This was written for The Red Dress Club, a virtual writer's society I recently discovered, thanks to Twitter. This is my first submission!
What follows is a fictionalized account; elements of it have actually happened, some details have been embellished or added in the interest of storytelling.
Write a short piece, either fiction or non-fiction, about something ugly – and find the beauty in it.
Word limit: 600 My count: 535
Ugh. Bathing suit shopping.I flip through the racks, searching for a one-piece that looks long enough to fit me (or potentially stretchy enough to cover my torso)
Clack, clack, clack. The snapping sound of the hangers gets faster and faster as my exasperation grows and my hope fades.
I flip to the final suit on the rack and sigh heavily. No luck. Again. Moving slowly to the two-piece suits across the aisle, I find a couple of options, including a halter-style top with a skirted bottom.
The dressing room practically mocks me from across the store.
I try on the suits, tossing the rejects into a pile, and examine the last option.
Pulling on the skirted bikini bottom, I feel that familiar pang of resignation. This is my body. Turning slowly in the mirror, I examine every inch of my abdomen, the parts of me that would be on public display, should I choose this suit.
The stretch marks first; striations that circle my hips and across my back, still as prominent and shiny as they were when they first appeared, more than ten years ago.
The other scars glow to my eyes; angry pink slash marks running in all directions. Two big ones, each more than five inches long, accompanied by a constellation of others; puncture marks and smaller incisions, some old and some new. They all seem to throb now, under my critical gaze.
My eyes land now on the one part I like; my tattoo. The bright green ribbon makes me smile inwardly, bringing back memories of our trip to Vegas, and five of my fifteen minutes of fame. I find myself shrugging at the image in the mirror – “This is it,” I think to myself.
The dressing room is busy for a weekday afternoon, and the only three-way mirror it outside the confines of my private little cubby. I can hear a group of girls outside; prom dress shopping is my guess, based on the reflected sparkles and rustling fabric I see and hear.
Whenever I encounter a group of teenaged girls, all of my 16-year old insecurities come rushing back. I realize that I'm practically invisible to them, just some random pushing-middle aged lady at the mall. But still, their presence gives me pause.
I take a deep breath and open the door, head held high, aiming for the mirrors, a trajectory that takes me right through this gathering of gorgeous high school girls. I wouldn't say they fell silent as a walk by, but my passing through their space is noticed.
I arrive at the three-way mirrors and do the over-shoulder butt check.
“Cool tattoo…” one of the girls is suddenly talking to me. “What's the green ribbon mean?” She looks genuinely interested, so I don't ignore her, which is my usual M.O.
“Hmm? Oh. Um, the green is for organ and tissue donation. And this,” I point to one of the largest scars, running alongside the tattoo. “Is from my kidney transplant.”
” Oh.” She takes it in for a moment, considering. “That's badass.”
Um. “Oh. Thanks.” Done checking myself in the mirror, I turn and head back to the dressing room.
Badass? I bought the bikini.
What a great reminder that our scars and stretch marks are there for reasons and some are beautiful.
You ARE badass
THAT Is amazing! Your scars are beautiful and they made me smile!! I LOVE this!
True beauty lies within, and that is bad ass!!!
I love it!!! <3 <3
My mom loves it too, but I'm not sure how many times it's polite to tell her that she needs to comment over here instead of at the place I've syndicated your blog over on LiveJournal if she wants you to see it.
What a memorable moment. I might have worn it out of the store, soaking in that compliment. I'm sure you know you're a warrior, but now you have a uniform for it 🙂
ACK – totally wasn't expecting this. Totally and completely badass! LOVE IT!
Ilana @ mommyshorts says
I love this piece! It always makes me sad that at 36, I still feel self-conscious in a bathing suit. Why do we do this to ourselves? Love the part about the high school girls. Sometimes we except people are judging us because we are judging them. Great ending.
First of all – stretch marks are nothing but pure, unmitigated – LOVE. You gave LIFE. THEY ARE BEAUTY!!! That is all.
Classic btw – and I laughed “the over-shoulder butt check.”
And THAT is a great twist at the end – it is “badass” I hearted this 🙂
God Bless and keep you and all of yours
I hate swimsuit shopping!! Your anxiety and critique of yourself was so clear…I felt it! But your tatoo…totally badass!!
I get that same feeling when I come across a group of teenage girls.
I keep thinking that I will one day be able to shake that feeling.
I love that they helped you to find the beauty in yourself. What a lovely twist.
My god…this made me smile! I wanted to stand up and cheer for all us ladies who aren't totally in love with our bodies; our uniquely individual bodies with their own bad ass stories to tell.
Thank you for sharing this…I may actually find the courage yet to go swim suit shopping this year!
You ARE a total BADASS! I love it. I always want to stop teenage girls and tell them that it gets better. That one day they will love themselves and someone will love them for who they really are. But they wouldn't listen. They have to get creamed a few times and learn it on their own.
Jessica Anne says
Heck Yeah! Totally badass! I love this piece. The clacking of the hangars and the flashes of the prom dresses were so well written.
LOVE this. Everything from the horror of swim suit shopping to the tattoo to the badass bikini.
Visiting from TRDC.
There is NOTHING I despise more than bathing suit shopping!! You captured every gory detail. Nice job. Glad you found one that makes you look like the beautiful badd ass I know you are.
Hard to believe this is your first TRDC piece.
I think it's awesome that the group you felt most vulnerable with were the very ones that helped you see yourself in a more positive light. Great piece!
This was your first trdc piece? Great job. I absolutely love this story and the beauty of your scar and your tattoo.
Work, Wife, Mom... Life! says
one of the best posts i read all day!! loved it!!
What a great post – and a really nice moment to boot; really cool and "badass" way to rock your first TRDC writing prompt, well done!
The mad woman behind the blog says
I loved this from "clack clack clack"….totally capture the sound, the frustration. And badass, yes indeed you and this post are bad ass. Well done!
Victoria KP says
Awesome. Just awesome–love it!
Brandon Duncan says
Honestly? I think this is a great piece! Good job! You carried me through the story, painted a wonderful picture (you know what I mean), and there are no glaring issues with the writing! Awesome job! Or should I say 'Badass!'
Welcome to the club, BTW. 🙂
Kelly Marie says
Love it Lizz!
BADASS, Lizz!!! What a fantastic first piece for TRDC!!! :>:>
CDG @ Move Over Mary Poppins! says
This whole piece is bad ass!
Nicely done, giving one of the pack of teens some decency. I get the shivers when I see roving packs of girls at the mall, despite knowing that I'm not on their radar. Old insecurities die hard.
Maybe that's why I only go to the mall on Tuesday mornings.
Welcome to the Red Writing Hood!
Elaine A. says
YOU are Badass for buying that bikini!! What a great read, especially since I can TOTALLY relate to what you were saying about how teenage girls still send me into a tizzy! You showed 'em girl!!
You sound more than BadAss to me! Rock the HELL out of that bikini!
I still refer to this piece from time to time. It’s one of my favorite essays ever.