Monday, March 28, 2011

One More Summer

When I was eight-years-old my mom and I stopped into a specialty boutique for young girls (what we now call ‘tweens) to window shop. The super cool store near the bakery where we were probably either picking up end of the year cupcake, or placing an order for my sister’s birthday cake, was unlike anything I had ever seen before.

It was all purple and glittery. Inflated stars and hearts hung from the ceiling. It sold super cool pens with feathers and sparkles on them and matching, scented pads of paper. I silently cursed that I discovered this place so near the end of the school year and not in late August when it could have made me the envy of all of my classmates.

My mother, a sucker for my I-want-it-all-face, smiled down at my wide-eyed wonderment and told me I could get one thing. Just one.

Well, this wasn’t a decision to be taken lightly. I wandered the store, picking things up, putting them back down and occasionally sniffing things when it was required. And then I saw it. The thing I absolutely had to have and would simply die if my mom didn’t get it for me.

It was a two piece bathing suit.

But not just any two-piece bathing suit. It had a peach top that wasn’t smooth like other bathing suits, but ruched (no I didn’t know that word at the time, I just thought it was cool) and a turquoise blue bottom with a sash of peach flower pattern on a turquoise blue background. It looked so tropical. Like something one of my Barbies would wear. In short it was the most beautiful bathing suit I had ever seen.

When I tried it on, well, there was just no denying that this suit was made for me. Not even my mom could deny the beauty of that bathing suit.

It was one of the happiest days in my young life. No more silly, childish one-pieces with Miss Piggy on the front and ruffles along the bottom. I had a two-piece. I was a grown-up. I was eight-years-old.

Now this two piece bathing suit that I was so proud of had a top looked like a sports bra and the bottom was a brief cut, with the sash around the waist covering my belly button. It was nothing like the bikini my much older sister wore. It survived diving into pools, hardcore games of Marco Polo, body surfing, water slides, and running away from the neighborhood boys. After all, I was still an eight-year-old girl and I literally spent my summer in that swim suit.

And while I remember a lot of things about that summer, the one thing I don’t remember is ever feeling fat or too pale or as if my boobs were too small to fill it out my awesome swimsuit. Heck, I didn’t even have boobs at eight. I did worry that someone would see too much of my backside as I got off the speed slide at Wildwater Kingdom. I was petrified of spilling blue snow cone “juice” on the front of my suit and ruining it forever. I was also scared about who my third grade homeroom teacher was going to be and whether or not my best friend and I would be in the same class. But never once did I worry about my chest being too small.

Why am I bringing this up? Because Abercrombie & Fitch has just released its new padded, push-up triangle-top bikini – the Ashley – for girls ages 7 to 14.

Think about that. Second grade girls owning a padded, push-up bikini top. I saw the thing laying on a table on the Today show – it has about as much padding as one of my padded, push-up bras. But I am an insecure 32-year-old woman. I’m allowed padding.

These are young girls that aren’t supposed to know that they are flat-chested yet. They have their whole lives to be insecure about their bodies and whether or not they are attractive to the opposite (or same) sex. Why are we pushing this on them? Why, when the one thing they should be looking for in a swimsuit top is whether or not it will come off when jump off the high dive at the pool, are retailers telling them that they need bigger boobs to look good in a bikini?

What upsets me more than Abercrombie & Fitch thinking this is okay – let’s be honest, A&F is evil and they will continue to do these outlandish things just to keep their name in the media – is that there are probably parents out there that will buy this bathing suit for their daughters.

Which is why instead of calling for a boycott of this despicable institution (actually I can’t imagine a lot of my readers shop at A&F so boycotting won’t do much good) I say we buy them out of these suits and then destroy them. Yes, I realize buying these suits will just pad A&F’s bottom line, but let’s be honest, as long as there is babysitting and paper route money, that chain isn’t going anywhere. However, there is a higher purpose that needs to be met here. We need to keep these suits off of our young girls.

We need to give them another summer (or more if possible) of not caring how they look in their swimsuits. Another summer just assuming they look awesome. Another summer when their biggest worry is a water-slide wedgie.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Liar Pride

I know. It has been awhile. I apologize. I have been busy, but that isn’t why I haven’t written. The reason I haven’t written is because I have been stumped by that article about why I’m not married.

I just heard the collective groans of all 22 of my readers. Yes. This again.

First, I am still wondering if I even want to get married. But I will get into that later. The real bit that has me stuck is when she suggested that we aren’t married because we are liars.

Priding myself on not being a liar, I secretly applauded the author for calling women out on this. We all know a liar. We all have a good friend that is with a guy that everyone knows isn’t in it for the long haul, he has even told her as much, and we want to shake her but she just sighs and tells us we don’t understand, that we aren’t there when it is just the two of them, by themselves and he tells her he loves her and she doesn’t care that he doesn’t want to commit because they spend all their time together and who needs a title anyway?

If you are anything like me, you are so scared for this friend of yours. You say to anyone that will listen, “That girl is lying to herself.” Every time you see that friend’s name on the caller ID, you bite your lip before hitting the answer button, expecting her to be sobbing on the other end of the line.

And you're not wrong to be worried. But the truth is your friend is also right. You aren’t there when they are alone. They do spend a lot of time together. He comes to all her things and he invites her out with him and his friends. Both their Facebook profile pictures include each other. And while it is easy to judge a situation when your feelings aren’t invested, it is a wholly different thing to be in a situation where you really like a guy, and you really like spending time with him, and you have so much fun when you are together, and he makes you feel like no other guy has made you feel, and he is pretty much perfect for you minus one, small, itsy-bitsy little detail – he doesn’t want to call you his girlfriend.

Every relationship book we have read has told us to run from this situation as fast as our little (or not so little as the case may be) legs can carry us. So why won’t liars listen? Why do they insist on sticking around? Do they know something we don’t? Could there be something to staying in a relationship even when your partner refuses to call it that?

And no, I am not asking because I have suddenly found myself in this situation.

It is because, I’m not sure marriage is my goal.

So if marriage isn’t the ultimate goal -- or even if it is but you are still holding out the silly hope that you can be one of those that finds happiness in it by finding the perfect guy for you – why not spend your time with a guy that might not be the one you spend happily ever after with?

Yes, I know there are studies and vignettes and hormones all proving women are incapable (or less capable) of casual sex. But that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about being with someone you love (or like a whole lot) that loves (or likes you or is good enough at pretending he likes you that you don’t know any better) as opposed to spending your time alone. Or worse, spending your time with someone that doesn’t make you feel all warm and special inside because you know there is a better chance that that someone will marry you.

I took a long hard look at the liars in my life. They are all pretty happy right now. Sure there are times when they hurt, or when they want more, but that passes just as quickly as all the times that I am sad because I haven’t had a date in a while. And sure, they could get really hurt when the guy that has been telling them that he doesn’t want anything serious moves on. But they could also get hit by a bus and die tomorrow. Yet, I wouldn’t advise any of them not to leave their houses – ever.

Personally, I’m not sure its possible for me to be so risky – to throw such caution to the wind and be with someone that I am so sure is only going to hurt me. But that doesn’t mean I’m not jealous of liars’ bravery.