I’m a ‘tween

I know what you’re thinking. “You’re 42, Leslie, the only thing you’re between is youth and senility.”

That’s true, but I’m also ‘tween figures. I am teetering between, “What the hell, I’ll have a second piece of cheesecake,” and “Oh, I never eat more than a bite of cheesecake … a year.”

I realized this when I was getting dressed for my niece’s graduation party. I put on a pair of black slacks and a black top that used to look less lumpy on me and I thought to myself, “One of those dusters from Chico’s would really make this look good.”

Chico’s? Did I really just move into the demographic of what my friend Margaret calls “soft dressing”? Soft dressing for soft bodies, is what I have always thought. Chico’s sells clothes that hide your flaws–the bumps and bulges that come around your bra and underwear. That’s definitely what I was looking to hide, but I just am not quite willing to cross that line.

I’ve only been in a Chico’s a few times to buy gifts. I think I bought a necklace each time. The clothes are pretty with lots of prints and interesting patterns and gorgeous colors, but I would much rather be choosing a slim-fitting sheath dress at Ann Taylor.

Needless to say (I hope), I don’t have a duster from Chico’s. Thankfully, on the night of the party it was unseasonably cool so I wore a pashmina and all was well.

The next day we left for Scottsdale for a week. We stayed at the Westin Kierland Villas—a beautiful resort and oasis in the desert heat. I love to people watch at resorts as many people are there from places where they never see the sun. No matter what, they are getting a tan at the resort and baring as much skin as they possibly can so their workmates know they have definitely been away to someplace sunny.

Resorts, therefore, are full of people with bodies in all segments of life. With our kids we were relegated to the “recreation” pool where children are allowed, versus the “relaxation” pool where children are discouraged. The relaxation pool was where all the nubile 20-somethings hung out. We only saw their non-lumpy, top-model bodies one day when we had lunch on the terrace near that pool.

The rest of the time my husband was growing tired of my asking, “Do I look that bad?” He knows his script well—he lies to me. Smart man.

The big bosomed ladies get away with more than others. Their proportions allow them to carry a little more around the middle and hips as long as the bust measurement is still bigger or as big as their hips. A brick house can be big or small and still be a brick house. The pear-shaped woman can’t get away with much. Even the barrel-shaped rib cage women (think Mrs. Puff from Spongebob) can wear a bikini if she has some tatas to fill in the top of her two-piece.

I’m not really sure what my shape is except soft with a slight top of the muffin overflow. I have broad shoulders which definitely helps even-out chubbiness in the bottom half. Those shoulders have not always been to my advantage though. When I was young and skinny, I had a boyfriend who told me I looked like a boy from the back. Gee, thanks. Like I said, my husband is smart, he lies. Suffice it to say, I stay in a tankini. (Do they have those at Chico’s? Maybe with a matching duster?)

There was one 40-something mother in a brown crocheted bikini with a matching sarong. She had a more-than-ample bust line and looked okay, but then she turned around. Hanging down on both sides of her body were two rolls of fat below her bikini top’s strap stacked above her waist.

“Do I look that bad?”

“No, Leslie,” he politely repeated.

Since I think he only saw her back he might have been telling the truth. If he saw her boobs he would not have known she even had a face.

The next day I went shopping. While I was trying on a dress in the dressing room, I could see my whole backside in the reflection from the mirror behind me. There it was. Back fat!

Oh my God! Sirens went off in my head. Woot! Woot! Danger, danger! Get to the gym! Red Alert! Red Alert! Salad bar, NO CROUTONS! Woot! Woot!

I have to admit, my back does not look quite as bad as the biscuits clinging to the girl in the brown crocheted bikini, but I could see the start–it looks like unleavened balls of dough. It’s bad enough that I recognize I am a ‘tween and really want to stay on the thin side of the teeter-totter.

I Googled ‘back fat, images’ and there were pages and pages of results. Many of these women were incredibly thin and the photos showed little more than the flesh that they need to bend over. But what struck me is the opportunity for marketing. I receive tons of spam for colon cleansing and Acai berry to reduce belly flab, but nothing about slimming the slack on backs. Hmm.

It’s just more evidence that I need to go to the gym–and do more than read a magazine in the dressing room. Though that is really tempting while the kids are out of school.

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