A Guest Blog by Jody Payne
June. Time to shop for a swimsuit. Sob! But that’s another blog for another day. Don’t ask. I can’t discuss it. Not until I lose about a thousand pounds.
Anyway, a friend and I decided to face the inevitable and support each other through this tragedy of middle-aged shopping. We were determined to find swimsuits that showed off our awesomeness while hiding the bulges that go with it. There must be one out there.
By the way, don’t put this off until school is out like we did. It’s intimidating shopping next to a hundred pound eighteen year old. We found ourselves at the swimsuit rack standing next to a mother shopping with her teenage daughter.
The daughter had a lot to learn about respect, but frankly, so did the mother. It was pitiful and the argument escalated until it ended with the mother saying between clenched teeth, “Just who do you think you are?”
I understood the woman’s frustration. Her daughter was determined to buy a bikini that would have made the average Brazilian blush while doing the samba on a nude beach.
My friend and I glanced at each other with a mutual cringe. I happen to know that my friend has heard this demeaning phrase more than once from her own mother.
My first response was to get out of there. Quick. I glanced around the room looking for the nearest exit.
However, my friend put her hand on the teenager’s arm and said, “I’ll tell you who you are. You are a beautiful young woman with a beautiful body. You have every right to be proud of it. Just remember this, it’s yours, and yours alone. It doesn’t belong to anyone else. Because you do have a beautiful body, other people are going to want to possess it. Control it. Don’t let them. Don’t give it away. Don’t let them use you. What is yours is yours and yours alone. Their greediness is their problem, not yours. Take a tip from Gypsy Rose Lee who said, ‘Always leave them wanting to see more.’ That woman was a famous burlesque queen who left the stage modestly clothed amid standing ovations from hungry eyed men.”
The girl was stunned into silence. So my friend used the reprieve to pull several more suitable suits (pun intended) from the rack and hand them to the girl. “Try these on. They’ll look great on you.”
I think the girl was too shocked to argue with these clueless adults so she took the suits and stomped into the dressing room. Probably just to escape us.
After a few minutes, she pulled back the curtain from the dressing room and she peeked out timidly. I realized I was holding my breath. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one because when she emerged there was an audible exhalation of relief from all three of us.
She looked gorgeous. The one-piece suit covered her very few flaws and made the most of her admirable assets. When she saw our reaction, she lost her hunched over posture. Her head came up and her shoulders back. A wide confident smile replaced her surly frown. Princess Di would have been envious.
The mother burst into tears. She turned to my friend and said, “You nailed it. Why couldn’t I have said that?”
My friend shrugged, “Because you’re a mother. Your job is impossible. Mine is a whole lot easier. I’m a stranger.”
The mother whispered, “How can I ever thank you?”
My friend grinned. “Just pass it on to the next stranger who needs help. We can win this war. Battle by battle. Stranger by stranger. Mother by mother.”
As we exited, I looked back to a beautiful young lady hugging her mother. Tears streamed down their faces. I hope to see either those two or someone like them when my own daughter tries on her first adult bathing suit.
And so, pass it on, okay? Battle by battle. Stranger by stranger. We can win this one. Mother by mother.
Jody Payne is
a writer (fiction and non-fiction),
a horse woman (dressage, no less),
an animal lover (just ask her two rescue dogs),
and most of all she’s southern through and through.
You can find her on FB: https://www.facebook.com/jodypaynesays
Her website: www.jodypayne.net