naked: when the beholder loves you

I spent most of Saturday at a meeting, eating a lot of oats. As it turns out, larger quantities of oats and my belly don’t get along so well–to be fair, much of that oatmeal came in the form of cookies and bars, but still. I waddled out of the door feeling distended, and bloated (blOATed! ha!) and a little bit ill. When I got back to my hotel room, I took off my sweater, glanced at the mirror and kind of gasped–my entire belly was poofed out, as if I had just sat and eaten a whale, except it took me significantly under 89 years. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed such a direct result of food on my body, ever, and it was strange to see.

I recounted the story to a friend of mine–“And I was so bloated and distended! I was huge! It was amazing! Biology is amazing!” Eventually talk turned to other things. Eventually, a few drinks in, we started to talk about body image, as we sometimes do because we are both fascinated by it. And she turned to me and said, I have to tell you: It sounded to me like you were complaining that you were fat and unattractive. She said that the first thing she thought was that if I thought I was fat and ugly with a big old gut, then what must I think of her, and the size of her stomach?

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naked: plaid pants make me sexy, no matter what he thinks

My boyfriend E and I have very different tastes in clothes–for me, I mean. He likes to see me in tailored stuff, buttoned up to the neck and down to the floor. He basically thinks that I look sexiest when I look like a virgin librarian nun. Me, I like…well, everything. It feels like now that I am in misses sizes, there is a dizzying array of styles and clothing choices and options and I would say that I’m afraid to pin myself down to any one look, except that I don’t think I even have any idea how to create something as cohesive as a “look.” I just like clothes, and pretty things, is pretty much what it boils down to, and my taste is eclectic. Which is a very simple way of putting it.

I have gotten to the point where I do not care that my arms are not perfect and firm and my stomach is not flat. I am still working on the same laissez-faire attitude about my knees and my thighs, but generally, I am doing really well with accepting this body I’ve ended up with, in general, and I am having fun dressing it up. I wear fitted clothes; I wear tight clothes. I wear sleeveless blouses and skirts that hit above my knees. I wear the clothes that E thinks look sexy on me, because I like to look sexy for him–it makes me feel gorgeous. I like to hear that he thinks I am gorgeous.

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naked: dealbreakers

Dealbreakers are heartbreaking. Having to end a relationship, a long, generally happy, overall good relationship in which you are otherwise compatible, otherwise perfect for one another, otherwise ready to compromise on all the things you have to compromise on when you’re in a relationship, having it all come down to a single sticking point on which neither of you want to budge, or maybe from which neither of you can budge. It seems like a terrible joke, a brutally unfair way for the world to be. It feels like a story with an unhappy endings, and we all know, instinctively, that stories with love in them should have happy endings.

Dealbreakers are rough, and they’re final. You don’t want to call something a dealbreaker, because that means everything has to change. You don’t want to call something a dealbreaker because that could be overstating things, it could be overreacting, why, things could totally get better! But some things need to be dealbreakers. Some things make me want to shake people and shout: If your sweetheart does not adore every inch of your body, from your hairy toes to your oily scalp, there’s a problem there. I want to say please, look at yourself and see how gorgeous you are. And now look at your sweetheart–do they know how gorgeous you are?

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my own worst enemy

When I posted that entry yesterday, about taking photographs of myself and putting them online, I immediately felt uneasy. And yesterday, all through today, I’ve realized, I’ve had a chorus running through my head. It’s a familiar chorus, made up of voices that are imaginary but no less real and each no less a stab with a tiny needle. It’s a choir that sings, Oh, she thinks she’s so cute. Look at her, post those pictures like she thinks that outfit is fabulous. Isn’t it funny, the way she was so careful to say, “I know I am not fashionable,” and then posts a picture? Honey, we know you’re not fashionable. You don’t need to tell us. She’s so ridiculous. She thinks she is so clever, with her false modesty. She is just waiting for everyone to say, “No no, you’re adorable!” God.

