Is it Fat or Fiction?
Truth or consequences—are you thin or fat? Remember that ancient show on TV? If you do, perhaps you remember some of the fads and fashions of what was considered an ideal weight for a woman. Actually, it had nothing to do with health, it was mostly fashion and a bit of economics plus culture that decided what was good and what was not so good.
In the swinging 1960’s, the foremost fashion icon was Twiggy. Staring into my grandmother’s mirror, a 16-year-old version of me painted on false eyelashes on my lower lid, hoping to be the next big superstar. The reason my sister and I were at grandma’s in the first place was that our mother had the luxury of packing us off to an assortment of relatives anytime she got tired of us—which was almost always as I recall. No matter, I just loved my sojourns away from the home castle.
Although I was very tall, I was not Twiggy thin. I was more or less gangly thin and intensely uncomfortable with my generous height. Topping off at 5’11 by age 16, I longed to be like one of the cute and petite cheerleaders of our high school. What on earth was I thinking?
The point of this short but highly personal tale is that you must be comfortable in YOUR body, not someone’s fashionable idea of a fashion idea.
If fact, our grandmother used to love to tell us tales about her coming to America from Switzerland at age three and having a French-Swiss mother who was a champion of sewing and dressmaking. My grandmother’s father died at the ripe age of 21 from pneumonia. Grand’Mere, an enterprising woman, had two other husbands after that. It was she who insisted that her 16 -year- old daughter take another Swiss man as husband, one who spoke a dialect of German called Switzerdeutch.
So, 14 children later, my mother had both a Grand’ Mere and a Grossmutter. Fourteen children faded to ten with the various epidemics, and by the time my sister and I had camped at grandma’s house for an entire summer, grandma was a widow who told us all about the Good Old Days.
One of the things she told me was that her husband, my grandfather, always begged her to put weight on. “You are too skinny!” he would rail at her. Culturally speaking, in those depression starved times, thin was a sign of poverty. In current African American culture, too little weight is considered on par with evil. As it was explained to me decades after my Twiggy obsession, it is far better to have a bit more weight than too little weight.
Remember Marylyn Monroe? I remember exactly where I was when we got the news of her death. All of us, exempt our mother, were in my dad’s station wagon before dawn broke. The AM radio crackled the news that Marilyn was found dead. Dad beeped the horn impatiently. We were off to our vacation to an aunt’s house in Chicago Illinois, and he was hot to trot. Mom must have been performing last minute checks on the house or perhaps she was packing a picnic for the road.
It is common knowledge that Marilyn Monroe photographed ten pounds lighter than she was. In person, one old-school journalist wrote, she was as interesting as a slightly overweight Slavic waitress.
Edwardian times highlighted a plump figure with huge hats, then along came the flappers of the roaring 20’s, erasing all the curves of Edwardian and Victorian times.
My point? Fat or thin is largely a perception of fashion, with not an ounce of reality. Even a pudgy girl can be fit in the cardiac sense. It is your body. Learn to love and accept it.