Vanity and the Choice of Ego; Careful, You Just Might Get Burned

We fly out in less than a week. I haven’t been back to Southern California in almost 13 years. I was born and raised in sunny Southern California but it’s hard to call it my “hometown” or “where I’m from” anymore. It feels like a lifetime ago.

I most certainly don’t feel Californian anymore, but apparently when I’m angry, tired, hurt, or frustrated I’ll react in unflattering ways (like a toddler, now that I think about it). When this happens, my husband will simply fold his arms and give me a wry smile and call me his “Cute Little Valley Girl.” He has also become quite good at mimicking my squinted-eye glare. Sometimes to my horror, I still give him the satisfaction of an involuntary hair-flip.

I really need a new shtick.

So when he called me on my immaturity today, I became embarrassed rather than angry. But you see, I need a new bathing suit because the one I have is literally 11 years old. Granted, swimsuit season is pretty short where I am now, meaning my old swimsuit could easily live to see another 8 years. “But dammit”, my ego tells me, “you deserve a nice bathing suit. Just think about all that time you’ll have to hang out at the hotel pool with the kids…with your husband…with lots of other women who will be in bikinis and look waaaayyy better than you.” (granted, it’s the Disneyland Hotel, not a Laguna Beach resort).

I decided to go to the specialty swimsuit store in Portland. If their clientele was just as ego-driven as I was, consisting of beyond pale moms who were insecure with their bodies, I would surely fit in.

This was a smart store, (brilliant really) where the dressing rooms had lighting that flattered, a salesperson who acted genuinely interested in what a bathing suit could do for my boobs as well as my gave birth to 4 kids tummy. They even served free beer. I accepted it (there were cup holders inside the dressing rooms). The fact that they knew I was going to need alcohol in order to take my clothes off in front of a complete stranger was not lost on me but I recovered quickly thanks to the amber colored beverage that snaked its way down into my belly.

Finally, after trying on 8 swimsuits, I found the perfect one. Except when I turned around. Wow, I was pale. Very pale. I’ve been trying to be good and haven’t laid out in the sun for the sheer purpose of a tan for well over a decade. But truth be told, I’ll sometimes look back on those California days of built-in swimming pools in my backyard that resulted in deep, golden tans. Back in the day when my teeth were a dazzling white and I didn’t need beer in order to take my clothes off in front of a stranger. I turned to the side and sucked in my belly. I stuck out my chest. If I just had a little bit of sun on my legs, just enough to take away some of the glare….maybe some of the dimples…

Besides, whoever said Witches can’t have a tan? When did that become the rule? I’ve done the pale Stevie Nicks thing long enough, and in my defense, I’m very deficient in vitamin D. I mean, isn’t that what happens when there’s not a lot of sun? I think so.

My next stop was the tanning salon. This is coming from someone who just a few months prior looked at herself in the mirror, completely naked and admired her female body and all its flaws. But the salon smelled like pina-colada. The bubbly girl behind the counter explained all the package deals and as a lightly bronzed woman was leaving, she was asked how her session went. She answered with, “it felt amazing, as usual.” So I did what any nonsensical witch would do, I signed the release, consenting to new wrinkles and further skin damage. All in the name of ego.

I went the full 10 minutes in the “platinum” bed because I needed a tan real quick.

Of course I didn’t tan, I burned. No, I fried. I should have known better. I did know better. I could have simply painted my toenails. I could have remembered the way I lovingly saw my body, with all its honest flaws. I could have remembered what truly mattered; We were taking the kids on their first plane ride, on their first trip to California, to spend a week at Disneyland, “The Happiest Place on Earth” for their first time.

And here I was thinking about how myself and how I would look to others. That night as my husband was smearing aloe-vera gel on my back, I felt ashamed at my selfishness. I had gotten caught up in my own petty self-consciousness because I was comparing myself to a body from a lifetime ago and worried how I would stack up to others. Anxious about how others would see me. I spent far too much money on a bathing suit that I’ll hardly ever wear because I was burnt to a crisp. Instead, I would have to be covered up and wear a sunhat.

All in the name of Ego.

I knew better, and now I realize how much more I liked myself before I allowed my ego to get the best of me. Before I got burned. Just Live, Learn, and Love your Body.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

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