The other day I was lurking around in some forums and in the midst of a lot of snarking re: topknots and arm parties, a sentence jumped out at me. Someone said “Fashion is not inspirational, fashion is just clothes.”
Now, I do agree that fashion is not an investment, at least not a financial investment. I suppose if you buy a $200 pair of jeans or an $1800 purse and grow tired of it, you may be able to sell it on Ebay for some cash, but in general clothes aren’t worth anything other than the use you’ll get out of them. This is an excellent reason not to fool yourself into buying clothing you don’t need as an investment, and also to make yourself wear the things you do have. Clothings’ only actual financial worth is as clothing. If you want to invest in something, open a mutual fund.
However, I’m not sure that I agree that fashion is not inspirational. I will tell you that I’m not attempting, here, to be inspirational to anyone. I am thrilled if I am, but I would never presume that anyone thinks that I am. Inspirational is a BIG word, you know? But the thing is, all this work that I’ve done, and it has been work, and the money I’ve spent (although not a grand sum by any stretch of the imagination, it was also not nothing), it has been totally totally worth it. In 35 years, this is the happiest I have ever been with myself. It is almost the most I have ever weighed, and I have never liked myself more.
I mean, I would love to lose 50 pounds. I do not like my thighs. There are things I just don’t wear. I take off and return a lot of clothes that look awful. I try to laugh in the dressing room but sometimes I have not my best moments standing in front of that godforsaken Target 3 way mirror. But leaving the house every day feeling happy with how I look, instead of ducking my reflection and feeling cranky when I open my dresser drawers? It is the best best best feeling, you guys. It’s inspirational to ME, to feel great about how I look.
Especially because I have weighed 50 or 60 or 70 pounds less than this and I have hated how I looked. I have felt fat in a size 4. I have stood in front the mirror and pinched imaginary rolls while my husband rolled his eyes at me and walked away, and in none of those moments did I ever stop and say “No. I will not do this.” Instead I said “I can do better. I can do more. I can be better. I should try harder.”
That voice in my head never went away until I decided that even if those pants were a size 14, I deserved new pants. I deserved to wear clothing that made me feel good about myself.
I have to be honest with you. I did not set about to create a revolution, in my head or anywhere else, but I am astonishingly glad that I did, because there’s someone here now that matters even more than me, and what she hears and learns about herself? It starts with me.
As long as I live, until the day I die, I will never ever ever forgot the moment they said to me, lying on that table in that darkened room, “It’s a girl.” And I am not sure how many days it took me to say it out loud, but in my heart that was the moment that our house, our home, became a Body Disparagement Free Zone. And I made it a rule, The Rule, that in our house, you don’t talk about how fat you are or how much weight you need to lose or how much you don’t like yourself. In our house, you are beautiful.
But there’s a big difference between refusing to let the words come out of your mouth and refusing to let the words come out of your brain. Because I stopped talking about how fat I felt, but I didn’t stop telling myself, silently, in my head, how fat I was, until I started to dress myself like I actually cared about me and how I looked and what I wore. And then, somehow, I started to like myself, fat thighs and big kiester and all.
And damn, if that’s not one of the most important things I’ve ever done.
Because the thing is? The world? It is ready willing and able to tell our daughters how fat they are. How imperfect. How they should have longer legs or blonder hair or bigger lips or longer eyelashes. And do not get me wrong. If my daughter comes to me and she wants to wear deodorant or shave her legs or she wants a purple Esprit bag like every other girl in her 8th grade class? I will sit with her in the bathroom and I will teach her how to shave her legs. I am not going to ask that she not fit in so that I can prove some kind of feminist point. And we are not going to sit around shoveling brownies in our mouths every morning for breakfast and every night for dinner. There will be brownies, sometimes, but there will also be kale.
BUT when you stand in front of the mirror and you call yourself fat? You might as well be screaming it in your daughter’s ear. And trust me, that job has been taken care of already. The world is going to scream that at her for you. But my daughter, from me? She will hear me screaming from the rooftops that I am beautiful. That we’re all beautiful. That fat thighs or no boobs or long hair or short hair or stubby eyelashes or big feet are the things that make you wonderful, and that as far as I am concerned? She is stunning. Magical. Amazing. Lovely. The most gorgeous girl the world has ever known.
Inspirational? I don’t know. But it certainly feels like it from here.
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