From the archives: No calories, please; we’re sex objects

Sine Baccho et Cenere friget Venus by Peter Paul Rubens

From time to time, we will visit the Wayback Machine to read stories from The Senior Times archives. This story by June Grant was published in February 1989.


Life gives most of us only two choices: we can be heavy, or we can be hungry.

Take my friend Adele, for instance. Adele’s been trying to convince herself that designers are making Size 18 dresses smaller all of a sudden. Then the other day she faced the truth — it was after three people working together couldn’t get her zipper closed — and she started weeping into her butterscotch sundae.

“Never mind,” I said, passing her a tissue, “the famous painters liked well-rounded women. Think of Rubens’ nudes.”

“Yes. I know why they were nude,” she sobbed. “They couldn’t find a damn thing in Size 20.”

In contrast, the members of my diet club eat so little that their teeth are looking for more interesting jobs. One day Louise arrived at our favourite restaurant white and shaken. “I think my navel has got stuck to my spine. I can’t find my stomach.”

“How long since you last used it?” I asked.

“About three days.”

“Have you tried the museum? It might have been mistaken for part of a mummy.”

“No, I know where it is,” said Marie. “It’s on Adele’s fanny.”

Just then the waitress arrived with our lunch. “Now yours is the half-grape, peeled; yours is the lettuce sandwich with no bread — and who’s having the water the carrots were cooked in?”

While we ate, Ann told us about a Russian defector in Dollard-des-Ormeaux who’s started a reducing salon with two amazing diets, the Marxist Regime and the Stalinist Purge.

“All her clients lose weight like magic, because if they cheat, they’re sent to a labour camp in Labrador.”

“I think the Laura Secord Diet sounds nicer,” said Louise.

“The Laura Secord Diet?”

“Yes, it makes you feel full and it’s easy. We all say, ‘Laura Secord squishy soft centres’ three times, then eat our words.”

Well that was just too much for me. Nobody can say Laura Secord squishy soft centres three times without spitting all over the place, and everybody’s makeup got spotted. I felt the time had come to drop my bombshell: “Girls, enough of this dieting nonsense,” I said.

There was a pause while Marie choked on her grape and Louise fought an attack of double vision. Then I told them about a group of women who were featured one night on CBC radio’s Ideas. These are women with lots of guts — and hips and waists and behinds, too. They’ve written a song called I Want My Just Desserts, and they don’t give a hoot if they’re overweight. Slimness, they’ve discovered, is only a male concept of how women should look.

“So come on,” I said happily, “let’s order a whole tray of French pastries.”

Well. Marie felt my forehead and Ann handed me a bracing water-on-the-rocks, while they all muttered about the CBC being over-subsidized.

“Listen,” I said, “we’re starving ourselves because of a silly male fantasy. Do you really want to go on being sex objects?”
There was a long silence. Then Louise spoke for them all. “My god,” she said reverently, “it must be simple to be single.”

Well, I knew she had a point. Henry, her husband, hides Playboy inside his Financial Post. Marie’s husband, Richard, was recently hospitalized for roving eyes. And Ann’s husband doesn’t care if his secretary can type. 

Amos, my cat, on the other hand, has been neutered.

There wasn’t much to say, so we sipped our lemon tea and went home. They to their husbands and me to Amos and the gallon of chocolate ice cream I picked up on the way. I wonder why I felt like the lucky one?

Freud would undoubtedly have an answer, but I don’t want to hear a word out of him.

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