Sunday, January 19, 2014

Yanking Weeds From My Garden of Worthiness (Or, Edgar Dress Story #3)

There are five Edgar dress stories. The first two were told a few weeks ago, the next two have no fun story to go with them (except that those gowns were also purchased for $29), so I will skip ahead to the fifth dress.

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.



Penny Wadham said...

Wendelin, you are gorgeous, outside AND in!

Jessica said...

Wow. That dress is stunning. And I love the shoes and how it looks like there's a racing stripe down the side (I'm assuming there's not actually one).

It's nice to have a friend who can give honest feedback on clothes (on the clothes, not on you), especially if they can help steer you towards something that will work for you (see the other Edgar dress story). But so many women tear each other down instead of building each other up.

It's interesting that your parents focusing their praise on your achievements rather than your appearance made you worry more about your appearance; I've seen some articles circulating recently suggesting that we all stop praising girls for their looks and focus on the stuff that really matters, but I guess as long as society continues to place so much emphasis on looks, girls will worry regardless.

I don't know when I gained self-confidence (I know I thought I was pretty ugly in elementary school), but I think (hope?) I would react the same way you did if something similar happened to me now. I'd love to hear what some of your younger readers have to say about this topic.

Kylie said...

When I saw the picture of you I honestly stopped and just went wow because you look stunning. I think that dress is my favorite Edgar dress by far. I still can't believe found five dresses for $29 dollars. That still amazes me.

I have to agree with you Wendelin because I don't ever hear from my parents how pretty I look. They always tell my sisters but never me. I always hear how smart I am or creative, but never pretty. And to be honest this really hurt my self-esteem but I after going to a camp this summer and one classmate paying me a really nice compliment I am starting to get over it. My mom used to say that I need to dress more girly, more dresses and skirts and less jeans and shirts, and I think what she was saying was that she would see me as prettier if I dress more like a stereotypical girl. In middle school I didn't really care if I was pretty or not, but in high school I think I did more. Now in my senior year I am learning more to accept myself for who I am and I am really wishing that I did that earlier on because I think high school would have been a better experience.

Oh and I love the shoes. Converse are what I wear even with dresses.


Ryan said...

The dress is nice, but I love the shoes--and I really hope you had unmatched socks in bright colors! =)

Comfortable shoes are much more important than a flashy dress. *nodding* I mean, what if you have to chase after a fleeing villain or something?

-- Ryan

Yusa said...

The number of times I have worn converse with a long dress... :D It feels weird but once you tell yourself to be confident about it you feel unstoppable. A long dress is not going to stop me from climbing a fence if I need to.

Trust me I might have some of the least supportive parents. I'm pretty sure my mom cant go through a conversation without criticizing some part of my appearance at least 5 times. Ive gotten used to it but it still hurts of course, everytime. There's not a lot i can ddo though so I try to block it out but i get angry easily so sometimes its hard.

Wendelin THAT DRESS IS SO PERFECT ON YOU I seriously have no idea why that woman thought you shouldn't get it. It shows all your beautiful qualities and the shoes show a little bit of your qualities on the inside :)

Your own opinion is the only one that matters in some situations...
I'm glad you didn't listen to her and still wore the dress because nothing would've suited you better!

And to everyone who has criticizing parents it's okay because I'm pretty sure it's their job and I love you all <3


RowAn said...

That is a gorgeous dress. I can't believe it was $29!

My parents are usually not too horrible about my appearance. Although there was one time when my mom had knitted me a sweater, and then I tried it on and it looked horrible. I said it was too small, and she said, "Well, maybe it's you." Unsurprisingly, I was...miffed.

Normally I don't care that much about how I look. There are advantages to going to an all-girls' high school with a uniform requirement.

Gabrielle said...

My mom sometimes tells me that a look nice or that I am pretty. But she never says it a lot. And she has always told me that looks aren't everything, and that you can't judge people by their looks. I have a lot more important thing to think about than the way I look. Having a good personality makes you more attractive to other people.

But as long as you are happy with who you are, that is the most important thing. It shouldn't matter what other people think. And as cliche as that sounds, it's true.

And Wendelin, you look amazing in that dress! I can't believe she said that. That was really mean. But it's great that you got it anyways, despite what she said. and it's a gorgeous dress too!