essays

Me, Jane

yearbook pictureThis past weekend I took a trip down memory lane. Actually it was more like a stumble. I was going through some old photographs and as I was reliving my life in pictures, it hit me--I had become something I never wanted to be--50 and frumpy. Plain and simple, I let myself go.

One picture I found really struck me. It was of one of my best college buddies and me. There we were in all our collegiate glory--chiseled cheekbones, glowing skin, lustrous hair and single digit-sized bodies. We were fresh off of diets and looking good. I e-mailed her the picture with a note, “Look how skinny we were!” She wrote back, “Yeah, and I thought I was fat!” Me too. If only I appreciated how good I looked and felt instead of obsessing over losing another five pounds. Just like youth, thinness is wasted on the young.

In my twenties and thirties, I had this fantasy of reaching middle age and still being hip---not in an obnoxious age inappropriate way, but in a classy Jane Fonda jane fondasort of way. Somewhere along the way I got too comfortable. It all started with a day here and there without make-up followed by an extra week or two between touching up the roots. Then came running to the store in baggy t-shirts and ratty shorts. The chocolate binges didn’t help either. And here I am, looking like a prime candidate for one of those makeover shows. Instead of gliding gracefully into middle age, I slipped on a banana peel and slid face first into old ladydom.

It’s funny, now that I’ve gotten older, I look at myself with completely different eyes. I’ve packed on way too many pounds, yet I don’t always see myself as fat. That is until I catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection on my car door or when I can’t button my favorite jacket. These moments of painful self-realization are often followed by periods of self-improvement. Not in the intense, obsessive way of that girl I was in college, but in the kinder, gentler way of the woman who cares more about herself and less of what others think of her.

So today I’ll walk a block further. And tomorrow I’ll eat a little less. And the next day I’ll pay a little more attention to picking out my clothes. And so on and so on until I’m the Jane I was meant to be.

Former radio personality and producer, Rosemary Boyle also writes for therapy on her blog.

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