How I’m Beating My Fashion Fears

Whenever I'm asked about personal style, my first response has been to say, "I've never been interested in fashion, because the fashion industry has never been interested in me." Kind of a snotty reply to a softball question — though I wasn't wrong. Fashion designers don't seem too interested in bodies like mine. But that wasn't the real reason I'd pretty much opted out of fashion for most of my life. The real reason was a lot more obvious: fear. Or, rather, fears — I had plenty. Here's a random sampling of things I was afraid of:
1. Short tops that might accidentally show my belly.
2. Long tops that might make me look even less hourglass than I was.
3. Anything tight enough to reveal that little bulge on my back beneath my bra band.
4. Sexy clothes, lest anyone think I was trying to be sexy.
5. Professional clothes, because what am I, a grown-up?
6. Jeans.
7. Well, all pants, actually.
8. Oh, except yoga pants! Can I just wear yoga pants everywhere, forever?
Nobody ever told me no outright, but I'm guessing that's the answer. I am, somehow, a grown-up lady, and while that doesn't require me to maintain a closet full of high-end designer labels, I do think I should feel capable of dressing myself in something other than yoga pants sometimes. And right now is one of those times.
My first book, Big Girl, hit shelves earlier this month. How's that for grown-up? I'll be kicking off a few weeks of publicity, doing events and readings in New York and L.A., and generally trying to give the impression of being, well, a big girl. Among other things, that means putting on some real clothes — not just grown-up clothes, but clothes that I like and express how I want to be seen. That's what fashion is, I now realize, and that's why it's been so hard for me to embrace.
What all my fashion phobias really come down to is exposure. When you've spent your life hiding, it's a terrifying prospect to let yourself be seen. Even when it's all you've ever wanted, even when it comes at a moment of such enormous joy, there's a part of you (okay, me) that wants to run home and hide under the bed — in yoga pants. I can accept that fear, but I don't have to listen to it. It's time to open my arms to everything I'm scared of, whether it's book reviews or a pair of jeans.
It's time to listen to the part of me that found the guts to write my story down in a book and share it with the world. That's something worth celebrating. So I found myself a party dress.
The Anti-Diet Project is an ongoing series about intuitive eating, sustainable fitness, and body-positivity. You can follow my journey on Twitter and Instagram at @mskelseymiller or #antidietproject (hashtag your own Anti-Diet moments, too!). Curious about how it all got started? Check out the whole column, right here. Got your own story to tell? Send me a pitch at If you just want to say hi, that's cool, too.

Photographed by Lauren Perlstein; Hair & Makeup by Andi Yancey; Styled by Bethie Girmai.

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