I talk back to the voices. I say, but no, it’s not like that. I am self-aware! I am self-reflective, and self-mocking, and isn’t that enough to insulate me from accusations of vanity and laughable prideful pride? It was ironic, right, and just fun, and I am aware that it is silly and I’m not taking myself seriously. I want to say, please don’t say The lady doth protest too much, because I’m just trying to explain myself, here, I’m trying to be honest. I’m not protesting, as if I were guilty and caught red-handed. I’m just trying to tell you–I just want you to know that I’m not like that, I’m not. I’m not. But there’s no one to actually say these things too. And the voices sure don’t listen, because they get louder, and they get nastier, and you start to think, well, maybe they have a point. Maybe I am too tortured and ridiculous to live.

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naked: burlesque makes you love your booty

image via New York Burlesque Festival

We have been fans of burlesque here at Elastic Waist for a long time: its sexy exuberance,
its embrace and celebration of the female body of every size and shape.
Burlesque is about saying to an audience, “I know I am hot, I know I am sexy, I
love my body and what it does, how it moves, how it looks and feels, and you
love it too.”

Every bump and every grind is a sex salutation–an ode to the
silliness of it, the wonderfulness, the fun and joy of good sex and beautiful bodies.
I am not sure what the feather boas symbolize, but I love them too. How can you
not love a feather boa or a sexy corset? Not to mention your own hips as they swivel as if they were on
casters, your elegant arms, your adorable shimmying butt.

That’s right, I said “your own,” and why? Because you
can take burlesque lessons. If you’re lucky enough to live in the Bay Area, you
can take a six-month class with a room full of gorgeous women at Bombshell Betty’s, or even just drop in occasionally. Dress
up, perform, shimmy and shake, and I will envy you completely. If you don’t
live in the area, or are very shy (though you won’t be for long)–now there are online classes! When you sign up, you get a new video lesson every week, plus articles
and bonus videos. I can’t think of a cooler way to shake off your
self-consciousness and your fears about your body and embrace your inherent,
unrelenting hotness than burlesque dancing. Let go in the privacy of your own home, and see what it does for you when you step out the door.

on pseudonyms

A very hilarious friend of mine once said, well, you could have chosen a pseudonym like Cheeky Chubbypants, or Chubby McSparklepants, or Fattie BoomBatty, and then you’d really be sorry. But when I started what was originally a weight-loss journal, so many years ago, I chose to go with my middle name, which would be Anne, and my mother’s maiden name, which I have always loved. Three guesses what that would be. We don’t even have to count the first two, so you can just go crazy-nuts.

I had been writing a blog under my real name (well, nickname) since, god, 2000? 2001? Something like that. So long ago that we called them “online journals,” and all the online journalers knew each other and sometimes went to each other’s houses and had sex and dinner and went bowling. It was a very tiny community. I made a lot of friends that I still have to this day, through the online journaling phenomenon, and the thing about making friends online is that, if you have any kind of basic writing skill and a sense of self-awareness, you are manipulating exactly how your reader sees you, thinks of you, relates to you. You are whomever you’d like to be, online–even when you’re writing non-fiction, daily accounts of your day, there is an astonishing amount of wiggle room, there. It’s one of the great tragedies of online dating, I think.

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on athleticism

I spent most of my life completely convinced that I am absolutely unathletic, pathetic in my klutziness, a fragile, uncoordinated mess who is to be pitied for her inability to walk across a room without sustaining some kind of grievous bodily injury or expensive property damage. I am not all wrong; I am often clumsy, find it difficult to move all the parts of my body at once in particular ways, or to think about the parts of my body and how they ought to be moving and then actually try to move them. My Pilates instructor once asked me if I had sustained some kind of serious injury over the course of my life, or if I had an inner-ear problem, either of which would explain how someone could be so ridiculously, egregiously terrible at a relatively basic Pilates exercise. No, I told her. That’s just how I am. She shook her head, and I think she gave up on me.

