Weigh to Go Oprah!
I’m feeling Oprah’s pain. And carrying my own weight. I have struggled to maintain the proper poundage for all of my adult life—up a little, down a little, up a lot, down. . .some. . . maybe. But not close to achieving the number recommended on the charts. In the last seven or eight years, up has been in the lead. Now, I weighed 8 ½ pounds at birth and have been a “big girl” ever since, so I’m not trying to advocate skinny. I mean, I was a plus size model for 15 years and the thing I enjoyed most was being a poster child for the reality that we’re not all supposed to wear size six, and those of us who don’t can look damn good, and be healthy thank you very much.
But I’m also aware that I have at times strayed way beyond a weight where I am healthy or where I’m happy with the way I look. And when that happens, I feel embarrassed. I realize that fat doesn’t hurt others or make me a bad person—although in the past I have called myself some very ugly names because I was mad about what I had gained. I would never say those words to others, and I swore I would never abuse myself that way again! But my “lack of control” is written all over my face—my thighs, my fingers, and let’s not forget my bust, which starts to spill out of my size ‘G’ cups. The last few years I haven’t much liked looking at pictures of myself. They remind me that I weigh ‘that much.’
And I do applaud Oprah for putting the numbers out there. At the moment ‘that much’ for her is 200 pounds. Some people gasp in horror. My Mom told me that Joy Behar said on The View that she’d rather be waterboarded than reveal her actual weight. What’s that about? Oh, I know--somewhere along the line, as a girl, I was given the impression that any weight above 125 pounds wasn’t “feminine”. Never mind that I grew to be 5’9” (which at the time wasn’t feminine either), I was still somehow supposed to be below that magic number. What I learned later, and I mean A LOT later, was that for me and for a lot of us, 125 is not only unrealistic, it’s probably unhealthy. So the bigger burden is to get rid of ridiculous expectations and deal with what’s real.
And for me, the reality is that at 175 pounds I am slim—a missy 14, bordering on a 12. I have no need to EVER be smaller than that. Reality # 2. I have also weighed 274 pounds— I was miserable. Not just because I didn’t like the way I looked, which is definitely true, even though my husband, who has known and loved me through this 100 pound swing, was not at all turned off, even when I sometimes tried to convince him he should be (I have since learned to shut up and let him love me the way I am). But I also hated the way I felt—like the skin on my calves was stretching to accommodate the pounds. My back hurt all the time, probably because it was straining to carry around my butt. I was easily winded, even after walking a short distance. My ankles were swollen. You get the idea. I could have learned to ignore the discomfort, but 274 pounds was my tipping point. I could not let myself go higher than that because it hurt. So I came down from the brink, but I have still been struggling to get back to a new comfort zone.
I seriously doubt that I will ever be able to maintain 175 pounds again—not without working out 6 hours a day, like on The Biggest Loser, and that’s not gonna happen. Right now, I’m down to 238 pounds and I’m working really hard to do something I have not done in the six books we have written—not gain weight while writing. I always weigh more at the end of a book than I did before we started. So, I set small goals for myself because I can’t deal with that many pounds all at once. Five pounds is all I can manage at a time—I think a bag of sugar is pretty heavy, don’t you? The bigger picture--I’m trying to get down to Oprah’s “that much” weight—200 pounds, because for me, right now, that’s realistic. When I get there, I’ll figure out whether to aim lower. And I will be happy to let the world know what I weigh, and how far I’ve come.
As is obvious from photos, which are abundantly available on the internet, I too am a “big” girl. And like Donna I have been my whole life. However, unlike Donna and Oprah and millions of others, I don’t THINK about my weight much. It goes up and down but poundage has never really been a factor that affects how I feel about myself or how I think other’s perceive me. I don’t know why. Just crazy I guess. When I was young, my parents took me shopping in chubby departments—always on the lookout for what was current and fashionable and amazingly managed to find clothes that were similar enough to what my slimmer friends were wearing that I never felt odd or even-- dare I say it—FAT. I grew up continuing to do the same thing. I am an inveterate, intrepid shopper and have the closets to prove it. While falling into plus size modeling was certainly a fluke, a stop on the twisted road of fate that I never anticipated, it suited me—especially the part where I got to preach my philosophy of self acceptance to women full of self-doubt and recrimination. I am reasonably healthy for a woman in her late 50’s. In spurts (I’m on one now) I even exercise regularly. I had boyfriends and prom dates in high school, I’ve been married twice, and still have plenty of attention from quite a wide variety of men. And I am delusional enough to feel great about myself and think I look just swell because I am just swell—whatever I WEIGH.