Old Baggage

When I was in junior high school, I begged my parents to go in on a purse that I was desperate to buy.

Not just any purse. It was a Gucci Speedy/Doctor bag. (We didn’t call it that then. I only know that’s its name from researching this…it is now considered vintage! Ouch!) It probably cost a couple of hundred dollars, which was a lot in those days (at least to my family) to pay for a purse, or anything, really.

Everybody had one, or so it seemed to me.

I went to a large public high school, so there was a mix of economic and racial backgrounds, kids from many different backgrounds.

On any given day you would see the many different lifestyles reflected in the fashion of the different groups. Sometimes what a kid was wearing reflected their socio-economic status, but not always.

There were “Stoners” (or “Partiers.”) The “Kickers” (this was Texas after all — so these kids were cowboy/farmer types.) It being the 80’s, there were the “Punkrocker” or “New Wavers.” ( I know, this is beginning to sound like the movie “Pretty in Pink.” That movie resonated for a reason, right?)

It was the height of the Preppy or Preppie craze, and though Houston, Texas was not NYC, we did get the fashion trends, albeit maybe a season or two behind. So the other main group was the “Preppies.”

The majority of kids in the Preppies definitely came from upper middle class to wealthy families. Looking back, for a public school, there were quite a few kids that came from great wealth.

I didn’t really fall into any one group. While my family was white-collar, sort of upper middle class, my father, having come from next to nothing, wanted to be sure that we were not spoiled. We never wanted for anything, but we lived fairly simply in comparison to some of the other kids in my school.

I was never one of the popular kids. I was an outcast until I lost a bunch of weight at 14, when suddenly I became of more interest to the “in” crowd. Though my outsides changed, my insides were the same. So though I was allowed around the in crowd now, I never felt a part of it.

There were others like me. We found each other and created our own group. We didn’t have a name, at least that I know of.

We were sort of mysterious: people knew we had fun going out to clubs and bars and hanging with older college kids. Though we had friends across all the groups, we would hang with just each other outside of school. We dressed in a mix of all of the fashions of the day.

But back to that bag. The bag that “everyone” was getting. I just had to have one. I had some money from babysitting, but not enough for THAT bag. So through the implementation of Chinese water torture on my dad, I promised over and over dramatically that “I would never need to buy another purse again for as long as I lived if I had that bag!”

Eventually, I wore my parents down. I got THE bag.

I have no recollection as to whether or not obtaining the bag actually brought me any pleasure whatsoever. I ‘m pretty sure that the amount of time I actually used it was very brief, much to my father’s chagrin.

Years later, after my Mom died, when we were sorting through some of her things, my Dad reminded me of that bag and that promise. We laughed about it, but I felt a cringe of guilt at how easily I had let go of that bag after having fought so hard to get it.

I think it’s because I really had no connection to the bag itself. Only to the way I wanted to be seen carrying it. The lifestyle to which I wanted to be associated. Which was not reflective of my own style at all, or even who I really was or even wanted to be.

But I wanted to feel like, or to be wanted by at least, (or to be seen by others as being wanted by or as one of “them,”) those popular girls, and so I got the bag. It didn’t make me feel any more a part of the “it” group than I ever had. I was an outsider and I always would be, bag or no bag.

It makes me sad that the girl I was then didn’t feel good enough in my own esteem to have seen that bag for what is was: a status symbol. It wasn’t the bag I really wanted. I wanted status. How I wish I could go back in time and tell that myself that being an outsider was actually pretty cool. Now I know the kind of status I needed would never be able to come from anything outside of my own heart. I wish I hadn’t sold myself so easily and so cheaply.

After my Dad died, I found that old Gucci purse in a box in the garage, where my Dad had kept it for me all these years. It was in mint condition, barely used.

Maybe you are hoping I’ll say I started to use it again. Or that I sold it at a profit on Ebay.

