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

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As originally published in Chicken Soup to Inspire a Woman’s Soul 2004




                       I NEVER SAW MY MOTHER DO...

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It was during a crunch session with Miss Abs of Steel that I suddenly recalled I’d
never seen my mother do a sit up. It wa...
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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, its simplicity the perfect canvas for the hemline’s garden of hand-painted flowers. Wearing it, I was a fashion success, and I basked in the symphony of compliments the dress garnered. But fitting into the dress year after year was difficult, for although shapeless by design, I had to stay in shape to wear it. Despite daily exercise, sometime between birthdays 51 and 52, my metabolism slipped into a coma and my svelte figure, along with my derriere, disappeared. Although I’d noticed my pants were snug at the waist and baggy 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 arms through the appropriate openings, the barometer by which I judged weight gain followed gravity and flowed southward. But unlike in previous migrations, the dress stopped its journey midway. Gently tugging on one side, then the other, I eased the fabric down my hips and over my thighs. Then I looked in the closet mirror. From waist to knees, the dress 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 immediately began starving and sweating calories. For several weeks, I worked-out with a variety of video partners and a thigh gizmo (the purchase about which I was so embarrassed, I’d set the box and its packaging in 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 but determined to fit into that dress.
  2. 2. It was during a crunch session with Miss Abs of Steel that I suddenly recalled I’d never seen my mother do a sit up. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t had side rolls and a tummy bulge. My mother had managed her flab by wearing a girdle. I remembered sitting cross-legged on my parents’ quilted bedspread and watching as 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 wonderful dance…a performance that involved much shimmying and shoving and squishing and shaking until everything loose between her knees and armpits was encased in latex. With her 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’s girdle is today’s control undergarment. With names like Thigh Trimmer, Minimizer, Smoothie, Belly Buster, Body Reformer, Invisible Shaper, Nip, Tuck & Boost, Inches Slimmer, 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 the slimming casing of each. When 100% schmushed, I slipped on the dress and watched in the dressing room mirror as it glided over a spandex highway and journeyed to my ankles like rich maple syrup dripping down a stack of pancakes. Preening, I appraised my silhouette, now a smooth and slinky curve. For the price of $27.00, the lunar landscape was gone, and I’d reincarnated the figure of my inner babe, who in the dim dressing room surprisingly resembled Sophia Loren. I don’t dress my inner babe every day, but when fitting her into a pretty dress means “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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