Monday, July 01, 2013

Modeling the Enell bra: What was I thinking?

As someone who still hovers close to the border between overweight and obese on the BMI charts, I am self-conscious about my body. I am especially self-conscious about my belly, which has been Ground Zero for my body shame for most of my life. 

When I saw that Enell was one of the sponsors of Fitbloggin' this year, I contacted Roni offering myself as a tester or a model for the fashion show, not thinking that they would want models to wear the bra without a shirt. The Enell is not pretty -- support, not looks, is the main attraction. Still, when Emily, who was organizing the fashion show, said that they needed someone who would wear it and show the bra, I agreed to do it, once I confirmed that she wasn't expecting someone with a flat belly and abs of steel. 

I got to keep the bra, which I love, but that's not why I decided to do it. I have spent most of my 42 years hiding my belly, and it hasn't made me any less ashamed of it.  I thought that FitBloggin' was probably the best possible place to face my fears. Last summer at the TEDx conference at Bowling Green State University, Brittany Gibbons did a talk where she stripped down to her swimsuit (a modest one-piece -- she has now worked up to a bikini). It really affected me to see someone with a body like mine unapologetically showing it in public.  It opened the door a crack to the idea that maybe I didn't have to be ashamed either.  Maybe I could do something like that for other people by modeling.

I have also noticed when looking at my blog stats that there are some not-so-nice forums that have been pointing people to my blog. These sites specializing in finding weight loss bloggers like me who aren't losing or who are even gaining, and then poking fun at them. A lot of other bloggers I like are mentioned in these same forums. I read a little of what they were saying, but when I realized there was nothing constructive or even very original there, I decided to remember not to follow those links back anymore. Doing the fashion show was a way to remind myself that I didn't need to let that kind of nastiness to affect me.  

I had never worn an Enell before -- I haven't ever seen them in stores, and I rarely have good luck buying bras that I don't try on first.  I did my measurements, following Emily's instructions, and had ordered a size 2 based on Enell's size chart. My measurements put me between the 1 and the 2 and I thought I should probably go with the bigger size. When I tried it on at the conference, though, it seemed too big -- the shoulder straps were loose, and they are not adjustable. To confirm this, I talked to the representative who was at the conference fitting people for the bra. She said that I was right, that I should size down. Instead of the black bra I had chosen, she only had white. (Sadly, the purple was a limited run and sold out long ago.) So it was going to be very much me-in-a-bra, and not me in some kind of very short sports top.  At this point, though, I wanted a bra that fit and looked right, so I went with it. The Enell is a very modest bra, and covers more than a typical two-piece swimsuit.  Two other women, of similar body type to mine, were modeling the Enell too, so I wouldn't be alone. There were also three women modeling Handful bras, on the other side of the size spectrum. All three were very thin and fit (Carla was one of them) and they seemed just as nervous as I was in our pre-show meeting about the idea of appearing somewhat undressed in front of everyone.

I also stacked the deck in my favor by confessing, in the discussion session that I co-led with Margo, that I was doing this and was nervous about it. I asked the people in the session to cheer for me.  I was in about the middle of the show, and word must have gotten around, because even though there were a lot of cheers for everyone, when I got on stage, it felt like the room exploded.  It brought tears to my eyes.  It felt great to be so accepted.

Haters gonna hate, but there are no haters at FitBloggin'

I wasn't able to find the official FitBloggin' photos of the show, but another attendee, Gwyn, was nice enough to share this with me. It's a little blurry, but you get the idea. I didn't suddenly morph into a much thinner version of myself. My pants were a little big and were sliding down.

Don't get me wrong, I put my jacket right back on as soon as I could, but it was a great experience.  And I do get to keep the bra, which I wore in the FitBloggin' 5K.  I was thrilled that a) I was able to complete the 5K with no knee pain and b) that I had no bouncing at all going on.  It didn't make me feel mashed or uncomfortable either.  I wore the bra for about three hours after the fashion show (with a t-shirt over it) and was totally comfortable for most of that time. Only in about the last half hour did I start to feel like I might want to put on something less structured.  I was really impressed by the comfort, the fit, and the support. 

I have so many things I want to write about FitBloggin' -- it was a great experience. Next summer, Roni says it will be either in Nashville or Austin. I'm rooting for Nashville, because Austin will probably be 100 degrees or more in the summer, but I will go regardless.  It was like finding my tribe. 

Edited to add: Found a better photo on the Flickr site at, thanks carriedphotography!
FitBloggin 2013 Fashion Show-6904


  1. You totally rocked it Jen!! And what an experience for you...and for us :-) You are a model of self-acceptance!!

    1. Thanks, Karen! I loved your talk on EFT too, very powerful! I ended up tapping on the plane to help get rid of a monster headache.

  2. You did fantastic up there!

  3. You were fantastic! I loved seeing REAL women on that runway. Thank you for being so brave.

  4. I completely agree that you 100% rocked it! Congratulations on tackling you fear, girl!

  5. You were so awesome in the fashion show! I wanted to clap louder but I was trying to take pictures and I had the weird one-handed clap going on, LOL.

    1. I appreciated all the support!


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07