I NEVER SAW MY MOTHER DO A SIT-UP - By EllynAnne Geisel

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I NEVER SAW MY MOTHER DO A SIT-UP
By EllynAnne Geisel

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I NEVER SAW MY MOTHER DO A SIT-UP - By EllynAnne Geisel

  1. 1. As originally published in Chicken Soup to Inspire a Woman’s Soul 2004 I NEVER SAW MY MOTHER DO A SIT-UP By EllynAnne Geisel The dress was a full-length sheath the color of sweetened condensed milk, itssimplicity the perfect canvas for the hemline’s garden of hand-painted flowers. Wearingit, I was a fashion success, and I basked in the symphony of compliments the dressgarnered. But fitting into the dress year after year was difficult, for although shapeless bydesign, I had to stay in shape to wear it. Despite daily exercise, sometime betweenbirthdays 51 and 52, my metabolism slipped into a coma and my svelte figure, along withmy derriere, disappeared. Although I’d noticed my pants were snug at the waist andbaggy in back, it was my husband who questioned the geographic relocation of my rear.“Where’d your butt go?” was his eloquent query. To reveal my buttocks’ travel plan, I tried on the dress. With my head and armsthrough the appropriate openings, the barometer by which I judged weight gain followedgravity and flowed southward. But unlike in previous migrations, the dress stopped itsjourney midway. Gently tugging on one side, then the other, I eased the fabric down myhips and over my thighs. Then I looked in the closet mirror. From waist to knees, thedress clung to what appeared to be a lunar landscape made of dough. I’d found my butt. Determined to wear the dress to an upcoming family celebration, I immediatelybegan starving and sweating calories. For several weeks, I worked-out with a variety of video partners and a thighgizmo (the purchase about which I was so embarrassed, I’d set the box and its packagingin the alley by a neighbor’s trash can). I nibbled foods consistent with the rodent culture,and sticking my nose in the Oreo package, sniffed dessert. I was miserable butdetermined to fit into that dress.
  2. 2. It was during a crunch session with Miss Abs of Steel that I suddenly recalled I’dnever seen my mother do a sit up. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t had side rolls and a tummybulge. My mother had managed her flab by wearing a girdle. I remembered sitting cross-legged on my parents’ quilted bedspread and watchingas Mama prepared for a special evening out with Daddy. Stepping into her All-in-One,she’d grip the sides and pull upward, while at the same time doing the most wonderfuldance…a performance that involved much shimmying and shoving and squishing andshaking until everything loose between her knees and armpits was encased in latex. Withher firmly curvy, hourglass figure, she’d looked like Sophia Loren. Sophia Loren Grabbing the dress, I’d headed to the mall, where I soon learned that yesterday’sgirdle is today’s control undergarment. With names like Thigh Trimmer, Minimizer,Smoothie, Belly Buster, Body Reformer, Invisible Shaper, Nip, Tuck & Boost, InchesSlimmer, and Slim-O-Matic, it wasn’t difficult to envision their purpose – a quick lump-and-bump fix. I tried on the shape-wear and like my mother, I danced my looseness into theslimming casing of each. When 100% schmushed, I slipped on the dress and watched inthe dressing room mirror as it glided over a spandex highway and journeyed to my ankleslike rich maple syrup dripping down a stack of pancakes. Preening, I appraised mysilhouette, now a smooth and slinky curve. For the price of $27.00, the lunar landscapewas gone, and I’d reincarnated the figure of my inner babe, who in the dim dressing roomsurprisingly resembled Sophia Loren. I don’t dress my inner babe every day, but when fitting her into a pretty dressmeans “lifting the fallen,” it’s spandex, not sit-ups I now turn to. I am, after all, my mother’s daughter. ###©EllynAnne Geisel 2002

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