When I married into Mr. Pete’s family, I inherited a lot of his family lore. One of those tales was about Dear Aunt Kerry, who came to a formal family wedding in hot pants! I saw photographic evidence. It was more of a hot pants suit complete with the bright colors so popular in the 1970s, pointed collars, and knee-high boots with colored hosiery. It was quite stylish for 1970. But my husband, who was about 12 at the time, and his younger siblings thought it was hysterically funny. So funny that the story stood the test of time and they were still talking about it when I came into the family years later!
The story came up this year when I was shopping to wear something to my nephew’s wedding. I wanted to wear something stylish but not silly, cute but not ridiculous, fun but not frumpy. Then I found the perfect dress. Okay, it was a little short and a little too tight. It was also sleeveless which made it the trifecta of bad dress choices for my particular body type. I tried it on and it fit okay but you’d have to ignore my obvious figure flaws before you could say it looked great!
That’s when it occurred to me: I was probably the same age as Aunt Kerry was when she walked bravely into family folklore with her neon-colored hot pants suit. I’m sure she didn’t want to be ridiculed or remembered that way. I think I finally understood where she was coming from. She was trying to dress the girl she used to be. I know in many ways I don’t feel like the middle-aged mom and now grandma that I am! But the reality is, I am not the woman I was, and I have to embrace the new woman I have become.
On further reflection, it wasn’t the hot pants suit that the young kids were mocking. They were reacting to someone trying to be something that they were not. How many times have I been guilty of the same thing? I’ve squeezed into jeans and ignored the obvious muffin top. I’ve gone without pantyhose when the veins in my legs probably could have used the cover! And I don’t think I can pretend that going without sleeves is a good idea anymore either.
I did buy the dress a few sizes smaller and gave it to my 18-year-old daughter Izzy. She wore it to the wedding and rocked it! I wore something flowing and mid-calf length, with short sleeves and a cover. Probably no one will remember it, but at least they won’t remember it in a bad way either!
And the next time Aunt Kerry’s hot pants come up in polite conversation, I think I’m going to advocate for her. She was a woman just trying to figure all of this out, and I can certainly relate to that!
Copyright 2017 Elena LaVictoire