I am referring to Diana Ross of The Supremes, not the late Princess Diana. These days people comment on how “skinny” I am. Whether it’s a compliment or not is up to interpretation but, if it is, I have to give Ms Ross some of the credit – or blame – depending on how you look at it; and also to the 60s British supermodel Twiggy, although I don’t think there was such a thing back as a supermodel back in 1966 which is when this journey began. I know there is much concern these days about the detrimental effect ultra-thin models have on young girls’ body images and self-esteem. I don’t know if that was true in my case, nor if at age 18, I could be considered a young girl.
I had gone through the typical weight gain that is widely attributed to freshman year dorm living. I’m not sure what the catch term is – Freshman 15? I also am not sure that I gained 15 pounds, but what got me started, I guess, was my mother’s comment when I arrived home for the summer. “You’ve put on some weight,”coming from someone who always told me I looked fine just the way I was, definitely got my attention. So did the episode in the Alexander’s dressing room a few days later. I don’t remember what the garment was, but it was a size 13, my usual size at the time, and it was too tight.
I watched my weight all summer, but really got into it when I went back to school, a place I really did not want to be. The college was Ladycliff, a small Catholic women’s school that is no more, but when it was, was located on the banks of the Hudson in a small town named Highland Falls. By day two of Freshman year I’d realized that it was not my cup of tea, as did many of the young women who became my friends. Some of them were able to persuade their parents to let them transfer at the end of Freshman year. Others like me, weren’t as lucky. The former waved goodby and went to school with a more 60s vibe the rest of us bonded and forged deep friendships commiserating. But eventually we accepted our lot and concentrated on fun, and oh yes, our education.
Meanwhile I know, you’re wondering what does this have to do with Diana Ross?
Technically, I don’t know if I became anorexic, it was more a cycle of bingeing and starving, so I guess it was a bulimia anorexia hybrid, although I never forced my self to throw up. Since then, I’ve read that eating disorders stem from a feeling of having no control over one’s life. And that’s how I felt back at Ladycliff for sophomore year.
I’d always loved the Supremes, and they were at the peak of their popularity, and since it was also the time of Ed Sullivan Show and weekly shows like Hullabaloo that showcased all the popular groups of the times, I had many chances to admire how thin Ms Ross was with the result that she became my poster girl for thin.
Speaking of poster girls, it was about this time, Twiggy hit the big time, appearing on the covers of Seventeen and Bazaar……..
………..and it all came together………
There’s no one here to make me eat. Ha ha.
It is my belief that as in the case of alcoholics, food disorders are never cured, but merely overcome, and then only by a hair. What happened in my case was I transferred my dependency to exercise. I started running in 1978 and when I moved to California ran in 10K races for years. I still run occasionally, but attend the gym religiously. Knowing I’m a gym rat, my niece gives me workout clothes each Christmas and truth be told she has better taste in that department than me. The pants she gave me this year were especially nice and I love that they have a long comfortable waistband so I don’t have to worry about plumber’s crack.gy
But what really caught my eye was this size comparison chart on the inside of the waist band.
Small here in the USA is LARGE in Japan? Oh my goodness, is Diana a large? How about Twiggy? Like I said – I’m recovering.