Not Like the Others: Danielle’s Stand Out Tips

Our final post in our series on how to deal with standing out. I hope Danielle’s post inspires and encourages you as much as it did me!

I was a theatre kid growing up, and feel very much in my element in front of a crowd. As long as I’m being true to myself, I’m happy to stand out and be the center of attention. I’m also generally pretty good about accepting constructive criticism – as long as it’s focused on my actions. Criticism about my appearance, on the other hand, tends to cut me to the core.

Several years ago, I had a co-worker tell me that I needed to cover up my chest because my breasts disgusted her and “showing them off” was inappropriate. I had always done my best on a limited budget to find wrap tops and v-necks that I could pair with camis to cover my chest and flatter my figure. Nothing that I wore was ever inappropriate. In fact, I usually showed less skin than this straight-figured co-worker who was so repulsed by my decolletage. Can you say double standard? I have struggled with my weight and accepting my curvy body for years, and so these body shaming comments played perfectly into my old insecurities. Rather than realize that this was just the latest tactic in an ongoing bullying campaign, I was suddenly back to elementary school when I started developing before most of the other girls, and to high school when I was told that it was inappropriate for me to wear the tank tops that the other girls were wearing. I gave way too much mental energy to the whole situation. Then I went out and bought baggy crew neck shirts so I could just blend in and avoid further unwanted comments. I spent a season wearing frumpy clothing that did not flatter my shape and did not reflect my tastes or personality before realizing that something had to change. I hated hiding, and refused to do it any longer.

And so, I started researching clothing options for women with hourglass figures, and stumbled into the wonderful world of big-bust-friendly clothing and bra blogs. Wearing clothing that actually fits properly and is therefore comfortable and flattering is a major confidence boost. Rather than tugging on my clothes and doing constant cleavage checks, I can walk into a room with my shoulders back, head held high, and feel comfortable that my clothing is a positive reflection of myself. It has been so much fun discovering new companies and checking out the growing variety of options that are available to curvy women in this expanding global niche market. And it has been a revelation to connect with other women who have struggled with similar issues and are developing a positive online community where we all can vent, celebrate, learn, and be ourselves. I even have some friends who are jealous that I can order clothes online and have them fit like a glove straight out of the box. I certainly never would have predicted that 5 years ago!

During this time of growth and empowerment, I also worked on learning to love my unique, curvy body. One of my biggest revelations came during a group exercise class. Before each class began, I used to scrutinize myself in the mirror – making sure my underarm flab was tucked properly under my tank top straps, seeing if my tummy, hips, and triceps looked any skinnier than they were a few days earlier, and so on. On this particular day, I was not pleased with what I saw. Mid-way through the class, I glanced around the packed room. I saw women of all shapes and sizes and skin tones. And every single one of these women was beautiful. It didn’t matter that we were all coated with sweat and that half of us were flushed. All of these “regular” women each had a completely unique shape, and each was beautiful. I would never dream of disparaging any of their bodies, so why was I being so critical of my own? I’m still working on loving myself as I am – it’s especially difficult when I see photos taken from a particularly unflattering angle. And I still do the occasional pre-workout figure check. But now I make a point of stopping negative self-talk as soon as I notice it happening, appreciating what my body does for me as I move through the day, and working towards becoming stronger and healthier.

One thing that has always given me confidence when I worry about how I will come across to others is understanding that most people are so worried about themselves: how they look, what they should say, whether or not others are judging them, and so on, that they don’t have much mental energy left to judge me (or you, or anyone). So why not wear whatever I feel like wearing and do what I want to do (within obvious ethical and legal bounds)? Chances are no one will pay me any particular attention anyway. And frankly, as long as I’m happy, comfortable, and doing things that I enjoy and am proud of, then it doesn’t really matter what others think. The times that I have been judged by others, especially about my appearance, it spoke more to the insecurities of the person judging me than it did to my appearance. And it’s certainly not a reflection of my value. If someone judges me, then it’s on them. If someone likes the way I stand out, then all the better! I’m making a point of focusing on developing my potential and being the best version of myself that I can be. And let’s be honest, the kick-ass woman that I strive to become is bound to stand out in a crowd!

Not Like the Others: Tips for Standing Out from Anna & Piper

It’s a twofer Tuesday today as we continue our Panache giveaway-inspired series. Today’s tips come from two women who are accustomed to being the center of attention.

