I have a wonderful boyfriend who loves to spoil me and buy me pretty things including, but not limited to artwork, jewellery and clothing. He particularly enjoys taking me shopping for clothing and he sits just outside the changing area while I model whatever we are looking at. Usually our tastes mesh and we come home with things we both love. We have a specific store we have discovered where I now have my own personal fashion consultant who makes suggestions, offers opinions and backs me up against Stephen on those rare occasions when he likes something I don’t. Case in point – an orange flowered dress. Very pretty dress, but orange. Ok, more like tangerine, but tangerine is still orange. The style looked fabulous on me, but it was orange. Stephen loved it on me and wanted me to get it. When I explained to Zena how I feel about orange, she backed me and immediately whisked the dress away. She knew as well as I did that that poor dress would be hidden at the back of the closet and forgotten simply because it had the misfortune to have been born orange.
The only item I’ve ever let the two of them browbeat me into getting was a retro medieval torture device called the “Bodywrap”. Feel free to google it, but if you don’t want to take the time, let me quote the packaging: “The Catwalk High Waist provides a seamless front panel to smooth and flatten while lifting the derriere. The high waist design accentuates the waist and creates a smooth finish that can be worn with your favourite bra. The long leg panty silhouette provides the ultimate in thigh slimming”. Sounds good, yes? I was skeptical. Sounded more to me like it was going to be uncomfortable. Nothing provides those kinds of positive benefits and is comfortable. Life just doesn’t work like that. I resisted its purchase, and I resisted trying it on once it came home. Stephen was very frustrated with me over this and every so often would mention it. I caved once and attempted to put it on after a shower. This was not a good plan as I was hot and damp and there was no way in hell this thing was even going over my knees. I tossed it across the room in frustration.
Now, he hasn’t said anything about it for a while, not since I flatly refused to even consider taking it to the Bahamas with us to be worn under my evening gown. However, we have a couple grown up events to attend in the holiday season, and I have new dresses for both of them, so he is re-visiting the Bodywrap. I have been avoiding the discussion, but finally last night (after he got mad at me for my continued stubbornness – hey, date a Leo, that’s what happens. My stubbornness is matched only by his, cause he’s a Leo too!) I decided to at least give the thing a fair shake. Before bed I stripped down to bra and panties and got it out of the drawer. It goes on kinda like panty hose – insert one leg, hop around on that foot while trying to insert the second leg. Only problem here is it’s not as stretchy as panty hose, so there I was in the limited confines of my bedroom trying to balance on one foot, and poke the other foot into the garment all the while exerting a tremendous amount of pressure trying to stretch it out enough to even get the foot in! I ended up lying flat on my back on the bed, legs waving around in the air as I tugged on it, and even then I was having difficulties with balance as I was rolling uncontrollably from side to side. Eventually I did get both feet in enough that I could stand and begin the battle to haul it up my body into position. This sounds easy. Just pull it up, right? No, because it stretches and leaves parts of itself behind as you go and you have to go back and pull the fabric away from your body and tug it up higher. It was quite the workout, let me tell you, and by the time I got it in place – or at least, what looked to be in place according to the picture on the package, my heart was pounding and I was breathing heavily. And I was already frustrated.
Ordinarily that amount of effort would have made me quit right then and there, however, I had promised myself that to be fair to Stephen I had to give this thing a fair chance. So I put my nightgown over top and went to get a glass of water and headed downstairs to play Candy Crush.
Problem number one – not counting the battle to get it on. It cut in at the tops of my thighs. No amount of adjustment would make it feel comfortable. I was squirming and tried more than once to sort it out to make the thigh part not hurt. I couldn’t imagine sitting for an evening at a dinner/dance wearing it. Problem number two – it rolled down. The top is supposed to sit just beneath your breasts and supposedly give a clear definition of where the breasts are in contrast to the tummy. However, it simply wouldn’t stay there! I know I had it pulled up far enough, but as I moved it would slowly roll down and create an unsightly and uncomfortable bulge just above my waist. In the half hour experiment I had to reposition it under my breasts four times. Try doing that in the middle of a formal dinner! Problem number three – how in creation am I supposed to go to the bathroom with this on? Most women my age simply cannot sit for several hours without needing to use the facilities, so it is reasonable to assume that I would have to do so at least once during each of our events. If I had that much of a struggle to get into it in the relative spaciousness and privacy of my bedroom, how am I supposed to deal with it in the confines of a teeny, tiny public bathroom stall? I had visions of myself leaning against the wall for support, panty hose down around my knees, voluminous skirts of my full length evening gown gathered up under my chin in an effort to keep them from falling into the toilet, while I huffed and puffed my way out of this contraption. And then I would have to pull it back up! What would other ladies in the bathroom think of all the heavy breathing and panting emanating from my stall? I can see it now – some kindly soul taps on the door, “Are you all right in there, dear?” “Yes, I’m fine, just having some trouble with my Bodywrap.” “Ah,” she says knowingly, looking sympathetically at all the other ladies waiting, who are as one nodding their heads understandingly. “A Bodywrap. Would you like some help, dear?” And in relief I fall out of the cubicle and the other ladies swarm around me, holding the gown out of the way, tugging and pulling at my Bodywrap until I am presentable again. That’s how it would have been done in medieval times, which is where this thing originated, I am sure. Women helped one another dress back then. We don’t now. Maybe we should.
I finally took it off, and by the time it was in a heap on the floor, I was in tears. Absolutely sobbing. Not just because of the physical distress of battling my way out of it, but because of how it made me feel emotionally and psychologically. Let me explain this one, because to me it’s huge and completely overshadows the whole physical discomfort aspect.
I am overweight. I weigh far more than I should. I know this; I am not happy with this, but until I can muster the motivation and will power to do something about it, I have to live with it. For the most part I am fine with being overweight. It does not define who and what I am. I am a good person. I am a great mom. I am an excellent girlfriend, confidante and lover. (I know this because Stephen tells me often!) I am a fantastic bus driver, and I am a good trainer. Being overweight does not impact any of these in any way. I also take care of myself. Hair, makeup, clothing, always. And I feel good about myself. Generally I am confident, competent, happy, and secure in who and what I am.
This Bodywrap last night stripped all of that away. Somewhere between the battle to put it on and the struggle to take it off, it did a number on my self confidence. It made me feel that the most important thing was my weight, and the need to control it, rein it in, make it look less than it is. It made me feel like none of the other stuff mattered, and that all people would see when they looked at me was the fat camouflaged by the lovely evening gown. It brought out the insecurities that I have kept controlled for so long – the fear of not being good enough as I am, the fear of having to change to be accepted and loved. the fear of never quite making the grade. It made me feel fat, ugly, unworthy, unacceptable, and yes, even unloved. For just a few moments my mind suggested that Stephen could not possibly love me as I am; that he was pushing me to try this thing to change me, make me more acceptable, less fat. Ordinarily I would know that that thought was ridiculous. Stephen loves me deeply, no matter what. I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt. But last night the fears and distress caused by this Bodywrap thing created that shadow of doubt in my mind. And for that alone, I hate it.
I will not wear it. I will not do that to myself again. I AM pretty. I AM worthy of respect and love. I AM a good person. And yes, I AM overweight. And if I’m ok with that for now, then that’s all that matters.