I skipped gym class in elementary school, running off and hiding on the roof in the warm months, exploring the boiler room and the basement in the winter until I got caught by a custodian and hauled into the principal’s office. In high school I just hid in the bathroom for the entire period and read Stephen King novels and scribbled in my little marble notebook about how bourgeois forced physical education was. I did not know what “bourgeois” meant. I did know that I would not be forced to humiliate myself, club-footedly and all-thumbs-handedly, and I was taking myself right out of the game. So to speak.

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naked: it doesn’t stop at puberty

I haven’t thought very much about aging, and that is because the whole idea scares the shit out of me; I haven’t yet, at the ripe old age of thirty-mumble, come to terms with my body and my relationship to it, how to keep it healthy and happy and give it what it needs, how to truly and completely accept this carcass of mine, how to truly and completely accept that the person who loves me and sees me naked every day thinks my body is beautiful. And now you want me to think about what I’m supposed to do after the ravages of gravity and the great heft and enormity of all those accumulated years settles upon my boobs and my butt and my thighs and my neck, even? I don’t think I can do that.

The whole idea seems unbelievably daunting, and the inevitability of aging, well, inevitable and speeding ever-closer. The rapid onset of the wrinkly years is somehow a terrible joke and an awfully unfair one, too. Do you ever get to stop and catch your breath and figure out where you are and who you are, before you have to start all over again?

I was a pre-teen and terrified of my budding breasts, my period, the
fact that I had hips and then suddenly I was worried about their size,
which became worry about what someone would think of my breasts as my
shirt came off and my bra came undone, even as I began to worry about
the size of my ass and the shape of my thighs and the out-thrust of my
belly and the teenage skin problems that never quite cleared up and
cleared out and now I am thinking about the lines under my eyes, the
elasticity of my jowls, the structural integrity of my thighs, the
fortitude of my breasts and their perkiness, my desirability in the
face of the breakdown of my body.

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on being a rock star

I have always admired those people I think of as real artists–the visual artists who paint and sculpt and draw, the performance artists who sing and dance and play an instrument, the filmmakers who are a little bit of both. You could argue that writing is an art, and because I write, I am therefore, an artist. I have argued that stance before, and have had it argued at me, after I’ve made a self-deprecating remark about scribbling things down, sticking words together, saying stuff on the page. I am willing to agree that writing is considered an art, and I will admit, further, that it is something I sometimes feel I am good at. But while I’ll call myself a writer, sometimes voluntarily, I’ll never call myself an artist.

I have always wanted to be an artist. I have always wanted to complete a piece and be able to turn it around and show it to someone who can take it in with just a glance, to have something real and palpable and hefty to point at and share with someone else. You can play a short film you made for someone and that is 7 minutes out of their life and usually they are happy to watch, or you can hand someone a short story and they will smile and swear they’ll totally read it but it is 15 to 30 pages of dense text, words after words running after words, and they have to read it and then think about it to parse it, to understand what you’ve done.

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you are the beauty ideal, and you are the ideal beauty

mo and jen.jpg
We were going to party in Vegas, and what I needed was a cocktail dress in which I would look smashing as we partied. I wanted something with sequins, because you think Vegas, you think shiny, shiny sequins. At least, I do. I spent a lot of time looking for a reasonably priced sequined dress that would not make me look like an awesomely crazy canasta-playing old lady or some kind of high-priced whore–both of which are perfectly valid looks, but not this time. I was running out of weeks when I ran into this black satin dress from Pinup Couture.

It’s a spectacular dress, and a spectacular model, and I am embarrassed to say that I know for a fact that looking at that girl, with her big boobs and her lovely round hips and her general, overall sexiness, convinced me somewhere in the deep and secret crevices of my most hidden innermost heart, that I could look like that, too. I would put on the dress and I would be va-va-va-voom, sexy and banging, wielding dangerous curves that would leave you with whiplash. I would be a womanly goddess.

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