After a crying jag at my therapist’s office (began every XOJane article ever -- I KID), I found myself in a popular store in my neighborhood, where I found the best maxi dress in the world. Eyes still red, but feeling better having found something I didn’t think actually existed (a maxi dress in all of my favorite colors, that didn’t need to be hemmed and also made my bod look banging), I made small talk with the brilliant and sweet saleswoman who was ringing me up.
I had walked into the store completely not in the mood to be hit with a hard sell. Frankly, I was feeling raw enough that someone even saying “Can I help you find something today?” might have sent me into a fetal position on the floor.
I knew this place was different than your average boutique. For one, it styled ladies sizes 10 and up, and for two, the owner made a lot of the clothes herself. I only knew any of this because my friend Jane visiting from Texas had a conniption when we walked by the place. She was a fan of a reality TV show dedicated to the business.
I was skeptical. I’d lived in the same part of Brooklyn for going on four years, and had passed the place at least twice daily on my way to and from the subway, but had never entered even though they frequently have sexy as balls lady-undergarments in the window, and girl, I love my sexy lady-undergarments.
Still -- I remained untempted by even the most buttery-looking lace. After all, I’m a self-hating size fourteen. The idea of shopping at a place where they celebrate my size rather than hide it? I don’t deserve such awesomeness, naturally, because I am a monster.
But having spent my commute home chanting “I am worthy of love,” I was feeling slightly brave (if also shattered) and so I walked inside. The sales lady in question then utterly disarmed me by keeping her distance, saying hello from across the room and then letting me browse. Having watched my dazed self stare vacantly at the same rack for 10 minutes, she did something as wonderful as it was disarming. She offered to take my bag for me.
Her actions were the drop of cool water in the desert I needed, and before long, she had me, a person occasionally so antisocial I avoid eye contact with my cats, under her wing. She was also ridiculously good at her job and somehow convinced me not just to try on the dress I eventually bought, but roughly 800 other items on as well.
As we chatted, I let her know how I was rationalizing the dress-purchased in question.
“It’s going to be my birthday dress!” I told her, my new best friend in retail.
She too had a birthday coming up, “The big 4-0!” she said.
As I wryly mentioned turning 30, she just laughed.
“30 was okay,” she said, “but 35 is when stuff gets really good.”
I braced myself for what I was sure would be the ever-familiar speech about being settled into your career, having a family, etc. What I got instead was so much better, “You really and truly stop giving a shit when you’re 35, and then by like 39, people will figure out you aren’t changing and start leaving you alone about everything.”
Refreshing to hear, and exciting because I can feel a lot of truth in that statement. A lot of women I know talk about their bullshit tolerance levels depleting with age, and even I, the consummate worry wart and people-pleaser find a kernel of truth in this. Even I don’t have time for the head games I would have entertained in my teens and early twenties.
As I twirled around my bedroom in my new maxi dress I wondered if this low-bullshit tolerance and devil-may-give-a-hoot attitude begins to extend to our bodies. Rather than spend all my time worrying about how I look, struggling on the regs to look my very, very best, could it actually be possible that I’d start being all, “Yeah? What. I’m awesome” while shaking my titties in the face of some innocent youth?
It doesn’t seem unlikely, and there’s been a bunch of stuff in the news that seems to back up this idea. There are also a lot of photos of 62-year old Helen Mirren wearing a hot-as-balls red bikini. But it ain’t just supernaturally hot British ladies just doin’ them!
While women between the ages of 18-34 are loath to admit that they like the way they look in a bikini, women over the age of 50 are so comfortable in the bikini and digging their own vibe that you almost can’t hear their answer to the question -- they are too busy playing beach volleyball and shaking their heads at people wearing high heels to the beach.
I like the idea of growing into the skin I have! It makes my heart sing with gladness and makes me wonder what other things I’ll be more game for as I acquire more years. What do you hope you do-slash-wear when you’re older? Fun fact, I proudly let most folks know that if I make it past 80, I’m going to become pretty loose in the sex-having department, so look out dudes and ladies in my nursing home! Also I will do many, many illegal drugs. Your turn!