22 inches.

That’s how far I have to stand with my feet apart in order to have “thigh gap.”

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23 pounds.

That’s how much weight I’d still have to lose in order to be in the center of the “Healthy” range of my Body Mass Index (as I currently stand, I am considered overweight).

I wanted to open this latest installment of “The New Normal” with some ridiculous numbers to prove a point. I’m certain that you, my dear readers, can see from a mile away what this point is, but here goes anyway.

I will never be that woman. I will never be that thin. That sickly. That close to being physically erased.

I will never have (as my husband so colorfully calls it) “Factory Air.”

I will never be “toned” (a dangerous codeword, used almost exclusively to describe female bodies, which tries to use the language of health and fitness to cover up a reality of emaciation).

I will never try to reduce myself to nothing. To wish for empty space where my body currently resides.

And because of this, I will never be “beautiful.”

But, damn, I’m sexy as hell.

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Instead of focusing on the space that I or anyone else wishes to see appear around me—the space we hope opens up where I used to be—let’s look at the space I inhabit.

First, my scar. 6 months ago, it was purple and lopsided.

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Now, there are whole days when I forget that it’s there. It’s still healing, but it really has improved.

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Second, the befores and afters (though I hate using those words. They imply that my body is some kind of term paper and not a constantly-changing, organic creature. The only true “After” will be when I’m dead).

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May, 2010. Vegas. The pool. This is the day before my wedding. I weigh 124 pounds. 4’ 11”. I’m wearing contact lenses.

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March, 2014. Indiana. My bathroom. My daughter is lying on her play mat at my feet. I weigh 132 pounds. I have bifocals.

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September, 2014. Indiana. My bathroom. My daughter is napping in her crib on the other side of the wall. I weigh 128 pounds. I still have bifocals.

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I remember taking that picture in 2010 by the pool in Las Vegas. That has always been one of my favorite pictures of myself and my body, because I remember thinking, “Hey! I didn’t suck in!” I didn’t even think about my body, my stomach, my thighs. I stood with my siblings, and took a picture, giving not one thought for what my body looked like. It was liberating.

And I’m starting to feel as though I could get back there.

Because I’m liking the space I’m taking up these days.

It’s my space.

And I’m going to use it all.

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