I have a picture of me at my absolute skinniest. I am sitting on my bed with Daus, he has brought me a rose as a goodbye gift. I am leaving for California soon. He didn't know but my abuela had just died that day. My eyes are shadowed from crying, and my hair is a mess. But when I look at the picture I notice my tiny bird-like little wrists. You can see my collar bone jutting out a bit. My shoulders are narrow. I am swimming in what I know intellectually was a size small t-shirt. But it is baggy on me.
I go to California and immediately kind strangers offer me diet and exercise tips to lose the extra weight. Some offer me diet pills, another tells me she counts every cracker out of the box and only consumes an exact serving. She spends lunch putting together cracker fragments to make whole crackers to count.
I come home for a visit. Everyone asks if I have been feeling okay. The bridemaid's dress I was measured for before I left has to be taken in a bit. I end up staying in Florida. I never return to California. Not even for a visit.
Gradually I put on weight, all my new clothes get tight. I keep a size 6 pink brocade corset-style top for a long time. Just to admire it, maybe, it hangs in my closet like a memento from a trip long ago.
My weight goes up and down. I get married. I have a baby, then 5 years later another one. Maternity clothes, transition clothes, I even had one of those dreaded velour tracksuits once in those long weeks between having the baby and wearing your old clothes again. Sometimes I lose weight and buy new pants. Sometimes I gain weight and wear the same 4 garments over and over till I break down and buy something comfortable. I have been in size XL tshirts for awhile. Even when I fit into an L shirt I buy bigger so they don't shrink and get too tight. I weigh myself at the doctor's office, but only when I am pregnant so I really don't know where I am at right now.
I want to begin a diet and exercise program. I really do. I think it would help me feel better, keep up with two little tornadoes I call my kids. Being in better shape would help me enjoy all the outdoorsy stuff we do here more. I might take up ballroom dance or learn to scuba dive. But mostly I want to live to be a really, really old lady and see my great-great grandkids. And flying cars. And the first nobody cares about his/her race/gender/orientation president, you know. Crazy future stuff!
But everytime I try and set some sort of goal I get scared, freeze up and pig out on chocolate. I want to be healthy, not a scary skinny super-model. I want to be happy, not hungry. I want to enjoy my life and enjoy my family, not be some exercise facist and give my kids' (both girls) some sort of complex. But everytime I put myself into the mindset, my brain goes back to the bad place, where I am always trying to lose about 30 pounds. Sad-eyed Suzanne, back there? The one holding the rose and trying to smile? Sad, wishes she could lose about 30 pounds and that belly pooch of hers. Skinny Suzanne, post baby 1 and after a year of breastfeeding? Wishes she could lose that last 30 pounbds of baby weight. 8th month pregnant Suzanne, moving her family almost single handedly from one house to another, as she hauls boxes and her giant belly upstairs and down; she wants to lose the baby weight plus about 30 pounds.
I think I have wanted to lose 30 pounds since I weighed 130 pounds, in grade school. And no matter how much I lose, there is always another 30 pounds to go, its like an infinite goal line that stretches ahead of me. I can never come near it.
So here's the thing... Can I be healthy fat? Can I just say, it doesn't matter what size clothes I wear? Can I just acknowledge that clothing size is an artificial construct of the fashion industry? Can I ignore my weight when I am in exercise and diet mode? Can I just move my body because I want to? Can I stop fantasizing about buying a bathing suit in some other color than sold black when I magically lose "all the weight"? Can I just be present, in this body, and be thankful to it for two healthy miraculous pregnancies and not deride it's stretch marks and saddlebags?
I really don't know. But I am going to try.