This I Believe

Bethany - Canton, Michigan
Entered on February 6, 2007

I believe zero is not a pants size.

The Romans did not recognize the concept of zero. How can you hold, how can you explain nothing? I, II, III, IV … these are all tangible amounts. Of course, through all my years of math classes, zero was one of my favorite numbers. Nothingness simplified everything for me. Five plus nothing equals five. Eighty-seven minus nothing equals eighty-seven. One hundred times nothing is nothing. I am glad we have learned the concept of zero since the time of the Romans – nothingness is an easy mathematical figure to work with.

Unfortunately, zero is not so easy to work with when buying jeans. What is size nothing? Why is zero – nothingness – the desired size of a woman? My People magazine features Tyra Banks on its cover, her perfect body encased in a cheery red swimsuit. There is the slightest curve where her stomach should be. This model, this standard for women, is now being criticized, is now being called “fat,” for wearing a size nine. Well, I have scrutinized my thighs, butt, and stomach in the mirror. I have sucked in and imagined how I would look ten pounds lighter. If a woman like Tyra is “fat,” then what am I?

Life is really all about math. Three meals a day. Five hours of sleep. Calories, heartbeats, workdays, cups of coffee – we are always counting down the numbers, always alternately anticipating and dreading the final number – zero. I am a size nine, just like Tyra. My hips swell and curve away from my waist. My butt is rounded. My 5’2” frame is vastly different than Tyra’s 5’11” one. She is beautiful, but still quite thin. I am beautiful too. We are individuals. Sharing a pants size does not fit us, or anyone else, into the same box. Numbers are abstract and in the case of people, the sum does not equal the parts.

I could add more math to my day – what can I subtract from nine to get to zero? But, all that I would gain from that equation is nothing. Bones are meant to be hidden; we are not exoskeletal insects. A woman has fat – without it, she could not become a mother, and she would most certainly not look good. If zero is womanly perfection, then how many are perfect? None. A person cannot exist when they are nothing.

It has taken time and math, but after looking at the figures, I’ve made a decision. My freshman fifteen has become part of me these past few years, and I feel sexier and more confident with the extra weight than I did without it. I am beautiful. I am a real woman. When you hug me, you get more than an armful of nothing. When I go to buy a pair of jeans, I turn back the clock to the days of the Romans. I do not believe in nothingness – zero is not a pants size.