Remember the cartoon called “Cathy”? She was a single woman with a boyfriend named Irving and a mother who desperately wanted her to get married. Some of my favorite strips involved Cathy shopping for a bathing suit—I could so relate to her. “Ack!!” she would scream from the dressing room.
The other day I went to Macy’s to get a suit for our upcoming trip to Turks and Caicos (we paid for the trip last year before my unfortunate professional sabbatical). We are going to Beaches, an all inclusive resort with 19 restaurants. Billy wants to try them all. We will only be there for six days, but Billy will do his best.
Although this is not an official school trip, it has become a tradition at Collegiate for families to go together on Spring Break when the kids are seniors. There will probably be about two dozen families at Beaches with us. That means two dozen skinny blondes, and me, a size 14.
All my bathing suits are at the lake house (soon to be for sale) so I decided to buy a new one. Even though it is only March, the bathing suits are already on the racks, ready to intimidate even the most svelte woman.
And of course, me. I took a couple size 14 suits off the rack and tried them on. Ack. The suits made the fat near my armpits bulge out. I could see all the cellulite dimples on my thighs. Even with one of those awful swim skirts there was no hiding them. I hate those swim skirts. They shout “Hey, I’m too fat for a regular bathing suit!”
I thought about all the skinny blondes who probably wear a size two bikini. A lot of these women don’t work, and therefore get to spend a couple of hours every morning in the gym. I remember years ago sitting at our neighborhood pool next to two women. One said she went to the gym every morning because she had nothing else to do once she dropped her kids off at school. Yeah, I felt really sorry for her.
I am the classic yo-yo dieter. Four years ago, I lost 40 pounds and wore a size 8. I’ve gained it all back since then. During the Missing Years I got so skinny I wore a size 4. That lasted for about two weeks.
It takes too much effort and energy to stay that thin. You have to be hyper-vigilant about what food you eat and how much, and where’s the fun in that? You miss out on too many good things to eat. Food becomes something bad instead of something good. I don’t want to live like that. Let’s face it; food tastes good, that’s why some of us eat too much.
I noticed that at parties with the skinny blondes, they stay far away from the food. They don’t eat, or if they do, they wait until very late in the party and eat very little. For me, the food is the highlight of the party! That’s why I’m overweight.
Recently my mother complained that in my father’s family, everything revolved around food. She said they talked about food constantly, what they ate during their last meal, what they were going to eat for their next meal, etc. She said this as if it was the worse sin imaginable. My father’s family is Italian; that’s what Italians do. In fact, I would venture to say that most of us associate food with comfort, family and happiness. Not my mother.
There is a happy medium between my father’s family and the skinny blondes, but I have trouble staying there. It doesn’t help that my husband is a chef, but I can’t blame it on him. Eating out can be managed. What I can’t seem to manage is the stress eating. And I have been under a lot of stress for the past six months. I’ve been “nurturing” myself with food. Can you blame me? My life has gone to hell in a hand basket. Thank goodness for Klondike bars. Eat Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches instead? No thanks. Or if I do, I’ll eat four of them at a time.
Now is not the time to try to lose weight. I need to find a job and sell my house first.
So there I am, staring at my thigh dimples in the mirror in Macy’s, thinking about how I will be sitting next to all those skinny blondes at one of the many pools at Beaches. I am going to look like a cow next to them. Maybe I should get a suit with black and white spots and be done with it. Or maybe, just as they have an adults-only pool, they have a fatties-only pool as well.
But then I had a better idea. I’m going to embrace my body and wear it proudly. Why not? It’s not going to change in the next four days.
When we went to the Amalfi Coast in Italy a few years ago, every single woman on the beach wore a bikini. And I mean every woman. No matter how old or how fat, they all wore bikinis. I was the only woman on the beach in a one-piece. I was the only woman there not showing her belly. And not one of them was self-conscious about it.
I’m not going to go as far as the Italian women, but I decided in that fitting room that I’m not going to be embarrassed about my generous girth. I’m not crazy about being this heavy, but it is what it is.
I also realized that just because a person is skinny does not necessarily mean she is happy. Maybe some of the skinny blondes are so skinny because they are unhappy. Maybe they only think being skinny will make them happy.
Some of the skinny blondes are happy, to be sure, but probably not because they are skinny. Being skinny does not make a person happy. It might help, but being skinny is not going to do it alone. It won’t make up for the fact that your husband had an affair with your best friend (as an example), or that you are so bored you get to the car pool lane an hour before school lets out (which does happen).
The weird thing about my current situation is that I am happy right now. Billy and I have always said that no matter what happens to us, as long as we have each other, we will be happy. And we are. I still have a wonderful husband. I also have friends who have stood by me and supported me as I whine my way through this black tunnel I’m in. I have two healthy, seemingly well-adjusted kids. I have two dogs who think I am the greatest thing since sliced bread—as long as I have a slice of bread in my hand. They come running to greet me with their tails wagging every time I come into the house, which is a lot more than I can say for my teenage kids.
Here’s an irony for you. My mother hates fat people. Hates them. She is very thin and watches what she eats like a hawk. And yet who does she live with? Me, her fattest child.
So I will sit proudly next to the skinny blondes. I will drink those fruity rum drinks with abandon (they are included!) Besides, Billy prefers a woman with a little meat on her bones. And that’s me.