The Great #OOTD Challenge

Blogger, St. Louis Blogger, Plus Size Blogger, eShakti, Ikea photo shoot, Under Grace Photo
Photo from Under Grace Photo

This whole blog idea was actually born five or six years ago in my classroom. That year, I had a couple of students who kept a notebook in their choir folder and wrote down what I wore every day. They would ask me questions like, “how BIG is your closet” and “do you just go home and throw your clothes away at the end of every day?” They didn’t believe that I ever wore the same thing twice, no matter how hard I tried to convince them that I DID. And so, to prove them wrong, my #OOTD catalog was born.

I told the students that for one year, I would photograph what I wore and post it on social media each day. The photos were just a quick shot, sometimes even just from the shoulders up, that would give them a way to compare day to day. I didn’t really put a whole lot into them, but it was a fun experiment. In the end, the students conceded that I did re-wear my closet in different ways and so I stopped doing the daily posts.

One day in the next year, I ran into a friend at Target who asked me why I had stopped posting my outfits. She told me she had looked forward to it every day. I kind of laughed it off, and we went our separate ways. Later, when I told my husband about it, he told me that people in his office had followed and discussed my outfits and missed them too. It was so strange to me. I thought it was just some silly thing that no one was really paying attention to. Without even trying, my student-driven experiment had started to become something that people genuinely cared to follow!

Over time, I had more and more people start to chime in, saying that I should really keep going and make something of it. They encouraged me that I could really inspire and influence people. I was realistic and down to earth. I was just honest about my struggles, and bad body days, and outfits that didn’t always work. In a sense I could provide inspiration to the “regular type” girls. I began to wonder if maybe my voice did have a void to fill.

I haven’t always known how to do this whole thing. In fact, I am still learning and feel like I have a long way to go. I started slow, just posting my #OOTD to Facebook and eventually Instagram. But over time, I have learned how to tag more thoughtfully and give better insight to the brands that I love to patronize. I have learned how to pose better and create more interesting backgrounds, while still essentially being a teacher in a classroom with an iPhone. I have followed a lot of other amazingly fierce fashionable body-positive bloggers and started to build relationships with a few. I have had the opportunity to partner with some amazing local artisans promoting their work on my social account. I have had the chance to partner with one national brand with their plus size launch. And I have started to do some incredible fashion shoots with a trusted and talented photographer friend. Slowly, something that once seemed silly and embarrassing to me is becoming larger than a hobby.

I know this world is full of bloggers and influencers who are much younger, more talented, and more well-connected than I am. Maybe I am not the next big thing. I guess, I am just trying to find my niche and where my voice fits into the noisy social media world. I am a plus-sized woman over forty who teaches music in the humid Midwest. I love to stay stylish and express myself through clothes. I am an avid Disney fan, and a Harry Potter nerd, and a pop culture junkie. I love music, and travel, and books, and tea. I am a foodie. I am loud, and silly, and awkward. I love loud. And oddly, through this grand experiment, I am learning to love myself louder too.

Want to know about my daily #OOTD pictures and general adventures in the world? Follow me at @fortyfatandfabulous.

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