Size Doesn't Matter

Written 11/8/2013

Yes, I said it. I’m still working at believing it. Because I am a woman living in this culture. Very few of us escape the inner voice of “sizing.”

My ass is too big. I am not thin anymore and it makes me nuts. I could be a prettier Madelyn if I lost 50 pounds.

But I also completely forget about all that when I am working. At the theatre, writing (except writing this, of course!), reading plays, working with director and artists. Laughing with my kids and, always, worrying about my kids.

None of these experiences are about appearance.

The people who inspire me? Give me joy? All sizes, shapes, and looks. There is an electricity of people in their zone. That is the most compelling and attractive look there is.

People who have that twinkle in their eye.

A vision and tenacity.

Humor and fun.

Those are the ones who draw others in.

And their size doesn’t matter.

Spending an evening at local arts event, I sat giggling with gals, all of us; we are the dynamos changing our community one act at a time. All over 50, women with great style, passion for our work, and commitment to community…and not a size 2 in the bunch. And none of us gave a damn. We were having too much fun with each other.

Oh, when I was young, I knew I would NEVER be one of THOSE middle-aged women who “let themselves go.” I might be a cool older gal with a funky style but I would be THIN too. I’d never be a size 12-14-16-whatever. It would never happen to me.

But then, whoops, life happened.

Married my soul mate, birthed couple o’ kids, navigated a medical crisis or two, racked up a decade or so of additional birthdays, started a business and a second career, lost track of the scale and suddenly…

OH MY GOD, is that what I look like? My eyes are so…my face is…is that MY ass?

A flurry of exercising and dieting happened.

People praise me for looking good.

Then, the pounds crept back on as distractions crop up.

Back to the gym, slightly less enthusiastically.

I buy a pair of stretchy pants to tide myself over until I’m thin again. It is so nice to be comfortable in my clothes, I buy a second pair. Oh, heck, I’ll buy a nice flowy sweater or two as well.

The marriage survives the sizing-up.

Kids don’t notice.

Friends still love me.

Work never stops.

And I admit I stopped caring so much. It takes a great deal of energy to keep that 20 year old figure. Factoring in post-menopausal chaos, the dreaded slowing metabolism (which does exist, thank you very much!), it can become a part time job all in itself. Some people love it; it is more hobby than job. I see them at the gym. Smiling, chatting with others, taut bodies, focused and in their zone. I spend my elliptical session 1/3 in the zone, 1/3 bored, and 1/3 itemizing the things I will get done the moment I’m out of the gym.

Also, I come to find the face of indulging, of overeating, changes. Binging isn’t an entire bag of cookies or a bucket of chicken but merely a late night peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Too much cheese and crackers at a party. A burger eaten on the run as I scramble to make dinner before driving to this-or-that evening function. And I get wicked-cranky when I am hungry. And life is too short to feel bad.

I know my husband would love a gorgeous, fierce, slim wife but I know he loves gorgeous, fierce, not-so-slim me just as much. My kids see me as “Mom,” cajoling, nagging and loving. My friends are as fabulous and flawed as I am (thank god)

So the size thing? I keep coming back to it. And this is where I land.

I want my kids, especially my daughter and the wonderful young women I work with, to internalize the following.

Find your passion.

Work hard.

Be kind.

Don’t believe everything others say.

Trust your gut.

Eat fresh and healthy foods as much as you are able.

Floss and brush.

Sweat every day.

Bathe regularly.

Do the grown-up health things like see your doctor and dentist regularly

Find a style and haircut that doesn’t make you nuts and communicates who you are.

Find the “industry standard” for the world you love occupying. Business suit, sweat suit, pants suit, sari, jeans and t-shirt, overalls, strike a path down the middle of that… and then do your stuff with ferocity and joy.

Seriously, forget about it. All of it. Just go. Dive in. DO! Work your ass off even if you will never actually work your ass off.

So now I am going to say to myself what I want my daughter to know.

Madelyn, contrary to what the world is telling you at every turn, YOUR size doesn’t matter. But the size of your life does. Live a big life.