Alison Berkley: The Princess’ Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’ Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

My whole family was in town last weekend and we’re all posing for that obligatory family photo at a dinner party. We’re arm in arm when my mom squeezes my chub and goes, “What is that?” just as the flash goes off and the photo is snapped.

I somehow managed to maintain my smile, even if what I was really doing was gritting my teeth.

It’s just that the jeans I was wearing are about three sizes too small. I bought them when I was at my fighting weight, at the peak of my thinness. That of course is the logical time to go shopping and spends lots of money on offensively expensive clothes that will fit until your next meal.

I was in the midst of major dating drama, which always fueled the fire when it came to my weight-loss regimen. It was that whole “I’m gonna be as hot as possible so he’ll regret what he did” mentality. The thing is, it worked. There is nothing like anger to drive you to exercise compulsively and to live on the Single Girl’s diet of miso soup, carrot sticks and raw almonds. If ever you became hungry, a simple Marlboro Light or shot of espresso would usually take the edge off. And everyone knows vodka is the drink of choice for calorie-counters. I was like the Mary-Kate Olsen of Aspen, cruising around town with my coffee drink, hollow, sunken cheeks and dark circles under my eyes, but I was thin.

Despite the fact that I was a miserable wreck, I was happy because I fit into a size 25. Not only was it the smallest size I’d ever squeezed myself into, but the sales lady goes, “You know, you’re so small you should try on a kid’s size. They’d be a lot cheaper.”

I’m pretty sure I threw down that credit card with such enthusiasm that it made a thwap on the counter. Three hundred bucks was a small price to pay for my happiness.

Luckily the jeans have some stretch and I’ve been able to continue wearing them even though they are too small and pinch me in exactly the wrong place, that spot right between the waist and the hips where I tend to carry that old spare tire. The fabric presses the skin up and over, kind of like sausage casing. It’s not pretty, but it is what it is.

Of course my solution is to wear a bigger top, ideally one that comes down to the mid-thigh where my legs still look reasonably thin with very tall shoes. That usually does the trick, at least to the naked eye or to the passer-by who doesn’t care what I’m wearing or how I’m wearing it.

Obviously, it doesn’t fly with my mom, who is like the Martha Stewart of weight loss. She always has some annoying one-liner solution to how to lose weight like, “Just eat half of everything on your plate,” or “after a while, you just forget to eat.”

But the truth is, it doesn’t fly with me, either.

For the last year or so, I’ve sort of been settling into life in Relationship Land, a place where sharing elaborate meals and late-night snacks is part of a beautiful routine wherein the pleasure of someone else’s company is all that matters. It’s a place where your Midwest-born and -bred boyfriend thinks it’s fun to make Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies at midnight and pancakes with eggs and bacon are a weekend ritual.

It’s a place where your loving, accepting partner says things like, “I love you just the way you are. You’re my little sugar plum,” on a regular basis.

To which you might normally reply, “Awesome. Pass the fries.”

Slowly but surely your Hot Girl Wardrobe starts making its way to the back of the closet, to the bottom of the pile and the back of the drawer until all that’s left are a few pairs of platform shoes (thank god they still fit) and that yummy black cashmere sweater wrap has become one very classy looking security blanket – you can’t leave home without it.

Sure, you still put a lot of effort into the hair and makeup and your daily workout routine, but it’s kind of like putting cover-up on a zit – it’s still there and you can still feel it.

Lately, I’ve been missing that part of me that used to have all that fire and drive. I miss feeling my jeans hang off my hips and being able to wear all those beautiful clothes I bought when I could fit into a size 2. I miss all the thought and intention that went into putting together a complete look for an anticipated event – the appointments I’d make for various grooming, for facials and waxing and mani/pedis. I miss that drive I had to look good and to be the best I could be, even if for the most part, I was pretty miserable.

I always say, when I am thin and my room is clean it’s usually an indication that something is very wrong.

The question is, where does one draw the line between vanity and confidence? How do we learn to be happy with who we truly are instead of always trying to change and alter what we were born with, only to eventually return to our natural state over and over again?

At the end of the day, it really is about how I perceive myself, how I feel about myself.

I was smart enough not to settle for a man. I waited a long time for Ryan to come along. So I probably shouldn’t settle when it comes to myself either. Then again, everyone knows the muffin top is the part everyone loves to eat.

The Princess is very excited for offseason. E-mail your love to

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