Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cinderella Is Overrated :)

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The following post is a reprint from an essay contest I won last week. There has been a lot of response so I thought I would bring it over here, too, for those of you who haven't seen it. I can't believe how many bells this rang for other people. Even the Pioneer Woman replies. (Yes! THAT knock out!)

"You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting"......a cookie.

I know that's not the true meaning of Daniel 5:27, but every time I hear that verse, I see the dreaded scale at the doctor's office and it makes me need to comfort myself, with sugar. Because I have been "weighed on the scales" and found fat.

Diet and exercise. Really? I thought dieting WAS exercise. I exercise self-discipline. I exercise self-control. I RUN off at the mouth about how long this diet is taking and how miserable I am. I JUMP to the conclusion it's never going to work. I THROW myself around in fits of hysteria. All of this makes me break a sweat and, if that isn't exercise then really, I give up.

And is it just me or have you ever set your own compound fracture at home just so the doctor won't tell you to lose a few pounds if you go into the office?

I didn't always fight on the front lines of the weight wars. I was a skinny kid. And of course, I didn't appreciate it. By my late teens I was fighting the demons and by twenty I was thirty pounds overweight. My mother said I looked like someone "stuck an air hose in my mouth and turned it on." She was gifted at descriptions. And she detested fat. To this day she has a fantastic figure and little tolerance for the chubby among us.

But I vacillated and tried out lots of different numbers on the scale. Worthy meant less than 140 pounds on my 5'7" frame. Worthless was anything over that. And I have watched 140 pounds disappear in my rear view mirror so many times there's a rut in the road. You would think with that rut I could trace my way back but I haven't even visited in years.

So, where does that leave me? In the worthless mode? If I'm honest I have to say yes, sometimes.

I remember sitting on my bed nursing my first baby, and weeping endlessly. I had added 28 pounds to my round figure during pregnancy. And I had delivered an 8lb. 2oz. baby. But when I got on the scale before I left the hospital, I had only lost six pounds. Now I ask you: what the heck? I'm no mathematician (which is equal to the understatement "I am not as skinny as Angelina Jolie") but shouldn't I have at least lost as much as the baby weighed??
My husband heard me crying and came upstairs to ask me what was wrong. Poor men. They just don't know what they're walking into.

"I'm f-a-a-a-a-a-t!" I wailed. "I don't want the baby to grow up and realize she has an ugly mother!" "Well, honey," he answered soothingly. "It will be YEARS before she knows that." I mentally packed his bags and sent him to live with my mother. And then I stopped sobbing and began laughing hysterically. Anyone that helpless in the comforting department cannot be held liable for his actions. And he had never, ever complained about my body. That bought him a huge pass.

But those two extremes - devastation over my plight and laughing at how ridiculous I am - would sum up where I am in my head most of the time.

I can't help comparing my body with the svelte and lean and wishing I could defeat this old adversary. I loathe clothes shopping and sometimes feel like, "What's the point?" If you take an egg and put a bathing suit on it or an evening gown, doesn't it still look like an egg? Is either outfit going to flatter me? Now, if I had Oprah's access to the fashionistas then, maybe. She can go up or down and still look gorgeous and you may be able to do the same. But on my limited budget and even more limited imagination about what to do with myself, I tend to stay away from shopping.

And my neuroses cup runneth over so much, I can look at successful people and, if they're thin and beautiful, decide on-the-spot I can never experience their accomplishment. No other factors of their achievement come into play in my teeny-tiny mind. How about their brains? Their talents? Their personalities? Their charisma? Their absolute blessing by God? No, I'm sure it is because they are worthy in their size six jeans. It's very small of me, really. Pathetic, actually. Excuse making, most probably.

When I decided to start blogging, thinking I might have something to say (okay, the reality is: when don't I have something I want to say), I checked out top blogs. One of the first I came upon was "Confessions of a Pioneer Woman." Most of you have been there, I'm sure, and know Ree Drummond. She's incredible. She's funny. She's a good cook. She's an invested homeschooling mom. She's a compelling writer. She's an unbelievable photographer with a smokin' camera and studied knowledge in Photoshop. She shares all this. She's generous.

