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The truth about fat and blogs

Every Spring my local women's club---social, yes, but also charitable and very down-to-earth by which I mean "shares appreciation for wine and dancing on tables"---has a fashion show. The local chi-chi boutique chips in and outfits models who parade about one of our tonier member's magazine-worthy home, around a pool or lakeside. The models are us.

Yes, that's what I said. Every year I model in a little fashion show.

You get to go to this chi-chi boutique where you select clothes that look good on you with a personal fashion expert advising. Like "What Not to Wear," only slightly nicer.

Yes, only slightly. And no free money. Just a 20% off coupon. 20% off still doesn't buy me a t-shirt on clearance, by the way.

But oh I love those clothes.

My appointment with the professional is on Monday. The assistant called yesterday to get some information about me.

Here's what you should know about me: if I was a gorgeous black woman, Tyra Banks and I could be sisters.

Okay so really, all we share right now is height and weight. Since I weaned Persistence, I have no more boob, but I also lost 35 pounds. I have pale freckled skin, faded denim blue eyes, and brownish-reddish hair. So I look nothing like Tyra, but hey, a girl can dream.

Still, the point is: Tyra Banks is so not fat.

(However, she has crappy taste in show ideas.)

Plus, I'm older than her, don't have professionals at my fingertips for my optimum health (no dietitians, no personal trainers, no spas, etc.), and have more kids than she does.

This matters. Trust me. A lot.

So I'm chatting with the assistant on the phone. She's collecting information to start thinking in advance of clothes for the show.

"You guys have this adorable little two-layer asymetrical black skirt with embroidered butterflies," I said, "I definitely want that skirt."

"Okay," she says, "What size are you?"

I freeze.

Here's the part where I want to yell, well it's X but I'M NOT FAT!

What? WTF? Why freeze? Why choke back such a defensive reply? What's wrong with that number? Nothing. Nada. Tyra Banks wears it!

I'll tell you what's wrong with it: it's considered the upper end of normal. That's what. This means everyone thinks somebody wearing that size is FAT.

And whats wrong with being fat? Nothing. Except, for some reason, boutique shop girls act like anything above a 2 is some sort of second-class slob citizen.

So I want to start justifying. I want to tell her my defense: I'm tall, I'm older, I have had two kids, but I just lost a lot of weight and I look pretty good, despite my dress size.

Instead I said mildly, "Well it depends on how the designer runs. If it's average, I can fit in an X, if it's small, then a Z, or maybe a Y."

"A Z?!?!?!" the girl, who sounds about 22 and pre-partum, shrieks, "OMG, well, we only carry about TWO THINGS in a Z!!! I don't know...maybe we won't have anything to fit you...I mean, in THAT size...if you really need something THAT LARGE..." She pauses. Long, pregnant pause. I assume she's waiting for me to say, "You're right, I'm a fatty mcfat, I should quit."

But I don't. I've been in that shop, trying things on. There should be plenty to fit me. There always is. But this is reason #2 why I tend to shop at Target.

"Like I said," I told her, offended, "It depends on how your sizes run."

She said a couple more things and I heard it in her voice: we're going to have to fit a fatty mcfat; I don't know why all these suburban moms let themselves go this way.

My friend---who is a marathon runner and two full dress sizes smaller than me---got the same treatment last year. She was so furious. She should be. The girl looks fabulous. She is firm, fit, healthy and gorgeous. She just donated over a foot of hair to Locks of Love. Now she has a short and sassy hair-do. Everyone should look so gorgeous.

I get the same treatment every year from the rapid-turnover assistant of the month. Then I walk in and get the sigh of relief, "Oh you're not as bad as I feared!" And that was 30+ pounds ago.

So I ask: WTF is wrong here?

So what if I was larger? Eh? I'm not worthy of being considered beautiful? Of being decked out?

Every year I try to recruit women of all ages and shapes and sizes. They usually demur, "Oh I'm too old...too fat..."

Hello, what you look like is NORMAL.

So every year it's the same batch of us: the about 5% of us in the group somehow able to have self-confidence that we look good as we are.

And, that momentary lapse aside, I do have self-confidence.

