If you are familiar with the show Orange is the New Black, you might remember an episode from the first season where Piper kept seeing what was apparently a famous but elusive chicken running through the jail yard. In the episode, she tells some of the other inmates what she saw, inciting half of the prison to go in search of this chicken.
The prisoners told varying stories about origins of the chicken – including the supernatural. None of them can describe the chicken but they all know they want to get their hands on it, if for no other reason than to be remembered as the one who finally caught the chicken.
This gets so out of hand that one day while Piper is speaking to her fiancé Larry on the phone she sees the chicken run past the barred window. A moment later the phone is hanging there, and Crazy Eyes picks up the phone and says, “Dandelion aint here no more – she went chasin the chicken.”
Chasing the skinny chicken might have become the figure of speech that bests describes my life.
Metaphorically speaking, aren’t we all just chasing chickens?
Don’t we all have an unrealistic goal (or two) for ourselves? I certainly do.
I have a habit of setting completely ridiculous goals for myself. It started when I was young.
I used to think I could live a television show. If I could be skinny like Claire Danes. Or maybe if I highlighted my hair blonde I could have a more interesting life. I never got thin or died my hair. And they cancelled My So-Called Life.
Then in college I thought I would be able to reinvent myself as a sorority girl. Remember that show Felicity? I had this goal of living in the big city and finding true love. And I would be skinny. (because obviously being skinny led to finding true love. duh.)
In my 20’s I thought I could be like Carolyn Bessette and work in the fashion industry and marry a rich New Englander. But only if I were skinny.
All of these totally unrealistic goals had one thing in common:
I have always thought if I could be skinny enough my life would be perfect. Whatever definition of perfect I subscribed to at the time, anyway.
The Skinny Chicken
To me skinny used to be all about the number on the scale. One of my best friends growing up was and still is a size zero. She probably weighs about 110 lbs. and stands 5’6’’. (After birthing two 8lb+ babies)
To my 15 year-old eyes, it seemed like she always got so much attention from the boys. Everywhere we went guys stared at her long thin legs and blonde hair. She was the picture of the 90’s waif.
I used to marvel at her eating; pizza, cherry coke, steamed crabs, chocolate – these were the staples of her diet. I went on vacation with her once, and I couldn’t even keep up with her eating. Though I was 3 inches shorter and 20 lbs. heavier.
This friend of mine, she is the definition of SKINNY. She is thin without trying. She can walk into any clothing store and try something on and it looks good on her. I always thought this was what I wanted.
So I went chasing that skinny chicken – I would eat only what my friends ate, I would skip lunch at school. One time when a boy I had met called me, “the fat girl”, I stopped eating for like a week. My mother was about to have me committed I think.
The Mother Hen
As much as my definition of skinny has changed- and it has changed, I still spend a large amount of time thinking about my weight.
These days I am much stronger than I was as a teenager. I have muscle tone in my shoulders and thighs. I can carry my 45 lb. child up and down steps – and I lift weights at the gym.
The numbers on the scale do not matter to me as much. Instead, I hyperfocus on the fit of my clothing. I have the type of figure where my thighs are the biggest part of me, even bigger than my butt and hips. I buy my clothing to fit my thighs and then have the waist altered.
As a married woman and mother I have a whole new group of friends to compare myself to – other moms! Yay (insert sarcasm). I will admit I am inching toward, crawling toward, some modicum of body acceptance.
I ran around throughout my vacation with my thighs in full view. I ate and drank like a normal person. I took one long walk this week, which was basically my only exercise. I did miss the gym. I don’t think I ate that badly, but I think I drank entirely too much wine while listening to the waves.
Skinny vs. Strong
A few months ago I promised my readers and myself that I would stop logging all of my food into an app to track calories. I kept that promise, I have not been tracking.
I promised myself I would not compare my thighs to every other woman in the room. I have also kept this promise. But I still feel like everyone is looking at my thighs.
I also promised myself that I would not set so many crazy-assed, chicken chasing, nonsensical goals for myself. I would say that I have kept about 50% of this promise. I still dream of being a size 4 but I have not put any plans in place that having me chasing that goal.
I know longer want to chase the skinny chicken. I think I am more a fan of the athletic chicken. The one that flew over the fence on OITNB. That chicken was nicely feathered and attractive to the eye – confident and meaty.
[ctt title=”I like that I can carry heavy objects. I like that I can see the muscles in my arms. I LOVE that I can see some muscle tone in my hamstrings and quads. I enjoy feeling strong mentally and physically.” tweet=”Skinny vs. Strong” coverup=”y0eqO”]
Skinny represents somebody that does not have strength. I think I have several kinds of strength so this word will never apply to me. For the first time …well ever, I am ok with that.
So what chickens are you chasing?
Does having ADHD affect my chicken chasing? (hyperfocus?)