I have no problem being naked.
Not that I’m EAGER to be naked, don’t get me wrong; it’s not as if I’m winking, one hand pulling down the shoulder of my shirt, frantically elbowing passers-by, whispering: “Dare me? Dare me?”
I’m no modern-day Lady Godiva.
(Why DID she take off all her clothes and ride a horse through town? Wasn’t she protesting something her jackass husband did? My – if that worked…)
It’s just that at I’m finally comfy in this skin. And with all the little fat cells that may be – or may not be – floating around underneath it. For instance, after two C-sections, no matter how much weight I might ever lose, or how many sit-ups I might do…
(…Hang on, I can’t type, I’m laughing so hard at the idea of ME doing even one sit-up….)
..I’ll always have a little kangaroo pouch, thanks to my Little Joeys having popped out like toast, instead of, well… the other way. (Yikes.)
I never DID do the bikini thing. I preferred my grandmother’s advice: Let ’em wonder. It’s what you DON’T show that drives ’em crazier. She was right.
A woman is ten times more sexy in a high-necked, backless gown, if you ask me. After all, I always wanted a guy that wanted not only to whisk me up the stairs like that famous scene in Gone With the Wind – but who also wanted to buy me the staircase. (I didn’t have to want the staircase, mind you. He just has to want to give it to me. <<insert evil laughter.>>)
And the surrounding mansion. Don’t forget the mansion and a yacht. (The stairs by themselves would be, well, stupid.)
I’m currently working on a project for pre-teen girls about body image. It’s in the embryonic stage right now, and it’s inspired by my own pre-teen girl, who IS NOT FAT, (can you hear me?), NOT FAT BY ANY STRETCH, but like every other woman in the universe, is tortured by her self-image.
The pictures you see on the left are of me. I took the top two; my daughters’ dad, award-winning photojournalist Tom Bushey, took the bottom one, shortly after our first daughter Emily was born.
[NOTE: I went, clad in a baggy sweatshirt, no makeup, to rent a car during this period. No big deal. They gave me a plain-Jane model. Radio, no CD player. Got me where I needed to go. I returned it. More on this later.]
Although outside of the postpartum depression period, I was never really overweight, I DID develop early, growing biggish breasts early on, and since I AM tiny – and all my height is in my legs, making me very short-waisted – at 11 and 12, I felt like a potato with toothpicks. A freak. A fat freak. Fatty McFat-Fat.
A self-image I projected onto the whole world.
It wasn’t until college, really, when — oh yay! I roomed with – dig this: three of the most beautiful women on campus. No kidding, in all seriousness, THE most gorgeous, including an International Vogue model. As nice as they were beautiful, too, and friends to this day. (Did I mention smart? The model is now a doctor at Sloan-Kettering.)
When you’re plunged into that kind of over-the-top fabulousness, there is no question of competition. It’s like being a Sumo wrestler hanging out with racehorse jockeys, or a mermaid hanging out with Iraqui burqa-wearing babes. Just doesn’t enter your mind.
What blew my mind was that none of these smart, incredibly nice, incredibly beautiful women ever did anything on a Friday or Saturday night except go out with each other, while I had date after date.
Turns out there IS such a thing as too, intimidatingly beautiful. (Also, I learned there really IS such a thing as too thin – boys like soft, not bony.)
How cool was that?
I also learned from a former actress and model, later on, when I appealed to her for makeover assistance for a high school reunion (“Is there anyway you can make me look like an International Vogue model? Um… no reason…”) that “beauty” could be achieved with a few tricks of the lip and eyeliner brush. Ah! How easy, especially for an artist like myself.
Or anyone with about an hour to kill at the Esteé Lauder makeup counter.
Confidence + a few hidden grooming tricks? I had this thing licked.
I went back to the car rental place where I had rented a clunker a couple of years back. Same circumstances: I needed to rent a simple car.
This time, I had learned “how to be beautiful.”
They handed me the keys to a fully-loaded sports car.