Her strut was incomparable. She had impeccable foot placement, a confident swagger, perfectly timed poses, and a fierce expression on her face. What a show! Incredibly daring, avant-garde style. Leopard microskirt. Low-cut silk halter top. Fur crop jacket. Knee-high leather boots with ice pick heels. Sequined turban. She commanded attention with her very first step. Every eye was on her. Jaws dropped as she walked by. People craned their necks to catch that last glimpse before she turned the corner. Through it all, she maintained an aura of aloof disinterest.
Then she stopped. The crowd gasped with anticipation.
She swung an over-sized beaded bag off her shoulder, took a wailing child out of the stroller, and executed a flawless diaper change on a bench in the middle of the mall. She gently placed the baby back in the stroller, hoisted the bag over her shoulder, and sashayed her way back into the hordes of Saturday afternoon shoppers amid whispers of mockery and disapproval.
Did she even look in the mirror before she left the house??? She’s *got* to be pushing 250!!! They shouldn’t even make that skirt in plus sizes!!! She looks like an overstuffed sausage in a safari casing! WHAT WAS SHE THINKING??? I wouldn’t wear that, and I weigh less than her! Hold on, I’ve got to get a picture of this. What a great example she’s setting for her kid…
Granted, it wasn’t the most flattering fashion choice for a very short, overweight person. In all fairness, the ensemble would have looked odd on a tall, thin person. Regardless, the venom and disgust was staggering. She was clearly confident, comfortable in her own skin, and seemed happy. However, the negative comments were overwhelming. I made a few myself – I actually followed her for a couple of minutes so I could snap a photo (which, sad to say, is still on my phone). There were so many categories of ‘shaming’ being covered, I couldn’t even begin to list them all.
I’ve been thinking about that incident a lot lately.
There are lists upon lists on the interwebs stressing the importance of loving your body. That imperfection is perfect. That everything is photoshopped. That the number on the scale doesn’t define who you are. That skinny doesn’t mean healthy. That there are all shapes and sizes. That happiness should never hinge on your size. All great in theory. In practice, though? A bit different.
I have a very hard time aligning how my clothes make me FEEL with how they LOOK once I check myself out in the mirror. I wear clothes that are ‘appropriate’ for my size and stage of life. I tend toward comfort, but go with fun/quirky accessories for flair. I stick with simplicity for work, a standard ‘uniform’ of sorts – black pants, black flats, coordinating sweater/top. Even with all that, I’ll get dressed (feeling comfortable/professional), look in the mirror, not like what I see, and find it almost impossible to maintain that confidence. I don’t think what I’m wearing LOOKS as good as it FEELS. Which immediately causes the tag to become scratchy, loose threads to start poking out, and an unidentifiable stain to magically appear…
I like to think I’ll react differently next time I see someone in less-than-flattering garb. I’ll find a way to see past what they’re wearing. I’ll admire their confidence, and avoid the criticism. I’ll sit up straight, throw my shoulders back, raise my arm and cry “waiter, I’ll have what she’s having”!!! Because at the end of the day, it’s about much more than loving our own bodies/imperfections – it’s about admiring those qualities in the ones who’ve already figured it out!