I know I look fine. Since I've lost the weight, people comment regularly about how good I look. Every day I sashay myself (silently, still, two years later) past that mom, the super-dee-duper skinny one at school who asked me one day after we'd just met, "Did you get fat after you moved here? Everyone gets fat after they move here." Lady, I was two months post-partum. Bu that shouldn't even matter.

Despite all this, I got all self-conscious. I pestered my best friend and husband for reassurance, "Do I look healthy to you? I mean, I look fine, right?"

What am I...twelve?

I let some 22 year old kid get to me...I let some bizarre obsession with anorexic looking women get to me. OMG. I got BARBIED!

What a mindfuck those arbitrary numbers can be.

I sucked it up tonight. I mowed the lawn. I vacuumed the house. I carried two kids hanging off my arms (free weights = 65 pounds unevenly distributed) up the stairs, twice. I didn't even breathe hard or break a sweat. I stared into the mirror, looking at myself from all angles.

I saw a women, late 30s, looking a little wrinkly and bruised-y under the eyes from piss poor sleep this week, wrinkle and gray free, hips a little wider and abdomen still a little loose from two pregancies...but all in all? Looking pretty good for the age and stage of life.

I decided I can't wait to cruise in to that shop Monday morning. I can't wait for that girl to eat her words. She's going to see I am one tall drink of water, and have earned that size, which suits me in a healthy and fine way.

And someday, chickie will be twenty years older and seriously choking on the whole X is fat idea.

copyright 2007 Julie Pippert


Mom O Matic said…
Aaaah the 20's, such a stupid time in our lives. I'm sure I thought I would be married, have 3 kids, a mercedes and be think by the time I was 29. Ha!

Great weigh in by the way! Can I ask you what diet plan you are doing? Or are you just working out?
kim said…
You go girl! It is insane how the 2osomethings get to us. Girl it's all in the attitude. You don't have to justify yourself to some bimbo. They smell fear.

How the hell could someone as tall as you and Tyra be a size 2?

"I got barbied"---I love that!!!
Kate said…
Hear, hear. The issue is more one of proportions and toning than size, per se. I am short and very untoned right now, sigh. But I still dress up nice!

You should see the girlies at university. Sigh. They bring out the Jewish mother in me every time I see them--I want to grab them by the arm, drag them into the union restaurant, and say, "EAT! EAT! Are you okay?! You look too skinny! EAT!" Seriously, it makes me kind of sad.
atypical said…
I remember reading an article that proclaimed, "0 is the new size 6!"

I too look at how skinny some of these young girls are and just want to feed them. As self-conscious as I felt in my younger years, I hate to think of the pressure that is placed on the youth of today. I'm just praying that it all magically goes away before my daughter gets there (I know, I know, a pipe dream).

If we weren't all made in different shapes and sizes, the world sure wouldn't be a very interesting place.

Girlplustwo said…
what a twerp. and worse, what a societally engulfed and brainwashed little girl.

you rock it, sister. you gorgeous thing, you.
Unknown said…
I wish I was going to be in that store with you tomorrow when you teach that poor brainwashed girl a lesson in reality. A tall drink of water is what she will need when she starts choking on her words.

It is sad how society idealizes the abnormal.
Julie Pippert said…
Momish, your last sentence has totally set my mind to a whirl:
It is sad how society idealizes the abnormal.

Juxtaposing that against my two posts about bullying (targeting kids who are different aka "abnormal") wow. Little bitty mind-blow. could be the Venetian plaster topcoat fumes and sinus-induced vertigo. LOL

Wish you could be there too!


Jen, oh that's it aboslutely: engulfed and brainwashed. I'm trying so hard to think back to 22. I remember feeling self-conscious in a bikini at a pool (did I look okay?). Seriously, I was 125, at almost 6 feet. I think people commented so frequently on my appearance that it became a form of self-identity.

I should feel kindly towards her, shouldn't I, LOL. Poor thing, just a kid, deluded, she'll grow out of it.

I'm not that big yet. I still feel snotty. LOL.


Atypical and Kate LOL about the mother bit. Yes, I look at some of these young girls and want to mother them too, and I know some of their mothers! And what their mothers think of parenting a teen girl (and that? makes me want to run and hide under a rock).

I agree it's about being our healthiest self...and we aren't all the same size.


