HUGE comeback.

I should first admit that my second addiction is television. (after food, that is). I watch a lot of television and generally prefer tv shows to movies. I really like getting to know characters and seeing them develop over time. My favorite shows are ones in which the main character has major flaws that marginalize him/her from society. As Monk says, “It’s a gift and a curse.” I think many people relate to that.

Over the years there have been few shows who have dared to have main characters who are fat. We have Roseanne from the 90’s, Kirstie Alley’s brief, but hilarious Fat Actress, and for the guys, Tony Soprano and the Drew Carey show. Usually the fat chicks and dudes are the sidekick, which doesn’t bother me when they are treated honorably, such as Sookie, in the Gilmore Girls, or Hurley on Lost. (How can Hurley not be your favorite Lost character?)

Recently there are two shows I’m watching that have main characters who are very fat: Drop Dead Diva (now in its second season) and Huge. I’m not in-love with either of these shows the way I am with, say Weeds or The Closer, but I like watching them to see how the shows treat women-of-a-certain-size.

Drop Dead Diva is starring the beautiful Brooke Elliot and hysterical Margaret Cho. The premise is similar to the movie Heaven Can Wait; Model/actress Deb is killed “before her time” so she is given a new body and a new life. She wakes in the body of Jane Bingum, plus-sized lawyer. What I like about this show is that once it got past the initial OMG I’m a thin girl in a fat girl’s body premise, it kind of forgot that Jane was fat. There are a few references, but they are the kind that come up in normal life. I like that Jane loves to look pretty and dresses killah! I love that her best friend, size 0 Stacy, doesn’t even see her as fat. I love that brains are valued over beauty for helping people and you get the feeling that if Jane had a choice of going back to her vacuous thin old life or keeping her substantial new life, she would (with some regret about Grayson, her ex-fiance) choose to keep her new life. The stories are usually silly and some of the acting lame, but I like the show in spite of it all.

Then there is the new ABC Family hit, Huge. Many of the blogs I read write long recaps on each episode, but up until last night I haven’t been a huge (get it….”huge”) fan of the show. I’ve watched it more in curiosity to see how the characters are treated and I have liked that the show highlights so many different perspectives. From fat acceptance to utter self loathing, the characters fall in to many shades of gray, which is nice. Plus, I don’t remember ever seeing a show with so many characters of so many different sizes. But the acting, like many ABC Family shows, is stilted and awkward and the scripts seem disjointed as if they have to pass through many hands before making it to the screen. Each week I decide if I’m going to watch again and usually find one or two tidbits per episode to make it worth watching again.

Until last nights episode. It was, beginning to end, fabulous. The theme was self-sabotage, but as the story played out, it wasn’t food that people sabotaged themselves over. There was lots to love in the episode, but the arch of Alistair’s day from a sweet birthday card from cabin mates to being the object of an anti-gay prank to final acceptance by some of the characters was handled beautifully. And awkward but adorable Alistair got some of the best lines on television every.

Some of my favorite lines:

  • I think your nerdiness is contagious (Will to Becca on agreeing to do “runes”)
  • The art is just visually arresting (Alistair, on receiving a super-sweet birthday card with corny artwork)
  • You ever try to make G.I. Joe dance with the sky. It’s super depressing. (Alistair on how his twin sister got all the good presents)

There are more, but watch the show and see for yourself.

Home Again. Home Again. Jiggity Jig!

Short post today. I’m just so happy to be home and I have a great achievement to share: I didn’t gain any weight over the two weeks off!

This is huge for me. I generally rack on the pounds while I’m away, whether for business or pleasure. So maintaining my weight is a really big deal and I’m very proud of myself. I didn’t really do anything special. We drove and drove and drove, so some of our meals were fast-food, but I ate until I was satisfied and then… (wait for it)… stopped eating. I credit this blog for this. I feel like getting my feelings out there and not holding everything in has helped me calm down a little. Every meal doesn’t feel like “The Last Supper.”

I also was more active than my usual sedentary self. I didn’t exercise but I went swimming nearly every day and we walked everywhere! I didn’t hang back. I got out and did stuff and really enjoyed myself more because I was doing stuff.

