This morning I had my usual Friday ditty at the gym, and a friend who attends mentioned her husband told her she’s gained weight. This girl – and I am not exaggerating – is absolutely gorgeous; she could be a fitness model!
We’re doing crunches on the mat, my trainer in the middle, and she tells us what her husband, of a month or so, said. And then says it’s probably true, the cookie dough didn’t help, or the cupcakes, ad nauseum. If a girl like this – so physically “perfect” – can have these hang-ups – where does that leave the rest of us? And where the hell is her husband so I can beat him down, because although I do not know him, there is no way this boy didn’t marry up.
So there I am, a comparatively frumpy mess next to these two model-droids, and they asked if Matt would ever say that, and I let out a hoot and a holler and think, “Are you kidding me?” Look, Matt isn’t some scared, suppressed little boy who can’t voice his opinion, but he realizes I – and so many other women – are already our own worst enemy when it comes to outward appearances. He doesn’t have to say anything, because I already noticed…four weeks ago. We, as women, are already acutely aware of any so-called “imperfections”, real or imaginary. And he’s told me he’s not going to play that game. He washes his hands of this whole, sick obsession. No amount of baiting or whining or insisting would get him to say I was fat. Or my hair was bad. Or anything equally ugly.
So if a gorgeous girl, who works out daily and actually looks GOOD in spandex, thinks she’s fat, where does that leave the rest of us? (And I’m thinking in my head, “If you think you’re fat, what does that make me?”) It’s taken me 27 years to get more comfortable with my body, and I still struggle with my weight. I lose five pounds, I gain five pounds. I am overweight: I have stretch marks and a dimpled butt and, count them, two stomach rolls (three depending on if I’m slouching). And it’s taken almost six years with Matt telling me I’m beautiful for me to finally stop saying, “Shut up”, and just….thank him.
I grew up tall and chubby and just BIG – I was off those growth charts – and was called “walrus” on the bus in middle school by the seventh grade boys. I cried (I like to think, proudly now, never in front of them) and prayed for the year to end so they would move up to our intermediate school and I wouldn’t see their rotten faces. Every day for a year they would taunt me, throw gum in my hair and tell me I should change my name to Jenny, as in Jenny Craig. As a kid, and now, I cannot believe the viciousness of their endless bullying, yet I know my situation was nothing unique. So, yes, like most girls, I grew up with a weight complex. And although I know nothing can be done about bullies and – although childless – I already am nurturing my mother-hen mentality: I know I will never let my child feel inferior in any way based on her physicality. It upsets me that girls are already too painfully aware of double chins, or flat chests.
I have my demons: I hate women who say, “Ooo…I’m being so bad eating this!”, but (and I hate admitting this) I occasionally do the same. I will always struggle with the scale. Just a few weeks back I wrote how I gained a few pounds, when instead I should have been thinking of the muscle I was gaining (seriously, I may have a jelly belly but my thighs are out of this world), and the home-cooked meals I was eating. Not that I’m celebrating fat – it’s unhealthy and I damn well know it – but something has got to give. We’ve all heard it before: we’re the fattest nation and the must obsessed with weight. Something isn’t gelling.
So I’ve been concentrating on more mindful eating, although portion control will always be a challenge (I mean, hello, fresh baked naan is waiting!!). And, oh yes, I will eat that Andes mint (thank you for offering) and I did partake in the “Espresso Explosion” ice cream, and I damn well enjoyed it. But then we eat a heck of a lot of colorful fruits and fibrous veggies. We eat out maybe once a week. We’re working on limiting our meat. We enjoy spending time in the kitchen.
There’s one small consolation since getting sick: I’ve been easier on myself, and happier. As clichéd as it is, it put things in perspective, as in, “Yeah you got some rolls and a zipper scar down your abdomen, but you just walked six miles with the dog and for once, she’s more tired than you. Take that!” And this morning, as I was blow-drying my hair in the locker room and thinking about what was said, I made a point to look at the other women in the there, and realized I was the largest. And I was happy for two reasons: I didn’t care, and above all, I’ve never even noticed.