Not your dress

Last weekend I received a much-needed wardrobe refresh.  I’ve been in Vallarta for almost 5 years, and my wardrobe had begun to reflect that.

“I mean, we wear rags”, my client says to me as our discourse moves away from business and toward the uber-casual style of our fair Vallarta.

We both look down.

We are in fact wearing rags.

In most places, these outfits would be laundry day outfits. Here, they are apparently Wednesday-go-to-meetin’ outfits.

So, last weekend I remedied that.

But this message is really about negative self talk and how it creeps in. 

Most people would think that I’ve got a pretty healthy body image. And they’d be right, mostly. But while I am super body positive, and always will be, I have stumbled upon an interesting and sort of annoying thing: I’ve been faking to some degree when it comes to myself.

Acceptance for the sake of saying you’ve accepted something isn’t acceptance. Perhaps that’s allowance. Or just giving up. Maybe a better term would be acquiescence. But it’s not true acceptance.

On Sunday I went over to my friend Kathleen’s place. We worked out a professional trade… she needed yoga and I needed clothes. Seeing as how she’s in the consignment clothing business, and hosting a charity fashion show very soon, she had literal racks of clothes, in my size, in her living room. So I got my kit off and we got to trying on clothes for 3+ hours last weekend. 

It was a blast! I had two personal shoppers… not only Kathleen, but her friend was visiting too, a former stylist. Conservatively, I tried on 75 things. Pants, tops, dresses, strange scarfy things (girl I own one now), and so much more. Great big giant mirror, and me there in my skivvies with my bizarre shorts and sports bra tan, really having little problem with it.

At one point I was mentioning that my athletic build doesn’t lend itself well to a certain cut of dress, and then I proceeded to elaborate into how my shoulders are just as wide as my hips so I look like a linebacker and I have to choose things to tone that down because it gets weird looking.

Kathleen said something very simple like “wide shoulders are not the first thing I notice about your body when I see you, my friend.” And we moved on. But it didn’t go unnoticed how I’d been a little jabby with myself, and she had gently called me out on it.

Later I tried on a backless dress and immediately made a face. My upper back, to me, looks very muscley and is, to me, not one of my best features. I was surprised to hear her say that she felt it was absolutely one of my best features and that I should wear backless dresses as often as I can get away with it. I saw my jabbiness again, and I saw her attempt to shield me from myself. 

I bought that dress.

I don’t know when I’ll wear it, but… point taken.

Toward the end of the morning, I tried on a super tight red lace mini dress with a scoop neck and a cap sleeve that was doing me no favors at all. In fact, it did the linebacker thing. 

I turned to Kathleen and said something like “see, this is the kind of thing I have to look out for… my shoulders overpowering everything.”

And she said simply “I don’t really see what you mean. But it’s definitely not your dress.”

It wasn’t my dress, she was right about that. 

I didn’t buy that one.

There were a few really sweet, empowering, kind moments like that last Sunday. I’m telling you this because I hope you’ll look out for the ways you’ve acquiesced in your own life… ways you’ve just thought “well that’s how it is” about yourself, without taking the time to really see it… and I hope that you’ll turn the acquiescence into empowerment. 

Turn it into reasons that you are unique, not cookie cutter. Reasons you are to be celebrated. Reasons you’re not sorry, and you don’t need to elaborate.

It’s just not your dress, that’s all. There’s no explanation needed. No need to point. No blame.

There are dozens of things more to be celebrated.

Things that bring joy.

Move toward those.

*****

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