I have this distinct memory of my mother putting on pantyhose.
It wasn’t like the women in the movies; slow, smooth and sensual. It was awkward and cumbersome. She would sit on the bed, with one thigh on the mattress, supporting her weight as she wrangled her other leg into a scrunched up elastic foot, tugging and contorting her heavy frame into a nude tinted nylon. They were pulled up high, just below her bra line and she would snap it in place a few times to ensure it wouldn’t roll down.
She was a fat woman in the 80’s, getting ready for church on Sunday – the ritual was entertaining, strange and oddly comforting. Her huffs and puffs held a certain amount of admirable strength and determination, all in the name of “Sunday Best”.
I recall one such morning as I watched her, I must have been 6 or 7 (in the height of Barbie and Gem mania) I asked my mother, “Are you pretty?”. I recall my mother stopping and looking at me in the reflection of her dresser mirror. Her face grew soft and she smiled, “yes, I’m very pretty”.
The television programs and even the other moms at schools (the Karens, Carols and Brendas) would try and lead me to believe otherwise, but my mother was certain that despite her girth, crooked teeth and thin dark hair, that she was beautiful. She is.
My dark hair is thick and my teeth are straight, but I’m also fat. I’m a fat mom living in a world where my friends are always trying to lose those last 10 lbs. I encourage them in their goals; I support their efforts and cheer them on. At the same time I carry my own excess weight, a number far greater than 10. I’m neither proud nor disappointed by my size. I have goals to be healthy, goals to move quickly, goals to live a long and satisfying life. I also have, within the elastin of my 3X pantyhose, self-acceptance, confidence and sex appeal.
I run in the summer after the baby is put to bed, I run so fast sometimes that I can hear the slap of flesh against flesh as my body jiggles and bounces. I ride my bike in the fall, under the golden canopies of tree-lined streets, my ass-cheeks wider than the seat but still sturdy. I take my son for walks in the winter, wrestling through un-shoveled sidewalks, sweating in my parka as he sleeps in ignorant bliss.
My son rests his head on my large warm breasts and kneads his hands into my soft fat belly. He plants his feet easily on my wide, full thighs and smiles; pinching my chubby chin and cheeks. My big soft body becomes his cushioned jungle gym as we roll around on the floor. He practices walking by following the rolling, plump hills of my body’s profile. I’m perfect for him and he cherishes my figure. His life was conceived and incubated by a fat body, one that is loved dearly by his father; desired for its thick talents and pudgy pleasures.
If there were a magic button that would transform me into a slender woman I would probably press it. Life would be easier. However, there isn’t a quick switch, and currently, my immediate priorities center around a new human, a career, and my own well-being.
I’m okay with this. I feel strong, attractive, capable, and proud of my body.
I may get bigger, then smaller, then bigger again. I may maintain this size; I may shed it all and take over a new body altogether. Regardless of my size and the pressures beyond the walls of our home, I rest my mind with the knowledge that my son will exist in a world where his mother knows she is beautiful regardless of the number on her nylons (and challenges associated with pulling them on).
Erica Moore is an Interior Designer with a degree in Fine Arts and Literature. She is a wife, and mother to two dogs and one baby. She is also a very hilarious human being.
Check out her blog and keep up with her on Instagram.
Featured Image by photographer Paige Craig