Today’s guest post is from the utterly lovely Rosie Molinary, author of Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance. This is Rosie’s second book on body love and acceptance, her first being the groundbreaking Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina. I’m absolutely honored to have nabbed Rosie as a guest, and feel quite certain that you’ll love what she has to say!
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“You should get it,” my husband said me.
I shook my head no. I couldn’t even fathom the idea of buying something so impractical at that price.
“I can’t,” I told him. “I just can’t spend that money on it.”
It was a handcrafted artisan bag, crafted out of silk and dark denim with embroidered tropical birds and flowers that flirted with me in a small boutique in my native Puerto Rico years ago. It sounds awful. I swear it’s not. The price tag, however, was another story. It was a couple hundred dollars. I don’t spend a couple hundred dollars on an outfit so I certainly couldn’t spend it on a bag. I left the store.
Later, my husband went back.
“You never get excited about anything,” he explained when he gave me the bag. “I just wanted you to have it since you liked it so much.”
In my hands, the bag felt like pressure, kryptonite. Now, I owned this beautiful piece, and it was my job to keep it beautiful. Me, who looks down half-way through the day and can tell from the stains on my clothes what color pen I was using, what I had for lunch, and what color lipstick whoever I hugged was wearing.
I smiled and thanked my husband profusely and then carried the bag gingerly back to our hotel room.
“Don’t ruin it,” I told myself. Miraculously, I carried it onto the plane (I couldn’t bear the idea of crushing it in my luggage) and off again without anything landing on the silk. Back home, I slide it back into its protective sleeve and then I shelved it. Where it remained (except for one brave day in 2007 when I took it out for about an hour and then panicked and returned home with it, relieved that it had survived an hour out of the house).
I am as far from a helicopter parent as it comes, and, yet, I was a helicopter bag owner. I lived in so much fear of what could happen to this bag that nothing happened to it. No one even saw it. It was almost a sketch from theater of the absurd happening live in my own house. And the thing is I know I am not alone.
How many of us have a prized possession that we covet so much that we just can’t bear to enjoy it because enjoying it just might shorten its lifespan? Or because we don’t think we deserve to enjoy it? And, yet, the possession itself says so much about us, brings us so much joy that we’re denying ourselves a bit of pleasure with our resistance to it. Maybe it is our father’s watch, our mother’s wrap, our grandmother’s cameo. Maybe it’s a beautiful piece of clothing we bought on vacation or a gift of jewelry that seems irreplaceable. Maybe it’s something we bought for a special occasion and, yet, the occasion special enough for it has never come (perhaps because our own specialness has not occurred to us).
So much of the body image work that I do is about choosing to embrace life and its offering, and, yet, for a long time, I couldn’t bring myself to delight in the bag until I was standing one day in my closet and noticed it, tucked away in its protective sleeve. In that moment, I knew that the bag needed an outing. Not for its sake, but for my own need to delight rather than to deny. Rather than live in fear that I will ruin something, I decided to enjoy what I have. (Ultimately, I liked this strategy so much that Use Something You’ve Been Saving for a Special Occasion became Day 73’s exercise in Beautiful You.) Bringing beauty into our lives – whether it is through nature, fashion, or experience – is life-affirming and life-giving. These past few years have been dark for many of us and full of plenty of deprivation. There’s no need to pile on with our own stringent rules about what we can enjoy, how we can share ourselves, our style, our sense of self with the world. I’m going all in with the choice to delight rather than deny, because what I do with my style is just a representation of what I do with my whole life.
Need some suggestions for moving towards a strategy of delight over deprivation? Here are a few ideas from Beautiful You.
- Use something you’ve been saving for a special occasion- from enjoying china that’s been handed down to you to writing a note on beautiful stationary that you couldn’t bear to use, delight in something you have on hand but don’t allow yourself to use.
- Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers.
- Indulge in something you don’t typically allow yourself to do: a soak in the tub, some quiet minutes on the front porch, reading for pleasure, etc.
What are your strategies for delight?
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