By Tobi Schwartz-Cassell
Many of you know about my new Facebook Group called South Jersey Girls Who Wanna Have Fun. It’s an amazing group of women of all ages who hang out, boost each other’s confidence, ask for and give advice, and share a few giggles. Each weekday, I ask a question and the incredible members of the group give me the most fun and thoughtful answers.
The other day, I asked, “What’s the weirdest thing you wore in high school?” Overwhelmingly the answer was those ugly, awful blue gym suits. Wow. That took me back. My answer was, “Peter Max bell bottoms and gaucho pants.” But at least when I wore those, I felt stylish and proud. When I thought back to the days I’d donned that mortifying blue bloomer gym suit, it brought me back to a painful time in my past.
You see, when I was a kid, I was skinny. Gawky. A pathetic little toothpick. Nice people would say I was lucky. But I never felt lucky. I felt scrawny and ugly.
I was at my most scrawny in gym class, wearing those ugly blue bloomers. For the girls who were built, they accentuated the positive. For me, they accentuated everything I hated about my body. Singer songwriter Janis Ian was my hero. She sang what I lived:
Throw in cystic acne and that was me.
I hated gym. I hated being one of the last two girls chosen (it was always, “Ugh. If I have to take one of them, I’ll take Cindy, you take Tobi.”). I hated showering in front of the other girls. I hated changing in front of them, too—they wore bras. I didn’t even have enough boobs to fill my undershirts. I hated being tormented by the gym teachers and taunted by the mean girls when the gym teachers weren’t looking. I hated my abdominal muscles because they’d still hurt two days after doing those relentless sit-ups. But more than anything, I hated wearing those damned blue bloomers.
The day I graduated high school was one of the happiest of my life. No one was ever going to force me to take gym again! Ha! I was finally in control of my life!
Now I’m 62. And the last word you’d use to describe me is “scrawny.” But with the added poundage came added confidence. Maybe the confidence also came from recognizing my own value as a person.
But if given the choice, I would NEVER put on one of those indescribably appallingly hideous blue gym suits ever again.
So, how about you? Did you have to wear one of those dreaded things for gym class? If not, what was the weirdest thing you wore in high school? I’d love to hear from you, so please comment below.
And be sure to check out South Jersey Girls Who Wanna Have Fun!
* Lyrics from “At Seventeen” written by Janis Ian, appearing on the LP Between the Lines, © Mine Music Ltd./EMI Music Publishing Japan Ltd. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.