Neighbors: Full-Figured and Fantastic!

Sep 22, 2008

“Americans like fat books and thin women.”

–Attributed to Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist Russell Baker

Frankly, I was not aware that we were all that big on books.

But that last bit sounds about right.

Which is why it was very cool chatting with a Poplar Bluff acquaintance who apparently never got the memo.

Or, more accurately, she got it but—on careful review–decided to ball it up and throw it away.

“I’m extremely active; I mean, I’m the type who can’t sit still for long,” she said, as we actually did sit on her porch one fall afternoon drinking Country Time, my favorite faux lemonade. “But I probably eat like most people,” she went on. “Too much of the wrong stuff, and not enough of the good.”

This is a woman who really does go places with her husband and hike and shoot the rapids and what have you because of some sort of love for all that activity—a love I myself never developed. Of course I do admire it enormously in other people…

“I used to diet,” she recalled. “I can’t believe I used up all my 20s trying to get Angelina Jolie’s body, when she’s already laid claim to it!”

Perhaps it’s her devotion to outdoor activities that makes one think, on seeing this stylish, attractive hospital worker, “big-boned gal”, rather than someone who might be carrying considerable excess weight.

Still, her full-figure contours suggest that she would likely never catch the eye of the casting director for Who’s America’s Next Top Model That’s Got The Look for Project Runway?—a fact that doesn’t seem to faze her in the slightest.

“I spent a small fortune on trying to squeeze into someone else’s body. Then…well, I just gave up,” she said, “and that was one of the really great moments in my life.

“My outlook changed, and other people seemed to pick up on it right away. My husband said it was like I had become a new person—the ‘me’ we never knew!”

How did she just give up heeding all the media and cultural messages that say we all need to wedge ourselves into a single mold on this one?

“We almost lost our first-born,” she explained, preferring not to go into a great deal of detail. “After we got through that ordeal, let’s just say I had a better idea of what counts and what doesn’t.”

So she now looks at the matter more philosophically than she once did. “Who doesn’t have issues about balancing things out?” she asked. “Could I afford to eat less? Sure. Most people I know, big and small, could get by on a lot less food than they eat. But I’m trying to juggle work and family, and I want to stay sane and have fun, too.

“And this is something that some big-girl readers out there will surely understand when I say it…” she trailed off for a moment here, as if searching for just the right words to convey her meaning.

“Well, it’s kind of like my mother used to tell me—and she was a big girl, too: ‘Your father used to always say it made him kind of sad to see a woman who looked like she was starving and didn’t even know it’.”


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