Years ago this really cranky woman that I knew all of a sudden got sunshiney happy and positive. At first I thought it was drug-induced, but finally I asked her what was so great. Turns out she’d been doing this thing that Oprah had suggested. Every night she wrote out a list of all of the things that she was grateful for and after about a week she swore she started to just naturally feel happier. A curmudgeon myself, I wondered if it could work. So the first thing I wanted to be grateful for was a reason to buy a nice, new notebook with which to record my blessings. But after giving Kate’s Paperie enough for a car down payment, I decided I hated listing what I was grateful about. It felt forced and I decided to announce one thing and one thing only for which I was appreciative: That I didn’t need Oprah to tell me how to feel good. My smugness made me smile and I never thought about it again.
All of that is to preface this most definitely cheesy thing that I’m about to admit here. First, an explanation. My friend the other day was unlucky enough to complain to me about how she looked fat at a time when I was sleep-deprived and overworked. It was not the first time we had had this conversation. And she is not fat. In fact, I wish she would gain five or so pounds. Anyway, I sighed not-undramatically and pointed to the picture which had led to her declarations of heft and told her to show me where she saw any chub. “Look at my hips.”
“I mean, they’re…”
I could see where this was going and I was too tired to re-route it to a more sensitive place of understanding. So I made a speech. It went: “I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that you don’t have hips. You do. In the picture and in real life. Lots of women have hips. I have hips. Hips are beautiful. But if you just don’t think that hips are beautiful, then we really don’t have anything to talk about.” (See, that last part is where some sensitivity could have gone a long way.)
Because my friend loves me, she didn’t decide I was a shrewish bitch who she should never speak to again. But thinking back on the conversation, I do actually think I made a good point in my crankiness. If you just can not allow hips to enter into the realm of possibility of being attractive, then you will always hate yours, whether you’re 15 pounds under or overweight.
Here comes the Oprah exercise. I do not like my belly (even though it is having a good day today). It refuses to behave like it did when I was 21. It won’t listen to the rest of my body, which has pretty much kept the same look as it had since I hit legal drinking age. It insists on softening and protruding and daring my waistband to try to contain it. And if I continue to only see a totally flat ab as one worthy of love, then I will always hate my tummy. So I’m gonna try to do better. This week I’m going to watch Scarlett Johannson in Lost in Translation and Sharon Leal in Dreamgirls (especially the scene at the end where she’s in that sequined gown) and Google image every Jennifer Hudson picture I can find and learn to love the womanly sexiness of a little paunch (or “pooch” as my friend Bevy says).
I’m going to fall in love with someone else’s belly until I can transfer it to my own. What I am not going to do, though, is record any of this good cheer and self-affirmation in a notebook. Even an expensive one.