I should never shop in Talbot’s unless there’s this one snappy woman I like who works there working. But I was meeting a guy for a coffee date at Barnes & Noble and I had a few minutes to spare and I popped into Talbot’s to see what they had by way of BLAZERS THAT AREN’T BLACK OR BROWN OR NAVY because I’ve been hoping to expand my wardrobe with a non-BLACK OR BROWN OR NAVY blazer for, oh, about TEN YEARS now (no exaggeration, my one very light teal blue blazer is summer weight, over a dozen years old and so faded I really need to get rid of it ) and they had a very pretty pink boucle one in the window.
Who am I kidding? I am SO not the pink tweedy type. I’m also not the type to spend that much money on a jacket.
But as I was trying things on, the saleslady was trying to sell me other options. She was just a nice, hard-working woman trying to do her job. The only trouble is, I really know what works and what doesn’t for me, and I really know what I like and what I don’t like.
She brought me a sale jacket with gold buttons and a peplum. I hated it a lot, but I was pretty nice. “Oh thanks, but I really don’t like gold buttons. I only wear silver detailing. It’s just a thing of mine.” I think our friendly saleslady was a little frustrated at that point because she said to me, “Well, this peplum would really be good for your figure.”
I know what she means. She’s too nice to say, “your figure FLAWS by which I mean the tire ’round your lower abdomen, girl!” So I go, “Yea, I’ve got a LOT OF figure.” We both laughed.
Body-shaming is rampant in our culture and I like to undermine it whenever possible. I don’t hate my fat, I don’t hate my body, but I do find it very difficult to dress and fit. I do complain about my bod because of that, and that’s legit. But I hope you will join me in pushing back against body-shaming wherever we see or hear it.
Early last week I was Christmas shopping in Chico’s and openly eavesdropping on a beautiful, 70-something self-shaming woman who was trying on party clothes (openly eavesdropping is my favorite thing to do. This is when you just act like you’re with someone on a shopping trip and get to ooh and ahhh at how pretty they look when they come out of the dressing room or pick up a pair of shoes or try on a hat). The woman’s husband was shopping with her and they were debating the “slimming” effect of two different black outfits. After listening to her berate herself I finally said, “You’re beautiful! Why are you being so MEAN to yourself?” Without any hesitation, she wearily said, “I just hate myself right now.”
As ministers, we don’t walk by when we see someone weeping on a park bench, or holding out their hand for food. In most of our communities, people (particularly women of all ages) often openly walk around abusing themselves in the form of culturally-acceptable body-shaming. Please interrupt, question and lovingly challenge it wherever you can. Perhaps we might consider this an Advent season spiritual commitment: in reverence for the miracle of God’s incarnation in human form, we could love our bodies more, and encourage others to do the same.