I gave it to the Salvation Army, where I hope it became a found treasure for someone who really wanted it for its beauty. I hope it is being put to good use in the world, as should all things.

Today I carry a very practical Lug Moped Day Pack bag as a purse. It costs about $35.


It’s light, leaves me hands free and has just the right ratio of open pockets, zippered pockets, divisions and space. (As it turns out, I am quite finicky about a handbag’s function, would love to design my own ideal bag, but this is as close to my ideal as I have found to buy.)

I have no interest in designer handbags. I may admire their beauty sometimes, and be amazed at and appreciative of the women who pay for them, love and carry them. But they were never my style and probably never will be.

I can live with that.

#purses #handbags #self-love #Iamnotmybag #theeighties

Inspired by The Daily Post word prompt: lifestyle

Eau du vie

I’d hurry up if I had to go in after she did

Try to hold my breath

Didn’t want to smell Gran’s scent

Coudn’t put my finger on it

Something musky, something stale

I didn’t know then what it was

But it made me feel scared

She’s long since gone

But I smelled it today

I know what is is now

The perfume of age

Daily prompt: perfume

# perfume #dailyprompt #aging

 

On Being “Childless”

via Daily Prompt: Ruminate

There are things that I ruminate on, like the way my tongue cannot keep itself off of the sharp, spiky tip of my left incisor.

One of those things that I touch on again and again despite its spiky sharpness is the subject of being childless. It is uncomfortable terrain, but I go there again and again anyway.

I hate that term, “childless.” As if by not having a child, you are less somehow, than those who have had them.

Some people prefer “childfree.” That doesn’t quite feel right to me, as if children are something that I wanted to avoid for health reasons, like gluten, or sugar.

I love children. I think they are the greatest people on the planet. I have many children in my life.

But no, I am not a mother.

And boy, is that complicated. For me, and for most people in the world, it seems. So I must, in sensitivity to other people who do not have children and have their own personal relationship to this issue, offer a disclaimer.

I, in no way, speak for other people who do not have children. There are many reasons why people do not have children, are not parents, do not give birth. I cannot speak for anyone but myself. And I cannot know what anyone else’s feelings and experiences around this issue are, and would never attempt to represent them.

I am also not writing here about all the experiences I have had over the years around this issue and my decisions. I am not trying to explain or defend in any way my choices. (I actually am not even going into the reasons for my choices.)

I am writing about what still can get to me around the whole “childless” thing.

It is a continually odd experience to be in the world as a person over a certain age, married, and not to have had a child or children.

I have come to terms with my choices to the best of my ability. I stand by them. They are mine, and they make absolute perfect logic for my unique-to-me life.

Usually, I do not feel less than around this given, this fact that I have not had/do not have children. I do not feel odd. Being the one living my life, my choices are perfectly normal to me.

Yet. There are those moments, when people ask me, “Do you have children?” when I admit that sometimes I doubt myself. That self-doubt can be devastating, for it is as if I turn on my self without meaning to because of my own social conditioning. Let me explain.

Someone I am just meeting or have been getting to know asks me if I have any children. I calmly say “No.”

Well, today I calmly say “No.” There was a time when I would be so uncomfortable leaving it there out of such fear of what they might say, that I’d make an attempt to avoid it by sort of explaining without explaining (as if I owed anyone an explanation!)

“No, no kids. Just didn’t…um…nope.”

(I learned in time that that seemingly small abandonment of my self to avoid the discomfort of answering the question carried way too high a price. That it actually chipped away at my soul. I learned that tolerating the discomfort that followed my simple “No” was a far better choice.)

Back to the story. To recap: they ask “Do you have children?” I say, simply, “No.”

Then it happens.

You see, there is always a small pause before they say something polite, like “Oh.”

In that pause, I can hear the wheels of their mind turning. I know that they are quickly scanning for possible reasons for my lack of children and that they then jump to conclusions and judgements about this fact, this given.

In that pause, a part of me suffers a little as I sense one of three experiences they are having around this information they’ve just been given.

