I will never forget the day, after losing about fifteen pounds, I twirled around for my Dad, and pointedly asked, “Am I thin enough?”
After giving me the once-over, he announced without a smile or a hint of encouragement, “You look good.” Not great. Merely good. Having worked so hard to achieve my goal, his bland response devastated me. I never asked again. Thus began a lifetime of eating disordered thinking. Never a full-blown eating disorder, but enough for self-disgust whenever I gained weight. I labeled my disorder, “fat eyes,” meaning, although for most of my life I have been slender, self-acceptance has been fleeting. I stopped weighing myself years ago, when my daily weight determined my mood. Ultimately, after decades of scraping off the layers of my neurosis, I realized that my perception was distorted. The fat I saw wasn’t there. I still see it. The only difference is now I realize that what I see isn’t real. I’m looking in a fun house mirror.
With a glance and few words, my father unabashedly expressed his unwavering belief that, for a woman, being thin and beautiful was paramount. Everything else paled in comparison, that is, except marrying well. Being attractive was supposed to be a Disneyland E-ticket that guaranteed happily ever after. Three divorces and considerable therapy later, it finally sank in. My father’s prescription was more like Chinese food, initially satisfying, but not particularly long-lasting. Buying into it set me up to be disappointed time and again. I came to know love and acceptance solely for the outer self. Without a loving place within myself to call home, nourishing, loving, and knowing myself through any lens other than appearance was impossible and left me bereft of self-acceptance. Building self–worth from the inside out was a slow and arduous undertaking. Ultimately, it healed me.
Men are acceptable and lovable in all shapes and sizes, with hair and bald, with 6-pack abs or paunchy and out of shape. The Silver Fox is sexy, and while some silver-haired women are considered beautiful or striking, a majority of women spend hours tending to their gray roots.