Since I started blogging over two years ago, I have mostly tried to keep it light over here at Blog This Mom!, mainly because that is how I try to live my life. It isn’t that I hide from stating my opinions or sharing my story; I’m a pretty open gal, in the blogosphere and in real life.

With regard to opinions generally, there are so already so many well-reasoned and well-thought posts out there, I often find that I don’t have much to add on certain subjects. There are also some posts that I don’t find at all reasonable or thoughtful, but because the decision to move on from a blog is a mere mouse click away, rather than leaving an unkind comment, I click off. And usually? I try to find the upside, particularly if I’m sure that the person who wrote the post had a good intention, whether I agree with the opinion or not, and so I typically leave a kind word anyway.

As far as sharing my “story” goes, I do, but when the story gets tough (and my story has deep and dark parts, like lots of folks), some bloggers tell it with grace and gumption. And even when they do, sometimes their stories are taken as a call for sympathy or a preachy “look at me now” schtick. I shy away big-time from sympathetic looks and noises, so while I have shared my personal stories of colonoscopies, being a survivor of child abuse, infatuation with a certain bass player, an airport smackdown, and people who have questioned me about Laura’s father’s ethnicity, I try to tell it like I see it, which for me is often funny, because I see humor in so much of our shared human experience.

So? Now? Can we talk about asses? I joined Mrs. G.’s Ass Project with the best of intentions. I applaud the way that Mrs. G. shares herself and sheds light on our shared human experience. With grace and gumption she talks about anything on her mind, and we often find that what’s on her mind is on ours too. With Mrs. G. we share laughter. With Mrs. G. we share tears. But mostly? With Mrs. G. we share love. So? Oh, yeah. The Ass Project. (See how I love to gush about Mrs. G.?) After four months in rehab over my addiction to a spring infatuation with Trader Joe’s gluten-free granola, an infatuation that damaged my laptop and my lap in one fell swoop, I decided that my summer project would be getting my abs into better condition. My ass? Hopelessly falling from San Diego into Central America. But my abs? I still have hope. Nevertheless, after wrestling all summer with whether or not to post a photo, I have not. Let me be clear. I have made no improvement in the condition of my abs owing to less exercise and the occasional foray into treats like homemade Macadamia Nut ice cream in Maui. So my before and after picture? Same-same.

Now every week I stand up and applaud (all by myself in front of my computer) the great women who post photos and videos of their asses on their blogs (see Derfwad Manor for the list of participants). But (until today) I haven’t posted one single picture of me and my jelly belly. Although I have mentioned once that I was working on it, I’ve never before blogged full hog about the fact that I lost a lot of weight and have kept it off for over a year, until today. So why am I doing it now?

As you’ll read in the letter below, a dental hygienist pushed at my level of consciousness yesterday. You see, while I do not hide from my weight-gain and weight-loss story (I’ve done both, yeah-huh), neither have I ever wanted to put it out there in a way that might seem as though I’m boasting about something that is very hard for people to do, something that was very hard for me to do – lose a significant amount of weight. I have never wanted to sound like a person who believes she has it all together, who knows “the way.” Don’t let my current size, or the fact that I’ve managed to keep the weight off, fool you. I don’t have it all together. I work at this every day. And while I am not adverse to talking with someone personally about what worked for me, I am very aware that there is more than one way to skin a cat and that we aren’t all cut from the same mold. What works for me might not work for you.

Motivation is a biggie, but that is highly personal too. My biggest motivator was that as I approach age 50 (I’ll be 48 in October) with a now-eight-year-old child, I want to be healthy and energetic and live as long as possible. Living healthfully, energetically, and until I’m 105 would be harder, although not impossible, if I had stayed overweight. And? I wanted to feel hawt. Now I think hawt is hawt is hawt no matter what a woman weighs, so long as she feels hawt. But I wasn’t feeling particularly hawt a couple of years ago (for many reasons, including my weight gain), and making some changes in my life (including losing weight) have helped me feel hawt again.

