In junior high, I hated P.E. I hated it partially because I had no athletic prowess whatsoever. . . none. Think of the geekiest, clumsiest, least coordinated Urkel you’ve ever known, and you still won’t really know the extent of my ineptitude (but you’ll be close). The other reason, though, is that I wasn’t allowed to shave my legs, so the already ugly gym shorts were made even worse atop my ridiculously skinny and hair-covered legs–hence the nicknames Hairy Ethiopian and Fuzzy Toothpick. (It also didn’t help that I often forgot my white gym socks and instead rocked bright red knee socks with my white-and-blue ensemble.) I was the subject of much junior high ridicule partially because people aren’t at their nicest during those years but partially also because I was so socially and fashionably inept. I tried to do the crazy-high Aqua Net gangsta bangs look. I tried the over-the-top flourescent baggy tops look. I tried, but I failed.
These weren’t just a-little-off style failures either. And they weren’t Ugly Betty failures that are somehow redeemable because of a quirky, sweet personality. Nope. These were EPIC FAILs before there was such a thing.
In high school, I was still fashion-challenged with mom jeans that were never long enough and always left a good two to three inches of sock visible. They didn’t make long inseamed jeans then; I had to work with what was available!
I was also still quite socially inept. I tried a lot harder with my look, though. For two years, I woke up at 4:30 every morning to put every strand of my hair in adorable spiral curls. Every morning, at ungodly hours, it was just me and my curling iron. Oh, and my trusty bottle of Paul Mitchell Freeze and Shine. My hair was glorious. Girls who were cheerleaders and my friends’ cool older sisters would tell me every day how cute my hair was (“soooooo cyoooooooot!”).
But every time I had to walk from one class to the next, I worried about what people were thinking as I walked. I was afraid to walk across the quad by myself. I did NOT want to be looked at. Did you get that? I wanted people to think my hair was cute, but I did not want to be looked at.
And of course, that silly insecure little girl is still very much inside my 32-year-old body. Yeah, I’ve found some jeans that are long enough for my freakishly long legs. I got comfortable wearing shorts in public. I’ve even rocked some sexy cocktail dresses and naughty-girl heels in the past couple of years. I’ve found my niche as a spunky developmental writing and reading professor. I have friends who unconditionally accept me and who regularly create adventures and memories to share. I know the joy of a blissful first year of marriage with a man who I still argue is the most fantastic man on the planet. I’ve found my zone, and I love my life and the comforts it brings.
Still, there are most definitely mornings when I leave the house feeling less than impressed with my hair, make-up, and wardrobe. Yes, I can rock the extra-long jeans, v-neck sweater, white cami, and black boots or blue Chucks Old Navy look with impressive finesse. I wear it naturally. It fits like it should. And I can walk in my usual places-to-go-worlds-to-conquer pace, get down on the ground with students working on projects, and straddle office chairs to push myself around the classroom comfortably in that uniform. I say that I’m a tomboy, that I have to don that uniform to get my job done, that I have more important things to worry about than what earrings to wear with a particular top (not to mention time to invent a different hairdo for a different look).
But I don’t always feel soooooo cyoooooooot, and now that it’s not a piss poor attempt at masking insecurity, I’d really like to look nice(r) on a day-to-day basis.
I don’t know what that means for a girl who’d rather have a pelvic exam than go shopping, whose only requirement for shoes is that they be comfortable enough for her to flee an assailant, and whose body consistently makes any regularly-proportioned clothing look like the wardrobe of a hobbit. But I think maybe somebody needs to call Stacy and Clinton.