Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Imperfections On My Cover

     I have always loved books. That is a love that comes from my Dad. I love used book stores the best. Also a love that comes from my Dad. We spent countless hours pouring over books together when I was a child. The smell of old paper is a comfort to me. Walking into a used book stores feel like a place for a great treasure hunt. I have carried that love for old books with me into adulthood. It's from this love that a lesson about my body came about. 

     I used to judge a book by its cover. Not the cover art but the condition of the cover and binding. If the book was torn, creased, lose at the spine, or had dog eared pages I put it down and moved on to the next.  My books had to be perfect. When I brought them home, they stayed perfect. I didn't lend out my books because I didn't want their condition to be compromised.  Now, as an adult, I found it necessary to stop caring about the outer condition of the books I want to read.  My love for the 40's and 50's means most of these books are no longer being published and have been around for some time. I need to grab them when I see them regardless of condition,because I may not find it again. 

     It was a book called "Gracie; A Love Story" by George Burns that taught me a lesson about bodies. This book is no longer printed and if I wanted to read it I would have to get over its appearance. The creased spine, torn corners of the cover, and lose pages didn't take away from the story. The condition of the book didn't change the story at all. I just had to hold the book carefully and try not it to add more wear and tear to it.  When I was finished I placed it on my bookshelf with a smile of satisfaction from reading a great story.  

     The cover made no difference to the story itself, like my body makes no difference as to WHO I am. I come with imperfections on my cover: stretch marks, scars, blemishes, cellulite, and more. Yet none of that changes my heart and soul. My body is the cover to my amazing story. My body has been through a lot and it can show.  Just like the creased spine of a good book, the imperfections themselves show a story.  My body is on a journey and it will get bumps and scrapes on it, as it should. I can tell you stories about each scar, the lessons I've learned along the way. When I am old I will look at the lines on my faces and skin hanging where it didn't before and remind myself that my cover has been through a lifetime of learning and adventure, my body has been used and appreciated. 

     I no longer toss aside the book with the "used" look to it. I no longer toss my body aside and think it broken, used, or ugly. My story has many chapters, my body is just the package in which a great story is held.  I would love to find all my books in mint condition but that's unrealistic; just like thinking our bodies should and can be perfect. Embrace the imperfections, they tell a better story! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Make Up Make Over

     I remember being given my first lipstick. I was twelve years old and I thought I was holding magic. I'd been entrusted with the secrets to womanhood; this simple stick of color was about to take me from child to woman.  This was leveling the play field between me, the fat kid, and the girls who were blossoming. I may not have had boobs but I had the right shade of pink to attract the boys. Embracing my grown up self I smoothed it over my lips...pause....then my cheeks...pause...then reapplied more, until finally my grandmother made me give it back.

     My second attempt with make up was a tinted acne concealer in 7th grade. It's purpose was to be dabbed on pimples as needed.  By the time I was done I had covered my entire face but not for acne reasons - this stuff was the closest to foundation I'd gotten and I went nuts. The look on my mothers face when she saw the brown mask was priceless. It was an immediate, "Turn around and wash your face!"

     My junior year of high school was when I got good at make up. I had spent the summer watching make over shows and learning every trick I could. I was asked to help others with their make up. I'd come a long way from the lip stick smeared cheeks and tinted face.  I had leveled the playing field with other girls in school - sure you have a cute figure but I have a rocking smokey eye. It was a shame that boys didn't appreciate the time and effort I put into myself everyday. Oh, to have those HOURS of sleep back.

     My make up changed with my fashion phases and clothing sizes. The bigger I got the thicker the face paint got. I refused to look at my body and since I wasn't focusing on it I put all of my time and energy into my face.  As I moved up the money making ladder in life I expanded my addiction to more expensive brands and invested in every color of everything.  The make up girls at Macy's new me by name and always had the lastest and greatest ready to show me.

       I found myself struggling with my face as my weight came off. I had used my make up as a cover for my size - without the weight, what was I hiding from? I'd covered my face for so many years that I realized I really didn't know what my natural face looked like.  I needed to make peace with my face and learn to be kind to the woman in the mirror.  The question now was how. 

    The transition was not easy and took almost four years for me to get where I am today in my make up routine.  I eliminated colors and products slowly. I retired the green, blue, and sparkly eye shadows and opted for natural shades and softer applications.  Black eye liner was the hardest product to back off on - I had been using it since high school! It felt like breaking a drug addiction because I didn't think I could live without it. I removed it from my bag and stashed it away. There was comfort in knowing I could always go and get it. I forced myself to go a week without it and just use mascara and natural colored eye shadow. During this week I hated looking in the mirror. I felt naked. But I refused to let myself cave in. I was determined to like what I saw without painting it on. I give credit to my husband whose kind words helped get me over the withdraw stage. It sounds silly to think of make up having such a pull on someone but it does and that's what needed to change for me. Make up had become my addiction and it was hurting my ability to love myself. The fear of change had prevented me from taking control of my weight sooner and I wasn't going to let it cause me to slide backward. After all, isn't my "real" face what I was after to begin with? 

