“Whoever’s approval you seek, imprisons you. Choose your jailer with care and deliberation.”
It’s not every day a girl gets to go to her father’s wedding (unless, perhaps, her father is kind of a sleazebag serial monogamist or the male Zsa Zsa Gabor), so for this event I decided to splurge on some new shoes and a skirt. Actual high heels! I felt like such a girl! I adore femme drag when I can do it, but I wish it weren’t so bloody uncomfortable. It took me all of one hour at the wedding before I nearly lost my heels in the lawn and almost ripped my red silk cheongsam doing a fireman’s carry on my nephew. Blame the four year old.
Anyway, buying said skirt, standing in line for the changeroom in a store that catered to angsty teenage girls, their cellphones, and their anguished/bored-as-hell parents/boyfriends, a sentiment I’d read earlier that week in Mighty Kat’s journal suddenly struck me: “In 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.”
Waiting in the interminable Kiev bread queue changeroom line, I observed the young things traipsing in and out, hanging their hopes on this or that pair of pants, the blue top versus the yellow, perhaps Bobby would like me more if I had this dress with the dots, and so forth. I began to be fascinated with the rather grotesque idea that I was standing in the midst of utterly adorable, gorgeous young things who were stunning simply because they were young and enthusiastic about life and still free of gravity’s inexorable might, and probably right now some spottyfaced adolescent male is writing atrocious poetry to them – but they didn’t even know it. Quite likely, every lovely little fresh-faced creature in that store was convinced she was a hideous beast. How many girls went home and cried after the changeroom adventure and mass-sweatshop-produced garments informed them that their thighs were too big and their boobs all wrong and their bodies too short or tall or curvy or not curvy enough? It depresses me even to contemplate. The darling buds of May, as Shakespeare opined, are shaken by harsh winds indeed.
Eventually I reached the front of the line and hit the changeroom. The skirt fell just over my knees, and I gazed at my reflection. It was a cold day and I’d been wearing boots so my feet were adorned with lovely gray wool socks. I hadn’t shaved my legs in a week (Hey! It’s still practically winter in Canada! Gimme a break!). I am short and stumpy at the best of times (at the worst of times you could say I’d make someone a fine childbearing plow-puller). I’m the antithesis of a whippetlike fashion model.
And yet I grinned like a fiend at the mirror. My quads were peeking out of the hem like a pair of playful otter snouts poking out of the water. Hello girls! Great to see you! You’re looking super after all that squatting! The quadladies flexed, as is their way of greeting. Howdy calves! Enjoying the fresh air after being stuffed into pants for 6 months? You’re looking strong – go girls!
What if, and I’m just sayin’, what if we all just loved our bodies fiercely like mother bears loved their cubs? What does body love mean, anyway? Does it mean unconditional anything goes, it’s ok to have this drink because I deserve it, or this smoke because I’m worth it? Or does it mean caring and watering and petting and thoughtfully feeding to make the body hum and purr?
In twenty years I want to look back and feel that I did not waste those possibilities. I don’t want to wait two decades to know that I was fabulous and didn’t realize it. I want to nurture all those possibilities right now, and start by lovin’ my bad self. Who’s with me?