Katey Johnson is a mother of two on Long Island, N.Y., who blogs at The Mother Octopus when she’s not running a photo-frame business from home. Her Aug. 14 post, called “A Dress I Have No Business Wearing,” was picked up by the Facebook group Love What Matters, where it swiftly went viral for its DGAF sentiment.
A photo of Johnson wearing a little black dress was accompanied by her post: “This is me in a dress I have no business wearing. It’s not the first time I’ve worn it and it won’t be the last time. I know it’s not flattering, but I don’t want you to say, ‘OMG, YOU LOOK GREAT!’ I don’t want you to say, ‘GOOD FOR YOU!’ I want you to know why I’m wearing a dress I have no business wearing.”
Johnson explains that a friend had snapped the image two days earlier on the way to dinner. “Someone could say that I look a little pregnant in it, because of, you know, that part sticking out in the front. I do look a little pregnant. That’s fine. Once upon a time I grew two babies in that part sticking out in the front, but I assure you, now it’s just where I keep my cheeseburgers and sauvignon blanc.”
Despite feeling that the dress was not made for her 160-pound, 5-foot-2 body, Johnson felt amazing wearing it. “I don’t know why. I just did. I’m not known to wear form-fitting clothes. At all. But I wanted it, so I bought it. And I was proud of myself for it.”
Describing herself as currently the heaviest she’s ever been and someone who has always struggled with her weight, Johnson made a declaration. “After 40 years of telling myself I have no business wearing things I want to wear, I’ve decided to change the subject. I’ve decided to start being kind to myself.”
She concluded, “So here’s the thing: If I can put on a dress I have no business wearing to go out with my husband or to go to a fancy dinner at a nice restaurant with my best friend because it makes me feel good, you can too. If the hard part is talking yourself into it, tell yourself life’s too short to worry about things you have no business wearing.”
Johnson’s Love What Matters post got 35,000 reactions and more than 5,000 shares (the post on her personal Facebook page received 10,000 reactions and 2,500 shares), but the comments section for both entries generated the most impact. Women began posting selfies wearing clothing they loved but didn’t feel comfortable wearing because of their weight.
What’s more, Johnson’s post was flooded with comments from women vowing to follow her lead, such as: “You’ve given me something to think about and be proud of, thank you,” and “This couldn’t have come at a better time. … After wearing [an outfit] for baptism last week and seeing pictures I thought I looked horrid in it and was absolutely dreading wearing it. Thank you for this post!” Another woman commented: “I have got a gown for my birthday that I should have no business wearing. I also have my mommy pouch from my little person and it’s not going anywhere. That’s not stopping me from wearing a dress that makes me feel amazing. I won’t spend the next 6 weeks starving myself or hurting myself in a gym to satisfy anyone else.”
Johnson tells Yahoo Style that she didn’t read all the comments at first. “The first comment I read on my post was someone writing that I need a tummy tuck, so I decided to not read anymore to avoid getting into a downward spiral,” she says. “But my friends kept saying ‘Read the comments!’ and I’m glad I did.”
Although Johnson had worn the $16 dress from Marshalls in the past, that night felt different. “I was with my best friend, we were having a blast, and even though my tummy was hanging out, suddenly I didn’t care,” she says. “If I could let go for a little bit, I wanted other women to do know they could too.”
Johnson says that sharing the fitted-dress photo was a “milestone.” “We’ve all felt at some point that we have ‘no business’ wearing certain types of clothing — and we probably think it about other people — but it’s important to turn off that voice,” she tells Yahoo Style.
While the mom didn’t intend to kick-start a body positive revolution, she’s grateful for the moment. “I’m definitely wearing that dress again,” she says.
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