Goodbye Normal Street

(album: Goodbye Normal Street/artists: Turnpike Troubadours)

A few weeks ago, I posted this side-by-side photo of a Victoria's Secret ad and a Dove "Real Beauty" ad on my Formerly Fat Mom Facebook page. I posted it with the caption, "Which do you  prefer, and why?"

I chimed in with the first comment: Personally, I appreciate the intended message, but I don't like either body-type. I find the two sets of bodies to be such extreme opposites. To me, the top photo says: "To prepare for this photoshoot, these very tall MODELS ate less than 800 calories a day. And any flaws they have (they DO have them), were removed by skilled graphic designers." The bottom says: "Don't workout. Just settle for a size 12/14." In between those two types, are women that exercise and eat right, and are smart enough to know the top photo is fantasy.

My sentence about the Dove models offended more than a few folks.  Some felt I was being judgmental and/or that I was calling the Dove girls fat. I want to be clear that in all of my blog and Facebook posts, what I say is not meant to to offend, it's simply a reflection of how I see (or saw) myself. Got it? Good, let's get back to business.

I later commented that I wanted to see the body between the uber-thin VS models and the toneless Dove models.  That prompted my friend Nick to say: "Body type in the middle? That worries me a bit because the women below look normal..."

So, what is a "normal" body? And who defines that? When I weighed 193 pounds and wore a size 16, I wanted desperately to look like the Dove models. I worked really hard for an entire year, and I achieved that goal. I lost  35+ pounds, and ended the year a size 10/12, with a weight between 155-160 pounds. I was normal, at long last.  I was normal in that I could shop at any mass retail store and find my size. I didn't have the word "teen" in my size, but, like most normal women, I was still a double-digit size. I was no longer fat, but I still had "curves". People noticed my weightloss, and congratulated me on becoming normal

193 - size 16                                                      160 - size 12 -- NORMAL!

After a year of maintaining my normal size 10/12 figure, I decided I wanted to look...better. I wanted to look fit. Not a Victoria's Secret model mind you, but rather a fitness model. Why not? Then, as dumb luck would have it, I got into the Brazil Butt Lift test group. As most of my long-time readers know, I dropped another 20+ pounds, and now I'm a size 6, with a weight between 136-140 pounds. After a year of maintaining this figure, it is MY normal. I believe that my current body is the body between the VS models and the Dove models.

Nick also said, "The ideal body type is what works for you..." And he's right. How we perceive ourselves, and how we are perceived by others, are two completely different animals. My perception of myself has changed, and with that, my perception of what's normal. I respectfully disagree with the folks that see the Dove models as normal because that's not what works for me. To the people that have known me for most of my adulthood, the curvy size 12/14 figure I sported for years, is my normal.  I've heard it all: "She's tall. (I'm 5' 9") She carries her weight well." "Rubenesque figure." "Big girl." And my favorite, "Normal." Now, at an average weight of 140 pounds, wearing a size  6, I am called "skin & bones", "anorexic", "too thin", "boney", "gaunt". Nevermind that none of those labels are remotely applicable to a woman that eats five times a day, and exercises an average of five days a week. That's not really the point is it? The point is, to the royal "them", I am no longer normal. I am supposed to be a big girl. That's simply how I am perceived by some people.

Well, I hate to disappoint the folks that worry about my new-found frailty, but I am not a big girl. I never loved being a big girl. I was never proud of my curves. I always wanted to be fit, I just didn't have the drive or the will to change. If I had loved my normal size 12, you can bet your ass, I'd be on that Dove ad with those other beautiful and proud women. But I didn't feel that way about myself. Now,  I love my size, and that's what really matters. Personally, I'd love to see those Dove models drop a few pounds and gain a little muscle tone, but if they are truly happy with their bodies, then who am I to judge? Same goes for the VS models. Calling the Victoria's Secret models "skeletal" is no more acceptable than calling the Dove models "slightly overweight". 

I applaud the size 14 gal that loves her curves and isn't afraid to flaunt them. And I stand in awe of the size 4 supermodel that can wear 6" stilettos and strut down a runway in a diamond encrusted bra and thong. I don't want to look like either of you, but you damn sure make me proud to be a woman that also loves her body. Love yourself, love your sisters.

Yo Dove, I got your real beauty right here!