I put the aqua blue sequin tank dress on lay-away in February. I had satin aqua pumps and a purse dyed to match it. As I earned tips from my job as a Barista, I paid for it $20 at a time. Usually, my mom went with me to shop for formal dance dresses, but I was 17, and wanted to make a decision uninfluenced by her opinion. My mother has fantastic taste. She has mastered the art of dressing well, and is able to give fantastic fashion advice to accentuate the features and flaws of any body type. I don’t know why I would have told her I didn’t need her help, other than to assert my independence.
I had my boyfriend a coordinating cummerbund, bow tie and corsage ribbon. I made my last payment the Friday before the Prom in May, and excitedly carried plastic wrapped dress out to my car with the shoes and purse. As soon as I got home, I slipped the shoes on my feet and attempted to zip up the back of the dress. I called my mom into help and turned to look at myself in my mirrored closet doors. My mother’s eyes met mine in the mirror, and I couldn’t contain the tears any longer. I looked fat.
I had spent several hundred dollars to feel spectacular… to sparkle. All I could think of, as I viewed my blurred imaged while sobbing, is that I looked like a reverse Smurfette. I had a bright blue dress and pasty white skin verses her blue skin and white dress. Every sequin seemed to accentuate rolls and curves I wanted to mask. The dress was too short, too tight, and too low cut. It was not how I envisioned feeling for my Junior prom.
My mom just hugged me, and let me cry for awhile before calmly asking what she could do to help. I explained through ragged sobs that there were no refunds or exchanges on special orders and lay-a ways at the bridal shop where I purchased the aqua blue sequined dress. I don’t remember exactly how much it cost, I think around $300. It’s a lot of money now, but in 1994, working part time making $5.20/ hr, it took over 2 months to pay for my outfit. My mom called the store, and was able to speak to the manager. She drove with me to exchange the dress for a simple little black dress, I wore to another dance, but they kept the difference in cost. My friend Kendra lent me a sassy black dress to wear for the dance that night.
I was reminded of that dress today, and questioned why I bought it if it made me feel so uncomfortable. I listened to someone else and their opinion, instead of my inner voice. A salesperson gushed about how gorgeous I looked, when I tried it on. Even though I could hear my inner voice question what she said, I ignored it. I wanted to believe her, and it was easier than admitting that something else would look more flattering on me.
Most of us spend high school and our early 20’s defining who we are, and how we can sparkle best. We try out different clothing and hairstyles. We try out different groups of friends, make-out buddies, college majors and jobs. We are searching for our perfect fit in life that accentuates our attributes and minimizes our flaws.
With all of the noise of the world, it can be difficult at times to hear your inner voice.
I’m long past those teens and twenties and still find myself questioning how I fit in. We compare our lives, and bodies. We listen to the advice of strangers, instead of that inner voice. Sometimes, in our desire to stand out, we forget that we are enough as we are with out all the flash… unless you are one of the few who can rock sequins. If you are, shine for the rest of us too!
Genealogy Jen’s Challenge of the Week – Take a moment to listen to your inner voice. What’s it telling you?
I think I remember this. I was wearing something that surely made me look like the teenager I was and I thought –wow!! You look amazing! So grown up and sophisticated in your adult little black cocktail dress—you go girl!!
I had no idea about the backstory until now.
I think we both went to Tumwayer High as seniors. I loved your story.