From Anna

I’ve always been a person who likes to be the center of attention, so for me, standing out is usually a good thing. I’m usually the brightest (and biggest) person in a room, and I know now that taking up space in the world isn’t a bad thing. Women are conditioned to take up as little space as possible, by staying small and thin, by pressing their legs together on public transit, by apologizing for just existing. I don’t have the option of making myself small, so I embrace it. I’m going to stand out anyway, so why not do it with a little style (and perhaps a rainbow raincoat and some hot pink boots)?

If you stand out accidentally, think about why it’s making you uncomfortable. Is it because of the way people are reacting to you – or the way you THINK they are reacting to you? I have come to realize that even though I try to stand out, most people are focusing too much on their own business to worry about what others are doing. If you’re feeling weird because you’re the only one in stripes when everyone else is in solids, take a second and really think about whether they care or not. They probably don’t! And if they do – that’s their problem, not yours!

From Piper

How do I deal with standing out?

I have never had a problem standing out because of who I am on the inside. I was that smart girl in class that talked a little too much. I like being in charge and leading groups. As long as people are focused on what think or what I am doing, I am happy and comfortable, and I don’t mind the attention at all.

I am still working on being comfortable with the attention I get from my body. I have large boobs (usually 34HH), and this is almost always the first thing people notice about me. I wanted people to take me seriously and listen to what I had to say so I used to always try to cover up or hid my boobs. But, I was not happy with how I looked. I almost never ever wore dresses because I could not find any that fit properly. I felt fat or frumpy; never polished and put-together.

Over the years I have discovered clothes designed for large breasted women (YES!). I can now look fabulous, sophisticated or sexy. I love these clothes. I love how they make me look. I love how I feel in them… most of the time.

Sometimes I still struggle with the attention I get, especially when I am wearing a more form-fitting outfit. I love walking down the street knowing that I look good, but I am also constantly bracing for the unwelcome comments from strangers. I will never understand why a stranger thinks they need to comment on my boobs. My “favorite” comment is someone telling me that I have large boobs. Geez thanks for pointing that out; I had no idea because I have never looked in a mirror before.

Still, I won’t let random strangers dictate what I wear or ruin my day. I will still walk down the street with my head held high wearing some awesome outfit, and if a stranger makes some inappropriate comment… screw them. If they can’t see past my looks to see what a fabulous person I am, then they don’t deserve a second thought. And while I don’t always follow my own advice, I will keep trying until I get there.

Not Like the Others: Celia’s Tips for Standing Out

Continuing our Panache giveaway-inspired series with this fresh perspective from Celia.

My best advice for standing out? Own it. I’ve definitely had situations in which I felt as though I might be standing out in the “sore thumb” way instead of the “extra glittery star” way. But in situations like that, I still plaster on a smile, throw my shoulders back, and repeat my own personal mantra to myself “I’m awesome, forget them.” (Note: the mantra actually uses a more adult word starting with F, but I’ll just keep this family friendly.)

This might not work for everyone but I’ve generally found if you tell yourself that you’re great, it helps combat the stupid voice of internal cringe if you find yourself feeling less than confident. I also find that the people around you accept whatever you’re dishing out so long as you do it with a smile and a wink.

Also want to give a quick shout out to how much I love Panache’s line of sports bras. I play roller derby and have two of them to play in, and they’re fantastic. The foam shaping actually provides my ladies a little bit of extra protection against chest hits. And they look great too! So well supported!

roller derby panache protection

Not Like the Others: Katherine’s Tips for Standing Out

Today we continue our Panache giveaway-inspired series about how to stand out.

As for standing out, my hair does most of that for me. My hair is extremely coarse, thick, and curly (3b texture), and it is mega poufy even with meticulous care, just through being itself. I’ve had complete strangers pet me, yank at individual strands to see if my hair is real, and even interrogate me about my race, because I’m very pale but with hair typically seen on people of African descent. All without permission, of course.

katherine curly hair

When I was younger, I was miserable because of my hair and the attention it got. I normally would yank my hair back in a vain attempt to contain the curls; on the rare occasion I left it down, my technical theater director referred to this as “letting my freak flag fly,” that by embracing my hair I was letting some of my personality shine through. I was often bullied in school for my hair, so my director’s words were empty to me at that time.

My feelings of misery from standing out began to change when I found an online community of other ‘curlies.’ Their hair-care tips and support helped me feel like less of an oddity, and I began to enjoy what makes my appearance unique. I think more about the positives now, like that I probably won’t ever go bald, and that I’m very easy to find in a crowd. It has been a really difficult journey for me, but I’d encourage everyone to fly their own personal “freak flag” in an effort to love who they are.