just like sybil, i too read the story on the front page of both the new york and los angeles times. unlike sybil, however, i am in firm agreement with the studies findings.
let me take you back a few years - o.k. a hundred years - when i was fourteen. i was a normal sized teenager then. with a cute figure, cute hair parted down the center and adorable teeth recently freed from the orthodontist's bonds. then i met wendy levenberg. she was a new girl in school. she had moved to my long island community from atlanta, georgia. she might as well have been from the moon. i was intrigued by her foreignness and her accent. the closest i had been to an accent, up until that point, was my cousin mark who had been raised in the bronx and sounded like something out of a gangster movie.
wendy drawled, she said "you all" and she smoked - camels!!!! i was smitten. my mother, not so much. she warned me. she told me horror stories about southern girls that must have dated back to old erskine caldwell novels. the mere fact she smoked would have been enough for my mother to forbid any friendship, but wendy had a much more unforgivable problem. wendy was fat. my mother hated fat. a half a century before this study my mother knew that fat was contagious. she didn't even like to sit next to a fat woman on the bus for fear that some of those pesky fat cells might rub off on her. the more she warned me, the more, as in typical teenage girl behaviour, the more i sought out wendy's company.
years passed. my mother grew used to wendy's presence. i think she grew on my mother who once grudgingly admitted that wendy was "not without a certain charm". wendy was still fat and i began to notice that i too had piled on a few pounds. well, truth be told, by the time i left for college i could easily be described as fat. my mother did everything within her power to not tell me she told me so but she did manage to suggest that, when i got to college i should try hanging out with really skinny girls for a while, "just until you get back to your good weight".
i followed my mother's advice. i had the thinnest friends on campus. i wouldn't even pass the salt to a fat girl who accidentally sat across from me in the cafeteria. it worked. my thin friends didn't eat so i didn't eat either. pretty soon i was thin again just in time for christmas break. as soon as i got home, my first phone call was from wendy. she said she was coming over. i couldn't wait to see her. when i opened the front door i almost fainted. wendy obviously hadn't followed my mother's sage advice. she was enormous. she couldn't get over me as well. "you're so skinny" she kept saying, over and over. what could i say? i couldn't tell her she was so fat. our friendship didn't last much past that year.
now, a hundred years later, i am no longer skinny. i live in the land of skinny women and i have many, many skinny friends. i wonder if i still will have these friends after they read today's article. will they still love me or will i be their wendy?