I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I slowly exhaled as I took a step onto the little box in front of me. I wavered in indecision before I finally put both feet on the box and closed my eyes.
‘Ma’am, are you okay?’ the young lady next to me asked.
I realized it must be kind of weird with me closing my eyes and all. So I opened them, “Yeah I’m fine, thanks.”
“Okay, you can get off the scale now.” She said with a knowing look on her face like this happened all the time. Patients coming in with a sickening phobia of the little black box that seemed to determine their whole life!
I knew she was just being nice but I decided I needed to suck it up and just look at the damn number on the scale. Don’t forget to breathe…
I looked down. What? Did I add two kilos? How is that even possible? I had been working out like crazy the last couple of weeks, doing cardio and weights and everything! Okay, maybe the scale is broken.
I stepped down then came back up again, it now added half to the original two, “Oh crap!” the universe hates me.
“Ma’am I would like to check your blood pressure and temperature, could you please come and sit here? The nurse in her prim white uniform pointed me to the chair by the door.
“Mmhmm.” I mumbled incoherently as I sat down and watched her perform the mundane task.
“The doctor will call you when he is through with his current patient.” She dismissed me without another word and I walked out the door still thinking about that stupid number.
Okay, so scales are not always accurate in the doctor’s office are they? Though if a very basic instrument such as a scale wasn’t accurate in a doctor’s office then how many other more useful mandatory machines couldn’t be trusted, that means patients’ lives were at risk every day! Okay, that option is out.
So if the scale is working what is happening? I sat down in the waiting room and googled, “Why would you add weight when you have been exercising?”
There were more results than I expected. They actually made sense, with reasons offered, such as,
“Muscle weighs more than fat so if you are working out and gaining muscle it may cause you not to lose weight but to tone up.”
So I could just be adding muscle, becoming buffer, but still losing fat? I can work with that.
“Sometimes when you have just started exercising, your body retains water causing weight retention and sometimes even weight gain. Water retention usually goes within a couple of weeks of the person starting an exercise program. To help it go faster drink lots of water and liquids, allowing the body to release the water it is retaining.”
But I drink like two litres of water a day! This can’t be right.
“If you are not eating the right foods or overeating no matter how much exercise you do you will not lose weight. Losing weight is 20% working out and 80% diet.”
But I watch what I eat! I eat so much healthier than my roommates… Except when we went out for pizza twice last week and bought fries when we were too lazy to cook, ohh and Stacey’s birthday was on Saturday so I couldn’t be rude and not eat at her bash… Okay, maybe I need to improve on that one a little bit but still…
“Violet Kimani,” an Indian doctor called out scanning the crowd. We made eye contact as he called out my name again.
I followed him into his room where he went straight into it, “So Violet what can I do for you today?”
I cleared my throat, “Umm nothing much, my mom actually insisted that I come here because I have been having dizzy spells a lot lately and getting super flushed by the slightest exertions.”
He looked at me incredulously, “Your mom?”
I smiled awkwardly, “Yeah, I’m twenty-six but she still gives me a piece of her mind about everything when it comes to doing with my life.”
“That’s not all she gave you.” He said looking up and down over my body in a manner that couldn’t be legal. Then he laughed as if that was the most appropriate, normal thing to say.
“Okay Violet, when was the last time you had your period and was it a heavy flow?”
“Umm I can’t remember exactly but I think around two weeks ago, and mine is kind of medium flow, it’s not light but it’s not too bad as well,” I replied, wondering what my period had to do with anything.
He looked back at the computer screen and instructed me to get up on the bed in the corner for a checkup. I lay down on my back and placed my hands on my stomach as he checked my ears, eyes, nose and mouth. Then he moved with his stethoscope over my chest to check my breathing.
Is it just me or did he just linger over my boobs longer than necessary with that thing? Girl, you are overthinking, calm down. I tried to tell myself, but this doctor seemed very touchy and I had experienced this before.
When his hand brushed over my chest for the third time, I had had enough. “Are you done?”
He noticed my agitation and let up finally. “We are going to do a blood test just to confirm that your blood levels are normal.”
