Just The Way We Are

just the way we are

I asked Erin to “Gimme Sexy.” Rawr.

Girl. Body. Pride. Justthewayweare.

Girl. Body. Pride. JustthewayIam.

Girl. Body. Pride. Justthewayweare.

Girl. Body. Pride. JustthewayIam.

It’s a chant in my head. Rhythmic. Soothing. My own voice soothing the nerves/excitement/nausea I’m attempting to hide behind closed eyes. I feel the featherlight touch of the makeup artist’s brushes as she works feverishly to transform me into a woman I am not, wearing clothes selected for me by others and hair teased into punk-rocker chickness. I briefly wonder if the crowd of my peers will see through the designer clothes and beyond the smoky eyes and ohmygawd…

WHAT THE HELL DID I GET MYSELF INTO?

 hair stylists

Paul Mitchell brought the hair stylists. Laura brought the attitude.

Girl. Body. Pride. Justthewayweare.

Girl. Body. Pride. JustthewayIam.

Girl. Body. Pride. Justthewayweare.

A representative from Elizabeth Arden plants her feet next to my chair. She is  tracking what color blends are being applied to each model. We are asked about our  respective web sites and blogs. Elisa Camahort Page, one of the founding members of BlogHer and the woman I personally thank for allowing me the opportunity to take part in the first ever BlogHer fashion show, is now standing next to me. I open my eyes as the makeup artist begins to work on the nude lips she has decided upon and I choose that exact moment to share my thoughts. I tell Elisa that I am sitting in this chair right now only because of Girl Body Pride. My readers and followers on Aspiring Mama may know me as the writer mom with a penchant for F-bombs and finding my keys at the Target Guest Services counter. They are aware that I suffered from bulimia for over a decade. That I have been a compulsive eater longer than I have known that being a compulsive eater was even a thing. That I have a daughter I am doing everything in my power to not fuck up by fusing my own insecurities with her preciously confident and beautiful sense of self. And this is how Elisa identifies me. The mother aspiring to aspire because she is never quite where she thinks she needs to be.

amazing emiko

The Amazing Emiko who also happens to be the reason I am now certain I suck at applying my own makeup. That’s a compliment.

The GBP site is new. It wasn’t a thing when I bought my BlogHer ticket and it certainly wasn’t a thing when I booked my flight. This is new. And it’s exactly why I am trying so very fucking hard not to throw up over my dear, sweet make-up artist and Elisa’s shoes.

My artist is named Emiko and she is happy to be working with a blank canvas. I hear other models providing clear and direct answers when they are asked what one makeup rule they want their artist to follow. Is it a strong lip? Is it smoky eyes? Are we going for Greek goddess or Sex in the City chic? They know what they want. They know who they are and they aren’t afraid to show the world. Maybe I’m the only one here still waiting for the world to tell me it’s okay to think I’m pretty.

grace smiling

Grace, smiling and ready to own that catwalk.

When Emiko sat me down before her to get started, she first glanced at the look I would be wearing. And when she asked, I told her what I had told the Paul Mitchell hairdresser not too long before. I am not the rocker girl in this photo. I wouldn’t have chosen this for myself had I been given the opportunity to select my own pieces to model. To be honest, there’s no way in hell I would have volunteered for this had there been an open call to sign up. Maybe that was the reason I was sitting in that chair with my heart beating it’s way into my throat and my anxiety level steadily increasing and fears of being the only model that truly looked like she doesn’t belong because if true beauty comes from within, I still wasn’t sure of the image I was projecting.

Maybe no one would cheer for me.

aspiring to be

Aspiring to be…

“It’s up to you,” I had said, pushing the photo of myself back in front of Emiko’s eyes. Even on printer paper, the gold sequins on the pencil skirt I will be slipping back into just before cruising the catwalk makes me think of tinsel and things I never think look good on me but always look good on other people. And then my breath catches in my throat because I know that everyone in the audience will think something when they see me. I’m afraid to know what that something is.

bloggers on duty

Bloggers on duty backstage snapping pics to tell our stories

Girl.Body.Pride. Justthewayweare.

Girl. Body. Pride. JustthewayIam.

I realize, while silently chanting, that the tagline for the website is not something I just happened to pull out of my ass at random. The words soothe me. They remind me that I’m not supposed to care what you think. And because my heart is still racing and my breathing just a bit too fast and a lot too short, they remind me that no matter how many times I tell myself, my daughter, and the rest of the world that I’ve embraced my cellulite and become one with my hips and I LOVE MYSELF NOW that I’m going to have to get up and do the same thing tomorrow because once broken and put back together, the cracks always will be visible in the surface that is me.

all glammed up

All glammed up and ready for the show.

And then it’s time to get dressed. Twenty-two women of every shape, size, color, and levels of mobility. Each is wearing something hideously expensive and we fawn over the looks our peers have been dressed in. I am one of the many voices speaking up to make sure others hear my words when I tell them how beautiful they really are. I am one of the many voices waving away the sincere compliments being returned because that’s what we women do. I briefly wonder if there are 21 other models in the room thinking the other 21 models in the room are going to own that catwalk and say a silent prayer that my confidence decides to return before I hyperventilate. I busy myself smiling and posing for pictures with my fellow models.

queen of spain

Me and the Queen of Spain? We got this thing.

Girl. Body. Pride. Justthewayweare.

And suddenly we are in elevators and behind curtains and DJ cranks the music and it’s Go Time and there are cheers and I feel saucy and sassy and aware of every curve as I walk with hips swinging in leather booties that probably cost more than my first car and it’s liberating and wonderful and OH MY GAWD WHY CAN’T WE ALL FEEL LIKE THIS EVERY DAY because it feels so good to just be happy and in the moment for once. No time to doubt. Too bright to hide.

friends cheered

Friends cheered. And Robin O’Bryant crawled up the stage on all fours for this shot. Thank you and you’re welcome.

I did it. I fucking did it!

I did it and you all cheered for me. You were on your feet. For me.

For all of us.

And it was beautiful.

A special thank you to BlogHer co-founder Elisa Camahort Page and fashion show sponsors Elizabeth ArdenPetSmart6pm and Paul Mitchell. 

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