I am a firm believer in the power of a good pair of jeans. The whole reason we have a jeans day at my office is because I campaigned for it – wearing jeans (and my cowboy boots of course) makes me feel comfortable and empowered. I am more productive and do a better job when I feel this way, when I don’t have to wear dress slacks and high heels. A great pair of jeans is transformative, transcendent. And this pair of jeans . . . sucked.
I bought them out of necessity – my old pair of jeans had sprung a leak (another that sucked but in a completely different way) – because I was not going to miss another day at work without the cowboy luxury. But the store where I bought jeans for big girls had decided that their extraordinary way of sizing jeans for the way women are actually built was too blasé. So they went back to pretending that girls that have junk in the trunk are built just like twiggy models but with evenly spaced padding. I walked out in a panic – literally none of the jeans there fit.
I ended up at another store and found success – but only the kind of success that exists in dressing rooms after you’ve been shopping for hours (and HATE shopping) and it falls into the “good enough to leave and go get some water, Damn it’s hot today” category. Standing still in front of a mirror – they’ll do. Wearing them out of the house – recipe for a disaster of reality that all fantasy clothes generally fail. I felt like a girl without a country (seriously, THIS is how much I love a good pair of jeans – crazy, right?).
In the midst of my denim inspired crisis my friend sent me a link to a blog – The Militant Baker. I was sitting in a drive-thru, feeling sorry for myself, thinking “yeah, just what I need – a Baking Blog” but figured I’d check it out anyway. At least the pictures would be pretty even if I couldn’t eat anything on there. Never have I been so wrong in my life. Because the Militant Baker is not about macaroons (though they have that too) but is instead about loving yourself – ALL of yourself – no matter what others (clothing companies, misinformed internet trolls, the voices inside your heard) tell you.
So after spending hours reading the posts (and deciding that I wanted to be the published author version of Jes, which may just be both the truest and most unrealistic thing I’ve ever wanted), reading the comments, and following tangents to tons of blogs/sites that she links to – I sat down and thought about everything that I had read. Really thought about it. And what I came up with kind of shocked me.
I don’t have any memories of being “small” – in fact, the last time someone actually called me that might have been the day I came out premature eleven minutes ahead of my brother. I was the Peanut, he was the Pumpkin. I joke with my mother that she never should have fed my brother twice and missed me when we were babies – it’s all her fault really. My whole family – literally almost my Whole family – have been big people. And the whole entire time it’s also been a huge source of shame.
But I never understood that. When I think about my childhood I don’t remember bullies or people picking on me because of it (maybe they did and I just blocked it out) – I remember a girl who was more or less fearless. I stood up for my friend who was being ostracized for no reason. I didn’t let a crazy classmate intimidate me into failing a project. I never backed down when I was being treated unfairly. And all this I did with a little extra girth.
And now, all grown-up, with my family of big people discovering weight-loss “cures” and slimming secrets, they seem to think that I want that too. They look at me with judgment – even if they don’t notice it – like they understand what it’s like to live my life and can compel me to a smaller size with a stare. I’ve always wanted to respond with an eye roll, with a swear word, with a shrug of the shoulders but never could – and now I know why.
The fact that I could care less how much I weigh – that the only reason I care is because the other people look at me like I should. I’ve never been ecstatic about the way I look but I’ve always been comfortable with it. I don’t shy aware from my reflection in a mirror except on the very blackest of days. Sure I might want to be thin. I also want to be a millionaire, be able to eat pancakes again, and have a private jet that would take me wherever I want to go without having to actually “fly” there (so basically a teleporter, yes). Everyone wants things they know are unreachable – it’s part of what makes us human. The important part that most people overlook is that you shouldn’t organize your life so you need them to be happy.
I am never going to be a small girl – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
I need to stop treating my body like it’s horrible – it’s not, it’s strong and capable and wondrous – and not buying anything nice or cute because I’m not supposed to like the way I look – I do, every day I find something I like about me and wonder why everyone else can’t see the amazingness that is me. I need to appreciate it and treat it well and let it LOOK nice. I need to stop dressing myself in “anything I find that fits” and start dressing like I feel on the inside. Inside Me has become a kick-ass secret that Outside Me has been trying to hide for decades.
I’ve always had an “I don’t really care” attitude that’s mostly been born of fear. So many words and images and ideas no one even thought I was paying attention to have shaped me into thinking that the way that I am is somehow flawed. Not bad exactly just not where we should be. What’s the point of spending time in the morning putting on make-up and doing my hair – it’s just going to look Eh anyway. So I didn’t try – literally didn’t expend any effort. And since I got the reaction I was expecting, I didn’t think anything of it and coasted on by, doing just enough to be a hair above nothing at all.
“People shouldn’t like me based on what I look like on the outside anyway,” I’d say to myself. But I didn’t like the outside either – all my clothes look the same and boring and say “here’s a girl that doesn’t care.” But that’s not who I am. That’s not the statement I want me or my clothes to make at all. I want them to say “here’s a girl that cares about everything.”
Because I want to be beautiful and happy and, most of all, simply enough.
But the problem was I was taking all the cues on whether I was these things from the wrong places – from others, from the outside, from strangers I saw in crowds. Maybe it was a byproduct of my lifelong dream – published author. It’s a life lived in perpetual conversation – reviews and rejection are par for the course and art is something that is always asking to be judged, for people to have an opinion on. To move forward I had to harden, buck up, learn not to take things so personally. Part of me needed to be safe from criticism while the other part needed to learn to accept comments on things I felt were my very identity, look at them objectively, and listen. The goal can be achieved singularly (I am a published author) but the meaning of it, the reason why I want to be one (to entertain and maybe touch people’s lives, let my words and story find a kindred soul in which to rest) – that requires the others and the outside and maybe even strangers in a crowd.
Yes, everyone might have an opinion, but right now, today, no one else is allowed an opinion that matters. The only opinion that matters is mine.
I think I need to go shopping . . .