I tried on my Senior Prom dress.
Well, it depends on how you define "tried on"; like, if "trying on" includes putting something on my body but not being able to zip it up all the way," that's totally what I did.
I knew it wouldn't fit, but I tried it on anyway. And to my surprise, I didn't cry or get overcome with a desire to never eat again. I tried it on, and it didn't fit, and that was pretty much that.
About three years ago when I fit into that dress, I was not the kind of woman I am today. I wore that dress to the Prom that I begged and pleaded my ex-boyfriend to attend with me, because I didn't want to go without a date. I was holding on to this naive, misguided hope that this ex-- who was, may I mention, emotionally abusive and using me for the sex and spare cash I was desperate enough to give-- would fall in love with me again, that that would be the night I'd ask him for the millionth time to go out with me again and he'd say "yes." That Prom night I cried in the middle of a swanky hotel in front of all of my friends because my ex decided to be a huge *ahem* douchebag to me. And then we went home and *ahem again* "made up." It was a time in my life that was profoundly lonely and surrounded by so little support that I mostly just retreated into myself. I wasn't strong enough-- I didn't love myself enough-- to stop settling.
Today I have a wonderful man in my life who treats me with kindness and respect. I am going to an esteemed university where I have finally learned to stop compromising and take a shot at what I'm passionate about. I'm not so afraid to speak my mind even if I have trouble getting up the courage to raise my hand in class. I don't look at my body as shameful or disgusting just because it isn't an image of someone else's ideal-- or my own. In fact, I feel more confident and attractive than ever. I feel as if I've truly grown into myself.
My mom accidentally deleted my account on our desktop computer where I had all the pictures of Skinny Vanessa, the me in size 4 jeans that still thought I was too fat. The last time I looked at those photos, I almost cried, and not because I missed being thin. I almost cried because I remember how I loathed and punished my body even though I had come so far and achieved something I thought I really wanted. But I didn't want skinny: I wanted loved.
The two are not synonymous.
And what does this mean for me and my prom dress? It means it's just a dress, a large swatch of fabric with a zipper and having nothing to do with my value as a woman or my happiness. Maybe I just had to grow out of a dress to realize it.