Today, we’re thrilled to bring you our next Curvy Confidence Interview with Lana of LeesVoer. Lana is a curvy sewist, blogger and model, and has always made me smile with her awesome vintage outfits. Over to you, Lana!
Let’s start at the beginning! What was your body image like as a child and teenager?
My body image was not great. I’ve always been the biggest kid in the classroom. I was tall and have always been built as a dockworker. When I was 11 my boobs came in and I instantly looked like a curvy woman. My mom was really thin and she did not know how to deal with me being bigger. She said things like: a moment on the lips…
I developed something like a binge eating and purging disorder in my early teens. When I finally found a friend group at 15 this got much better but I always felt like the ugly fat one. Looking at those pictures now makes me so sad. I was bigger yes, but I looked great.
What is the culture like regarding body shape & size where you live?
Dutch people are the tallest people in the world so we are used to taller people, and it’s totally ok to be a bit stocky. Size 14-16 is nothing to be ashamed about. Anything above that you are lazy… I am a size 20 but people always try and tell me I don’t look like a 20 so I’m ok. Because size 20 is obviously something I should be ashamed about…
Tell us about your journey to body positivity: did you have a “eureka!” moment that changed your self-perception, or was a it a more gradual process?
Both actually. Finding the love of my life at 19 is obviously a plus. I never had to do the whole dating thing. Although he had his own demons to get rid off. Accepting that you are attracted to a fat girl is something that a lot of guys have to get over, for a young guy that always thought he was supposed to like thin girls falling in love with me was a bit of an eye opener. We are not the only ones whom the toxic ideal affects. The real turning point came after turning 30 and having my children. I decided that I was too old to let myself be kept back by my insecurities and other people’s opinions.
What role has sewing played in your self-image?
It was huge, huge! Getting to wear what I think looks good changed my life. I didn’t fit in things I liked and didn’t like things I did fit. Today the plus size fashion world is way bigger then it was 8 years ago, I’ve actually started shopping again. But sewing saved me. I can wear my fifties style dresses and make them hug me tight in all the right places. It gave me back control of my self image, my public image and it feels powerful.
What do you find are the biggest challenges to your body confidence today? How do you overcome them?
I love my body, all of it. One thing that does challenge this is my excess skin in the baby area. I tried losing weight but it only got worse because the skin became even looser. I’ve contemplated plastic surgery but I decided it’s part of me, it’s normal and I endeavor to love that part too. Every day.
How do you think issues around body positivity affect women’s broader role in society?
Women are taught to look at themselves critically. You can’t sell a woman that’s happy with her body a lot of stuff to change that body. Keep them insecure and make a fortune… And as bigger women we are told to “hide” and “flatter” to try and look like we don’t take up too much space. I say claim that space! It does not matter if you are big or small, you are allowed to exist, to love yourself and to be loved and respected.
What advice would you have for other women who would like to find a peace with their body and self-image, but are struggling?
Realize that it is a journey. You can flip a switch and start working towards loving yourself unconditionally, but you can’t flip that switch and do it instantly. One thing that helped me a lot was to stop thinking snarky about other people’s bodies. I tried to see beauty in everyone and by doing that it became easier to see beauty in myself.
Another thing that really really helped me was modeling. Having a good photographer take pictures of you and seeing yourself in that way does wonders. It also helps you see magazines and such in a different light. No-one and I mean absolutely no-one looks 10/10 all of the time. But having those pictures of yourself looking AMAZING can help you on days you feel ugly.
One last tip would be: don’t let yourself dress drab when you feel ugly. Sometimes getting dressed up and doing your hair and make-up just to go to the shops can change your whole attitude. I recently chucked all my shitty pyjamas and bought some pretty ones so even if I want to have a pyjama day I can feel pretty.