How a minuscule piece of clothing smashed my body image misogyny
It seemed innocent. A neatly folded piece of lilac fabric surrounded by shreds of wrapping paper. I looked up at my husband and smiled. His love language was gifts of love, and he always selected his presents thoughtfully.
But when I held up the shirt, half of it was missing. It wasn’t quite a sports bra, but it wasn’t a tank either.
My husband of 24 years had gifted me — a 45-year-old mother of three — a crop top. I raised my eyebrows and studied the shirt. It was a cute tank style, which I prefer, and the color was pretty, but half of it was missing.
“A crop top?” I asked as my parents and sons watched.
“Do you like it?” James asked. “It reminded me of you.”
I paused. How in the world did a miniature shirt remind him of me other than the fact that I’m lacking in the height department?
“It’s great!” I refolded the top and placed it on the coffee table in front of me. “Who’s next?”
After my family finished opening presents, we gorged on the ham strata I had made from Christmas Eve left-overs and then finished picking up. I gathered my presents and took them upstairs, and as I started to take the tags off the crop top to drop it in the laundry, James stopped me.
“Did you try it on?” he asked.
I shook my head, afraid to admit that this gift would most likely stay tucked in my drawer until he forgot about it and I could donate it. I lifted a shiny red sports bra off the bathroom counter. “This fit perfectly.”
“But what about the shirt? I think it will great on you.”
Shirt? Did he not realize the gift he had selected was missing the bottom half? And great on me? I glanced at my stomach. Since having my first son twenty years ago, my stomach and I had had a love-hate relationship. I loved that my body had created and carried my three amazing sons, but I was also embarrassed by my stretch marks. And for years, I battled the mommy pouch that didn’t tighten no matter how thin or fit I was. Plus, I was in my mid-forties which by society standards is twenty years past prime crop-top-wearing age.