I stood in my dorm room nervously going through the motions of my music, hearing the song in my head rather than singing it to save my voice. I had just bought a new performance dress because it pretty much fit and that was good enough for me at the time. While Che Faro Senza Euridice flitted through my head, it had to fight to stay there. Instead I was thinking about and worrying about how I was going to look in this dress.
My cardigan didn’t match but God forbid I show my arms, it would have to do. Money was tight and I wasn’t about to buy something to match this dress when I knew it didn’t really look that great on me anyway.
The dress was beautiful but I was chunky. My lumps showed through the light fabric and my left boob was dangerously close to falling out. I did the performance, though, without wardrobe malfunction and then went home and vowed never to wear that dress again.
Fast forward a few years. The dress still hangs in my closet. Why I haven’t burned it yet, I have no idea.
I’ve been shopping for weeks for a dress for two upcoming events I’m attending that have had no luck with anything under $400. My budget beats my vanity. So, I finally give in. I pull my dress out of the closet and decide that I have to wear it.
The only problem is that it’s about 50lbs too large.
Life is hard.
No matter, I’ll take it in. Saturday night I sit with my dress in hand, two sets of needle and thread, Sweet Tea Vodka with lime on standby just in case I butcher the thing and need fast consolation.
“Shit,” I yelp as I accidentally sew my thumb into a seam. It’s okay; I caught that spot next to my nail where you can’t really feel it.
“Whyyyyy did I decide to do this by hand?” I whine at whoever is listening, which of course is no one.
One of those present makes some joke that I don’t remember but I remind him not to make fun of me while I’m holding pointy objects. I threaten him a few more times before I’m finished. I don’t actually stab him with the sewing needle because there are witnesses present but I’m sorely tempted.
I finish the dress and scurry in the other room to try it on. Perfect fit. It never looked like this before. I smile, take it off, and go enjoy my vodka. I put the sewing kit away before I become too tempted to sew somebody’s mouth shut. I’ll let you speculate who.
The next night I put on the dress, worry once again about a boob popping out, and try to stay calm as I wonder if my seam will stay in place. If that sucker pops, it’s all spilling out.
I walk into the living room to grab my purse. The looks I receive from those present make me blush. My mom’s husband tells me that I look beautiful. I’m not used to him saying things like that.
I’m proud to report that the seams stayed put, there were no nip-slips, and despite the raging windstorm that killed my hair, I felt lovely.
That lasted until about 5pm on Monday when the pictures hit Facebook. As I browsed through them I came to this one.
Maybe you’re not seeing what I see. Perhaps my flaws don’t stick out like glaring eyesores to you. I hope that’s the case. All I could see was this.
Hair ruined by a windstorm, eyes too tired from not getting enough sleep, double chin, flabby arm and underarm, and the almost gone dark patch of skin I have in my cleavage wipe everything else from my memory. Oh, and that is NOT my haircolor. Bad lighting much?
It makes me think of Marie’s post from New Years. At the time I thought it was crazy that she would find anything wrong with that photo. I thought she looked amazing.
But I get it now. Seeing this photo made me forget the fact that I had to take somewhere between 6-8 inches off the dress, how I felt dancing in it, how people told me how lovely I looked, and how far I’ve come to be able to sit and mope about looking this way in a dress at a party I never would have even been invited to last year.
So, while I sit and obsess over what’s wrong with this picture, I forget the fun, the champagne, the new friends made, and the look I received from someone who had always been honest with me to a fault. I forget that this is still in progress and that for being in progress, I look pretty amazing. I forget that I wasn’t even wearing spanx.
I am my own worst critic so I have no room to talk, but you look gorgeous and confident in that dress! Body image is so hard to change but we are all struggling. I hope you finally see that beautiful girl staring back at you one day.