There was nothing that slapped me in the face with my own obesity quite like trying to wrangle into a pair of stockings at 300+ pounds. I remember it ended with me on the closet floor, trying desperately to find a position that would allow me to get my second foot into the illusive target I was holding precariously with the opposite hand. I had missed the slot a few times. Finally, I managed to catch the edge of the fabric with my little toe. I exhaled and started the process of working the nylon sheath up my lower leg. Switching from one side to the other, I had them pulled up close to my knees when the unmistakable give of the fabric told me a tremendous run in the stockings had destroyed all my progress.
I don’t even know when I had quit wearing stockings, probably when it got hard to find any that fit. I remember that I had to start going to specialty stores to find size F or whatever they were calling it that month. I’d trace the intersecting lines for height and weight, ending up on the outliers of the depressing chart. Later, pulling the hose from the envelope, I’d wonder who decided that all they needed to do for fat women was make the legs enormously long. I’d wrestle my way into them and count the minutes till I could remove them. It had been a challenge for a few years before I gave up completely.
I’d been working out of my home for years and then had moved to Arizona. The need for me to face my nemesis had been held at bay by circumstance and warm weather. But that day was different. It was the day of my Mother-in-laws funeral. I had a knee-length, dark lace dress and stark white legs. It probably took close to 20 minutes before I got the back-up pair on and somewhat in the right place. Emerging from my bedroom battle-worn, I put on my best face and hoped that everyone would blame my red eyes on grief.
When I see the photos of myself from that day, my thoughts go to those moments on the closet floor and I wonder how much longer I would have gone before making a change if that hadn’t happened. I wonder why, of all the humiliating things I had experienced as an obese woman for over a decade, why that was that what made me say “enough!” Why hadn’t the extenders on the airline seat belt and the fact that I couldn’t walk to my own mailbox without pausing to catch my breath made me change?
I think it was because in that moment, I saw what I had done by avoiding the stockings for a few years. I had blinded myself to the direction I was headed. Soon there would be no stockings to fit me. There would be no extender long enough to confine me to one seat. I was going to have to use a riding cart when I grocery shopped. And once I had accepted all those things as “normal” then what? Would I become house-bound? Would paramedics have to take a door off its frame to haul me out of my own home after I died of a heart attack at 50?
I was done going the wrong direction. With few exceptions, I had been going the wrong direction for over 20 years. I decided to permanently switch direction and make things right with my body and my mind. I decided to change.