Why Does Body Shape Matter?

Posted by Jen Anderson on

Vikki Vi Fashion Blog

I mean, really. I've rejected the idea that I have figure flaws that need to be camouflaged. Or that I should dress to look taller. And don't get me started on how weight isn't an indicator of health. But I still talk about apples and pears and which pieces are better for each. So what gives?

Blame The Clothes, Not Yourself

Discovering that I'm pear shaped was life changing for me. Before that, I'd try on clothes that were too tight across the hips. Clothes would stretch across my middle and then contract once they got over the mountain (so to speak). Everything fit me like a pencil skirt made by someone who didn't know anything about designing and constructing clothes.


Every single time, I'd wonder what was wrong with me. Why was my body like this? No matter what my weight was, or how much I was working out, my hips were still doing this weird thing. I thought if I could discover the right exercise, I'd be "normal".


The amount of self loathing in that last paragraph is exhausting. And not based on reality.

For starters, people come in different shapes and sizes. Men too, but there's more variety in the female form. And not all clothing is designed for every body shape. So it's perfectly normal that some clothes look weird on me.


I'd been thinking that my hips were too big, but really it was that some clothes were just the wrong shape for me. The same thing goes for apple shaped people and their tummies, and so on for all the different shapes.


It's a Useful Shorthand

We know that certain styles give apple bellies or pear hips enough room to breathe and move comfortably. So when we shop, we look for the styles that are right for us. But it's one thing to acknowledge that my hips are the biggest part of my body and that's just how it is. It's another thing entirely to realize that my hips are my biggest part JUST LIKE A LOT OF OTHER WOMEN.

Categories can be lame and stupid, but sometimes they can remind us that we're not alone. And there's power in that.

I just did a online search to find out what percentage of women are apple shaped. Most of the results were just questionable health advice. (It's like Google doesn't even know me.) A simple search for statistics prompts an onslaught of "there is something wrong with you". Knowing that you're part of a group gives you strength. It makes it easier to accept that your body is shaped a certain way and that's not going to change. That's just how it is. It's not good or bad. It just is.


woman wearing a black bias cut tunic top
It Comes Down To Comfort


I'm the first to say you do you - wear whatever you want to. But some styles can make you feel squeezed, which can ruin your entire mood even if they don't make you feel like there's something wrong with your body. The best clothes are the ones you don't have to think about while you're wearing them.

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Laura –we’re in total agreement!

Mary Kay –You have a great point about composites. After a certain age, we’re all part apple. It sounds like you’re an Inverted Triangle Apple, so follow Inverted Triangle advice and leave room for your tummy like apples. So no separates that cut across your middle –tunics or dresses will be most comfortable.

Anne –too big for what? You’re the right size for you. I’ll email you some links.

—Jen anderson,

But but but. None of those describe ME. I’m broad shouldered &big-busted, but I also have a stomach. I used to be vaguely hourglass with more sand in the top, but post menopause that waist kind of disappeared. So even this attempt at descriptive inclusion fails. Wah. Life is not perfect! Why is life not perfect? Seriously though, does anyone have suggestions about dressing for us composites? I’ve seen a bunch stuff on Pinterest about dressing for those various shapes, but nothing for us composites.

—Mary kay,

A number of years ago someone actually did publish statistics on body shapes, but they only used 4 profiles. I think the apple and rectangles were lumped together (no pun intended) as one. However, the only number I remember was for pears –40% of women –all women –at the time are pears! The rest is divided among the other 60% with the smallest number being the inverted triangle. So all you pears out there, you have lots of friends of all sizes in exactly the same boat. That should mean that there is more out there for you, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.

Over my 73 years of being plus size, I’ve finally figured out three things: Styles that flatter you are 1) the ones that aren’t too tight (biggest mistake all women make!) ;2) the ones that are actually comfortable to wear;and, MOST IMPORTANT, 3) the ones that make you feel confident, pretty and happy to face the world. People tend to see you as you see yourself. And the best accessory you can ever wear is a smile!


How do I figure out what my shape is other than being too big, and once I have that figured out, how do I use that insight to buy the right clothes for me?


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