Self Portrait

I’m a woman who slumps, the result of a child who slumped. Or slouched or leaned over or curved her back. My back, my spine, my shoulders–whatever the body part was that should take the
blame–took the contest. “If you stand up straight, you could be Miss America!” my mom once said. My body bent forward a little more. “I’m going to hit you in the back every time I see it,” my stepmother warned. My body predicted when her eyes were turned on me and straightened up just long enough to escape being attacked.

My father put me in a fashion show when I was seventeen, determined to Freud the scoliosis mockery out of me. Dresses and spotlight and minor league fame was sure to be the Pavlovian conditioning I needed. That is, if he had known me at all. The joke, it seems, was on both of us. I continued to slouch so he began taping rehearsals and submitting the entire family to watch them after dinner, torturing me with the failure of my skeletal structure. I admit, ti was unattractive, but I remained stubborn.

My legs were long, my waist narrow, my butt ample. I’ve had no reason to complain. I never wanted to be a supermodel, thank god. For whatever reason, I was a skinny kid and teen–130 pounds was reason enough for a crash diet–but those days left my figure along with my twenties. I don’t care what the fifty-somethings say. Being in your thirties is no picnic.

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