I am not skinny. I have been skinny twice in my life, slender a few more, but the bulk (ha ha I'm punny!!!) of my life has been spent as a bigger gal. Not morbidly obese, I've always been able to fit in airplane seats and I do manage to be mobile, but more often than not, I am less than pleased with the numbers on my jeans. I would say numbers on my scale but truth be told, I haven't owned a scale in over a decade. So I go by which jeans fit. Hey, it's what Cher does.
I am currently in my size 16 jeans. Yes, I have sets of jeans in different sizes...I have a set of size 6, a handful of 8's and 10's, several size 12's and a pair of size 14's. You see, the more I detest and resent a size, the fewer things I will buy. So I have a single pair of 16's. Going by this insane barometer, one could deduce that I am at my most comfortable in 10's and 12's. So that is now my goal. Only this time, I will get rid of the bigger sizes as I go along. I am done letting my weak, fat side enable me.
I clearly remember the first time I was embarrassed by my weight. I must have been about 7 or 8, and I was looking over a pile of snapshots that my mom had just received back from Walgreens or Snyders or whoever developed our Kodak film back in the day. She had taken pictures of my brother and I as we cavorted on a beach. I had been wearing a jaunty little two piece with a nautical theme, I can see the little embroidered anchors and red button accents with amazing clarity. Why can't I remember what my kids were wearing yesterday??
Anyhoo. So we (my mom, brother and I) were looking over the pictures and we came upon a shot of me, alone, skipping along the sand. My brother said, 'Look at your fat tummy." There it was. The first 5 words from someone pointing out my flaws. I remember scrutinizing that photo, and realizing that he was right. I was fat! My belly was round, my legs were soft and chubby, my arms were like a Kewpie doll and not like my Barbie. The seed of self loathing was planted, and if you're not familiar with this particular strain of mental weed, it's similar to Creeping Charlie. It overtook my brain before I knew what hit me.
Fast forward through the next few years. Mom put me on a Weight Watchers plan in the fourth grade. I look back on pictures from those days, and honestly, I was not what we now call "fat". I was never one of those stick like girls, but I looked healthy, and more importantly, I looked happy. Beginning in that year, however, I began to look at myself differently. Food became something other than a source of nutrition. It became my nemesis. Actually, I became my own worst enemy. It was when I started hating myself for what I craved. It was when I first felt guilt and shame over who I was.
Another nudge to the fast forward button: High school. Again, when I look back at pictures, I was what most people would consider "normal". But that shame and self loathing was there. I had a scrapbook that I filled with pictures of what I wanted to look like: Phoebe Cates, who smiled at me from every issue of my Seventeen magazine...Christie Brinkley, steering a boat in a bathing suit, actually sitting down and nothing from her belly was flopped over the front of her bikini bottoms. Oh how I wanted to look like them...I'd stand in front of my full length mirror and look at my round ass, my soft midsection, my Rubenesque arms. And I hated what I saw.
I actually tried to psych myself into either anorexia or bulimia. I remember watching Jennifer Jason Leigh in a "very special" movie, "The Best Little Girl in The World", and reading an article in People mag about how she had to starve herself to get into the world of the anorexics. I tried so hard, but my love of food and disdain for starving won out. My experiment with bulimia lasted less than a day. Ever self-induce a tuna melt barf? I just didn't have the right stuff for eating disorders.
Moving along, we are now in college. I gained the Freshman Fifteen, the Sophomore Ten and the Junior Twelve. That was when I decided that college wasn't for me..I wanted to fly the friendly skies. I dropped out of college and moved back home with mom, thus officially claiming my spot as Black Sheep, but that's a whole nother post.
That was when I learned that my body responds remarkably well to exercise. We had an old stationary bike in the basement, and I would ride that thing for hours while watching Mtv. I took our poodle, Duffy, out for long walks and fell in love with the endorphin rush combined with the mental clarity. Before long I was slender, for the first time. The suit I bought for my airline interviews was a size 4. Like a tender young alcoholic taking my first sip, I fell in love with Skinny Me. That's when the crazy dance with weight and all things caloric started up in full force.