What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I can own my size. I just can’t own my cellulite.
Don’t get me wrong. Overall, I like my body. When people tell me I have a nice figure, I believe them.
It’s the lumps. Yes, I’m talking about cellulite. You know. That thing that affects 90% of women.
I remember the first cellulite cream I ever bought. I was 22. It was Lancôme, and cost a fortune. But, I figured it must be good. It’s French! I didn’t know any French people with cellulite (then again, I only knew one French person and it was a guy named Stephen. Men just don’t get cellulite very much. And French men? Never).
They often say the world would be different if men bore the burden of pregnancy and birth. Surely, we would have European-style paid paternity leave and universal childcare! Not to conflate the two issues buuuut… I can’t help but wonder if it were men who were plagued with cellulite, would we have some more effective treatments by now? !
It’s just not fair. I have friends who are heavier than I am, but their thighs and butts are silky smooth in a way I can only dream about. What gives?
Years ago, I remember seeing the much discussed photo of a 22-year-old Mischa Barton that featured her cellulite, and feeling absolutely liberated. Ha! A skinny, pretty, petite actress had it worse than me. I started feeling better about myself. (FYI: at one point, the actress’s rep asserted that the photos were doctored to make her cellulite appear worse than it actually was). Still, it felt like I victory of sorts.
But it was a short-lived, false sense of acceptance I was feeling, based on fear and pity. My frustration about my “trouble spots” resurfaced. I went back to the gels and creams. I dry-brushed my body in “upward, circular strokes.” Nothing worked.
I can tell you that when I totally committed to weight loss, losing 22 pounds through a combination of Weight Watchers, spinning, and lifting weights, I didn’t see a whole lot of cellulite. I dropped from a size 12 to a size 6 and for me that was the sweet spot -– the perfect weight. I took pin-up pictures and saw them unretouched. And I couldn’t believe it -– no visible cellulite! I kept the proofs as evidence.
But now that I’ve gained about 10 of those pounds back, it’s returned. And now that I’m 40, it’s showing up in new and unseemly places! Clearly, there is a relationship between weight, body fat, diet, exercise and the way body fat appears beneath the skin. But the exact equation hasn’t quite been figured out. Why do some women keep their cellulite, no matter how skinny they are, how hard the diet and exercise, or despite their age? Why do some have luck minimizing it? (At least for a while –- even hormonal changes can cause or magnify cellulite).
Occasionally, I’ll splurge on something reasonable –- a $14.99 bottle of Nivea Skin-Firming Gel Cream. Does it work? Not really. Do I continue to buy it? Yes.
In my estimation, the only way it “works” I think is that when I use the gel, diligently, twice a day as it advises (14 days before you see any results) and I am whole-heartedly rubbing it in, I am forced to look at my “trouble zones” and this makes me more likely to eat right and workout than when I am not conscientiously applying the stuff. Also, I’m more likely to use it as I gear up for summer, or get ready for a beach vacation -- and that makes me more mindful of diet and exercise.
A while back, I went to the Carribean. Although I still had some “wobbly bits,” as Bridget Jones would say, I thought -- screw it. I bought new bathing suits and figured I was with my friends and loved ones, and was going to enjoy myself and not worry about it. Go, me!
It was while I was frolicking along the beach that a cellulite-free friend actually took me aside to talk to me about the “wonderful new advances in laser technology” that could fix my cellulite. She was “concerned” and wanted me to “be happy.”
I was hurt and offended, but when a Groupon came along offering a $1,500 for $400, I splurged. It was for the Vasershape laser treatment, a “body contouring technology and the first ever non-invasive FDA approved device for the removal of the appearance of cellulite.” What the hell?” I thought. “I’m going to do it.” If it’s that expensive it must work! Suddenly, I was 22 years old again.
I arrived at the pretentious medi-spa in Hancock Park in Los Angeles, complete with the stereotypical snotty receptionist (the disdain for the Groupon was palpable). The technician was nice enough, and she explained that I was going to see a difference -- and maybe even a difference in overall inches, thanks to the laser machine.
I saw a slight change after the first appointment…I thought. Didn’t I? Sure. It looked better. Yes. There was a slight improvement, I convinced myself. It was only after the fourth, and last treatment, that the lady said, “Well, you really have to do 12 treatments to see any real, lasting results.”
Now that I’m 40 I’ve accepted that while there can be changes in the appearance, it is unlikely I will ever be completely cellulite-free the way some women are. And although I can at times get somewhat consciencious during sex, I haven’t had any complaints so far. Besides, we forgive men their physical flaws. They have love handles. Maybe it’s about time we claimed our love lumps.