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Thursday, March 6, 2014

I'm ME, I'm Not My Weight

Years ago it was considered to be beautiful to be bigger.  It was a sign of affluence.  In contrast, to be thin was sickly or unhealthy.  Now there is no mistaking that thin is in.  The thinner the better.  Models live on water and lettuce, and then they're photo shopped and air brushed before published in the media.  That is what girls want to grow up to look like.  That is what women strive to look like - at often dangerous costs, no matter what age.  That is what most men prefer.  After all, it is how we're supposed to look, right?  Of course.  I get up in the morning, get dressed and primed in my most beautiful clothes each day with my best makeup/hair job and then, before I head out the door I make sure to photo shop my curves away and airbrush my blemishes.  Um.... no.

Being a costumer, I was privileged to dress people of all sizes.  My fellow costumers and I joked that people would think that putting on a costume would magically make them look thin and fantastic.  Then there's the thin women with no curves that we'd give breast pads and chicken cutlets so they'd get some sort of a figure 8 to their body.  There's many different tricks to clothing and costume design that make the optical illusion of taller, thinner, curvier.  There's fat suits to make thin people look fat, etc.  There's "stigma" of different body shapes and types. They must eat a ton of food!  Woah - that person has no self control.  Geesh, does that chick even eat anything? The wind might blow her away.  That guy must be a lazy slob to be that fat.  Know what?  Some people are genetically bigger than others.  Some people are genetically very thin.  Fat people and thin people can have unhealthy eating habits.  Some people who appear overweight are very fit and health conscious about what they eat. And some people are overweight because of health complications or medications.  All fat people are not lazy, all black people are not criminals, all Asians aren't bad drivers, all gay people aren't child abusers.  Our society tells us these things for some reason unknown to me.

 I once worked on a production of "Oliver!" where almost all of the kids in the beginning orphanage scene were fat kids.  It looked all wrong to see all these big kids singing about living on gruel and not getting seconds...  But that's ok - because the kids did a great job and had a ton of fun.  As a costumer, I see people and often think they'd make a perfect this or that character.  And then there's the boys with red hair and beards... or sometimes blonde hair and beards... I can honestly say I always want to dress them in green cutaway coats and plaid vests and call them leprechauns... Silly, I know but it's where my mind goes.

Through all of the costuming and talking with insecure people of all shapes and sizes there's one thing that I firmly believe : Beauty isn't in the size - it's in how you carry yourself.  It's holding your head up and smiling and being kind.  It's being your best self no matter what weight.

Yes, I still believe that.  And I do my best to live it.  As an adult I've never been larger than a size 12 (except for being pregnant) and most of my adult life I've been a size 6.  I've always kept a busy life and I've always eaten pretty much whatever I feel like eating.  I've done Weight Watchers a couple of times after having babies and such.  One time while on WW I really -REALLY wanted one of those ice cream sandwiches they sell at the store with cookies on each side of the ice cream.  I checked out the points on the box and saw that one whole box (I think there was 6 in the box) equaled my points for one day.  That day I ate nothing but those ice cream sandwiches.  They were delicious.  No regrets at all.

When I first got really sick last year I was a size 2/4.  I was put on some meds that, on an average, puts 15ish pounds on whoever is taking them.  That was ok - 15 lbs wasn't too big of a deal.  And then, a few months back, I was put on another medicine.  I was told by the Doctor that I would gain weight.  40-60 lbs was "average".  After reading everything I could find online about this drug, as well as every one's complaints about it making them fat, I took a deep breath and figured if it helped with the intense pain then getting fat was an ok trade off.  Last week I cleaned out my closet and drawers.  I tried things on and packed my favorite clothes away as they are now too small.  Since then I've gone to get dressed in some of the bigger clothes I bought recently.  The tops are too tight, the pants are snug.  I am heavier than I have ever been (minus being pregnant) and as I usually gain weight in my legs and booty, this medicine causes weight gain in the torso.   Something I'm really not used to!  I can honestly say I felt depressed when cleaning out my closet and then trying on my clothes that fit just a few days ago and were now too small.

So here's my challenge - I need to pull out all of my costuming knowledge and dress myself in ways that flatter my different shaped body.  I feel like a stranger in my own body.  I need to buy some more clothes... in a size I've never worn before.  And when I get my full figured body dressed in the morning I will choose my outfit and stand up tall each day being the best me I can be because beauty isn't in fat or thin - it's in your heart.

 AND know what?!?!?  It's all ok.  I'm not sad about it anymore.  You see, I'm me and I'm not my weight.  I am smart, funny, talented and strong.  I am beautiful, loving, generous and kind.  And I have a clean closet.