‘Are you sure that is the jean style you are looking for?’ The young (very young) sales assistant enquired, with an ever so slightly patronising tilt of her head.
‘Our more standard jeans can be found over here.’ With an assertive turn of heel, I was marched in the direction of standard skinnies, no rips or detailed denim for me. No, no, for I had three children in tow and I am in my late thirties.
For a moment I found myself being led away from the rails I had been happily browsing, suddenly self-conscious in the trendy American apparel store. My cheeks pinked and my inner critic began to mock me with the words ‘too old’.
Then my pink cheeks became a flush of indignation. Hold on here…who is to say I am ‘too’ anything?? Who is setting the expectations?
‘No thank you’. I said firmly, the new assertive Rose making her stand, ‘…these jeans are just what I am looking for.’
I kept those jeans in my hand the entire time I browsed the store. In truth, they weren’t the jeans I was going to buy and as I approached the till to pay for my (shock and horror) every so slightly cropped jumpers, I slipped them carefully back on to a shelf. However, that wasn’t the point.
I’ve always been a goody-goody rebel. On a mum’s night out, I’m the one wearing biker boots and drinking a bottle of beer (just the two mind you), fearful of stepping over the line of ‘what is expected’ and not being ‘included’.
I have realised though, that I no longer need to be included. I just want to be accepted, by myself. To be happy in my own skin.
The word ‘too’ gives our self-critics too much (excuse the pun) ammunition. Too old, too sensitive, too kind, too worried about what others think. I have spent too long (see, there is that word again) allowing outside forces and their expectations to shape my sense of self.
That day, in the trendy clothes shop, fate was in cahoots with my self confidence and decided that I need to stop living by the ‘too rule’.
In addition to jean-gate, I had been contemplating having a second ear piercing but had hesitated because that’s not what middle-class mums over the age of 35 do in this neck of the woods. Then, in that moment, stood knee deep in ‘on point denim’, three children tugging at my sleeves and one bored looking husband loitering hopefully by the exit, I made a decision to change the narrative and erase the word ‘too’ when referring to myself.
With that I pierced my ears last week, and I wore the cropped jumpers, with a vest top underneath…wouldn’t want to catch a chill, because…
…I should have liked myself enough to do it a long time ago.