I was being difficult with Elizabeth and the camera last night when I finally pulled the dress out of the plastic to try it on and see what would have to be done about it if it's going to be worn any time soon. It *has* been awhile since I put it on and now that I think about it, the original wearing was nearly 12 and a half years ago. How is it something like that can still fit so damn perfectly? There's only one thing I'd do differently now than I did then and I'll have to take it in quickly to change this. I wouldn't be willing to pad it any more than it's already padded. Too damn bad. I put it on last night braless and the tiny little straps fell off my shoulders immediately. Huh? I pulled them back up. Back down they fell. Um. I pulled them back up and then I remembered the layer that went between me and the dress and I looked inside the bodice and saw a good layer of padding in there already meant to produce a good amount of cleavage which I do NOT have and remembered that I had to augment the existing padding and the result was that the front of the dress came out far enough that the straps were the correct length.
I'm not doing this again. I'll just take in the straps and it's not like the front is going to cave in. It's not. Something has changed in the last 12 and a half years and I'm grateful because something else happened last night. While I was busy trying this on and also the black dress hanging over the door in the event that I needed a fall back and THIS dress, by the way is older than the blue dress and I wore it MAYBE 2 weeks postpartum and it fits today which will tell you all you need to know about what I did to myself to fit into it. One does not go to a black tie affair looking like one just had a baby even if one's baby is in tow and being nursed every 90 minutes in full view of the entire damn party, current convention be damned (so we'll pull out the corporate tit (it was a corporate party and I was a newly minted senior director and SO I COULD) but we won't display an ounce of postpartum flesh in an evening gown).... uh....
In the mean time, Elizabeth has hauled out the dress she wore when David and I got married and she was four, almost five and it had a forest green sash (and we have no idea where THAT went) and she wore a garland of flowers in here hair and was about the prettiest thing I'd ever seen. Except for her sister at fifteen in her first black full length formal for which she was barely old enough and only because she was escorted by her brother and the modesty factor was pretty high.
She has tossed her leotard and tights on the floor and thrown the dress over her head. Zip me, she commands, showing me her back. I nearly choke on pre-existing snot. REALLY? You think so, huh? Be thankful it covers the front of you. She is entirely too pleased with herself in this costume. I look pretty radical, right? Right.
It has been suggested that she pull out the cocktail dress that was picked up at a tag sale and way too small for me but that might someday fit her and see what that looks like. I have some vague memory of allowing this to be shoveled into the back of her closet but being pretty sure it was going to sit there for the next four to five years, the words cocktail and child not being the least bit synonymous. I think the dress had been in her closet for about a year, or close to it. She has grown, this is true. This time the dress zipped and didn't immediately fall to the floor but there was something wrong. Something other than the fact that it was indeed a cocktail dress and indeed black and she is indeed 13 years old and there is absolutely no way I could possibly stretch that dress onto my child and I don't generally keep them down on the farm. This dress screams FUCK ME about as loud as they come and I'm perfectly OK with a dress that screams FUCK ME in proper context. Actually, it doesn't scream it really, it says, YOU, over here, I have tits the size of the Grand Tetons and an 18 inch waist. I am damn near impossible, sporting a prepubescent body and there's precious little holding this thing on me. Plus it's black. Black is all grown up. There's something about the cut, it's hard to explain.
I didn't say that to Elizabeth, that would have been completely inappropriate. We played with it instead and I watched her. It was just about right in the waist which is when I started to get a bad feeling about it. How many women have 18 inch waists? Not too many. I checked the label. Size 0/1/2. Is that a real size? Well, yeah, sort of. When she stopped wearing kids clothes and moved into the adult shops, given her build, size 0 - 2 is about what she wears because she is so narrow. She will not always be so narrow but right now she is. We laughed a little about the disparity between the waist and what the top of the dress needed and I said it wanted a C cup but on later reflection I'm pretty sure it wants a D to stay up. It is strapless.
She gave me a helpless look. We've had a lot of conversations about body image lately because, well, first off, that's a BIG issue in this family (you don't even want me to start) and second, as a dancer, she really does give it thought. I said, listen to me, your body is perfect and I don't mean to say perfect the way everyone who is healthy is perfect because all bodies are perfect, I mean to tell you that you are perfect. You are a dancer and you're built that way. You are perfect because your chosen profession (yes, that could change) suggests that this is the perfect build and as it turns out, it looks like you got genetically lucky. So I'm going to tell you something, if a piece of clothing doesn't fit you there isn't a damn thing wrong with you. Consider this. Consider that there might be something very wrong with that dress.
And then she said it. Get this Lolita thing off of me.
My jaw dropped. We'd recently had the Lolita conversation but I wasn't sure how much attention she was paying or if she'd even make the leap but she sure did. A dress that would fit a 13 year old body with size D tits.
NOT that there is a damn thing wrong with breasts of any size. This is not the conversation we are or were having. I have another girl child where we've needed to do some body image work in the other direction. A body is a body is a body and if the dress you take off the rack is telling you that there is something wrong with you because you don't fit the dress... consider there might be something wrong with the dress or even that it's just not a match.
I'm gonna go out on a limb here though and suggest there's something wrong with the god damn dress. There's something wrong with the fashion industry in general and we all (for the most part) know this to be the truth. I have a body that accepts nearly any piece of clothing out there except I have to pad it.
My oldest daughter has a body that requires certain allowances that would have pleased Rubens to no end.
My youngest daughter will be able to pull most anything off a rack in about two years and walk out of the store in it without a single alteration and yet... and yet... there will still be dresses, moments, times, men, women, people, statements, suggestions, beliefs, that there is something wrong with her very perfect little self. May she mug the camera in silly dresses in the full belief that she is a perfect human being for the rest of her life.
And me? She suggested that I rip out the padding that was sewn into the dress but I'm going to have to draw the line at that level of surgery. The straps though? Those I'll be taking in.
The color is correct in the first photograph. The flash has done a number on this second shot but it was worth including anyway since she worked so hard to get me to smile.