I had planned to be a bit more timely with this topic. When I sat down to write as Glamour magazine’s plus sized picture first created its stir (Sept. 2009), I found I didn’t have much to say. But today, catching sight of myself in the mirror (naked!) and then trying to find something to wear that felt good, looked flattering; I felt myself spin into the dreaded spiral, landing smack dab on my chubby butt. Ugh. I’m having a fat day.
I have a confession to make. Something I’ve told very few people. When I was in my twenties and I saw overweight people I thought, “Oh. No self discipline.” I was the skinny kid. The pencil thin teen. I was so skinny in high school my parents were afraid I might have an eating disorder. They took me to the doctor and he told them I was a healthy, very active (I was a competitive swimmer) typical teenager with an enviable metabolism.
When this “thin” trend continued into my twenties - when I wasn’t even working out - I patted myself on the back and attributed it to healthy eating (Seriously? I drank Coke with almost every meal!) and discipline. I simply didn’t over eat.
I was also diagnosed as infertile at this time. Every doctor, every specialist said, “You need more body fat.” So I tried. I really did. Ice cream is my weakness and I treated myself every day. I may have gained a couple of pounds but it didn’t make much of a difference and I couldn’t seem to gain any more. (I know. Tragic, huh?)
Then I hit age 35. And my periods slowed to about 3 a year. And I was tested. And this time the doctors and specialists said, “You’ve hit early on-set menopause. And weight gain is a part of it. You’ll need to be careful with what you eat.” I wasn’t worried. I’ve never had to worry. If I even THOUGHT about losing weight, wished I were a little lighter; the pounds simply melted away. So when the numbers started creeping up the scale I started thinking. I started wishing. As hard as I could. It didn’t work.
And then, the kicker. I got pregnant at age 40. “Pregnant?” You ask, “I thought you were going through menopause.” That’s what I said to the midwife. She laughed and asked me if I slept through 10th grade biology class? “If you have a period, no matter how sporadic, you can get pregnant,” she said. But I’m infertile, I said. “Evidently not,” she smiled.
I gained 35 pounds with my pregnancy and I’m still struggling with the last 15. Not bad? No. Because I was near the top of my healthy weight range when I got pregnant. This sent me over.
I wear the same size as Glamour’s plus sized model. A size 12. I wish I were back in a size 8 but as I’ve learned, that method doesn’t work for me anymore. What annoyed me about this picture is that she looks pretty healthy to me. Oh sure, she has a little tummy but no back fat, no thunder thighs, her arms look fairly toned. Ok. So she’s in her twenties and I’m 45. I’ve been through childbirth. She probably hasn’t. But a size 12 is plus sized? Are you kidding me?
Now thank goodness she doesn’t look heroin-thin. That’s just scary to me. In fact, whenever I see models that are heroin-thin I have to turn the page as fast as I can. I can’t even get a good look at the clothes they’re trying to sell me. I’m just too weirded out.
Don’t get me wrong. I am positively thrilled for the Dove soap ads of real women. I’m glad the media is even questioning our portrayal of what “real” is. But all this cheering and amazement that we could find a normal, average sized woman beautiful is downright scary.
And frankly, it still made me feel fat. I looked in the mirror this morning, saw the same tummy she has and I feel fat. And frumpy. And plus sized. Yeah, I should lose a few pounds. But that is getting so much harder as I’ve aged.
So, I sit here.
And all this media coverage saying size 12 is beautiful hasn’t made me feel much better at all.
(To celebrate her high school graduation, my daughter and I are on a little hiatus together. A mother/daughter hiatus. I will be posting some of my favorite posts in the interim. Enjoy!)