22 inches.

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


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.


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.


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


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).


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


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


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.


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.