My Body, My Self-Esteem

The other night I put on my pajamas to get comfy to binge watch the last three episodes of “Master of None,” because, well, I’m a fitness nut and nothing spells getting in shape like sitting on your couch watching TV.

I actually do work out a fair amount - yoga, cardio, weights and the dreaded planks. Oh how I do not enjoy them. I’ve tried everything to make those interminable 1-2 minutes fly by - movies on my phone, podcasts, may laugh, but truly that minute and a half can feel like three hours. I’d worked my way up to a little over two minutes, but inexplicably I fell back to a minute and 40 seconds and can’t get back to the two. My daughter on the other hand can do a ten minute plank. If I didn’t love her so much I’d be very resentful.

So back to the pajamas. I was brushing my teeth and lifted up my tank top to survey my abdomen and I swear, in that particular light, I saw it -  muscle definition. I think it was a two-pack, or at least one. I was stunned. I stood there for a while, turning, twisting and wondering if it was a shadow or perfect lighting that I will never fall into again, but finally I accepted what I was seeing as real. Wholly moly, I have abs! A mom of three thirtysomething kids, and I, for the moment have abs. I fully expected them to be gone by morning.

It’s not right or good that for many of us our day (or evening) is very much affected by weight, hair, name it., I’ve felt bad about it. I know I’m not alone. Of course there is the occasional rare bird who doesn’t worry a bit, runs out of the house sans makeup or angst and is very happy. I’m very envious of that woman. Wherever she lives. She probably has a lot more time for looking for cures for diseases and creating world peace than me - the one studying her abs in the mirror.

My body has gone through many transformations over the past year. Due to illness and medications, like prednisone, my weight has fluctuated by up to thirty pounds, leaving me at times skinnier than I’ve even been, and not in a good way. That said, once I was past being severely ill and not emaciated, I kind of liked being very thin. It was sort of seductive., like many things that are not good for you. There’s a certain emotional reward for being thin.

We live in a culture where we’re not supposed to wrinkle, gain weight, or heaven forbid - age. Quelle horreur! I cannot begin to imagine what it’s like to be an actress. At least where I live there’s not a whole lot of pressure to have plastic surgery, actually I imagine if one did go under the knife in my small New England town, they would be the talk of the local coffee shop.

While I toil away at my work, and at what I hope will eventually become my work, playwriting, I think a lot about what a blessed waste of time it is to obsess about my body. Of course we all want to make sure to eat well, get a reasonable amount of exercise and sleep, those are givens and good. What’s not good is the judging of yourself and others based on what the scale says that day. I am so much more than this vessel I walk around in. I am pretty smart, kind of funny, a good friend, mom and partner, and kind to most everyone I meet. I am worthy, no matter if I have cellulite on my thighs, or a c-section scar.

Basing how we feel solely on how we look misses the point of why we’re here. Yes, we all (well, probably most of us) want to be considered attractive, but whether or not my plays are produced and people enjoy them has nothing to do with whether I’m a size 8, 10 or 12.

At this point in my life I do not anticipate becoming one of those rare birds who doesn’t focus on looks, but I am hoping that it matters to me just a little bit less. I know I’ve come a long way from my teen years, throwing myself on my bed when I thought I looked fat. I haven’t done that in at least two weeks. No, that hasn’t happened in years, thank god.

My goal is not to not care about how I look - I know that’s never going to happen, and frankly, I don’t want it to, but that who I am and what I do will always be more important that my dress size. If I’ve learned anything over this last year, it’s that nothing is prettier or more fashionable than good health.

And if you get nothing else from this, make sure to watch “Master of None” on Netflix. It’s fantastic.