What I See in the Mirror

What do you see when you look at this picture?

You probably see my neon shirt (WOW, that’s really bright!), maybe you see two cute boys, maybe you notice the gold hoops that I’m wearing, even on the beach (man she wears those a lot) or maybe you just see a generic snapshot of a family vacation. But, do you know what I see? Myself (so annoying, btw) and a hollow chest above my boob on the (your) right where I’m missing a pectoral muscle, and a boob that looks higher on the (your) left. For more than half my life I had one boob. I was born with a birth defect called Poland’s Syndrome. It effects one side of your body and is characterized by a missing pectoral muscle, as well as webbed hands and feet for some. In my case, a boob on one side and no boob on the other. Yeah, that was fun, let me tell you. So, I pretty much hated everything that involved a swim suit -ha! My parent’s, after my request, had it “fixed” when I was 20. Since then, I’ve slowly become more and more comfortable with it. In fact, if I’ve talked to you for longer than about five minutes, I’ve probably told you my story -ha! Now you know why I started crying when I saw this bird while lounging poolside on my honeymoon.

I believe we are all here to tell our stories, and I’m telling you this one for a reason. I’d like to start sharing different tips on body types and what not, but first, I needed you guys to know that I’m not without insecurities. We ALL have them and this isn’t my only one. When I was growing up, I wore a jelly on one side and, while I still wore shirts that fit, I did walk a little hunched over and would avoid pools, etc. But, once they were fixed, I did feel a boost of confidence. Even my best friend told me she felt like I walked around with my chin held a little higher. But now I have to dress my body with a size 32 DDD chest without looking like my chest over takes me. Why so big? Well, when you’re a C on one side and pretty much nothing on the other, they have to put implants on both sides so they look the same. I’d like to think that you are saying, “no way she can be a 32DDD”, because that means I am dressing my “challenge issue” well. I’m owning the one boob for what it is and now the two for what they are. So, what do you see when you look at pictures of yourself or in the mirror? We are ALL so critical of ourselves. Sometimes when I’m with a client and they tell me their issue, I have to ask them to repeat themselves because I just don’t see it, but they do and I get that. But, I’m asking you (just like I ask my clients) to be ok with your butt, your hips, your arms, your stomach, your cellulite, your thighs, your ankles, your feet, etc. I’m asking you this with love and empathy and I want you to know that I’m right there with you. We’ve all got our insecurities and we will collectively be working on them, but for now let’s just own them and dress them and try our very hardest to let them go. Because for most of you it’s really just not there to begin with, I’m serious.


  1. tell it to your neighbor! January 8, 2014

    I love you! I’m proud of you!

  2. Dorothy King January 8, 2014

    Thank you for sharing that – you come across as so perfect, so this humanizes you!

    And no, you don’t look like a DDD so you’re doing it right

    (and I say that as a 30GG who has a hard time and battles with that issue every day … because my natural boobs are all flesh, so I always have to wear a good bra).

  3. Leslieak January 8, 2014

    It is really brave of you to tell your story- and what an inspiring one! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Tracy_Borgmeyer02 January 8, 2014

    I love your blog and your style. Thank you for sharing your story… You are right we all have insecurities and I appreciate you sharing yours! Keep up the great work!

  5. Katie McKenzie January 8, 2014

    What a great post! Thank you for sharing! By the way I think you are beautiful!

  6. koneillclark January 8, 2014

    I love you Carly! Proud of you sweet friend πŸ™‚

  7. Heather January 8, 2014

    I see a really happy (skinny!) mom with two beautiful children. No way would I ever have noticed that…or would I have cared!

  8. kberry January 8, 2014

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. kberry January 8, 2014

    Thank you for posting this. I would never have noticed your flaws but would have also been quick to pick myself apart in a photo.(I notice a beautiful mom and her sweet boys and would have never noticed otherwise.)

    What a great reminder that we need to be kinder to ourselves. Thank you for sharing.

  10. tati carpio January 8, 2014

    God Bless you! You inspire us all.

  11. justtheassistant January 8, 2014

    Is it bad to say I didn’t know you had big boobs? I mean that in a good way! πŸ™‚ Love love love that you’re sharing your story along with fashion advice.

  12. Amanda Murray January 8, 2014

    Carly, what an amazing post! Right on, right on!

  13. Heather January 8, 2014

    Holy cow, I never would have guessed– on either count! Thanks for sharing and reminding us, as my mother ALWAYS told me, that ‘EVERYbody has *something* they’re dealing with, just with some people (a lot) you may not know what it is.’

    We should all be kinder to ourselves–and each other!

  14. Carri January 8, 2014

    You are beautiful Carly, and I never could have ever guessed. I’ve always thought that you have the cutest figure and love your style. I look forward to seeing your Instagrams and reading your posts everyday. You are such an inspiration and it’s a good reminder to be easier on myself when I don’t always like what I see in the mirror.

  15. Karen Stopnicki January 8, 2014

    Thank you for sharing such a personal and touching story.