In scenario one, it is as if they are considering I may be/have been barren (what a horrific word) as in there may be a biologic reason for not having had children. I can often detect a hint of pity and sometimes even shame on my behalf. If there was a thought bubble above their head it might read, “Oh, poor thing. She was defective in some way and could not conceive.” “Oh,” they say, in a somewhat reverent tone.

Ahhhh. Message received. So I am less than a woman – a normal woman, a woman who’s able to bear a child – a mother. I am not that. I am somehow not able to be THAT, to be a whole woman. I am lacking. I am deficient. I am tragic.

Scenario two. I sense in that pause that they jump to the conclusion that I chose my career first, because why else would a perfectly healthy, “normal” woman not have had a child? The bubble might read, “Oh. You were too busy putting yourself first to have a child. Hmmph. Yep. Selfish.”

Ahhhh. So they think I am self-absorbed because I did not procreate as expected. I did not do my part in populating the world, in completing God’s will for me as a woman. I am hard, selfish, self-absorbed, self-involved. Perhaps it is better than I did not procreate since clearly I am missing the mother gene. Tragedy averted – perhaps I am not fit to have been a mother, since I clearly lack the generosity and the ability to put someone else first ahead of my ambitions.

In that glance after the voiced “Oh,” I sense a subtle aggressive relief. They are glad that they have put this together and can “place” me in their minds. Now I make sense. I am one of those career women. Hmmph. They can relax again, calmly feeling their own subtle superiority over me. Again, I am somehow deficient. Some genetic aberration made me not want kids enough or at all. Again, I am not a real woman. I am someone to perhaps forgive for her unwomanly ambitions, like a quirky aunt or an eccentric character.

Scenario three is the worst of them.

In those instances, they say, “Oh,” with a quiet tenseness, a slight narrowing of the eyes as they size me up. In their “Oh” is the sneaking suspicion that there is just something wrong with me, not biologically, but morally, ethically, mentally. That I am some sort of deviant.

The bubble reads simply in those times “Oh.” And I literally feel them slightly withdraw physically from me, as if what I have may be catching. I am categorized as a kind of leper, a social misfit. I am not to be fully trusted as I must be off in some way that is perhaps even dangerous because these people cannot fathom my “otherness” without finding it wrong on some level.

I have experienced all of the above multiple times on my own, and as part of a couple, in the world. Nothing is ever spoken aloud. But the messages are there, nonetheless. And they are affecting.

I find it interesting that it is rare that anyone goes beyond the initial question – pause  and “Oh” response to actually ask me or me and my husband “Why not?”

To me, that is proof of the social stigma placed on people who choose, for whatever reason, not have children.

In that lack of further questioning – that invisible social moat that is suddenly drawn separating them and me/us – there seems to be an unspoken agreement that this subject is something to be skirted. Further questions are to be avoided. Suddenly, my/our privacy is to be respected, as if I/we have a chronic condition.

It’s as if it’s just been discovered that I/we had recently lost a loved one and it would not be polite to ask how. It is something for people in my/our lives to query behind closed doors but never directly to me/us.

Worse than my own self-betrayal that can happen in the moments of these interactions, is the fact that I am guilty of this stigmatization against myself and others, sometimes even simultaneously as I am a victim of that same stigmatization.

In my own mind when I meet people who have not had children, I find myself making the same search for reasons to explain their status, the same judgements and conclusions to be able to categorize them in my mind.

I am guilty of judging my own relatives who fall into this category in the same ways that I have felt judged. How disturbing is that?! I find myself thinking of them what I hate feeling others think of me.

I hate this most of all.

But I know that this is a result of deep, almost cellular, societal encoding that I, like all of us, have been surrounded by and immersed in since birth. These aren’t conclusions that I have come to, they have been absorbed by me from others and nurtured via cultural messaging on every level. So through no fault of my own, I am pre-disposed to a bias, even against my own self.

