The Costume

“Plus, I believe

Gettin’ kinda chubby

I’m just saying ’cause I wuv you”—Mother Gothel, “Mother Knows Best”

A few days ago I decided to pull out my Renaissance Fair costume and try it on. It’s several pieces layered together to make a sort of gypsy-tinker-traveling folk inspired affair, full of old smells and memories

My ex-narcissist loved to recount the tale of how, in his early twenties, he was going to travel along with a Renaissance fair, making swords and hawking wears. Naturally in love with being the center of attention, he had dressed up, gone to a fair, and gotten himself a job. Unfortunately, right as the Renaissance Fair was packing up to leave, his car broke down and he forced to stay behind. No fault of his own, of course.

When he learned about the fair here, he was like a kid who’d just found out there was a toy store in town that also sold ice cream. I’ve always enjoyed fantasy and medieval things. Going to our local Renaissance Fair sounded like a great idea, until I realized that he wanted me to dress up with him. As an introvert and someone who had always been self conscious about my body, I did not want to draw attention to myself by wearing a costume.

Unsurprisingly, I went in costume. It was just pieces left over from his costume mixed with things I already owned. I was even more embarrassed to be in costume because it was such a sad excuse for one.

If you’ve never been to a Renaissance Fair, they have vendors there selling a huge variety of costumes. A year or two later, the ex-narcissist decided that I needed a real costume of my own. We were broke, as always, and I didn’t want to spend money on a costume. I held out for a while, but by the end of the day I found myself alone in a costume stall trying to find something that I was comfortable wearing as cheaply as possible.

The first thing I picked was the vest. I loved the pattern of the fabric, stripes in greens, oranges, and golds. Vests also happen to be much less costly than corsets. Next, I found a matching skirt and under blouse. I tried things on, bought them, and went in search of my husband.

He hated what I bought. It wasn’t what he thought I should wear. It wasn’t how he wanted me to look. I can’t remember if he said anything explicit about me not looking good in it, but he was always very clever in manipulations.

One manipulation that sticks clearly in my mind is when, over the course of a few weeks, he started liking the pages and photos of scantily clad, full figured women on Facebook. I’ve always struggled with my weight and he was well aware of the history. At my heaviest, I could wear pants from the plus size section, but shirts were always too big. At what I think of as my normal weight, I wear a size 12. I’m not a full figured woman.

When I finally confronted him about the Facebook likes, he said he was trying to build up my self esteem. He wanted me to know that he found curvy women like me attractive. Forget the fact that liking pictures of other women is exactly the opposite of how you help your wife feel pretty, the women he was liking were much larger than I was. He was, in a very sly way, saying “You’re fat.”

The costume reminded me of low I was back then, guilty for spending money to put lipstick on a pig.

I’m at my normal weight, wearing a size 12. I’ve never been as happy with my figure as I am at this point in my life. I look great in my costume. The colors flatter me and still love the vest.

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