Monday, October 4, 2010

Why I No Longer Give A Shit About My Abs

Over the summer, I gained a bit of weight.  I've always been a very thin girl with a high-speed metabolism hovering just below what doctors consider a "healthy" weight, so gaining weight has always been a struggle for me.  Imagine my surprise when I realized, after stepping on a scale, that a summer of living in my car (shuttling myself between school, rehearsal, and my boyfriend's house) and existing solely on Chicken McNuggets and Iced Mochas is the secret to packing on 12 pounds in eight weeks. 

At first, I was elated.  In high school, I had envied the girls who filled out their clothes with feminine curves.  I knew that supple breasts and a voluptuous booty were physically appealing.  I was flat-chested and still had a boyish frame, so I assumed that I would not be attractive until I looked more like a woman and less like a little girl.  This weight gain was a huge "FINALLY" moment for me.  My breasts and ass had filled out a little bit when I went to college, but now I had curvy thighs that created a beautiful arc down my leg.  AND MY HIPS!  They jutted out from my body in a way I was not used to!

Excited to flaunt my new body, I grabbed a pair of Old Navy Diva skinny jeans...and encountered a problem.  My jeans.  Would not.  BUTTON.  I struggles, sucked, and had to lay down on my bed to button those pants.  My time had come.  I had managed to avoid this common feminine dilemma until now.  I had been inititated into The Sisterhood of Cathy (AACK!).  I was a bit confused.  I knew my ass had gotten a little bigger (read: JUICIER), but not that big!  It wasn't until I looked down at the button and saw the problem staring straight in my face: my tummy.  In all my dreaming about weight gain and obtaining curves, I had never once thought about the idea that my tummy could prevent me from fitting into my clothes.

Not cute

I tried not to think about it.  I was happy to have gained this weight.  My tummy flab was nothing to think too much about...but I could always feels it there.  Squeezing out the top of my skinny jeans, folding when I relaxed my posture, taunting me all the time.  The final straw came one weekend in August.  While dressing for both a rehearsal dinner and a wedding, I found myself struggling to get into both of my dresses (AACK!).  While this zipper fiasco was clearly a result of my whole body being a bit fleshier, my skewed mind blamed the Tummy Monster.  I was not having this crap anymore.

After a quick chat with my mother, the answer to my dilemma was clear.  This weight gain was a good thing for me, there was not doubt about that.  All I needed to do was tone some of the new weight and adopt a daily abdominal crunch regimen.  Okay, sure, why not?  This is normal for women to work on their abs.  Hell, it is probably societally weird for me to have never taken part in a regular exercise routine.  And exercise is good for you!  It releases endorphins and all that jazz!  The extra time and work would be worth it when I could show off both a juicy booty and a flat-stomach.  I felt like such an asshole and it.felt.GOOD.


Or so I thought.  I kept up with my abdominal regimen for about three weeks until I got slammed by a brutal end-of-summer cold and felt too crappy to work out.  I never got back into my routine because I'm a lazy creature of habit.  I can say that I forgot, but really, I just didn't feel like.  It didn't feel necessary anymore and I just wasn't as concerned about my tummy flab as I had been before.

So WHY did I say to my boyfriend this weekend, "I need to start doing my crunches again"?  I was shocked when those words came tumbling out of my mouth.  I hadn't felt bad about my body, so why was I acting that way?  AACK!!!

I feel like perhaps there was been a strange normalization of poor body image in girl-culture.  Girls crowding around bathroom mirrors lamenting about their pores, women chatting about love handles over yogurt--these are common stereotypes of how American women relate to each other.  There's a sense that women are expected to feel bad about themselves and to announce this very fact.  If you're not bitching about your thighs, there's something wrong with you.  As someone who has spent her life trying desperately trying to be a "normal" girl, I think there is a part of me that adopted this negative attitude about my tummy because I felt it was just what women do.  Yes, my new flesh took some getting used to, but that comes with all change, but it was now a part of my body and was nothing that needed fixing.  No one is going to look at me differently or judge me for a tummy that they can't even see.  Hell, my boyfriend has told me over and over that he thinks my tummy is SEXY!  So if my boyfriend doesn't have a problem with it and I don't have a problem with it, WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

So that's why I stopped giving a shit.  I don't need defined abs to be happy and I sure as hell don't need to bring myself down just to fit in.  It's okay to love yourself and as you are and it is more than okay to embrace laziness.  :-)

I actually quite like it...

I should mention, as an aside, that this post was written while watching To Wong Foo,  Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar.  In honor of this, I'll end the post with the words of drag superstar RuPaul.  "If you can't love yourself, how in the HELL are you gonna love somebody else?"