And I have come to understand that those who respond to me the way they do have also been born into those same pre-dispositions.

When I wanted to select a graphic to include in this blog, I could not find one. All that I could find were either pictures of couples or singular women looking down as if sad and shamed being without children. Or oddly aggressive attempts at someone’s idea of humorous art: an image of a child in a red circle with a line drawn through it. Or that yellow yield sign for car windows that says “Baby on Board” re-drawn to read “Baby Not on Board (so you can destroy my car!)” A very sad-looking empty nest. “Child-free by choice!”

None of these images reflect my truth. I cannot find popular culture that reflects my story. I don’t fit any stereotype. There is no club to join.

And so I ruminate. I soul search. I practice forgiveness of my self and of others for our lack of expansive vision.

And often I am able to see the Truth that is beyond the narrow expectations of the social norms that so shape the world. I can see who I am and know that I make sense and that there is nothing lacking in me, no aberrant gene or deviant peculiar twist in my making.

The truth is that I love my life and have no regrets. I mother other peoples’ children as an aunt and as a friend. And I mother the world as best I can.

The question, the “Oh,” and its aftermath gets easier and easier as I get clearer and clearer.

I am whole and healthy and as normal as anyone, but I am not the norm. That is all.

#onnotbeingamother #wholeandhealthy

In response to Daily Prompt: Ruminate

 

 

 

 

Triggers and Pink Pussycats

I have been hard-pressed to write a blog since before Inauguration Day.

Like many, I am still processing significant losses that were, for many, contained in the recent election: the loss of President Obama, the loss of the America I thought I knew: the loss of the America of my own personal dis-illusion.

It took until two days after the Women’s March for me to realize how triggering the Inauguration and ensuing Presidency have been and are for me. I think I was operating in a kind of denial until then. While at the march, after first feeling incredibly hopeful, I began to feel uneasy. And after seeing that the march seemed to have had such little effect on the administration, it hit me.

I was triggered. Feelings of powerlessness were flooding my system. I was feeling overwhelmed with the sense that my truth, my voice was falling on deaf ears and was of totally no consequence. That things happening were not of my choice, and I had seemingly no recourse to stop them. Reality mirroring crucial traumatic events from my past blasted open the floodgates of remembered trauma.

I know I am not alone. Anyone who has been violated at some point in their life may be triggered again and again in the next four years.

So what can we do about it? How do we survive the daily onslaught of confirmations and executive orders and hard-won laws being threatened from powers-that-be?

Thankfully, I have found some very helpful posts that address this very issue. And if I cannot bring myself to write about usual things right now, I can write about why and I can share what I am doing to address the problem.

One of the best I have read is “How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind
Self-Care Lessons for the Resistance” by Mirah Curzer. Some great things to consider as we move forward, together.

Another article has been very helpful to me. N Ziehl’s “Coping with Chaos in the White House”. The author shares their experience of living with a person having narcissistic personality disorder (NPD.) I am not diagnosing anyone here. But this article spoke to me. It made a great deal of sense and gave me some helpful insights.

What I have been feeling are awful feelings to re-experience. But it was a relief to recognize that they are happening: to know that though there is a present reality that is indeed traumatic to me, there are many other layers happening that are from wounds from the past. Knowing this, I can let the current situation be “right-sized,” and then process the past triggered pain so that I can take good care of myself today. From this place of awareness, I can then take actions to do what I can in order to stay empowered and able to persevere the next four years.

I am finding for me, in addition to practicing the best self-care I can, taking actions each day that help me stay informed and connected to the lawmakers that I voted for, as well as those I did not, is crucial. These actions – calls, emails, letters, non-violent protests and marches, donating to re-election campaigns and organizations that I believe in – they keep me sane.

I am careful as I digest the information that pours forth on social media. I check in with my body, a lot, especially after getting shockingly bad news, such as the “alternative facts,” the travel ban, the recent confirmations, the silencing of Elizabeth Warren. I never know when something new will spark a trigger. I take deep breaths and ask my body what is going on, and I listen closely.

