I’m sitting here watching an episode of Ellen and a there’s a ‘plus size’ model.
She’s 6 foot two and a size 12.
SIX DAMNED FOOT TWO and a size 12. Plus Size.
Apparently there was some brouhaha recently in the model world about her thigh gap. or lack thereof. I have no idea who this woman is, mostly because I’m not focused on the industry so much for my job, I don’t hang out with girls at work who are model obsessed anymore so it’s just not on my radar.
But I promise you this.
The minute Ellen said the phrase Thigh Gap I knew exactly what it was.
Something inside of me seized and the goldfish cracker making it’s way towards my mouth froze in midair.
I know. I know what it is. I’ve obsessed about it to various degrees of unhealthy all of my life.
I’m not exaggerating. I will say that for the majority of my life I have obsessed about this. I wanted to look like my cousin Allison. She was perfect.
You don’t understand.
She. Was. Perfect.
She had a stomach that was flat. Like, not even a ripple when she sat and slouched in her two piece. She could get a Ban de Soile tan in one day and keep it the whole summer. When she got out of the pool (in ground at her own house btw) her legs didn’t jiggle.
She had thigh gap.
And I wanted it. And something inside me always knew that I would never have it. I would never measure up to this. Nevermind that we were children. 8 years old to her 12 or 13 maybe? 12 to her 16? I have no idea what our ages are now, nor what they were then. I was younger than she. And I knew I would never measure up. It’s the craziest thing in my brain and I have no idea where it came from but that was the reality of my little fat girl brain.
I tried all kinds of things. My obsessive nature kicks in and voom…try to stop me.
Diet pills. I love them.
Starvation. Saltines are a girls best friend.
Binging and purging, diuretics and laxitives… I still sometimes dream of taking the stuff you take before a colonoscopy. Hand to God.
I’ve done Weight Watchers and Oprah’s bootcamp to the degree of success that I was talking to her producers about appearing on her show. I’ve done it healthy and I’ve done it the opposite.
Nothing ever silenced that voice, the one that wanted the thigh gap.
I’ve had a good year of not listening to that voice. I found a love that was unconditional and we jumped into this year with both feet and have only just recently calmed down to a livable pace. So the gross voice hasn’t really had any time onstage.
Until this past week when it began to taunt and poke and scrape the scabs that had almost healed. I know that it has snuck up on me, the beers and drinks on the porch. The poor eating and poor moving in a healthy way. Bad habits have returned and they brought friends.
So I’ve spent the week feeling awful and gross and making plans to change that. I lived in some icky space for a day or two. I moved into a better place after that. And it wasn’t until just now, seeing this perfect…no seriously she was PERFECT…woman on Ellen’s show who was called a pig because she lacked Thigh Gap- that I thought how crazy this world is when it comes to body image. I would love to look like that woman. Or my sister. Or my PseudoSis#1 whose transformation is nothing less than inspiring.
It made me realize how grateful I am for the mileage on my own personal wagon, for the wisdom that comes from 42 rides around the planet. Because of that I know. I know that I am the only one who can choose a different path, take control of the direction this body moves. I want it, even more so now than I did last year, to last me and feel young and healthy for a long long time. I want to feel good. It feels good to feel good! And I know that if I was in this space ten years ago, I wouldn’t be able to climb out so easily.
So I’m in a strange little place of gratefulness. I’m grateful for my age and my lessons learned. I’m grateful for the beautiful women in my life that I still admire and aspire to be like. I’m grateful for the perfectly perfect model on Ellen who lacked thigh gap. Because I don’t have it either.
And while it would be a bald face lie to say I wouldn’t want it…truth is I’m grateful to know that I’m valid, and ok and absolutely worthy of love without it.
Misti Pryor is the producer and director of Listen To Your Mother-OKC. She blogs at Misti Ridiculous.