I have a confession to make.
I haven’t been entirely truthful. With myself, I mean. What I’ve said to all of you, about aging, about weight, about embracing all of that and rocking it and loving it, all that has been true. But when I’ve said those things to myself, I’ve lied.
I weigh 150 pounds. I weighed myself this morning, and have been in a fit all day over it. That number; that fucking number–it’s been driving me batSHIT! But just hours later, I think I’ve worked it out. (I’m a Virgo.) Try to follow me, because this is important for me to say, and although I could fill books with this stuff, I’ll try to keep it manageable.
When I was 13, I went out with a friend one night and hung around the movie theater. Some boys arrived; they were kind of tough boys, not like the ones I knew in my neighborhood. They all wanted to get with (and in 1973, that meant they wanted to hug her or kiss her) my friend, and nobody wanted to “get with” me.
“How the hell can that be?” I remember thinking to myself. “She’s not as pretty as I am; she’s kind of chubby; she’s got acne scars and frizzy hair. Why would someone choose her over me?”
I never forgot that night, and until recently, I never did understand why they chose my friend over me. It’s funny what we take away from our childhood experiences, isn’t it? My friend, my frizzy-haired, acne-scarred, kinda plumpy friend owned her body. You could just tell by looking at her. She was completely comfortable in her skin–in her flesh–and I, though petite next to her, was still decades away from getting the pink slip on my own body.
I took these photos today to show my husband just how much weight I’ve gained in the past few years. Thirty pounds. Thirty fucking pounds. Some of it is age; some of it is the meds I have to take for my back problems; some of it is the hormones I have to take so I can fucking sleep at night and not go apeshit on people during the day. And, let’s be real: some of it is Nutella and Hershey dark chocolate kisses.
I took these photos expecting to be repulsed by them. But on the contrary, I adore the way my body looks. I’ve never, never ever, looked like a woman. I’ve always been skinny and bony and angular, and even when I got breast implants in 1992 (I had them taken out three years later because I didn’t like men staring at me), I never felt sexy. The implants weren’t mine; they weren’t part of my body or my experience; they were just put there by someone who assured me that they were all that was missing.
Wow, was he off by a mile or what?
I love what Jessa in “Girls” said recently: “I’m going to look 50 when I’m 30…because I’m going to be so full of experiences.”
I don’t know if Lena Dunham meant that to be a literal statement by her character, but I love thinking of it literally. This (I say, while I’m holding my belly), this is a body full of experiences. This is a life well lived! This belly held my daughter while I was pregnant; it’s a pillow for my husband’s head, or my dogs’ napping bodies. This belly has my favorite tattoo on it: “this is who we are.”
This is who we are. How often do I need to look down and read that and remind myself why I got it in the first place.
I have gained weight. And I’ve gained experience. And I’ve gained friends. And talent and inspiration and love and respect too.
So am I just replacing one body-image stereotype for another? I don’t think so. When I was young I often had no idea what I was doing, or what I wanted to do. There were a lot of empty spaces, waiting for all the things that I’ve spent my adult years gathering [see above]. I’m full now. I’m full and I’m more (but not fully) complete. I’m softer. I’m sexier. I’m more confident. I’m happier. Yeah, I’m older, but I’m wiser. And anyone who knows me can totally be assured: I’ll never really grow up.