This is a follow up to the recent post For The Girls With Thighs That Touch. We will not – can not – shrink back or shrink down just to please another.
Sun streams in mid-morning and I stumble down the stairs after completing my morning work routine.
There are days things go long or go wrong and I rush from one thing to another out the door, but on the slower mornings I make my way to the kitchen.
Grab bowl, pour water from the tap, heat it up and open the package of instant oatmeal. Stir until the water soaks in, the grain soaking up, and then eat before rinsing and placing everything back as it was.
The house is still quiet, the boys asleep from a late night of goofing off, and I am a ship moving in the night – except it’s 11:03am. Unless they dig through the trash, and since they are teenage boys, I am most certain they will not, they’ll have no idea that on a Tuesday morning I found my way to the kitchen counter and swallowed the bites of oatmeal I don’t even like, all with their words in my head.
“Bud, she just downed that whole piece before you.”
And I smile. The oatmeal is sticking to my throat and it tastes like a bowl of nothing, but I eat it anyway because today the battle is won.
My brothers will not know me as the girl who shrinks back or shrinks down just to please another.
Oh, they aren’t disillusioned. If there are any three people who have seen the worst of me, it is these three. Fights and words that never should have been spoken, rude looks, hours of silence, I’ve done it all.
They have seen me at my weakest and my worst but I am determined to show them the other side of the same girl.
They can blame me for the awkward moments of walking the row of feminine items at the grocery but they’re also gonna have to blame me for the knowledge that women come in all shapes and sizes and they are all beautiful.
They don’t live with a magazine cover model. I wear make-up on my birthday and to Christmas Eve service. Unless I am headed into work, you’ll find flip-flops on my feet.
They can’t blame me for living with a girly-girl but they can sure as heck blame me for showing them that being a girl means more than carrying a purse and wearing heels.
There was a brief season when I would walk into the kitchen and right back out. My clothes were tighter than I wanted and I cared more about how I looked than how I lived. I picked at myself and picked at my food and no one seemed to notice but the mirror.
I swallowed words and swallowed food and it all tasted like nothing. You can chew and swallow and still be empty inside.
This wasn’t an eating disorder, it was a terrible mind trap. I simply cared about the wrong things. Maybe I thought in order to be considered a winner you had to be slimmer, smaller, thinner. Maybe I listened to the lies and covered my ears to the truth.
One day I just reached out and picked something – anything – and I ate it anyways. I wasn’t hungry in the least, but I acted in defiance. The mirror lost, the pantry won, and whatever food I swallowed was a victory.
My brothers will not know a size 0 sister, but each day they see a girl look herself in the mirror and walk out the door with her head held high.
We sat in a food court on a Tuesday night and I laughed because I was the first to demolish a piece of pizza.
I thought nothing of it – but they noticed.
And I don’t feel any shame in that. Because this is real. This is me. I like pizza, so what, right?
Except it matters, that’s what.
It matters more than a $2.98 slice.
Because they’re watching. The food going in and the thighs that touch and the smiling going out the door.
They’re watching and I will not be responsible for showing them a fake, photoshopped, carrot stick version of their own sister.
They get me, all of me. The one who makes weird faces and made-up words, the girl who sings off-key and changes into pajamas within five minutes of returning home from work.
A piece of pizza showed me that I’m showing them what a woman is. That’s scary and weighty . . . but I won’t shrink back from that either.
I’m joining this week with several women I admire to go first in being vulnerable, in talking about hip size and touching thighs and choosing not to shrink back. Feel free to join the link-ups at Holley’s, Jennifer’s, Beth’s and Holly’s each Wednesday morning, and feel free to eat that slice of pizza.