{Do These Pants Make Me Look Fat?}

When I was in the seventh grade I was on the school dance team.  I use the term "dance" as loosely as possible here.  Let's just put it this way - if 1987's idea of "going viral" had less to do with quarantine and more to do with laughing at the super uncool behavior of people that you do not know - YouTube would've been all over us.

Luckily for my sisters, this hip-shaking, streamer-twirling, jazz-hands extravaganza lives on thanks to the awesome invention of home video.  Mostly, I'm forced to watch these videos at holiday gatherings- along with the videos of our band performances and one of me being interviewed by a local television program, also circa 1987-permed-hair.   (I'd worked with a local artist on completing a piece of "wearable art" and it was being displayed in one of her shows.  Apparently this was big news in Lockwood, Montana.  My  adventure in "wearable art" is a totally different post all together.)  I have endured many hours of pretending that I am not totally embarrassed that I ever thought it was a good idea to wear a black leotard, footless leggings and red leg warmers... in public... while dancing to Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel."  (If I had any idea how to get the video tape stuff onto the internet, I would totally post this for you.  I'm a big believer in funny stuff... even if it's at my own expense.)

In those brief viewing moments when I actually open my eyes to see if my sisters have suffocated because they chose mocking laughter over oxygen, I am struck with something about myself.  I was skinny.  Not thin.  Skinny.  I seriously had no idea at all about this.  I probably should've clued into this when the spandex shorts I wore for gym class were baggy, but I guess it's not until you fill out your spandex that you realize what that meant.

I only had one moment in my life (prior to adulthood) that I ever really even thought about my body.  I was 12 and at a water park with our church youth group, and thus, wearing a swimsuit.  I remember looking at myself and then saying to my dad "I have a fat stomach".  (I did not have a fat stomach.  I weighed like 95 pounds or something, but my stomach has never been totally flat. It's always had a bit of curve to it... like everything else on my body- even at 95 pounds.)  My dad looked at me and said "You don't have a fat stomach.  All girls have stomachs like that.  God made girls to have stomachs like that."  (I have since learned that this is a total lie.  Not all girls have stomachs like this, but I go with "spirit of the law" on this one and so I'm ok with it.)

I thought about those two seconds with my dad yesterday as my daughter stepped off the scale at the doctor's office.  The nurse announced her weight, and then my daughter looked at me.  She looked like how you feel when you are waiting to find out if you passed your driver's license test.  She has never looked at me that way before, and I'm not gonna lie - I was pretty sure it was one of those parenting moments that if you get wrong, will last until your children can tell their therapist about it. I thought of my dad and how differently I would've seen myself for the rest of my life if he would've even jokingly agreed with me.  I thought of my dad and how he could have turned me into a different person with two sentences... and then because I am super witty and good with words I came up with ... "Perfect".  That's what I said to her.  "Perfect".  I even said it really fast so that it would sound like I was not totally concerned about causing her to have an eating disorder or something.

I will always be sad when I think of her looking at me from that scale, but I'm pretty sure that this was a way bigger deal for me than for her... and if that's true, then I think I did my job.
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Loralee and the gang... said...

I remember feeling fat as a teenager - but I weighed only 108 lbs (I'm 5'2" so that was still a lil' curvy). Now, I look back and wish that I realized that I was just fine. But I always felt self-conscious because I had a booty...
and my parents never said anything that would make me feel awkward. It was probably my brothers. You know how they like to tease about anything you might be sensitive about.

The Laundry Queen said...

I think you did just great! Having grown up in a family where I was led to believe I was fat (even though now I realize I wasn't -- but being asked multiple times if you want to do weight watchers and receiving a Jane Fonda workout tape for your 16th birthday can do that to a girl) and having a subsequent eating disorder... Well, all I can say is that you did great.

Oh, and my husband happens to be a pro at converting tapes and getting them on the internet, if you're interested. ; )

grammy said...

I really think Avery is "perfect" and your Dad used that same line on me. Unfortunately, my Dad had a nickname for me when I was young that included the words "barrel" and "butt". That gave me a wonderful self-image, even though I am sure his intent was not ill. Good work on this one and I love the videos taken of you when you are on the dance team, etc.

Matt said...

I have that same look on my face every time I get off the scale when I go to the midwife. But if someone said to me perfect- I'd hit them in the wace and call them cheetoh.

Chelly said...

You're response to your beautiful girl was, in fact, "perfect" ;o) Oh the horrors I went through as a teen with the body image thing! *shudder* I think you could help me forget alll of that~ I think that watching the legwarmerjazzhands thing would be just the thing to anesthetize my broken soul LOL *sincerely hoping that E takes Laundry Queen up on her offer*

Genet said...

Your response was perfect. And I can even picture the smile in your eyes as you said it. Little comments like that make a huge difference. My parents were always super supportive and positive, but ONE time I remember my mom saying something that could be construed as negative and it has stuck with me ever since. Girls get so much negative from all around them. We need a good cheerleader in our corner telling us the truth. Good job!