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Fluffy Southern Women
[Or how I beat anorexia!)

by Peggy Rice Wright

As any Southern belle worth her grits and bread pudding knows, men like a little fluff on their women. Big hair (thank goodness for the local beauty shop) and some meat on their bones are two of the requirements men want of their women. Well, that’s what somebody said, anyway.

Surely we share a common concern of way too much meat on bones these days, if you choose to call this thing “meat.” I’ve never seen as many fat people. They don’t ALL have medical conditions. At every turn there is someone else who is not aware one size does not fit all. Do they not care they are spilling out of and over each of the only two garments encapsulating them, each seam begging for mercy? Are women not aware their cleavage is deep enough to hide a watermelon? Have they no pride?

While at the friendly neighborhood discount store I spotted the biggest thing I’d ever seen that didn’t eat hay. Dressed in an unforgiving military green tank top with some message on it that was stretched all the way across the vast chest, her pore-folks pink mid-thigh shorts with something causing them to be a lot shorter in the back than in the front made this person a sight to behold. Mother always said it wasn’t polite to stare. So I didn’t.

It was ambling along as upright as possible on its two legs, feet slapping somewhat of a scraping, halting rhythm in rubber flops, which completed the ensemble. It was cheerfully packin’ in a mid-morning nourishing snack of warm chocolate-covered doughnuts from a bulging white-waxed sack fresh from the bakery with grease already seeping through the outside. It was sipping a frosty extra large can of high-octane soda. Life was good.

After the vision of loveliness I’d witnessed, my continuing effort to beautify my beloved South would now include losing a few pounds. This is not the first time I had made this decision, but one can be certain this time it will be a success. Not only will I lose this girth I’ve acquired, but this time it will be gone forever. After the sight I’d just been exposed to, you can bet the plantation on it.

A five-pound goal is a lot easier than acknowledging thirty really need to go. I began the tedious process. Walking two miles every day and often making the trek twice a day, if it didn’t rain, or if it wasn’t too hot, or if the dark clouds in the north weren’t a harbinger of a blue norther sure to really mess up my hair was going to make a huge difference in my life. Walking was guaranteed to dissolve the bulge around my waist. Uh, make that a double bulge around my waist and something was making my bra way too tight. No bread, no sugar, a modest intake of vegetables, no gravies, nothing I really enjoyed eating, and I was on my way to the goal. I could see it now. It was within reach. It was only five pounds.

About a week later the hateful, lying scales said I’d only lost four pounds. I’d always felt like those scales weighed heavy. I didn’t like them any more than they liked me.

The now svelte cells that could only to turn to muscle expressed no gratitude and were also beginning to turn on me. They put out the “VACANCY” sign, waved red flags, which grew larger each day, proclaiming, “Feed me! Feed me!” I don’t know what their problem was. They had only been deprived of a little ice cream and one more chocolate chip and pecan cookie, and well, maybe a slice of homemade cake now and then, along with a steaming cup of coffee to which I added a few heapin’ teaspoons of my favorite hot chocolate mix with chips of marshmallows for a twice a day treat. I worked hard. I deserved a treat, but those odious scales didn’t understand how determined I’d become. They hadn‘t met this determined woman.

After a few days reality began to surface: there were an awful lot of those now-hungry, formerly fat cells that were not decent enough to turn to muscle. They were all begging to be fed comfort food. They didn’t want celery. They couldn’t survive on steamed vegetables and grilled seafood with no creamy herbed buttery sauce and a few frozen grapes for dessert. They clung to me with tendrils that hung on like suckling pigs to their mother. I could hear their mournful cries. They wanted to be fat. This was war. It was them or me.

Go shopping. I’d win this war! Shopping soothes almost any pain and gives every woman courage. Buy something I really liked in a size that was just a tad small, because after all, I was going to lose five pounds and more. That’s what I’d do. Shopping was the answer to my fierce decision to stick with the dreaded four-letter word: diet.

It must be an outfit to make me look thin. I wanted someone to say, “Oh, my goodness, honey, are you sick? You’ve lost so much weight!” But above all I had to look stylish. I always dressed to make my husband look as prosperous as possible. Black. A fashionable looking, classic black suit and yes, matching slacks was a great idea too, because after all, I’d be wearing them for a long time as soon as I lost a few more pounds. My shoes were looking more and more like five years ago, so I’d need shoes too. Not just any shoes, but hussy shoes. I needed to look hot! I was losing weight. The acquisition of other accessories like a quilted leather handbag (all the rage now) and the right jewelry was also on my must-have list. This would do the trick! It was the impetus I needed. I was on my way.

