“Grace has cellulite,” she said with a tone of disgust.
“I have cellulite,” I countered.
“Well yeah, and you don’t workout, do you?”
Like a slap in the face.
And so, as a nineteen year old college student, I decided that I would never exercise for the sake of exercise. It was a petty, vain way to spend your time and I was going to be above that, obstinate beast that I am.
Fortunately, I was blessed with a crazy metabolism. College and post college left me with a diet of cheese fries, countless cups of coffee and half a pack of Camel lights a day. Go to bed at 2am, get up at 6:30am, nanny from 9-5, coffee shop from 6-midnight. How was I still standing? I stopped wearing a bra in effort to be edgy and natural. I stayed (dangerously) skinny and straightened my hair and wore lots of eye liner. I looked bitchin’.
Alex and I quit smoking when we got married and by then I settled into a single job with more regular hours. I cut out caffeine in effort to combat my addiction to it and read a book that convinced me that we needed to be vegan. Well, kind of vegan – girl ain’t gonna give up goat cheese or salmon. Working at a tiny natural food store in Chicago made me take more of an interest of what I was introducing to my body. We started eating more organics and since Alex had introduced me to biking, that was our main mode of transportation. 20 miles of biking while running errands was an average day. With Alex in school, we got poor. Newlywed, college student poor. I quit wearing makeup (which I was never any good at anyway) and started making some of my own hair product in an effort to save money. After battling acne for years, why had no one ever just suggested drinking more water and wearing less makeup? Turn out, that was the trick.
But apparently when you have babies your world gets turned upside down. Like, all of it.
Miraculously, I had escaped high school and college without body image issues. I thought I was too badass for all of that. But when my first baby emerged into the world, she decided to leave a lot of extra weight behind, particularly in my middle and thighs. It’s cool, baby. We’ve all got baggage; except now I have yours and mine. I turned into a person who puts on weight. A person who needs to go out of her way to get exercise in order to maintain a healthy body. But those ugly words from college came back to haunt me and I didn’t want to join the ranks of vain and petty.
More and more I am trying to embrace the new me. Not accept an unhealthy body, but to learn how my body now looks in a healthy state (had I ever even seen my body healthy before?). I’m still much heavier than in my hipster-cigarette-smoking days. But I am strong. I exercise regularly and, dare I say it, have learned to enjoy it. I am trying to not battle who my body wants to naturally be, but to embrace it and take it to the strongest level. I have learned that so many women in the world have cellulite that it’s actually just considered a secondary sex characteristic, not a badge of laziness. And I am trying so hard to let go of the stick-skinny image of myself that I harbor in my mind, and relish in the curvy, battle-worn body that I have earned.