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Old 07-23-2004, 10:29 AM   #1  
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Default I found it!

Christy reminded me it that I'd posted it a while back on the 100 lb.Club. I searched, and there it was! Woo-hoo!

I hope it helps someone.

...wrote this my junior year in college for an advanced comp. class...

I Yam What I Yam
by Jennelle M.

Marilyn Monroe wore a size 16.

At 5’3”and 127 pounds, I was bigger than all my friends. I was certainly bigger than Nancy, and she had landed that dreamy Steve for a boyfriend. Benet was going to be a model, and she told me I should exercise more. Kristi was a cheerleader, and when the basketball team went to Sizzler to celebrate a championship season, she had the iron willpower to eat nothing but carrots and celery. “WKRP in Cincinnati” was my favorite TV show. My sister and I argued over who was the prettier actress: Jan Smithers or Loni Anderson. She accused me of choosing Jan Smithers because, like me, she wore glasses, but that wasn’t the reason at all. It’s just that I thought Loni Anderson was fat.

On any given day, almost 50% of American woman are on a diet.

I was in the eighth grade. My daily diet consisted of a peanut butter sandwich (no jelly) and – if I was really hungry – an apple. My drink of choice was Tab. Finally, about a month later and at 5’3” and 106 pounds, all was right in my teenage world. Even Sandy the Cynic told me I looked good. My aunt commented on my new-found hip bones. I wore a gorgeous floral print long dress to my junior high graduation. My grandmother beamed as she complimented me on my weight loss.

The average American woman is 5'4" tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5'11" tall and weighs 117 pounds. Ninety-eight percent of American women are larger than the average American model.

In 1996 reigning Miss Universe Alicia Machado was the subject of controversy when, after winning the crown, she “ballooned” to 130 pounds. She had gained 27 pounds. Her “competition weight” had been 103 pounds. She is 5’7”. This gives her a body mass index of 16.1 and puts her squarely in the “underweight” category. Her weight gain gave her a BMI of 20.1, at the low end of the “normal” category.

If Miss Universe is fat, I must be nothing less than an obese, disgusting pig.

A search of the Internet using the search engine “Yahoo.com” revealed 69,386 hits on pages containing the word “overweight”. There were 5,838 pages containing the word “underweight”.

My three closest nieces – all grown now – are blessed with a genetic tendency toward slenderness. Angie, the oldest of the three, is the tallest and the largest (if one can consider a size seven to be “large”). As a child, she had a weakness for mashed potatoes. On many a weekend afternoon, she would fill a casserole dish with potato flakes, stir in some water and milk until it looked right, and toss the whole shebang in the microwave. Once her concoction was irradiated to perfection, she’d plop down in front of Nickelodeon or MTV, bowl in her lap and spoon in her hand, and enjoy her lunch.

Being the oldest also meant maturing first and, as Angie grew and her natural curves became more evident, she endured quite a bit of good-natured ribbing about her “bubble butt”. The teasing stayed benign, until one afternoon on her grandmother’s lawn when her father told her that all those potatoes were making her fat. Fat. That ugly, gluttonous word. The depth of the screaming match that ensued can only be truly understood by fathers of teenage daughters, or by women (who all were once teenaged daughters.) It concluded with a bang, the screech of a vulgar (but effective) teenage epithet hanging in the air, louder than both the slam of a bedroom door and the cacophony of headbanger rock that followed it.

I wish I could have responded to the scene with a modicum of maturity. I wish I hadn’t called my brother-in-law (who, like most of my father-in-law’s children, is a virtual Boy Scout) an inconsiderate *******. I wish I hadn’t continued the verbal sparring to the point where my niece felt the need to rescue me, to tell me that it didn’t bother her that much and that it was okay. I didn’t see his confusion; he had crossed a line he didn’t know existed. All I saw was just one more person sending the message that the measure of a woman (no pun intended) rests on the size of her waist. And I vowed never to send that message to my daughter.

4 out of 5 children at the age of ten years old are afraid of being fat.

My own daughter is almost eleven now, and developing in much the same way I did at her age. She is tall, long legs propelled by the firm thighs of a child who exercises without being aware of it. She has budding hips and a round belly. Like me at that age, she is bigger than most of her friends. Unlike me at that age, she doesn’t care. She eats what she eats, and wears what she wears, and she seems confident and happy in her skin.

I point to a change in the media’s acceptance of all shapes and sizes. I had Daisy Duke and Charlie’s Angels and bikini-clad car thieves on “CHiPs”. She has Camryn Mannheim and Emme and Mia Tyler. But still sometimes she will stand with her chin to her chest, hands on her tiny hips, back swayed, looking half at me and half at her belly button. "Mom," she says. "I'm fat." I tell her she's not, and that even if she were, it doesn't matter. She is smart and talented and funny and a good friend.

