WEEK 6: THANK YOU, DONNA C., WHEREVER YOU ARE

Hippy girl clip art

There’s one in almost every woman’s memory. You know who I mean. The girl who came back to school after summer vacation one year with curves and hips while you were still in that awkward stage. For me, it was Donna C. I sometimes wonder about her. Is she still pretty? Is she a good person? I have no idea, but it once felt like she’d been put on my path for the sole purpose of making me feel like a dork.

In grade school, Donna and I were in the same circle of friends and everything was fine – until seventh grade. When we returned to school that September, I’d grown a few inches and gone from pudgy to beanpole. Donna, though, was almost unrecognizable.

Somehow that girl got herself a shapely derrière that she showed off in hip hugger jeans so tight that I wondered how she got into them.  (This was before jeans had any stretch fabric in them.) She later explained the technique learned from her two older sisters.   1) Lie down with jeans still wet from washing; 2) Wiggle into them while lying on your back; 3) Suck stomach in; 4) Zip and wear.

Donna also suddenly had funky belts, ribbed turtleneck sweaters that showed off her new curves and neat jewellery – all courtesy of her sisters’ closets. I envied her those “cool” older sisters because when it came to clothes and music, they gave her an edge.  I had two younger brothers and, really, what good are they?

But the worst insult of all was the swell in just the right place under those great new sweaters she wore. “Don’t worry,” my mother told me. “You’ll be glad you’re tall, slim and small-chested when you get older. Women put on weight as they age and girls like you carry it much better.” Really?  When you’re 12, who cares?  I wanted boobs and I wanted them now!

I’m pretty sure Donna’s sisters were single-handedly responsible for ruining Wendy K.’s 14th birthday party for all the girls. The party was in Wendy’s basement on a Saturday afternoon in January.  Chips and pop were laid out, the lights were dim, and “Hey Jude” was in the line-up of tunes to be played. Because it was seven+ minutes long, every girl hoped the boy she liked would ask her to dance when it came on. There we were in our party dresses and feeling pretty good about ourselves until Donna made her entrance.

The doorbell rang and we heard Wendy’s parents greet the newcomer. A few minutes later, Donna came down the basement stairs and instantly became every boy’s fantasy. She wore a tight-fitting black mini-dress, nylons and heels. She had rouge on her cheekbones, a thin line of expertly applied black eyeliner around her eyes and shiny pink gloss on her lips. This had to be the work of her sisters!

I went from feeling exhilarated about the party and my pastel dress to being completely miserable. What was I thinking? I looked like a kid, for God’s sakes! A look at the other girls told me they felt the same way. A glance at the boys’ faces told me that no matter who asked me to dance to “Hey Jude”, I’d be second-choice.

The following year Donna changed schools and we lost touch. I didn’t harbor any hard feelings; it wasn’t her fault the way she looked made the rest of us feel less than worthy. On the contrary, I should thank her for starting me on the road to accepting something that most girls, even Donna, have to.  There’s always someone slimmer, prettier, better-looking or with better clothes out there and so what? Beauty’s only skin deep and first impressions are fleeting. The lasting impressions are the ones that count.

It’s not always an easy thing to accept and I bet it’s even harder for girls growing up today. We had television, magazines and the occasional movie to tell us what was fashionable. Today, girls are bombarded by television, Facebook, Youtube, MuchMusic and more with images of pop princesses with toned bodies in skimpy clothes, so that’s what they aspire to.

Even now, as a “mature” woman, there are times when I walk into a room, see someone who looks dazzling and feel momentarily off-balance.  But then it passes. For the most part, I’m grateful for the healthy body that’s gotten me through life so far and hopefully has a lot more good years left.

BLOGGER’S NOTE:  While Donna C. can’t be considered a “woman” in my life I want to get to know better, she clearly left her mark and deserves a place in the 52-Week project.

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