Ginny stood in front of the ceiling to floor mirror. She had just finished her shower and was about to proceed to her locker in the YMCA, where she would dress, collect her belongings and begin her day in the outside world.
She had recently made a decision to work on her self image, no small feat.
The other task, which seemed herculean in the moment, was to tackle yet another attempt to render her rather large body down to a reduced state of being.
Ginny, into her 7th decade of life, had finally reached a place that had eluded her from a very young age.
Her journey had begun sometime in the fall of 1948, three months after her parents were married. She had once done the calculations in her early teens when she had gathered enough information to make the connection between sex and pregnancy. She wasn’t sure of the precise date of her conception, as she lacked the fine tuning skills necessary to narrow down the event.
She knew better than to seek consultation with her mother and so many of her exploratory conversations took place with her peers.
Her best friend, Margaret, was shocked to learn how she and her siblings had been created. Her incredulous response, “You mean they did IT more than once?” made Ginny giggle.
Ginny seemed more inclined than Margaret to explore the possibility that sex was an worthwhile adventure.
She also knew that what she was learning about the subject in the catholic school she and her friends attended, left out many details.
Ginny was somewhat ruthless in her endeavour to broaden her education on this topic.
She began observing the older girls in the school, taking mental notes of their conversations. She watched very carefully as they and the boys participated in elaborate mating rituals. Ginny was almost equally repelled and intrigued. It seemed like a lot of work to her.
Ginny had been raised on a farm where she had been deftly thwarted by her grandfather's attempts to safeguard her innocence.
With dogged perseverance and stealthy stalking skills, she’d managed to learn much about the physical act of intercourse.
She just wasn’t sure how to make the leap between what the animals did so openly and what she suspected went on between human beings when no one was watching.
Her older school mates seemed happy to provide rather graphic details. She was thrilled to have willing participants unwittingly reveal much needed data.
Slowly but surely her understanding of the reproductive system, and its connection to the human quest to use that system, became clearer.
So, she knew how she’d been created. She knew her parents had been very much in love. She knew her conception and the anticipation of her arrival to the ‘outside’ world was a source of joy for her family.
She was never able to pin down the exact moment her unhappiness began. In retrospect, she suspected it was the accumulation of many small experiences that began to jade and colour her view of the world.
Sadly, joy and self assurance began to erode as Ginny matured.
Her clinical observations of mating rituals did little to bolster her diminishing sense of self-esteem. She was not easily enticed into the game. It was mostly inner biological urges that propelled her willingness to experiment.. that and her very curious nature.
Over the next 70 years, she began to realize her curiosity had come at a great cost.
Her explorations of human behaviour had netted her two husbands, several lovers and a deep mistrust of most human beings, including herself.
The safeguards she’d developed to protect herself, became instruments of destruction.
Alcohol, a wonderful numbing substance that made mating rituals somewhat bearable, turned out to be a bloody, double edged sword.
Food, always a comfort, became another torture device. Years of yoyo dieting had left her body ravished, and usually, starved.
Her self confidence took the biggest hit. She eventually accepted that she wasn’t really worth very much.
Years of believing this myth took their toll on Ginny’s health.
Years of neglecting herself, had left her body like a battle torn field... bloody, scarred and ravaged almost beyond repair.
Yet Nature has a kind and gentle side. She spreads the soothing balm of time across the canvas of life and even blood and gore and almost indescribable carnage, softens and heals.
She gradually reached the conclusion that were she not to take better care of herself, she would not be on this planet for long.
It was from this vantage point that Ginny took out a membership at the YMCA.
She had dropped over one hundred pounds in the previous two years and as her bulk decreased, her desire to move her body and find pleasure in doing so, increased.
Within the buoyancy of the water she was weightless and what would have been impossible on land, became effortless.
Ginny began to crave her workouts and found herself loving the routine of making her way to the pool when it opened in the morning.
The routine became a habit and she began to feel the positive effects inside her body.
The most difficult part of the routine was her dilemma in the shower rooms...to go naked or not.
The problem was compounded by the fact that there was only one private shower room, and the wait for it was sometimes long. The problem was compounded by the reality that the shower stall was very small and cramped, barely leaving enough space for her to turn around.
Her angst over this dilemma caused some grief for Ginny.
She would try waiting til no one was in the open shower rooms. This solution was a hit or miss happening.
She tried leaving her bathing suit on. For various and sundry reasons, this also proved problematic.
Eventually she simply decided to take her suit off and shower openly in the buff.
She pretended that her body looked like it did in her teens and early twenties. That sort of worked, unless she looked down at what she was lathering.
She became relentless in her determination to soldier on, and gradually a shift began to happen.
Slowly, but surely, she became less embarrassed at the masses of flesh that loomed large when she steeled herself to glance down.
She became aware that the other naked women didn’t seem horrified, or disgusted when they walked into the room to find her displayed in her full naked glory.
Some even smiled at her as they performed their own ablutions.
Ginny began experimenting, testing herself in search of whatever comfort level she could find.
She found it distracting to think of herself as an alien, come to this planet to observe humans and learn how to fit in unnoticed.
She carefully, stealthily, observed the other women as they showered.
When they bent over and lathered, so did she.
She touched places on her body that rarely had felt the touch of her hand. She caressed, washed and tenderly rinsed rolls and mounds that draped around her frame.
And a miracle began to happen, Ginny started falling in love with her body.
She walked naked with the other women as they visited, chatting about this and that. Drying their bodies, powdering their bodies, oiling their bodies, dressing their bodies.
She felt power surge through her being as she became less and less ashamed of its dimensions.
She never forgot the day when she caught sight of an image in a mirror. She looked at what she thought was the reflection of a stranger entering the locker room, smiled and thought to herself “Oh, what a beautiful woman”.
She was shocked when she realized that she was looking at herself.
Ginny knew that true healing had occurred for her that day she picked up a survey at the counter on her way home.
The YMCA was planning renovations and wanted feedback from members.
One of the questions was in regards to renovating the bathrooms and asked if people would like to see more private shower rooms installed.
Ginny paused, thought about it and carefully wrote - Fat Chance.