HOW AM I STILL PLANNING THIS WEDDING?!?!

Y’all, I got engaged in November… of what must have been 1980, because I have been doing wedding crap for approximately 37 years. HOW HAS THIS WEDDING NOT HAPPENED YET?

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Jake and I have had at least 167 spats over him being Princess Kate in both that everything has to be perfect and that it’s someone else’s problem. I’m telling you, that man almost got blood all over our wedding invitations when he told me he hadn’t collected all of his addresses as I began to address his half. This is why I hate weddings. Jake and I rarely argue, but suddenly we can’t get through a single day without some inane squabble over the difference between ivory and white. It’s not just me, either. His mother was pissed that he hadn’t chosen his cousin to be a groomsmen. His sister was pissed that he didn’t have a special job for his nieces. I was pissed that he was digging in his heels over stupid little things like this, when he doesn’t even care.

Me: “You’ve got to learn to choose your battles.”
Jake: “I know. I’m sorry.”
Me: “You do know the answer can’t be ‘all of them,’ right?”

It’s not just time and arguments, though. It’s money. I cut out videography and flowers and centerpieces. I bought wooden bouquets for myself and my bridesmaids on Etsy, to save a few hundred dollars. My invitations came from Mixbook, with a coupon code, and the R.S.V.P’s were printed on cardstock at work. I bought my wedding dress on Etsy and hoped for the best, because every other one I saw looked the exact damned same and cost three times as much. Still, every time I turn around, I have to spend another hundred dollars or so on sparklers, to-go boxes for the cake, a serving set, and a steamer for my dress. The large accounts got settled just it time for all the little odds and ends to start piling up. Sure, the honeymoon’s paid for now, but we’re going on an Alaskan cruise, which means I need a bathing suit and more jeans. You see, only the one pair fits these days, because I haven’t eaten since November.

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Until recently, Jake had been pretty unhappy with his weight, as well. Living out of his truck, between the Granger Ranch, his place in Wellston, and my place in Shetland wasn’t conducive to a healthy diet and exercise regimen. When he’d complain, beer in hand, I’d try to gently suggest that the alcohol might be a contributor, but was assured that this couldn’t be the case. So, after we moved, he vowed to start working out, as did I, since I’d bought an elliptical, just before we moved. While I spend most of my free time on the elliptical, however, Jake has yet to take up P90X as planned, because what better time to play World of Warcraft than when I’m busy working out?  Additionally, even though I never get to eat peanut butter anymore, somehow, whole jars still disappear. Yet…

Jake: “I’ve lost about 13 pounds, since we moved. The scale says I weigh 212.”
Me: “Cool! ME TOO.”

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I jest, of course. I weigh 167. I’ve also lost 13 pounds… since November, not since we moved a month ago. With three weeks until the wedding, though, I’m seven pounds from my goal weight. Whereas Jake could drop that with a walk around the neighborhood, I’m about to just amputate mid-calf and call it good.

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It’s not just the wedding hype that’s motivating me. I turn thirty this year and while I will have accomplished every other thing I want to accomplish by September, I am adamant that I’ll reach my goal weight. An expensive dress accompanied with photos that will be displayed forever is just encouragement… unlike the Easter candy I stocked up on, to eat after the wedding, because I refuse to miss the best candy holiday for a party. That’s what all this is, after all: an elaborate party, that I’ll only remember as a haze of stress, dollar signs, and ridiculous arguments, because Dante forgot to mention the circle of hell that is even minimalist wedding planning.

Years ago, I often joked that I didn’t want a husband. I just wanted a Kitchenaid mixer and I figured that was the only to go about getting one. Today, I’d be willing to buy my own Kitchenaid mixer if it meant Jake could just be my husband. Only 19 days to go, y’all, which is approximately seven more years in wedding planning time. I suppose I’ll do it for Jake to have his big day. After all, he’s already paid for mine, in full: the day when our Alaskan cruise ship sets sail and I can finally enjoy being with my husband.

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Real Women Have Vaginas

… and/or two X chromosomes. I’m protecting myself from any potential off-topic transgender/had my vagina removed due to cervical cancer comments.

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That’s mine. I’ll spare you the picture of my vagina. You’re welcome.

