Nope that’s not a spelling error. It’s a reference to my weight and how annoyed I am with it. You know how most people think they look worse than they actually do? In this particular case I had got dressed in my favorite black jumpsuit for a family wedding. I looked in the mirror before I left and felt confident. It’s not that I thought I looked amazing but If felt good enough in it that I didn’t think about my outfit the rest of the night. Due to some work and schedule commitments that our husband’s had, my sister and I ended up going as each other’s dates to a family wedding. This was so much fun because truthfully we are rarely ever out where it is just the two of us, no husbands, no kids, no obligations. We laughed so hard the whole care ride down to Alexandria and we made the most of the time we had before the wedding by hitting up all kinds of different bars, restaurants and shops. In fact, we left ourselves very little time to actually get ready, hence the pony tail in the picture, it was also about 1,000 degrees so wearing my hair down was not happening. The picture below was taken of me and my cousin Connor. I was the first grandchild born into my mother’s side of the family and our cousin Connor was the last. Last year after he graduated high school he enlisted with the United States Marines. Our whole family could not be more proud of him and it was a special occasion that he was able to attend the wedding. I’m smiling a huge natural smile in this photo because I was having a great night.
But you know what’s awful? When this picture popped up on Facebook I wanted to cry. Actually kind of laugh too because the crotch area of the jumpsuit immediately reminded me of the It’s Pat body type from Saturday Night Live. It had felt a little tight but I had worn it just 2 months prior and it fit fine. My mind immediately went to how to untag myself from the photo or at least make sure it didn’t show up on my timeline. Meanwhile it’s a great photo of my handsome cousin. This is a guy who completed The Crucible part of his boot camp with a pneumonia and a broken nose who has enlisted to fight for our country and I’m worried about what I look like in the photo.
But still I preceded to zoom in on the unflattering shot and send it to my friends and family. Yes, I’m serious. What kind of self-obsessed weirdo does this shit? Me, I do. I’m telling you this because I know many of you do too. My best friend looked at the photo and said “I’m sure it’s just a bad angle…”. Ouch, that’s the honest way of saying, yeah, not the best photo.
I even made my husband, who was laying next to me almost asleep in bed, put on his glasses and look at the picture.”Look I said! It’s hideous! I’m so fat! It’s the worst!” My husband looked at me like I was nuts and simply said “Stop it, you’re beautiful.” He truly is one of those men who tells me this every day, even when I wake up with my eyes smeared in mascara, wearing one of his t-shirts and his boxers (sad but true this is my favorite kind of pajamas). He sends me texts to tell me this, he looks me in the eyes and says this, and, I know by looking into his eyes that he believes this because he is not shallow and he is a good person. I mean clearly he married me for my cooking skills. (I’ll wait while we both recover from laughing so hard) And yet, I ungratefully whine and complain and take it all for granted simply because I don’t like what I see. There were other photos that I thought I liked from that night like the one from below. But I also know that they have been cropped, light adjusted and just short of photo-shopped. Even this one below has my arm doing that weird thing where it looks like a French crepe at my underarm. Everyone has some of this when they hold their arm this way, it’s called skin, but but I couldn’t crop it out without cropping out part of my head, trust me I tried!
You see I’ve made a business out of working with women of all ages and all sizes to help them not just with their wardrobes but on a deeper level with their self-esteem. Usually I can never even tell the flaws that they are worried about but I work with them to make sure I help them to feel confident of at least hiding these flaws. I can’t take them away if they feel them or if they see them. I can work to flatter the best parts of them and make it so that they stand a little taller and feel a little better. My ultimate goal is to have them not really think about what they look like after they put on their outfit at all. I want them to be able to get dressed quickly and feel confident, so that they can get out the door and onto the more important things in their life other than what they look like. And yet, here I was, a super hypocrite who was wallowing in self-pity for the extra weight I’ve gained. Truth is I have gained about 20 pounds over the last couple years. I’ve gained weight eating pizza, drinking wine, staying up and watching movies with my kids and eating snacks. I’ve gained weight simply because I am getting older and it’s our bodies and our hormones start to change. There is even that super twisted part of me who thinks that maybe I self-sabotage a bit by still eating pizza, carbs and pasta because then I almost feel in control of gaining weight in a very weird way, as opposed to the women I know who are working out and eating close to nothing and still their bodies are changing and growing out in the middle where our waists once were. People are polite and say “I can’t tell!” or “No, you look great!” But we’ve all been there where suddenly our bras don’t fit right, jeans feel like a straight jacket for our stomachs and even underwear is too tight.
