Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Life Size ...

I was shopping today with my mom. Actually, she was shopping, I was her personal shopper, flipping skirts and sweaters over the dressing-room door. "Here, try this." "Here, try this."

Mom is 65, the hippest 65-year-old you'll ever meet. Her style isn't Talbots and her style isn't "trying too hard." She just always looks great. No applique sweatshirts for this senior. No way.

Today, as I was wandering around Christopher & Banks grabbing items for mom, I saw someone nearly as tall as me.

I'm tall, if I've never mentioned. 6'3". So if I walk into any store in any mall, I'm pretty well assured that nothing is going to be long enough. My fellow tall friend wasn't shopping for herself either. She was pushing a friend in a wheelchair.

She was also rather thin. Not swizzle-stick thin, but pleasantly thin. Trim. Fit. Healthy.

As we were both waiting outside the dressing rooms, I approached her.

"Do you mind if I ask what size you are?" I asked.

I clearly caught her off guard. "What size? Well," she said, her hands moving to the front of her khakis, "I just bought these. They're a 10."

I told her that I'm losing weight (I can get into my 12s, but they're rather snug these days) and am trying to get a visual sense of the appropriate size for my height.

"Oh," she said. "I used to be between a 12 and 14."

"Well, you look great," I said. We traded info about where to shop, which labels run a bit longer, and I thanked her and met up with my mom.

I have a pair of 10s in my closet. I've had them for several years. To date, I haven't gotten in them. I've gotten close, but, you know, no cigar. I decided at my last birthday lunch that I will wear the 10s to my next birthday lunch. Which gives me until November. Plenty of time to reach a realistic goal. And, meeting her today, I realize that a size 10 is the right size for me. If I try to get into an 8, I'll look ridiculous.

Thing is, in the fashion world, even being an 8 would make me a plus-size model.

An 8. An 8.

Granted, most models, while tall, aren't as tall as me, but most models are, what?, a size 2?

One of my guilty pleasures is America's Next Top Model. I started watching it last year for some reason and I got completely sucked in. This cycle, there are two plus-size models, Tyra's dream. They're size 8s.

For the love of God. Even her own web site (for her talk show) says most plus-size models are 12s, 14s, or 16s, than 10s are used but are not as common.

I'm not calling Tyra out, but even by her own suggestion, the plus-size models on ANTM are thin. Go here and see if you can spot the "big" girls.

Of course, they're too heavy to be real models, too. And tonight, (SPOILER ALERT ... as if!) Diana was eliminated. One big girl down, one to go. Because, as one of the skinny girls on the show said tonight, "Do you really think there's ever going to be a plus-size model on the cover of Vogue?"

What's that? Jennifer Hudson, you say? Absolutely. It was a stunning cover. But do you really think she'd have had a chance in holy hell of getting that cover if she wasn't this year's poster child for the Academy Awards? Of course not. And I'd wager that no model inside those pages is larger than a 4. And even 4 might be "big" by Vogue standards.

What's my point, you ask? My point is that this insanity has to end. What message are we sending to young girls (and boys, for that matter)? A few years ago, my niece pronounced, "Carbs are evil." She'd heard it from her mom, but at the time, she was 7. 7. And she was already worried about her carb intake. I'm not blaming her mom, because we grown-ups do have to be more mindful of what we eat, but seriously, when 7-year-olds are already fretting about their bodies, things are seriously out of whack.

I once dated - briefly, very briefly - a guy who abruptly stopped calling. To his credit, he eventually clued me in to his behavior. And I quote: "You're heavier than I thought you'd be and I'm having a problem with it." 6'3", size 14. Could I be thinner? Sure. But I don't want to be thin for thin's sake. I want to be in shape. Fit. The treadmill's a-callin' every day.

But he didn't want a girlfriend. He wanted a trophy. He was willing to write off all my good qualities - and let me tell you, friends, it's a laundry list - simply because I wasn't skinny enough.

"So what now?" he asked that night.

I laughed, a sarcastic, disgusted laugh. "What's next? Nothing. This is your dealbreaker." I pointed out to him that weight is a variable. I said, "If you think I'm smart and kind and pretty ..."

"Beautiful," he interjected.

"Well, thank you," I said. "So weight is the thing that's changeable. Not that I'm trying to change your mind."

"So, can I call you sometime?"

I laughed again. "My phone number isn't going to change."

I've never heard from him again. I wasn't expecting to, but I thought it would be kinda fascinating if he did call, because what could he possibly say?

"Uh, are you thinner?"

Yes, I am.



Blogger Dave said...

Men are pricks. And while I know that wasn't your primary goal with this posting, the story of the "man" you were dating (and I think I know of whom you speak) only reinforced the tendency of my gender to go to the lowest of the low. The very fact that he found you perfect except for your weight makes his prickiness all the more pronounced.
So once again, I find myself apologizing for the crimes and misdemeanors of our kind.
Now, next topic: Jennifer Hudson on the cover of Vogue. Yes, she was the flavor of the moment, a great rags-to-riches story, the all-but-assured Oscar winner. I would maintain that they still could have kept her off of the cover of Vogue because of her size even with all of those glowing attributes. Cate Blanchett also was an Academy Award nominee this silly season. So was Penelope Cruz. So was Kate Winslet (also "plus-size" thanks to the inane standards of the day, but not nearly as plus as Ms. Hudson). Hell, they could have even turned to another Dreamgirl, Beyonce, and no one would have blinked or yelped, "Hey, why didn't they put Jennifer Hudson on the front instead?" My point is not to contradict, because God knows you were spot on in your assessment of size issues in the culture. But I prefer to think of Hudson's Vogue appearance as a glimmer of hope rather than a fluke.

Verification word: negminse (the mystical art of changing a white racist into a full-fledged Negro by using a simple magic spell combined with the careful application of collard greens)

11:07 PM  
Blogger Markbnj said...

Dave: Please forgive me, but.
a)Collard Greens?

Sorry, I'm a vegetarian, and oouldn't stomach the ham hocks or lard they're usually cooked with.

If I could find a decent, (forgive me: non barf inducing) recipe I might try them...

b) did you ever see my poem, "Men are pigs" from My daily Poetry Blog?

Here it is: I totally agree with you... Men ARE (always) pigs...

Beth: Oh the more I read, the more I
a) wish I were 15 years younger, so I'd be in the right age range.
b) wasn't married for almost 30 years
c) wish I could stomach living in Chicago (I hear it's way colder then NYC)

Markb in nj

8:02 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Not all men are pigs, of course. I know several who aren't. Or maybe, if Mark's poem is to be believed, I just haven't seen their piggish side yet.

But I'd like to think otherwise.

Mark, I dunno about the relative coldness of Chicago versus NYC, but NYC surely gets its share of big snows and such. I don't think our cities are really that different.

But it's all moot, isn't it? I'm happy for your long and happy marriage. As for your age, well, just how old are you? One of my very good friends is 54 and I'd totally marry him if he wasn't already married. He's one of the guys who's not a pig. He, in fact, is the standard by which all other men in my life are judged.

Which isn't very fair to all the other men in my life.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Size 10 for a woman 6-3 sounds a bit thin, actually. You probably look great in a 14.

And f*** the guy who said you were heavier than he expected. I love the fact that men are allowed to be bald, rotund pigs, but they expect beautiful, svelte women. What makes men think women like that would even look at less than perfect men? Isnt' turnabout fair play.

Better yet ... why don't we look for the good in people and stop judging them by the packaging. There's a novel concept!

Healthy, not thin, is what's important. Being a good person, not thin, is what's important. Living a good life, not thin, is what's important.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Well put, Anon!

Now if we can just make the rest of the world see it our way!

1:16 PM  
Anonymous girl and dog said...

Ah, great post! I think size is all in how you look at yourself, screw the numbers (and screw the cover of Vogue and AMTM)! You HAVE to love yourself as you are, if you're ever going to have a chance in hell of reaching your goals. If you don't feel "good enough" now, you NEVER WILL, no matter what size you reach.

My ex-husband always told me: I'll leave you if you gain weight.

I ended up leaving him. Because I knew I was good enough as I was. That self-love allowed me to lose the last 15 pounds, and I look better than ever.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Atta girl!

Men are so freakishly shallow about weight issues. Not all men. I shoulldn't generalize. But "I'll leave you if you gain weight"? Geez. Nice translation: "You only have value to me if you're thin." Yikes.

I wonder how many guys have been brainwashed by the media's portrayal of "beauty" and how much of their behavior is rooted in some deep psychological fear of inadequacy. Not to get all Freud or anything, but there's an awful lot of arm candy out there.

Which makes you wonder about the women, too, whose self-worth is based on the size of their implants and how rich a guy they can score.

Hmm. Much to ponder.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Markbnj said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Oh you made my day Beth!

To think that someone as beautiful (inside too!) as you would still "consider" an "old fart" like me (or actually just a little bit older) made me very happy.

Now the "piggie-poem" was written
when I heard of a family friend (female) who was a) mauled by a date, (she essentially escaped, only because SHE wouldm't allow it)
and b) encouraaged (to be polite) to "give in", when much younger.

I responded that we need to remember men are just GROWN boys, with un-checked hormones.

As to other, better behaved "boys"
we just kind of "got-it", to understand that GIRLS/women DON't like the RUDE teen-aged boy (mostly).

thanks again for making my day,

10:59 AM  

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