Guess what? I’m not entirely comfortable with this topic. Can you tell? Also, I’m not over what happened to me at the dentist’s office yesterday (I’m gettin’ to that part), which is why I’m airing out my feelings here and there. In particular, I have not been entirely comfortable with people’s reactions to my weight loss. But this is on me, and I’ll figure it out. Meanwhile, I have noticed that there are loving friends who I know deep in my soul feel exactly the same way about me no matter my weight, and I’ve had others put a foot in his or her mouth trying to say the right thing. I love them all, and bless them for trying. I have had people remark about how much “better” I look now. Oy. But my all-time “favorite” remark happened at church. I know. Double oy. I had a woman who I hadn’t seen for a while approach me outside the sanctuary, wrap her arms around me, and plead to me, “Cheri, please eat. It’s okay to eat. I want you to know you are loved and that you can eat.” Really. That actually happened.

The bottom line is that no matter my size or yours, our insides are all the same. But that isn’t how we are always treated. You may have seen the reports and/or studies about when an overweight woman waits by the side of the road with a gas can in her hand and nobody stops to help, but when it is a slender woman in the same situation, many people pull over to lend assistance. So while I think one of the ways that my weight gain served me was providing a self-perceived protective shield around me, I have stayed silent about my weight loss in an attempt to protect myself from comments and opinions and reactions (subtle or not), that may be well-intended, but are nonetheless hurtful.

So? Yesterday? Something happened at the dentist’s office that caused me to realize it is time for me to go even deeper. Today? I decided to talk about it, and do something about it. So, I will start by posting a recent full-body photograph of me in a bathing suit. Mrs. G., when I do something, I don’t do it half-assed, so long as we understand not-half-assed to mean no ass, since my photo doesn’t show mine.

Thank you in advance for all the comments that you’re thinking of posting about how hawt I look in a bathing suit (heh!), but what is important here is that in spite of (or maybe even because of) my sags and stretch marks, I’m feeling okay with myself these days. Although I have captioned the holy heck out of my photo for fun (go ahead, click on it to make my thighs it bigger), I’m cool with my flaws and strengths. What I’m not cool with? Dumb-ass remarks. But that’s my work, and I’m on it. Because mostly I know people mean well, and I’ve made many a dumb-ass remark in my day. I’ll probably do it again soon.

Also? Here is the letter that I sent to my dentist this morning:


Dear Dr. Dentist:

From the time that I have been your dental patient until yesterday, I have been pleased to refer my family and friends to your office, as you know. I have found you to be a very kind and gentle dentist, and, on a personal note, you strike me as a kind and gentle man. The manner in which your office staff has typically treated me reflects your personal and professional manner. Because my experience with your office has been so positive up until yesterday, I want to let you know why I am uncertain as to whether I will continue dental care at your office.

To begin with, I am sure that the dental hygienist who treated me yesterday is a well-meaning person, and I am certain that she did not embarrass me intentionally. Having said that, I came very close to tears when she persisted in making certain comments and asking various questions about the Polaroid photograph taken of me at my first visit in your office. She looked at my photograph, held open the chart to show me my photograph, and then made a number of remarks to me (in a surprised tone of voice and at a volume that had me cringing while wondering who else might be listening in your open office environment), “That’s not you!” “Look at this photo!” “Is that really you?” “What happened to you?” “That cannot possibly be you!” “Did something happen to you?” “How much weight did you lose?” and “How did it happen?” At first I was silent, then I stammered, and, finally, I was near tears as I tried to figure out what I could politely say to get her to stop making such remarks. Looking back, I think I should have been direct rather than try to be polite, but I was so embarrassed at the time. I think she finally realized that I might be embarrassed because she said, “Oh, maybe I’m asking questions that are too personal. Am I?”

