Weighty Matters

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Am I So Vain?

on April 30, 2012

I figure that I was never big on being vain.  Heck, even if someone told me they meant it, I wouldn’t think a song was about me.  🙂

Honestly, how could someone who remained obese most of her life be vain about appearance?  That’s my reasoning, anyway.   I don’t think in my head that I often looked in the mirror and thought that I looked good.  Pretty much, I’d internally qualify it as, “All things considered, you look good enough” or at least “You look as good as you can, considering”.

Even now when someone exclaims, “Wow, you look great!”, I mentally add “as compared to how you looked three or four months ago”.  Or I change it in my head to, “You look better!”

Better.  That I can definitely accept.

While I’ve never been vain about my appearance as a whole, there have been some aspects about which I will admit to some degree of vanity.  I love my nails to look good.  I know that I’m fortunate to have really good skin.  I never had bad acne breakouts when I was a teen.  As an adult, I successfully combat blackheads, most whiteheads, and know that my skin’s in great shape.  I also have great hair.  It’s thick, a bit coarse, and naturally wavy — although now I do keratin treatments so it’s mostly straight, but still has shine and swing to it.  I’m growing it longer these days and want to see if I can get it to the length where I can pull it back if I need to.

So, what prompted the musing over vanity today?  My hair.  People who have had weight loss surgery before me warned me that this time would come.  About three months post-surgery with the rapid weight loss, they said, be prepared to lose hair.

Oh yes, the time has come.  I noticed it last week when I washed my hair.  Multiple strands tangled in my fingers when I worked in the shampoo.  More hair scatters on my skin when I get out of the shower.  Even more strands are filling up my brushes.  Ugh.  Ugh.  Ugh.

Logically I know that I am not going to lose so much hair that I’m bald.  I’ve already been assured of that by others.  Plus, this will stop happening in just a couple of months.  I honestly have no business bitching.  God knows, people who go through chemotherapy have a much, much worse time of it when they lose alllll of their hair.  Seriously.  How vain am I to even complain a little?

Color me human.  I pull the strands from the brush, wipe up the shower and sink, sweep the bathroom floor and think, “Holy wow, I’m really losing my hair!”  In dismay, I stare at the mirror to reassure myself.  Yes, there’s still a full head of hair in my reflection.  Enough with the vanity.  Instead, I’m going to concentrate on gratitude that I have so much hair to start with that nobody but me and my hairstylist will even notice the difference.

Not let’s go on to my skin.  I am fortunate that, according to most people I know, I do not look my age.  I’m 54 and have had multiple folks tell me they thought I was in my early 40s.  I smile, thank them, and say that I could tell them it’s because I’ve led a good, clean life, but that would be a lie.  🙂

Even I can see that I have far fewer wrinkles and lines than a lot of people around my age.  I attribute this luckiness to a few things:  Genetics; not smoking; and the fact that the fat in my face plumped out the wrinkles so that not as many show.

I’ve definitely lost weight in my face and I think that includes at least one of my extra chins.   At the RT Convention, an artist told me that I have high cheekbones.  I never realized that, probably because I’ve never had a good look at the bone structure beneath the chubbiness.  To be honest, I’m starting to wonder how much the skin in my face will sag as I continue to lose more weight.

I already know that I’m going to have pounds of excess, hanging skin around the rest of my body.   I’m prepared to have surgery to remove the excess in a couple of years.  In the meantime, I’m sure I can hide most of it underneath my clothes or, if need be, inside some compression garments.  Spanx might be my new best friend.

It’s harder to hide sagging skin on my face.  So right now I’m hope that bone structure, genetics, and the fact that my skin’s retained a fair amount of resilience over the years, all combine to minimize sagging.  Please, please, please, let that be the case, at least for the next year.  I don’t mind eventually needing to nip, lift, and tuck.  I’m just vain enough to not want to look like a hag until I’m completely finished with the weight loss and can go do something about it.

Seriously, after spending so much time and effort having surgery and following a strict plan, I’d like to revel in looking better than I ever have.

Is that too much to ask?   Am I really so vain?

10 responses to “Am I So Vain?

  1. Tracey says:

    5,000 mg Biotin will help. I dont know what restrictions you have in terms of supplements, but a good quality Biotin is a wonder.

  2. Hope says:

    That sounds completely and utterly reasonable to me!

  3. pinkpelican says:

    I echo what Karen said. It’s not vain to be able to enjoy your natural beauty, or to take pride in your appearance, especially when you work so hard to reveal new facets of your beauty & appearance.

    I worried about the hair loss as well. I lost around my hairline some, but my very clever hairdresser did a simple cut that helped me hide it. And it wasn’t a terrible amount. I still haven’t grown everything back (and most of my friends who go through this say most of the hair they lost came back), but my hair is not visibly any thinner than it was before the surgery.

