Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Actions Have Consequences

If you need a frame of reference where this is coming from, you might consider checking out the #YesAllWomen tag on Twitter. I'm not going to hit the darker side of things, but it brought up things for me that I have been struggling with all weekend, and I need to get this out.

I bought a dress on Saturday. An honest to god, short, sexy, black dress. The classic LBD. It is not especially short, nor would I consider it particularly revealing, but it is by the far the most provocative item I've purchased since losing the weight. 
(The Dress)
The changes wrought to me as a person by losing all this weight has been surprising, not least of which being how conservative my clothing choices are these days. My dresses and skirts hit the knees or below, and anything too tight has usually been paired with something looser- ostensibly for warmth, but usually its because I'm not comfortable. 

I've been telling myself that this uncomfortableness is a result of my dramatic body change and having a new body that clothes look different on, but that hasn't actually been the truth. I have had no problem with clothes that showed off my assets while I was heavy, and prided myself on managing to have the courage to wear it. 

Being proud of your body has always been a challenge for me, and it wasn't made easier when I hit puberty earlier than everyone else. I was well-endowed in comparison to all the other girls by the time I was in sixth grade, and rather proud that I was the girl in class who had to wear a bra because I needed it, not because I was stuffing it with socks. 

That is, I was proud of it until I got called "Cups" by a boy in my class. He and his friends made fun of my growing bosom on the playground, and I felt embarrassed. They told me "he probably just likes you, and doesn't know how to show it" but I still felt ashamed that my body was different. No one ever wants to be singled out for something they can't change. 

I started wearing baggier clothing, hunching over. I even tried "taping" my boobs down to make them smaller. I had learned my lesson- don't get noticed for how you look. But I did-my girlhood rapidly moving towards womanhood even though I wasn't ready for it. Construction workers, the classic example, would comment as I passed. Even when they didn't comment, I felt their eyes following me. At 13, I didn't feel safe. 

I spiralled into a depression that eventually landed me in therapy where the therapist suggested I take up Tae Kwon Do so I wouldn't be so afraid anymore. I enjoyed the Tae Kwon Do, but it didn't help me the way food did. No, the thing that finally stopped all the attention that I didn't know how to deal with was eating my way through that depression. I came out the other side with some martial arts training and an overweight body that I wouldn't lose until over 20 years later.

I didn't get the catcalls when I was fat. I didn't have to deal with the colleagues who tell me they can't take me seriously because they're not used to talking to pretty girls. I didn't get the attention that made me feel uncomfortable, and I learned to love, if not my body, then at least the peace that came with it. I found courage in that fat body, one I haven't quite been able to replicate now that I've lost the extra weight.

I stood in that changing room this weekend, taking pictures to get a second opinion before purchasing the dress, because I honestly couldn't make up my mind whether it was so short that I'd be "asking for it." It would certainly have passed my High School's dress code. And then, when I got home and was altering a different dress into a skirt, I still lowered the hemline because I knew I wouldn't feel comfortable with it as high as my eye thought it should sit. 

Sunday, I couldn't make myself leave the house wearing that honestly-not-that-short dress without full length black tights to cover my legs, even though we were only going to the cinema, even though the only person who would see me was one friend and my very supportive other half, even though I'd mostly be wearing a jacket there and back. But the fear was there, with that worry that I'd be seen as a slut.

I've finally lost the weight, finally at a point where I can really honestly say that I like my body, but I'm too scared to actually show it off. How's that for irony?

Intellectually, I can see where this is coming from, but man does it suck. It isn't the type of horror story that inspired #YesAllWomen, but in its own way, it has defined a huge portion of my life around the actions of others. I will wear the dress again, and I'm hoping I'll have the guts to wear it without tights, but I can already see the eyes following my every move.

Actions have consequences people. Let yours speak highly of you.


PS: Comments are disabled. I'm not quite that brave yet.