Dr. Dentist, first of all, I would really like it if you assured me that that photograph be removed from my chart. I was surprised and embarrassed over the remarks made about it, and I never want that to happen again. The person in that photograph is me, a human being with feelings. While sitting in the chair and hearing your hygienist speak about my photograph as if I were some other person, somehow a lesser version of myself because I weighed more (a lot more according to her), the human being depicted in the photograph went from initial discomfort to near tears. As you may or may not know, I did lose a lot of weight, but as I’m sure you also know, that is my personal business. And while I am a pretty open person about everything in my life, a person’s weight gain and loss is very personal, and it should always be up to the individual whether he or she wishes to share about it. I should not have been questioned (and I should not have been questioned loudly enough for others to hear), particularly as though there was something so shocking and remarkable about how I looked before that my photograph “[could not] possibly be [me].” At best it is simply bad manners to make such comments to someone, and it is unkind. However, in the atmosphere of a health-care office, it rises to the level of unprofessional, at least.

At this point, I am feeling uncomfortable to say the least, and I have to think about what I want to do about my future dental care. But because my experience with you and your office has been very good until now, I thought I should at least share my thoughts and feelings with you about my experience yesterday.

Sincerely, Cheri


So . . . now that I’ve opened my big mouth about weight gain and loss, stay tuned for future posts about substance abuse, religion, and Sarah Palin’s hairdresser. Just kidding! Fo’ realz? Stay tuned for upcoming posts on married sex, the dream I had about my husband and a hooker, and a post about my Hawaiian vacation that included cliff diving and lust for a hawt sailor dude in Maui.

40 comments on “Ass Project: Cracks and All”

  1. Isn’t it amazing how the words of others can impact us so much. I mean, forget that old “Sticks and stones” adage. Words can suck . . .

    But, your spirit sure doesn’t: “I’m feeling okay with myself today.” ’nuff said.

    And I love the way you put it all out there . . . figuratively and literally.

    You ARE “hawt”(not a word I use all that often) in way more than one way . . . let me tell ya.

  2. I’m so sorry you dealt with such a nitwit yesterday. I’m sure you’re right: She probably didn’t get it and in our weight obsessed world, I guess some people feel like being thin(ner) is Everything.

    I’m working on my ass, and improving my health, but really? My innards are the same.

    I know what you are saying.

    So, here’s to you and healthy living.

    I’m all about feeling good and living well.

  3. I’m so sorry that happened!

    Can I say that I was surprised at your age?!? For some reason bloggers (to me) seem ageless…I think of everyone as being the same age!

    I only wish I could look as good in a bathing suit as you do!

    I’m like you…the really important stuff I don’t talk about. For the most part I like to be ‘on the up’. Once in awhile, I’ll slip but for the most part, I keep my problems to my non-blogging self. Although I will admit recently that I would love to start an anonymous blog to blog about those things.

    Did you say that you’re giving away money to the person who says ‘blog’ the most?!?

  4. Blah, I had the samething when I lost weight. People kept asking if I was anorexic or ill, and telling me to eat. Whatever.
    You look great.
    These days I am all about getting healthy and being here for my kids as long as possible.

  5. What an amazing post. As much as I am trained to know, and should know about this feeling of yours in this particular situation, I’m afraid I am at a loss. Or was.

    Because it has been my expectation that people who look at MY former pictures are probably thinking, “what the h-ll happened to you?”

    So what I’m saying is, before reading your post, I would have imagined that people who’ve lost weight feel good, and proud, about these kinds of comments. Now I know differently and will be more cafeful in the future.

    Thanks, and sorry you were put through that.

  6. First off, nice ass. Moving on: I’m so glad that you didn’t join this woman by denigrating your former self-I’ve seen so many women be unkind to themselves after they have lost weight. “I was such a whale. I was such a cow.” We say that beauty is only skin deep in this country, but I have only met a handful of people in my life who really seem to believe this and live like it. I have certainly caught myself making snap judgements (see Palin’s hair. I don’t think people realize how cruel they can be-I’ve had comments along the line of “you would be so pretty if-“fill in the blank.

    Great post, Cheri.

  7. You are definitely hawt, and brave, and kind, and eloquent, and funny.

    As much as I love Mrs. G., I would volunteer to be a human sacrifice to a Hawaiian volcano before I posted a picture of my derriere on my blog. I can barely handle the pictures of my double chin! Besides, I think it’s mostly my students reading it these days, and they get to see my ass whenever I’m writing on the board, which is pretty much perpetually.

