I learned two lessons the other day while working on a story:
First, that caving in to peer pressure at any age is not good, especially at mine when an old man wishes a young reporter was interviewing him and not me … AND, if you put on a pair of jeans touted to make you look a size smaller, and they are already a size too small, you will not look two sizes smaller but like a sausage that can’t stand up from a sitting position without help.
The moral of this story is that you should not allow people to rattle your self-confidence, for all the reasons you already know. It will just blow up in your face in the end if you do. Cramming yourself into clothes that are too small makes it hard to breathe, impossible to bend your knees, and is not the way to impress someone.
This all came about when I was interviewing an older man on the phone the other day for a story I’m writing for The Big Paper. He has led an unusual life and agreed to allow me and a photographer to come over and document it.
Great. I can’t wait. See you tomorrow, I said cheerfully, ending the phone call. Then, his response: “I really hope you’re a good-looking young woman.”
Whoa. Could someone really not have gotten the memo about saying things like that? I forced myself not to react, not only to take the high road, but also to hold onto my job. I also didn’t list all my other redeeming characteristics built up over a good and successful life like winning awards, being a good mother and friend, more often than not winning at cards without cheating.
Well, I said as I recovered, my husband thinks so. (He’s older.) And my kids. … Oh, he said, after a minute. Guess that means no.
So, I buckled, stuffing myself into an outfit that wasn’t me to look younger and skinnier which was so small it required dropping into the car straight-legged like I had been soaked in starch.
He watched as I reversed the process at his house. You OK? he asked. Oh yeah, I said brightly, lurching toward him to shake hands. Just an old back injury.
I’m not sure why I did that, especially after teaching my kids that what others think doesn’t matter. But I did. Which I think will help if the time comes along where they may cave. I will already know how they feel.