How much of my behavior has rubbed off on her? How many times has she seen me curse a pair of pants for making my butt look big, or wishing I was as thin as some movie star or television personality? How many times has she seen me drinking those sawdusty, gas-inducing diet shakes? Or try not to cry when I step on a scale?

How can I preach internal peace while practicing external devaluation?

stereotype: a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment

Our luncheon over, the lines for the bathroom were forming. As usual, the line for the women’s room snaked out the door and into the restaurant while the men’s line moved along at a steady clip. Also as usual, the speed of the line was inversely proportional to the urgency with which I needed to use the facilities. As we stood just beyond the bathroom door, I remarked to my friend Jessica how I hated to end up in line behind the Rebelettes because they’re so slow. (I think they have some kind of primping gene that makes them take three times longer than the average woman in the bathroom.) Jessica banged on the door and yelled, “C’mon, purge, already!” Everyone in earshot burst out laughing, including me.

“Colleagues and strangers…declare, ‘Oh my goodness you’re so skinny’ - I would never dream of going up to someone and saying, ‘you’re so fat’.” – a member of “The Size 8 Club”, a support group for petite women in Britain.

I worked with a girl once whom I’ll call Holly. Both of her thighs together could have fit into one of my pant legs, with room to spare. One of her favorite outfits to wear to work at our casual office – a pair of black cotton stretch pants and an aqua blue sateen shirt – only served to highlight her disturbing thinness. Her hip bones protruded like sharp-edged boomerangs under a blanket of Lycra, and her collarbone formed two deep pits at the base of her neck. I remember thinking one morning that I could probably pour the entire contents of my coffee mug into one of those depressions, and not a drop would spill over.

But despite her emaciation, Holly ate like a trucker. Quarter-pound burgers, big greasy home fries from the 24-hour diner down the street, Sonic milkshakes, fresh Tuesday morning doughnuts dropped off by a friendly sales rep…she ate it all. If I ate like her, my derriere would be the size of Detroit. My co-workers – both male and female – marveled openly at her metabolism but whispered with self-righteous seriousness behind her back. Did she eat in front of us only to allay suspicions of a severe eating disorder? Did she somehow manage to purge without us hearing her through the paper-thin bathroom door in the middle of the office? How much, exactly, did she weigh?
I told myself I was “concerned”, but in reality I was desperately jealous. My unconscious was still slave to that mass-media ideal of beauty: stick-thin, no hips, big breasts, small round butt. Holly was the closest to supermodel chic I’d ever seen in a real person. And then I found out she was miserable.

It was a Friday afternoon. There had been a break in the oppressively humid August heat, and half the office had taken advantage of the boss’ trip out of town to enjoy a “personal day”. As we relaxed and enjoyed the lull in the action, Holly curled up in a battered old chair in our reception area and started talking. I don’t even remember how she broached the subject, but for ten minutes I saw life through the eyes of a naturally skinny chick. Women hated her. People always thought something was wrong with her. In high school, well-meaning substitute teachers with the social consciousness of an After School Special were constantly having “heart-to-hearts” with her, encouraging her to “get help” for a non-existent problem. Her most surprising revelation, though, was that it was nearly impossible for her to find a boyfriend. Apparently, men found her spindly thinness unattractive.

I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam.

Screw Cindy Crawford. And Heather Locklear. And Raquel Welch. I will never look like a Victoria’s Secret model. Nor was I meant to.

Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly. - St. Francis de Sales'

I saw Holly a few weeks ago. She’d filled out a little. There was some extra meat on her hips, and her butt was rounder. She beamed when I complimented her on her weight gain.
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Old 07-23-2004, 03:56 PM   #2  
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Excellent, Jennelle! Thank you for posting it.
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Old 07-23-2004, 10:39 PM   #3  
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I got goose bumps thats so good Jenelle. Now I might have to cry for a minute. God I love you!

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Old 07-24-2004, 06:45 AM   #4  
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Great Post Jennelle Thanks.
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Old 07-24-2004, 09:58 AM   #5  
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Jennelle thanks so much for sharing that! It's brought a lot of feelings to the surface.

You are wonderful!
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Old 07-24-2004, 10:06 AM   #6  
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That was awesome Jennelle! Thank you for sharing that.
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Old 07-26-2004, 07:48 AM   #7  
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This gave me the shivers.. thankyou so much for posting. This is truly inspiring. You are truly inspiring. This small story has helped me on my way to loving myself.. I'm truly grateful
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Old 07-26-2004, 12:28 PM   #8  
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Jennelle, you are such an amazing writer! : Please try to get this published...it was awesome to read and I know it would find a market! Check out the current copy of the Writer's Market to see what magazines might be interested and send it out...more people deserve to read your beautiful and true words!!!

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Old 07-26-2004, 08:38 PM   #9  
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Thumbs up

All I can say is wow. Beautifully written my dear friend!
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