The world needs a lot of things. (Especially this week… My heart goes out to Boston and Texas.)
One of these things is this.
Last night, I found myself sitting between two beautiful women while watching Bill play basketball in a league at his gym. One of these women I know well. The other I don’t know as well, but I get to hang out with her on occasion through Bill’s friends. We were having a fantastic time watching the guys and chatting, and the conversation eventually turned, as it usually does, from reality television and baking and going out and laughing to this:
Me: “I can’t wait until my bachelorette party in Vegas.”
Beautiful Woman on Right: “Me neither! Except I need to do a lot of working out before I go so I can look good in my bikini…”
Me: “Girlfriend, your body is rockin’. You could walk through the basketball court in a bikini right now, and guaranteed the game would stop and all these boys’ jaws would drop.”
BWonR: “That is SO not true.”
Beautiful Woman on Right: “Holy s*#&! I swear that ball was coming straight at my face!”
Me: “It definitely was. If he hadn’t caught that, you’d FOR SURE have a broken nose.”
BFonR: “Well, that would have been okay. I’ve always wanted a nose job.”
Me: “What?!?!?! WHY???”
BFonR: “I hate my nose. Every woman on my mom’s side has a big awful nose.”
Beautiful Woman on Right: “We’re starting beach volleyball on Tuesdays next week! I need to firm up my butt so I’m not jiggling all over the place in my bikini!”
Beautiful Woman on Left: “I just went and bought shorts because there is no way I’m jumping around in a bathing suit in front of people.”
Um, wait. There’s another piece to this. Both of these women are tall. And gorgeous. And at least 20 pounds lighter than me. It affected me. I’m not proud of it, but it did.
But it also got me thinking about all the other things that have been playing into that lately too. I remember vividly that last summer when coworkers in the student office I was working in heard that I got engaged, it took approximately 43 seconds for someone to ask when I was going to start getting in shape for the wedding. Except the shape I was in was 5’9″ and athletic-yet-curvy, and I thought it was pretty great already.
And it has been happening steadily since. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard terms like “bridal boot camp” and “shedding for the wedding”. In fact, last Tuesday I mentioned to someone that I was going to yoga (which I started to help with stress), and her first reaction was “Good for you! Gotta fit into that wedding dress!” Except when I ordered my dress, the lady at the bridal salon asked me in all seriousness if I wanted to order my dress in my size (an 8 in bridal gowns) or in a size 6 or 4. Is that a question she commonly has to ask? Isn’t it my dress? So shouldn’t it be in, well, MY size?
I’ve been having a hard time lately. My bachelorette party is in Vegas, which will of course involve days partying by the pool and nights living it up in skin-tight mini dresses. One of my best friends just had a baby, and seeing as how she was a size 0 before she brought that sweet little thing into the world and is well on her way back there, I can guarantee you that she will look “better” than me on that June 1st weekend. And we already know the Beautiful Woman on Right is way smaller than me, and she’ll be there too, not approving of how she looks her her bikini. But now I’ve got it in my head that my bikini has to work 20 lbs harder than her bikini, and it is (and I am) going to be that much less happy about it.
All of a sudden, I went from “I can’t wait until my bachelorette party in Vegas” (see Exchange #1 above) to feeling self-conscious and picking apart my body because all eyes are going to be on me – now the biggest girl there.
Except I’m not big.
How did we get here?
There is an epidemic among girls and women in the country. There is so much pressure for us to look pretty and hot and symmetrical and tan and toned – but not too toned because that’s not attractive – and perfect and cute – but not too cute because that would be creepy.
Frankly, lately I would rather look happy. Healthy. Smart. Funny. Caring. Ambitious. Passionate. And while we’re at it, emotional and capable and complex.
I would rather look like me.
Let’s all work together to make that okay.