Edit, 4/8/09 – For whatever reason, this post has attracted tons of spam posts – maybe 20-30 a day – so I am disabling comments on this post (and only this post). If you really need to reach me about this specific post, email me at blog [at] fridaythang [dot] com. Otherwise, comment on a different post.
I knocked on my roommate’s door. “Can I come in?”
“Just wanted outfit input.”
“One sec. Lemme grab my robe.”
MG was in town for her birthday, and we were all meeting her at a nearby restaurant. She’d specified in the Facebook invite to be ‘dressy,’ especially for the girls.
I don’t exactly have many ‘dressy’ options. Most of the unreasonable amount of money I’ve spent on clothing in the last few months has gone to either comfy, every-day stuff, or things appropriate to wear to work. Neither category would satisfy MG’s request for ‘dressy.’
“So do you think I’ll get in trouble if I wear this?” I had on black pants and a black sweatshirt under lose gray top for which I don’t have the vocabulary.
My roommate, fresh out of the shower and in a red robe, said”I like it,” and my heart sank a little.
“That good, huh?”
“No, I mean, I like it a lot, but it’s not exactly ‘dressy’.”
I sighed. “Yeah.” I tried something else, which was deemed “even more casual than the other outfit.” At last, t I put on black pants from Old Navy and a blue-and-white striped almost-dress top, the same thing I’d worn for New Years. I yelled through the closed door, “I need to tell you something, and then I need you to kill me.”
She paused, and said, “Ok…”
“I already wore this outfit!” I whined as best I could, channelling my all my 24-going-on-13 energy, and she laughed.
Dinner was actually fun, although getting there was rather cold. (Ahh, Chicago. As I’m writing this, my temperature monitor says it’s eight degrees out.) I was included in the “ladies” comments by the waitress and felt mostly good about everything.
Flash forward a few hours. We made it back to the apartment and were discussing whether to go out dancing or stay in drinking (or one and then the other). MG had bought a few tops earlier in the night and wanted to try them on before deciding which one to wear, which spiraled into calls for a ‘fashion show,’ put on by ‘the girls’ (the birthday girl and some of her and our friends, my roommate, and – somehow – myself).
I’m realizing my inclusion in such ‘female’ activities has a few components. First, I’m pleased and nervous to be included at all: What if I screw it up somehow? Are they including me because they think of me as ‘one of the girls,’ or because they know I want them to and they’re humoring me? Will I be able to get over myself and think of myself as ‘one of the girls’?
Then, I get quiet and try to participate without drawing too much attention to myself. This usually works for a while, until the final phase, when something happens to make me feel like I’m very much not ‘one of the girls’ and I end up hating myself for trying to participate in the first place.
(Incidentally, this progression is not unrelated to why I’m sitting at home writing this at 12:30AM on a Friday night while everyone else left about a half hour ago to go dancing.)
The first stage involved me sitting around in my roommate’s room as all the girls tried on tops around me and I tried not to look at bras and breast and other things that start with ‘B’. I was feeling awkward and like I shouldn’t be there, when I was finally given a loose zebra-striped top to try on. I was told I looked good in it, which led to the second stage, where I actually started to enjoy myself.
Make note that enjoying yourself is just setting yourself up to feel worse later. I know I’m going to reread this tomorrow and hate myself for saying it, but it’s how I feel right now as I sit here feeling sorry for myself.
We proceeded with the show, which involved everyone taking turns doing a model walk around the dining room table, with the exception of JM. She was playing announcer, and I think ultimately has body issues right up there with mine, but has the foresight to not get drawn into things that will make them flare up and ruin her evening. Or maybe I’m reading too much into things…
Anyway, we all went around and everyone came back out for the vote on which top MG should wear. I believe no one applauded for me because they simply weren’t voting for the top but, again, my hear sank a little.
After Marta ‘won’ the show (and the birthday tierra) most of us went back to change. My roommate stayed in the top she was in, because it made her boobs look amazing (I can’t blame her) and a few other people stayed in things for the fun of it.
I then looked at the pictures, which was my big mistake. I think I could have continued to enjoy myself, feeling all included and all that jazz, had I not looked at the pictures. I don’t know what anyone else would have seen, and I’m not posting them to find out, but I saw myself as fat and mannish. I’m going to acknowledge the zebra-print top did not help, and a few of the girls did seem disapointed when I changed out of it, but the pictures really made me feel shitty.
So I was enjoying moping, keeping some other girls who weren’t dying to go dancing company, when MG came in and sat down on my roommate’s bed (where we were chatting). She was obviously down, and had been going about the room changing tops, redoing her makeup, and generally fretting.
When we coaxed what was wrong out of her, it turned out that she was also feeling shitty about the fashion show because, as she put it, “Everyone else looked better in her outfits than she did. I’m fat and everyone else looked better than I did.” I bit down my first thought, “Really? You thought I looked better than you did?” I was afraid of the answer. And I bit down my second thought, which has continued building and gaining momentum for the last hour or so:
“You think you’re fat? You think you’re fat? You are beautiful and womanly and it makes me sick to hear you call yourself fat. If you want to lose weight, do it. Get off your ass and do it. I am sitting here hating myself because I let myself get caught up thinking I was ‘one of the girls’ when I’m not, and the climb to get to my goal seems a hell of a lot farther away than yours. I want to give up, crawl into a hole, and pull the lid onto myself. I hate hearing people say, ‘You’re so brave,’ or ‘I’m so proud of you,’ because I’m not. I’m scared and I don’t know what I’m doing and it’s too big and it’s too hard and…”
And now I’m crying at the keyboard for twenty four years of hating my body and hating myself for not speaking up about how I feel sooner and for having to speak up at all and for doing something that’s hurting the people I love and that’s hurting myself and for instability and for all of it.
It’s times like this I don’t want to go to bed, because I know the bad thoughts – the fears and pressues and insecurities of which these are just the tip – will come creeping out from behind the shadows and attack.
Before everyone left to go dancing, EU – without knowing what was keeping me home but able to guess at some of it – tried to give me a pep talk, about having fun with friends and not focusing on what other people think and living for the moment. It made me feel worse.
And I just spent some time talking with SS online and she told me I’m wonderful and beautiful, which just made me cry harder.
I feel like with every step I take, things get harder instead of easier.