Sunday, March 4, 2012

CGCC by guest blogger Mary Baxter

By many people’s standards, I don’t qualify as a Curvy Girl. Not true according to the Curvy Girl Critics Committee (CGCC) which had been setting up shop in my mind since oh, maybe three decades ago; so long I can’t remember. Doesn’t matter really. Most important thing is that CGCC successfully lured me over to their camp and my commitment to them has forced me keep a close watch over my body with diligent eyes filled with criticism, their mission.

My loyalty required me to stay ahead of the ever-looming gigantic muffin top that might flop over my jeans, ugly bingo wings that would dangle obscenely and double chin that might show up in photos. A proud member of CGCC for most of my life, I would check in with the committee several times a day to help me stay in line and to keep my vow to never, ever increase my clothes size or weight. Maintaining the perfect body was the real trump card as a woman.
CGCC was built entirely on “The Shoulds” and it’s exactly what kept me three steps ahead of god only knows what could happen had I not been a dedicated member of their committee. The Shoulds took many forms, most of which were unreasonable enough for most people not to attempt, thereby giving me an advantage over them, and many times just the right amount of external praise and compliments to override my exhaustion, to which I’d never admit. Things like these were among The Shoulds:
I should be able to have the body of a 22 year old trainer at the age of 35 if I just willed my lazy arse to work harder.
I should know how to do advance Zumba dance moves after just one class since I’d taken 8 salsa lessons 5 years earlier.
I should be able to reach the summit of a hike with a 1,000meter elevation in the same time as the tour guide who’d been hiking with his parents since he could walk.
I should be able to cruise effortlessly on black diamond runs over moguls; instead of skiing like the lousy ‘advanced beginner’ I’ve been for the past 9 years. It doesn’t matter that I’d had just one ski lesson 20 years ago and that I ski once, maybe 3 times maximum, and sometimes not at all, each ski season.
I should be able to cycle without exertion 30-50miles per day through the humid hills of Tuscany for 12 consecutive days in 98 degree July temperatures without any training other than my normal gym routines.
I should be able to manage cross country skiing, ‘skating style’, having done only classic cross country skiing, a completely different method, twice 10 years ago.
No excuses.
Excuses are what keep people pudgy. That’s why for 20+ years I’d go to Zumba, Muscle Pump, Body Tone, Body Shape, Step and Tone, BikramYoga, Boot Camp, Kick Box and any of the other latest, greatest fat buster classes on the market that were guaranteed to keep my ever threatening terrifying weight gain at bay. And, besides, there was nothing like the buzz of seeing the first visible results after a good ol’ gym binge; the roll of back fat beginning to flatten out, the start of the line of definition down my torso, the ripped triceps and biceps muscles and toned shoulders that accentuated my cute strappy dresses, and of course, the overall reduced thickness of my body. It was a shame that the boobs and butt muscles would also vanish and no amount of bench presses and squats would enlarge them, so I’d always give these more attention during my extra training sessions. If I didn’t keep a close monitor on these parts, I wouldn’t have much to offer the guys, really. We all know it’s the two things they like the most.
CGCC encouraged me to buy those backup ‘incentive jeans’ just a tad bit too tight; the size I should be wearing. They recommended fitted dresses that showed every curve so that I couldn’t possibly wear them with such an unsightly belly bulge. Vanity would certainly not allow this. They suggested frequent visits to the scale per day, just to check, reminding me to always record my highest weight and erase the lowest. It’d make me lazy otherwise. They promoted frequent examinations in the full length mirror, scouring every angle of my body dressed in various types of clothing, never loose fitting. That would be cheating. Anything with the slightest sign of back fat, muffin top or flab of any kind should never be worn in public nor at home, should someone stop by unannounced. Any change in the number on the scale or tightness of clothes required immediate scheduling of extra training sessions and sometimes not eating until I could definitely see acceptable results.
Being a member of CGCC demanded perfection and I thrived on it. Being within a ‘normal range” of Body Mass Index as determined by the plastic pliers pinching my upper arm, inner thigh and hip blubber, was simply not valid in my mind. If I wanted to land a date with the hot trainers with the perfect six packs who were doing the BMI pinching, my score needed to be far better than ‘normal’. And, being within the average weight and clothes size range; simply rubbish by CGCC standards. These were just false measurements designed to make us fatties feel better and keep us coming to the gym feeling smug.
Exasperated, my friends have long since given up on what they called “my obsession”. (Imagine?) When I’d shove my flabby upper arms in their faces, wiggle my blubbery thighs and butt, and pinch my double chin and jiggly back roll, they turn their heads horrified. But I knew I could count on the CGCC to agree with me. While my friends tried to convince me that it was completely unreasonable to compare my body with the perfect shape of my fitness instructor, 15years my junior, who’d been working religiously on her body 3 to 5hours per day, six days a week, we fellow critics knew that this was ridiculous logic.
Last year my CGCC membership came to a crashing halt. That’s when I learned that my best friend’s rare cancer had invaded and was spreading over her body. Since then I have witnessed my friend’s strength and determination day after day as she struggles to regain control over her body that’s been sliced open and put back together after a 19hour life-threatening surgical procedure. Today she has chunks missing from vital organs and internal parts reconstructed and are now a different size and shape than they were before. She’s had to learn to walk and sit upright again and find ways around her atrophied muscles, not to mention her hair loss and skin tone changes from chemo. She's had to change her diet completely to accommodate what's left of her stomach. Her beautiful body has been changed forever and may never be in her control again. And yet, she is truly grateful to be alive every minute of every day she wakes up to a new sunrise. I am in awe and my heart aches for her.
I’m appalled when I look back at the years of obsession over my distorted body image and how desperate I felt to keep it looking better and better as each year passed, determined to keep as fit as I possibly could without reaching complete exhaustion, mentally, physically and emotionally. I am ashamed to admit how those fleeting compliments absolutely meant the world to me. I can’t erase my years of investment in a quest so shallow and could never be reached; perfection. But I can celebrate one thing; being leveled with grief at the thought of losing my friend has brought me to the place I am today. I am proud that I’ve remained a grateful Ex-member of CGCC for over a year. And, I’ve successfully evicted them forever from the space they occupied in my mind. I humbly accept all of my real and imagined imperfections. I embrace the few extra pounds that have resulted from consciously lightening up on my fitness regimen and I focus on what is real; my blessings. I am in good health. I am active. I am mindful each day of being alive. I am blessed to still have my dear friend today. Nothing else matters.

Guest Blogger: Mary Baxter


  1. Thank you for sharing, Mary! Sounds like you will truly celebrate the oncoming years of your life with your new mindset, and the time with your friend too <3

  2. Very grateful for your contribution! Glad you have a newfound perspective and positive, healing thoughts for your friend!!