I wandered into this small consignment shop hidden on my regular work route. Hanging up front and center was a low cut, ridiculous sexy, the most beautiful shade of red, a color unusual and bold, with the price tag dangling. Being a typical single mom who wears jeans as her work uniform, it is unusual for me to show a lot of skin in the first place, much less my every curve, half my back, cleavage with just tiny spaghetti straps to hold the girls in place. This dress gave me a total stare down, the stare of a woman who hates you for no other reason than her boyfriend exists on the same planet as you.
All women know or have been this woman.
It was quite an argument at first. I looked around first to check the price, certain no one would think it would be something I thought right for me, the tag claiming $180.00. I felt relief until I saw the sale tag for $30 bucks, and on top of that, a clearance sign for 25% off.
Call me nuts but I swear the dress mocked me, my hair in a bun, my ugly black work shoes pointing from beneath my worn blue jeans, slightly shredded.
That kind of sale meant a visit to the dressing room. I felt immediate regret, my body having delivered two children, an act of war in itself. This kind of thing always demands a contract. Mine has been the following:
Nudity will only occur with the lights off or dim.
Mirrors are to be avoided fully naked.
Forgotten towels are to be run for past the mirror without looking up.
Bikinis have a special place in hell. Women who are hateful become fat and bloated, sporting muffin tops and cottage cheese legs next to Victoria’s secret models for eternity. God could end much of the world’s suffering by adding that one to the Bible.
I would keep myself in check for sure.
Lingerie is to be bought by catalog and tried on after one important fact. My contacts have to be removed. I do have one disclaimer. If hell froze over, for true love, under any lighting, I would take it all off, piece by piece, baring it all to Marvin Gaye if I so pleased, an option I have decided would never happen without having lost five pounds first anyway. Oh, and wine would be heavily involved.
And yet, I never back away from a dare.
I made it quick and painless as possible, flinching at what may mirror me back, waiting for the loud speaker in my head to inflict pain and humiliation. Ever since I was a teenager, I somehow get the room that screams at me. It is baffling all the ways a bull horn can say what you wonder what people could be thinking.
Brutal things like,
“You’re supposed to swim with the dolphins, not sink them!”
“I can’t believe you already have a baby and are pregnant. My God, are they twins?”
“Does the booze cruise have a weight limit in Cancun? No reason.”
I feared and hated that dress, suddenly falling down my back, ruffling softly against my legs. I waited. I didn’t hear anything. So I actually forced myself still, sighed, and looked into the mirror, waiting.
Perhaps I hadn’t really looked hard enough.
It was definitely shocking. Maybe that was where the voices were hiding, behind the shock. I was confused, wondering who I thought I was, if this was completely out of line, reminding myself I was of course, a mom.
Being a mom makes you lose your mind, and suddenly being a single woman goes out the window. You wonder weird things about the moms at PTA. A lot of them are sporting a Girl’s Scouts patch or a Christmas sweater, so you definitely lost that mom award, so a sexy red dress may just buy you the man hunting hell raising sex crazed whore award. Armani suddenly could cost your children play dates with the troop leader.
Can you live with yourself?
must say my boobs announced their arrival loud and clear, a fact I have had to live with most my life, regardless of how I have begged God. I learned at ten that God will not give away your boobs if you promise to make straight A’s.
My skin was bare and my neck defined, my legs the only part of my body comfortable, half hidden, and I wondered if I looked slutty or sexy, or if it even mattered, because being a mom means dressing accordingly. I could be called out as as cougar, approached as a puma, which doesn’t make dating life easy, not with man cubs now out on the prowl. I’m terrible at discerning fake ids these days.
Anyways, I did not see myself.
I turned, lifted my arms, touched my bare arms, watching the girl in the mirror do the same. She was me.
The girl in the red dress, was me?
It made me want to cry for all the strangest reasons.
I was nowhere perfect, the bulge of my tummy noticed from the side, my cleavage lower than I’d like, the stretch marks covered by Armani’s red spandex silk, the best part of my body, my legs, not too visible, something I always count on for reassurance.
I have been trying to love my body my whole life. I have failed miserably. I have spoken hatred into my breasts, stomach, the very part of being woman that gives life. We all feel it, this collective hatred of ourselves, of our femininity. I know this when I see the marches of women in pink, for I can’t help but choke back tears every time, clutching my own breasts, feeling my soul resonate to all these women as a part of me, feeling their pain, the loss, the grief.
We don’t think about our daughters, the other women we hate for making us feel less, the hatred so deep, we call our very own, our sisters, words like, “whore, slut, bitch, and cunt.”
I don’t know how to change the world, how to heal this timeless issue, how to give my girls what I don’t have.
I don’t know what to do with my own envy nor how to take away the hatred of those who want me to be less. I can’t hide myself away, afraid to be found, complimented, hated, approached, desired.
Perhaps I finally reached 30 and just don’t give a damn.
Perhaps that dressing room had decent lighting for once.
Or just maybe, just today, for a brief moment, I can look into the mirror and feel my own worth, see that it was always there, and let it be. I like to think this may be my moment to buy a dress I would never else afford.
Or even a possible chance that one day a very nice man will come for me. It will be in my closet, waiting. Every time I reach past it, I will smile, wondering who he will be, if his mouth will drop wide open, a wise dress for the right man.
No matter if I wear it for a man, a night on the town with the girls, or in my room with a bottle of wine in some Bridget Jones fashion, I want to believe in it. I will wear it and own it.
If I could pick my personal favorite, I would like to believe I could heal the whole world of women.
Not a small task for a clearance rack. I have to start small. I must love women by first loving myself, and I will do just that, one sexy red dress at a time.
You can do that and wear Spanx at the same time, right?