Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Big Girl in a Big Dress

I have, like, 30 magazine subscriptions. I am not joking. Every day, I get scores of them, sometimes five a day. I bet my mail carrier hates me.

Because I get so many magazines, it's easy to fall behind if I have other things going on, and that's been the case lately. Between taking care of AC and my emotional dramas caused by my divorce, I am woefully behind on my magazines. This is most noticeable with my weeklies, like People.

Last Friday, I had some spare time, because AC was at her Grammy's house and I had nothing else to do. Actually, that's a total lie. I had plenty else to do, but I was choosing not to do it. Sometimes, catching up on magazines is an accomplishment on its own, so I use that as an excuse to ignore housekeeping duties. After all, as my ex pointed out, I am no homemaker, so why change that now?

The issue that I grabbed, from a few weeks back, featured celebs and fashions from the 2010 Golden Globe awards. I was mortified when I saw this picture of Mad Men star Christina Hendricks, in which she was described as a "big girl in a big dress".

My jaw dropped and all I could think was, really, America? Really? This is a "big girl in a big dress"? Wow.

Being single again has caused me to have major body confidence issues. Not that I've ever had body confidence, mind you. Even when I was at my smallest, it was still a struggle, because thin was never thin enough. As I got older, it became harder and harder to maintain that thin, no matter what I did. By the time I married and started my desk job, I let go of that notion altogether. After all, I thought, even if I was "thin", what difference would it make? It wasn't going to significantly change my life in any way.

Now that I feel like I need to attract men, I could not be more self-concious of how I look. I've lost two sizes since I started my divorce, the product of a lack of appetite, which, upon seeing results, ended up as full-on starvation mode. I feel guilty when I eat, as if every bite brings me one step closer to upping a size again. But I still don't feel good or cute or accepting of myself.

I have a friend who has lost a significant amount of weight over the past year. Before she started losing weight, she was about my size. After her weight loss, she gave me a bunch of hand-me-down clothes, because she had shrunk, and they were worthless to her. I tried to stifle the minor sting this caused me, because she was trying to be nice, not point out my weight issues. The weight issue connection is all imaginary to me, because this friend is nothing but nice and gracious. She would never intentionally make me feel like shit about my weight, and I know that I only feel that way because of how I feel about myself inside.

A few weeks ago, we had lunch, and we were reviewing Facebook pictures of various people, including the girl that her ex-husband had an affair with. This girl was several sizes smaller than my friend, before my friend lost weight. As we looked at the pictures, my friend announced that when she divorced, she knew that she had to lose weight, because at the weight she was, she was unmarketable to men.

Unmarketable. To men. Her words stung beyond belief. I have no question that she didn't think when she said that. She was applying the term to how she felt about herself, without thinking that I am the weight she was before her weight loss. I doubt that she even realized that what she said would at all apply to me, and she'd never say something like that to be deliberately hurtful. But...by her standards, this makes me unmarketable.

I could not get those words out of my mind. To even have the word "unmarketable" pop up in my thoughts made me tear up. I scrutinzed myself in the mirror, wondering how I could fix my unmarketable-ness, and quickly. The "turkey waddle" of a lower tummy that I have since pregnancy and my C-section don't help, as weight loss actually makes this more profound. It's somehow like a growth, independent from my actual body, with a mind of its own. It doesn't tan with the rest of my stomach. It burns and it peels. The skin itself has never really regained feeling since my C-section, and is still numb to the touch. I could grab a handful of skin and flab and who knows what else. It's covered in stretch marks. It's very unattractive. It's unmarketable.

I wish I could say that I have the inner confidence to blow this off and feel good about myself, regardless of what society says. I am cute. Right now, I wear the same size as the "average" American woman--and I am three inches taller than "average". I'll probably hit a below-average size, in time, especially if I could manage to utilize the free time that joint custody brings to work out instead of read magazines. But yet...this still is not good enough. No matter how thin I got, it would not be good enough, when we live in a world where even "average" is not good enough and is harshly criticized.

Over the weekend, I got together with a friend from high school, someone I had not seen since the end of our sophomore year, when I moved out of the area. We had a good laugh over all the times that I tried to "guide" her into a proper model walk, making her walk with a book on her head to better her posture. She said to me, "One of the things that I have always liked about you is that you have always had that confidence to go after what you want, even if you don't necessarily know what it is that you want."

I laughed inside, because in my mind, hidden beneath my towering tsumami of a personality, is actually a gurgling cesspool of insecurity. It causes me to never feel good enough, no matter how many sizes I lose or how cute I look or how funny I am.

No matter what, when I look at myself in the mirror, all I can see is "big girl in a big dress" and "unmarketable"...

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