This is Body Image Awareness Week. I offer this poem and comfort to us all, all of us touched by our culture's and our own judgements. Healing, dear ones!
On Letting My Boyfriend Buy Me Medium Underwear When I Always Wear Large
I had discovered early in our relationship
it was fun to hand over the reins occasionally
and let my guy lead me.
I like following him down ski slopes
and letting him order for me in restaurants.
Until I need to wear the pants,
like when he ignored my gentle urging
that I wanted panties for Valentine’s Day.
So there we were, February 21st,
meeting after work at the outlet mall.
The only lingerie was at the Vanity Fair store,
a brand that boasted bra ads that were the wet dreams
of young men in the fifties,
now merged with Lee and Wrangler,
forgotten brands of yore
sturdy and dependable clothing,
good for roping cattle or weeding the garden,
like the underwear my lover chose.
I trotted behind him as he cased the joint,
walking past the tiers of frills in cupcake colors,
ignoring little wisps of cloth like kite strings,
stopping at the layered tables where a palette of Americana,
where he chose not one pair, but several in red, navy and gray
decorated with stars, flowers and bows,
undies befitting a front porch on the 4th of July.
He pulled on the panties to check integrity
of the elastic, flipped them over to look at the backsides.
I was thrilled with the bikini bottoms,
they were sexy but practical,
brands and styles I would have chosen for myself.
And then he asked me what size.
Medium. I said.
Despite a drawerful of larges
and even a few extra larges at home,
despite knowing in the wash they would
shrink like a wool sweater and I would not
wear them, except when I saw him
and hoped they might be quickly removed.
I hadn’t lied when after passing
rack after rack of demitasse cups
he asked me about my bra size,
36B, I offered without explanation,
knowing we weren’t in the market for bras,
although I wished I could have reported
34C, I kept this to myself.
I need you to know I fibbed after being together
for six years, that he has seen my bottom
more than I, endlessly expounds its virtues,
his embrace of my bum, my wrinkles and all of me
has been my greatest healing.
I must tell you that when we were shopping
he had just come back from the dentist
and the right side of his mouth was drooping,
I decided I would still be attracted
to him even if he had a stroke.
It is important to mention that he struggles with his weight,
has called himself “fat boy” to my objections.
In our late forties we accept
we both flip flop between beauty and beastliness.
On the phone the next day
he queried if I was wearing my new panties.
I did not say no,
they felt too tight and my tush likes to breathe.
I hesitated before lying and fabricated
they were in the wash, which was not true,
I hadn’t even removed the tags.
An hour later, I admitted my lie via text.
He called with caring and said I shouldn’t ever worry again.
Later in the conversation he mused that men would never do that.
But I argued men feel pressure to be bigger.
I could imagine a small guy choosing a medium shirt,
that I have had partners upon me caressing their biceps,
involuntarily flex, that condoms come
in sizes large, extra large and magnum.
Return them sweetie, he advised.
Even if you don’t have a receipt,
if there is a girl at the counter, she will take them back,
any woman would understand.
I remember thirty years ago the feeling of holiness I had
when I was anorexic, soft down covering my thighs.
Even though long "recovered,"
I still feel pride when the scale dips below 135,
lift my shirt to "check" my stomach,
still want to be "good" tomorrow if I eat too much today.
My sweetie comes with me to exchange the panties
where a woman cashier is training a young man.
I resist the urge to tell them both my story
when she has him type in "wrong size" into the computer,
but now I wish I had.