In an effort to boost my ever-waning self-esteem, I watched American Idol tonight, paralyzed with horror as an enormously fat woman took the stage. Her eyes glimmered amidst the rolls of chub that threatened to take over her face, and her hair, styled much like Sid Vicious' without the product, stood on end in anticipation. She belted out a show tune and then waited expectantly for the verdict to be rendered unto her.
Her hair trembled as Straight Up Now Tell Me Paula gave her a apologetic 'no,' followed by the same from Randy. Simon finally raised the ante a bit and told her that the reason that she was being rejected was not because of her voice, but because of looks. Her hair stood on end defiantly and she declared, "We aren't all Barbies, you know."
This was an enlightening comment, of course. Living in California, where people are more likely to waddle than walk, I had never noticed that everyone was not formed like a Barbie, previous to the fat woman on American Idol telling me so. LL Cool J (that would be Ladies Love Cool James to those of you not in the know), the guest judge for the night, proclaimed that he "liked that Barbie comment," and then when he was ignored by everyone in the room, who must have recognized the mundanity of such a comment, he stood up to say it again. He then hugged the salad dodger, and declared again how much he liked "the Barbie comment."
Saying something like, "We can't all be Barbie" is akin to saying, "Work hard, play hard." It's something that you read on a t-shirt at the mall, and are using as justification for your lifestyle. I'm sure there are a number of witticisms that I could impress LL Cool J with, given the chance. Wait till I tell him "I go from 0 to bitch in 6 seconds," I'm sure that will make him realize that "mean people suck," and perhaps earn me an earnest hug as well.
My defining experience with people of size occurred the summer before last, when I decided that the only way to move past my last so-called relationship was to develop another more interesting obsession. Having already exhausted gore photography, off-the-shoulder tops and not being willing to start on porn at such a young age, I decided that food was the only fixation worthy of my time and I headed to Weight Watchers.
Weight Watchers was a lesson in self-esteem--from the minute I walked in the door I was constantly complimented on how incredibly thin and good looking I was. When I managed to ignore the fact that these morsels of admiration were coming from men and women who had pus-riddled sores from their thighs constantly rubbing together, it actually kind of made me feel good.
I set my goal weight to be the same as the weight listed on my license--I figured it would bode well if the next time I got pulled over I didn't start out the encounter with a fib, which inevitably leads to compounded lying and eventual arrest. These six pounds wouldn't be easy, I realized; as anyone who has seen me hula-hooping can attest to, I have very little control over my own body.
I cut my caloric intake by seventy-five percent, and learned to survive on leaves of lettuce and the dew that I licked off my windshield in the mornings, making sure to do complex mathematical equations to translate each morsel into "points." I took to haunting the gym at my school, where I, adorned in copious amounts of lilac eyeshadow, pranced past the numerous lesbians lifting weights and grunting in front of the mirror to get to the StairMaster, where I would leaf through Cosmo articles on how to achieve better orgasms while being glared at by the disdainful women-lovers. I also starting to lurk around the Weight Watchers online message boards, to get tips on how to make my carrot sticks taste like cream cheese and so forth.
The Weight Watchers message boards, are, as you may imagine, a lesson in low-class idiosyncrasies. Many recipes for solid food include Diet Coke as an ingredient, and 'It's as good as a Twinkie!" is a common kudos. One of the regulars made a web site dedicated to translating all carnival food into "points" thus allowing her brethren to save up for a corn dog and funnel cake without fear of going over their weekly point-load.
One of the common attention getting devices on the boards was for any of the legion of newly-committed three hundred pound plus women to complain that although it was bedtime, she was absolutely unable to finish the amount of points allotted to her for that day. These posts would rack up a dozen responses in a matter of minutes, each one asserting that under no circumstances should the woman allow herself to fall asleep unless she managed to stuff a few more calories into her gaping maw. "You have to follow the system for it to work," they would assert, "it works if you work it!"
The regulars also liked to detail their recent sexual activity, and speculate how many "points" they had worked off. Frankly, judging from the height and weight statistics they so proudly posted (which more closely resembled the demon spawn of a circus midget and an opera singer than any human being I had previously encountered), I wasn't sure if allowing their husbands to treat their belly like a trampoline while gnawing on a pastrami sandwich George Costanza style, would count as exercising anyway. But, who am I to judge?
It took me more than six weeks to lose five pounds, probably because of my undying affection for soy sauce and other sodium-enriched delicacies, as my diet commander told me consolingly. I took to wearing less and less clothing to each meeting, in the hopes that eventually, if I showed up in nothing but pasties, the scale would display my goal weight and I could leave this depressing nightmare of a hobby behind.
Eventually, with a fair amount of well-earned shame, I was brought to the front of the meeting and awarded a bookmark and keychain for reaching my goal. I tugged at my micro-miniskirt and looked out at the sea of envious, moon-pied faces and realized that perhaps, with enough stimulants and diuretics, we all could be Barbie.