Today I presented at my first academic conference ever. It’s a pretty intimidating process: submitting your work, getting feedback and accepted or rejected, preparing for the actual presentation itself, which for me meant reworking a 20 page essay down to 8 pages. I’ve been nervous all week, sick on my stomach with anticipation. I have a tendency of getting a shakey voice when I’m nervous, and I kept picturing myself up there wobbling my way through a painstakingly long 15 minutes.

It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal had this presentation been about teaching or writing, but it was about fat, something that I own quite freely here in my safe place, but something that has been scary to bring into my daily academic life. I knew that my peers and faculty would be watching, and it terrified me, but it was also incredibly liberating. There is something magical in the act of owning an aspect of your identity in front of a group of friends and strangers, to unapologetically be fat, own the identity, and then bring to question their notions about fatness. I knew that the conference, a first for many of my fellow grad students, would be a sea of gray or black suits, so I picked this ASOS dress that is appropriate but fun to showcase my body acceptance while I talked about it. (Plus Kathryn wisely suggested I power dress for the day!)

The dress photographs okay, but it’s much prettier in person in shape and in pattern. I’m in love with the long sleeves, which I wish more winter dresses had. Since I was already being a little out there for a conference, I decided a thin black belt at the waist and a purse were all that I needed. P.S. I had to wake up at 4:40 AM for this! Since I live an hour from school, I had to get ready super early to make it there on time. The good part of this is I got the beautiful sunrise in my pictures :).

This purse is my new favorite. It’s BCBGeneration, and I got it on super sale at Ideeli. I love the handles on it because it can be both a shoulder bag and a handheld bag depending on whether you pull one strap or both.

ASOS dress, MIB tights, Target wedges, BCBGeneration purse

Ultimately I had a great time at the conference. A few of my classmates sat in on the session and were very complimentary and supportive. I felt brave and strong talking in front of the group. And it’s in moments like these that I realize how much I have changed over the past year and a half, how school and blogging has created spaces for me to go beyond what I thought I could. Pretty awesome :).

Have you ever chosen outfits specifically to make you feel brave before? If so, how do you “power dress”?

P.S. Thank you to everyone on twitter who let me whine about anxiety and let me in on all of your tips on dealing with stress. They worked!