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I was thinner once but I guess I never knew it

It happened again last weekend.

We have finally gotten around to sorting through the books we packed away when we moved to Hudson 15 years ago in order to put them in our new bookcase, which has only been standing empty since last April. And there it was - a photo of me taken at least 24 years ago in which, even by current standards, I should have been happy to weigh what I did then.

But as is always the case, I remember thinking I was fat back then. Oh if only. I think I was born with a fat mindset, so much so that when I was 16 and weighed 135 I was fat, when I was 28 and I weighed 165 I was fat and now when I am 52 and won't even drive by a truck scale on the freeway, I have finally closed the gap between thought and reality. The funny thing is I can live with it now a lot easier than I could back then when it wasn't quite so true.

There are all kinds of societal and physical explanations for who and what I am. My favorite is that emotional-eating thing Oprah is always talking about. Now that she's so fit, I figure she must be less emotional but then being the richest woman in the world could put me on something of a high too.

But "fat thinking" is nothing new. I got a glimpse of how little things have changed when I went with Katie to a store called Hollister on Sunday. It's at "Moe-Wa" or MOA or what used to be known as the Mall of America, but if you want to be cool it is now just referred to by the phonetic pronunciation of its initials. She had a gift card from there burning a hole in her wallet. I had walked by the place before but knew immediately by the 6-by-8-inch skirt on the mannequin in the doorway that the only thing that would fit me in there was lip gloss.

But on Sunday I was forced to enter with my daughter who actually might be able to wear something from there, particularly if her Dad had an episode of blindness. The word was that a particular style of jeans there has the ability to substantially reduce the appearance of certain areas on the body. The jeans apparently get this power from the something sewn into the back pockets which are color-coded to determine their strength.

It is an experience going into someplace like Hollister. It is so hip that it makes GAP look like a trip to Sears. The young sales women are all easily identifiable by their size 2 bodies, flip-flops in the middle of winter and obligatory bare, flat midriffs. The male sales guys are equally as noticeable for their flowered shirts, long board shorts and streaked blond hair gelled into upwardly reaching spikes that can probably pick up at the least nearby cell phone calls but maybe even satellite TV.

Katie and I headed to the jeans. I grabbed her usual size and was quickly told that wouldn't work here. Let me guess, the sizes run a little smaller as I held up what was supposed to be a size 9 - yeah, in what universe. We headed to the dressing rooms which I found awfully dark but then maybe buying clothes at a place like this is all about trust. Maybe you just have to go on faith that these things are really cool and will look good outside the mall.

The young woman in the dressing room actually was very helpful and didn't seem put off by the sneer I was now incapable of wiping off my face. She did not hesitate to share her own personal experience with these body-bending jeans with Kate. "Trust me. You want them to hurt when you first put them on but by the end of the day, you'll need a belt." By that measure Katie will actually feel and look good in these pants for about 30 minutes around 11:30. Who could pass that up?

Katie was keenly aware of my attitude with regard to the Hollister experience and she did not try to dissuade me. She just kept saying she was glad her Dad wasn't there and that she knew the place was kind of "OC prep," but these jeans were worth it. And to her credit she decided she wasn't really into painful clothes and thought putting a belt on in the morning wasn't a bad idea so she went up a size from the sales person's suggestion. It is so gratifying for parents when their children reflect such sound judgment and, thank god, she doesn't appear to have her mother's "fat head."

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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