Love Every Bit Of Yourself

For the past few weeks, there has been a big increase in activity in the formal dress department at work due to all the school proms coming up.

Although it’s a lot of work, I’ve enjoyed working these departments. The dressing rooms get trashed and you have triple the amount of clothes to straighten, hang and get back out on the floor but it’s been really fun watching these girls come in and model dresses for their parent, friends and selves. Even better, the look on their face when they walk up to the counter with “the one” slung over their arm, ready to make the big purchase.

One of the happier things that surprised me from the shifts I’ve worked so far is the amount of fathers bringing their daughters, patiently waiting on big couches outside the dressing rooms and the kindness of some of the comments I would overhear as they gave fatherly opinions or even vetoed a dress as soon as they saw it.

I know what some of them were thinking, “Yea, I remember when I was a teenage boy and you are not wearing that dress!” aka too short, too revealing, etc. I don’t blame them at all.

It almost brought tears to my eyes, hearing one of the dads I had been helping earlier, when he reminded his daughter, “we have plenty of time. Remember, you need to really love it.” Mind you, this was after the sixth or seventh dress she tried on. My own heart swelled.

Unfortunately, the other things I heard were far less happy, loving or kind and came from the girls themselves.

“I’m too fat for this.”

“I look terrible.”

“My hips are huge!”

These were beautiful, young, athletic, fit girls. Even if they weren’t, I would have still been saddened by these comments…but they were.

At the register, it really hit home for me when a group of three girls approached. One had a dress she was asking me to hold so she could bring her mom back later to see it. They were all kind of talking among themselves and I heard the girl next to her saying “my thighs are so fat, I have to go to the gym every day, I could never wear that.”

Please know, I spend a lot of time at work biting my tongue. I try to be very thoughtful and make sure my words are both appropriate and nice because I am at work after all and need to be professional but in this case, the look on my face gave me away and I decided to take a chance and speak up anyway.

“You are absolutely not fat.” I said looking straight at the girl. Then I turned and looked at all three. “You guys have absolutely nothing to worry about, please believe me. You are beautiful!”

I held back on the next few words that came in to my head because they were not kind and the irony was not lost on me. I almost told them, they had many years ahead as an adult to worry about their weight or how big their thighs were and just wait until after they had kids.

Oh my God, what the hell is wrong with me?

The young, very skinny girl looked back at me and stuck a knife right in my heart. But it was the best thing she could have done, it was just the wake up call I needed.

“Look at you, I wish I was as skinny as you. I could never even wear those pants.” She said and the knife slid right in. Because as soon as she said it, I remembered how much I’d fussed and worried about wearing the pants I had on and made sure I had a very stylishly long shirt to cover what I thought were MY fat thighs.

OMFG.

That was it, the girls walked away but they stayed with me all that night and still do today.

Why are we so willing, so eager, to put ourselves down? To only see what we think as the flaws instead of all the beauty. To only want change instead of seeing what we truly have.

And who the hell did I think I was, trying to school them on it when I was feeling no different about myself.

Is this a legacy I’m contributing to? Passing it on or condoning this somehow by treating myself the same way? If so, I’m ready to stop.

Each day since, I’ve made a real effort to look in the mirror and think or say something positive. If my husband tells me I look beautiful, I hold my head up and say thank you instead of laughing and looking away thinking, he must be crazy. I have to change the way I think about and treat myself and hopefully, I can pass that love, respect and acceptance on to others.

It’s not easy, honestly it’s a challenge and I’m not proud to admit that.

But I’m working on getting rid of fear and growing a bit anyway so in a way, I can see all these things kind of swirling around, coming together in interesting and necessary ways.

I believe there are still a few weeks before prom. I hope I get the opportunity to work with more lovely young women, looking for that dress that makes them feel beautiful and special. And I hope I get the chance to let them know how beautiful and special they really are.

Beliefs & Guides, Love

2 comments on “What The Prom Girls Taught Me About Self Love

  • What an interesting and beautiful story Anna. And it is especially interesting to me since I have been writing a YA novel – and specifically a scene about trying on prom dresses. I wonder if I should make it more realistic or if I should try to go positive. It’s just so heartbreaking to know what really goes on behind those doors – for them and you. Does the struggle ever end? Thank you for sharing and keeping me thinking…

    • Oh Carinn, I didn’t know your novel was YA – that’s awesome! The search for the perfect prom dress is such a process…I did see some really awesome moments between parents and their daughters. Some of the moms were really great as well, I think the dads just got me. And of course, seeing how early the self loathing and body shaming starts with women in our society was sad and tough. I don’t think the girls even realized the weight of what they were saying, I think that’s what made me want to write about it as well. Thanks so much for reading Carinn, hope your writing is going great!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *