I’ve been compared to Lena Dunham of the HBO show Girls fame on more than one occasion. “She’s cute,” they say. “She’s funny and clever,” they say. “She’s a writer.”
Yes, yes, keep it coming!
Yet, inevitably, the subject of her body must also be addressed. “She is so comfortable getting naked even though she doesn’t have a nice body.”
I imagine that Ms. Dunham gets as annoyed as I do at the repetitiveness of the commentary about her figure. Yes, it is, or at least has been, unusual for women with “imperfect” bodies to appear fully undressed on the screen, but why is it a constant focal point? And, why the need to point that out to me? I know that I have an imperfect body. I know that I am overweight. And, while that doesn’t exactly bother me, the comparison seems redundant.
And, I actually think that Lena Dunham has a great body. While by Hollywood standards she may be considered fat, she’s not, in my opinion, unhealthy looking and she is certainly not misshapen. Though maybe I am looking at her through a warped 21st Century American lens. Maybe I should be critical. Maybe it is as my son’s pediatrician stated “That’s what’s wrong with our society– overweight people look normal.”
As with so many patterns in my life, I can actually pinpoint a moment, or rather a brief personal era, that sent me in the direction of an insalubrious fall off of the healthy wagon that I was joyriding on. Twelve years ago—and I hate to admit that it was twelve—I was a vegetarian and an avid exerciser. I didn’t eat sugar save the occasional treat, and I baked all my own bread. Eating out was a rare luxury, and the mountains that I reside in served as my playground. Sure, I was drinking at least two bottles of wine a day, but who’s counting?
Yes, I was, if I dare say it, seventy pounds lighter. I like to think that I carry that extra fourteen bags of sugar with style, but I still feel the personal and physical repercussions of the fact that I gained the same amount of weight that my son has gained in his eight years of existence. Oddly though, and I have mentioned this before, I carry myself with more confidence at a size eighteen than I did at a size twelve.
So, and forgive my seeming excuse making, I, with all my energy and youthful ambition, decided to both go back to school (at one point taking nineteen credit hours) and to work two jobs. My boyfriend at the time co-owned an Italian restaurant and, though I originally criticized the abundance of fats in their menu selection, eggplant parmesan and garlic rolls slowly became my staple. I no longer had the time to bake my own bread, and the first thirty pounds settled on my thighs and hips rather quickly. Then, of course, came a child. (Though I did not gain my weight due to pregnancy, but due to a severe depression thereafter.) And, here I am, yet to slim down.
I believe that if I did it once, I could do it again. But, and here is a throwback to my last post, maybe it isn’t a priority at the moment. When I scarf down a tubful of carbs, I rarely have guilt, and if I do, I just remind myself that Lena Dunham is pretty darn hip and so, dare I say, am I!
Some time sgo, I started a post about potential (which I hope to eventually share), in which I expounded upon, among other things, my post-college plan of traveling around solo for a year in my old Datsun and writing short stories. That was my only plan. I worked two odd jobs and stashed money in a Rte. 6 tin, but soon realized that the sorry amount of money I was saving was not enough to fund such a daring excursion. I was no Jack Kerouac. Random bunks and hopeful employment as a farm hand were not in my future. Knowing the sorts of trouble that I used to get in and my over-trusting nature, it is probably a blessing that I never headed west, I’d probably be in a ditch somewhere. Still, perhaps, I could have been great. A real Cheryl Srayed. In a car. On the highway.
What does this have to do with my Lena Dunham likeness? I don’t even know if I am completely sure. I tend to just follow my thoughts as they surface.
I guess, while writing this, I began thinking not only of my creative potential (I might still be a literary success!), but also of my physical potential. My choice to donut instead of cross fit. My choice to laze instead of hike the Pacific Crest trail.
When I first got sober, I thought that I would immediately and effortlessly shed the additional fatty baggage that I was lugging. I thought, without the vino-laced calories and the carb-laden beers, that I would naturally get thinner. Not the case. I craved sugar like no one’s business and my addictive nature turned to cream-spiked coffee and daily (hourly?) doses of chocolate. Sadly, I did not replace my nightly binges with yoga or running or kale. And, ugh, I started smoking again which makes my former push to the summit a real oxygen-sucking drag.
But, maybe, I have found greater gifts. Gifts that may just prompt a veer toward the healthy. I actually love myself. I don’t know that I have ever truly loved myself. So, thick-thighed or no, I am clear that I have a great deal to give. Loving oneself means both a heavy dose of acceptance and a strive to be one’s best. I am not worried so much about attractiveness (I’ve got that so covered!), but it would be nice, barring any gruesome accident, to be around for a while.
Gosh, my train of thought has really traveled in zig zags here. Thanks for following along.
I think what I’ve been trying to say—maybe, I don’t know, perhaps—is that: a.) We focus too much on physical perfection and media-skewed ideals of beauty yet b.) We should, if we truly love ourselves, strive for the best we can be in both in the mental and physical realms and c.) I feel like my dreams of reaching my creative and, possibly, my physical potential are within my grasp so d.) In addition to planning out my manifesto I need to get out in the wilderness and sweat off my seventy extra pounds.
I think that about sums it up.
Now, my dear, you’ve done your writing for the day (while comfortably sitting with your Lena Dunham body outside in your bathing suit soaking up the sun). A walk maybe? A glass of water? Sure, why not? Some balance perhaps. Some potential seeking. Some love.