And I lean on my communities. I stay connected to like-minded people who are also active, because it is too easy to begin to feel hopeless as all of this unfolds. We can remind each other that there is power in love and that our actions and our voices do matter. They can remind me of the headway that is being made in our causes when I am feeling low. Together we can persist.

My artist friend Laura Baran created the “We are One” illustration at the heading of this post the weekend of the Women’s March. I keep her beautiful image near to remind me to keep love at the center of all I do.

img_0798

I also reach for my “Don’t Sass the Cat” tee created by another friend, a clothing designer named Jacquie of jqlovesu. It reminds me to keep a sense of humor and to remember the power of love and of people who love people. I run and I sweat and I cry and I sleep and I work to stay hopeful no matter what by taking action.

I am a Lover of Humanity. I am an American. And I want to be a part of the solution. It will be work. But I have never been one to shy away from a challenge.

#neverthelessshepersisted #pussyhat #dontsassthecat #weareone #beapartofthesolution #loveaboveallelse

A Table of One’s Own

The idea of it is so appealing to me. I’m out and about, on my own, in the world. Feeling happy…feeling secure…feeling strong….feeling hungry.

I decide to take myself to a nice meal in a nice restaurant. It starts off so well.

I consider different restaurants as I walk around. I check out their ambiance, their menus. I make a decision, and filled with joyful anticipation, I walk in. I approach the host or hostess with optimistic excitement.

And so it starts. It takes a bit longer than I’d like for them to address me. They make some kind of quick appraisal of me, and it is decided on some level that I do not measure immediate attention. They continue with whatever task they’ve decided they do not need to interrupt to greet little ole’ me.

So I wait politely until they get around to helping me. While I wait, I ponder the mysteries of this situation. This is not my first rodeo. I have been here before: the last time I attempted a meal out with myself. And the time before that. And the time before that. Ah yes. Nothing has improved.

What happens in that nano-second appraisal that leads to me being treated as an afterthought? Is it because I seem so amenable? Does my WASP-y middle-class upbringing resonate that I will tolerate a lot in the name of appearing in social good graces? Or is it because I am middle-aged and they do not actually really “see” me, because as studies show, people aged 45-65 are invisible in popular culture and media and therefore no one can really “see” them in life? That doesn’t explain every attempt to eat out on my own I have ever made in my adulthood…the many times prior to middle-age I went solo.

I tell myself it doesn’t matter, I push down the surge of anger that has risen up from my belly. I want to have a nice meal. They’ll deal with me soon enough. Calm down, Norma Rae. Let’s stay nice. Don’t stoop to their level. Maybe we are being a bit sensitive, dear. Don’t be THAT lady. (Yes, I do talk to myself like that. Even I have ingested the cultural attitude towards my own age and sex. That is perhaps the worst betrayal of all in the experience. That internal voice that judges me right along with their judgement of me. But I digress.)

Finally, the hostess or host comes over and with the enthusiasm of a gnat and asks anemically, “May I help you?”

“Uh, yes, you can. I just walked into your restaurant. What do you think I am doing here? I want a fucking table!”

Well, at least that is what I say in my head. To them I simply say, in my best I-am-woman-hear-me-roar-yet-still-non-chalent voice, head cocked in my best dignified angle: “Table for one, please.”

A tiny moment of something registers in their face. They’ve made some kind of judgement about my solo status. Sometimes there is the smallest trace of a slightly smug smile, usually from a much younger woman, as if they are thinking how pathetic I am, how superior they are, how assured they are that they will never be me. Sometimes, veiled contempt flickers across the man’s eyes, as if I will be wasting table space and time with my presence. Assumptions that I will not tip? That I will be, in addition to alone, cheap?

