Books have always been important in my life and shaped me into the person I am today. That may sound like an overwhelmingly positive statement, but books can also have an negative impact. There was The Christian Charm course that was an exercise in self-hatred and my Bob Jones math book that emphasized bible lessons with math and left me failing Algebra and feeling sinful in the process. My fascination with literary bad boys like Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights may have contributed to my love of asshole men when I was a teen and young adult. The book with the highest negative impact on my overall health and well-being? Sweet Valley High #4: Power Play by Francine Pascal.
First of all I wasn’t supposed to be reading Sweet Valley High books. I was 12 and these books were banned. I read them on the sly during hours-long library trips and because they were banned that meant I couldn’t talk about what I read with my mom. I just sort of absorbed these shitty, vapid books like I was doing the most bad-ass sneaking around ever.
Here is the basic plot of Power Play (you can read a more in-depth review here): Jessica (the snotty bad twin) promised Robin (a fat girl) that she could be in her sorority (what high school has a sorority?) because of something in book #3 that I cannot remember. Jessica doesn’t want a fat girl around and Elizabeth (good twin) thinks that Jessica should do it because Jessica promised. Anyhoo, Robin gets hazed, which includes having the school oink at her while she runs and making her go to the beach in a bikini. You know, because what’s worse that a fat person exercising or enjoying the beach? Like gag me with a spoon. The final task is getting the hot guy to take her to the dance – Elizabeth helps orchestrate that — because of course a fat girl can’t get a date. As if! Douchebag takes her to the dance, calls her Tubby, and then asks “who wants to steer the Queen Mary around for the night?” Robin realizes that everyone is hateful and laughing at her and she leaves. Next comes horrible depression and isolation.
Oh my gosh, don’t worry! ROBIN WILL BE FINE! IT WAS THE WAKE-UP CALL SHE NEEDED. While Robin is withdrawn she is seen wearing drab attire, eating small portions of food alone, and staring at the ground in front of her to avoid human interaction. Then folks notice she is losing weight. She drops gobs of weight and is suddenly thin. Not just thin, but confident, hot, desirable, wins a beauty pageant and becomes co-captain of the cheerleading team. Thin means love, acceptance, and value.
I loved this book. As a chubby teen I felt like this was the answer to my way out. If I could just deny myself food and hide for a little while I would be thin. Hiding meant that I needed to hide my body and wear shitty clothes. You know, so that when I had a big reveal of hotness I could wear cute clothes and everyone would be blown away. And by blown away I mean love me and think I’m great.
Now look at me. I am a 35 year-old married mom of three. I have a degree and a career. I have so many sweet and amazing friends, but I’m still feeling like Robin trying to hide until I get thin. How many times have I worn ill-fitting, stained, torn clothing I hate because I don’t feel like my body should “waste money” on nice clothes. I have a closet full of faded and worn items, clearance rack items that match nothing, and thrift store finds that fit weird or don’t match. My shoes are taped at the bottom. I don’t wear make-up or jewelry because, “why waste the time?” I tell myself things like “If I lose X amount of pounds I will shop, or buy something nice, or spend time looking nice.” What that statement also says is, “while I’m fat I’m not worth time, money, or energy. DON’T LOOK AT ME.” It wasn’t really until this year that I’ve attempted embracing my body and taking care of myself. I started caring for all of me and that included making doctor appointments, visiting the eye doctor and getting glasses, and starting back in weekly therapy for anxiety and depression. I’m still looking for a dentist, but I hope to have a visit before the end of the summer.
What’s lacking in this embracing and appreciating my body? Two things, 1) getting over my inability to be intimate with my husband without being incredibly self-conscious and weird and 2) fashion. Lucky for you all I will not be blogging about my sex life or lack thereof, but I did want to put it out there because I’m not the only married lady who feels that way. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I am going to be blogging about my attempt at “fashion.”
Fashion is a loaded term to me. It feels frivolous and vapid. I was going to say, “developing a wardrobe that fits the body I have and I feel great in and also doing things that make me feel nice like wearing eyeliner even if people comment on how I look and that makes me want to run away and hide because I don’t want people to look at me and then decide they don’t like me and really this isn’t about anyone else, but I’m tired and stressed and anxious and when I wear something cheerful and the fabric feels nice it is a small glad thing and small glad things help me love myself and life a little more.” So…. yeah… we’ll go with “fashion.”
I’ve been working on this project of sorts since my birthday at the end of April. I have several steps I’ve identified to get me where I want to be with my “look.” True confession, the concept of me even having a look besides, “tired lower middle class mom who likes grunge music” sounds ridiculous to me. RIDICULOUS.
Okay, on to the steps:
Take a ridiculous amount of selfies and blog about this “journey”