Thursday, March 12, 2009

Shopping, the seventh circle of hell

I love my neighborhood. I love my neighbors. But I do wish that we didn't always follow lunches out with shopping. Sure, the economy is in the toilet. Hells bells, the economy is not only in the toilet, it is a backed-up toilet my children have forgotten to mention to me until it is beyond overpoweringly awful to have to walk into the bathroom to plunge it. But that's not really my beef with all the post-lunch shopping. No, my beef hits much closer to home: I am not happy with the state of my body. Not at all. You'd think that given the amount of exercise I claim to do (and I really do do it if I mention it here), I would be stick insect thin. Well, you'd be quite off if you think that. Somehow my body is hanging on tight to every last ounce I have packed onto my smallish, stubby, short frame. Not only have I never managed to get into the range that Weight Watchers has declared to be "healthy" for my height (I was only 15 lbs. off when we moved), but I have added back 20 lbs. of pure body fluff thanks to my inability to deal with stress other than stuffing food into my mouth. Frankly, it's probably a miracle that I only gained 20 lbs. But that 20 lbs. makes me look like a sausage overfilling its casing whenever I try on clothes. Not pretty. So today's shopping excursion was a bust, which I'm sure will relieve D. since that means the wallet is still intact (shhhhhh, don't anybody tell him I sought my own version of retail therapy since the clothes thing didn't work out--I went to the bookstore! Bliss!!!!!).

But it makes me wonder about our perceptions of our bodies. The media worries about young girls having false ideas of what healthy is thanks to models and Hollywood stars, but what about those of us grown-ups still struggling to like our own bodies? I know that before I started WW a year ago (and 40 lbs. heavier than I am now), I would have been pretty pleased to be buying clothes for a body this size and shape. Now I am completely dissatisfied, having been spoiled by a body 20 lbs. thinner. And lest you think I am fussing over the difference between a small or medium-sized top, let me disvow you of this. I could weigh 10 lbs. total and 8 of it would be in my boobs. There is never a small sized top in my future, ever. And as for pants, yes, I have a nice indent somewhere around the waist, but it's hard to find between the ooshing (official term) doughnut ring above my waist and the squishy kangaroo pounch below it. And actually, that soft and puffy bit makes pants even harder to buy since anything that fits the flabby bits is too big around the waist (add in stretch material and you have the disaster of the crepe myrtles--see below--all over again). So I look in the mirror and see a flabby, droopy, overweight body (medically speaking I think I'm actually seeing what in fact I do possess) but I wonder when my perception of myself will enable me to happily buy clothes, instead of dreading it. And we'll just gloss over the fact that I am definitely a difficult shopper no matter what: "I don't like that color. What's with the ruffles across the boobs? They should outlaw three-quarter sleeves. No way!" It's probably amazing that my neighbors are long suffering enough to continue to invite me along on these shopping expeditions. And they do always poke fun at my self-restraint. They come out of stores laden with bags (or with at least a purchase, singular) while I have none. But they've never seen me in the midst of a bookstore or shopping for purses. Offer me free reign with those two things and Katy, bar the door! I'd spend my children's college funds in the blink of an eye. Offer me free reign in a clothing store and watch me hem and haw and finally admit that I think shopping is the circle of hell Dante mistakenly neglected, probably because he was a man and Beatrice could always pick up shirts for him.

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