4.01.2012

The Purge Part 5: Complimentary Angles.

This is a post about purging my inability to accept a compliment.

I went jean shopping, finally. My coworker Keith came with me to provide shopping moral support and a rear-end second opinion. I hate shopping, so jean shopping for me entailed finding the girl jean rack, grabbing four or five pairs from it that look like they'd fit, and hightailing it to the dressing room to try them on as fast as possible. I was hoping against hope to at least replace my favorite pair--a slim pair of dark indigo J Brand's--and there, between a pair of Hudsons and Cheap Monday's were the exact same pair, except these were a 25 rather than the 29 I'd been sporting for a year until recently.

I slipped them on in the dressing room, buttoned them, zipped up, adjusted the pockets. I unrolled the left cuff, a remnant from the previous customer. Then I turned around and gazed over my left shoulder to check out the rear view in the mirror and instantly wondered what the fuck happened to me.


I've done this for years. I naively thought I had finally put my weight struggles behind me as I entered my thirties, but my bony frame is back again and is taunting me in the mirror, reminding me that I haven't been this thin since my first few weeks in Miami left my ex-husband and best friends with dropped jaws when they picked me up from the airport. Here's the crazy part: I had no idea what was leaving they're eyes so wide; those three weeks in Miami saw me lose close to twenty pounds without me so much as even noticing.

Maybe this, all of this, is why I have such a hard time accepting a compliment, because I tie my appearance and my health together, because I will oft get complimented on the way I look when I am acting the most unhealthy.

Wait, I should explain. I can accept a compliment, I can even enjoy it, but I favor the ones that trend more towards "you're smart" or "you do that that really well". The ones that are more like "you're pretty" tend to raise one of my brows and make me wonder what the fuck this person wants from me. Excluding the 30 or 40 different people who have extolled on the softness of my skin (now there is a compliment I can accept; I work extremely hard at that and am similarly pleased with the results) there have been exactly three times in my adult life that I have been complimented on my looks and instantly believed them. They have all occurred while I was naked.

Once, when I lived in Portland, a girl whom I later followed to Miami gave me the first one while tracing an invisible line on my upturned hip with her forefinger.

"Your body is perfect. Just perfect."

Once, in Miami, on my very last night living there, a boy whom I loved very much gave me the second one, drawing out the third word longer than it would traditionally last.

"Your body is beautiful. Don't ever change it. Ever. Ever."


The third was just a few weeks ago, delivered to me in my bed in Brooklyn, and it made my breath catch in my throat and possibly my heart stop.

"You are fucking gorgeous."

Now don't get me wrong, I didn't accept any of these compliments particularly graciously, in fact I didn't know what to say to any of them. But these are the ones I believed, even momentarily agreed with, and I have no idea what made these three so believable to me.

I bought that pair of J Brand jeans that Keith helped me pick out, but it wasn't without reluctance. When I first ran from the dressing room with them on and turned around so Keith could see what was happening in the back, I couldn't believe that these jeans were so like the ones that had been my favorite but were turning my ass into a veritable pancake.

"Do you like these Keith? Look at this though, don't they make my ass super flat?" He agreed that yes, unfortunately, my ass looked more like lower back in these jeans. I agreed that they were weird and was determined not to buy them until I returned to the dressing room and tried on the next pair.

In which my ass was equally flat.

Then I had the horrific realization that the problem was my ass and not the jeans.

I picked out two pairs and brought them both to the counter to buy them, one of them being the J Brand pair. Keith wondered why I had changed my mind, and I explained to him of the intrinsic ass-flatness, and how I'm just gonna have to get over it.

And I do have to get over it! Time to purge this disbelief of other people's opinions, time to regard myself as the girl who was called gorgeous just a few weeks ago and thanking people for agreeing with me. Believing people who agree with me.

--M

[p.s.--It's also time to purge my drawers of hundreds of dollars of denim in a 28 and 29. If you are these sizes and would like to have them, email me your address. I will send them to you, or bring them over if you're local. --M]

[p.p.s.--Whoa, hold up. here's what you gotta understand--my former ass literally inspired poetry. This is a fact I just now remembered. I have the original somewhere, scrawled on a bar napkin, and am so pissed that I no longer have it memorized. I will dig through my hard-archives and find it tomorrow. --M]

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