Bringing Sexy Back (or Possibly Something Much Better)

Our semester is dying. We are not finished with the teacher/student things of this world, but we can feel our minds letting go, anyway.

In times like these, I find myself 1). staring out the window at the ivy we planted to cover our chainlink fence, and 2). looking for shows on Netflix. I’m okay with staring at the ivy. I’m not proud of the Netflix shopping. I realize I may be the last person in the U.S. to feel shame of any kind–especially shame over Netflix, but here we are.

Anyway, I found an Australian show awkwardly titled Bringing Sexy Back. It’s like Biggest Loser only with one or two contestants whose main goal it is to become “healthier” (which everyone knows really means to get thin and look hot). I have binge watched this show for the last two nights, and I hate myself for it.

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It’s supposed to be heartwarming and fun, but it’s actually profoundly depressing. To begin with, the hosts make people who hate their bodies stand in spandex on a stage before a live audience. The contestants are forced to see how fat they are in numbers and percentages, and most of them cry. Then, to address the problem, a trainer makes them work out so hard broken capillaries crop up under their eyes. Since no one can sustain that level of exercise for the rest of her life, this seems like a cruel and non-permanent solution to being fat. Plus, it’s humiliating.

The rest of the show is pretty predictable. When they’ve lost enough weight to be considered okay, the thinner-than-before contestants get their hair and makeup done and wear fashionable clothes (that, honestly, still look ill-fitting half the time). Their loved ones watch them process down a catwalk, and it’s their turn to sob. They gasp and praise, and it feels like our contestants have finally won the right to be accepted.

In the end, though, even after chair squats and chicken cutlets, the contestants stand on the stage, uneven, wobbly human beings with wrinkles and the occasional jacked-up tooth. The “shocking” transformations they’ve undergone are–am I allowed to say it?–sort-of meh. So many burpees for meh.

It makes me sad. Because, also? After the show, these people are going to battle loose skin, swallow endless, well-chewed bites of salad, work out until their knees are shot, and, eventually, get old and die. That’s their future–and mine. And while I’m not saying people shouldn’t care about their health and take charge of it, I am saying our bodies don’t stay the way we want them to.

They get old and fat or too thin or wracked with cancer. We can’t put our hope there.

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Give me conversion stories or aha moments or just about anything that deals with the inner person, the soul that endures. Turns out, I’d take those over watching someone hate-lose 50 lbs and wear bronzer on TV.

This is my life at 41. Even when I’m bored, I want to think about things that will last.

My Own Cheerleader

I hope all of you had a restful holiday season. For Christians, it’s the time when we reflect on the lengths God was willing to go to in order to begin undoing the horror of this world. For others, it’s simply a time to hang with family and friends and eat a lot. In any case, it’s a time many of usĀ want to enjoy but are secretly glad when it’s over. Because routines.

I mentioned before that I made the foolish choice to work on novel edits all through the month of December because I’d promised an agent I’d send her a full manuscript after the first of the year. It was a stressful and hard thing to do, and sometimes I had to set the work aside in order to really be with the people I love (without that glazed look in my eye).

Stuff happened in December, too, that threatened to derail my editing–things that had nothing to do with Christmas. For one, my beloved Frodo hurt his eye pretty bad and we had to rush to the vet on Christmas Eve. He sustained permanent damage. I cried. My novel languished.

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But I finished the draft today. I saved the last chapter on the computer, swallowed the lump in my throat and tucked it away. I need to savor this moment because no one cares about it but me. Also, I need to celebrate this accomplishment because I could send it to the aforementioned agent and she might very well say, “That’s nice. Not for me.”

The joy could evaporate with a single email, and then I will have to regroup. When the sting wears away.

So I’m not rushing. I’m sitting with this quiet joy for as long as it lasts.

P.S. Happy New Year.