Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Size Matters

The most liberated I ever felt when it came to wardrobe were the months after I had a baby. I fit barely anything, and it was warm outside, so I was resigned to yoga pants and stretchy tank tops. My breasts were enormous and always on display. My clothes were spotted with spit up. So you can imagine that the clothing options were slim (and I don't mean in size!)

But it was easy. It had to be. I never worried about what to wear, since I was rotating around a few items that could take a beating and hold in all of my parts that dared to escape at any moment. It wasn't pretty, but I made do. And it was relief -- new motherhood is all about questioning and re-questioning -- I was thrilled to spare myself an internal dialogue on the topic of what to wear.

I have learned one cardinal rule when it comes to dressing. Dress for the size you are, not the size you want to be. You will look much thinner in an 8 than a 6 if you are really an 8. Your lines will look leaner when material is not clinging. The same goes for bras, but I will leave the bra fitting hype to Oprah. I learned this post partum and have never forgotten. I wore bigger sizes and felt smaller. I had no shame. That's another thing about childbirth -- shame is tossed in the garbage. Right beside your placenta.

When I shop, I never look at sizes. I just look at the racks and pull what looks like it will fit the largest part of me. This is not easy. Hardest is accepting that the size you were at 16 is permanently out of reach, unless you have the time and discipline to cultivate an anorexic habit. We all look at our photos of years gone by, when we mindlessly consumed food, did not break a sweat, wore small sizes and still had the audacity to call ourselves fat. They say youth is wasted on the young. I say that thin is wasted on the young -- when we are too insecure or unaware of ourselves to really enjoy it.

Even if I had the inclination to diet to return to a shape where I felt my most fabulous, it is now out of the question. Mainly because two sets of huge blue eyes are watching me at all times. And I can't scoop a bagel, fan a sweet and low package or order fat free anything without sending her a message. I can make healthy choices -- steam over stir frye, brown over white bread -- but anything more than that creates risk. She watches me to learn what is safe (Elmo) and not (hot oven). So my endorsements and my actions mean something.

And I can't say one thing and do another. At music class recently, I was chastised for throwing the instruments into the bucket, when in the same breath telling Chloe not to throw her egg shaker at her little friends head. She does not understand how one toss is safe and another is not. So for her, and for me, I need to model the right behavior about things that have the risk of danger. Which may mean more calories and cellulite. But it also means more of a chance for Chloe to rise above an inclination to ever be something she's not.


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