My niece is getting married. She is the bride. Her dress is important. Mine? Not so much. And yet I find myself in my own personal episode of, “What Not to Wear!” There is an aura of importance surrounding my attire for this wedding. After all, I am the one in the family that is strident about self-acceptance. I am the one that writes a blog about redefining beauty and challenging societal standards of perfection. I am the member of the family who is the co-author of a book about size acceptance and women calling a truce in their battles against their bodies.
My niece is getting married. She is the bride. I will be scrutinized. This is not narcissistic, grandiose, or ego maniacal. This is fact.
The last time I had to dress up for an important family event was six years ago for my son’s bar mitzvah. (My blog post, The Other Woman, discusses that in all of my “Jewish Mother’s Glory.”
When I was shopping for that dress, I was a “nouveau riche” size 4. I had never been that thin…and of course I was “just visiting.” I was so inexperienced in shopping as a thin person, that I accepted Sax Fifth Avenue’s offer of assistance from a Personal Shopper.
Did I mention I was a size 4? And there I was apologizing to my personal shopper for not being a size 2.
Today, six years later, the “mother of the bar mitzvah boy suit” that I purchased won’t get past my shoulders. And I no longer have a personal shopper. Flying solo, I dared to go where all too many women before me have dared to go…into the belly of the beast…charge card in hand.
But I was not shopping completely alone.
I entered the store with the belief that I deserved to find a dress that made me feel good. I shopped with a self-confidence that hugged my shoulders with an attitude of, “I can look just fine…beautiful even…at this size.” Most importantly, I was accompanied by my newest companion, ME.
I was NOT shopping with the eyes and opinions of my family or the media. I was clad in the bullet proof vest of MY eyes and MY opinion. I was draped in a comforting serape of conviction that how I looked and what I chose to wear was the only opinion that held any weight!!
I began looking around the store. I focused on fabrics and colors that I found pleasing. Then I included the elements of comfort and a dash of pizzazz. I was almost enjoying myself! I wasn’t obsessing over what size I was or whether my arms, thighs or butt would be offensive to someone. In a way, that opened up a wider range of possibilities.
A sales woman approached and I waited for my usual wave of apologetic embarrassment to wash over me. It didn’t!
“That’s a gorgeous dress,” I said pointing towards the rack of Elie Tahari designs. “Expensive but beautiful!”
“This dress is a classic. You’ll be able to wear it forever!”
I smiled when I thought of the size 4 bar mitzvah suit gathering dust in my closet. The personal shopper had told me the same thing and I hadn’t been convinced. After all, a part of me knew I was “just visiting” the land of size 4.
But this time I had a feeling she was absolutely correct! After years of working personally and professionally on size acceptance, my years of yoyo dieting and shape shifting had finally come to an end!
“What size are you,” she asked flipping through the hangers?