Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I'm not much of one to talk about my looks, body type, or clothing choices. But, while I was dating Owen, he encouraged me to wear more revealing tops. Whenever he did this, it had the perverse effect of reminding me of my mother. Mom always encouraged me to wear more flattering clothing. She seemed to see me differently than I saw myself. Over the years, I have worn consistently more revealing outfits--which should not be confused with actually revealing outfits. I've been told many times that my idea of a tight, low-cut shirt is rather less tight and low-cut than most people's definition.

From about age 5 to 14, the only time I wore a skirt or a dress was for a special occasion--a wedding, 6th grade graduation, or my Bat Mitzvah. I didn't like to do anything that girls were expected to do just because they were girls. Wearing skirts and dresses fell into this category, as did thinking boys were gross, and wearing make up. Apparently, wearing barrettes, keeping long hair and playing jacks were exempted. Exclusively wearing pants also annoyed my mother, but that certainly didn't have anything to do with my decision.

I remember the day in the 7th grade I wore a skirt to school for the first time. It was a discard of my mother's, neither short nor tight, rather mid-calf and flowy. The boy I had a crush on said, "You're wearing a skirt! Why?" He was astonished. It was one of the only times he ever paid attention to me. I said, "I just felt like it." He said, "Is that the real reason?" I had no answer to that.

I started to wear skirts more often, and by the next year, I even had a couple that landed above the knee. By the time I was in college (only a year later), I'd added a knee-length, straight black skirt to my wardrobe, which I usually coupled with black tights. It was a signature piece, one that my friends associated with me. I also had a kilt and a long wool skirt. But it was the black skirt I usually wore.

My shirt choices ran to sweaters and button-downs, though. I still wear sweaters almost every day in the winter. (I'm wearing one right now.) If I'm wearing a regular shirt, I'll cover it with a sweater if possible. I'm always afraid of getting cold. Even the summer I was 17 and I wore the same tank top almost every day, I covered it with a loose white button up shirt. Always.

Right before I moved away for grad school, I was having a beer with my two best male friends, Shawn and Mike. I was wearing a ratty old sweatshirt over a navy t-shirt. The t-shirt had been my dad's, but it was shrunken and faded. I took off my sweatshirt, and right after I got it over my head, I caught the guys exchanging a glance. It wasn't the kind of glance I expected from them. I said, "What? What are you looking at?"

Shawn said, "Um, nothing."

"I was just taking off my sweatshirt...wait...were you...were you looking at me?"

The guys exchanged a sheepish glance and Mike said, "Um, well, um. Yeah. Just, you know, you, um, look nice."

"Huh. Ok." I was surprised to be regarded this way by a couple of guys who'd known me since I was 15. It was very flattering, a little shocking and definitely confidence-boosting.

So, it didn't really surprise me that Owen wanted me to show off my boobs more. The acceptable amount of cleavage has grown considerably since I was younger and I've not kept up with the times. Of course, contemporary cleavage is usually displayed on very thin women. Most of those tight, tight styles won't work for me. Anything where you can't wear a bra is out. But I have been thinking, for a while, that having one or two shirts that actually showed a little cleavage might not be a bad thing. In fact, the night I met Owen (for the second time), I was going for this effect. I didn't achieve it--not even close--because the most revealing top I own doesn't show any boob, even though it has a scoop neck.

There's only ever going to be just so much I'm willing to reveal. I don't want men staring at my chest when they talk to me (it still happens sometimes). Most boyfriends are usually pleasantly surprised when they finally notice that I have (large) breasts. When I was 19, I asked my boyfriend, "When did you notice?" He said, "I think it's when you wore that vest...the velvet one." I still have that vest.

But, last night, I finally found the right shirt. It was on sale (bonus) and has a deep scoop neck. It will only work with certain bras. It definitely shows a touch of cleavage, but it's not outrageous. At least I hope it's not. I'm not sure if I'll ever actually wear it in public, but there is a first time for everything. Maybe I'll pair it with the current iteration of my straight black skirt....

Grateful for: comfortable clothing.

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