Seven years ago today, my now husband and I had our first date. I've been thinking about how I looked when our relationship began. I remember that I was still sort of into my hippie chick phase, so I wore a lot of spinny skirts, hemp and patchouli. I never wore makeup and I seldom did anything to my hair. I had also recently lost twenty pounds on the L.A. Weight Loss plan and was pretty darn happy with myself. Because of my recent weight loss and my new relationship, I started to think a lot more about my appearance. I wondered if Billy thought my hippie clothes and carefree hair were wierd. I had seen his ex girlfriend a few times and noticed that she was more the typical coed, with perfect makeup and trendy clothing. My hippie image was truly a part of my personality at that time, so I was beginning to feel somewhat torn between staying true to myself and trying to clean up a little nicer for my new man. But the more I thought things through, the more I realized that he had liked me long before I ever started to worry. I did begin to feel the joy of being a little girlier for special occasions, but if I wanted to throw on my comfy old tie dye, I did. And he was attracted to me anyway.
Over the next couple of years, I did a lot of growing up. I got "real" jobs and had to start wearing better clothing (aka no patchwork jeans and yes a bra). I actually liked how I felt in the nicer things, and wanted my hair and face to match the new look. I started getting highlights and wearing makeup more often. I discovered a flat iron and that's when things really took flight. One night, I went out with the girls and ran into a friend I hadn't seen for about a year. When I first said hello, she clearly had no idea who I was. Embarrassed, she laughed and told me I looked completely different all dressed up and with my sleek, straight hair. She couldn't stop talking about how great I looked. It made me feel good, but in a way I felt kind of icky. For all of those years that I put absolutely no effort into my appearance, I was lost in a crowd. Now, slapping on some mascara and tailored jeans, I was a rock star. Something about that seemed unsettling.
I realized later that the sour feeling came from worrying that I had lost a part of myself. I got really caught up in the image game, pretty much forgetting about the comfortable roots which were a part of my best memories. But finding balance proved to be the key. Billy fell in love with that not so put together hippie chick, and was actually put off when I started dressing like a grownup. It meant change. We both eventually realized that change was a part of growing up. He accepted that I was now more woman than college girl. And I accepted that going ga ga over a pair of Steve Madden heels didn't mean I couldn't still love Jerry Garcia. I've even learned to love the crooked stares I get when someone catches a whiff of my patchouli oil while I'm rocking a glammed up outfit. It cracks me up that I'm a walking conundrum.
Like my style, my body has also gone through several changes over the past seven years. Those twenty pounds I took off came back with a vengeance. I took them off again but I continue to fight that battle along with the one for a positive body image. I always think back to the time when I consciously chose that tie dye over the more stylin'outfits simply to prove I was still me. I did that because I knew I was ok just the way that I was, and my then boyfriend loved me regardless. But there was always that little voice inside saying I could try a little harder. The pull towards a healthier weight is no different than the pull of a nicer wardrobe. Being loved unconditionally helps you to accept yourself inside and out, but it also makes you want to improve in little ways too. I'm so thankful that I have someone in my life that makes me feel beautiful and accepts me for who I am. But even more, I'm thankful that he encourages me to keep working towards my goals because he knows they are important to me. Love is one more thing that needs to be healthy in order to have a happy life. Looks like the past seven years is at least one thing I can say I'm doing right, and having that that love alone makes the rest of the fight so much easier to face.
Published On: April 19, 2011