changing rooms with four different sizes not knowing which will fit, or whether I’ll have to tell the shop assistant ‘no good’, wanting to burst into tears of frustration because of yet another failed shopping trip.

For a long time, I’ve felt as if my body has never played by the rules of where it ‘should’ fit.

I’ve always been the person who stares at myself just that bit longer in the mirror, pinching the love handles, sucking in the gut. As a young teenager, I pored over Trinny and Susannah’s Body Shape Bible trying to find out which was mine – and still, I had no luck.

My shape’s been described as busty, top-heavy, V-shaped or inverted triangle – it sounds complicated and it is.

Having a body shape with proportions like mine is tricky; some things fit, other times I’ll try a size but it’s too small, but anything bigger is too big.

For the most part, we know what petite and plus-size looks like – but not those who fall in between those two categories. This is where I sit.

Body shape ideals move in trends, and when I was growing up it was being a size six with a thigh gap. Now it’s the hourglass figure (I have neither of those figures and never will).

I have never felt slim nor fuller-figured, just in a ‘fuller busted’ camp of my own – and it’s been confusing.

For a long time, I wondered: ‘Does anyone else have this body shape?’

I’d never seen a celebrity or anyone with a physique like mine. My mum would tell me I had my grandma’s shape, but I don’t identify with that either.

Then during the recent lockdowns, I was scrolling around on Instagram and TikTok and discovered a category that I felt at home in: midsize.

Often described as anything between a size 14 and 18, I started seeing women talk about how to dress for their shapes and fuller bust bodies. Outfits that, prior to seeing these videos, I thought I had no chance of wearing – things like strapless dresses, girlfriend jeans and midi dresses.

I finally knew where I fit after years of feeling at odds with my body. 

I was always taller than my friends, wearing age 13-14 trousers at Woolworths when I was much younger. At 14, I was a size 12 with a 30FF bust, while most girls my age were only just getting rid of their training bras.

Cara Delevingne’s thigh gap had its own Twitter page, and I was filled with envy because the only thing my thighs were doing was rubbing, and having me apply talcum powder on them in the summer because of the sweat – the glamour of it all.

Following these people who look like me has been life-changing. Discovering how many people with ‘in-between’ bodies have felt the same way, I’ve felt more seen than ever.

I am ecstatic we have the midsize movement. The term was coined by Anushka Moore who launched the MidSize Collective Instagram page in July 2018 out of frustration that she could only find a handful of influencers that were a size 14, like her.

And it’s growing, with #midsize on TikTok having more than 220 million posts, showing anything from swimsuit videos to recommended clothing brands to shop from as a midsize person. 

It’s encouraged me to be more daring with my outfit choices too; I always strayed away from colour as I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, but now I feel like I can be adventurous in the way I physically present to the world, and I don’t care.

I no longer feel like I need to be smaller around my stomach area so I feel more proportionate, or worry about trying to fit into smaller jeans. It made me realise how long I’ve spent being concerned about my body and how it looks when what I should be focusing on is the fact it keeps me alive.

The energy and passion I have for the midsize movement reminds me of when I also discovered fuller busted women on Instagram a few years back. Finding women who had identical experiences to me made me feel as if I wasn’t on my own; it was empowering.

The lack of representation of different body types has been an issue for a long time, and we have a long way to go. 

I will still try my luck and pick out an outfit online or on the high street and pray it will fit me like it fits the model. I may get frustrated but what I know now is that my body isn’t wrong, and never has been.

I recognise the privilege I have – I can still walk into most high street stores and know I could find something to fit me in some capacity, whether I like it or not.

I look forward to the day we have more representation so every person who has a body sees themselves reflected. 

I spent so long worrying about my body, but I appreciate it more now, and focus on what it does rather than what it looks like, all while wearing some fabulous midsize jeans and cute heels – cheers to that!

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