I said okay, glad to leave that room, and went to the lab. They said they were closing up for the day so I would have to come back tomorrow. I was meeting up with Stacey in thirty minutes anyway to go shopping.
I called her as I exited the revolving doors, and looked for the keys to my mom’s borrowed car in my purse. She picked up on the third ring.
“Hey Hun, you will never believe what happened to me at the doctor’s office today, I’ll tell you all about it when we meet up.”
“Hello, okay cool. In fact, I’m so glad you called because my phone is dying and I’m stuck in traffic so if you get there before me, I’ll meet you at the Bata next to Hilton okay?”
“Okay see you in a few.”
Stacey is what you would call petite. She is short and tiny, and cute and cuddly. She is my cousin and we grew up like sisters so I love her to bits, but around her, growing up I always felt like a giant on account of the fact that at ten years old we were the same size, then God only knows what happened but my hips came in at twelve, shortly followed by my boobs at thirteen.
She, on the other hand, had her boyish figure until she was around fifteen, and even then when everything grew it was all in a model-like way, never too much. I hated shopping with her because everything looked gorgeous in her perfect silhouette, while for me to find a combination of an outfit that suited my ladies in front and Mr. Booty in the rear perfectly was a miracle of no small proportions.
My ex described it perfectly when he told me last year that my body was like Kim Kardashian’s curves on steroids! I had no clue then whether that was a compliment or not…
It took me nearly an hour to get to town because of traffic. I spotted Stacey waiting on the sidewalk. “Whose bright idea was it to go shopping on a Monday evening?”
She rolled her eyes, “Yours! Something about no one ever going shopping on Mondays so the stores will be perfectly empty.”
“Hey, this whole shopping spree is about me buying you an outfit for your birthday? So you have no right to complain about anything.”
Suddenly her demeanour turned sweet, “Oh you know I love you, Viv, I saw a boutique with the most gorgeous outfits up the street, can we go there?”
It was my turn to roll my eyes as she was dragging me without waiting for my reply.
“So you were supposed to tell me something about some doctor?” She asked as we reached the entrance of the red-painted stall.
“Oh yeah today I went for the check-up mom has been insisting I go for, and the Indian doctor who took my case felt me up while he was checking my vital signs.”
“Was he cute?”
“No, well kind of, okay yeah but that’s not the point.”
“Sure it is.”
“No it’s not, and he made this really inappropriate comment about how my mamma gave me curves!”
Stacey looked at me and almost laughed, “What’s the problem? He gave you a compliment, and was attracted to you which should make you feel beautiful.”
She walked towards the changing rooms with a pair of jeans, two tops, and three dresses in her arm. I was so mad. She didn’t understand; how could she? When men saw her they saw perfection, someone who didn’t undermine their masculinity because she was so petite. When I was seen it was either just the breasts being seen or my ass, being seen, and/or my love handles that sometimes sneak out even when I tried to suck my tummy in the whole day.
She came out in a light, chiffon blouse and a flared skirt. She did a little twirl for me, “So what do you think?”
“It’s okay I guess.” Truth be told, it was gorgeous, but I was mad at her so I wasn’t planning on complimenting her.
“Oh no, you are not going to do that to me okay?” She looked at me pointedly.
“You know what. You start a self-pity cycle and hate all mankind because some guy,” she folded her two fore fingers in air quotation marks and continued, “disrespected you.” I scoffed.
“You always do this.” She continued, “Even last year when you broke up with Alex you retreated, to wallow in loneliness and depression for six whole months.”
I cringe as I remember the six months following my break-up when nothing could console me but food. I told myself no guy was ever going to love me again so it didn’t matter if I became fat, but the more I cried and ate and slept, the more I hated my reflection in the mirror. I didn’t know who I was becoming. Then three months ago I woke up when my meticulous boss in no uncertain terms told me that if I don’t get my life together I was going to get fired.
“Alex was a jerk,” I said softly.
Stacey looked at me and her eyes turned soft, “I know honey, but it’s way past time for you to get over that stupid piece of cow poop and move on with your life.”
