There was a scene in Sex and the City, where Samantha tells Smith (an aspiring actor), “first come the gays, then the girls…and then the industry.” For me, weight-loss follows a similar cadence where first my friends noticed, then my husband…and then me. I haven’t suddenly lost another chunk of weight, but it’s like things are settling and my body is adjusting. I have a waist again, my face is less round, and even my feet seem smaller somehow. I have had to do another purge of old clothing, and even more satisfying, started fitting back into some of my old clothing. I am far from a hoarder. Just ask my husband Craig who is often annoyed with how easily I part with our possessions and keepsakes in an effort to stay clutter-free. But I have always kept a handful of my favorite items items that hard to find, or that seemingly never go out of style. I am nothing, if not hopeful and positive, it would seem.
The sisterhood of the traveling pants
Segues are overrated, and my mum is a stunningly beautiful woman. And she has been stunningly beautiful her entire life. Of course, we are surrounded by gaggles of traditionally, and undeniably beautiful ladies, but someone has to carry the torch and light the cauldron, and I am suggesting that it is almost certainly my mother Mary-Ann (also known in close circles as “Birdie” or “the bird” or “lady-bird”, as she would prefer to be nick-named). To support this claim, I can tell you that my high-school boyfriend once joked (kind of) that he was only dating me to get to my mother, and that my entire group of friends in college referred to her as a “yummy mummy” behind her back.
Not only is she a beautiful woman, but she also has enviable taste, when it comes to clothing, art, entertaining, and design. I once asked her what she would cite as the single most important fashion advice for women. “Buy the best and highest quality pants that you can afford”, she quipped. Although, she may have referred to them as trousers, or *cringe* SLACKS, but I digress. She also added that in addition to the very best pants that we can afford, we should also have access to the best tailor in town. “Nobody ever tailors clothing to fit their bodies anymore”, she lamented. She also seemed to suggest that I should mosey on over to Escada or St. John to procure said pants, which I never did – not because I couldn’t afford it if I started putting quarters in my swear jar, or stocked my apartment with cheaper wine for a couple of months. I didn’t because I was too fat. There is a good (and a little sad) reason why my closet is filled with pretty handbags, and shiny accessories. When you are over-weight but you have a deep appreciation for fashion and design, you probably have nice handbags and great jewelry. Unless I missed the Carolina Herrera rack in the Encore section of Nordstrom, or the Oscar de la Renta area of Lane Bryant, then I am sorely mistaken.
Back when I was still shopping in semi-regular stores like the Gap, I found a pair of pants that I could never seem to part with. I’m sure that some of you will sympathize – but one does not simply give away the perfect white wide-leg linen trousers. They have a button, not a band or an elastic. They have pockets that lay flatly against my hips, and the linen is high quality such that it doesn’t stretch out four more sizes throughout the day when I wear them. They are timeless, and they look great on me. Or, they did over seven years ago when I last had them in the rotation.
Until ten days ago, my weight-loss was mostly numbers and data. The numbers were great, but it is even more satisfying when they translate into more tangible milestones like crisp white linen pants. I hauled them out of the bowels of my closet, just to see what would happen. I was certain that I wouldn’t be able to button them up, but perhaps by the summer we would reconnect. Only they did fit. And perfectly, at that! I honestly almost cried, I felt so proud of myself. The last time I wore those pants was just a few weeks after I found out I was pregnant with Quinn – and not because it was inching closer and closer to Labor Day, either. Could I wear them, though? We were still another two weeks away from Memorial Day long weekend. Luckily, the answer I gave myself was HELL FUCKING YES!
A suit that suits me
You would think that I would immediately dive into the rest of my closet to see what else I could bring back into play with my new hot bod, but it didn’t occur to me until almost two weeks later. I was packing the family up for a pool party, and searching through my short-but-shameful pile of swim dresses. At least I was looking for the smallest swim dress, I reasoned. Then I remembered a bathing suit that I had purchased years ago because I thought it was too adorable not to own. Only, when it arrived, I couldn’t even get it on. Like, I literally broke a sweat trying to pull it past my hips. Like, it still had the tags and even that pinchy plastic pantyliner still attached. Holding it now, years later, it is a little more sailor moon than I might choose today – but I still thought it was adorable. I looked at the tag, which read size 16. Size 16…oh gawd, there is no way. Why am I going to torture myself by reattempting to pry it on without at least buttering myself up first? Craig and the kids were still outside enjoying the fresh morning air, so I decided to go for it. I almost typed that “magically” it fit! Magic schmagic – it fit because of all of the hard work I have done to unpack the “why” of my fat. It fit because I am learning to care for myself, and value my health and vitality. It fit because I sweat my balls off, and ate so much spinach that it turned my poop green! When I asked Craig whether or not he thought I could wear it to the pool party, he said yes. And my friends all commented on how good it looked, and how good I looked – and must have been shooting sunbeams of pride out my eyeballs, toes, and fingertips, because that’s how good it felt to soak in the sunshine and all that I have accomplished.
In so many ways, things are getting easier and easier. I used to hate seeing photos of myself. They never matched how I thought I looked, and I would immediately feel the sting of shame and the reality of what I had slowly and steadily done to my body. Now I see photos of myself and feel a rush of pride, and the warmth of self-love. That is, when I see current photos of myself. It is getting harder to look at the person that I used to be. Even though it was only a few short months ago, it makes me feel embarrassed. Glad to be on a good trajectory, of course – but still hard to accept.
Today, Quinn brought home the most adorable bound book of her experience as a kindergartner. We flipped through the pages as a family together: Halloween, thanksgiving, beach day, the day the bee-keeper came to school. And then there was a first day of school photo that made me tear up in disbelief. I wanted to rip it off the page, so that Quinn would someday flip through that book and feel proud of me – like I always did about my mum. My beautiful yummy mummy lady-bird. It has taken me a few hours to process the shock of seeing myself like this. What it means to look back at myself and feel shame instead of empathy, and embarrassment over compassion – and how I can get better at unraveling that. Owning where I am at, and where I have been. Being vulnerable and bold with my sharing (both the good and the not so good) seems to be a big part of what is working for me thus far – hence the reason why I am including the photo here. Turning to face the strangeness of these changes.
Changes – David Bowie
(Turn and face the strange)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time