They set off ahead of me to show me to my table. We wind back through the restaurant, usually to some table in the back, in the corner, by the bathroom, facing the wall or server station. Thinking, I guess, that I, being alone, will prefer to be out of the limelight. That I will want to be alone in my shame. Or to hide me from the other, cooler diners? Don’t want to bring them all down with my aloneness?

I usually accept the offered table without a fight, though I have, at times in the past, insisted on a better table. The way I feel as a result of this action is usually more trouble to process than the bother of being seated at the lame duck table.

Then comes the longer-than-necessary wait for every part of the meal. For some reason, the lone diner is sort of relegated to being the low priority in terms of server values.

This really gets my blood boiling. What do they think? That because I am alone I won’t complain if I have to wait just a bit longer for them to come over and take a drink order? I would say it is because I am a middle-aged woman, and perhaps that is true, but I know other people have had the same issues dining out alone and they have been a variety of sexes and ages.

So I won’t make this a sex, age or gender-related issue. I will just call it the Mistreatment of the Solo Diner.

When I was traveling this summer, I walked out of three different restaurants in three different countries because of this phenomenon, so it is not just an American issue. I expected to be treated better in foreign countries for some reason. Nope.

Dining out alone has rarely been the real pleasure I always envision. Ethnic restaurants such as Indian or Japanese have tended to be better options as a solo diner. Not sure why. Maybe they are more used to solo diners. Because solo diners gave up on the other restaurants and started populating the ethnic restaurants? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I welcome your own stories of dining out solo, good or bad, in the Comments section below. Is it just me? Or do you know exactly what I am writing about?

I’m over it. The next time I go to eat solo, I am going to speak up at every turn when I feel I am not being treated well. Just as an experiment. As neutrally as I can muster. Though I expect to feel awful having to do that (with that Protestant, female upbringing, any such speaking out brings with it a pretty potent mix of guilt and shame no matter what the outcome,)  I am just going to see what unfolds as a result. I have nothing to lose.

Don’t forget. As Johnny says at the end of the movie “Dirty Dancing,” “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

On Jeans

When I was growing up, entering that oh-so-excruciating time known as adolescence, there were only a few jean brands on the market. It wasn’t like today where designer jeans are so much the norm that they don’t even call them designer jeans anymore. There’s just a huge selection.

Not so in my day. There were just three brands: Levi, Lee and Wrangler. Or maybe those were just what was popular in my junior high school in my home city of Houston, Texas.

Everyone wore Levi jeans. Maybe some of the “Kickers” (the label that identified the farmer and cowboy types) wore Lee’s or Wrangler’s. But all the really cool kids, those known as “Popular,” wore Levi’s. So of course, I wanted to wear Levi’s.

And not just any Levi’s. Red-label Levi’s. For some reason I cannot for the life of me now recall, the red-label ones were somehow thought to be superior to the orange-label Levi’s.

This presented a real problem for me. I did not have a Levi body. While most of the other girls looked fantastic in these jeans that were basically men’s jeans, I looked awful. You see, this was before they started making jeans to actually fit a woman’s body. I mean there were women’s jeans, but they were still very shaped to fit a very narrow or boylike form. Most of the Popular girls were quite “petite” and had “atheletic” shapes, so they wore red-label Levi’s and looked terrific.

Me, not so much. If they fit me in the waist, I couldn’t get them over my upper legs and hips. If they fit my legs and hips, the waist was huge.

This was a source of major ego suffering for me. All I wanted was to fit in and to look as good as I could. I already knew I looked different: I weighed more and was much taller than the other girls. I was also very fair and quite shy.

But despite all these external characteristics that I just KNEW made me a social pariah, I was desperate to be noticed and appreciated anyway. I can still recall going to Sears or Macy’s or Lord and Taylor or wherever, only to try on pair after pair after pair of never-fitting jeans. I would leave feeling like a grotesque and misshapen loser, cursing God and the family gene pool that had created me. I felt that I was such a disgusting specimen of the female species.

