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I went out last night to an awards dinner for work. I’m weird in that I love watching other people get awards. They’re excited and proud, and their family and friends are proud of their achievements. The whole thing makes me smile like an idiot. Even if I don’t know them, I’m happy for them.
This is a fairly fancy event, and I love an excuse to dress up. I am slowly re-vamping my wardrobe into better quality pieces that fit, make me feel fabulous, and can be worn several different ways.
I don’t have any nice dresses at the moment, so I took this opportunity to go shopping. Shopping is great – trying on clothes – not so much. I think we’ve discussed it here, but in the last few years I lost a lot of weight and got down to a size 10 dress. While not a healthy transition, I felt better about my body than I ever had. Then I had a rough year and gained it all back. (Honestly, probably plus some. I don’t get on the scale anymore.)
When I shop, I spend a lot of time in my decision-making process standing in the fitting room. I check the piece out from every angle and debate how it makes me feel. This dress made me feel fantastic. It’s a Calvin Klein black sheath dress with a geometric neckline and a gold zipper down the back.
While I was in the fitting room deciding if I really could pull off a fitted dress with my extra weight, I decided something. I’m buying the damn dress. My little bit of stomach roll was going to be no worse than any other woman’s at the event and no one was going to be judging me or looking that closely. The next day no one would be talking about how much weight I gained. They’d be talking about the people who received awards. And if they were talking about my belly, who cared? It doesn’t impact how I do my job or love my family and friends. It would just let me know who those friends really are.
I’m thinking all of these things, staring into a ROSS dimly-lit fitting room mirror, when I heard it. Two rooms over, a mother and her adult daughter were trying on clothes for some type of beach wedding they were invited to.
The daughter would try on clothes, and they would discuss it. For a while it was the typical critique: “I don’t like the cut of this. I wish it was navy. I’m not a fan of where it hits. You’ll need to have that hemmed, and so on.” Then the daughter must’ve tried on something the mother really didn’t like, and the conversation changed. Not about the design of the clothes, or the choice of the designer, but the inadequacies of the daughter. “If you want to wear that, you need to really work out. I keep telling you to work out to get rid of that fat. Or invest in some good Spanx because that highlights your fat. And fat isn’t attractive.” My heart broke when I heard the daughter agree. I walked out of the fitting room as they were standing in the aisle. They were both thin, blonde women. The daughter was tall, lean, and beautiful.
I know we’re harsh on ourselves, but I’m working to love my body as it is. I want to work out and eat better from a place of health and nutrition, not a goal number. We need to shift the narrative. We need to change how we speak about ourselves, to ourselves, and to the women around us. I pray I will be the type of mother who doesn’t teach her child she isn’t enough just as she is.