there are problems i hear referred to as “Cadillac problems,” which are thereby deemed unfit to be of actual import in the course of human maturation, and the person lamenting such problems should promptly be force-fed humble pie. however, labeling an experience as shallow and unworthy of examination hinders the degree of honesty a person can have with another.
and so, i will here attempt to be honest.
i have been ashamed to broach the subject with anyone until recently for fear of reprisal, or dismissal. or that i will be considered narcissistic, vapid, or ungrateful. and, throwing aside for one moment the imagined bitter murmurs of contempt and derision, i’d like to give voice to my struggle.
i am beautiful. i catch myself at moments when it reflects back to me so blatantly, i sometimes gasp. i sometimes pause with awe that this person is me. and sometimes, i find myself so in possession of these gifts, that i actually feel like i am inhabiting the skin given me, instead of wearing it like a cocktail dress that i want to tell people i bought at the second-hand store, so they don’t think i’m showing off.
there are moments when i own this body. the long lines of legs. the carved cheekbones, and ravenous almond eyes. the legs are the hardest. they’re so damn visible. i can hide the eyes and cheeks behind glasses or matted hair. and i usually hide my thirty-six inches of legs under pants or dresses to my knees, but this weekend, i wore shorts. not booty, i-can-see-the-fine-china shorts, just shorts. ones that exposed the vast expanse of thighs that are pale white, in comparison to my tanned arms, because i keep them hidden away. because they cause whiplash, and traffic accidents.
what they do cause, what i cause, are turned heads. and i can’t begin to tell you how uncomfortable that can be. hence, the Cadillac problems. imagine? me lamenting that i get stared at by men? some men; some times. but they do, and it makes me so very hyper aware of myself, i start to wonder if this body i have is mine or not. if i am actually in possession of it. or, as i have often done, if i should shrink away inside of my own skin so i can’t feel your stares, or the glares of the woman you’re with.
as i become more comfortable and confident within myself, my life, my body, i begin to walk in it – the life and the body – differently, more fully. and thusly, i find myself attracting attention that i don’t get when covered by layers of “don’t look at me.” and so, i am looked at, which is okay, and sometimes fun, but sometimes intrusive, as if a conversation i’m having is being eavesdropped upon – and in some ways it is. it’s a conversation, a relationship, with myself that i am having, and flaunting, and caressing – and you, sir, are a voyeur.
and sometimes, sir, you are with a woman. and she looks at you, and sees you looking at me – then, she looks at me. and i feel suddenly branded with a scarlet A, like i am now a harlot, a siren attempting to lure away your man. when really, lady, i’m just buying fruit. when really, dude, you’re with a girl. and i feel so uncomfortable in those moments. like not only has my brilliant moment of self-possession been besmirched, but also, your moment as a couple.
a friend told me recently that she is afraid to introduce me to men she likes for fear they’ll think i’m cuter than she is. and besides the fact she herself is stunning, and that i told her she didn’t have to then introduce me to any men she thought were cute, i felt icky. like somehow being the woman i am is a bad thing. that being beautiful, or walking with poise is wrong. that i should shrink to let couples have their moments, and friends feel secure.
that by hiding my light, as they say, i will make room for other people.
however, this conclusion is erroneous.
perhaps it may be possible that owning what i am, who i am, what i’ve been given can be a bolster to others to do the same. perhaps not. but perhaps it is possible that i can allow myself to shine as brilliantly as i care to shine without fear of reprisal. without fear of being shot down – without fear that i ought to shoot myself down. maybe it’s possible for me to stand in my skin when men look, single or not, and allow myself to be seen. affirming that i can claim myself, life, and body. and not be ashamed.
because, in the end, it’s about ownership of all of myself, not just the external, but also the shy, dorky, blemished, tentative parts.
but, too, it is about owning this external piece of me. this piece that i am sometimes awed by, sometimes mad at, sometimes prod and poke and suck in and lament and feed gallons of ice cream to and wonder if i’m “enough.” sometimes i’m just a woman. and sometimes, i would just like to feel that being a woman engaged in this social world is not a Cadillac problem.