I’ll be honest. I think my face looks pretty good for 44. It’s got lines around the eyes, and some saggy stuff near the mouth so I’ve learned to work a smile since it hides the droopies. I’ve known for a couple years that if I bend over and look down on something, the skin around my eyeballs sag to the point you think I’m going to burst a vein. Or an eyball. I’ve handled this sensitive factoid by not bending over things too much. Instead I glamorously tilt my head back at a confident, vaguely mocking angle and smile with warm amusement. It’s a youthful pose and I shall work it forever.
But there’s something else going south, and it’s not something I can fix by smiling mockingly.
Please lean close. I don’t want anyone else to hear this. But, I don’t have a waist anymore.
It’s true. It’s gone. have something else instead. It’s a pot-belly, not like a pot-belly pig, but like a jelly roll belly.
I didn’t mind the super soft super stretched stomach skin when it could be squished inside my jeans, or flattened by a nice wide thick stylish belt. But there’s more than there used to be, and as I’m carrying extra poundage, not even hardcore jeans and sturdy leather belts help. No, the snug jeans and gut-cinching belts are just making it impossible for me to sit. And breathe.
I don’t eat that much, either.
I mean, I eat. I’m not a starver. I eat 5-6 meals a day but they’re small, kind of like snack meals and even my sandwiches are only one-sided with a single slice of bread (so very European). I do all the tricks like non-fat dairy, except for my half-in-half in my morning coffee. I’ve cut out sodas, even diet sodas, and drink green tea instead of the second cup of coffee. But lately, the tricks and sensible eating seems pointless.
I’m turning flabby. And rolly. And nothing fits. I want my waist back. The good one, the nice one, not this one that screams middle age.
Last week in Hawaii I did a photo shoot for More Magazine. They’re using me in their July/Aug issue in the regular column called, “Firsts After 40”. My first was learning to surf after forty. And for the photo, I had to stand on, or with a surfboard, in a two piece suit. Yes, me photographed for a magazine in a bikini heavier than I’ve been in probably four years. I was so nervous about the shoot. I dreaded it. Felt so much anxiety that I was eating Cold Stone ice cream almost every night for four days before the shoot. (Like It size, though, please.)
Everybody who worked on the shoot was wonderful. The photographer flew in from Maui, and the Austrian make up artist and hair stylist was very cool. The stylist curled my hair and mascaraed my lashes. Blushed my cheeks. Glossed my lips. But nothing could be done about my waist. I tried to tell myself it didn’t matter. That I wasn’t a professional model. That I’m a mom and writer and I’ve just been through a failed in-vitro attempt. I’m carrying some serious extra progesterone in my butt.
You may rightfully ask, So why didn’t you lose the weight before the shoot, Jane? You had a month between the end of the in-vitro cycle and the shoot.
And I’ll tell you. I did try. Every fifth day I attempted exercise and every third day I slathered some self-tanner lotion on the thighs and gut. But it was hard to do more. I cared, but didn’t care. I cared in the way that I wanted a Fairy Godmother to wave a magic wand and just make me tone and taut and dimple free. She didn’t materialize. Not even to shape a waist.
So during the shoot on the Waikiki beach, I did what I do best.
I held my head up, lifted my chin, and smiled my slightly mocking, rather amused smile.