“Whenever we went shopping, we bought “on approval”–my father’s. What he didn’t like went right back to the store immediately!” Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man.
This is where two stunts collide. When I was a kid, I swore that the minute I turned 18 and my mom couldn’t tell me what to do anymore, I was going to wear NOTHING but crop tops and hot pants, because the 90s were never going to end.
Well, I turned 18 and I got jobs and I really kinda never went back to the whole crop top/hot pants thing. Until now, because the 90s actually kinda never went away. Charlotte Russe had a TON of crop tops, all to be paired with high-waisted shorts, so I, feeling nostalgic, grabbed a whole bunch and tried them on.
When I came out of the dressing room in my striped crop top and my high-waisted shorts, everyone ooh’d and ahh’d. Sales clerks, moms, everyone there stopped and stared. One woman told me I looked like a pinup. I felt pretty damn hot, especially since I was approximately 15 years older than all the other girls in the dressing room.
Everyone except Ian, that is. He wasn’t rockin’ the high-waisted shorts, and told me so. He said they made my area look “square.” I tried to explain that they were sort of a necessity to prevent looking like a hooker with muffin top, but he wasn’t having it. So back they went, and I was glum. Not only had we argued (without raising our voices) but I felt like, as is a side effect of this whole project, that I wasn’t allowed to make my own decisions. I resented having to ask his opinion on what was going on my body. And I thought back to my ex-boyfriend, Aaron, who constantly told me he was “embarrassed” by how I dressed. I worried that, had I bought the shorts I wanted, that Ian would have looked at them with his disappointed face (I hate that face) and whenever I wore them, I would know that he didn’t find me attractive in them. I resented the 15 year old girls and their slim, sleek bodies, that they could wear crop tops whenever they wanted to because they never had to interview the mayor. It all came crashing down, and we argued all the way home.
The next day, I went to church, and Rev. Mark, as he so often does, knew just what to say. And I realized that, as with most arguments, I was bringing too much baggage to the table. So Ian didn’t like the high-waisted shorts, no biggie. If I had bought them, it wasn’t going to cause a divorce. But his encouraging me not to buy them shouldn’t cause a fight either. Too many arguments aren’t about what’s at stake–they’re about a thousand other things, past neglects, old hurts.
I don’t believe Arlene is suggesting we be absolutely passive about everything. But before we do fight, we need to figure out what it’s about and approach it with honesty and respect for the other person. Ian apologized for hurting my feelings. I apologized for hurting his. And since then, we’ve made strides to communicate better and be sweeter to each other.
But next time, I’m buying the shorts.