I came across a very interesting article via Huffington Post this morning on Facebook. It’s about Hilda, a plus-sized pin-up character from the 1950s, illustrated by artist Duane Bryers.
I saw this picture and some others of Hilda, and sat in stunned silence for a few minutes. She is me. I’m serious. Save the natural red hair cut in a style shorter than my own, I am Hilda. Okay…she has a better ass than I do, which is lamentable, but essentially, this is what I look like…aside from owing a cat and taking baths in wooden barrels, that is.
If her figure was acceptable in the 50s, why now, in 2013, am I considered obese according to the BMI scale? Why do I feel self-conscious coming into a room full of strangers, feeling their eyes judge my height and weight, the pooch of abdominal fat, my slight double-chin, my thick upper arms and thighs, the rolls of skin on my back from my bra…how much has changed in 63 years by means of what physical beauty is to an individual. Thanks, society!
I’m always self-aware of how I look; are my jeans too tight? Does this shirt fit me okay? Can I wear enough eye makeup to detract from the lower part of my face? But it’s gotten a little worse in the last few weeks as I’ve been asked to be in one of my very best friend’s wedding in October, and I’ve quit smoking.
I went dress shopping and cringed as I tried on bridesmaid gown after bridesmaid gown. Part of the problem was my dress size wasn’t available in all the styles–some where a size too small, making me look like a sausage stuffed into champagne-colored satin, or too big, and the extra fabric hanging loosely from my body made me look like Ariel from The Little Mermaid when she washes up on shore and Sebastian the Crab finds an old ship sail and wraps her up in it.
The no smoking thing means I have to satiate both my oral (chuckle) fixation and the hand-to-mouth motion, so what better way to do both of those things than to eat! And eat a lot! I was doing well with keeping my mindless snacking at bay for the first two weeks I quit, but with the onset of PMS this week, I have eaten far more than I should have and not only have I gained water weight because menstruation is so great, but also legitimate weight because I must eat all the things. And I have.
Here is where I start waffling back and forth between embracing my full figure because let’s face it–big boobs–and thinking “oh man, I’m a fat, disgusting slob and I should be hidden away from society until I lose the 50 pounds I’ve managed to tack on my frame.”
Medically, aside from the smoking thing, I’m healthy. The last physical I had stated my cholesterol was within normal range, my blood pressure has always been good, I don’t have diabetes, or any other condition that stems from being overweight. I may have something called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, but that’s never been formally diagnosed, despite me displaying all of the symptoms and characteristics of PCOS. I digress…I’m healthy, just fat. Do I accept the fact that I’m always going to be a size 18 and not feel guilty about ordering those chicken wings and unabashedly eating them all? Or do I lean toward aesthetics and try to get down to a size 12 again?
Do I diet because it’s a healthier option, or because it’s a societal one?
Do I really care that much about my appearance that I’ll take part in a fad diet and lose pounds just so I look good in a bridesmaid dress, or should I be grateful and honored my friend wants me to share in his day and be there for him, and eat, drink, and be merry with him as he gets married?
Society, man. It’s fucked.
Some day, maybe, we’ll revert back to our body image ideals of the 50s. Until that day, I’ll continue on my quest to finally and fully accept myself as I am, rolls and all.