Less is not always more

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 24, 2001

In this day of thin, fit and fabulous bodies, I want to speak out for the others…those of us who fall outside the "ideal".

Yes, I admire those of you who through sweaty determination, hard work and immense self-control attain and maintain those bodies that fit into anything The Gap sells. I envy those perfectly toned bodies seen on news broadcasts from New York, Chicago and Atlanta. They seemingly run to and fro without an ounce of fat to jiggle on their calcium enriched bones.

But I am not one of them.

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I am one of those women who have no sharp edges. Round, soft and cushiony are words I wear every day. Except for reasons of health, size is not very important to me. Good health is vital and I work toward that every day. But good health does not come only in small sizes.

As a girl I was encouraged to lose weight so I would have a boyfriend. I personally never found that necessary. I've never wanted for suitors. There are plenty of men out there who recognize that sexy and beautiful are not limited to size. And even though they might hate to admit it within earshot of another male, many men really love big women.

Reubens and Raphael were not wierdo's. They glorified the full grown female form in their paintings, and those paintings are cherished still today. In some Middle Eastern cultures, a man's wealth is measured by the number of almonds that will fit into his wife's navel…the more almonds the wealthier he is.

That criteria makes my Steve a wealthy man indeed. Thankfully, he agrees!

And in Scandinavian countries a man wants a sturdy wife who can stand up to the climate and still be warm comfort when night falls.

Celestine Sibley, noted author and long-time columnist for the Atlanta Constitution, tells in her book, "Sweet Apple," of a neighbor in Georgia's Cherokee County. While talking about the effects his wife's lengthy illness, he said, "…she used to be a fine figure of a woman, well over two hundred pounds. Now she's pore as a snake."

That man knew the pride and pleasure of a bountiful woman.

Women of size will from time to time battle food, hoping to shop at the 4-6-8 end of the clothing racks. It does not always happen.

On a recent episode of The Oprah Show, Dr. Phil McGraw was discussing this issue and asserted that we fail to take responsibility for our actions, including food intake and energy output, resulting in added girth. Oprah immediately rebutted with the old familiar "slow metabolism" defense.

Dr. Phil agreed that a few women are predisposed to weight gain and cannot control their body size, but (and here he wheeled around and stood nose to nose with Oprah) "Baby, that ain't you!"

Well, with flashing eyes, body language and most importantly, airtime, Oprah reminded him that it is her show and she does not like to be embarassed on national television. I don't blame her. She is a beautiful, successful woman who does not need to be advised of her size. She dresses herself every day, and believe me, the lady can afford an accurate mirror.

As well, she can and does afford the culinary pleasures that have made her the "well-rounded" woman she is today. So all you "thin is the only way" people, cut us some slack. Big does not mean lazy, slovenly or weak, just like it does not mean jolly, good-natured or able to take a joke. Big just means big. As for me, I love good food and drink. I like preparing it, consuming it and most of all, sharing it. I do for the most part try to lean more toward the healthy than toward the decadant, but it's negotiable. Ethnic food…tex-mex, cajun, down-home…get me every time. And don't even try to roll a dessert cart past me.

I'll trade The Gap for ice cream any day. Would I recommend my lifestyle to anyone else? No way, not unless the AMA changes its tune. But hear me now. On the day that medical science decides that big is best I will be the first to say "I knew it all the time".