For awhile I kept hearing that I was too thin. It both disturbed and delighted me. Don’t get me wrong, I am a healthy eater and borderline obsessive exerciser, yet I don’t deny my body either food or rest. But there’s something about being thin that feels powerful, in charge, in control.
I grew up with good foods and bad foods. I knew that coffee flavored yogurt was a doubly good food because it was low in fat and had caffeine – winner! And if you followed your yogurt with a cigarette, well, you were practically in a negative calorie situation. I remember Dexatrim pills and some sort of chewy chocolate flavored squares (neither of which I’ve ever taken) that were to be consumed in place of real food. Dieting was a way of life for my mother, lest she resemble her own mother, a woman who bore 15 children and whose body retained the cumulative evidence of each one of those individual pregnancies.
I’ve been lovingly accused of having a distorted perspective of my size and shape. I clearly can see the soft parts of my body, as they contrast with the more muscular areas, and I struggle with accepting them. I prefer to not have a scale in the house because I fear getting obsessed with a magic number, attainable or not. My weight has the ability to fill me with giddiness or a mild case of self-loathing, two extreme emotions which I prefer to avoid as I try to live a more even sort of life.
In the last few months, I have gained 4 or 5 lbs and I vacillate between acceptance and discomfort. I’ve been told, unsolicited, that I look “healthy” and “fit” and I don’t know why I feel challenged to accept these positive words in relation to my physical size. Isn’t healthy the goal? Isn’t fit the reason I exercise? Why must I work so hard mentally to respect my body and all the wonderful qualities it possesses?
A few weeks ago I was shopping at the Gap, a place I haven’t bought pants in quite some time. I started with a pair of khaki slacks in a size 6. Too big. I grabbed the 4s with the same result. I finally worked my way down to a size 0, which fit nicely, but I ultimately walked out with a size 2 in my bag because I refused to “buy in” to the vanity sizing so prevalent in current retail stores. I mean, who the hell wants to be a zero?!? What does that even mean?
Someday I hope to truly embrace my body, regardless of whatever number the scale or the size reveals.