Let me start by saying that although my parents weren't stingy with compliments regarding academic achievement or task-related competence, compliments about appearance were pretty much non-existent. I can't remember my mother ever telling me I was pretty. And being tall and lanky and younger than my classmates, I grew up with a belief that I was not pretty. Like a lot of girls, I was very self-critical, only at the time I didn't realize the "like a lot of girls" part. That's a perspective that only time and distance from adolescence can provide.
One of the reasons Sammy Keyes is in junior high school is because I believe those years are pivotal in defining self-image. That's the age where we're forged or scarred. That's the age where we learn to like who we are, or accept as truths the criticisms foisted upon us. Perhaps the most important thing about Sammy Keyes is the indisputable success she achieves by being herself. She empowers us to be who we want to be.
So although it's been a struggle for me, Sammy has definitely helped me. She has helped me find me.
But ah, how easy it is to slip back into insecurities. In The Running Dream, Jessica muses about this very thing, stating how weeds take root so easily in her "garden of worthiness."
So yes, weeds. I yank them out and toss them aside, but they do grow back. And they don't need much watering to really flourish!
I know I'm not alone in this, so you will get it when I bring you with me now into the dressing room of a Marshall's, where I'd plucked an incredible $29 designer dress off the rack and was hurriedly trying it on.
I wasn't hurrying because I was so excited. (Although I was! It was gorgeous. Black, burned-out velvet. And twenty-nine dollars!!!) No, I was hurrying because the older woman I'd agreed to take shopping was trying on (flannel) nightgowns in an adjacent stall. We'd been shopping all day for a flannel nightgown. I was trying to be kind and patient and helpful, but after she'd snapped, "Why didn't you bring me here first?" when she'd finally found something to her liking at Marshall's, I was about done.
So, I hurried to try on the dress while she was busy with her nightgowns, and when I looked in the mirror, I felt amazing. Like I'd hit the jackpot!
And then I heard my name. "Wendelin? Wendelin! Wendelin!!"
"Right here!" I called, and not having time to change, I stepped out of the dressing room and faced her.
"Oh!" she said when she saw me, and her eyes went wide.
I giggled and turned around. "What do you think?" I asked.
"Oh!" she said again. "Oh, my!"
At first I thought she was stunned by how good the dress looked, but then came the words I will never forget.
She frowned and shook her head. "I had no idea you had such broad hips."
I flushed red.
My ears went what?
But for once, for once, I didn't swallow it.
"You're buying that?" she said when we were in line with her nightgowns. Like it was a huge mistake, and a big waste of $29.
"Yes," I said with a smile. And I felt the smile, too. Like it didn't matter what she said--I wasn't going to let it take root.
It was a completely new and amazing feeling.
So that's my final Edgar dress story! I don't have a picture of me at the Edgars, but the one above documents the second chapter in the dress's life because I wore it again to the Hollywood premiere of Flipped.
And just for fun, here are my "gettin' ready" shoes pre-premiere. I know you Sammiacs will love it!
Thanks for checking in. Now go yank some weeds! Only blooms allowed in your garden of worthiness.