Most of my compassionate friends and now the world know that I have always struggled with weight issues. If you don’t see me for a few weeks, the possibility exists that I may have lost or gained, (more likely gained) a few pounds. A few years ago, I went to a family reunion in California and when I got home, the pictures my cousins took began to show up on Facebook. That night I joined Weight Watchers.
It took me a year to lose seventeen pounds. Far from being nymph-like, I did feel better about myself and my size twelve jeans didn’t bind in the crotch. When my mother died the next year, I lost another ten pounds. By March, I was convinced I could maintain the weight loss on my own and quit Weight Watchers. By June, I’d gained every pound back. The true horror of this was made clear when my son Andy announced his engagement and I had to go Mother of the Groom shopping. My daughter found a beautiful, silver silk Oleg Cassini suit for me. My reasoning for buying a size sixteen, even though I have never worn a sixteen, was that I could have my dress designer neighbor Kirk alter it for me so that it fit like a custom made suit.
I couldn’t wait for it to arrive. Two days later, the big cardboard box was delivered by FedEx. I took it into the bedroom and started to strip. The suit was packed in layers of tissue paper. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was when I lifted the jacket out of the box, rhinestone diamond buttons set in fake silver marched up the front. The wedding theme was metallic, so I would fit right in.
Then I tried to get the jacket on. When I say it was too small, I mean I couldn’t get my arms into the sleeves. Even my hands were too big. I was so upset I wanted to first tear it up into pieces and then kill myself. It was simply another reminder that I am fat. My husband can deny it, and my friends will tell me I look great, but now I have proof. I can’t even get a size sixteen on. What’s next? I am only 5’3″. Soon I will be as wide as I am high.
So I swallowed my pride and went to the doctor. I had to get on the scale, which was torture. He put me on a low calorie diet that was graduated in calorie amounts so my metabolism wouldn’t go into starvation mode. I took a ton of supplements. Fortunately, I had the time to lose enough to get into the suit.
This would be a good place to mention that the Mother of the Bride is a model.
By the wedding day, I felt great, I’d lost twenty-two pounds, I was starving, but what’s a little food, right? I could wear the suit. As a matter of fact, the skirt was too big. With a Spanx the jacket fit snugly, but the bell shaped skirt was too big. You get the picture.
I’ve decided I have reverse body dysmorphic disorder. When I look in the mirror, I see an average sized, slightly chubby middle-aged woman who without my glasses has smooth skin, albeit a wrinkly neck which is minimized by holding my chin up as high as my cervical spine will allow. But when the team of photographers at the wedding started shooting their cameras and videos in my direction, I was terrified. The first picture the photographer showed me made me sick to my stomach. Why couldn’t I look trim and nice like everyone else?
The next horror was realizing that while Andy and I jumped around like maniacs on the stage, having picked We Will Rock You by Queen for the mother-son song we would dance to, the video camera was about chin height and two feet from me. I can just imagine what it will look like.
It was while flying back to Michigan that the sudden epiphany struck me. I am a sixty-two year old, Greek grandmother. What the hell am I supposed to look like? This is me! Suzanne Jenkins, chubby, friendly, paranoid and in love with life. I proved that I am willing to put it all out there when I started publishing my own books. I was narcissistic enough to think readers would want to read what I conjured up, and I was right. If I can be that self assured, surely a few horrible photos of me in my son’s wedding album won’t hurt me.
So needless to say, if anyone on Facebook tags photos of me at the wedding, I’ll be removing the tag asap.