The Damn Dress

David Bowie. All I can think about is David Bowie’s song “Changes”. I am a believer in change. If I wasn’t, none of the things that I consider good in my life would have happened.

If I hadn’t changed jobs, I wouldn’t have gone down the path that led to my husband. If my friend groups hadn’t changed, I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends. If I hadn’t have chosen one path, or the other, and so on…

This morning, I encountered a change. And, to put it lightly, I was pissed.

I had the nerve to be angry, righteously outraged, that a dress I had worn a year ago didn’t fit. I couldn’t zip it. My husband couldn’t zip it. The dress wasn’t going on my body in any way resembling whole.

And I had the nerve to be angry.

“What! The. Hell!” I screamed, kicking my beautiful dress across the room. And mentally flipping it off too.

“I’m too fat! Apparently! A dress I wore A YEAR AGO no longer FITS!”

My husband looked at me like I had ripped out my brain and tossed it, along with the dress, across the room.

I wear dresses often. Sometimes, I wear dresses because it is simply easier than wearing pants. I saw a meme a few days ago that said something about wearing dresses because it was easier than matching two articles of clothing. I fist bumped the creator, mentally of course, and thought “right on sister friend.”

But sometimes, I wear dresses because I like to wear them. I like to feel “dressed up” even if it’s to go into town with my husband or to lunch with a friend.

Today I was getting dressed up for an event. I was taking my mom to a tea in the garden for her birthday. It was an occasion that called for a pretty summer dress. And I have them in spades.

Why was I so bent that this one particular dress wasn’t going to work?

Because it indicated a change. And I hadn’t been on the lookout for it.

I left the house calling myself every name in the “book” that women have in their heads. I am convinced that we have books in the back of our brains that are evil. They are evil books that open when we are in foul moods or surprised by something about ourselves that we don’t like. (Amy Poehler, my spirit animal, if by some chance you’re reading this, don’t you agree? I read Yes Please. I know you do.)

I started berating myself for my food choices. “Dumbass. You know you can’t eat this, this, and this, and expect your crap to fit.”

I thought, “you don’t run fast enough/long enough/hard enough.”

I chastised myself, “what do you expect!”

In those moments, it didn’t matter that I still own clothes I wore fifteen years ago because— they still fit.

It didn’t matter that the beautiful sales lady at my favorite downtown boutique told me recently “you have a figure I’d kill for.”

Did it matter that nearly five years later, my wedding dress still fits? Nope.

What about the fact that my husband thinks I am beautiful? Who cared! The damn dress didn’t fit.

How about the fact that I normally run or walk four or five miles a day? No, that didn’t matter either.

I was fixated on the one article of clothing that wouldn’t go on properly this morning.

The mean girl in the back of my head opened the book to page “you suck” and was reading it out loud.

When I arrived at my parents’ house, I apologized for being a few minutes late, citing the fact that the damn dress didn’t fit and I needed to change.

“Oh, but it WILL fit by the end of the summer. Mark my words.”

What did I think I was going to do? Some Harry Potter type wizardry.

My mom and I left, and we had an amazing day. The event was beautiful and it was everything I hoped it would be for her and more.

And the dress I wore was more fitting for the occasion than the one I was so pissed off about in the first place.

Thank you, change, you worked in my favor.

Again.

Tonight, as I was working at my crafting table, I thought about the damn dress again for the thousandth time.

And then, I felt really stupid. Because it was never really about the dress.

Yes, I am disappointed that the dress didn’t fit but it didn’t take an act of God to get me out of it. I wasn’t stuck in a dressing room. Scissors were not required and nor where Jaws of Life.

Now I am mad because I let the mean girl win.

I let her call me names and remove the value I have for myself, even for just a few minutes.

I wonder why we do that. Why do we hand over the control we have over our own visions of ourselves to a nagging mean girl?

And I sat outside watching a beautiful summer sunset and thought about the answer, and the truth is, I have no idea. I don’t know why. I could come up with a clichéd, sickening pop psychology answer that is pretty much crap that tastes like watery pea soup when said aloud.

Nothing, not even the mean girl in my head, should have the power to make anyone feel bad because of a dress. And although the tirade was ninety-seven percent mental, I still handed over my power to her for thirty minutes too long today.

Once I figured out that I was acting like a ninny, I came to an agreement with myself. I am a confident woman. I know that I am not any of the things that the mean girl said I am.  A good long look at myself and a swift kick of my own butt told me I was being irrational. I had been upset and I didn’t have a good reason.

I won’t curse out the dress, or throw it on the couch, or make nasty comments about myself.

And the mean girl will shut up, stop reading aloud from page “you suck”, and we’ll move on.

Tomorrow, I’ll tie my sneakers, and I’ll run.

I will eat a little better because I choose to.

And I’ll pay attention when my friends tell me I look fine.

I will acknowledge that they are right.

I will listen and internalize every time my husband says, “you’re beautiful.”

The damn dress is hanging on a stand in my office so I can see it.

I might not be fat, but that sucker is going to fit me again. Because it’s another change, and Tom Petty also has it right. I won’t back down either.

Mean girl: 0

Me: 1

Game on. I hope she has good shoes.

Tonight, I told the mean girl “chick, you are going to need to close that book and put it away.” I’d tell her to burn it, but that’s still book burning and we’re not about that life. Neither me or the mean girl. We do agree on some things.

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