All Fat Overweight
Joe Bartholomew  

Vulnerable In A Dress?

Trigger Warning – too many to list…

There are many reasons why I don’t feel comfortable wearing a dress or a skirt so I’ve avoided them for many years – occasionally I’ll wear a skirt in winter if I can get away with wearing leggings underneath, but otherwise, nope.

So I’m 53 and entering a new season of life… not just the fact that I’ve decided I’m actually 38 my next birthday (just sayin)… and have decided I deserve to be able to wear a dress, and feel comfortable in it. 

The humiliation train has left the station… strap yourself in.

I own dresses, I just don’t wear them more than once. It takes the passing of time for my ADHD brain to forget why I don’t like dresses, then I buy one, wear it, and the realisation comes crashing in, normally when I’m already out in public when it’s too late to make a change.

Let’s start with the practical reasons for my not feeling comfortable in a dress or skirt.  Even when I was a slender 13-year-old (slender as I had bulimia for a number of years), my legs chaffed. The reason why I left school at 14 had nothing to do with the fact that my thighs blistered when I ran around the hockey pitch taking people out, but it was an added bonus not having to experience that pain again. 

For my first wedding I was a size 10 and still my legs chaffed after a few hours of posing around in a white dress, on a beach in the Caribbean. Thankfully my overriding memory of that day was my dad throwing two German tourists off their sunbeds when they refused to move out of our photographers’ way, and my then-husband losing his wedding ring in the ocean, only two hours after he said I do with it… so the dress problem doesn’t really factor up there in highlights. Oh and the steel band playing ‘Sorry’ by Tracey Chapman as our first dance… amazingly we did make it for seven years before the itching started and we parted ways – my marriage, not thighs.

Then there is the emotional toll of feeling vulnerable in a skirt. I was abused when I was just six years old and again when I was around ten, two different people and scenarios, but it’s left me with a sense of vulnerability that kicks in when I wear anything but trousers. The way around this has been wearing leggings/shorts under these clothes which stops that exposed feeling, although when I do this I’m constantly aware that I’d never know if I tucked my skirt in my shorts after going to the loo, so that’s a drama in itself.

So the solution – a body suit – I thought…

The bodysuit I tried has shorts attached and goes around your arms like a bra… so basically a unitard cut off at the thighs.  And oh don’t they make you look sooo less bumpy and, once the breath is recovered from getting it up your legs, they make you feel less wobbly too.  

As I’ve entered this new, rather strange, season in life, I decided I’d lose nothing by wearing a fancy evening dress out to the shops in Cirencester to give it a test run without it being at an event that matters. So I dressed the glamour down with a leather jacket and boots and thought I’d best pop to the loo before I left.

I sat on the loo seat for all of two seconds before I realised there could be an issue.  This open gusset thingiemibob just seemed a tad too small. As I had time on my side I took my entire outfit off, had a pee, redressed, caught my breath, and drove out.  As I sauntered around town I had my air pods in playing upbeat music to try to distract me from the stares I was getting, possibly the music was a bit too bouncy and I may have looked like a Silvikrin advert which likely didn’t help.

I felt quite cool wandering around in such a glamorous outfit at lunchtime on a Friday afternoon, probably as I knew I’d not bump into anyone I knew as I’ve only just moved here.  I did find myself constantly checking that I hadn’t caught my dress up from behind as I couldn’t feel the material over the bodysuit, but that was small potatoes in the big scheme of things. After a few hours of mooching about, now confident that I could wear a dress to a posh event, I drove home and walked into the bathroom.  I knew at this point I was likely to be putting my PJ’s on soon as it was almost 4 o’clock so… anyhoo… I figured in for a penny, in for a pound, and thought it best to try this open-gusset thing, as if I were at an event there is no way I’d be able to peel myself out of the dress and shapewear to have a pee without someone calling an ambulance, I’d prefer to just go home.

I swear I thought about it first. I really thought I’d got a handle on how to do it, yet I managed to pee all over my hand and pretty much the entire bottom half of the suit.  Once I stopped laughing I stripped, had a wash, put on my PJ’s, and threw the bodysuit into the washing machine.  Perplexed by my anatomy not fitting the suit, of course I headed to Google and, after eventually finding the right combination of words to not bring up porn, typed…What is the point of an open gusset on a bodysuit?

And this was the description:  An open gusset is a feature found in some shapewear garments. It refers to the opening between the legs which can either be an elastic panel or mesh fabric, designed for ease of movement and comfort. This opening allows for improved breathability, freedom of motion, and faster changes. Nowhere have I been able to find the answer ‘for ease of going for a pee’… or ‘for sex’ which was what I assumed after the toilet disaster.  So I’ve spent the best part of an evening and morning trying to figure out how to get around this, and I’m going to test what I think could be the solution.  A female travel urinal.

I shit you not.

Now, looking at this, I’ve no idea how this will squish into the tiny open-gusset on the body suit, yet alone into my sequined clutch bag, but if it works, I’ll find a way. It won’t arrive for a few days so hopefully I’ll be able to get advice from people who have travelled this road before me, and if not, then it will give me something else to humiliate myself with by sharing.

You’ll know if it didn’t work if you notice me leave a posh event before 9 pm… although… pyjamas…

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