I’d like to say it all started with a pair of red pants.
I’d love to start the story there. But the truth is it started a lot more timidly. It took consultation and self-reflection. It took a change in mindset and the benefit of the wisdom you acquire after 44 years of life on this Earth for me to get to the red pants.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to wade through 44 years of wisdom.
Today, for the first time in my adult life, I put on a pair of red pants. I imagine this does’t mean much to you. But to me it provides just enough shift in my day-to-day paradigm that I feel like I can do anything. Proof of this? I just vacuumed (most) of my house.
Bold trousers aren’t something I’ve ever put on a body like mine. I’m not small. I’m not even medium. If this were McDonald’s it’s safe to say I would be the Biggie Fries. I don’t love this fact but it is what it is, for now, and I’ve decided that my body - much like the fries - has earned the right to wear red when it wants to. It’s not like the black pants change anything, right?
Motherhood had a little something to do with this. I am now Mama to three (THREE!) girls and so the realities of being a girl, and a woman, in the world today are taking on new urgency for me. I don’t feel like I’ve been treated unfairly in the past, but I have come to realize I’ve been treated differently, in part because I’ve allowed it. And I’ve allowed it because it never occurred to me that I shouldn’t. This isn’t a behavior I want to teach my girls. Neither is feeling shame about how you look or what you value. Will I ever be model thin? God no. But I can care for, and be proud of, the body I have today. It has, after all, grown and delivered three beautiful souls into the world. The least I can do is be kind to it.
So my girls are one reason I pulled on these pants today.
I also had the counsel of a small but mighty group of women to thank for today’s wardrobe upgrade. Because much like middle school girls everywhere I continue to look to my peers for advice and reassurance on what is acceptable to wear in public without risking complete social rejection. And when I said “I’m thinking about getting some red pants” they did not move to another lunch table but instead said “I’m so happy for you!” and “I LOVE the idea of red pants!!” (They also gave me the thumbs up on a kelly green sweater. I’m going all out, people.)
But I think really, at the end of the day, I ventured out of my safe but boring box because I’m ready to move on. Move forward - in my wardrobe and also in my life. With 44 years of wisdom comes the realization that time is not on my side. 20 years ago, when I graduated with a degree I would never use, I had the luxury of knowing my whole life lay ahead of me to figure things out. That luxury is, naturally, slipping away. But it’s been replaced by something new, and maybe even better: Knowing that it’s all going to be OK. Not perfect, without heartbreak or loss, and certainly with my fair share of failures. But still, it will be OK. I am still afraid to go out on a limb, put myself out there, risk rejection. I will though, because I don’t have the time to not do those things. It’s too important - life is too important - to be afraid to fail.
This morning I took a risk and dressed up my Biggie Fries in a pair of red capri pants and met with a trusted friend to talk about what could be. There’s so much to be afraid of.
I haven’t felt this good in years.