The moment you pick me up from the train station, your eyes flicker down. “You’ve put on weight again,” you say, staring straight ahead. You turn a corner and I look down at my knees. I notice the curves of my thighs in my skinny jeans, the slight ripples in the material at the edges and how much bigger they look when they’re resting against the leather seat. My legs feel like concrete as I move to cross them.
I swallow the lump in my throat and don’t respond. I look at you as you stop at the traffic lights and hope that you’ll say something else. Maybe you’ll comment on my hair: you always like it straight. You don’t say another word.
When I’m emptying my suitcase later, I take all my dresses, my form-fitting tees and shirts and I shove them into my wardrobe, right to the back because I know I won’t be needing them. I take out my make-up bag and put it on my shelf, and I know it won’t be touched until I put it back in a few weeks later. I strip off my skinny jeans and dump them into my laundry bag. In my wardrobe I find my loose-fitted black trousers. They’re a little worn from so much use and they slide down my hips when I don’t wear a belt.
I slip them back on and feel at home again; I’m hidden.
I’m on the couch, laughing at the movie on TV. It’s a stupid rom-com starring Ryan Gosling, and I’m enthralled. I get up to get a glass of water from the kitchen and my t-shirt rides up. I pull it down in a haste but you see.
“I hate seeing your hips,” you say to me. “They’ve got so big again.”
I get dressed out of the shower as quickly as possible. I jump into my jeans and pull a hoodie over my head. I tell myself it’s because it’s so cold this morning, but I know I can’t bare to look at my own body. I don’t look in the mirror much either when I’m at home. When I’m sleeping next to someone, I scramble for my clothes in the dark before I’m vulnerable to the harsh light of day. I take safety within the confines of material and away from prying eyes.
I walk downstairs and you ask me what I’m wearing to the party tomorrow. I shrug and shift uncomfortably, resting my hands in my pockets.
“I could wear the black dress.”
“You always wear that. It’s the only thing that fits you.”
“I don’t have anything else.” It’s a lie. I have a few more outfits hidden at the back of wardrobe. The black dress is the only thing I’d feel comfortable in. I know your eyes will always be on me, and your sharp words always at the forefront of my mind.
You get angry at my lack of enthusiasm, that I don’t seem to care how I present myself. You wonder why I can’t be like other girls; you wonder why I wear the same baggy clothing, why I never want to be more ‘feminine’.
If only you knew, dressing up is the last thing I want to do. These clothes, for others represent solitude. They are cozy and comfortable, and a reward after a long-day’s work. But to me, these clothes bury what’s underneath. They let me pretend that your biting words are just that: words.
I feel so ugly when I’m at home.