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My mother used to say she was too fat for dresses.
On summer afternoons
when we went out for a walk to the park or made a picnic by the creek
she would wear her overused jeans with the black stain on the thigh
and a shirt in which she attempted to
hide a body she did not feel she could own.
Sweat dribbling down her back I tried to understand
how some people try so hard to disappear.
Once while watching “Pretty Woman” she said to me
“Oh I wish I could be one of those skinny girls, you know? A real girl.”
I wondered if being fat somehow made you less real.
If feeling beautiful is something only some people deserve.
If the right to wear a dress is earned, not granted.
It didn’t make sense but my mother seemed to believe it.
I watched her, the way she carried herself
as if she weren’t really there at all.
Walking from bedroom to kitchen to bedroom again
as if searching for a reason to believe she was something.
And suddenly, on a hot summer afternoon
I found myself looking at my waistline in the mirror.
Trying to measure just how real I was.
I looked at my dresses neatly hung on the clothes rack
but I grabbed a pair of pants instead.