On Shrinkage & Shoulders

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*what follows is a blast from the past…a 2+ year-old post I’ve buffed up a bit. It should seem brand new to many of you!*

After my college graduation ceremony, my mom and her sister came back to my dorm room to help me finish packing to move back home. My Auntie Maureen had a fabulous idea: she took the purple sheets off of my bed, spread them on the floor and began tossing my clothes, shoes, notebooks, cd’s and whatever else she could find on top of them. Then we wrapped the sheets up, twisted the ends and hauled the bulging Santa-like sacks out to the parking lot.

My ornery grandfather and one of my brothers were already waiting for us there in my small car. Mom and Auntie Mo sat in front and I sat in the back in the middle (I was in no shape to drive, having just said a tearful goodbye to my then boyfriend), flanked by Grandpa on one side and my brother, Kevin, on the other. As soon as Mom careened the car onto I-55 Grandpa started jabbing me with his bony elbow.

“Move over,” he grumbled at me.

“Grandpa, there’s not a ton of room back here, I’m doing the best I can,” I assured him, scrunching myself up smaller to appease him. Annie Altima wasn’t a large car.

After more grunting and grumbling, he says it, words I can’t forget:

Well maybe if your shoulders weren’t so broad and you weren’t so big,” he barked.

Mom’s eyes caught mine in the rearview mirror. Don’t listen to him, they said. But it was too late.

I’d never noticed my broad shoulders before, but ever since I catch myself: hunching, shrinking to fit, trying to make myself smaller. More agreeable. Passive. Quiet. Invisible. All because of a thoughtless comment uttered years ago.

I won’t do it anymore. For anyone.

No one can step on me anymore.

No one can whittle me down or force me to fit into a perfect little box.

This marks the end of an era. It’s been a long time coming.

I will not shrink to fit.

I will be loud and big-shouldered and sensitive and smart and BOLD.  Too much time spent trying to cram myself into spaces not meant for me–has cracked me, like an eggshell. And there inside lies not a perfectly round yellow yolk, but instead one that’s been pierced, gutted, its form spilling out into the space around it.

I cannot be contained. I cannot be kept. I cannot be made to bear your weight on my too-broad shoulders. I’m strong, but I don’t need extra burdens.

I am not one thing. I am all things. I am a metamorphosis.

These big, broad, freckled shoulders are mine. I own them. And they hurt from hunching too much.

I’m done with that.

Toss me that racerback tank, yo.


photo credit

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  • Asouthernfairytale

    <3 Hell yes.  Also, I've had those moments.  You can't let the curmudgeons get you down.  You are strong and beautiful and those shoulders hold many hearts and tears and giggles. 

  • Leighvslaundry

    I love you.

  • http://www.vidyasury.com/ Vidya Sury

    Yeah – this WAS brand new to me. And I loved it, yo! Because I’ve gone through the “nose is too big” “forehead too big” “feet too big” “chest too flat” and all that crap. Ah, well, I ‘ve had the last laugh for a long while now 😉 what with that big beautiful sticker  and the gorgeous diamond nose stud. Ha ha.

    Hugs to you, Erin. So glad you brought this post up. Never shrink to fit. I have proof. I got a new top and the damn thing shrank and wouldn’t fit. See? I know these things.

    Love ya!

  • http://randomblogette.com/ Jayme

    You own it girl! My grandfather did the same thing to me but about my weight. I was never stick thin but then again I was never overweight, but he would always make comments about what I was eating and how was I going to fit in my bikini if I ate like that. It scarred me for life. I love you and your broad shoulders! You are beautiful!

  • http://twitter.com/ashleytaylor76 The Dose of Reality

    Brand new to me as well, and I am so glad I read it. Isn’t it amazing how much one comment can affect us? I am so glad you are freeing yourself from Grumpy Grandpa and standing tall.

  • http://fourplusanangel.com/ jessica

    Ooh, I love this. So empowering to be able to hold your shoulders high. Xo

  • http://www.paperscissorskeyboard.com/ Sherry Carr-Smith

    I like your shoulders.

  • http://singedwingangelspad.com/ Angel Shrout

    Somehow I missed this post before and I am glad I read it now. First of all women have to have big shoulders to carry the weight of the world, mainly from curmudgeonly old men. Secondly, You have no reason to shrink for anyone, ever. Tosses you the tank..

  • Aladyinfrance

    I think my worst might have been in Taiwan, at the swimming pool in a swim cap,

    “Why you body so big, you head so little?”  (This is from Jennie in France, by the way – Disqus is acting up).

  • Kate Mayer

    new reader, groupie from twitter. bravo girlfriend. bravo.

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