My mother, who is petite and small, had no idea what to do with me, tall even as a baby. I was always at least a head taller than the other kids my age. Mom had a difficult job just trying to dress me in clothes that allowed me to look like a little girl but still fit properly and were affordable. My grandfather nicknamed me “shortpants”, which I guess I don’t need to explain any further. It was a hard job for her. Thankfully, she knows how to sew, so I often wore beautiful, handmade clothes. I liked that because I could basically customize the outfits, picking out the fabric and the pattern.
When I got into middle school and went to a Christian school where we had to wear skirts all the time (girls and boys), we had a whole new issue. The skirts had to touch the top of our knees and long skirts were not in style. I can’t tell you how many times I was in the principal’s office for my short skirts. Plus, we wore pantyhose. The fit guide on the back of the package said I needed queen-sized because of my height, so that’s what Mom bought. The queen-sized hose were too big for me, so I could pull them up to the very top of my stomach. My even taller best friend had the same problem so together we freakishly wore our pantyhose over our entire stomachs. Cute. Really cute.
By high school I had figured out that short pants were not a good thing. I forced my mother to get me pants that were long enough, or maybe even a little too long. (By the way, I was joking back there about boys also wearing skirts. :-)) Mom still bought me clothes that were several sizes too big. She had done that when I was a child because I grew so quickly that getting clothes a few sizes too big extended the time I was able to wear them and saved us money. Once I stopped growing though, the habit was not changed. I constantly pinned clothes to make them fit better. It didn’t occur to me to buy things smaller.
When I got to college and gained the freshman-fifteen, I was surprised to find that my clothes actually started to fit. The pins came out and I was suddenly filling out my clothes and they looked good. It was quite the surprise.
I gained more weight during college and have had a hard time losing it. I’ve done all kinds of diets and exercise programs, but discovered that my excess weight is something I use as a shield to protect myself. I’ve been to counselors, life coaches, pastors, holistic healers, nutritionists, and personal trainers. I’ve read every book on the subject I can find. I’ve prayed and prayed for healing and deliverance. I want to be whole and healed. I want to be able to help others who are struggling with similar issues.
These struggles have put my body image issues into perspective. There was a time when I obsessed about being taller than everyone else and wishing I could be petite and small. I wouldn’t even become too good of friends with people who emphasized my feelings of awkwardness by having the gall to be significantly smaller than me. I obsessed over the parts of my body that didn’t look like a super-model – I’ll spare you the list… This journey has taught me that little flaws are a blessing. Little flaws can be covered up. I’ve learned to appreciate the things about myself that I can.
These days I actually enjoy my height. I’ve learned how to find clothes that fit. I’ve learned the importance of feeling comfortable in those clothes. But this is the skin I’ve been in all my life: too tall, too thin, too heavy, too smart, too loud, too opinionated, too bossy, too busy, too religious, too rebellious. Whatever. Here I am, trying to be the best I can be.
At least these days my mother has been relieved of the responsibility of trying to find clothes to fit me. And short of some kind of alien invasion where I’m forced to wear whatever I can find on a journey to safety, you will never see me in a pair of pants that are too short.