I finished Lizette last night, and took her upstairs to try on. I pulled her over my head and pulled down on the hem, then turned to look in the mirror. I stared for a minute, then took a deep breath. Then stared, and started a little internal conversation. "Is this too tight? Do I look like a hussy? Are my breasts in the wrong part of my body for this sweater?" I stood there, sort of pulling it down and out and around, and I thought about what we always tell the girls, which is that if you’re wondering if something is too revealing, that means it is… and I wondered if I was supposed to apply that to myself.
You’d think that I would – I mean- if anything I feel like I should show less skin than my beautiful, perfect daughters, but there’s a confounding variable, which is that when it comes to clothes, I have two priorities. it should be loose enough to be comfortable, and it should be modest enough that most of the people I meet in the course of a day will not look at my breasts or arse, because they will not be able to find them. (Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right, the spandex for the Bike Rally was a personal challenge, but at least there everyone looks stupid.)
I know this about myself. I know that I’m always buying clothes that are too big, and that this is a source of constant pain to my smartly dressed mother. Skinny jeans she suggests? No thank you. I’ll be over here picking out a pair of boot cut, wide leg pants with a waist three inches bigger than my own so nothing is "pinchy." I do it over, and over, and over again. A few years ago I went shopping for a dress for a wedding, and I took Sam with me. I must have looked at a hundred before Sam snapped and said that she wouldn’t keep shopping with me unless I started trying things on – and then I still hated everything. I looked too short, too heavy, too broad shouldered – this one was too tight, that one showed too much bust, this one? That one is way too short. Sam finally chose a dress, assured me that this was the one, and forced me to buy it. I came home with a dress that was too tight, too short, showed too much bust and … and I got a ton of compliments and comments about how nice I looked.
Clearly, I can’t be trusted, and that’s what I was thinking as I went down the hall to Sam’s room.
I knocked, then went in and asked her what she thought.
She didn’t really look up, and just said "Yeah, great knitting" or something like that – so I pressed. I told her I was really worried that I looked like a hussy. I asked her if it was a hussy shirt. She said it wasn’t. I wondered if really, she didn’t understand my concerns, so I showed her how low the neck went, and how tight the bust was, and how the torso part only had like… 10cm of ease… and reminded her that I hate looking like a hussy. She stopped and looked and took careful stock of all I was saying, and even asked me to show her the back.
I’m pretty sure she was just making sure that it really looked like she cared so that she wouldn’t have to discuss if for long. She said I should wear it with a camisole, because of the lace (not because the neck was too low) and then said she thought it was really good. I patted it all over, and then suggested again that maybe it was too tight? Too short? Too low?
(Pattern: Lizette. Yarn: Hempathy in Hazel, colour 050. Needles, 3.75mm.)
This time Sam rolled her eyes and said that it was none of those things, and would I please maybe leave her alone? That she’d said it was good, and it was, and what else could she say? I reminded her that it was important not to look like a hussy, especially if you’re 44, and the stuff you’re revealing if you wear revealing stuff isn’t that great to start with… and she looked at me and took a deep breath and then said this:
"Mum. It looks great. It is not too short. It is not too tight. It does not go too low in the front, it is not ‘strange’ in the back. It is good. It fits. STOP TRYING TO DRESS LIKE YOU’RE AMISH."
(PS. I still think it might be a little tight.)
(PPS. Thanks to Natalie and Sam for taking the pictures.)
(PPPS. Happy 21st Birthday to my Megan! I’ll see you later honey.)