But I don’t look back and regret any meal. Okay maybe some of the fast food ones but the point is it has all been me living my life. I’ve always wanted to be an example to my daughter that in an increasingly visual world where youth and a great body are doctored, photo shopped and delivered on a silver platter, that it was what’s on the inside and how we live our lives. I’ve worked with clients who are sick, their bodies riddled with cancer, who would do anything, and I mean anything to put on some kind of weight onto their frail bones. Their bodies are so sick from the cancer drugs that food is simply rejected. I’ve helped them try and find something to fit while they muster up the strength and the courage to go to their family weddings. And yet here I am bitching about this stupid shit. I’m also the one who takes 30 selfies, making sure to cut out any unflattering arm angles or forehead wrinkles before I post them onto my social media. As far as I know I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone hire me because of what I look like. Sure it’s important to look pulled together if I am trying to represent my business of image, but perfection has never been something I’ve preached nor have I wanted to practice. I’m not a fashionista. I love clothes and getting dressed up but in a weird way I’m more of a cheerleader for my clients. I’m the blacksmith putting together the suit of armor so that my clients can protect themselves from insecure thoughts that creep into all of our heads. I wish I had Lizzo’s confidence but when I’ve spend 30 minutes trying to get dressed, there’s 8 pairs of jeans that I’ve spent good money on that don’t fit on the floor, and I’m running late it’s freaking frustrating. It’s not always the number that is so upsetting or our physical shape but the fact that we are staring at a closet full of clothes that worked 2 days ago but failed us today. Do you go shopping and spend more money for a bigger size? Squeeze into what we have? Or skip the wine and bread and cheese for a week and hope the jeans fit again soon? If I have the opportunity to ever go to Italy you’re damn straight I’m gonna eat and drink my way through the country. But sure, like ever other woman I know I will then come back and beat myself up when I’m stuck with a closet full of clothes and nothing that doesn’t make me feel like a bloated tick. I get it. I do. It’s annoying that our bodies feel out of our control.
There are lots of jobs that unfortunately do require us to upkeep a certain kind of image. That’s a shit ton of pressure. I hear people question all the time why someone is wearing something or just commenting on someone’s weight. You never ever know what is going on with that person. I’ve had the physical and emotionally opportunity to be with women inside their closets. The woman that you may look at and think her pants are too tight may have just lost 120 pounds and is super excited to be wearing jeans with a button and zipper again. Another woman who is super skinny may be sick and can’t put on weight. Or that really fit person with the great body? Maybe they really love working out and that makes them happy. Can you imagine being on television? Or in a movie? Or even an athletic trainer, who I am sure feels the pressure to look a certain way. We have no right at any time to judge. Stay in your lane and live your best life.
I do want to lose a little weight because as we get older it becomes about our health more than vanity. Over the summer I met with my friend Charlene Richardson, owner of Anchor Life and Fitness. She asked if I wanted to be involved in helping the winner of their six week challenge program go shopping. Of course I was on board but I a couple of weeks ago I actually enlisted myself in the challenge. I would feel like a fraud helping someone who worked so hard go shopping when I was afraid myself to try and put myself into something that I am traditionally terrible at, i.e. any remotely athletic activity other than walking and even then I usually trip, fall, or stub my toe. I want to show my kids that I am going to put my health before beauty. And one of my very favorite things about Charlene is that she confessed to me that she actually feels conscious working out at any other gym but her own. I look at her and see a strong kick ass woman so how could this be? Because, just like the rest of us, she feels the pressure. If she goes to another gym and people know she is a trainer they may look at her and judge her on what she is lifting, on her form, on her body. As amazing as I know she is this made me like her this much more to know that she get’s that feeling. It’s why her gym looks more like and feels like you are at someone’s ultra cool home as opposed to an intimidating gym.
Wanting to change but doing it is all well and good to say but it’s not very easy to do. It takes time and happens in stages. I’m not about to post a picture of my fat rolls in a bikini. I’m not that confident with complete body acceptance and I’m not sure I’ll ever be. And that’s alright too. Wherever you are, whatever you believe, it’s okay. It’s about working to find the mindset that matches your inner compass, whatever that may be. And for me, that compass has pointed to different things throughout the years. Currently it is pointing in the direction of a dire need to find the good.
One of my favorite places to be is in my own backyard in the hour or so before and just after sunset. The sky is stunning and it’s never the same. Lately I have been so freaking pissed off because there is noisy, dirty construction of houses that will be going up right smack in the middle of this view. Last night I ate dinner outside with my daughter. It was the first time in a while because I had avoided sitting out back because I was too busy letting it piss me off so much. But then I looked at the sunset. It is still there. It’s still just as beautiful. It just depends what part of the picture I choose to look at.
My view, and my body, will never be the same as it once was. People change, the world changes and we have to adapt or be left screaming and standing still. It’s not easy and I’m not always going to feel this positive. But today, I am trying. When I look at that black and white photo I will still see the “It’s Pat” character stomach, I can’t make it just go away. But I’m going to focus on the memory of having the photo taken. Time spent with family, with my cousin who is serving our country, and a weekend of belly laughs with my sister. I want to be a better example for my daughter and I want to make sure that my client’s know that I get it. I really do. I have always asked them to be as open and honest with me about everything when it comes to getting them into the right outfit that makes them feel good. I can only get that kind of honesty by giving the same in return.
And, to complete the cycle of instagram versus reality, here are some shots I am happy to share and some I cannot believe I am sharing. Enjoy!
Thank you for reading, I know it was a long one. I’m looking forward to getting back to writing a bit and sharing some more open stories about getting dressed and keeping it real.