Every Spring my local women's club---social, yes, but also charitable and very down-to-earth by which I mean "shares appreciation for wine and dancing on tables"---has a fashion show. The local chi-chi boutique chips in and outfits models who parade about one of our tonier member's magazine-worthy home, around a pool or lakeside. The models are us.
Yes, that's what I said. Every year I model in a little fashion show.
You get to go to this chi-chi boutique where you select clothes that look good on you with a personal fashion expert advising. Like "What Not to Wear," only slightly nicer.
Yes, only slightly. And no free money. Just a 20% off coupon. 20% off still doesn't buy me a t-shirt on clearance, by the way.
But oh I love those clothes.
My appointment with the professional is on Monday. The assistant called yesterday to get some information about me.
Here's what you should know about me: if I was a gorgeous black woman, Tyra Banks and I could be sisters.
Okay so really, all we share right now is height and weight. Since I weaned Persistence, I have no more boob, but I also lost 35 pounds. I have pale freckled skin, faded denim blue eyes, and brownish-reddish hair. So I look nothing like Tyra, but hey, a girl can dream.
Still, the point is: Tyra Banks is so not fat.
(However, she has crappy taste in show ideas.)
Plus, I'm older than her, don't have professionals at my fingertips for my optimum health (no dietitians, no personal trainers, no spas, etc.), and have more kids than she does.
This matters. Trust me. A lot.
So I'm chatting with the assistant on the phone. She's collecting information to start thinking in advance of clothes for the show.
"You guys have this adorable little two-layer asymetrical black skirt with embroidered butterflies," I said, "I definitely want that skirt."
"Okay," she says, "What size are you?"
Here's the part where I want to yell, well it's X but I'M NOT FAT!
What? WTF? Why freeze? Why choke back such a defensive reply? What's wrong with that number? Nothing. Nada. Tyra Banks wears it!
I'll tell you what's wrong with it: it's considered the upper end of normal. That's what. This means everyone thinks somebody wearing that size is FAT.
And whats wrong with being fat? Nothing. Except, for some reason, boutique shop girls act like anything above a 2 is some sort of second-class slob citizen.
So I want to start justifying. I want to tell her my defense: I'm tall, I'm older, I have had two kids, but I just lost a lot of weight and I look pretty good, despite my dress size.
Instead I said mildly, "Well it depends on how the designer runs. If it's average, I can fit in an X, if it's small, then a Z, or maybe a Y."
"A Z?!?!?!" the girl, who sounds about 22 and pre-partum, shrieks, "OMG, well, we only carry about TWO THINGS in a Z!!! I don't know...maybe we won't have anything to fit you...I mean, in THAT size...if you really need something THAT LARGE..." She pauses. Long, pregnant pause. I assume she's waiting for me to say, "You're right, I'm a fatty mcfat, I should quit."
But I don't. I've been in that shop, trying things on. There should be plenty to fit me. There always is. But this is reason #2 why I tend to shop at Target.
"Like I said," I told her, offended, "It depends on how your sizes run."
She said a couple more things and I heard it in her voice: we're going to have to fit a fatty mcfat; I don't know why all these suburban moms let themselves go this way.
My friend---who is a marathon runner and two full dress sizes smaller than me---got the same treatment last year. She was so furious. She should be. The girl looks fabulous. She is firm, fit, healthy and gorgeous. She just donated over a foot of hair to Locks of Love. Now she has a short and sassy hair-do. Everyone should look so gorgeous.
I get the same treatment every year from the rapid-turnover assistant of the month. Then I walk in and get the sigh of relief, "Oh you're not as bad as I feared!" And that was 30+ pounds ago.
So I ask: WTF is wrong here?
So what if I was larger? Eh? I'm not worthy of being considered beautiful? Of being decked out?
Every year I try to recruit women of all ages and shapes and sizes. They usually demur, "Oh I'm too old...too fat..."
Hello, what you look like is NORMAL.
So every year it's the same batch of us: the about 5% of us in the group somehow able to have self-confidence that we look good as we are.
And, that momentary lapse aside, I do have self-confidence.
I know I look fine. Since I've lost the weight, people comment regularly about how good I look. Every day I sashay myself (silently, still, two years later) past that mom, the super-dee-duper skinny one at school who asked me one day after we'd just met, "Did you get fat after you moved here? Everyone gets fat after they move here." Lady, I was two months post-partum. Bu that shouldn't even matter.
Despite all this, I got all self-conscious. I pestered my best friend and husband for reassurance, "Do I look healthy to you? I mean, I look fine, right?"
What am I...twelve?
I let some 22 year old kid get to me...I let some bizarre obsession with anorexic looking women get to me. OMG. I got BARBIED!
What a mindfuck those arbitrary numbers can be.
I sucked it up tonight. I mowed the lawn. I vacuumed the house. I carried two kids hanging off my arms (free weights = 65 pounds unevenly distributed) up the stairs, twice. I didn't even breathe hard or break a sweat. I stared into the mirror, looking at myself from all angles.
I saw a women, late 30s, looking a little wrinkly and bruised-y under the eyes from piss poor sleep this week, wrinkle and gray free, hips a little wider and abdomen still a little loose from two pregancies...but all in all? Looking pretty good for the age and stage of life.
I decided I can't wait to cruise in to that shop Monday morning. I can't wait for that girl to eat her words. She's going to see I am one tall drink of water, and have earned that size, which suits me in a healthy and fine way.
And someday, chickie will be twenty years older and seriously choking on the whole X is fat idea.
copyright 2007 Julie Pippert