Reality Checks

I have a handful of dresses that have been hanging faithfully in the wardrobe for a long time, despite not receiving even a single backward glance from their owner.

The dresses remind me of a time when I wore them without considering what others might think of how I looked in them. That was until a young, kids-never-lie moment.

I had a floral, sleeveless short dress on as I came home from work. It was my current favourite and I thought I looked pretty decent in it.

Matthew was seated beside me having his dinner when he suddenly put down his spoon and turned towards me. The next thing I knew, he slapped his tiny palm on my exposed upper arm with a loud twack and said in a serious tone, “MaMa, your arm is FAT.”

I was caught totally offguard. I gasped. Then my heart promptly broke into two.

I never wore the dress again since that day. In fact, I never wore any of my dresses anymore. I stopped buying sleeveless tops too, enduring the heat and humidity of Singapore’s weather rather than hear another honest comment from Matthew.

Recently, feeling both leaving my dresses hanging in the wardrobe and dumping them were such wasteful options, I plucked up the courage to wear a couple of the dresses again. But I tried to wear them on days I needed to stay back at work so I would not be spending so much time with the kids for them to comment ANYTHING.

One morning, I picked a black dress I had not worn for years. I stepped out of the bathroom and tried to pull the tight-fitting (what was I thinking about?) dress over my head and onto my still-damp body. I struggled as the dress got stuck around my head and broad shoulders; for a few seconds, my arms were flailing in the air while my head was obscured from view.

The Man, noticing the unfortunate situation I put myself in, walked over to help. As he helped pull the dress down my body so I could see again, I caught him smiling. Before I could ask him what was he smiling at, he volunteered an answer.

“You look like you are wearing a garbage bag.”

Uh oh. Déjà vu.

I heard the familiar crackle of my heart starting to break. I fought back the instinct to change out of the dress immediately. I chose to laugh out loud instead.

“But hey, you look good in a garbage bag.” said the Man conciliatingly.

“Yeah, sure.”

Truths hurt. Badly. But only briefly. I should be past the age for sensitivity and the ‘tender hearted’ by now. It only makes me more determined to be confident in myself. Fat or garbage bag, I ain’t changing for you…


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