Living for the Revel (catvalente) wrote,
Living for the Revel

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The Dress

Once upon a time, there was a leopard-print dress. And a girl who really wanted it.

I mean, it's a leopard-print dress. It's slit up to oh-my-god in the back. It's perfect 50's trampgear. And I happen to be one of the few humans who can carry off cat-prints, with the long black hair and all. I reasoned to justbeast that I have a class and repression and respectability to spare, so I can wear something stupidly slutty and it still comes off as merely risque.

But I didn't buy it. I stroked it in the store and looked longingly over my shoulder at it. And I didn't buy it. And in a week, it was gone. Why, you ask?

Because there's a little voice inside me that belongs to a particularly insidious gnome, and that voice says: you are so fucking fat. You can't have that dress. You should be wearing a sack of shame and hiding yourself from human eyes. You look like a walking manatee. No one wants to see you in trampgear, no one wants to see you at all. You're hideous, and you can't "get away" with that dress because your ass dishonors your slim and untroubled family line, not because it's slutty. Sluts are hot, after all. You're nothing.

I'm going to go out on a limb and bet some of you know that voice pretty well. It's a constant friend, no?

I haven't been talking about it, because the progress has been slow and therefore sometimes discouraging, but in the last year I've gone from a size 18 to a size 12. I've been working out every day, and I could safely bench press my college girlfriend. I'd like to be a size 10, and I'll get there. I will.I'm trying not to stress it. That should matter, right? The gnome should be a little mollified.

But it never is
. Not even a little. That gnome has all the power of our collective culture behind it, all the power of every girl you thought was so much prettier than you, every boy whose eyes skated right over you like you didn't exist, the power of every family member who glared at you for taking an extra helping of turkey at holidays. It's ripped. And it never shuts up.

I spent years not buying myself new clothes because it was too depressing. I'll buy that when I lose some weight, I thought. And then I never did, whether I lost weight or not. It was easier to deny myself than to believe I was pretty enough to deserve a scrap of overpriced fabric. Than to stop thinking clothes were something I had to earn.

But you know, denying yourself and listening to the gnome has consequences. You sag in the shoulders, you don't look people in the eye. You don't feel sexy, and so--as if by gnomic magic--you aren't. You compare yourself endlessly, and you always come up short. Funny, that. The amount of mental energy it takes to convince yourself that you are the ugliest creature on earth is really astounding. Yet we do it, good little boys and girls, because the world tells us that to feel otherwise is to upset some basic natural balance where thin is virtue and fat is sin. Even a little fat. Even the smallest lump. Not only is it ugly--it means you're a bad person. It means no one could ever love you or desire you.

Look at that poison, man. It's black and it's horrible, isn't it? Like tar in the lungs, and we carry it around, doing penance for living.

So, there was this leopard-print dress. And I looked at its twin online for three ever-loving weeks, telling myself I couldn't have it, I didn't deserve it. Until I just broke down and bought it, and all the other clothes I'd been telling myself I couldn't have, promising myself to wear that leopard-print like a mantle of power, a techni-color dreamdress.

And you know what? I look amazing in that dress. Because it isn't the dress, it's the girl inside it--and that girl, the very instant she stops listening to the gnome in her, walks tall and has a great rack, an ass that all three graces would envy, and a sweet, gentle slope to her tummy. She's got lioness-hair and the olive green eyes that Mary Sue writers give their fantasy characters. She walks regal, and she's smart as anything--she has worlds inside her and a big, warm belly laugh. Whatever else she is, she is a woman of appetite, and she is alive. Being a size 10 will make her neither more nor less those things.

And it was brutally hard for her to write that paragraph, brutally hard to say those good things. How smart and strong that gnome is!

No matter your size, if you think you're smoking hot, you are. If you own it, if you strut it. There is nothing sexier than confidence, on guys or girls. Nothing sexier than that glint that says they know they've got something worthwhile in them. It is not an easy glint to maintain, but it's worth, forgive the pun, its weight in hotness. There is nothing you're "not allowed" to wear. Nothing you can't get away with. Nothing forbidden.

Own the dress. Don't let it own you.
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