Monday, April 21, 2008

when the best thing ever gets sullied by the worst thing ever... in front of 11 strangers

tonite i had my first sewing class. i've been looking forward to this class for months... i've tried to sign up for it twice and twice it was full. i thoroughly researched this place and even though it was a bit more expensive, i just knew it was the right place for me.

i moved my whole day around so i could get to this class on time... got up extra early so i could leave work early, planned an outfit that would have enough comfort and longevity to get me through a full work day and a three-hour class, ate a large, late lunch so i wouldn't be hungry during the class...

and when i finally got there, it proved to be awesome. only 12 students so the instructor can spend lots of one-on-one attention with each student. the instructor is a fabulous old queen with more sass in his little finger than one would find in a cranky kindergarten class. and the other students were all gals... of various shapes and style sensibilities.

we started off with a bang. a few jokes about being the next project runway contestants and introductions on sewing 101 how to.

things were going great until we took a short break around 7:30. i went to the restroom only to come back to the instructor talking about how important 'fit' was. "forget size! have you seen what banana republic is calling a 12 these days? GEN-ER-OUS." shee-it. things started to go downhill from there... words from his introduction a few short hours ago were ringing in my head, "i can tell every single one of you what your measurements are - trust me. i've been doing this for
that long." i wear a size 22. what the fuck do you think was going through my head after he basically just declared 12's to be ginormous?!

it was at that point that i became acutely aware of trying to not shift in my seat... the least amount of attention i could bring to myself the better... don't let the chair squeak, don't sip from your water, don't look up... just smile... smile... don't betray that anything else is going on.... i was SO uncomfortable. it seemed as soon as the size vs. fit diatribe started, an unmercifully hot, bright spotlight focused on me. i was so paralyzed that i couldn't even look around the room to confirm my suspicions that i had become the center of intense, boring gazes.

the instructor went on to evidence his 'fit matters most' bit by giving a couple of examples of famous women ... who are larger... who always look meticulous. "i've met queen latifah in person and believe me, she ain't a petite gal... but she always looks like a million bucks!!" true, but why use her as an example? why not talk about how bad kirsten dunst looks when she wears rags that hang off her tiny frame?

just when i thought i couldn't take another moment, it got worse. we were handed patterns and told that we were going to be measured for the patterns... right then and there.



the instructor started going around the room measuring each gal's hips. he was quick. he gave each woman's number to her under his breath. very polite. very sensitive. when he got to me, he had trouble reaching around me... so it was taking longer than everyone else. and then, when he finally gave me my number (51.5 in a VERY hushed tone) i didn't know what else to do but say out loud, "28?! how lovely!!!" get this... EVERYONE laughed. even the folks on the other side of the room. was everyone waiting to hear my gargantuan waist size?

i was dying from the mortification. i think at that point he was talking more about how to read the panel on the pattern packet... i have no idea what was told to us because i was busy falling down an inner spiral of shame.
the fun didn't stop there, though... once he told us how much fabric we needed i realized i was a full inch and a half bigger than the biggest XXL measurement on the package. holy christ. now i have to ask what to do in my situation??

i summoned all the courage i had left and waited till the end of class and asked the instructor. again, he was completely nonplussed by the question and said something about 'wear ease' and how i would be just fine.

i have never bolted from a place so fast. thank god that's over. i'm actually kind of glad i didn't know that there was measurements-taking in store at our first class... i think i would have psyched myself out of it had i known that we would actually have to be measured... out loud... in front of strangers.

despite the utter humiliation, i'm glad i went. i'm glad i didn't lose composure when faced with a surprise measuring... there were definitely unsavory elements about this evening. but i refuse to let it tarnish my long standing excitement about learning to sew.


Lasserday said...

there is no size you could be that would take away from the wonderfulness that you are. i know that was horrible for you but once again you have surprised me with your quick wit and sweetness. don't let a morally neutral thing like the number of inches to get around your hips make you feel like a bad person or ashamed of yourself. i hope you learn to sew great wonderful pretty clothes, i am so jealous!

Jenny said...

Great story, a marker of your weight loss story and your descent down the sizes - at least you'll be able to do your alterations.

Sewing classes conjur up memories of deep humiliation for me too - for cutting a seam in the down the front of the nightshirt where there wasn't meant to be one, and then being shouted at loudly for several minutes for the sin.

Glad to hear the experience hasn't put you off as it did me.

Heather said...

how horrible! you have so much courage to stay there and go through all that and to keep going back. I agree with the other commentors though...of course he is focusing on size because that is his life, his world, and rarely probably sees the person behind that size. you show him that you are more than just a size.

justoofat said...

The entire time I was reading this post, I kept thinking... "ok... here it comes..." just *knowing* that you would end your tale by vowing never to go back to the class again. And why was I so certain that this would be your response?? Because it would have surely been mine. That said, your bravery, and ability to take a terrible experience, and completely deflate it with the sheer sharpness of your resolve, utterly astound and inspire me. You are truly a rock star! Bravo, you.


BikiniMe said...

After I read this entry, my first thought was, "You are so beautiful!" You have incredible strength, intense courage -- gawd,I'm totally girl-crushing on you right now, hope that doesn't creep you out. :)

Also, I am asking please-pretty-please that you take a photo of yourself modeling your sewing creating when it's finished and post it for us all to ooh and aah over. (btw, what are you sewing?)

belly said...

aw shucks, lasserday. you say the sweetest things. thanks for the glowing nod.

jenny - coincidentally, my mom told me this story about her first sewing experience in 1950's catholic junior high... sounded equally traumatic as your experience... and heck yeah i'm going to do my own alterations!! i haven't yet found a tailor who nails it.

thanks for your comment, heather. you know, regardless of all the fit vs. size talk that the instructor did, i still like him... he's so unabashedly sassy. how can you not love that in a gay man?

thanks, jtf! i tell ya - i was this close to bailing after the first class. it's nice to have a passion stir inside of me that has deeper roots than my insecurities. i feel like my ability to stay stems from a lot of the recent work i've been doing around positive self talk. kind of nice to see the me-love in action!

bikinime - i heart you, too! but i would rather die that model the *gag* drawstring pants that we're learning how to make... i will, however, be happy to post photos of my next creation... and maybe even be brave enough to model it for the camera:) purely for the sake of the visual, the elastic waisted and drawstring pants that the instructor made was borne of the most hilarious material i've ever laid eyes on... cartoon style firemen in various phases of taking their pants off or already in their skivvies, flexing their bountiful, chiseled, cartoony muscles. SO awesome!!

K. said...

What in the world? I too would have been ,mortified! Are you planning on going back? I think he really is insensitive and I am not sure you need to subject yourself to that...gosh, people are just so oblivious to others. Good for you for taking it well and making a joke at it too. But WOW.K.

iCANdothis said...

i would have left after the first five minutes. kudos for you for sticking with it, and good luck! don't let some stupid instructor get the best of you. take care!

organic meat winnipg said...

Don't be discouraged cause of one bad experience. Nobody like's embarrassment but it's part of life.