The other day at the gym I ran into my old friend, Steve. I hadn’t seen him for a while. I used to see him every day when we both went to the same gym at 5:00 AM.
Steve is one of the those people that makes you feel better about yourself. He always has a compliment. At first, I thought he was just a phony, but after I got to know him, I realized that he was the real deal.
We used to play a game. I told him I wanted a little Stevie doll on my bathroom counter so he could spit out compliments whenever I wanted/needed one. I would press on his chest (like it was a button) and he would say something nice.
“My you look nice today,” he would say. “Gee your cheeks (butt, he meant) look nice and round.” And we would giggle like teenagers.
“That green shirt really brings out your eyes,” was another one.
It was great fun and at that time in my life, it meant alot to me. I was struggling in my marriage and the compliments were a welcome change to the way I was treated at home.
Now, I was having a hard time again. When my dad died two years ago, I put on a few pounds. I had numbed myself after the funeral with many of the desserts that people had brought over while we were sitting shiva. I hadn’t been able to shed the extra chocolate babka weight since then.
Wondering if Steve had noticed, I walked over to him.
“Where have you been?” he asked, giving me a hug.
“I go to the other gyms.” I said. “And I go later sometimes. Hey, can I ask you something?” I whispered.
“Of course,” he said.
“I was wondering if you’ve noticed that I’ve gained weight? I feel like……”
“Not at all,” he interrupted. “You look as good as always.”
“Really? You don’t notice my extra poundage?”
“No. I love a girl with meat on her bones. Just the other day one of the guys was looking at a skinny girl and said, ‘too skinny’. No one likes a bony girl.”
“You sure you’re not lying?”
“No. See that girl over there with the chunky thighs. That’s my type. Not the one over there who’s all skin and bones.”
“What about my belly fat?”
“Pah. I like a little fat in the belly. It’s something to grab.”
I walked away feeling shocked. His reality was a new world for me. I had never in a million years thought that the way I looked now was acceptable, let alone attractive.
A few days later I saw Ernie, my old friend from high school. I asked him the same questions.
“I love butts, boobs, and bellies,” he said. He also pointed out the chunky girls that he liked, and the skinny girls that were too thin.
“Are you just being nice?” I asked him. He said he wasn’t.
Once again, I was amazed. My father had always said “you can’t be too rich or too thin.” “Boys don’t make passes with girls with fat asses” was a prominent sticker on our refrigerator. He thought it would motivate my sisters and I to not eat fattening food or “crap” as he called it.
I always thought I only mattered if I was at my “thin” weight. And, I certainly am not at that weight right now.
I walked out of the gym thinking maybe there wasn’t an actual weight that existed where I either mattered or I didn’t. Maybe it was something my little girl brain had made up. Just maybe I could still matter, even at this weight. And I’m still considering it. I am not feeling as bad about how I look. I’m looking at guys again and wondering if they too like “butts, boobs and bellies” like Ernie does.
Not that it only matters what guys think. It’s just that I thought that what my father had said was the truth. I didn’t know any different. So the fact that some guys like a little meat on a girls bones is pretty damn cool.
Maybe I’m actually ok just as I am. It’s certainly possible, isn’t it?