“You need to work on those arms, they’re big,” she proclaims, as if the size of my arms is a deep deficit in my character.
Then I receive a slap to the a**—not in camaraderie, but as if to check the freshness of my meat.
“It jiggles,” she announces almost gleefully with a smirk of distaste. All of this is said “in my best interest, for my career.”
She is my manager after all and I want be an actress, don’t I? I did, I did. But it always seemed that the ten then 15 pounds always stood in the way of me and “making it,” or at least finding some approval that I was indeed in the right business.
The sorrow I feel for the loss of my body is deep. I signed it over the day I signed a management contract to a b**** with foul breath who seemed joyfully determined to teach me that I wasn’t enough.
Daddy issues, mommy issues, grandma issues—the why of why I entwined my life with such a person is unimportant. It is the how, the how I stood up and found the courage to leave that sets the tone for the remainder of this tale.
I fell in love. Not with a man (though I did that later, too).
I heard a commercial for massage school and thought, “Oh that sounds interesting. I could do that.” I went and audited an anatomy class and it was like watching fireworks for the first time—all I could do was stand there in awe.
I fell in love with the layers of bone, of the organ systems, the connective tissue and muscles that work together to create this thing we call the body. The human body is amazing, it’s a miracle and one of them is mine.
I came home from class to a message on my voicemail to call my manager. The first thing she said was “Sara, I can’t believe it. You got a call back for a national commercial.” And all I could say was, “Oh actually, I’m done.”
And I was. I walked away and into school. I loved every second of it. Every modality, every class. I reveled in my newfound role as a healer for other people’s bodies. I even rolled out my yoga mat again and stopped using yoga as a means to tighten my ass or tame my jiggly arms, but as a space to come home to myself. I created a life, a real life, with a marriage and babies and work that filled me with joy.
It’s been 12 years since then. I have a thriving yoga and bodywork practice. I’ve lost weight, gained weight, had babies and fought cancer all with my body steadfast in her commitment to me.
I am almost 40 and am reaching an age where women lament the loss of their youth. We’re assaulted with images and the media proclaiming we’re not enough unless we fit into a skinny-jean definition of beauty.
Not surprisingly, in the past few months I’ve started to feel a quiet melancholy take hold. At first I thought I was going through a mid-life crisis. But one day as I was driving to teach a class in near 90 degree heat, I was assaulted with a memory from that time.
You see, because of my big arms, my agent had suggested I give up wearing tank tops or sundresses. And here I am, 39-years-old going to teach a bunch of 20-year-olds to be strong in their bodies while I’m sweating it out in a ¾ sleeve top.
In that realization I was hit with a tsunami of grief because I still held that contract with her, even after all this time. I had tattooed that sucker on my heart and let it inform my relationship with my body.
I went home and put on a tank top. I went into the living room where my kids were playing—and no one said a damn thing. My kids went on playing and the world went on spinning even with my fat arms on display. And just like that, our contract was void. I had finally come home to myself and my body.
It couldn’t have come at a better time. After all, it is summer and I have sundresses to wear.
Author: Sara Zuboff
Editor: Alli Sarazen
Photo: Lori L. Stalteri/Flickr