I used to be really, really thin. People were always telling me I was so thin. Like a compliment. And I brushed it off and even pretended to be a little offended, because "thin" shouldn't mean "pretty."
Now I'm less thin. And I'm betting I'll keep getting less and less thin. That's the way these things seem to work. And suddenly I start to wonder what happens when "thin" means "pretty" and you're no longer thin. What do people say, then? You know what's scary? They say, "You look so thin in that."
When I tried on wedding dresses, the saleswoman kept saying, "That is SO slimming!" And "Look how tiny your waist looks in that!" (What is with me and saleswomen, by the way? The last one thought breast implants were an obvious option for me.)
And I said, "OH MY GOD, THANK YOU!!! I FEEL LIKE A PRINCESS NOW!"
No. I probably said, "Uh huh."
But I thought, "Wait…what did my waist look like before? Apparently not so tiny, eh?" OK, so I really don't ever think "eh?" at the ends of my sentences, but whatever. And I thought, "Do I need to be slimmed down?"
My inclination when I gained weight was to feel pretty good about it. I'd been too thin after not remembering to eat through much of grad school, and I had just met my fiancé, and I was happy. We were eating together constantly, out of joy. He clearly thought I was gorgeous, my breasts were not quite as non-existent as before, life was good.
I was obviously oblivious. I hadn't learned a really, really important lesson. Which is the following:
It is NEVER ok to gain weight.
Wait, wait- one exception: recovering from cancer. Well, really, recovering from a disease in general. Or possibly having recently (within the last two weeks or so) given birth. So there are actually a few excuses. But I couldn't use any of them.
And so it dawned on me little by little that I needed to lose weight. Especially since I'm getting married soon. My cousin, a rabbi who has performed many weddings, had me over for dinner. He said, "Hey, are you actually eating?" I looked surprised. He said, "I've never seen a bride eating so close to the wedding!"
I'm afraid that people won't have anything else to compliment. What if I'm not thin anymore, and the only compliments I get are, "You look sorta thin in that" and "Hey, remember when you were thin? You looked good back then!"
I was more confident about my appearance a while ago. But then, I was thinner. Now I feel like I have to work harder. As though extreme thinness is the key. It's the baseline for other beauty. And it feels easier to go on a diet then keep fighting. Which is saying something, because I love carbs. I mean, I love carbs more than people who say they love carbs love carbs. I love them like a child. That you eat. Anyway, I love them.
And you know what's ridiculous? I don't even really believe that whole thing about skinniness. I see heavy women all the time and think that they're gorgeous. And I see women who aren't skinny all the time and think that they're gorgeous. But when it comes to myself, I have this impulse to make all the stereotypical corrections. I don't know why.
But getting heavier is inevitable, unless I want to diet strictly for the rest of my life. So wouldn't the right thing to do be to figure out a way to feel good about it?
Maybe people are just going to have to learn some different compliments. I can try to help them out.
"…funny and compelling and beautifully proportioned?"
"Wow. And to think you used to be a thin person…."
But seriously. Losing skinniness should not be a loss of identity. For some people, it's just a sign of growing up successfully.
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