I grew up in the 90’s with a dieting mom. This means I played in more than one Weight Watchers’ daycare, took Snackwell cookies for lunch, and don’t like regular Coke as an adult, because I never had it as a kid. It’s actually pretty unfortunate to order my bacon cheeseburger and bacon cheese fries with a Diet Coke, because I’m pretty certain the server is giggling internally and thinking “You want bacon in that?”… then I feel intensely self-absorbed because no one gives a shit what I order. Despite the Jenny Craig food in the freezer and all of those trips to the natural foods store, however, I grew up a little chubby after age eight. When I broke my wrist that year, the doctor weighed me at 106 pounds and my mother (who was and still is overweight) publicly scolded me and acted mortified. Thanks mom. The broken wrist didn’t hurt enough. Also, who’s been feeding said eight-year-old?!?!? Throughout my childhood, I always thought myself fat, though at 25, I realize I wasn’t more than chubby until my senior year and college. Being the chubby girl, though, I was comforted when I saw this movie:

real women have curves

I don’t remember much about it, but the basic premise of this Lifetime-esque title is that, despite being ridiculed by her mother for her weight, the main character can still be and feel beautiful. It’s a great message and America Ferrera, the lead actress, has become a household name and defense for being beautiful and curvy, along with Christina Hendricks of Mad Men and Gennifer Goodwin of Once Upon a Time (though she was fuller figured in her days on Big Love). It’s wonderful that we’re accepting that a woman doesn’t have to starve herself to be beautiful. That having been said, why does this notion have to be accompanied with the phrase “real women have curves” or “zero is not a size” and pictures like this?

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We’ve gone from dubbing the gorgeous Keira Knightly as the standard by which we should compare ourselves to claiming she’s not a woman, because she’s physically fit. Zero is just as much of a size as 16, because there’s nothing actually measuring 16″ either. If you want to call her a size 20, you’d better get comfy going by size 33.* In addition, we’ve become outraged that most plus-sized models are a size 10. Why is that so upsetting? I’m a size 8/10 and okay, I can’t actually wear anything in the plus-sized section, but when I buy something that does fit me, the model wearing it is probably smaller than a size 00, and they don’t sell that in my section either. It’s the same. It’s also just marketing. The designers don’t want back fat in the picture, because they know you don’t want to wear something that gives you back fat. Bitch all you want about airbrushing and using  that size 10 model to advertise your size 22 blouse, but no one’s buying it if it gives the model rolls. They just aren’t.

Today, when a skinny woman turns her nose up at an overweight woman, it’s considered tasteless and superior, but society releases a movie titled Real Women Have Curves and insists that “zero is not a size” and it’s empowering? My. Stretch-marked. Ass. Defending obesity is not empowering and I’m pretty sure Marilyn Monroe would be disgusted that she’s now the spokesperson for extra mayonnaise. Christina Hendricks, Gennifer Goodwin, and America Ferrera all have one thing in common: a healthy weight, which, I might add, America Ferrera did not have in Real Women Have Curves. They’re all gorgeous and so was Marilyn Monroe, but they aren’t obese. I point this out, because more often than not, it’s unhealthy (not curvy) women making these statements. Regardless, said “curves” do not make a real woman any more than they unmake her. At size two or 26, if she has a vagina and/or two X chromosomes, then she is a real fucking woman. You don’t get to take her femininity and gender away from her because you’re insecure, whether you’re sneering at the ladies in Lane Bryant or the gals on the beach in bikinis. These are equal crimes and if you’re unhealthy on either end of the spectrum, you need to plan a fitness and diet program that works for you, rather than focusing on the weight of everyone else.

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Jennifer Love Hewitt went on record to say “size two is not fat.” She’s right. It’s not. She’s also not a size two here and should own up to it instead of acting ashamed of her likely healthy size 8 figure.

Sadly, weight is only one of the ways in which we gals like to tear each other apart. There’s also our professional lives. Since women started entering the workforce in greater numbers, we’ve been debating which is the best course of action, being a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, because of course you’re throwing your life away if you choose not to have children.