I laughed at her usage of cow poop. “You remember what he said to me before we broke up? He said he was getting embarrassed by me when we went out in public and that I should start a diet.”
Stacey laughed and I looked at her shocked. “I’m just remembering how you kicked him to the curb after that. You showed him huh?”
A hint of a smile appeared on my face as I remembered my parting words with Alex. If there is one moment in my life that I am most proud of it is that moment. It made the six months of hell after that worth it.
Tears were squeezing out the corner of Stacey’s eyes, “What did you tell him again?”
I started laughing with her, “At least I can lose the weight in my ass, you’re so full of crap there’s no way you are going to lose yours.”
The tears streamed down her face freely as she laughed, “Then you walked out leaving him speechless. That is what I call woman power, you go girl.” The store manager at the counter who looked like she was in her forties gave us the stare of death for disturbing the peace with our loud bursts of laughter.
Stacey went to go and try something else in the changing stall but stopped midway and gave a little gasp. “Viv!”
“What is it?” She was staring at something in the left corner.
“Come here now!” She didn’t take her eyes off what she was looking at and instead started walking in that direction. I scrambled to get up and follow her, reaching her side just as she was picking up the most beautiful garment I had ever seen.
It was a red, velvet dress with long arm sleeves. It had a mini black belt that came in at the waist, and the rest of the dress fell flowing down from there to the ground. There was a lacey flower design on the upper back in a lighter shade of red.
“Oh! My! God! Viv, you have to try this it’s perfect for you!” Stacey was practically squealing in glee, holding up the dress towards me.
I closed my mouth which I hadn’t realized had been hanging open and swallowed my saliva because I was practically drooling. “Don’t be silly, we are here to do shopping for you Stace, not for me.” I forced myself to turn away from the dress.
“Babe just try it on, I swear I’ll even buy it for you, it’s perfect! Your birthday is in a month, right? We can call it an early birthday gift or something.”
I allowed myself a peek at the dress, “Well, I’m sure it won’t look good on me anyway so let me just try it so that I can tell you, ‘I told you so.” She rolled her eyes for like the fifth time today.
“Just go wear it!”
In the dressing room, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath in. Why did this feel like De JA Vu? It was a repeat of today morning, another moment that would seem to hold how I viewed myself as a person.
“Crappy dress! Why do you have to be so damn pretty??” If it didn’t fit, I swear I would go into another six-month depression. I stripped off my jeans and baggy jersey and unzipped the dress from behind. I pulled it up my frame.
It passed the hips! It came up to my chest and I placed my hands in the sleeves.
“How’s it going?” Stacey asked from outside the stall. Did I detect a hint of nervousness in her voice?
“So far so good, but I need help closing the zip.” She came in and I turned around, showing her my back.” I didn’t even have to suck in my tummy, the zip went straight up and I buckled the belt clasp. I turned around and faced Stacey, her jaw dropped and a little gasp escaped her.
“You look like a movie star.” I kind of liked the stunned expression on her face and I pushed her out the door, “Move so I can see myself in the mirror.”
I rushed out and glimpsed the reflection staring back at me. You know those staircase moments in movies where the main girl character who was a geek has this dress and make-up on, and suddenly she looks like a supermodel and her boyfriend is always standing at the bottom of the staircase mouth agape. This was my staircase moment.
I felt like a gorgeous princess, not even in a cliché I look perfect way. The dress seemed to capture my silhouette in a figure hugging way, giving me an hourglass shaped effect. The belt drew emphasis to my smaller waist and the sleeves which flared at the wrists gave it an eighteenth-century effect.
“You look stunning,” Stacey said in awe. I did, and for that moment I knew I was beautiful. I loved my body because I knew Stacey wouldn’t fill this dress out or do it justice; neither could anyone else who was a size two or whatever.
This was one of those rare moments where I fell in love with myself again. I fell in love with my curves.
Shingai is an upcoming writer with a passion for words and expression through writing. She lived in Zimbabwe as a child and has traveled to over ten countries. She craves adventure and hopes to be an inspirational writer. She is currently pursuing a degree in English Literature with a minor in Psychology at Daystar University.