Princess: And that’s common knowledge

Alison Berkley Margo

The other day, Ryan and I were at the grocery store buying a few things we really thought we needed. We’d just had spicy curry for dinner and were craving something sweet.

“Is your wife pregnant?” the cashier whispered conspiratorially to Ryan as we went through the checkout line, her hand raised to the corner of her mouth. Somehow we ended up with Froot Loops, popcorn (we were planning to watch a movie), cookies, ice cream and Keebler sugar cones in our cart.

We both laughed and shrugged. I was happy, only because it was the first time someone had asked me if I was pregnant because of what I was eating and not what I was wearing.

But still.

It’s pretty typical for women to focus on their flaws. Even the most beautiful women I know have something they’re self conscious about.

The truth is, I couldn’t be happier, living with a big, beautiful man who thinks a slice of cheese should be at least an inch thick and doesn’t have a self-conscious bone in his body. This is a guy who frequently winks at himself in the mirror, who flexes his pectoral muscles back and forth to make his chest do a little dance, who kisses his bicep and points at himself and says things like, “I look awesome.” This is a guy who, when you give him a compliment does not say, “thank you” or “no, you’re cute.”

He says, “I know.”

“You’re not supposed to say ‘I know.’ You’re supposed to say ‘thank you,’” I always say.

But he just winks at me, like saying, “I know,” without words.

What Ryan lacks in humility, he more than makes up for in self-acceptance. In all my life, that was never a state of mind that occurred to me. It was always about trying to be the best I could be, or at least that’s what I told myself. More often than not, it was more like feeling like I was never good enough.

It’s pretty typical for women to focus on their flaws. Even the most beautiful women I know have something they’re self-conscious about. It’s always something arbitrary, something seemingly insignificant until you realize when they look in the mirror, they don’t see what you see. They can’t see how beautiful they are, which actually is pretty significant when you think about it. They only see what they think is wrong with them based on some kind of societal standard set by the scary-skinny bobbleheads who reign in Hollywood.

OK, so here’s the thing (in case you were waiting for me to get back to my original point): All my life I’ve been striving for this ideal which lies somewhere in the neighborhood of a size 2, of a weight that hovers closer to 110 pounds, of long hair that drapes down my back, of thighs that don’t touch and a belly that doesn’t have a way of poking out over the front of my jeans so the button doesn’t lay flat.

I’ve done everything I could to achieve that goal. I’d do two hot-yoga classes a day plus cardio. I’d hike up Aspen Mountain and then go to Bernadette’s circuit training class three times a week. I used to run on the Rio Grande Trail from my condo in the Aspen Business Center for miles and miles, once making it all the way to Woody Creek.

I’ve cut more foods out of my diet than I’ve allowed in, subsisting mostly on veggies and lean meats, or when I was really determined, not much more than nicotine, caffeine and alcohol (truth be told, that was always the most effective diet of all).

What’s really funny is that I can think of a dozen women I know who might be reading this right now going, “That’s it?” because they run twice that distance every morning before I’ve even had a chance to shuffle out of bed to make my morning latte and have probably not let anything pass their lips that’s not organic, grass-fed, gluten-free and Ivy League educated since the day they turned 30.

So I felt a little self-conscious about my grocery cart full of goodies — apparently so full of goodies that even the cashier at the City Market in El Jebel was alarmed. It reminded me of when I still used to sneak cigarettes in the back alleys of Aspen, hoping no one I taught yoga to would walk by.

The funny thing is, for all my efforts (or lack thereof) my body hasn’t changed much. If anything, it’s stayed the same or better yet found it’s comfort zone where I’m not starving and over-training and essentially teaching my body to hoard every single calorie I feed it. Or worse, the inevitable yo-yo effect that often occurs with a diet and exercise regimen that’s not sustainable.

My younger brother, who has always taken it upon himself to tease me about my flaws was the first one to tell me I’m better now than I’ve ever been. This is a guy who has gone out of his way to inform me that I have “man legs,” that my “head is too small for my body,” that I’ve put on a few pounds or worse, haven’t managed to lose the few pounds he’d notice that I’d put on. He cracks himself up when he says these things, not unlike the 6-year-old version of himself who used to punch and tickle me in the back seat of my parent’s car when we were trapped together during long road trips.

“You’re so thin!” he said when I saw him a few weeks ago in Frisco after we’d completed the Circle the Summit 100-mile road-bike ride. “I can’t believe how good you look!”

I didn’t say, “That’s because I just rode my bike for 10 hours” or, “I actually weigh more now than I have in the last 20 years,” or “No, I’m not.”

I just looked him straight in the eye, winked and said, “I know.”

The Princess loved Joan Rivers. Email your love to