I have NEVER been the girly girl. I feel like I did not get the proper training from my own mother for that task, and I was not one who got the gene that helps you to know how to just look fab, chic and perfectly put together. I was a tom boy, who grew up in the 70s with counter-culture parents. So,when I was invited to a small and casual gathering at the pool at Shutters for a friend's bridal shower, I was a bit worried. I was told it would be very mellow and laid back, no big deal. Great, that fits my style. No, not great, because there is nothing involving me in a bathing suit and the pool at Shutter's that could possibly be mellow or laid back. When I realized that I would potentially need to expose my white, doughy body to the "Beautiful People" of the Shutter's pool, I went into a Def-con IV alert mode.
Now I generally consider myself a rather grounded, down to earth sort who doesn't bother with most of the bullshit that goes on in this town around image, fashion, fitness, all the things that The Beautiful People seem to live for. So I was rather shocked to find myself in quite a miasmic tailspin the day before this shindig. I realized that I was in deep shit because there was no way that a. I could lose 25 pound b. cram six months of Pilates, Tai Bo and aerobic training and c. buy new sun glasses, bathing suit, hair color and $30,000 worth of lipo suction in the next 24 hours. I had only what I had, and I was not going to transform myself into Demi Moore by 12 noon tomorrow. The fact that I was having these obsessive thoughts shocked me a bit because I was suddeenly seeing and feeling the severity and harshness of the nature of my fear and struggle with all of this. I didn't think I really had this amount of "body" issues. Because I am the bohemian laid back, down to earth one and not the exercise addicted, bulimic, Botoxed kind, I assumed I was in the healthy zone of body/self image stuff. But no. Can't say that now. I have clearly found myself out.
So what did I do? Well, when I was with my husband and my guy friends (god forbid I might talk to women in this moment who I suddenly saw as only perfectly waxed, groomed and weighted in my mind and therefore not even wanting to be in the same room with me), I mentioned that I was dreadeing the whole bathing suit thing and was just going to wear a cute dress and a great hat. All the boys grunted and nodded that this sounded like a great plan - God bless all my male friends who really do love me and get me - and so I breathed a sigh of relief because my plan seemed good and grounded in reality. I don't need to be like all the rest, I thought. I still get to just be me and I will be fine.
So the next morning, I get up and begin to prep. I wash, shave, pluck and paint every square inch of my body that needs such treatment. I am in a whirlwind of fear that I will be seen as the most unkempt, ratty, unladylike women who has ever walked the earth. If I can't show up in a string bikini, I will at least have clean hair, smooth legs and color on all my toes and fingers. I will make my mother proud (not that she for even a minute would have given a shit about any of this crap). Once I am done primping, I decide to try on my most ambitious outfit - an actual two piece bathing suit. I figure, I'll start there, and move my way through the outfits until I feel good. So the two piece was a good try, but not something I would want others to have to endure. And so I moved to the black one piece, and lo and behold, it hid the right stuff and showed off the goods enough that I know that I would not make too many heads turn, but I know that no one would turn away in disgust either. And so I donned my newwest cutest skirt and peasant's blouse, and my fab new hat, and off I went to Shutters.
I make my way through the lobby, to the elevator, up to the pool. I look around looking for the ladies, and see them in the distance. They wave and I move through the gate toward them in the far corner. And as I approach, I see that six out of the eight ladies there are all wearing shorts, skirts and t shirts, and clearly are not interested in taking any of these layers off. Almost all are thin, fit and firm, and yet here they are hiding a body that I know I would be showing off if I had it. And yet, here they were ashamed and unsure and uncomfortable needing to hide what ever flaws they deemed unworthy. And suddenly, instead of feeling like the odd girl, the one who doesn't do the feminine girly thing so well, I was suddenly just one of the gals, one of the neurotically body-obsessed self-loathing girls, but God damn it, I was one of the girls none the less.
References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.