I was standing in the laundromat one afternoon, folding my clothes. Another woman had brought her daughter and another little girl, both about five years old. They took a fancy to me, as little kids often do when they see mommy-aged ladies without children. The little girls asked me questions, in between running around the machines. One came back and patted me on the behind.
“THAT’S a big butt you got there.”
“That wasn’t very nice,” I said. Her mom piped up. “What did she say?”
I told her.
She snorted. She didn’t even pretend to disagree.
I was a size 8 at the time, nowhere near my top weight, and I was only 20. I hadn’t been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or thyroid disease yet. I had no idea at the time how long a journey lay ahead of me. I knew I carried my weight in my lower half, a body type referred to as “pear-shaped,” and that that was supposedly healthier than “apple-shaped,” which corresponded with higher rates of heart disease. Other than that, I didn’t give it much thought. Having a big butt was sort of like being a car with a bumper, or a duck with tail feathers. Big butt, so what?
As the years went by, I learned affectionate terminology for this area. Booty. Junk in the trunk. Badonkadonk. Moneymaker (appropriate when you're always working your butt off...).
Every now and then, though, I would catch a glimpse of it, following me everywhere I went like some stalker. There it would be, photobombing me. There it would be, pushing its way into the dressing room where I went to try on clothes. There it would be, snickering at me when I left again to find the next size up. I remember one night when I tried on 35 different pairs of pants, trying to find one that simultaneously fit my waist, hips, butt, thighs, and short legs.
Now that I’m thin, 90% of clothes in my size fit properly. Who knew?
I started to make more money. This gave me more options in life, and that included clothing. I have always been a tightwad, and I started contemplating whether anything good might come of upgrading my wardrobe. Maybe better outfits would lead to a promotion. I was single and lonely, and perhaps adapting to a certain ‘look’ might help me meet an eligible gentleman. I felt an undefined dissatisfaction when I looked at my reflection in the changing room.
It occurred to me that what I wanted wasn’t new pants. I wanted a new BUTT.
I could spend any amount of my hard-earned money on higher-end fashions from higher-end stores. I could hire a personal shopper or wardrobe consultant to give me a makeover. I could buy some compression garments and try to squeeze myself into a different shape, although those tended to bulge above the knee, which needs a separate name because it’s upside-down from a muffin top. None of these options was going to give me what I really wanted, which was a caboose that didn’t look like a sack of potatoes.
How much of the beauty and fashion industry would still exist if all women felt total body pride?
I don’t color my hair – I like my tinsel. I don’t wear makeup. I don’t get professional manicures or pedicures. I don’t get anything waxed. I don’t have a dermatologist. I don’t wear high heels. Not only do I not wear Spanx, they don’t even make them in my size. I don’t have any store credit cards. I don’t “shop.” Other people can do what they want, and spend what they want, but personally, I don’t feel the need. When I walk down the street, I hold my head up high, throw my shoulders back, and shake that thang. Take your hats off, ladies and gentlemen; what you see before you is a marathon runner.
The thing about having a nice butt is that it works in every situation. It’s reliable. This is a butt that can get me up a 6,000-foot elevation gain. This is a butt that can get me over a wall obstacle. This butt has climbed a rope, jumped over open flame, and scuttled its way under barbed wire. It even fit through the dog door one keyless night. It’s a very capable set of buttocks.
The other interesting thing about my new butt is that I tend to catch my husband staring at it. Whatever you might say about marriage and long-term love, having a mega-fine posterior is not a hindrance.
I have stretch marks, and I always will. They start at my knee and work their way up my inner thighs, my hips, and my butt. They’re not red or purple anymore. Now they look a bit like sparkly silver lightning bolts. I don’t have a problem with this. They’re like the action lines in a comic book, indicating all the super-powers resident in my lower half. I’m proud of these silver lightning bolts because they’re proof of how far I’ve come, from chronic pain and fatigue to adventure racing and backpacking the world’s beauty spots. If you have a problem with my stretch marks, I will use my newfound lower body strength to kick you into orbit.
I didn’t really do it on purpose, of course. If I’d known the magic formula for having a nice butt when I was in my teens or 20s, I wouldn’t have cared. I would have thought I was above such concerns. Besides, I never looked at my own butt. How could I, when I was always sitting on it? Now it’s more like a consolation prize for being over 40. It’s hilarious to see young men check me out and then realize that I’m older than their moms. This butt of mine is the result of years of running and clean nutrition. It’s merely one symptom of an overall lifestyle that includes kicking serious ass as well as owning one.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.