Saturday, February 19, 2011

Outfit Post: Lord of the dance

When I was growing up, my mother signed me up for all sorts of extracurricular activities to "broaden my horizons" and "make me well-rounded." I'll admit I was kind of a quiet, introspective kid. And weird. My nine year-old self thought an ideal afternoon was one spent reading and reenacting the previous evening's Dynasty episode with my Barbies. Except my Barbies were far bitchier than Linda Evans and Joan Collins were, if you can imagine that.

Between second and sixth grades, I was forcibly enrolled in gymnastics, ice skating, tap, theater, ballet, soccer, kickball, and dollhouse making (don't ask.) You should know I have always had very poor body awareness. Some might call it clumsiness; I prefer a more scholarly label. When I was ten, I delicately stepped off the curb in front of my house and broke my ankle. The other day I injured myself just from opening the dishwasher. I often sport mysterious bruises whose origin I cannot identify. So it's no shock that athletic pursuits have never been my strong suit.

Like most little girls, I started out with tap and ballet. My classmates preened in the mirrors, worshiped our teacher and diligently worked on their steps. I spent most classes huddled in the back of the room chewing on my hair and faking some kind of injury. I was surprisingly good at this. I was even better at fake-practicing. My father bought a square of plywood for me to practice my tap steps, and I'd shut my door and pound my shoes on it to make it seem like I was practicing while I was actually organizing my scratch and sniff stickers and watching reruns of Fame.

To add insult to injury, instead of outfitting me in the pastel-colored leotard and blush tights my classmates wore, my mother squeezed me into a too-tight hot pink instrument of bondage. Bright white tights - the kind nurses wear - completed the look. I stuck out like a whore in church. 

Gymnastics was even worse. I was convinced that I was going to break my ankle or crash into another classmate or permanently damage my fertility while attempting to do a split. Considering that I was the most uncoordinated 3rd grader on the planet, these were all viable possibilities. I have horrific memories of being forced into class, costumed in some neon-blue crushed-velvet unitard, begging to do anything but take gymnastics. I railed. I cajoled. I offered to make my brother's bed and clean his room and be nice to him FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE if I could just get out of gymnastics.

Thankfully, after months of protests, my mother relented. My short-lived career in athletics and dance was over, and I returned to my books and Barbies. If I had one regret, it was that I missed out on the opportunity to wear tutus and leg warmers and ballet flats and pastel-colored leotards. Ballet and tap may not have been for me, but the clothes sure were. This swirly sparkly skirt kind of reminded me of a little girls' ballerina costume. And I didn't have to risk personal injury to wear it.

Gap cardigan; thrifted Junk Food tee; Forever 21 skirt; Hue tights; Anthropologie shoes; Forever 21 belt

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