     Over time I began to see myself as beautiful without make up on or at least with much less make up.  I still use make up. My everyday routine is simple and quick. I enjoy dressier events as the opportunity to use my eyeliner and darker colors; my smokey eye is a once in a while instead of my everyday look.  I leveled the playing field when I shrunk my butt and no longer need heavy make up. 

     It's not easy adjusting to face I am not familiar with. The woman in the mirror can be a stranger at times.  I started gaining weight in third grade and therefore I have never known myself with a "skinny" face.  My face was my mask to the world and I colored all over it, outside of the lines and all.  Now, with reminders, I am embracing a love for what I see. I am beautiful and this time when I say it I believe it.  I don't want to look back on life and realize I never loved and enjoyed myself. I will now remember to always cherish what I have. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Never Tackled to See Size


     I enjoy clothes and fashion, though for many years I have not enjoyed trying on clothes.  As a kid I drove my grandmother insane in my refusal to get in the dressing room.  She would have to yell at me in middle of Penney's to get me to do it. It took a long time to let go of my distain for that small square box of doom.

     A dressing room is a box that could make or break my day. As a kid I was not excited to try on the kitty cat sweater. I did not want to look at myself in bad lighting at the end of the day, my hair matted to my head from playground sweat.  As I got older, and bigger, I did not want to look at my body or the size tag. In high school I would occasionally attempt to try on something in the stores my friends shopped (Forever 21 did not cater to a full figure when I was younger.) In these junior size stores I could not pull clothes all the way up or stretch it all the way over.  I left a massacre in dressing rooms of over stretched fabrics, busted seems, and popped off buttons.  These moments only fueled the fire of dressing room hate.

I wanted my confidence back! 
 Clothing stores that catered to my size where physically easier to shop in - I maintained blood circulation throughout the process. Mentally I would take a beating. My heart always dropped when I would have to reach for the eighteens, twenty two's, and at one point in my life the twenty eights.  At this size I did not feel sexy. Everyone has a different size that makes them comfortable and confident, mine was not at size twenty eight. I could have been a quick change artist; I wanted to get in and out without having to look  at the sad girl in the mirror.  The dressing room mirror seemed to zoom in on fat rolls, stretch marks, and a bad hair day.  If I looked as bad as I felt I'm sure rocks would have been thrown at the troll set loose in the mall.

     Weight loss is, in theory, supposed to fix the distain for trying on clothes. It helped. The freedom to walk into any store was liberating, though it did bring on new anxieties.  I had not been able to let go of the dread of something not fitting. I did not believe the size tag. There is no way  I was going to fit into a medium! I had my pile of clothes I was ready to conquer in the dressing room and a hint of panic starts to build.  I knew I was holding my current size but, just like in high school, I had that fear of another fabric massacre.  

      Over the past couple years the panic has subsided but it still rears it's ugly head every now and then. The perfect dress, the dress that I could not wear before, causes me to hold my breath every time I reach for the zipper.  My mind's eye and my reflection in the mirror did not always match. It felt like I was waiting for the ball to drop, I was going to wake up from the dream and be back to holding the XXL. I was not prepared to have continued fear in the dressing room. The change in size did not remove the fear of humiliation. When I put the clothes on and don't resemble the hulk after I put them on, can I finally exhale. 

     I've often felt that when the weight came off and I reached my goal size that everything would fall into place. I would slow motion run through the mall, arms over flowing with bags, with my hair and make-up flawless. Nope, regardless of size I still saw a  "big" girl because that's all I'd ever known. It took years after losing my weight to believe what I see in the mirror. I have learned that it is not the size on the tag that dictates how I feel about my body, it is how the clothes look on me and how I feel in them. Once I let go of the size I set my confidence free. It was never my body that was wrong, it was the clothes I was trying to stuff it in. I let a tag tell me whether I was worthy or not. Denying my size only contributed in my self hate. NEVER AGAIN!! If something does not fit or look right it is the clothes NOT me and I will go and get the size that fits better. When it fits and flatters my body I feel beautiful. What I want people to see is a woman who treats her body with class and respect. My clothes fit and flatter my figure, even if that means it is a large. 

No one has ever run out of the bushes and tackled me to see the size tag on my shirt.  So who cares what size I am wearing if I look amazing in my outfit?!