I soon equated being able to fit in the Levi red-label jeans with being socially worthy. As I could not fit into these jeans, I decided that I was socially misfit.

I decided that jeans were just not meant for me, and neither was the Popular group. So I found some other social misfits and formed my own group. I don’t know that we ever had a name, but we were known to be “party-ers” and sort of mysterious, and maybe even somewhat wild.

I said, “Screw Levi’s” and started to wear a lot of black clothing and red lipstick and nail polish, which at that time was not in fashion in Houston, Texas. It being the 80’s and all about New Age music and Madonna and punk, I also had big hair and sometimes wore lace gloves with the fingers cut off and other “New Wave” kinds of things. I look back at some of those fashion choices and think, oh my, what were we all thinking…but for the most part, I look back and think I actually had a unique and interesting style that was sort of ahead of its time.

But I never wore jeans, and I never felt worthy.

And then, as if that weren’t enough, came The Time of the Designer Jean.

Now, Designer Jeans actually made their appearance in the 1970’s. But they didn’t trickle into the popular culture of Robert E. Lee High School until the 80’s. Suddenly, there were so many more options: EJ Gitano, Jordache, Guess, Girbaud, Sergio Valente, Chic, Zena, and Sassoon. Gloria Vanderbilt! And of course, Calvin Klein.

Oh, those Calvin Klein ads. They poured more poison into my fragile teenage mind-ego, creating even more pressure and myth around the importance of jeans to my self-worth and social worthiness.

Calvin Klein ad with Brooke Shields

Designer Jeans were expensive. They were also still not really made for the Real Woman body yet. Though they were better than the Levi’s, they still did not really look good on my body with its curves and extra weight; my “big” hips and my slim waist and “thick” thighs just did not work in those skin-tight designer blues. At least not in my eyes.

Needless to say, my self-ban on jeans continued throughout my college years and beyond.

I actually didn’t buy and wear my first pair of jeans until I was around 26 or so. It was a big deal for me. Finally, through extreme diets and over-exercising, I had whittled my body into a shape that I deemed worthy of jeans. I had arrived. I was finally worthy.

Well, of course, that was an extremely short-lived triumph. That pair of jeans didn’t make me feel any differently about my body or my self. I was still that girl who felt unworthy and disgusting, albeit much thinner on the outside.

Years of therapy would be needed to create change around my body image and sense of self-worth. I have had to unravel the popular-culture-and-advertising-influenced logic that shaped my fragile-and-emotionally-immature ego-mind. I have had to wake up to the real world and out of the sleep-spell cast on me in a youth spent immersed in television and magazine ads and movies and such to discover the reality that was alive underneath the layers of fantasy. It has been quite a journey.

Today, I finally enjoy wearing jeans, free of all that media-inspired hysteria. Today, there are many more choices. So many brands that actually are made to fit real women’s bodies. Hallelujah!

Today you can find jeans for just about every shape of body. Today, I don’t put a type on my body nor do I subscribe to words like plus-size or thick-thighed or skinny or big-booty or all the other descriptive words that are used so often in popular culture and advertising when discussing our bodies. They tend to be derogatory, and they always assume an IDEAL from which all else derives.

Sometimes, I catch myself comparing my body to that fictitious ideal of the ad world, but not as often and not for as long. I nip that self-torturous compare and despair in the bud when it comes up. My body and my mind deserve more from life than that.

I don’t buy that crap anymore. I know two things to be real and true. Women have shapes, and women wear clothes. Sure, go ahead and ascribe some sizes to clothes  to make it easy to categorize and buy them. But don’t think I am going to buy into the ascribing of worthiness or some ideal of beauty (or imply the lack thereof) to any of those sizes. Any of them. I am awake today, and I know better.

Today, my thighs are the perfect size for my body. My ass is too. As are my waist and hips. My body is just perfect. Perfect for me.

You want to know what comes between me and my feeling good in jeans today? Nothing.

#realwomensbodiesareperfect