Bodies. We all have them. They come in different sizes and shapes, but what makes one shape better or more desirable than another? Who says if you’re a big, plus size woman you can’t wear sexy clothes? Who made these stupid rules?

A few years ago I worked at the plus size women’s retail clothing store, Avenue in order to do research for my book and to get a true sense of what women felt about their bodies.

During a holiday season, I was working with one of my colleagues. We were unpacking shipments of sparkly dresses or what I like to call blingwear. One of the items was a silver knee length all over sequin sleeveless sheath dress.

My colleague told me that for years she had been trying to manage her weight. She had a gastric bypass operation years ago but after her mother’s sudden passing, she regained most of her weight back and ended up back where she started; a size 26/28.

I admire her so much. She’s a very strong personality, a beautiful African-American woman from the South, with the most amazing fashion sense I’ve ever seen and when she’s feeling her power, she absolutely shines.

So when the dress first came in, she told me, “Andrea, nobody is going to buy that dress. They must be crazy. A woman like me, my size, in fact anyone over a size 20 can’t wear something like that. Forget about it. You might as well string me up and I’ll be the ball dropping on New Years’ Eve. If a woman my size wore that, she’d look like an friggin’ iceberg.

Then I told her, “You know, years ago, I might have been inclined to agree with you, but since I know that size has nothing to do with how we feel, I’m gonna disagree. I know for a fact that when I was a size 8, I wouldn’t dared to have worn that dress or any other like it, and now that I’m a size 18, I feel so much more empowered and confident in my body than ever.

Think about it. Back in the day, when Oprah, Starr Jones and Mo’Nique were much heavier, they all have rocked dresses like that. They have shown us that it’s a woman’s confidence that makes her beautiful, not her size. And another thing, no matter how fat or thin we are, there will always be days when we wouldn’t dare say or do, or wear something. And you know what, I think that dress would look great on you. Because when you’re rockin’ your confidence, you set the room on fire.” And then I watched her smile, and she said, “Maybe I could.”

How ’bout you? Would you dare to bare–Your arms, your legs? What’s the rule that’s keeping you under wraps? Give that some thought and today look at your shopping options a little bit differently. Open yourself to the possibilities of really letting yourself shine.