“People are coming up to me in the grocery store saying that your blog is borderline-offensive, cringe-worthy…”
Suddenly I craved a margarita. Or really anything that would help me withstand this conversation with my mother over chips and salsa at Diego Pops a few weeks ago.
When the cutest, sweetest Bible-hugging woman tells you that your passion project might land you in Hell you inevitably start to feel like the devil. I wouldn’t be surprised if the prayer basket in her Church held a note inscribed in beautiful calligraphy: “For my daughter and her skanky blog.”
English Extra Credit
“I saw your high school English teacher and told her about The Story of My Life, but now I’m not sure that was a good idea,” she continued. Or was it?
Science and math are so uncomfortable for me that they give me Restless Leg Syndrome. However, English has always been my jam. When my high school English teacher announced to our 11th grade class that we could write a paper on any topic of our choice for extra credit, I didn’t necessarily need the points; however, there was a topic I desperately needed to write about.
My First Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale
While some kids were getting grounded for bad grades, my groundings came as a result of my mother discovering Cosmopolitan magazines I had hidden in my closet or between my mattress pads. Because of this conservative upbringing, I had managed to make it to 17 years old before attending a Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale.
Now 10 years later I wish that I could find the essay that I wrote about it, but I still remember its content like it was yesterday. It began by describing the scene:
The sale bins were overflowing with bras and panties of every kind and with prices as low as 75% off, women were frantically digging through them like kids below a punctured piñata. The energy was infectious; I was now on an urgent mission to find the cutest discounted lingerie.
As I was arm-deep in the 34-A bra bin, I took a moment to look around. To my right was a woman in gray sweatpants and a messy bun holding up neon-bright colored bras. To my left was a 20-something shopper whose tattooed arms were draped with a collection of cotton pseudo-granny panties. And across from me stood a conservatively dressed older woman who was discreetly slipping lacy thongs into her shopping bag.
In typical Annie fashion the essay went into further detail about the women of all shapes, sizes and colors buying lingerie in all shapes, sizes and colors. What excited me even more than the low-price panties was the unifying feeling among strangers.
Here we were holding up and swapping the most intimate articles of clothing we were soon to own. Pieces of clothing that people are often squeamish to touch and talk about past the register. You were offered a rare glimpse at what they were wearing behind closed doors and under buttoned blouses. And no one was bashful or embarrassed. We were on an underwear high together.
Talking About It
As tacos were placed alongside the chips and salsa my mother admitted to reading the Why I Threw Away My Padded Bras post and the discomfort she felt: “Annie, why do you have to talk about it?”
10 years ago, while raiding my closet in search of Cosmopolitan, if she had simply asked me why I continued to read the magazine she might be surprised that there was another reason besides style tips and sex tales. Until then I had been known as shy, quiet and easily embarrassed.
When in public I felt as if I was tiptoeing around, scared that even the slightest moment of awkwardness would cause me embarrassment-induced anxiety too icky-feeling to endure. And I thought I was the only one who felt as awkward and uncomfortable while simply surviving life’s daily dilemmas.
In the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine I found confessions of thousands of readers and writers who admitted to embarrassing moments, sought advice for intimate issues and talked about taboo topics. I didn’t feel alone. Other people were scared of being a bad kisser or having oddly shaped breasts or telling him how they feel. So when I was finally free to write an essay on anything I wanted, it felt like my turn to do the same.
And my teacher loved it. She passed it around the class for everyone to read. A+.
Live Out Loud
As I sat down tonight to finally write The Story of My Life’s About page, I considered my mom’s concerns and thought about the careless comments that she unfortunately hears from those who have read some of my posts. However, I know that if my English teacher read them she would undoubtedly consider them a grown-up extension of my extra credit English essay. And hopefully she would “pass them around the class.”
I write about real-life moments, from the cute-and-conservative to the cringe-worthy, because I want people to know that they’re not alone. I want them to find comfort in my discomfort. I’ve learned that things are less embarrassing when you let them out. When they’re not stashed away between mattress pads or in a lingerie drawer. And when we stop tip-toeing and start dancing so hard that we sometimes break a heel, life is more enjoyable.
To be honest, it wasn’t the lingerie sale that was life-changing. It was writing about it.
Photos by About Love Studio