My Disease

I have a disease. Although it’s not recognized by the American Medical Association, it is actually quite common among women. It is referred to as the Melting Flesh Disease.

The symptoms of Melting Flesh Disease occur quite suddenly – in fact, moments after giving birth. The skin on one’s abdomen suddenly sags as though it has lost all hope. Victims of Melting Flesh Disease can go to the gym as much as their hearts content, but this only causes psychological trauma because no matter how many crunches they do or abdominal machines they use, there is no hope for Melting Flesh Disease. The damage has been done. The skin will continue to wrinkle and sag like a deflated balloon. Once round and taught, belly buttons resemble a puckered face.

Some women victoriously avoid Melting Flesh Disease. These women are either 6 feet tall and/or had babies weighing no more than five pounds. For those of us who had hearty-sized babies and are of average height, we paid severely.

It is easy to blame the media for our angst. Every magazine cover, underwear sale flyer, and commercial show women sporting flat abdomens with suspiciously perky breasts. Yet, we can’t fault the media entirely. While at the grocery store recently, a woman in a halter top was sashaying through the aisles. She was not a model, but she had a stomach that did not have Melting Flesh Disease and she clearly enjoyed flaunting it. My reaction? I stood up taller and sucked in my breath until my stretched-out belly muscles ached.

“What can be done?” I asked my physician, “Is there hope?”

“Not really. Multiple pregnancies stretch out abdominal muscles and skin until their elasticity is lost. The only thing that can be done is surgery.”

Upon returning home I did an Internet search. The cost of curing Melting Flesh Disease would be around $10,000 and it’s considered major surgery. There is hope, I suppose, if I had nothing else to use $10,000 on and had a full-time nanny to help me while I recuperate.

Thus, the only option is to make Melting Flesh Disease attractive. Like a war wound that someone is proud of displaying (“See this scar? I got that in ‘Nam”), Melting Flesh Disease must be embraced. When our loose skin peeks out from under our shirts, people would nudge one another and whisper, “See her? She carried another life in her body for 9 months. She then went through intense pain to deliver the baby. Her body and heart were forever changed. She is so brave.”

When society looks at models prancing around in string bikinis they would scoff, “She doesn’t have a mommy tummy. She’s got a long way to go.”  Tummy tucks would be dismissed – a sign of hiding the ultimate sacrifice. Melting Flesh Disease would be renamed. Instead it would be called Warrior Stomach.

Summer Etiquette Suggestions

Northeast residents are joyfully embracing the warming weather. Off with the winter coats, long pants, gloves, hats, and boots! Out come the shorts, t-shirts, and sandals. All of this signals the joyful message that winter has left the premises!

Now. With that comes some suggestions for summer etiquette. Please don’t take this personally; we are all known to show some lapse in judgement in our unbridled excitement in welcoming the long awaited spring and summer months.

Feet: Indeed, it is a wonderful feeling to shuck off those winter boots and slip our feet into sandals. But let us not forget that to whom sandals are given, sandal wisdom is expected. This includes toenails that are trimmed; corns and callouses that are removed. The only people who want to see gnarly feet are podiatrists (and even they charge a fee to look at them).

Shorts: Girlfriends, I detest the Kate Moss/emaciated runway model look just as much as you do. Society places unrealistic (and unhealthy) expectations on today’s females in regard to weight. However, let’s not shove our healthy-sized thighs into shorts that are too short. Here is a test: if you lean over and a butt cheek escapes, your shorts are too short.

Shirts: Men, I am talking to you. Let’s be honest. Many of you take advantage of being allowed to walk around shirtless. Yet, how do you know if it is truly acceptable to remove your shirt and bare all? If you have more hair on your back than your head: Unacceptable. If you look down and see the flesh of your stomach instead of  your feet – keep that shirt on. Lastly, if you have man boobs and require a Manzier (or “Bro”), then being shirtless is an absolute no.

Music: With the warm weather comes fresh air. We all love to roll down our car windows and play our favorite tunes (I am partial to Bruce Springstein’s Lonesome Day in the summer. For whatever reason, it sounds better with the windows down and the volume up). However, let us all remember that not everyone enjoys our taste in music, so consideration must be made about the volume that we play our favorite songs. This especially goes out to those of you who enjoy PSY’s “Gangnam Style” or music in which expletives outnumber all other words.

 Deodorant with Antiperspirant: This is a must. Please remember to apply liberally. And I am talking the old school kind: Sure, Ban, Secret. Worried about antiperspirants causing cancer and want to opt for the all-natural kind that allows you to sweat and “masks” odor? Um… it’s great that you want to avoid cancer, but please don’t punish the rest of us in your quest to do so.

Hopefully, if we can agree to adhere to some of these suggestions, it won’t be (as Bananarama sings) a cruel summer.

Special thanks to Adam J. Holland of The Unorthodox Epicure for his help with this post.

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Tiny Polka Dot Bikini

It’s that time of year again.  The temperature has barely hit 40 degrees and yet stores are displaying swimwear.  As I unwrap the scarf from around my partially frozen face, I find myself staring at a flaming red bikini. It barely seems big enough to fit on a doll, let alone a living person.

I step back and look at the rest of the swimsuits.  They are mainly two pieces, with one or two full pieces thrown in there as though they were an after thought.  “Might as well put this out,” I picture the Target employee saying as he is holding up a one-piece bathing suit that resembles a mumu, “There must be some old broad out there that’ll want it.”

That “old broad” is me.  And excuse me, Mr. Target Employee, I don’t consider myself old … nor a broad.  I am merely a woman who has some sense of modesty. I also happened  to have given birth to two wonderful children who did some major body reconstruction as they were incubating in my belly.

Above the bathing suits hangs a huge photograph displaying models frolicking around in the very swimsuits that are being sold.  Their stomachs are taught and flat; their boobs perky.  As I study these seemingly carefree, perfect bodied women, I suddenly pictured an asterisk next to their heads.  At the bottom of the photograph is the footnote that lists the disclaimers about these women:

The pony-tailed blonde in the striped bikini: Isn’t actually a blonde.  Has had breast implants and liposuction.  Smokes 2 packs a day to curb her appetite. Third toe on left foot is longer than all her other toes. Is mean to old ladies.

Brunette playing volleyball: Doesn’t actually play volleyball.  Hates the blonde in the striped bikini. Lives with 6 cats. Airbrush artist spent an hour making her waist look smaller than it actually is.  Airbrush artist also painted over her acne outbreak.

Second blonde wearing black two piece: Actually is blonde.  Smiling broadly while trying to ignore the burning pain she is still enduring from her most recent bikini waxing.  After photo shoot she is going to exercise for 4 hours straight.  Will then enjoy a salad with fat free dressing for dinner.

Brunette with arm draped over 1st Blonde’s Shoulder: Although laughing, nothing is actually funny.  Bleaches her teeth.  Has a high pitched laugh that mimics a hyena.  Airbrush artist had difficulty making the dimples on her thighs disappear. 

There.  Now these swimsuit models are just like the rest of us.  I push my cart towards the laundry detergent aisle; smiling because I suddenly feel much better about myself.