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Figuring Out My Figure

Learning to love my apple-shaped body

Woman with an apple-shaped body covered in flowers smiling while embracing her figure. (PHOTO: MADDY MONROY)

By: Carissa Harris


I recall the first time I saw a body that looked like mine in a print advertisement for a store.


I was filled with euphoria to finally see someone with a body like mine in an ad. This dopamine rush was short lived, as it stopped when I realized it was a maternity ad. I was in the middle of Target’s maternity section.


I longed to see someone like me in a lead role, have a romantic interest in those shows or be in a glamorous photoshoot. But the representation I longed for never came. 


I’ve only noticed apple body shapes represented in media in these situations: how to lose weight, how to hide your apple body shape or how to get your old body back post-pregnancy. 


My whole life, I have held back on what I say, do, feel,  wear and even how I present myself in the social and professional aspects of my life because I feel like I would never be treated seriously for my appearance.


Representation is important, not just for our own comfort, but for how people understand others. In America, we are heavily influenced by the media and advertising around us. In the media, people whose bodies look like mine tend to be the supporting actresses or the comedic relief, making self-deprecating jokes about weight or food. 


Representation Growing Up

Growing up in the early 2000s, I remember going to the mall as being one of the coolest things to do as a kid. 


Hollister and Abercombie & Fitch felt like the biggest store brands in the eyes of teenagers. The tall, thin and fit models were a massive part of their brand. Even on TV shows, everyone looked like this societal standard. 


This led me to believe I would eventually become a tall, slim, pretty girl like them. After all, that’s how we are “supposed” to look. 


Pre-teen magazines, another popular source of fun for adolescents, were notorious for their picture articles of “who wore it better.” They would compare two people wearing the same outfit. In all honesty, clothes can look completely different due to body types, which doesn’t make it reasonable to compare others. 


As a pre-teen, I faced many of the negative aspects of puberty, weight gain and stretch marks. While some people were getting more pronounced breasts and growth spurts, I felt as if I wasn’t as good. 


Having rolls on my stomach and stretch marks at the early age of 12 is very discouraging, especially when the only representation of those traits is women who have experienced pregnancy or are older. I had never seen a kid my age with stretch marks, which made me feel I was too fat, not good enough and that I had a weird body that nobody else had. 


Everyone grows in different ways, making everybody different. What didn’t help was people telling me I would eventually lose weight or grow taller, which didn’t happen.


As I got older, I was experiencing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This is when everything made sense. My more pronounced body and facial hair, PCOS belly due to high cortisol levels and stress and difficulty with weight all made sense. I would have to accept that my body would not look like everyone else’s, even with hard work. 


What We Are Told To Wear

Style is all about what’s flattering. Most style guides for apple body shapes aim to hide the midsection, which is the most significant trait of our body type. We are told to wear things like A-line dresses, peplum tops, flowy styles of pants and shirts or anything to hide the forbidden mid-section. 


It’s liberating to wear what you want when there’s so many rules regarding trends and what’s socially acceptable. Wearing what you want to wear is key to happiness, allowing yourself to feel good in what you want. 


To understand why body types are styled in specific ways in media, I spoke with Los Angeles based stylist Marcel Andre.


”I‘ve heard it before myself. People tell me that that looks a little small on you, or you shouldn’t wear that. That’s a little too feminine for you. But I like it. I’m enjoying it,” Andre said. “I feel comfortable in it and I feel good. So that’s what I’m going to wear. If it shows my stomach a little, it’s  2024, get on board or you’re going to miss the train.”


Self Love

Loving who you are, what you wear and what you do in spite of societal pressures are key to winning back the confidence you deserve. 


By choosing yourself, you’ll find a sense of clarity and happiness. Be your priority because you deserve it after hiding and feeling hurt for so long. It took me a very long time to gain this sense of care for myself, but it came from doing what I love and throwing away judgment and how others treat me. 


To all my other fellow apple-body-shaped people out there, you are beautiful. Be gentle with yourself, and I send all my love out to you. You deserve to feel self-love for your body, you deserve to look as sexy as you desire and you deserve to show as much skin as you want. I want you to feel seen, heard and finally represented in a beautiful photo and feel like you can romanticize your life and body. 


You are BEAUTIFUL. You are UNIQUE. You are ALLOWED to take up SPACE. You deserve to be seen.