Kim, even at my skinniest I was a 6. I will project no fear. Scorn. Pity. Condescension. But no fear. JUST KIDDING (except about the no fear part...and maybe just a teeny bit about the 'oh, honey...' condescension part).


Lotta, LOL trust you to put it in plain truth!

I am doing Weight Watchers (although I had to SADLY quit meetings due to budget constraints---you know how WELL our husbands are paid and we had some medical bills for the kids). I use flex points.

I almost think the principles---for me---are more important than the points.

I do make sure to use my daily minimum but I try not to use my flex or activity points. Believe it or not "just right" is hard for me. I either under or overdo it.

I do try to get in as much motion every week as I can. I try to use my machine (Glider) three times a week for half an hour, and then count the regular household and mommy chores as more exercise (like mowing the idea how much that counts as but it should count for a fair amount!).

I think the supplements help too because they make up for the deficiencies the poor sleep and stress cause (slows down metabolism and creates body "holding").

And fiber. Loads of fiber. And water.

I drink about 50 ounces in the morning and don't eat breakfast (high protein and fiber) until 10:30, when I feel hungry.

If I eat earlier, it throws off my blood sugar and eating pattern.

Well that got long. But hope it explains my approach.
Occasional said…

Your post speaks to a deep fear of mine. That of an unseen force with the power to mold societal norms, and develop expectations of self-adherence so contrary to our stated values.

As the father of a 15 y.o. girl the societal madness surrounding appearance absolutely horrifies me.

My daughter has no chance of being a size 6, much less a 0, and I see her comparing herself to the "ideals" with which she is constantly bombarded. Fortunately she seems to have developed an awareness of what is the behind the "Abercrombie and Fitch approach" to selling.

Still I know that it hurts her to feel she can't participate in that slice of our culture, be one of the "beautiful" people.

It's painful to see her so misled by our marketing-driven society.

It only seems to get worse with time, I wonder what my 5 y.o. daughter will be confronted with as she matures.

As a man, I certainly don't want a stick thin waif, emaciated and starved to satisfy some bizarre cultural requirement I don't fully understand.

My tastes tend more toward the "Rubenesque". So here I sit, waiting, hoping for a renaissance, a new love of form and curve. A real appreciation of real bodies, real women.

It just makes our job as parents all the more important.

Oh damn, ranting again.

Lawyer Mama said…
Ah, I remember being 22 and stupid.

Kate is right that it's more about proportions and toning. I'm short. Very short. I'm 5'2" and am also cursed with a thick waist. Whenever I tell salespeople my pant size I get the look of shock and horror. And even though I am absolutely fine with my body it still gives me pause. It's great fun.

A fashion show sounds like so much fun though!
thailandchani said…
I am reminded of the words of an old song "Real Live Woman" ...

I don't need to be 19 years old
Or starve myself for some weight I'm told
Or turn men's heads down that road
And I thank God I finally know
Just who I am

Personally, I think the whole obsession with weight and body type is rather silly. We humans come in all sizes and shapes and that's just totally okay by me.

I am on a weight loss program because of the associated health problems that come along with being too heavy. I'll be content to be healthy and toned. My body will choose its own shape.

The obsession with beauty is, imo, vain and silly. It shows that some people don't have enough important things to do with their time and energy. It's overboard self-absorption.

At the same time, promoting it does serve the corporate masters well. It keeps people buying. It keeps them dissatisfied.

Look at the health club industry. People don't need health clubs to achieve fitness. Normal activity, walking and eating moderate portions will do just as well.



Kyla said…
Heh. I'm 23, but I'm sure I don't think X is fat. Because I'm postpartum X's two as well. I love your outlook, Julie.
S said…
It's so sad.

And it's why I shop at Target, because they down-size (i.e., a 10 is called an 8), and I enjoy buying a size smaller than I am, even though I know perfectly well that the size is a LIE.

Why should I care what the number is?

But I do. We all do. And that's what's so sad.
Bones said…
I want to point out a double standard, and then ask whose double standard it is. I'm honestly not sure.

It is so perfectly okay for boys to have a big ass and a Buddha belly. In fact, plenty of women have told me that big guys make them feel safe, or whatever.

So, is it that women are less judgmental than guys, or is it that women hold each other to a higher standard than they hold guys to. I've seen evidence of both and I’m really curious to what your reactions are.
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