It was a Friday night, and I found myself feeling a little panicked. I NEEDED to dye my hair. Now for those of you who know me, you know well that I’ve been dying my hair various shades of burgundy/red/purple/etc. since the 1990’s, so this is nothing new. But I get lazy and also like my hair to be healthy, so I usually let it go a couple months between home box dye jobs and the used-to-be-dark-brown-but-are-now-pretty-grey roots rarely bother me. That Friday, however, I felt compelled to get my hair back to its fresh, bright, new burgundy.
Why that specific day, you ask? I had an outdoor event to attend on Saturday. With like 15 people. In LA. Gasp!!!
Looking at the RSVP list online, I knew the vast majority of the attendees would be friends – people who have seen me in various states of my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. They are all supportive, encouraging, lovely people who accept me as I am and seem to genuinely enjoy my presence. People I lived life with for 10 years before moving out of LA. But after 2 years of living the life of a trying-to-keep-my-mum-and-littles-alive-during-a-global-pandemic hermit, my brain was off and running. Insecurities from over a decade ago loomed large and negative views of myself I had overcome popped back up, unbidden. Just – POOF! There they were!
I found myself scrolling through that RSVP list to see who all would be there, and started categorizing the differences between them and myself.
- They were all thin and/or fit (significantly more so than my plus size self)
- They were all stylish (ah, fashionable LA)
- They all had great teeth (well, better than mine, which is not difficult)
- They were almost all married (all but 1 or 2)
After this quick assessment, my brain informed me that I would be the one and onely chubby single friend, who had never had braces, in the tent-like maxi-dress.
So that Friday night, I texted my sister and bestie that I was dying my hair because I felt super frumpy. Which my autocorrect changed to grumpy. Appropriate.
Once I realized what my brain was thinking (that doesn’t always happen right away, you know?), I found it fascinating. I spent years in my late 20’s/early 30’s coming to terms with my weight and had decided that, for me, it was healthiest to accept being plus sized and move on with my life rather than keep trying to lose weight and have it constantly on my mind, feeding into my already-prone-to-depression self. It was and is freeing. The concern about fashion was an odd one for me, as I’ve always kind of done my own thing. The thing about being one of the only single people there is something I’ve dealt with for 2 decades now, and doesn’t usually bother me. And the teeth thing? Where did that come from? I don’t think that even bothered me when I lived in LA! So weird!
I sat back and pondered these intrusive thoughts and where they’d come from. Since I have barely socialized these past 2 years, and rarely in a large group, it seems to have brought back some very unexpected insecurities. It was more fascinating to me than concerning to have my mind wander to these places it hadn’t for so long. I could look at these thoughts and go “that’s interesting” but not let them get to me. I think the not socializing for 2 years may have some unknown side effects in my life, which I find intriguing.
As these thoughts were all ones I had processed and come to terms with ages ago, I was able to hold them out away from me and look at them with curiosity, then tuck them safely away with a younger, less healthy version of my past self.
Yes, I did dye my hair that night – but I did so like I always do, because I enjoy having reddish hair. It makes me feel confident and a little punkrock, most like myself. It looks healthier and is easier to take care of. And I enjoyed it because I no longer felt the NEED to look better.
The party was enjoyable, everyone (as I suspected) was kind, happy to see me, positive, and non-judgmental. I was a bit of a wallflower for some moments of it, but that is normal for my awkward self and something I don’t mind. And yes, for curious minds, I was indeed the only plus sized person there, and only one of a couple singles. I didn’t actually notice anyone’s teeth, so can’t make a call on that, and they were all pretty freakin’ stylish, but I somehow fit in just fine.
What’s the moral of the story, you ask? It’s not that kind of a story. This is merely a descriptive personal tale of one moment of my life, not a universally prescriptive parable. The only universal truth in this is that socializing is hard for many of us, and can dredge up some past insecurities we thought were gone forever. When that happens, we’ll all just deal with them the best we can in that specific moment, with the capacity and resources we have available at that specific time. Godspeed to you all as you head out to (safely) socialize once again.