Now I want to figure out how I can incorporate those two strategies into my every day life. Obviously I can’t give up my job to go to walk or swim all day, but I can start thinking about fun things to get going in my regular schedule. My daughter had a good idea: she wants to get bikes. I think it sounds fabulous, and I’m so glad she is eager to do something, but I want it to feel like fun, not exercise. Any suggestions?

Mirrors on the ceiling. Pink champagne on ice.

For the record, I was simply looking for a hotel room that cost less than $100 per night and where my feet didn’t stick to the carpet. My last no-name motel was not a winner. This time I lucked out. The room has an in-room jacuzzi and a fireplace. And it is clean. And it doesn’t smell like smoke. I’m sure the room is billed as a romantic couples something or other, but I’m here with my daughter so I’m trying not to think about what the last resident did here.

I didn’t realize that there was a mirrored ceiling in the jacuzzi until, well, until I was looking up at myself in all my glory. Thank God I was alone because I yelped – – actually yelped. Then I cocked my head to the side (I know I did because I saw myself do it) and tried to figure out what was wrong with the image. It took a second to realize that the mirrors were tiled which gave me the illusion of being about 6 feet tall and having two belly buttons.

Once I was able to mentally adjust for the line across my middle, I actually looked at myself naked. It isn’t as though I don’t have mirrors in my bedroom. I have several and they are big, but I realized as I looked up at myself floating in the ceiling that I rarely look at myself nude. It was something I did when I was younger, but no longer do.  I don’t think it so much a “fat” thing as an age thing. I think as you get older you are less amazed by your body.  So now I gazed up at myself. I’m actually at my largest ever size-wise, but I feel like I’m a “good” fat. Some people might be horrified by my saying that, but there are different types of fat. My skin is fairly taut over the fat. There are few stretch marks and not a lot of dimples. My skin is fairly smooth for my age, no wrinkles and the only stretch marks are nicely hidden below the flap of fat hanging from my belly.  It isn’t horrible to look at when it is laying in the largeness of the tub, not squirting out of too-tight pants. My skin is so pale I can see the blue veins showing through, except for a few areas that are currently dark red from sun-burn. (see my earlier post).

The previous paragraph is not one I could have written even two months ago. Writing this blog and reading posts by similarly minded people ( I’ve included a list of some of my favorites at the bottom of this post) has been very liberating for me. I’m not sure what effect, if any, it has had on my corporal form (I’ll save that for a later evaluation) but spiritual it has mad me lighter.  To me, this blog is a bit like looking at myself naked in a ceiling mirror I didn’t know was there. I’m looking at myself more as a person, rather than a fat person. I’m seeing beauty in me and that has been extremely empowering. This isn’t where I expected to go with this blog, but I’m starting to be glad of it. It is more realistic and it is more me than the diet journal I expected. I’m very glad I found this space.

I’d write more, but I want to get back in that jacuzzi. If you are looking for something more to read, try:

There are many more that I read, but these are the ones most likely to get me thinking, crying, or wanting to give someone a hug. Hope you like them too.

Why Couldn’t I Be An 18th Century Aristocratic Woman?

First, let me say that I love living in the 21st century, and not just because I’m addicted to my Blackberry. I’m a single-mom by choice, I own my own business, and don’t get me started on indoor plumbing.  But today I went to visit Tryone Palace in New Bern, North Carolina. This is a recreation of a colonial governor’s palace from the late 17oo’s. I love wandering around places like this, where the tour guides dress in periodic costumes and you can imagine what it was like to wake up in the middle of the night and put your bum in a chamber pot – – or more likely be the one emptying the chamber pot!

Tight Lacing

John Collet, "Tight Lacing, or Fashion Before Ease", 1770-1775

One of my favorite parts of the day was in the Lady’s Dressing Room. The guide took us through the steps a woman would have to go through to get dressed. After donning a linen shift and hand-knitted stockings an aristocratic woman would have her servants tie her into a whalebone corset, giving her a narrower waist. Next would come pockets. Since clothing didn’t have built-in pockets, they would tie on an embroidered pocket. That sounds so handy, I want one because apparently  fat pants don’t need pockets. (At least none of the ones I can find).

