Saturday, April 04, 2009


I'm referring to dress-size.

Sad to say, but I have been obsessed with my dress-size ever since I became an adult. I think back now to my high school days and can't believe that I didn't obsess about my weight or my dress size then. I'm sort of jealous of my old self, that I didn't need to think about such things. (And who am I kidding? I probably DID need to think about them, but I did not, because I was obliviously busy with other aspects of my life, most likely much more important aspects of teenage living).

I honestly couldn't tell you what my average weight or clothing size was when I was a teenager, probably for two reasons: I was pretty average-sized (I think?), and I didn't really care about it. I cared VERY MUCH about clothing - don't get me wrong there - but I couldn't tell you what SIZE my acid-washed jeans were! And actually, I am lying, there was probably a third and much more realistic reason that I didn't obsess about my clothing size back then: I didn't know anything about what sizes meant. I was pretty clueless. I mean, it took me YEARS to learn the difference between "misses" and "womens" sizes in department stores. Only recently have I figured out that junior's clothing is sized in odd numbers, while misses are sized in evens.

And why do they skip a number? Why isn't there a misses size 9? Not everyone is an 8, so why should that automatically make you a 10? And don't kid yourself thinking that a JUNIOR'S size 9 is the size in between a misses size 8 and 10, because it just is NOT. Junior's clothing is smaller, probably because it is intended for smaller (read: younger) women. Which also means that I most likely have no business being caught dead shopping in the Junior's department, as I push 40. (Okay, I have a year and a half to go, but let's face it, I am much closer to 40 than I am to 30). I can't help myself sometimes though - if I know I am going out, in public, to a bar-type place (bachelorette party, for example), I am GOING to look in the Junior's department, as they have a much bigger selection of going-out-to-bar styled clothing. Again, I am sure this has something to do with the age gap thingy, but let's not beat a dead horse...

So, I am obsessing about my size still, but in a good way. In the past year, what with dedicating myself to losing weight, eating better, and getting in shape, I have watched my clothing size dwindle. I recently donated a TON of clothing to charity. This was not because I was feeling overly generous; rather, most of my clothes no longer fit me and I was afraid that if I hung on to them it would almost give me an excuse to some day fit in them again. Or, conversely, if I know I don't have any clothing in a bigger size hanging in the closet, maybe I will keep myself at a smaller size? Whatever form of reverse psychology I am using, I just hope it sticks. At the moment, I have literally NO CLOTHES for the summer, because nothing from last year (or the previous several summers) remotely fits. The thought of having to go out and purchase an entirely new summer wardrobe in a smaller size is enthralling; but the thought of perhaps having to go out this fall and purchase an entire new wardrobe in my former larger size is sickening enough to, hopefully, keep me honest.

That being said, when a woman says "I lost a dress size!" what exactly do they mean? Because I don't know about you, but I count in whole numbers, not in two's. If someone was a size 12 and claims they lost a dress size, shouldn't that mean they are now a size 11? But I am pretty sure that it means that they are a size 10, since size 11 doesn't technically exist...So, if we go by the 'correct' math, I have lost a total of 5 dress sizes in one year. (Or 10 dress sizes, if you want to go by MY math!) Either way, it is crazy to me. I was stuck - STEADFAST - at the same dress size for almost ten years, and in the course of 12 months I have left that size in the dust. I have mixed feelings about it, though - there are days that I am so proud of my new size, and there are other days that I am embarrassed and disgusted with myself for being at my former size, and for being there for such a long time.

I have a new goal - coupled with my goal of maintaining my new size and fitness level and health, etc. My new goal is to hopefully get to a point that I can be oblivious about my dress size, as I was when I was in high school. I want to go back to the days of buying something to wear because I like it, and not beating myself up about what size the item of clothing was purchased in. I want to not care. I want to - imagine this - not KNOW what size I wear. Think about that for second...imagine having to think long and hard about your dress size...because you really just don't know, because it really is a topic that just isn't that important to you...

...that, to me, would be heaven.

I am so worried about the world my daughter is growing up in. She just turned three years old and - YES - she already knows who Hannah Montana is. UGH! Body image is something that has already been introduced into her life, between Barbie and Disney Princesses and even the freaken over-the-top too sexy Ariel from "The Little Mermaid."

Case in point: I bought Amanda an Ariel Barbie doll last year, because she had informed me that Ariel was her 'favorite' Disney Princess. This is when she was still two years old. We were playing with her new doll, and I said "Amanda, look at Ariel's beautiful long red hair." To which Amanda replied "Yes mommy, and look at her BEAUTIFUL sparkly bra."


My mom was worried about me emulating Madonna's sense of style when I was merely in the seventh grade. (A black bra - Oh, the HORROR!) I am worried that Amanda is going to have thong underwear popping out the back of her low-riding jeans on her way to kindergarten. Or better yet, that she'll be commando and flashing all the boys as she steps off the school bus. Because, after all, that is what the young celebrity girls do these days, am I right?

To be honest for a second, I do worry about the pressures my little girl will face. She is going to be obsessed with her weight and her dress size, like I am, like my mother was (and still is) before me. She's got my genes, and those genes love ice cream a bit too much. But unlike me, who didn't know enough to give a shit about my weight in high school, Amanda is more than likely going to be obsessing about her weight and her size and her eating habits, etc, probably before she is even out of elementary school. Because it just seems like it is so much more of an issue for younger and younger girls these days. I hope I am wrong, but I don't think I am.

All I can do is try to do a better job of leading by example. I am hoping that by my being more focused on staying healthy, Amanda will learn by merely watching the life I lead. She already talks about when she is going to be "big and run races with my mommy." I long for that. When I was in Disney World, there was a mother-daughter team running the half marathon together, and they said they do all of their races together. I was moved to tears, as I thought of Amanda and I maybe someday running in a half-marathon together. (I was also pretty inspired, as it took me some time to figure out which one was the mom and which one was the daughter - go, mom!)

Maybe that is what this past year has been all about; a journey to get myself to a better place so that I pass along the right messages to my kid as she is bombarded my media images of what a woman should be and should look like. My mom has taken really good care of herself, and she looks amazing. And, she is still the skinnier than me and my two sisters! (Talk about annoying and inspiring at the same time!) I often tell people that I hope I look as good as my mom looks when I get to be her age. Maybe I can pass that same sentiment on to Amanda...rather than spending the next fifteen years with her listening to me complain about my weight and watch me going on one crazy diet after another, maybe I will do the right things, and maybe she will learn THOSE things from me. Maybe.

Then again, maybe not. After all, she is MY kid, and I do tend to obsess.

But I promise to try my best to teach her that, while dress size MIGHT matter a little but, feeling good about yourself is the most important gift you'll ever receive - and that gift only REALLY matters when you've given it to yourself.