Thursday, June 4, 2009

emaciation vs. indulgence

There are a lot of skinny people in New York City, which as most readers will concur, is not a common phenomenon in the United States of America. Yesterday was the annual commencement for the wee people at the church "Day School." Proud parents watched their children parade around the neighborhood, sing songs, and receive some kind of accomplishment certificate (the director tried to explain why it was not a graduation certificate, but this went over my head). All the moms and dads looked great. Right out of a magazine, great. Fab shoes and suits and dresses and diamonds. One perk to my neighborhood: despite the fact that I live along designer ally, I never feel judged for wearing mismatched athletic gear and a baseball cap. But I digress from my observations... skinny New Yorkers...

My friend Mary got married a few years ago and told me she decided to to a Weight Watchers support group as she tried to thin down for a slim wedding gown. This was somewhere in the Carolinas and she recalls walking in and saying to herself, "Wow! These women are FAT!" She has lived in my neighborhood here in New York for awhile now and recently decided to return to Weight Watchers to lose some post-baby fat. When she walked into the support group this time, she silently exclaimed, "Wow! These women are skinny!" In a place like Miami, Florida, you go into Weight Watchers to save yourself from a heart attack. In New York City, you try to get your hip bones and collar bones to protrude more dramatically.

This city is full of indulgence (believe me, I will be lucky if I get out of here without a double chin!), and yet, many women still manage to look emaciated. This lonely endeavor must be torture. After living in Zambia, both extremes, overindulgence and intentional starvation, seems especially strange. You cannot get two more radically divergent worlds than New York City and rural Zambia.

You know what I miss? Today I miss waking up in the morning and pulling on the same skirt I wore most days, putting my hair in a pony tail and going out the door without much of a glance in the mirror. In the last 6 months I cannot tell you how often I have said to myself, "I really need to get a full length mirror." And for what? To make sure my outfit creates an illusion of slenderness or to make sure this pair of shoes or that pair of shoes looks nice with the cuff of my trousers. Blah.

I included a picture of me cooking in Zambia to remind us all of what life used to be like... when the power goes out and the neighbor boys set fire to the leaves at the base of your tree, you take advantage of the heat. Cooking over the open flame.... ahhh, those were the days.


Doanz said...

Hahaha. Our old neighborhood street sounds a lot like your Zambia neighborhood. Gotta love those boys! They keep life interesting. (My favorite was when the kid next door felt indoor plumbing was just a luxury, so he dropped his drawers and relieved himself on our chimney.)

Don said...

Carms, I love the picture. I was there to watch you cook over that fire. How quickly life goes. I will see you soon.
Love ya,
Dad (DonAllen)