Then came my favorite: Bumrolls and Panniers

A bumroll is exactly what it sounds like; a padded roll worn tied at hip level so as to widen a woman’s hips. The corset thins the waist and the bumroll widens the hips to create a more “womanly” effect. I personally have a lovely bumroll already – – no padding necessary. Imagine the allure I would have had on 18th century men!

But wait, it gets better. A bumroll was fine for the normal dinner with family and friends, but when you really want to knock them dead at the fancy ball you can add a pannier under your skirt. Pannier, coming from the French word for “wicker basket” is essentially  a basket hung from each hip under the overskirt. In the 1700’s, apparently hips did lie.

According to Wikipedia, women’s fashion during that time period “ensured that a woman took up three times as much space as a man and always presented an imposing spectacle.” How great is that?? We may not have had the vote, but we could make sure men walked very gingerly around us.

If you look back through history, women have gone to great lengths to make themselves look bigger. Fatter has, historically, been a sign both of wealth and health. Of course that may have been because the alternative was starvation and not the Kate Moss kind. It has only been in the last century or so years that weight has been equated with death, destruction of Americana, and all that is evil. So, for a few brief hours I imagined what it would have been like to be living the life of Lady Margaret, noshing on nougat and hoping to fill out my side-saddles. Well, a girl can dream…

Do you cover-up??

I’m on vacation this week, which means actually getting out into the sunshine, away from the computer, fresh air, and, of course, skin-showing clothing options.  I love-love-love the beach, sailing, swimming, and all that summertime fun, but I’m constantly obsessing about my wardrobe. Shorts, instead of slacks. Tank tops instead of circus tents (just kidding). And the dreaded bathing suit moments.

I shopped for, but wasn’t able to find a new swimsuit for this season. Every suit looked ridiculous. I really, really, I mean REALLY hate those stupid skirts they put on every single plus-sized one-piece. The only suit I did find, that was half-way cute, was a polka dot tankini at the Avenue, but I bought that one for my daughter. So I’m wearing the same one-piece navy blue suit I’ve worn for the past four years. It is a little bit tighter this year, but it does fit and has some serious advantages. One, despite being four years old, it looks pretty new. It is a quality suit that has held up over the years without pulling or stretching. Two, it is  designed to hold everything in place. Think of it as the swimsuit version of Spanx. It is high cut (not boobage falling out), racer-back, and is made of some space-age material that keeps everything squeezed still. Come to think of it, why was I looking for a new suit??

Actual picture of my suit of four summers. Not exactly “in the flesh,” but you get the idea!

Despite any advantages of the wonder-suit, I’m not thrilled about how I look, so I still had that moment where I get to the beach and have to take off the protective outer covering of clothes to reveal the nearly naked me. First, off come the sandals. That’s easy, because I love to be barefoot. Next, the shorts drop. Ok, this is a little tougher, but you can’t go into the water with your shorts on. It just draws unwanted attention. Finally, the moment of truth. Do I leave my tee-shirt on, or bare all?

Many larger people, I have noticed, opt for the tee-shirt cover up. You can leave your shirt on and pretend it is a sun-protection issue. (Since I did burn a little on my shoulders yesterday, I’m ready to buy into that pretext at the moment.) But we all know that isn’t the case. I want to leave the shirt on. It feels safer, somehow. Like I can hide behind the poly-cotton blend somehow. In years past I did leave the shirt on, but I don’t anymore. I drop it on the beach towel with a cavalier, devil-may-care attitude that says “I don’t care who is looking.” Or, at least that is how it sounds in my head.

I feel better without the shirt somehow. As if I’m taking control of my body-image. In years past I would never wear tank tops (my fat upper arms needed to be shunned), low-cut tops (keep those breasts hidden), or shorts cut above the knee. But who am I fooling? Do long shorts and a huge top invoke some optical illusion that I’m thinner? Actually, I think it is the opposite. The bigger-sized clothes tend to make you look bigger. Showing my actually size, in my humble opinion, removes any doubt that I’m bigger than I actually am. And I feel that my personal self-confidence increases by taking this stand as well.