    I’m 47, and so far my facial skin is tightening up reasonably well. When looking at me face front, my double chin is gone and my bone structure is much more apparent. In profile, there’s still a little sagging from my chin to my jaw line, but I can ignore that since I rarely see myself in profile & I delete the pictures from the side (grin). I was afraid I would end up looking so much older – as the fat in my face went away, I suspected I would see a lot more wrinkles. So far (and I still have a good 60 to 80 pounds to go, I think), knock wood, there’s not a lot of change in that arena. I’m showing the excellent bone structure, but wrinkles and such are no more pronounced than they were 150 pounds ago. In fact, I’ve had people tell me I look younger now than I did then.

    There is some skin sag in places. The pannus (lower abdomen), a little around my waist, the inside of my upper thighs. So far it’s not as bad as I was afraid it might be. There is still some elasticity in my skin, although I know it’s never all going to tighten up. I will be looking at Spanx soon, to help with some of that, to help achieve a smoother look under my clothes. When I finally stabilize, I will certainly consider some surgery, although I don’t know that it will be covered under my insurance (so far, I don’t have the kind of problems that make it surgically necessary to remove the excess skin — in fact, I’m having fewer of those problems than I did when I was a heavier weight). Not sure I have the bucks to pay for that. However, my husband heard about some programs that may help pay for some or all of the surgery if you donate the removed skin to burn victims. (Which is an awesome idea, and I would totally donate anything they could use even if I had to pay for everything in full myself … the idea that I could help someone else with the excess skin just makes me so happy. Something I will definitely be looking into.)

    Ultimately, while the main reasons for my surgery were health related, I won’t deny there’s an amount of “vanity” involved. I want to wear pretty clothes. I want to have a figure that not only *I* appreciate, but that others will enjoy looking at. At 47, I think I’ve missed the time of “turning men’s heads”, but it would be nice to experience that kind of appreciation. I don’t want to obsess about my looks, and I certainly don’t want to attract massive attention from the opposite sex based solely on my looks. I don’t have any interest in going around dressed like a “ho”, but I would like to be able to explore a wider range of clothing styles and wear the occasional tastefully sexy outfit and LOOK tastefully sexy.

    My family, my husband, my friends, they all love me at any weight. My husband found me desirable at my heaviest (and I him), he finds me desirable at my current weight (and I him), and I expect that to continue. I have no interest in ATTRACTING other men, because I’m so happy with the one I have, who loved the me inside no matter what the outside looked like. I don’t want to get to the point where I spend all day looking in the mirror and turning into a shallow, superficial, narcissist.

    What I want is to look in the mirror, at photos, to catch a glimpse of my reflection in plate glass windows and doors, and smile at the pretty woman looking back at me. I want to take my beloved’s breath away on occasion. I want to play with clothes and know I look good. I want to experience what it’s like to, every now and again, stop a conversation when I walk past because I look that good.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, so long as it stays in perspective. I mean, no matter what the outside shows, I’m still the same geeky, slightly socially inept goofball inside. No amount of weight loss is going to change that. I’m suddenly not going to be People’s Sexiest Woman Alive, and I’m happy with that. I’m not suddenly going to be part of the “cool kids”, “the Beautiful People”, and I’m happy with that, too … I have some of the coolest friends in the world already.

    I want to stay me. Just healthier, smaller, and every now and again, with a swish & a sashay that I couldn’t have pulled off before.

  4. Skye says:

    Seems reasonable to me, and I’m someone who has not had good skin for most of her life or even thought I looked good. I’ve always counted on being admired for my mind. But I don’t think that you are being vain or asking too much. I’ll be asking for that as I start to lose some weight and I’m only going to lose up to 50 lbs! (I have a friend who has decided to make me his latest project, which is fine with me because I need the help and the accountability.)

    • Mary Stella says:

      Skye, there’s nothing “only” about losing up to 50 pounds. You go, girlfriend! let us know how you’re doing with the effort, okay?

      Thanks for the reinforcement!

  5. No. and no. Wanting to look reasonably good is not being vain. This is vain: Having or showing an excessively high opinion of one’s appearance, abilities, or worth.

    • Mary Stella says:

      Whew! Thanks, Karen!

      Hey, has the Springsteen concert happened yet? I’m counting the months to the September show in Jersey.

      • DH has gone to two or three already and has one more on Wed. He’s trying to figure out if he can go to the Sept. one since he has to be in Baltimore for a meeting but I think he’ll be going to the Philly one. Are you going to be in NJ?!?!?

        • Mary Stella says:

          I’m flying up for a show in East Rutherford. It will be a blast to see them once more on “home turf”. Waiting to see if they add dates for SoFL too, in which case I’ll go again.

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