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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I was a chubby kid in the 1980s. This meant a lot of things for me: t-shirts over bathing suits, a shameful two year run of performing in nursing homes and community theaters as Shirley Temple, and overfed corduroy thighs rubbing against each other loudly in school hallways. Mostly, I found a way to make chubby work for me, which is probably why I haven't strayed too far for too long from it in life.

As I got older, the chubbiness came to be a worry. It became something that my mother decided must to be dealt with. In a spirit of misguided camaraderie, my mother decided to sign us up for a Jazzercise class. This both depressed and enraged me.

Why was I stuck in a local school's gym with middle-aged housewives doing the grapevine to Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll" when I could be sitting at home, finishing my stack of Ramony Quimby books? Why were these women using soup cans as weights? Why did my equally sedentary video game addicted brothers not have to partake in this hell?

The good news was, the classes stopped. My mother's dislike of group activities was, I thought, a win for me. I envisioned aerobics free Saturdays for miles. Peaceful afternoons spent reading in my room or drawing. But those dreams were smashed when she showed up with a newer, even more sinister fat-busting weapon in her arsenal.

Images courtesy of RetroJunk

I was familiar with the concept because I was inundated with their ads.

These tireless, slim, long haired tween succubi had spent weeks taunting me on TV with their belted leotards. How was I supposed to enjoy my episodes of Jem and Little House on the Prairie with these sluts prancing around and "working out" with fucking pom poms? (If you would like to contest me on the slut charge, I offer you seconds :10 through :12 of blatant whore moves that baton girl is working in addition to the commercial's denouement - a preteen girl closes out every commercial with a perky bending over motion.)

Hope you're in shape enough to hold that position for the rest of your life! Because you're fucked!

I was conflicted. The toy was purchased and a shame spiral began - maybe it really was this easy! Maybe the only difference between me and the skinny girls was that I hadn't twirled batons!

I did not half ass this. Thinking that maybe, just maybe, these kits were the key to a new me I decided to go all the way. Equipped with a battery operated boom box, I marched to our front lawn, sweatbands firmly fixed to my forehead, weighted bracelets on my wrists, ready to usher in a newer, bouncier, slimmer Diana. The kind of Diana that would no longer have to go to the husky department at Sears or have to play Santa at the next Christmas play.

At the time, I was sure that my moves were unrivaled. I thought I may well have been tapping into some unknown source of grace and talent that would have otherwise never been discovered. This was finally my ticket to being the sexier child the ads had promised!

What my neighbors witnessed, however, was an afro-ed, tubby eight-year-old furiously waving a rhythmic ribbon, several palsied attempts at baton twirling, and the heart-wrenching sound of me singing
La Isla Bonita.

Mercifully, at some point I realized that light baton twirling and multiple failed attempts at the bicycle were not going to turn me into someone else. I would give up Get In Shape, Girl! for Sit On My Ass, Girl! which I could do with little risk of public humiliation and only slightly less self-loathing.

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