Monday, March 11, 2013

for Women's History and International Woman's Day

People say it's a good thing when your pants don't fit. I guess they don't mind going shopping for pants. Or clothes.

Watching my shopping friend try on her dress and jacket, and giving her advice was fun. But finding pants at Macy's was almost panic inducing. I have two new pairs of pants, both purple, thanks to a gift card and the sale rack at Macy's this weekend. One is a wine sort of purple, the other is concord grape. They're both corduroy. As I said, the whole process was a little unnerving. This whole "skinny leg" thing? Woah.

I wore the wine colored pants to school today. No one said anything. So I'm guessing it was okay, but they're the tightest, most form fitting garment I've owned after a dance leotard and tights.  I'm not going to count tops because tops can be can be covered up. But pants? People wear tights under a short sweater and call them 'pants'.

Why all the talk about clothes, you ask? For the last two years, I have intentionally been trying to loose weight. I got involved with a study at one of the universities, figuring that me with a panel of registered dieticians, exercise physiologists, medical doctors and psychologists was better than me alone [okay. there was some remuneration involved; it is a study]. It was the cognitive dissonance I needed, and the "this is the safe way to do it" information I wanted, because part of me was a little worried about going overboard becoming anorexic.

Once upon a time, I used to wear clothes two to three sizes two big. I was a tween, and literally hid inside my clothes, as a reaction to bullying targeted towards my physical appearance. I couldn't help the fact that I was taller than everyone else, or that my skin was a mess, despite regular visits to a dermatologist. So I tried to fit in, but being taller than everyone else with messy skin makes you stand out. So I started hiding in my clothes. Because everything those kids said had to be true; I had to be fat, and I must be ugly, and I wish I could say the insults stopped there, but they didn't. So I did what any other kid would do; I told an adult. I told my parents. That's what everyone says to do, right? Tell, tell, tell. Because telling is not tattling.

They called me a liar, and their parents called me a liar, and even though my parents said I was telling the truth, no one seemed to believe me or my parents. So... I had to be fat and ugly, and every other horrible thing they said.

In the process of culling all those tee-shirts for the tee-shirt quilt, I found the ones from that time of my life, and even at the heaviest I ever weighed, as a full grown adult and not a tween, I still swam inside those clothes. So imagine what a 12 year old must have looked like, even if she stood head and shoulders taller than the tallest peer.  I have clothes I wore from high school, that I'm just starting to fit back into, or am to big for, that I held onto because my grandmother bought for me, so they have ridiculous sentimental value, and I'm amazed at the things I was referred to as. Being able to look at the screen prints, and not at the volume of extra material associated with those clothes is very freeing, because there were some very positive experiences represented, even though I had a very poor self image. I can be selective about the memories.

We talk about violence against women in terms of that which leaves physical scars. I would argue that those things which leave psychological scars are just as important. In the room across the hall, the kindergarten children were learning an important lesson about "using their words, not their fists," but what if the words they come to use are just as caustic? I still find that parts of my life are defined by the words and actions of those peers, and the passivity of adults in leadership who should have taken a stand, and did not. I should not have to live in fear, because what happened was not my fault.

International Women's Day was on March 8th, and one of my favorite gentlemen, Sir Patrick Stewart, had some things to say about it. 

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