It wasn’t the first time I had heard something like it. “Are you sure you want to wear that?” my husband gently asked me about a much-loved sweater I had bought a few years ago and had just put on with a pair of jeans. Or the brown leather jacket from Danier that I still cherish and loved enough to wear in our engagement pictures (see above). In some ways I consider it a milestone in our relationship that he felt like he could ask me that. Constructive honesty and feedback even when it isn’t, let’s say, wholeheartedly appreciated is a good thing. What to do with that feedback is something else though. When my husband doesn’t like something that I am wearing and/or have bought it makes me pause and consider what he’s said, his reasons for saying it and then I’m faced with the decision. His input is valuable to me but maybe I love what I’m wearing or have lusted long and hard for the purchase he’s just commented on. Do I take whatever it is off or return it? Or do I keep it on or not return it.
The backstory… I haven’t always had the best self-esteem. As I child as young as grade four I can remember being bullied for what the other kids perceived as being fat. I wasn’t fat. I was just REALLY tall for my age. The tallest kid at in the back row, right in the middle of class pictures. I had balls bounced off of my head, I was made to cry and even told that I probably couldn’t play on the jungle gym because my hips were too wide. Since then I’ve had a really warped perception of myself. Even when I did need to loose some weight, it was never enough once I had done it. I was never happy. Ever. I have spent so much time in my life, wasted time, on worrying about how much I weigh or what I look like in that mini-skirt because I didn’t want anyone to see the cellulite on the backs of my legs that wouldn’t go away no matter how hard I worked at the gym. Even now, as I write this, I struggle with how I look. I tell myself to be nicer to myself, to go easier. That I would never say the things I tell myself to another person which is 100% true. I save the worst and meanest things that I have ever thought for myself. I try to take it one day at a time and love myself more but some days or even seconds are better than others. This is the emotional baggage I carry, recognize and am working to leave behind.
So how does this impact me right now? Well, when my loving husband does tell me that he doesn’t like what I’m wearing it used to throw me into the cliche “So you’re saying I’m fat” response. Not any more. I’ve finally come to a place where I take in what he says, recognize and appreciate that he really loves me and then I make a decision. I usually decide to keep on the item he has mentioned. It is now a rare occasion when I take whatever it is off or return it to the store. I see this as a win. I am finally confident enough in myself to not fly into a tailspin when I hear a comment that used to make me upset. Maybe it’s that I’m getting older and more mature but maybe it’s that I’ve finally realized that there is a big difference between those mean girls on the playground who wanted nothing more than to cut me down than the supportive and considerate opinion of my husband. So when you see me in my brown leather jacket know that it’s because I love it, it makes me feel great and that’s the most important thing to me.