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Recently, I was discussing with a coworker whether or not I’d like to be a stay-at-home mom one day. The answer is no. I’ve spent seven years in school to help people in my community better their lives through self-education and I know that if I leave my technology-heavy profession for ten years to raise children, I won’t be able to go back. I also know that I don’t have the patience to stay home with children all day, and therefore wouldn’t be content. Everyone would be happier if I worked. I feel that people miss out on time with their families, because of poor prioritization more than by having a career. For example, the average American household has a television on for 6 hours and 47 minutes daily.* In short, turn off the fucking T.V. and raise your babies, whether you’ve been home all day or not and they’ll be fine. I gave my coworker a work appropriate version of that, to which she essentially responded “to each their own”… then threw in “I just didn’t want someone else raising my children” in a but that’s just me tone. She genuinely didn’t mean anything by it, so I didn’t respond, but that is the equivalent of my saying “well, I’d rather contribute to my family in addition to caring for my kids, but that’s just me.” God bless social networking, because I get to read about this ridiculous cat fight all day long, for in the Midwest most 25-year-olds have a few toddlers.

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You’re both wasting an awful lot of  time in an e-slap fight for two people who claim to be so busy. A woman who stays home with her children takes on the job of full time teacher, maid, cook, financial adviser, personal shopper, and psychiatrist and she does it all day long. The woman with a career performs her professional duties and then those listed above when she gets home. Neither is less of a mother or woman than the other, just as the childless woman is no less a woman. Being an adult, raising a family, having a career, and being in a marriage are all hard when you do them right, regardless of which of these life choices you make or combine. What works for one may not work for another and that is wonderful, because I don’t want to live in fucking Stepford. We need to be supporting, not shredding, each other. Women complain constantly about men keeping them from success, but you know what? We don’t need men to tear us down as long as we’re so good at it. We want to be taken seriously in the workforce and society but those of us who can’t wear that extra 20 pounds to work proudly and still love our skinny stay-at-home mom friends for their life choices, don’t deserve to be taken seriously.

marilyn monroe on society

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There’s some supportive advice I can get behind.

Sources
http://www.marksandspencer.com/General-Womens-Size-Guides-Product-Information-Help/b/47647031

http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html

Formerly Fat

In August of 2010, I weighed 260 pounds. I had miscarried and Gail’s little girl had died in the last year. I was starting graduate school and working two jobs even then. I had a husband who wouldn’t get a job and constantly stole from me, refusing to get the hell out of my house even though I’d asked him to leave a hundred times. I couldn’t afford to buy healthy food, when I could afford to buy food at all, I didn’t have time to work out, and it wasn’t really a huge concern of mine considering the debilitating depression I experienced as my life crumbled around me and I kept it from everyone. While I’d been overweight most of my life, I was officially morbidly obese.

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Today, I weigh 172 pounds, up from 160, the lowest I got before I wrecked my back in February. I’d like to get down to 150, but I’m still pretty danged content. I don’t know if I mean for this to be motivating for people trying to lose weight this New Year (my weight loss was not a New Year’s resolution) or if this is just me being grateful that my whole world is different, but here are my favorite things about being “average”.

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The Clothes
I own fucking jeggings. I’m wearing them right now. They’re a size medium, but when I wear my normal jeans, they’re an 8. At 160, I comfortably wore a 6. A 6! That’s fat Anne Hathaway according to The Devil Wears Prada! You know what looks good on me now? An electric blue zebra print tankini. I own that! I also own several adorable sundresses and sweater dresses and I wear them all the time. Dresses rock! They’re like nightgowns, but sexy.

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I should probably take down the Christmas tree, though.

The Cheap Clothes
These jeggings cost me $20. Lane Bryant jeans cost $60. My size 6 skirt from Goodwill cost $3 and looks brand new. The last plus-sized skirt I had was $50. It’s impossibly easy to find super cheap clothes that look adorable on me, because I’m tiny by comparison to my 260 pounds self. I can even find cute Wal-Mart outfits. When I was bigger, Wal-Mart clothes looked terrible on me. They aren’t shaped, they’re just large. Now I can buy $9 jean shorts and they look great. Since my thighs don’t rub together like those of a cricket in spring, they last forever, too. Since my boobs aren’t enormous, I can wear $20 36C bras. My 40DD bra cost me $40. It was on sale.