So I pose the question…. do you cover up? And if you do, are you willing to throw off the blanket of secrecy and expose it at the beach? Please say “yes,” ’cause I don’t want to be the only fatty out there!

Fat Girl at the Fair

I haven’t forgotten about posting. I’ve been avoiding it because I’ve been struggling with food, not exercising, and all my body issues. The usual. —

–But today  it hit me (in the butt actually) as I took my daughter to the local theme park. This is just a dinky little place about the size of a city block, but it is a fun place to pass a few hours and isn’t nearly as expensive as the big-named theme park. We did have fun, but believe me there was no point during the five hours that I spent here that I forgot about my size.

First there was squeezing my life-sized ass into the various sized seats. Probably the most “fun” were the swings. You know they hang from chains and gently fly out as they spin around a column. I’m sorry to say that it was a super-tight fit. Metal bars pushed against my thighs, buttocks, and belly. The chains groaned and creaked giving me visions of newspaper headlines such as “Fat Girl Flies off Adventureland Swings” or “Young Child Flattened by Falling Mom.” Despite this I really loved the feeling of swinging round and round, up so high.

Second on the you-gotta-be-kidding list is a three-way tie between the haunted house ride, the carousel,  and something called a music-makes-the-world-go-round. The haunted house had a seat for “two.” I suggested my daughter take her  own “rickshaw” but she was a little scared so we pushed our two fat butts into the seat. It was definitely the scariest part of the ride. The carousel had several comfortable-looking seats, but what’s the fun in that? No! I had to ride a horse which jiggled and wobbled so much from my weight as I got on and off that I thought I was going to snap the poor mare’s neck.

The so-called music-go-round is one of those rides with a small circle of cars that follow an up-and-down track and uses centrifugal force to squoosh one rider into the other. On our first round I stupidly sat on the inside. I spent the full ride using every bit of strength trying to keep my weight off my daughters. Our second round we switched seats. “I don’t mind if you squish me,” I foolishly said. That was the closest to a heart attack I think I’ve ever had. My “little girl” is over 200 lbs. Add the centrifugal force (physics anyone) and the fact that I left my arm between me and the seat and it was all I could do to keep breathing throughout the ride. I really wouldn’t want my family to have to go to a funeral and keep a straight face if I died on a theme-park ride. I mean, that would just be cruel.

Not all the rides were tight seated. I had plenty of room on the balloon-shaped Ferris wheel and the Pirate’s Ship, but had to squeeze through a narrow passage to get to the roomy seats.

I did notice that while there were many other full-figured men and women at the park, few of them were braving the rides with me. Heavier moms mostly pushed strollers and held drink cups while their children ran from ride to ride. Big dad’s carried cameras and filmed the kids having fun, without participating. Only the thinner parents seemed brave enough to climb on the rides with their kids – although to be honest, plenty of thin parents watched from the sidelines as well. I don’t really get that attitude. Sure it is uncomfortable jiggling into a tiny seat, but don’t people want to play with their kids? Not just watch them play?

I also have to give props to the staff at Adventureland. Not one of person gave me attitude or treated me in any way that made me feel bad about my size. One kind woman saw me struggling with a seatbelt and saved my feelings by saying “only kids have to wear them,” and not, “Lady, you ain’t never gonna get that belt around your belly.” The staff smiled at me, and urged me to ride again and again, despite the strain I must be putting on their machines. As a fat person who often gets called out on it, I appreciated that attitude.

So, as much as I’d like to pretend that I’m not fat or that I’m controlling things, the truth is I know I’ll feel better if I just lose a few. I don’t need to be thin, but I should be able to walk around a theme-park without my ankle killing me and I should be able to squeeze into a regular seat. And I should be able to play with my kid at the park without feeling like the end is imminent. So tomorrow is another day — for me to get back on track.

Wish me luck!