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Wendy Crumpler

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Does This Make Me Look Fat?

Day one of extended writing and all I can think of is whether my ass shows through my leggings too much.

I’m wearing one of those impulse buys—a rayon shirt cut on the bias with long tails hanging on either side. It’s a deep olive green, one of my favorite colors, and looked amazing on the rack at the street festival where I got it. I should have tried it on but the booth was closing, I was late to meet my family, and the vendor assured me I would rock that shirt. Besides, that color, the color of my 11th grade prom dress, the color of clothes I’ve loved in my life—how could I go wrong with that color?

The color still works for me. The style, I believe is more appropriate for a boyish 12 -year-old than a 60-year-old woman.

I’ve tried to wear it several times, over different pants, pulling it up in places to create folds and gathers that might camouflage my slightly poochy belly. Of course, when I do I have to reveal either more of my bum in the back or girl parts in the front. With leggings neither is a look I want to sport.

Maybe the problem is the leggings. Maybe I need leggings that conceal more or have more spandex. Or maybe I’ll end up with a whole fucking new wardrobe in an attempt to make a $35 blouse from a street vendor look good.

I brought the top with me to Peru where I’m writing for three months. Did I think I’d feel better about being a slightly saggy middle-age woman in a foreign country? Did I feel people here would be less judgmental or dammit, I’d find a way to wear this shirt and look good in it? Or, did I think if I was going to have to give up on the idea of wearing this shirt it would be easier to hide the shame of my sartorial blunder far from home? I have to say that’s probably more likely.

Let’s face it, Peru (well, at least the Sacred Valley) is not the fashion capital of South America. There are high-end stores that cater to rich tourists but most of what you see on the street is functional clothing that protects you from the blazing sun, chilly winds, construction mud, field dirt, baby vomit or any other environmental hazards encountered in your line of work. Even most professional people dress fairly inexpensively. The sight of a half-dozen men in expensive suites in Cusco last week made my friend and I wonder who the hell these guys were. They seemed completely out of place.

Kind of like the blouse I’m wearing. I’m sure there are places and bodies where this shirt would be completely at home, part of the in-crowd, swinging. My friend says on me it looks more like a costume; Peter Pan gone to seed.

Why did I drag it all the way to Peru from Canada? What did I think would change here to allow me to feel comfortable?

I’m in the midst of quite a few life changes. I brought several articles of clothing I don’t love so I can let them go when it’s time to depart. I’ll leave what no longer suits me and, hopefully, have acquired a few things more in line with the person I am now, the person I am becoming.

This shirt is not long for this world. Either it has to transform to suit me (scissors, anyone?) or it’s out of here.

I may be saying the same thing to large chunks of my former life. Change or Die, Evolution or Extinction—I sound like a bumper sticker.

What I know is, I can’t keep putting my body, mind, emotions and spirit in the same old clothes (no matter how appealing certain aspects) and expect different results. To change you must release what’s not working, even if it’s your favorite color, even if you paid for it, even if you wanted it with all your heart, even if you once loved it very, very much.

Release the old, let the new come in.

And don’t think you have to travel to a foreign country to do it.

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