I bought the suit. I bought the high-dollar high-heeled sling pumps and other accessories. The jacket didn’t quite come together in the front, but it didn’t matter. No one buttons suit jackets anyway. Everybody knows that. I know it’s so, because the saleslady told me. I wouldn’t have to lie on the bed on my back to pull up my pants in about another week. I’d soon be losing enough weight, and a perfect fit was a matter of a few days.

Then it happened. The conspiracy began. Look out for husbands and friends! They will sabotage a diet every time.

My husband said he wanted to go out to dinner so he could visit with everybody. While scrutinizing the tempting menu for a tasty, lo-cal offering, the traitorous waiter brought a basket of those pound-packin’, steaming hot, garlic, buttery biscuits, and they were calling my name.

That restaurant was a long way from home and I’d likely not be there again any time soon. Well, it wasn’t THAT far, but I really liked those biscuits. I’d tried to make them at home, but I couldn’t do it. What harm could two or three do? After all, I’d eaten SO carefully. I’d lost four whole pounds. Close your eyes and just picture four pounds of hamburger meat on some scales. I had lost a lot of weight!

I ordered grilled shrimp, but the calories were barkin’ like hungry hounds and I was the raccoon they had treed. You guessed it: creamy, herbed buttery sauce. I had to sop my shrimp in that. “Waste not, want not.” Anyway, I wouldn’t be back in that restaurant probably in a very long time. The salad was innocent enough, well, except maybe for the dressing. Baked potato? Not a bad choice, but this one was loaded, because I was too busy talking to pay attention to ordering it without everything on it. Grilled veggies? Topped with butter. Dessert? Why not? Sure, I’d eaten salad, hadn’t I? I’d lost four pounds. Just how much damage could a little dessert do?

Did I say “little dessert”? That was the biggest walnut-filled warm brownie with an aroma I thought I'd die from if I couldn’t get a bite in my mouth fast! A mammoth dip of vanilla ice cream in the first stage of melting was on top of that sinful brownie, drizzled in the finest chocolate syrup. Oh, and did I report that a dollop of whipped cream with a cherry on top was there too? It was dark chocolate syrup, which government studies say is healthy, and more walnuts on top. Everybody says that walnuts help prevent heart attacks. If my husband had gone on to the bathroom then, I would have licked the plate. The fat cells were ecstatic.

The next morning the tacky scales said I had added three pounds. Well, I hadn’t been able to walk for a day or so because we’d had more rain. I hadn’t eaten really THAT much. It was going to get better.

But the end was near. I was doomed. A friend called and begged us to come over. She had just that minute taken a pound cake out of the oven made from her mother’s old recipe with a dozen eggs, a pound of butter and no-tellin’ how much sugar. We had to come eat some. She had ice cream to go with it and had already made the coffee. She said, “Y’all will hurt my feelins now if you don’t come right on while it’s still warm.” She’d been to the store and bought some butter too. She insisted. There was no way out.

How long will it take me to look like the beauty in the discount store? I don’t know, but I am proof you CAN…and will… take it with you. I hung my new suit in the far end of my closet.


Peggy Rice Wright put down roots in the small Limestone county town of Mexia, Texas, about one hundred miles south of Dallas, as soon as she married her newspaperman husband Bob. Defecting from the Baptist church as a bride, she is a member of First United Methodist Church and proudly notes that fellow family tree resident Col. Samuel Doak McMahan established Methodism in Texas in September of 1833 amid the pastoral setting of majestic pine trees not far from St. Augustine, near Nacogdoches, Texas. Peggy was Mexia FUMC’s first librarian, served on the charter board to establish a pre-school, directed a children’s choir, was officer and member of the administrative board, taught children’s Sunday School classes and sings in the choir.

She is a longtime employee at Mexia ISD and is currently secretary to the counselors at Mexia High School. She also spends a great deal of time with her Mexia Daily News editor husband.

She is a member of the Jonathan Hardin Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and a charter member of the Limestone County Republican Women.

Peggy and Bob have two sons, two daughters-in-law, four grandchildren and a grandpuppy named Buddy.

Read more of Peggy's stories at USADEEPSOUTH!
Memories of Jody and Josie
The School Bus That Spit Fire
Clotheslines, Yellow Jackets and Chewing Tobacco
Memory Flavored Ice Cream
Shoe Shopping With Luck


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