January 28, 2011

Nearly Outed

I hate to follow on the heels of that last post with a downer, but this blog is a reflection of life, and life has its ups and downs.

Last weekend I attended a small party, friends and acquaintances of all ages gathering to enjoy some martinis. I thought there was something a little strange about one of my particular friends, a married woman who is older than me, who when I met her was so bright and bubbly and down to earth that I took an instant liking to her. I'm aware she has some challenges with self esteem and low moods, but even so, she surprised me that night.

Within the space of that first martini, she started comparing her clothes to everyone else's, and her hair, and even declared she had done her make-up wrong after looking at some of us. She kept putting her hands on our waists and measuring us, then measuring herself and talking about the 30 pounds she needed to lose for her husband to be happy. All of us insisted she was perfect the way she was, but as more martinis were mixed, the more honest her tongue became, and she revealed a side of herself I had never really seen in person.

She's been making herself over for a while now. Her hair color has changed, and the way she dresses. She's already slimmed herself down noticeably, and that's even with health problems working against her, and having two children and other responsibilities to care for. She has this quirk about not showing her arms in public when she's with her husband because, she tells us, he says they're too jiggly. And the fact that she feels she needs to change is just nuts. Simply the fact that I feel comfortable around her shows that she is one of the most friendly and giving people I know.

As the evening wore on, we were sitting on a couch together in an empty room, and again she began comparing her waist to mine. It was so tempting to lift up my shirt and say, "Don't be envious of my body." But I couldn't be sure no one was going to walk in. And I couldn't be sure it was the right time. Her mind was in a dark place, aided by cocktails. She might not even remember.

Besides, would it have helped to show her that I constantly struggle with something too? Because even if I struggle, I'm still young, skinny, single, and don't have a chemical makeup that leaves me especially vulnerable to sad moods. I don't know if it's fair to compare. I'm sure it's only a fantasy to think that flashing my treasure trail will solve problems, or transform minds, or even make a point. But all the same, the urge to reveal the secret under my clothes had never been stronger than at that moment.

After that night, it's left me thinking about self esteem and how much I need to learn about it. I feel like it's my responsibility to do my part for the people I personally know and can physically touch, because I'm sensitive to body image myself. If I could affect it for the better, just in the people around me, regardless of what they think is wrong with them...

If only.

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