Several years ago, at a holiday lunch, I was seated next to a woman who had opened her own clothing store in North County. She thought it was a travesty that women’s clothes were mostly for really thin people. So, in addition to wearing clothes for the slim, emaciated (my term), it was her plan to design clothes for her boutique for the “taller woman.”
“What sizes?” I inquired, suddenly taking interest.
“8-12,” she said.
It was all I could do not to accidentally spill her Salad Niçoise (dressing on the side) on her skinny size 2 lap.
Before my divorce 30 years ago, I always wore a size 4, which in today’s deflationary size market is probably a 2, or even a 0. (I personally think size 0 is what you should be after being dead for a while.) Subsequently, I gained 40 pounds by eating Mrs. Fields Cookie and Chardonnay post-divorce depression diet. Alas, I’ve been a heifer, uh, hovering around a size 16 ever since. I consider wearing sizes 8-12 to be very good news.
Every year, losing at least 30 of those pounds has been my #1 New Year’s resolution. And every year on December 31, I say, “Well, next year!”
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Anyone who has lived in La Jolla for any time knows that the thin police patrol regularly and vigilantly. It is their mission to ensure that anyone who displays more than a certain level of avoirdupois is (1) a regular topic of discussion and (2) needs to be “helped”. When I gained so much weight, it was quite clear to me how much airtime my weight was gaining in some locals.
During my early years in the oinker set, a very thin acquaintance made it her unsolicited full-time project to help my weight loss efforts, including showing up on my doorstep one day with a packet of diet pills over the counter that had been opened with one missing, saying she had bought them for herself but wasn’t going to use the rest and thought I might be interested. No!
I never understood the urge to tell people how much better they would look if they were thinner.
To this day, what I would have liked to say to the big helpers was: “Oh my God! You are right! I would like look better slimmer! Why didn’t I think of that? I just want you to know that the credit for every pound I lose will go to you and your amazing suggestion that never even crossed my mind!
That’s what I love about writing a column; you get reworks, at least in fantasy. I blame myself for not having taken this bull by the horns at that time. But I didn’t want people to think I was fat and gruff.
I’ve always been a walker – at least two to three miles a day. Somehow it never seemed to have an impact on my weight, which I think you would agree is totally unfair. But for years, I watched the same super-thin woman whose kids were the same age as mine jogging the same route. She would regularly jog next to me and enthusiastically ask me, “Hey, have you lost weight?” No other subject, ever. It became extremely irritating because it was clear in her mind that she thought she was helpfully encouraging me to shed a few pounds.
She suddenly disappeared, but a few months ago, after 15 years of absence, I was out for a walk when she ran past, still so slender. As she ran in place (some things never change) next to me, she mentioned that she had moved to the desert a few years ago, but was now back in town to be treated for osteoporosis. What immediately struck me was that between years of desert sun in leather and too little flesh on her sunken face and skeletal frame, she looked 100 years old. Seriously. I wanted to grab her by her pointed collarbone and scream, “Stop! You will break your little bones!
“Hey,” she said, “you look great!” (If she had said “Have you lost weight?” I was ready to take off her skinny buttocks.) I don’t know how beautiful I looked (same weight as usual), but compared to her , I felt like Cindy Crawford. Okay, big Cindy Crawford. I didn’t point out that one of the benefits of being a bit chunky as you age is that you are your own weight-bearing exercise. No osteoporosis for me!
Fortunately, the Thin Police abandoned me long ago. And for that, I say “Thank you”.
But I have some advice for people who are tempted to “help” others lose weight:
Shut up and go.
Inga’s playful outlook on life appears regularly in the La Jolla Light. Join her at [email protected]. ◆