"I've lost thirty pounds and nothing has changed except the size of my jeans," I said to my therapist. She nodded as therapists do. "It has nothing to do with my weight, does it?"
It really wasn't a question.
Throughout my married life my husband would stand behind me, feign a hug, and then push down on my hips to make them inches smaller and move his hands away to watch everything pop back into place. I’ll admit it was funny, even fun. Until it wasn’t. But I never called him on it. I jumped on the body-hating bandwagon and became an expert at camouflaging my figure with ill-fitting, non-breathing, binding undergarments. I wore baggy clothes, worked out, lost weight. I started taking the pictures and stopped being in them. I also stopped looking at myself from the waist down, preferring the bathroom mirror to the one in the bedroom. It was a game of hide and no-seek that I played only with myself. Although it was he who perpetuated the myth that my padded curves were the bane of his existence, it was me who bought right into it.
"When I walk into a room I want everyone to think I'm with a beautiful woman," he said one day.
I stared at him, then into the mirror. My hair, through the miracle of dye and highlights, was the same ash blonde it had always been when we met as college freshmen, twenty years before. It was shoulder length and scattered with layers. My skin was shades paler than his, and without blemish save a few freckles from the days before sunscreen was part of a daily ritual. My eyes were round and blue, sometimes green, and the same eyes I'd been complimented on as far back as I could remember. And then, I looked down.
It took sixteen months of therapy for me to understand in one second, that he carried the weight of my hips more than I did.
"You want people to think you're walking into a room with a beautiful woman?" He nodded. "They do," I said. I realized then that losing weight would not add fat to the marriage.
When I became a divorced and dating mom in this current era of instant first-impressions and delete-able acquaintances, I wasn't naïve enough to think that looks didn't matter. But by then I was secure enough to know that the package I came in was merely that -- a package. I adopted a take-it or leave-it attitude to which I remain steadfast.
I didn't change my looks during the process of becoming single; I changed the way I looked at myself. Only then did I see my true reflection.
Amy Sue Nathanís debut novel, The Glass Wives, will be published by St. Martinís Press in Spring 2013. In addition to The Imperfect Parent, Amyís stories and essays have appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times online, The Washington Post online, The Huffington Post, Chicago Parent, Grey Sparrow Journal, Rose and Thorn Journal, Scribblers On The Roof, The Verb, Hospital Drive Journal and The Stone Hobo. She is also a freelance fiction editor, a reader for literary agents, and Secretary of the RWA-WF Chapter. In 2011 Amy launched Womenís Fiction Writers, a blog focusing on the authors, business and craft of traditionally published womenís fiction.
Amy lives near Chicago and is the mom of a son in college, a daughter in high school, and two rambunctious rescued dogs. You can follow her on Twitter @AmySueNathan where she tweets about writing, books, parenting, and chocolate.
"Try as hard as we may for perfection, the net result of our labors is an amazing variety of imperfectness. We are surprised at our own versatility in being able to fail in so many different ways." -- Samuel McChord Crothers
The views, opinions and information expressed in articles and blog posts published on imperfectparent.com and all subdomains are those of the authors alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Imperfect Parent or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of any entity of, or affiliated with, Imperfect Parent. The Imperfect Parent
is designed for entertainment
purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for medical, health,
legal, or financial advice from a professional.
of material from any of Imperfect Parent's pages without written
permission is strictly prohibited.