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We are having a heat wave in Seattle. It is 85 degrees this weekend, and steamy.
Hot weather means we (women) start donning our splashy summer outfits. I have drawers full of hot pants, cutoffs, slinky dresses, and jumpers that require me to get half naked to go pee.
Yesterday, I was walking with my toddler and Puggle, Peanut, and was almost blinded by a woman wearing a neon yellow dress. Now, I appreciate a woman who can pull that off, and look like she just stepped out of a dance club instead of a bakery at noon. I am always drawn to street style that is eclectic, unique, and worn by someone who drums to their own beat.
What I was surprised by was the way she looked at me. She turned my way, and gave me about ten seconds of eye contact. I smiled briefly, and walked away.
But it stuck with me. I suddenly wanted to go home, and start trying on my sailor dress, the lacy jumper, and shorts with tiny turtles. They all fit, but I did not feel comfortable in them.
After having my baby three years ago, my body has fluctuated from a size eight to a size four, back to a size eight, to a size six, and now I am hovering between a size four with some extra flesh tucked into my limbs. Before my baby, I was a size two with a waist of 26 inches. I write these stats as if they mean something, but they don't mean anything. It does not get me into a membership of petite women, or a discount when I buy cupcakes.
This yo-yoing is not because of baby weight gain, but because I have had a hard time holding onto my priorities with this baby. Most of my time has been divided between serving the needs of my family, and marriage. Maybe I forgot to hold onto my self love, and left it behind at the hospital along with the nursing gown. The "why" does not matter. What matters is that things have to change.
I have felt lost for the last four years, as if I am in someone else's body, and life. When I spoke with an old friend, he told me, "You are one of the most powerful women I know. You either changed your values, settled, or forgot yourself. Maybe all three." Ouch, but it was a needed wakeup call.
I am coming back, and in many ways, better than before. Wiser for sure. And I have my intuition tucked into my hip like a holstered gun, because I know it will save my life again.
On this road to self-recovery I have setbacks, like yesterday when I did not feel like I could shine in my cute, hot outfits. My skin was looking extra blotchy, and my knee hurt too much for a workout. If I let these minuses get inside, they can make me question my worth, my value as a woman, as a wife, and even as a mom. Let's face it. As a woman, I want to be smart, strong, and look good in my skin and clothes.
Questioning my worth does one poisonous thing. It makes me wish I was different than I am. It makes me forget that true progress is slow and steady. It makes me want to toy with the idea of comparing myself. Comparison needs to be stopped dead in its tracks.
Being raised in Korean culture, girls and women are constantly vetted against each other for grades, looks, colleges, incomes, careers, and anything that can be bragged about to raise the worth of the mother raising that said perfect daughter. I learned early on that I never fit the mold that was required of me, so it freed me up in some ways. How can you compare a daughter with rainbow colored hair who wants to write zines, and move to San Francisco to a daughter who went to Yale to study law, and married a doctor? You can't really, but my mother has tried in hopes of changing me. But I did not take the bait most of the time. I knew how toxic comparison was to my self worth. Because, when I sink my teeth into comparing myself to another, I would imagine the impossible.
I would wish to not be me.
So last night, I went to bed early, and got up early. I put on my cute black jumper with a tie waist, my favorite mauve lip stain, and coral bronzer, and headed out with Peanut my Puggle, and Niko my toddler. I pushed them many blocks uphill to get to his favorite park with the sandbox full of trucks.
While watching my son pour sand into a tiny straw, and poke endlessly into the sand with a tiny stick, I forgot about what I was wearing. I could have been wearing my Wonder Woman t-shirt and undies. I forgot about what fits, and what doesn't in my wardrobe, or on my body. I was just there chatting with the other parents, while petting my dog. I was there witnessing my son blissing out with his feet in the cool sand.
I do not know why that woman looked at me. I have no idea what was going on in her mind. I know I looked at her with a little confusion, and appreciation. Today, I can imagine she was looking at me with some admiration for my sassy short hair. And that is all that matters.
It is not what we wear, but how we wear our clothing and attitude that makes our day feel easy, breezy, sexy, sleezy, annoyed, bothered, secure, or insecure.
Sometimes we need to forget what we are wearing to know who we really are.