I am envious of women coming of age in the world during these times. Today, there are flat irons to tame unruly tresses and bodacious booties are all the rage. Back in my day, we walked around with horrible, puffy hair and wore baggy clothes—tying sweatshirts around our waists in an attempt to camouflage our curves. The beauty icons of my formative years were The Heathers (Thomas and Locklear) scrawny, no-butt runts by today’s Twerk Queen standards.
That said, I’m not gonna lie—when I first started losing weight (before I realized the cancer was getting out of control) I was stoked. While I had never exactly been heavy, I definitely had never been model-thin. The loss of the first fifteen pounds coincided with a trip to Cabo where, for the first time in my life, I felt pleased with my figure and pranced around shamelessly, wearing nothing but a tiny emerald green bikini the entire week.
As the pounds continued to melt away, I watched first with awe and then a growing terror as my thigh gap became a chasm and my once pleasantly plump arms morphed into matchsticks. I discovered bones I never knew I had in my collarbone and coccyx and made sure that when leaving the house, my clothing covered every inch of my body. I began longing for the days when I could sit in a bathtub without wincing in pain from my bones clanking against the porcelain and began to ogle other women, comparing my emaciated form to their juicy, healthy shapes. Before I knew it, I had traversed the body shame spectrum in its entirety—from “flab” to fragile.
Last weekend Fireboy and I hit the mall. He’s a fit dude, a runner; so I trailed him into Lululemon, where he browsed for shorts while I slouched around the sale rack, desperately avoiding eye contact with the totally ripped Bikrim devotee pacing the sales floor in a bra top and spandex pants.
There was actually a pretty decent sale going on, and while I don’t work out, I do love to buy clothes. Because I had no idea what my current size was, I took my find (waffle knit sweater pants) to the fitting room.
A perky blonde screamed, “Let me know if you need any help” into my face and scrawled my name on the dressing room door.
Now, while I am feeling much better these days and am no longer dragging an oxygen tank everywhere I go, I do get tired quickly and find it hard to get dressed while on my feet. Thankfully, there was a small stool in the dressing room so I sat down and pulled off my jeans.
I maneuvered my feet into both legs of the sweater pants and reached for the waistband. My plan was to pull up the pants as I was standing—in one fluid, energy-conserving motion.
Then it happened.
I saw my ass in the mirror.
Wait. Was that really mine? My wonderful, happy American Girl Ass had been replaced. What I saw in the mirror was the rear end of a 75 year-old man wearing a thong. Or was it a dehydrated peach? Reeling with the shock of it all, I tried to sit back down, but the pants around my knees sent me and the stool clattering to the floor. “Is everything okay in there?” chirped the salesgirl. I could see her feet under the door. Oh my lord! What if she uses her key and opens the door? WHAT IF EVERYONE IN LULULEMON SEES MY OLD MAN ASS?
Scrabbling around on my hands and knees groping for my jeans while kicking the sweater pants off my feet, I tried to choke out a nonchalant grunt in reply. Once I got back into a standing position, I pressed my back up against the dressing room wall as though I were standing on the ledge of a fifty story building and somehow managed to get back into my jeans without bending either leg. Successfully avoiding another confrontation with the monstrosity in the mirror, I casually sauntered out of the demolished dressing room, smoothing my hair and straightening my glasses as I walked past the very confused sales clerk.
“Find anything?” asked Fireboy, seeming not to notice how sweaty, pale and breathless I was.
“Yeah. I’m going to get these pants.”