Yesterday I broke a zipper. While wearing a dress. Like, to give you the mental picture of my horror, I’d already tried to put on one dress, a beautiful pencil skirt/blouse combo dress with a creamy satin top. I nearly got stuck with it at my shoulders, and the moment it hit my hips, I knew it was going to be one of those exorcist moments when you fail about helplessly, wriggling up and down like one of those balloon men at a car dealership as you try to get it off. That straight-jacket sadness now on the bed, I grabbed my second skirt/shirt combo dress, this time with a maroon satin top. Not my favorite, but I hadn’t done wash in a while and before #2, it had been way too big. I slither and struggle my way into this one. (And let me tell you, I’m still not entirely convinced that the zipper up the skirt but stopping at the shirt is a logical idea. Take it to the armpit, people. If you can’t manage to hide that with good seams, then don’t design it.I swear I thought I was going to pop the sleeves before I EVER thought I’d break the zipper.)
After some tugging and shrugging, I got the skirt down. Blamed freshly-moisturized legs for the sticking. Grab the zipper, fully confidant that it’ll go, and – POP!
I swear to you, I nearly started to cry. Tears welled up. I nearly lost it, right then and there. Why?
Three days before, I’d gotten out of our truck at my parents to be greeted 10 seconds later by “Are you gaining weight?” Not by my mother, mind, who has decided that bikinis are no longer for me and my flubby, stretch-marked belly. This from my father. The man who is supposed to build up my (fragile now) feminine outlook. Usually, it’s “are you pregnant?”, so I’m not sure if he was trying to avoid the entire idea of another grandchild or has just started to pick up my mother’s lingo. But there it sat, heavy and horrible. Summoning my best strength, wobbly as spaghetti noodles, I lifted my chin, smiled, and said, “Yes.” Because I am. No clue why, but I am. He frowned. Closed the car door. And said, “Why?”
No really, Dad, please punch me in the gut. It’s flubby enough that it shouldn’t hurt.
Fast-forward back to last night, and I discovered that I was too out-of-shape (and possibly too shapely) to sit up in the tub without using the sides to help. My abs, my abs, why have you forsaken me?!
And then the dress. There is nothing so terrible a sound as the pop of a broken zipper followed by the sound of the zipper undoing all. the. way. down.
I mention all of this in honest query: I work in the beauty industry. My entire life’s mission is to reveal each and every woman’s (and man’s) inner and outer beauty. I love people, and I love finding the things about them that are amazing and wonderful.
Yet here I sit, a pile of clothes on the bed that I’ve finally given up on and one of my most depressing post ever on the screen.
HOW, people, should I or any of us feel beautiful when everyone looking at us doesn’t see that beauty? When strangers on the street see our smile and our eyes and our beautiful personalities, but the people who are supposed to be our rocks – our family and closest friends – ask questions like this? I don’t mind people telling it like it is. Constructive criticism is great. Sometimes I wear dresses that are too short or too low or not cut right. Sometimes, a helpful tip like, “I love the way you look in that high-waisted dress! The flare makes your waist look tiny!” can both change my wardrobe to be more flattering and boost my ego. Why can’t we all do that instead? Compliment what we DO like and not mention what we don’t. Or find a way to mention it that doesn’t bruise our friend’s esteem. Why can’t we say, “I love your heels! But… I love you, and I’m not sure that they work the best with that dress… The pattern on it’s super cute and looks great with your skin, but the heels and the skirt together make it look a little shorter than I know you usually go.” Then, she loves her shoes more, she knows what pattern or color looks great on her, and she doesn’t feel slammed. Instead, it seems like I hear, “Ummm… So I don’t know if you realized it, but you look like a hoochy-mama in that dress. Girl, too much skin!”
Today, I’m trying to remind myself that I am beautiful. Am I the same as I was in high school? No. Am I perfect? No. Am I fearfully and wonderfully made, with a body that bears wear and tear from creating and nurturing life? Yes.
Do I have bad habits? Yes, but I’m working on it. Am I aware of the way I look? Ha. Hahaha. Who isn’t? Seriously.
If it wasn’t for the sincerity of my husband, though, I think I would have completely lost it. Not only are the HEB shelves lined with magazines telling me that my size (even at a 10) is too big, but my parents and others are shaming for the weight. People, it is time to wake up! What good does it do me or anyone to point out what I already know? What good does it do to tell any woman that she’s put on weight? I can guarantee that her clothes told her LOOOOONG before you ever noticed. Pointing it out does nothing. Well, does nothing except add fuel to the “I can’t beat this” fire. This coming from someone who has had all of the training in positive mental talk and affirmations. I can affirm myself all day long, focus on my goals, work towards them, form new habits. One careless comment, regardless of how it is meant, can seriously shake if not destroy all of that. After all, why try if everyone just thinks I’m fat? If everyone just thinks I purposely wear short skirts (that are short because the girth is greater)? If everyone assumes I’ve gotten lazy and have no work ethic? (The number of times I’ve heard THAT one are astounding.)
I know the majority of this post was one huge rant, but I am beyond frustrated with myself and with others. I hate hate HATE that those words echo in my head every time I look in the mirror. I hate that a broken dress makes me want to cry. Even more than that, I hate that I feel like a hypocrite, trying to show you guys your beauty, while hating myself.
I don’t know how to fix it other than avoiding certain people. I don’t want to do that. I don’t know how to fix any of this except to fix the way I interact with the world. My truth is that I am beautiful WITH all of my imperfections, and so are you. Everyone has room to grow and learn. Mine right now is physical growth, relearning how to take care of my body. Or, learning how to love the body I now live in. I cannot control the words of others, but maybe – JUST MAYBE – one person will read this or share it, and that one person will change the way that they talk, too.
One person can change every single person’s life that they touch.
So, today my affirmation is “I love my body, flaws and all. I am not who I used to be. I am better. I have room to grow, and I love myself for doing it.”
Are you willing to take that challenge? Will you start listening to the words you say? To the thoughts you have about yourself and others? Because, people, our bodies change. If we can’t love them at every stage, then we will live very sad lives indeed. Bringing other people down with us in our self-hate does nothing but spread the misery. So, are you willing to bite your tongue with those snide comments, those hurtful things you say to make yourself feel better, those gossipy comments you say behind people’s backs? Are you willing to ignore the negative with the attitude that it’s something they’re changing, and focus on the positive? Are you?
** I am not in any way supporting unhealthy lifestyles. You can still love your body and image while working to make it better. And, sometimes our bodies are just fine as they are, and a focus on getting that “perfect” place is actually more unhealthy than where we were to start with.