Phyllis McGuire | View from the Village: Winter weight gain presents wardrobe challenge

WILLIAMSTOWN — It is hard for me to believe that I tip the scale at 95 pounds. Scoff if you must, but it is the most I have ever weighed, except for when I was pregnant.

My newly acquired avoirdupois (aka fat) has settled in my stomach.

I know I'm not pregnant. At my age, that would be a miracle. Also the last time a doctor asked if I was sexually active, I replied "I live like a nun."

When I was pregnant as a young woman, I did not mind looking as if I had swallowed a watermelon. I felt special. My body was sheltering a baby until it was prepared to live and enrich my life, my husband pampered me, strangers wished me good luck with "the baby," people gave up their seats at church and on subways just for little me — well, I was still short.

My husband, however, got in hot water with my sister, Gloria when he measured my waist in the third trimester of pregnancy. "How could you do that to her?" she screamed at him. I laughed and my belly did jiggle like a bowl of jelly.

Now my bulging belly has made getting dressed challenging. A diaper pin I have kept for sentimental reasons has come in handy. Unable to button the waistband of a skirt that had fit me properly for years, I used the diaper pin, which is two inches long with a blue plastic head, to bridge the space between the button and button hole. But unlike Little Orphan Annie and Popeye's girlfriend Olive Oyl, I do not always wear the same outfit.

"Look at this," I said, motioning to my stomach when my daughter Jennifer visited me. "I'm getting a beer belly and I haven't touched a drop." She pooh-poohed, "You could use another 10 pounds." (According to weight charts issued by health authorities, I am underweight.)

But the day I complained about not being able to wear pencil skirts and form fitting dresses and then passed on dessert when we were dining in a restaurant, Jennifer said emphatically, "Don't start trying to lose weight." And the morning she saw fat free milk in my refrigerator she busted a gasket.

I suppose Jennifer is afraid I might become anorexic. We do have a relative who suffers from that disease and has landed in the hospital because she fails to nourish her body with food.

I enjoy cookies, cake, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and pasta too much to stop eating. And when looking in a mirror, I see my true reflection, not an imaginary obese version of myself.

When I was "heavy with child" (Gospel of Luke: I am still in Christmas mode) I was able to buy clothes made specifically for women whom legendary columnist Walter Winchell described as "infanticipating."

Now my top torso is size 1 and my waist is size 4, and clothing manufacturers do not produce dresses, suits, etc. in mismatched sizes. Making my own clothes is not an option as I was among the missing when God gave out seamstress genes.

I was forced, however, to make a pair of pajamas when I was a junior high school student in a sewing class (compulsory subject). As the teacher inspected my work, she adjusted her spectacles, pushing them up and down on her nose, as if in disbelief.

"Phyllis, you are not making a horse blanket," she said. OK my hand-stitching was not dainty, but what did it matter? Sixty-pound me would only be wearing the pajamas at home.

Hopefully when spring arrives this year, I will resume walking briskly outdoors for a half hour most days and my belly bump may disappear. It would even be nicer if the weight shifted to my bosom so it would no longer be flat as a pancake and I would really need to wear a bra.

Phyllis McGuire writes from her home in Williamstown. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.


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