“Oh look at her. That’s a nice big side of bacon.” I heard the guys chortle behind me as I walked up the beach walkway. I had tried to avoid walking in front of them in my frayed cut-off jean shorts but somehow I’d failed. And in that way that men felt entitled to comment on a woman’s body even -or perhaps preferably-if she could hear them, they felt no hesitation to say whatever came into their p*nis-privileged minds. And of course in my eighteen year-old, trying-to-look-beach-girl-casual mind, I was mortified that I was reminded once again that I did not fit into that mold of long-limbed, California surfer chick. Instead I was little Liz of the short legs, chubby thighs and big butt totally out of proportion on my 5’2” frame.
In the 70’s and 80’s designers fashioned their clothes for Christie Brinkley while I was a Sally Field. Except Sally Field could afford to have her clothes custom-made. I was left desperate to find that one pair of jeans that cinched my very small waist and flat stomach but did not leave the crotch pulled so tight that I was giving myself a UTI. (the term camel-toe had not yet been coined.) Bikinis were only sold as a set: I had to buy the 14 so I had some semblance of butt cheek coverage while I jerry-rigged the top with fasteners so my perky (read small) breasts were not left swimming in 2 jersey bra cups. My LBD could not be a straight-cut sheath because I couldn’t pull, nudge or tug the bottom over my hips whether I put it on my head-first or feet-first.
These were the ‘preppy years’ of Lily Pulitzer and tennis skirts in the summer and Fair Isle sweaters and corduroys in the Fall. Looking at pictures developed from my college Kodak Instamatic, I realized that no matter the wale, corduroys were not my friend. I could pop a Polo collar with the best of them but pants were a challenge well into my 20s and except for those brief months in my 30s when I wore maternity clothes, pants were never my friend.
As the century changed so it seemed did fashion and fashion design. I hopped onto that leggings and tunic train as soon as it pulled into the retail station. Menopause (and a bout with now-cured cancer) changed my metabolism so that I became thinner than I’d ever been. Through barre and pilates classes as well as personal training I am more toned and firm than I was in my 20s (with the exception of the not-so-perky anymore breasts.) I have become more comfortable in my own body and with my individual fashion sense. I will wear sequins while others are in flannel or red suede booties while others are in sneakers. I know what works for me and on me and a fashion-risk is really no risk at all. I say this without bragging that when we are out it is rare someone does not compliment me on my outfit.
I have to give the Kardashians credit for one thing: they made a fat ass not only in-vogue but desirable. 50 years later my body is finally considered enviable. And guess what.. I don’t give a shit. I just wish I could tell my 18 year-old self on that beach walkway to turn around and tell those 2 guys “F**k off you 2 whiskey di**ks because you ain’t never getting a slice of this”