All I wanted was a Betsey Johnson dress. I was 13, hitting the Bat Mitzvah circuit, and the New York designer’s mini-dresses were having a major moment. While they came in tons of different styles—floral empire waist dresses, corseted tutus, velvet jumpers—they were all cut for slim girls, not voluptuous women.
My mother tried to get that through my head, but I refused to listen to her. I resented her efforts to steer me to the Steinbach’s women’s department for sensible sheaths and no-nonsense black dresses. How boring, I thought. I’d look like somebody’s aunt!
But in the end, my mom let me wear what I wanted. For a whole year, I rotated between a Betsey Johnson dress with a corseted bodice; a crushed velvet slip dress that left no curve undiscovered; and a scoop-neck tank dress with a full-length frontal zipper. All of the other girls at the party were in similar styles, but because I was so shapely, the dresses looked different on me.
At the time, I thought I looked great. Now I wonder if I looked downright inappropriate. Here’s why.
Recently, I ran into the mom of a boy whose Bar Mitzvah I attended. After a glass of wine, she started reminiscing about her son’s big day. “You know, all of the women were nervous at Michael’s party,” she said to me, eyes narrowing. “Their husbands were looking at you, not realizing you were Michael’s friend. They thought you were 18.”
My heart sank. I was embarrassed, and frankly, disgusted. Did my mom not see that I looked way more mature than I was? I was unsettled for the whole evening, but by the next morning, I saw things differently.
Perhaps my mom was a little liberal, but at the end of the day, she let me be who I wanted to be, and didn’t tell me what I could and couldn’t wear. Like everyone—skinny or heavy, short or tall, flat or busty—I deserved the chance to figure out what works for my body, and what doesn’t. I made mistakes, and I enjoyed each one. (Especially that crushed velvet number.) I can only hope I will be as cool as her one day.
Tags: body image, bra, full busted, teen