I Wish I Could Go Back to College (Blogisode Fourteen)

Let’s get right down to it, because if I don’t talk about this I might just burst.  Today I went to put on my costumes for the concert I’m doing and two of the four gowns were too tight and wouldn’t zip.  My gowns that I always wear.  I couldn’t believe it.  And listen, I’m not going to try to ramble off a bunch of excuses for why or how or anything, because the truth is, the last time I did this concert, I’d just had a baby.  Beatrix was only four months old and I’d just stopped nursing, so my body was all weird.  If anything, if ANYTHING, I thought my dresses would be looser.  I even wrote in an e-mail that came in about costumes, “Oh, they’ll be fine.  I wore them right after I had Beatrix, surely I’m smaller now.”

Guess what?  I’m not.


I had to stand in my dressing room while three people tried to zip me into different dresses.  While wearing two different girdles squeezing me in.  Praying they would just suddenly–magically–zip.  But….they didn’t.  I tried to make jokes.  I tried to keep it light.  But I was so upset.  The dresses have to be altered and it will be fine, but…….those moments were awful.  That said, there is some good news.  I was in the room with two women who are friends and who have had moments just like this in their life, so they were very wonderful and sympathetic.  One of them was even my nutrition counselor for a little while last year until I fell apart at a meeting and said I had to quit because I just  couldn’t handle trying to change the way I ate AGAIN.  It seems like such old crap of mine, you know?  Can’t we just be done with this?  I wrote an entire book about body acceptance.  I give motivational speeches about valuing your brain and soul instead of your waist line.  I am raising two girls in a society that breeds eating disorders like a new unstoppable plague, and I want them to see a Mom who eats the same dinner they do and not “diet” food.

2005.  10 pounds ago.

2005. 10 pounds ago.

I just can’t think about this any more.  I am so unbelievable sick of it.  Aren’t you? I always say that weight is the most boring conversation on the planet.  So boring.  But here I am talking about it anyway, as I have my whole life, as I will for years to come, and as I just try to hold onto any shred of self esteem that might help me stand in front of an audience and sing my show.  Just like that, I am 14 again, stuffed into my uniform skirt with the button attached to the button hole by a rubber band because it won’t button anymore,  lying on the floor in the chapel praying to God that I could grow up to be thin and successful.  These prayers were usually simultaneous with visions of the vending machine full of candy, and also wondering if I would get to sing the Ave Maria solo at the Christmas Concert.

We don’t really change, do we.

But then again, do we?  All I wanted as a child was to sing on a stage in front of a huge orchestra.  I believed in my heart and soul that this would only happen if I was thin.  So I suppose, in some warped way, that today was a kind of gift to that little fat kid who believed that I had to be thin to succeed. So a couple of my costumes didn’t fit.  Okay, that’s not ideal and it does make things a little harder for the nice woman who is adding a panel (we’re only altering one of the dresses), but here’s the reality.

I didn’t get fired.

I still went onstage and sang the rehearsal and really enjoyed it.

People will still come to the show, and no one will say, she was good but I really wish she was in that pink dress that is on a hanger in her dressing room.

My voice still works even with an extra ten pounds.

I am healthy.  Praise God for that.

And as I said to my friends Brandy and Farah, “The truth is that I’ve known some kind of eating and exercise situation was in my near future and I prayed for motivation.  At least motivation came in the form of a tight costume and not diabetes.”


It’s all good.

So I’ll go on a diet.  No. Big Deal.  I’ll teach my girls to stay healthy.  No pad thai late at night, ladies.  Weight Watcher’s, here I come.  Maybe if I blog about it occasionally it will make it more fun.

I can do that.

As Kate Monster says, I feel better now.  Thank you.

Okay, you want a little blogisode now that I’ve ranted and cried?  Let’s do it.  I owe you one, even if it’s kind of short because I have to get to bed.

Page TWO of the study guide.

Page TWO of the study guide.

(To start at the beginning of this story, go here)We left off with me in a desk with a pen, an exam booklet, and a midterm.  The amazing Charlotte Meffe had helped me study from her middle school FDR Library book.  That kid.  Lucky me to have her.

I sat down and looked at the paper, circled the items I wanted to write paragraphs on, chose the essay question, and I took off.  I wrote as much as I possible could, as fast as I could, and I tried to utilize the advice I give Charlotte on essays.  “Show off.  A test is not a time to hold back.  Give them everything you’ve got.”  I wrote until my hand cramped and then I shook it out and kept going.  I had to get another exam booklet because I filled the first one.

I added personal details like, “The Tennessee Valley Authority Act was (in addition to everything I wrote) also something that benefitted my father who was contracted to pour concrete in a TVA project in Kentucky.”  Or, “Interstingly, my grandfather worked on a Works Project Authority project in Cincinnati (building Columbia Parkway).  My aunt remembers how thrilled everyone was that he had a regular paycheck for a while during the depression”

My guess is…no one else had that in their exam.

Or this, on the very last page:  “Whew!  That’s the first exam I’ve taken since 1985.  I hope I did it right!  This was fun!”

I really wrote that.

Hi.  Geek much?

When I got home from the exam, of course Charlotte was all over me.  “How was it?  Tell me everything!”  I told her I thought I’d done a lot better than I would have in 1985, but I just didn’t know for sure.  We’d have to see.

And you will have to wait until Monday.

(Read the next blogisode in this series here)








About Sharon Wheatley

I'm a mother, an actress and a writer. I'm glad you're here.
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5 Responses to I Wish I Could Go Back to College (Blogisode Fourteen)

  1. Nick says:

    HEY! You are awesome! and I am happy for you and I really needed this blog post today. I will message you with details later. Thank you!

  2. Lisa Erb says:

    Hi Sharon…I just had to tell you this. Lindsay got married on Oct.8. She looked heavenly, ethereal, beautiful and happy, happy, happy. So… hooray for her!!
    I bought a dress, mother of the bride type thing with a jacket, of course. In the shop it zipped. Five weeks before the wedding at home it did.not.zip. My sweet sensitive husband said as he tried to zip it, "Holy Cow Lisa, there's four damn inches between the sides of the zipper!! This will never zip." Ha! That's why I married him…for his sensitive side. It all worked out of course but it was touch and go until Sat. afternoon as my husband zipped it again.

  3. Han Ham says:

    Can I do Weight Watchers with you???? For reals,I’ve been trying to jump back on that wagon since I moved to nyc march and haven’t been able to get with it. I even was thinking just the other day, what would Sharon Wheatly do??? ( haha WWSWD)
    I know this sounds strange but thank you for posting about this.
    Your book and this blog make feel like it’s ok to be who I am and the size I am in this biz, knowing that you have had such a successful career being who you are at any size. Your words are very powerful and inspiring :)

  4. david cleveland says:

    OK I'm speaking for myself here, but maybe, just maybe Rob will agree. I think you ALWAYS look like Sharon. It's NOT you…. It's the freakin' costume. We ALL get bigger and smaller. I can remember the night I was swinging Phantom in NYC and I came in after the auction and my dresser said "Nobody told me you were here and you can't fit into X's costume." OK, quick change, yoo hoo, Hannibal. So I told him to get the fuck out of my way and I wedged my Fat Ass into that costume and went on stage. I WAS FINE, IT WAS THE COSTUME THAT WAS SMALL. So, necessity being the mother of invention, create a gown that is expandable for those heavy flow days. Maybe a tube top with some taffeta on the bottom. Love, Dave C

  5. Patty Lohr says:

    You are just in inspiration in so many ways! And Charlotte is just a gem! I love this post

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