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The Balance of the Zodiac by Luis Ricardo Falero, c. 1800s

Last week, while fulfilling my Handmaiden duties to my mother by assisting her with cleaning out my late grandmother’s estate, I came across Nana’s old bathroom scale. It was an old fashion balance with the needle pointing to the weight. My mother, always keeping her eye out on items other people might need, inquired if the scale still works.–To be honest I thought the needle-types “couldn’t break” since they cannot be turned off. (I know, I know. It makes me sound stupid–#FirstWorldRealizations). I stepped on the contraption. Lo and behold, the needle swung wildly before landing on 85 lbs/38.5 kg. I yelled back across the rooms “Yup! It works GREAT!” Instantly I texted 15 friends to tell them about this “miracle scale” that says I’ve lost 45 lbs/20.4 kg without diet or exercise. Immediately I began receiving replies “for orders” and “bids” along with a lot of laughs.

 

However, it got me thinking after requests shot up to almost double the amount of recipients. I sent the text as an amusement and many of them responded half-jokingly. The notion saddened me that so many were eager to play into this . . . fantasy.

It reminded me of a conversation I had on a tour bus with my dad as a 14 year old. For some reason we got to talking about the idea of me being a model. I told him, “Oh, no Daddy. I’m not tall enough. I’m only 5’8″/1.72 m.” I went on to explain that I’ve researched it because a few people have mentioned modeling to me. Naturally, in my adolescence (and all through my 20s), I was insecure about my perceived limitations. At the time the average model was a bit taller (Leticia Costa’s popularity hadn’t exploded just yet to bring the height down.). My main concern was my hearing impairment and being legally blind interfering with casting/booking appointments and go-sees. I underwent Lasik eye surgery when I turned 30 years old. There was also the issue with my weight. At the time I was slender, but I was not model-thin (never have been, even at my sickest point).

I remember telling my father while I felt these women were beautiful, I could not to hope to achieve such physical dimensions (no bone lengthening surgeries for me, thank you). In a move that was more bravado than firm determination, I told Daddy that beauty fades, I would rather continue identifying with being the “smart girl” (even if deep down, I secretly desired to be thought of and believed to be pretty). It’s a psychological self-deprecating move (in the vein  of “let me point out my flaws before you do, so you can’t hurt me”). In the past year I’ve come to accept my body more and more. To marvel at its weirdness, normalcy, and all the amazing parts and functions I don’t yet know about (seriously, what’s the purpose of a spleen? A pinky toe? Cuticle??). I am becoming healthier; weight and measurements are becoming less and less a focus on my life. I am watching how I speak about my physical appearance. I have come to like the way I look. .  . it’s a work in progress.

My biggest take-away from my conversation with Daddy is his response to my lamentation “Why do young girls want to look older and older women want to look younger?!” –“Because nobody is satisfied with themselves and the way things are.” That was a profound moment for me. When I used to say I wanted to look older, I didn’t mean to look like a club-hopping 20 year old, I meant to look like some fabulously styled 60 year old with silver hair. However, I too, was not satisfied with the reality. Food for thought to be sure. I perceive his observation is the root to all my friends’ requests for the broken scale and this is saddens me most.

The other lasting impression of that conversation on the bus, was the gentleman behind us, who got up and clapped a hand on my dad’s shoulder as he was departing from the vehicle saying “Thank you two for that lovely conversation. I couldn’t help but ove hear and it was deeply moving to hear all that love and wisdom.” My dad patted the old man’s hand in reassurance. While being the dingus that I am, I was all like “Huh??”–I had no idea, the closeness and our “deep conversations” that lasts hours was a rare thing between fathers and daughters. I’m grateful for my Daddy, he has supported me with engineer’s logic and fatherly love all my life. Talking me down from rafters, hugging me when I needed it the most, and swatting me out of the way as a walk back and forth in front of a football game on TV. Because priorities.

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