I was out of sorts yesterday. I felt alternately anxious and irritated and just plain uncomfortable. I had to close my door and do some meditation because I needed some calm. It was bad.
About 1:00 p.m. I started trying to evaluate the source of my angst. Coffee? Check. Meds and supplements? Check. Outstanding work stresses? Nope. What could it be?
Then I started listening to my body. I had been tugging and pulling and repositioning stuff all day. I typically prefer dresses because, hello, three pregnancies, but yesterday, I had on pants that required Spanx. If you are a person who does not know what Spanx are, they are a double-layered, skin-tight material that can be anywhere from the shape of a girdle to a full get-up of shoulders-to-knees, breath-restricting fun. My bra was stiff from military-grade underwire.
I started thinking about how annoying my undergarments felt and I suddenly lost control, found a plastic bag in my office and marched down the hall to the bathroom and took the offending undergarments off. Oh, yes I did! And it felt marvelous. All my irritation melted away and I was able to have a productive, calm afternoon.
I checked with my friends at work to make sure my outfit did not look bad without the offensive instruments of torture but thanks to my less than gifted bosom, no one noticed a difference. And even if they had, no one was making me put that stuff back on. I would have just hid out in my office for hours if I had to.
We women do this to ourselves. I don’t ever recall any man saying to me, “Hey, honey, would you put those skin-tight Spanx on that roll over at your waist right below your muffin top? Those really turn me on.”
We do all kinds of things in the interests of “looking good” that have nothing to do with feeling good. Plucking our eyebrows. Submitting to hours of hair coloring and styling. Waxing stuff. Wearing heels that throw us forward in an unnatural position.
And don’t get me started on thongs. They ARE NOT comfortable, no matter what anyone says. And who decided that women cannot, should not, EVER have panty lines? I know it had to be a woman because again, I can’t imagine some guy saying, “I’d really like to take you up on your proposition, but those panty lines, they really turn me off.”
Why do we make ourselves uncomfortable? Well, society tells us we must be thin. If there is a little bump on us somewhere, it needs to be smoothed out. Heels make our legs look longer and less stumpy. We think plucking and waxing those eyebrows make us look more feminine.
And we do all this for other woman, who are constantly judging us, not for men — unless you are doing it for gay men, who are judging us and usually have some great tips on how we could look better.
We stress ourselves out so other women won’t be catty to us. Why do we care? Why do we care what the “mean girls” have to say? Why do we care what society has to say?
I look at my youngest daughter. She does not follow norms. She has always liked colorful clothing and was big on wearing two different socks in elementary school. She is very unselfconscious and happy with herself. She is intimidated by the “popular girls” but could care less about doing the tweezing, dyeing, shopping and schmoozing she would have to do to try and keep up with them. She likes being comfortable and chooses clothing and shoes for comfort and bright colors.
Sometimes I find myself shaking my head at her choice of outfits and suggesting that she might want to tweeze those eyebrows or shave those legs but I stop. Why would I want her to suffer the constant self-criticism that I do? Why would I want her to feel she is never good enough the way she is when she is already happy with who she is?
The best part is, when she finds someone who loves her, that person will love her for who she is, not what she appears to be. And she already knows this at 17. Alas, I wasted a bunch of years.
Today, I am wearing what my boss refers to as a “fiesta-going” dress — it doesn’t bind me anywhere and it’s bright and comfortable, and I’m wearing flat sandals because my back has been sore. And I am feeling great and I don’t look so bad if I say so myself. Viva Shannon!