Friday, March 09, 2007
pole-dancing + self-perception
i went out on tuesday night with a few friends from college. two live in the city, but one of them (the slightly-crazed looking redhead on the right), still lives in Oxford, Mississippi, and i haven't seen him in almost 10 years. good lord. i'm old enough to have friends i haven't seen in 10 years. old enough to have friends that i haven't seen in 10 years that i used to drink with...and when i say drink i mean bourbon not Kool-Aid.
i had such a great time. we were just supposed to go for a very civilized dinner of tapas and wine, but "just one more drink at a bar around the corner" turned into a spontaneous night of pole-dancing (us doing the dancing, boys included) and snorting laughter. it was just what i needed. platters of greasy chorizo and calamari. dancing like J-Lo in a Lower East Side Bar. two drunk boys proclaiming to me and my female companion r: "OH MY GOD, YOU'RE FUCKING BEAUTIFUL!" at random times throughout the evening (and what girl doesn't like that no matter how drunk the boy's gotta get to say it?).
it was a much-needed connection. a touchstone experience that made me think about all the parts i loved about myself at 19 - i was insanely fearless when it came to having a good time (pole-dancing, anyone?). i was unabashedly nerdy and smart. i spent Saturdays reading on the porch at Square Books or wandering through the stacks at the college library, unearthing ancient editions of Daphne du Maurier books and 1960s periodicals. creativity was a part of my daily life - like a multivitamin i had to have in order to survive - i performed in musicals, painted watercolors, created collage, kept an illustrated journal. i was very happy and "me" in many ways, unhindered by the need to be seen as a "pretty girl," i was free to dive headfirst into academia and theatrics. ohhh, and i loved the way it felt on my skin.
of course, how can you think about the parts you liked about yourself without thinking about the parts you hated? while i was quite fulfilled creatively and academically, i felt incredibly overweight and unattractive. i hid my plump though by no means enormous body underneath extra-large T-shirts and jeans meant for someone two sizes larger. i rarely if ever went out. i knew i couldn't compete with the perky sleek silhouettes of the Tri-Delts and Kappa Gammas, so why even try. i watched a lot of Oprah and read lots of Martha Stewart Living magazines. i had a great personality, and i was liked by many people, but if you'd asked me where my boobs were located, i'm not so sure i could have told you, so unaware of and unwilling to acknowledge my body was i.
i had a conversation with p, one of the guys i was hanging out with on tuesday. he told me that he'd always felt like "the little guy" in school. i told him that's so weird because i've never thought of him as "small" at all. i know i've thought of him as adorable, absolutely fucking hysterical, incredibly talented and probably one of the few graduates of our theater department who would be a commercial success (and he's well on his way), but "small" was never a word that came to mind when i thought of p. i told him how i'd felt about myself in college, and he was similarly miffed. i mean, i certainly know i look (and feel) better than i did when i was in college, but i certainly wasn't the lumbering troll i perceived myself to be, nor was he the elfin woodland creature he imagined himself to be.
it made me think about how we perceive ourselves and how i have learned, since college, that there are times when it's safe to trust my self-perception - when i am sane, well-fed, well-rested and well-loved (are any of us that in college?) - and times to not - when i am insane, starved or stuffed, exhausted, neglected and/or, pardon me for being blunt, bleeding between my legs. that's when i know to turn down the internal volume and call on my good friends* to give me the straight up. i may not believe them at any given moment that i'm fabulous and deserving, but i have decided to trust that they're telling me the friggin' truth and then act "as if." they are not stupid people, and on those days when i don't know myself, i can trust them to tell me. i can rest in their loving assessment until the fog clears and i can see the true version of myself on my own.
so, for now, i'm resting in "fucking beautiful," and i have to say, it feels pretty fucking nice.