    What I am going to post, though, is an original take on old fairy tale that is pretty sure to get me fired.

  8. My lovely sister has recently lost a lot of weight. I’ve already told her how proud I am of her for that, but when I finally get to see her, I’ll make sure I let her know that I honestly think she’s beautiful at any damn weight. Like you. Thanks for this.

  9. Wow. How awkward. I’m so sorry. Very unsettling.

    It sounds like the woman realized what a gaffe she made, and then unfortunately dug herself a deeper hole, trying to get out.

  10. Cheri,

    You really do rock! Some people should just keep quiet, right?

    I admire your sense of humor and positive attitude.

    Thanks for your kind comments!

  11. First let me say – you look marvelous – REALLY! Second, I am sorry that happened to you at the dentist. People don’t think – do they? I am always so afraid, when I am buying kids clothes or presents, that the stupid girl at the register is going to say, “Is that your granddaughter?” or “Are you buying this for your grandkids?” It hurts and they need to stop and think before they speak! I think you did the right thing by writing the letter and the next time I hope you are straight forward and not polite and I hope I am too!!!

    Take care and I can’t wait to read your future posts – tee hee – Kellan

  12. You’re right, that wasn’t professional at all. She could have left it at “you look great!” and been done with it. Because you do look great!

    I just recently ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a long time and she’d lost a lot of weight. I must have said at least 3 times how fantastic she looked and then found out later through the grapevine that her husband had left her and her weight loss was from stress.

    I felt like a boob.

  13. I have just recently found your blog and I love it! That aside, thank you for giving that thoughtless interogation the appropriate response. People really need to think before they speak.

  14. You’re so right! I’ve lost a bunch of weight, too. Most people don’t notice, because I haven’t bought new clothes, they think I look great because I’ve let my hair grow. The biggest difference is, well, guys. I’ve noticed them being more flirty, which usually makes me say, “What?” ESPECIALLY dads of my 2nd graders. Dads should NEVER flirt with their kids’ teachers. Yuck. Double Yuck.

  15. Interesting, Cheri. First of all, you do look great in that picture. We’re always our own worst critics, tho, I totally understand that. Secondly, I joined WW 9/2 and haven’t blogged about it for exactly the reasons you’ve talked about here. I think I’d be comfortable with the hygienist saying, oh, you look great; but as for her going on and on (and on!), no, not professional in the least. And while she probably thought she was being nice…I guess she’ll find out she wasn’t … a hard lesson to learn.

  16. It’s a good thing you didn’t post this dental assistant’s name or I’m sure she would be jumped by a gang of angry bloggers in some dark alleyway tonight.

    7 years ago my husband decided to change his life and slowly worked to loose weight and get in shape. He lost over 100 pounds and has kept it off for 5 years. I was constantly being “pulled aside” by concerned family members asking me to please feed him and asking if he was anorexic, etc…

    Mind you, these were the very same people who used to counsel me not to feed him so much when he was big.

    I’m glad you shared the letter. People need to be aware that good intentioned words can hurt like a muthah.

  17. Good for you!!!

    We were at an intake interview for a job training class for Little Guy the other day.

    He has been practicing greetings for ages, so sometimes it isn’t apparent that he has disabilities unless someone wants to communicate with him beyond a greeting.

    He shook hands with the interviewer and introduced himself.

    She turned to me (in front of him, no less) and said, “What is his diagnosis?”

    “He has autism.”

    “He seems so *normal*! Are you sure?”

    “No, we just made it up for the fun of it,” I snapped.

    sheesh. I embarassed her so much that she pulled me aside and apologized at the end of the interview. Sometimes people forget to engage their brain. LOL

  18. My dear, you look fab. I’m glad you’re at the place where you are comfortable in your own skin. I still have yet to get there.

    Kuddos for speaking up to the dentist and bringing her insensitivity to his attention.

    Should you desire a partner on your get healthy journey, you know where to find me. I’ve been walking on the beach lately and would enjoy the company.