  16. JLEvans January 8, 2014

    You are awesome and so brave!

  17. ga2208 January 8, 2014


  18. KGolden January 8, 2014

    You are awesome. Beautiful inside and out! Love love love u!! Such great advice. πŸ™‚ xo

  19. Jeanie January 9, 2014

    When I look at that picture, I see perfection and happiness. When I look in the mirror I wish I had a giant knife that could slice a good six inches off my stomach. The back view isn’t too bad for an old bat like myself.

  20. Andrea Hallett January 9, 2014

    The first thing I noticed was how pretty and happy you look -and also your gorgeous toned legs (I don’t love mine). Never even noticed your chest. Thanks for sharing and I love your blog πŸ™‚

  21. Jennifer Johnson January 9, 2014

    I never would have noticed! I just see a beautiful, super sweet mom and her adorable kiddos. I think your blog is amazing and your vulnerability makes you even more endearing πŸ™‚

  22. Courtney Taylor January 9, 2014

    Love this Carl, for so many reason. and love you!

  23. frankie January 9, 2014

    You are soooo right!!! I would never have noticed anything if you did not mention it!! We all need to be thankful for our health! I love your blog! Hope you and your family have a great 2014!

  24. Lynn January 9, 2014

    Beautiful post–point taken!! Thanks for sharing.

  25. Carly, Thanks for sharing this story. I had no idea. Love this post…keep up the good work.

  26. ajt January 9, 2014

    Thank you so much for sharing. We all have our “things” and this was a great reminder of that and to be gentler on ourselves. We are always our harshest critics.

  27. Carley- loved this post- got misty-eyed from all the years looking at a huge scar on my leg. Thanks for being so real. Loved meeting you at wonder wild Monday- cheers to school starting! πŸ™‚ Aubrey Slye

  28. {Hi Sugarplum!} January 15, 2014

    I was looking at your gorgeous smile and being envious of your toned, skinny thighs! (Just like I am in every other post of yours) Thank you for this reminder today!!! xo

  29. hmcanear January 19, 2014

    I love your blog & am so encouraged by your vulnerablity! As a woman who is insecure about breasts, too, do you mind sharing what bras you have found to minimize your chest? You never look your size, in my opinion & that is a goal of mine, as a 34D.

    • Carly Lee (C. Style Blog) January 22, 2014

      I’ll do a post on it, for sure!

    • hmcanear January 31, 2014

      Thank you so much! I’ll be watching for it! πŸ™‚ Please post my question w/o name. Thanks so much! You’re an encouragement!

  30. Mandy Saldana January 23, 2014

    Preach it sista! We could all be a little nicer to ourselves. Great post!!!!

  31. linda March 19, 2014

    I would never noticed – I see a beautiful young slim mama !!!
    Blessings to you and you sweet sister.

  32. Carly April 18, 2014

    Just found this post and my first thought was no way we have the same chest size! I tend to slouch so my chest doesn’t look so large, but now I think I’ll just steal some of your outfit ideas and learn to own my chest! Thank you so much for this post and saving my poor chest from (another) minimizing bra.

  33. Devin May 22, 2014

    You are a total badass. And I’m honored to call you my friend.

  34. Tiffany April 27, 2015

    A little late finding this post, but felt it necessary to comment regardless. . . Thank you so much for sharing your story. It was incredibly brave, but also makes someone such as myself (and I’m sure countless others) sigh a little bit of relief, that “we’re not the only one” who sees the flaws and imperfections first. I’m learning to love and appreciate my body now more than ever and your post was just lovely. Thank you!

    • Carly Lee April 29, 2015

      Thank you, Tiffany.

  35. lynn delima January 5, 2016

    I just ran across your blog, (a bit late I guess) and am loving it. Thank you for sharing with us, it really does help all of us to pull together as women, instead of constantly comparing ourselves πŸ™‚

  36. Dana Lynch January 7, 2017

    I just ran across your blog. You are awesome and seem so real! When I looked at the photo, I thought “wow, that’s a great t-shirt!” My body is an inverted triangle, and I don’t need to tell you how hard it is to find cute v-necks. I totally relate to what you’re saying about body image. At one time, I lost weight, was near the bottom of my range and down to a size 4 at 5’6″. I thought to myself, “yeah, but I’m not as thin as the other women who wear size 4.” What?

    I’m a stylist and totally hear what you’re saying about your clients as well. I often have to have a client explain to me a second time “what’s wrong with their body.” One example I remember is a size 2 fitness instructor who told me she couldn’t wear skirts and didn’t want tops that hit a certain part of her torso, because she had a shelf butt. We’ve worked together for 8 years now, and I still don’t really know what she means–don’t see it! I will look forward to bookmarking your blog!

    Dana Lynch, http://elementsofimage.com/style-blog/.

    • Carly Lee January 11, 2017

      Hi! Thank you for your sweet comment! I checked out your blog! I like your tag line at the top!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *