How Moving From Italy to America Helped Me Learn to Love My Body

I had just emerged from a dressing room in a small boutique in Tuscany when the sales assistant squealed, “This dress looks so good on you. I wish I lived in a city where this bravery was allowed.”

By bravery, she didn’t just mean wearing a short, formfitting dress whose fabric was slightly draped at the sides, which gave it the appearance of something out of a late-1940s comic strip—she meant having the audacity to wear that type of garment as a woman who was not stick-thin.

At first, I felt a disconnect: I had been wearing hip-hugging, high-waisted jeans for years, and nobody had ever praised my bravery. Then it dawned on me: For the past three years, I’ve lived in the U.S., but in my native Italy, beauty standards are different.

“You have a Beyoncé body,” an American male friend told me a couple of years ago, despite my being Caucasian. “You’re so thick,” my boyfriend (also American), who has a track record of emaciated love interests, often tells me. In 2017, these could be interpreted as compliments in the U.S., so that’s how I choose to take them.

Let’s just say that my body doesn’t earn the same type of praise in Italy.