Monday, October 26, 2009


I made it through the danger period of smoking without putting on 20 pounds. I carefully watched my habits because I knew I was going to want to put something in my mouth and that something couldn't be a cigarette. Then, about a month ago, my vigilance took a holiday. Suddenly I was ravenous and only for the very worst things. I began looking at loaves of bread as an appropriate meal and packages of sweets as a single serving size. This has not been kind to my physique. After confronting the number on the scale which, in retrospect could have been far worse, I have determined to be more considerate of my body. It does not hurt that in four weeks I will be on a beach.

I'm confronted with a problem that, if popular thought is to be believed, is unusual: I eat because I like food. A lot. I don't eat more when I'm happy or more when I'm sad. I occasionally eat more when I'm bored (see former job and Reese's peanut butter cup 'issue'). I don't eat because my parents didn't love me or because I program myself for failure or even because I have one of those thyroid disorders that once you get medication for you become thin. I simply think food is fantastic. Eating is a hobby. If you'd ask me which I'd prefer to spend money on, a dress or a great meal, I will gladly take the great meal and show up to it in yet another jersey dress from the Gap. I don't understand people who DON'T love to eat.

Sadly, what I love to eat is almost never vegetables (which I believe are merely a butter delivery service) and, as such, I have some challenges in the svelte department.

But there came a time, after the horrors of overweight adolescence when I simply could not ever bother to think I looked good that I realized something: in the world where I get to a healthier weight I will still look nothing like Michelle Pfeiffer. As such, perhaps I should look to different women for my style choices. Enter a delightful fascination with Sophia Loren, a woman who, at a healthier weight, I stand a much better chance of looking like. Armed with this knowledge, I bought my first two-piece bathing suit at 17 - I haven't bought a one-piece since. I got rid of bulky clothing and anything that didn't hug or flatter. I started playing up my legs by wearing higher and better shoes. This revelation is why my wardrobe is stylistically very similar to my wardrobe senior year in high school: I found what worked.

But before you start loathing me for being so incredibly smug and self-aware, I give you The Former Job Years. Former job and I did not get along and I suffered cosmetically for it (I also maintain that my health suffered, but I'm no scientician). I didn't care what I looked like and didn't really notice how little my clothing fit. I replaced pencil skirts with voluminous ones and form fitting dresses with those empire-waisted things we've all been wearing for several years that make us look both pregnant and comfortable. When I look in my closet now, though it's full, there's nearly nothing I want to wear (and, here's the Catch-22, don't want to buy a new wardrobe while I'm not at a permanent weight).

I have always maintained that confidence cures most things, and I think this is especially true for body image issues. Even when I'm not feeling confident, I try to project confidence. I stand up straight, I walk with a sway to my hips, and I smile from beneath half-lidded eyes - or at least that's what I think I do. It helps to camouflage an extra five pounds better than any support hose I've seen.

But I won't say it's not difficult to look around and not see any woman in the public eye that I could share clothing with. I won't be swapping sweaters with Angelina Jolie; or, on the other side of things, with Kelly Clarkson. Except one.

Dear Christina Hendricks, thank you so much for reminding me why I stocked up on pencil skirts and tight sweaters once upon a time. Thank you for encouraging me to put on the black, form-fitting mock turtleneck dress this morning with black stockings and my new red shoes for no reason other than I wanted to look beautiful. Thank you for being in a show I enjoy watching so that I get an opportunity to get some style pointers from someone who looks like I look. This enables me to be less bummed that I look ridiculous in a Polo shirt, and it motivates me to get to a weight where I want to buy clothes again.

So I'm doing my best to "work it" today, as the kids would say. I think a lot of women would be surprised how much head turning a girl can generate simply by behaving like a woman who turns heads. Forty pounds be damned!

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to say I enjoyed this rather feel-good post. After high school, when I kind of dressed like Kurt Cobain as you may recall, I went through what I call my "foxy period" in my mid-20s. I had lost 20 pounds and got a full head of hair extensions and wore lots of eye makeup. Then came the post-Katrina period, where, inspired by six weeks of living out of a backpack, I went back to dressing like Kurt Cobain.

    Anyway, after the storm I realized that it was a good idea to get a license and a car in case I ever needed to flee a horrific natural disaster again. Thus, I stopped riding my bicycle everywhere as I had during those first ten years in NOLA, when I lost those 20 pounds. Since the storm, I've put 'em back on and then some.

    But for some reason, the extra junk in the trunk and everywhere else feels better when I dress to accentuate it in the heels and the dresses and the snug and the etc. Somehow it took me till my 30's to realize that. Anyway. I enjoyed this post.

    --Alison F