Body Image & Sewing

image from farm4.static.flickr.com My latest article, Hey New Mom: You're Fat!, is live at xoJane. It's a bit more serious than my other xoJane pieces and it deals with my postpartum body image issues. Sewing plays a big part in making me feel better.

I had never been that concerned with my body (I was always slightly overweight but not so large that I was unhappy) and felt that if I had to choose, I'd easily pick personality over a good body. And guess what? It turns out I didn't even have to make that decision myself! It was like my butt and my stomach had my best interests in mind and decided it was time to really let my personality shine. 

People ask how I lost the weight. I'd love to say that I just started eating better and excercising. But, in fact, I joined Jenny Craig. My weight gain (other than the pregnancy weight) was really due to the fact that I could (and would) out-eat my husband and really anyone at the table. I needed to control my portions (Jenny Craig meals are very small portions of prepackaged food) without thinking. And, I really just needed a jumpstart. The big fear is that once you go off the program and start eating "real" food, you'll gain the weight back. But, I started eating normally in February and have continued to lose weight.

Author

Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.

15 Comments

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  1. I can’t wait to hop over and eat it!
    I actually just typed that and didn’t realize my typo until I’d almost hit “post”. Clearly we share some concerns.

  2. jduy roberson

    Mena,
    thankyou for sharing that wonderful story.. SO many young moms and older moms too, have these same feelings.And the encouragement you share with your readers is so much help.. I dont think you even realize ,how much you help.
    My life has really changed since sew weekly challenges. I saw the weight problem..but I was old so who cared..grandmas are suppose to be fat!! So easy to tell our selves these things.. All the health problems that come with too much weight began to plague me.. Since your encouragement and sew weekly.. I have now lost 22 pounds.. I have a long way to go..but I feel confident now..I will keep on keeping on, until I reach that healthy goal.
    Know I have told you this before.. But just had to tell you again, after reading your weight loss story.. thankyou for sharing with us.

  3. margueritedesigns

    I don’t really mind what shape I am, but I prefer to be healthy. I’m trying to lose a few pounds, purely because it’s hard to run for my train at the moment and I’m also conscious that too many pounds equals health issues. I feel that there is too much of an obsession in society for being thin.

  4. I’ve been reading The Sew Weekly for over a year now. I rarely comment because, while reading sewing/fashion blogs (most of which I’ve discovered through this blog!) are welcome breaks in my workday, I seem to get distracted again with work before I can comment. However, I’ve increasingly been wanting to ask you something related to this topic…
    I have been nearly the same weight for the past 15 years. Sure, I gained and lost weight here and there from eating while bored or moving to San Francisco and walking everywhere. Things would balance out again and I’d still inevitably come back to the same weight. I’d plateaued at my “normal” weight for the last 6 years. Suddenly, I found myself 5 pounds lighter in October of last year. (I think it was from losing my daily craving for bread and cheese.) Then I went through a horrible breakup and lost another 10 pounds in December. I’ve been back to my normal eating habits since February. I gained back all but 5 pounds only to find that I’d lost another 5 again (most likely from deciding to be hardcore vegetarian and finding it hard to get enough calories from protein since I hate beans).
    I’m in a healthy place emotionally again and I really, really want to start sewing a wardrobe but am afraid that I’ll gain the weight back and my lovely new dresses and tops won’t fit. As a beginner in the sewing world (only an apron, dog costume, tank top and some fascinators to my name) I can’t find the motivation to spend so much time and energy (not to mention materials) on something that I’m certain won’t fit me in another few months. How do you approach sewing when you know that you’re losing weight and may be too small to wear whatever garment you’re sewing in mere months?

  5. I have to add my congratulations to you on sticking with your healthier eating habits! (See, I got distracted with work there.) I have learned how to have a healthy body image and try to eat right from my mother who continues to struggle with her weight, and my grandmother who dieted almost until her death. It’s not always easy to make the healthy choice!

  6. I have read all the articles you wrote for Jane, and I really like your writing style! This article definitely spoke to me! I am a mother of a 3 year old, so I have definitely thought about plastic surgery. I hate that they push these mommy makeovers on us when we are the most vulnerable. But, I guess it works for some people. I just joined Weight Watchers like 6 months ago and I have lost around 30 pounds since February of last year!

  7. It’s a very good article Mena – not a parent myself, but found your words to be excellent.

  8. I enjoyed the article too. I am not a parent either (like Jen), but feel like that process of reclaiming your image in a creative and productive way really captures what I think most of us miss when dieting. I tend to have other issues besides weight that I am trying to manage through my diet, and it is difficult to stick with restrictions. But knowing that I’m doing good things for myself and by always aiming for the healthful nurturing, I find these limits much easier to handle.

  9. I wish I could give you an easy solution, Alicia. I know I’m not knowledgeable enough about sewing to know the tricks that would suit your dilemma. But what strikes me is that you may want to use your sewing as a way to express those things you may not feel you have elsewhere. You have been under a lot of stress, and have limited yourself pretty strictly on diet. So, perhaps your sewing approach may go well with easier lines and softer materials, ones that adjust to a smaller frame should you lose more weight. Ones that are gentler in a time of your life that doesn’t sound easy. Perhaps? Or put more buttons on the sides to take things in as a part of the design… whatever feels most true to you and the most accepting.

  10. I certainly understand the out eating most everyone. I do the same. And after havin three kids my body just isn’t the same.
    Good for you that you were able to lose all that weight and it makes me feel better that I can do the same. Fitting into pretty retro inspired dresses is a great motivator!

  11. Mena, great writing over at xoJane – this article in particular was wonderful to read! Whilst it’s no way the same feeling as your post baby story, through my teens and early 20s I never felt comfortable in store bought clothes and felt isolated because of being too short and stumpy! But working out that making clothes to fit really changes everything…
    I’m thinking of doing a series of notes on ‘before I started sewing’ now, after reading your story! xoxo

  12. Alicia, don’t use your weight variation as an excuse to get out of sewing for yourself. As I read it, your weight goes up and down and sometimes you fit one part of your wardrobe and sometimes another, therefore start sewing for yourself now and just keep records of your weight when you make a particular pattern each time you make it and see how you like the fit/ease. If you are at your lowest weight now add 1″ seam allowances to the vertical seams so that they are easy to let out, look for princess styling dresses as these let out more easily than ones with waist seams. If you want to make up a waist seam dress sew the bodice front to the skirt front first (and the backs)then sew the side seams – again easier to let out.
    Our brains can be brilliant at coming up with reasons not to do a thing, we just have to ignore them and do it any way! enjoy the garment while it fits, and then enjoy buying some more fabric to MAKE UP! what ever shape you are. Good luck.

  13. Another great article, Mena. I’m pretty sure when you wrote about how the procedures worked, my stomach turned over!

  14. Hi, I just discovered your blog via this Jane post (I just discovered xoJane, too—was a Sassy reader back in high school and was pleased to find this new site!). I also have just started sewing, and am pregnant with babies #2 and #3 (yes, twins), so I’m looking forward to reading your archives and thinking about ways I might be able to continue to learn about sewing even while I’m busy with the babies, etc.

  15. What a horrifically scary concept (the mommy makeover thing). I am SO glad I missed out on this. I am not at all sad about sewing, though, and the greater understanding it’s given me of my body. :)