The Food and Drinks
Thanksgiving Day of 2010, I tearfully told Gail how bad things had gotten in my marriage and that he was finally leaving the next day. Then I drank 8 Long Island Ice Teas, her drink, and our friend’s drink and ate a full meal. The bar tab was $75. Today, after 3 Long Island Ice Teas, I’m too drunk to want another, even if I’m crying.  I can’t even imagine racking up a $75 bar tab at my current size. Meals that would have once been satisfying are now to-go box material. I spend $50 a week on my groceries and it’s plenty. In fact, I’m quite the food hoarder, because I once couldn’t afford it, and have about 6 pounds of meat in my freezer right now.

The Way I Move
Alright. No one who hasn’t been overweight is going to get this one at all. When you’re big, you can’t do that thing where you pull your legs up into the chair and put your chin on them. It’s not an option, because your belly gets in the way. You can’t cross your legs, because you have too much thigh. Running up the stairs or bolting to the mailbox because it’s cold and you were too lazy to put on shoes, causes dry heaving because you can’t breathe. It is physically uncomfortable to be heavy. One of the best parts of being smaller is that I can actually curl up. I bought a papasan chair for myself for my birthday and I spend most hours at home curled up in that chair like a fucking embryo. It. Is. Awesome. They should put that in the Jenny Craig commercial.

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My skinny nest.

I Can Look At Myself Naked
I used to stand in front of the mirror and think the most degrading things. They were usually funny, but still incredibly negative.

“I look like a shaved gorilla.”

Sometimes, they were just depressing.

“I don’t even feel like a woman anymore. If I leave him, no one will want me again.”

I’ve taken 3 baths this week. If you’ve ever been unhappy with your body, you know that taking a bath isn’t relaxing at all. It’s staring at your wet body, thinking “ew” and calculating how much weight you have to lose to no longer be obese. It’s picturing what you look like sitting in said bathtub and analyzing the water level compared to your weight. I actually do things naked now. I mean, I’m not joining a nudist colony, but it’s not humiliating to be alone in a room without clothes on any longer. If I want to do the dishes naked, so I don’t get water on my clothes, I’m okay with doing that. I don’t remember why but I once vacuumed my whole apartment naked. Seriously, not a nudist.

The Self-Confidence
Guess what. I am almost never the fattest person in the room anymore. It’s so rare that I am, that I don’t even check now. It used to be automatic. The hits to my self-esteem still occur, of course. Did he not call me because I’m fat? But now I actually question that. It’s not just a given. When I substitute, the students call me Velma, because I have short hair and sometimes wear my black-rimmed glasses. Occasionally, it’s meant as an insult. You know what, though? They never call me the fat sub. Ever. And that’s terrific.

The Sleep Shirts
At 260, I wore a size 2xl t-shirt. So, working at the movie theater, I had to take the adult large Ice Age promotional shirt and stretch it out and wear an undershirt beneath it. It was humiliating. Today, that is my favorite sleep shirt and one of many.

I Know Who Loves Me
When you’re fat, you think people treat you differently because of it. You’re in line at the grocery store, they open a new register, and there’s a choice between you and a thinner person. They motion for the thinner person. People who’ve never been there would say you’re being paranoid. You’re not. They did subconsciously choose the more attractive person. People are friendlier to me than they ever were when I was 90 pounds larger. That sucks, but that’s the way it is. That’s why the people who loved me at 260 get so much credit for it.

When I met my guys, I was married, miserable, 250 or so pounds, had hair halfway down my back I only wore in a ponytail or pigtails, never wore makeup, and didn’t own anything that wasn’t a t-shirt and jeans. It was at this weight that I became “not a girl, Belle”, invited out to dinner and New Year’s Eve with “just the guys.” They never cared that I was bigger and didn’t dress like a girl. They liked my sense of humor and loyalty. At 160 pounds, they didn’t treat me any different. I got the same jokes and inclusion. Additionally, Gail’s seen me fluctuate from my high school 190 to my college 260 to my lowest 160 and my present 172 and has never treated me any different in ten years. When someone checks me out, I know they wouldn’t have been interested 2 years ago and that’s okay. But it’s always comforting to know that there are people who feel the same no matter your appearance.

So… maybe I was just broken and damaged and never ate or slept when I lost that first 30 pounds and insanely determined when I lost the next 60, but it’s been so awesome to be normal sized for the first time in my life. Just thinking about it encourages me to stay this way, because even in hindsight, being overweight sucked. Happy Resolutioning!