Most days I hide my self-esteem issues with a bold lip or a silver loafer. Larger-than-life ensembles seem to help me compensate for what I sometimes view as a larger-than-life body. But when the bold wanes, what’s left is an insecure woman fighting each day, coaxing herself into believing she’s pretty enough. I don’t even have to be pretty, just OK.
I look OK. I repeat this to myself dozens of times a day. I catch myself in the mirror after a shower. I glance two seconds too long into the reflection of a window display. I look OK, I tell myself again.
I notice myself again in the bathroom mirror at work, the light highlighting my textured skin. I look OK. I take a bath and fill it with bubbles. I suck my stomach under the water to try on another size. I look fine. I imagine all the body-positive accounts on Instagram, the girls who let their stomachs curl in on itself. They wear their skin proudly, no matter how much of it hangs. I feel a little better. I put on my fiancé’s T-shirt, expecting it to fall daintily off my shoulders. It’s tighter than I remembered. I look Ok, though.
But sometimes I’m not OK. At parties, I pray I’m not the only one who wears a medium-sometimes-large at Old Navy. When I arrive in a crowded room, I scan for someone, just one person, who maybe has broader shoulders than mine, or whose eyebrows are over-plucked, whose arms are rounder, hips wider. I frantically search for someone with whom I can compare my mushy middle and rippled thighs. Because maybe I’m not the least attractive person there. I look OK. It sounds sinister and cruel, but it feels primal and exhausting.
I think it must be an instinct remaining from thousands of years ago when we used to have to peacock ourselves, erasing the competition, to get a mate. Oh wait. I wish this instinct, this internal desire to devour the flaws of other for my personal satisfaction would abate.
I feel my best me in extravagant looks I’ve prepared the night before. I have trouble sleeping lots of nights. But on nights when my mind doesn’t wander too far into the dark, I prepare my outfit for the following day, piecing it together like a puzzle to hide my body shame. It doesn’t have to be flattering or even pretty, but when I’ve gathered all the pieces, it usually involves some sort of dramatic silhouette or a punchy shoe.
When each piece fits together - my body decorated, dripping in confidence - I am able to look just a bit longer as I pass a mirrored window. I can believe the compliments casually strewn on a social media photo, and I am able to appreciate the flaws that make other women beautiful. Because I have highlighted mine in an A-line skirt that emphasizes the largest part of my middle. It’s hard to do this every day, but most days, I do look OK. Maybe fine even.
This is one of my armor outfits, an outfit I spend a good chunk of time not sleeping over. I felt OK this day. I plan on wearing this metallic skirt year round and not just for special occasions.