And she's GORGEOUS and THIN! Like a desperate paparazzo in the bushes, that was all I could focus on. As soon as I saw her I knew, no matter what I ever said or did or wrote or created, I would not realize blogging success because I couldn't look like that. Seriously.

And then I got over myself.

I have to get over myself a LOT. I have to beat back the ridiculous narrative that runs in my head and try to be a grown up. I give my self-pity back to God where I'm sure he throws it into some holy trash can. (Can a trash can BE holy?) I make myself remember each person has his or her own voice and calling. And I have to realize that many, many people I admire, love, extol, value, want to be like, and desperately seek to emulate in many different areas of my life, will never win beauty contests (though some certainly could). They are mere mortals, like me, and I'm sure even Ree would be happy to point out, in her oh-so-funny way, all the things she detests about herself and what would disqualify her for goddess status.

Most of us probably won't find ourselves walking runways as fashion models. The closest we might ever get to a size six is if we multiplied it by two or three, or four.

And when I do think of those I love and admire the most, their weight and looks is irrelevant. They own my heart because of their intrinsic and beautiful value as real people with lovely, warm, and humble hearts. They make life richer for the rest of us by who they are and what they give. Some challenge me, some educate me, and a lot make me laugh.

So, I apply myself these days to making changes by eating healthier - organic whenever possible - and buying locally - because it's the best for us and supports our local farmers. And I guess I'm trying to portion control, if eating from the time you start cooking until dinner is over, counts as one portion. And I joined the gym. Apparently, you have to GO as well. Should have read the fine print.

And then I force myself to remember back to when I was seven. I watched "Cinderella" on television with Lesley Ann Warren in the lead role.

I thought she was desperately beautiful. I ran into the bedroom, looked in the mirror, and promptly burst into tears. "I will NEVER look like her!" I sobbed, and I was right. But, all these years later, I'm okay with that because I, unlike Cinderella, never have to dread midnight. I look the same before and after.

And that's strangely comforting in a roundish, pumpkin sort of way.

The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, responds:

That was a beautiful essay, Robynn!

I feel compelled to tell you, however, that though I'm tall and have been perceived as a relatively "thin" person throughout my life, I am very, very far from thin right now. I've gained about ten pounds in the past year (cookbook, anyone?)...and we won't talk about the baby weight I already was holding onto before that. :)

This really has nothing to do with your lovely essay. But since I'm such an in depth investigative journalist (heh heh) I felt I needed to set the record straight.

Lotsa Love,

Read Ree's post today about how her cows are comforting her on body proportions!
Copyright 2009


  1. Well done on the essay! I love it!

  2. I loved it before. I love it now.
    I love how you paint such a raw and achingly true word picture - and I love YOU!

  3. Great essay.

    I have never lost the baby weight . . . well, I use that as an excuse . . . and my kids are adopted. LOL.

    Thank you for the smiles and laughter.

  4. I love this. The addition of pictures is fun :-)



  6. Cute pic you chose to accompany the essay. Congrats again on it. You'll have to post your winning prize.

  7. Hi Robynn, don't fret about that fact that not everyone has to look like Lesley Ann Warren. Trust me.

    All we need to do is to stay fit, within the physical limitations we have (not everyone is an Olympian athlete) and within the body that we have been given.

    I think this is a great essay and will draw wide response.

    You're a lovely writer, so I'm not surprised you have many followers.

  8. Loved this, Robynn! My dear, you are truly a woman after my own heart.

  9. Thanks for the comment on my blog! LOVE, LOVE this essay and now your blog is going to go in my favorites. :)

  10. Robynn, this is just so .....wonderful. I love it. This is the essay that should be given to every woman when she looks in the mirror, every woman when she finds herself not who she thought she was.

    Love the part about actually going to the gym, I too always thought that you only had to join.



  11. I had gotten behind on blog reading. I am glad I backtracked to see which ones of yours I missed. Thank you for sharing. I can identify with a lot here. I also had clothes shopping. For some reason I have the notion I will magically look thinner in new clothes. Somehow that never works. I wonder why???