[ABOVE: Mariette looks over her handiwork as I sport hot rollers for the first time in my life.....]
My friend Mariette and I bonded years ago over a bunch of the usual things: work, art, feminism, politics, coffee, working through relationships that weren't working, a twisted sense of humour, princess camping (she taught me everything I know), food, coffee (and ridiculously delicious "crack-a-ccinos" which involved skim milk to save calories, vanilla flavouring, lots of espresso and a dollop of whipped cream crowned with glorious caramel sauce). But mostly, we connected over the thing that so many of us lose sleep over: body image. Body image of the "poor" variety.
We both grew up as chubby kids. (I'll try to dig up some photos to post). And, for the record, we were both run-of-the-mill chubby and not jaw dropping-ly overweight by any stretch of the imagination. Both of us started dieting at a brutally young age. (I first did Weight Watchers when I was in grade 4). And we have spent our lives, as so many of us do, essentially hating our bodies. We have both been thinner. We have both been heavier. We have dieted - we have rebelled - we have worried - we have shed tears - we have eaten well - we have eaten badly - we have EVEN not eaten at all! We've done "Jenny", "WW", the grapefruit diet, the scotch diet, the coffee diet, "Scarsdale", "Atkins" and a host of others. We've lost weight but somehow it keeps finding us again.
Over the past decade, we have also both maintained a fairly high level of physical activity. We've completed sprint triathlons, half marathons and cycled long distances. Perhaps we do all of these things a wee bit slower than the fast kids, but we're out there doing it just the same. And I have to tell you that running or walking 21.2 kilometers is still 21.2 kilometers whether it took you 2 hours or 3 hours!
In an ideal world, Mariette and I (and millions of others) would come to a place where we would stop wasting time and simply accept the fact that a size 4 isn't in our future. It never was and it never will be. In an ideal world, we'd eat healthy food, exercise, have the odd "treat" and be happy wherever we landed. We don't live in an ideal world but I think we're finding a way to a world that's a gentler place....
When I asked Mariette to be the friend who would stand up with me when Mister Man and I get hitched, to be "my maid" (in Nfld, "maid" is kind of a term of endearment, used in everyday speech as in "Yis, maid, I'll be there the once.") I knew she would be what every woman needs in her life - a friend to support and love her (me) NO MATTER WHAT.
And when we went shopping for wedding dresses, the goal was to find something in which I felt beautiful. Confident. And I love the fact that, as I stood there in the dressing room with my less-than-perfect body facing the mirror, wearing my less than perfect ginch, I knew she wouldn't judge me for all the cellulite in the world. I also knew she'd be honest if I was about to sign up for a dress that made me look like I should be skating in the Ice Capades, or waving at small children from a float in the Santa Clause Parade. I knew she had my back. And that day was brilliant because of Mariette.
So as we creep closer to the wedding date which is over 400 days away, Mariette and I have decided that we will make a pact to do something nice for ourselves every single day. Something that could be described as a healthy choice and will move us one step closer to accepting who we are, and being okay with the fact that we might only live to see a size 6 in a shoe. And perhaps, by the end of these 400 + days, I will have lost the 30 pounds that I would LOVE to lose. Perhaps I won't. But we both know that if we find a way to honour ourselves every day and make a conscious choice to do something GOOD FOR US we will be marching one step closer to self-acceptance. And who knows? Perhaps along the way we'll lose a bit of the baggage (which may or may NOT be related to pounds).... My choice today was to write this text.
Mariette has started a blog which I urge you to check out. It's about the journey that will unfold over the next 400 + days involving food, friendship, feminism, wedding-planning, politics and other pressing matters. It's a good read and a really nice companion piece to these musings. Should you drop in on her new blog, I think you'll quickly come to understand exactly why Mariette is so special to me.....