CALL ME JOAN
Lately, my clothes don’t fit the same.
Skirts that used to ride saucily on my hips now girdle right up to my waist if they zip at all. Shirts that required a camisole for modesty now stay where they belong, stretched enough to end the front-side gappage. Dresses with any structure have been “taken out”, one picked stitch at a time, or taken to Goodwill.
Even elastic has begun to complain. Lycra pinches, and jeans just say no. I’m trying to figure out how to get through a St. Louis winter without pants at all. Stockings and boots and layers of long skirts, a la Little House on the Prairie or finally crossing the ick line into wearing one of the old rabbit-fur coats I can’t seem to discard?
My beloved vintage things are most forgiving. Many favorites fit loosely all along, and still do. A swing coat will swing, after all.
Older clothing accepts changes with grace. I’d taken many things in, anyway, to accommodate my thinness. Now it’s time to unstitch my stitches; I’ve expanded.
Last weekend, some old-reliable fancy things came out of storage for a wedding reception. Only one dress, bought during a particularly lean phase, was uncomfortable. The rest, worn too many times to count–parties, dances, dinners, funerals–fit, but what a change.
For the first time, I saw some va-va-voom wrapped up in those clothes. Curves, attached to my body, my own unassisted-by-padding shape, filled the spaces I used to pin and tuck to keep things in place. I felt lush. I felt ample. I felt excited to have finally graduated into a number beyond “2”. This new body and I are not yet familiar with one another, but getting acquainted has been a joy.
Now that my me-mannequin is made of slightly softer stuff, I can have fun with this booty I’ve been given. Walking in heels makes me feel like a Mad Men character, all sway and swoosh. I imagine being able to navigate a crowd without spilling my martini, because my bottom half makes room for my elbows. The word “hourglass”, always heard wistfully in descriptions of other women, now applies to my backside and at the correct angle, my frontside, too.
Am I vain? Do I care too much about the outside, the packaging, the cover of the book?
I’ll answer my own question with a tentative “no.” So many times, I’ve made new, tighter holes in my belts to hold up my jeans. So many times, I’ve teetered on the edge of collapse from blood sugar crashes or flat-out fatigue for forgetting to eat by a certain hour of the day. So many times, I’ve fielded comments of concern over my weight or outright nastiness over what I “could” eat and stay rail-thin. Now, I have the gift of an average BMI and a bit of stored adipose tissue to support not only my pants but also my preferred activity level. I am average.
My bigger, stronger, less bony body helps me to feel anything but frail. I am done with physically frail. I am not delicate, not easily exhausted, not quick to sicken.
Yes, I do bruise my butt more often because I do not yet know its dimensions, but that’s a small price to pay. I need to edit my winter wardrobe to work with these new proportions, but I love to play with clothes and now thrift stores are full of my size, fewer alterations required.
I’ve never disliked any part of my body, and now there’s just more to love.