This post is inspired by a woman who is a member of a message board I visit. She was mentioning that she is taking a trip this fall, and was hoping to be a certain size before the trip so she could pack differently. All too often we women hold off on situations, trips, life changes and yes wardrobes until we have the right conditions.
“I can’t justify buying expensive jeans until I get down to a size 8.”
“I told my friends I couldn’t find time to go to the pool with them, but really I don’t want to be seen in a swimsuit until I lose ten more pounds.”
“I didn’t go to my high school reunion, I didn’t want people to see how much I have gained since I graduated, and anyway I am way past due for a highlights touchup.”
“I figure I’ll wait on getting another haircut until my hair grows another 3-4”.”
“I don’t want to go to Paris on vacation at this size and with these clothes… they will laugh at how fat and sloppy American I am.”
“I am too pale to step foot on a beach, I’ll look like an idiot out there with all those bronze bodies.”
Have you ever said anything similar to this, either out loud or in your head? Well you’re not alone. Too often we women sacrifice our enjoyment because we feel we don’t deserve it. We decide to not buy any new clothes until we drop a size, not go out to social situations because we are embarrassed about our figure, our wardrobe, our selves. Do men do this? Not nearly as often as women. They make do with their outfits, lightly joke about their expanding waistlines, and put nothing in front of having a good time.
Stop and think about the last social situation you attended. Were you the heaviest woman there? The most unattractive? The worst dressed? I highly doubt it. Then also think about the women that stood out in a positive way. Was it because they had perfect bodies and faces? Elegant and expensive attire? Perfect hair and skin? Again, highly unlikely. The women who catch your eye are the women who are at home in their skin, have fun yet have class, who enjoy themselves, their life, and the world around them. The woman with the smile that lights up a room, the woman with the tinkling laugh, the woman who can cut a rug out on the dance floor. When you are comfortable in your skin, no one notices how old your dress is, if you are a size 6 or 16, if your shoes are Payless or Manolo Blahnik.
People notice if your clothes are ill fitting, gaudy, in poor shape. They notice when you slouch, fidget, slump in your chair and avoid interacting with others. They notice the scowl, the sneer, the frown. If you look uncomfortable, then people notice your weight, your scar, your roots, your one thing that makes you uncomfortable in the first place. They notice when you repeatedly decline offers to go out, complain about your weight or your diet or your outfit.
Think back to your college or high school days, your current church community or your daily office team. Think about the “popular girl.” Really think about her, not the possibly altered memory you have about her. Is she really the prettiest girl? The thinnest? The best dressed? I remember a girl I went to college with, her name was Charity. All the boys wanted to date her and all the girls wanted to be her. She had long blonde hair and a heart-shaped face and the biggest smile and the most infectious laugh. She was very short, a hair over 5’ and was not slim – probably a size 12 or 14. Her face was cute, but nothing overly striking. However, she was always friendly and welcoming, happy to see people. She wasn’t afraid to don a bathing suit at the pool or fail miserably (while giggling about it) at intramural softball. Thinking about her, I can’t recall how she dressed, just that she never seemed to stick out or look bad. I remember her pulling all of us on to the dance floor when her favorite song was played by the DJ, I remember her screaming at the top of her lungs and hopping up and down in the front row at a concert for her favorite band. I remember her being nervous for a class presentation, admitting her nervousness, but plowing through and finishing with applause from the whole class. And I remember her smiling and thanking the class for their support. She was not the best dressed, the best looking, the most enviable figure. She just was a great person to be around, who seemed to really like herself.
Life is happening, whether you are participating or not. You are not getting any younger, and those situations you pass on because of your appearance just may not happen again. What makes you an amazing personality is not your dress, your figure, your shoes but YOU. Creative, intelligent, bubbly, goofy, quirky, giving, loving, thoughtful, unique you. When you let the world know who you are, your exterior is just that – the packaging, not the present. As with any gift, we want it to be dressed in a beautiful and appropriate way, but like any gift, the paper and bows are admired, but the present itself is what lasts in memory.
Don’t wait until tomorrow, you may not end up having the second chance. Enjoy the last few weeks of summer in well-fitting swimsuits, sleeveless tops and sassy skirts. Take that trip to Paris – you are one person in a crowd and there is sure to be another American who is in the oversized tee and Crocs to receive the snickers in place of you. Go to that reunion knowing that yes you have gained a few pounds, but also a great education, family or life adventures. Get out on the dance floor if you love to dance, and enjoy yourself! Nothing is more chic, stylish or flattering than a woman who is happy in her own skin and life.