  19. Cheri– I’ve made references to the skinny-ass Matron, but the truth? The Matron’s creator is the survivor of an eating disorder that defined much of her life. To this day – ingestion? Does not come without consideration and pause. I see this as integral to who I am, and not something that detracts from all the rest. I now say I’m in recovery or recovered, but whenever I say that, I think about American women and food. This is a complex terrain for everyone. The more we distinguish between disordered eating and other women, the less we see that ‘normal’ eating is actually not the norm for most of us, who struggle to lose weight or shape up or whatever, all the time. I look around me at my friends and there’s not one who eats without pause and doesn’t bemoan or question her body, whatever its shape. Sigh. . . thanks for posting this! I haven’t yet been ready to do so on my blog, but have thought quite a bit about a post called ‘ingestion.”

  20. great post… you are only defined by the words you choose to give power and value. For the record, though, you are a beautiful, witty and wonderful person… just offering an observation…
    Real beauty radiates from within, and shines out through the eyes and smile… and only grows as each year passes.

    J/ (

  21. I have so many things to say I’m having a hard time typing…wish I could just pick up the phone and call!
    Some people…are just stupid. In her excitement to find out how you lost the weight (for her own benefit) she forgot about YOU and your feelings!
    After 17 years of being told that I’m “big” in Japan, after losing some weight, my students were all concerned about my reasons for the “lifestyle adjustment”….and I’m all like “what? for years you tell me i’m big and then you wonder why i want to lose weight?!?! are you on crack or something?”
    Feeling good about yourself is something not a lot of people do…I”m working on it.
    You look gorgeous…and really…I’m lusting after that swimsuit….where did you get it?!?!? (it IS a tankini, isn’t it?)

  22. You are brave.

    You are brave for letting it all hang out, and, in this regard, I am writing specifically about the emotions that come with weight gain and loss.

    You are also brave for posting your photo on the web. I rarely show a face shot of me, and a body shot has never been contemplated!

    In the wise words of Billy Crystal, “You look maaaavelous”!

  23. Cheri, you need to know this (and really, you need to know this beyond a simple blog comment…but): You are a role model. You are *my* role model. You are balanced and fair (like Fox news), you “Just do it” (like Nike), you are “kid-tested, mother-approved” (like Kix), and you have the most admirable insides. I happen to think your outsides are, in fact, hot too. But it’s your insides that make me love you.

    And that I do.

  24. I always thought you were “hawt” both before, after and in between. Good for you for doing what you wanted to do for you and your happiness. 🙂 You are still my hero.

  25. I think people think they are COMPLIMENTING so much when they remark on “how much better” a person looks. I lost 20 pounds a few years ago and got all the “wow. You have really LOST A LOT of weight” and I always thought – wow I DID look as bad as I thought I did. But, in the end, people dont mean it deragatory. They don’t.


  26. This was a great post Cheri. Your letter to the dentist made my heart ache. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that insensitive idiot of a hygienist. Great letter. So glad you wrote it. You DID send it?

  27. Yeah- Some people do not think before opening their mouths. Have had plenty of really careless comments about lots of stuff myself.

    Beauty is still in the eye of the beholder, and in my book, if you cannot look past skin to see beauty, you haven’t lived.

    I love ya just the way you are and the way you are is beautiful!

  28. Yeowch! Unprofessional, much. Your letter is highly appropriate and non-emotional for having to endure such (unintended) ridicule.

    If/when (really, it’s more of WHEN) I get this excess weight off my frame, I hope to never hear comments like you had to endure that day. Because as you so wonderfully said, we are the same inside, despite who we look on the outside.

    ~Spoken as one with many stretch marks and scars on my belly. I’ll never be skinny, but the goal is to be healthy and to enjoy my family as long as possible.

    PS: And, you’re HAWT because you’re YOU.

  29. First off, I can’t WAIT for the post on married sex.

    Now on to the substance.

    I will first assure you your thighs are utterly hawt. As a fellow blogger who has posted photos of myself in a bathing suit, I commend you! Hooray for a fellow hawtie!

    And that dental hygenist sounds totally appalling. Because I’m not nice (and you are), I would have been all “shut the hell up, you stupid hobag” or something. Your letter is much nicer.

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