Why I no longer want Audrey Hepburn’s body

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Last weekend, our re-booted local movie palace, The Ohio Theater, showed the first movie in their new incarnation as a non-profit. The movie was Charade, with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. A great flick and a great crowd. I’ve always loved Cary Grant and it was only a year into my marriage that I realized my husband sounds like him—not quite American, not quite British, and just the right amount of goofy stylishness.

When I think of elegant beauty, I think of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Those black capri’s and the perfect black dress. I just finished watching the latest season of House of Cards, and Robin Wright has the same kind of body. A straight silhouette, stark and plain and simple. You imagine them like beautiful trees, bare and straight against the horizon.

I can’t say I’ve spent a lot of my life wishing for a body like that. I’ve certainly had moments when I’ve thought about how much easier it would be to find clothes that fit that body.* I’m not tall or thin or svelte. I find it hard to imagine anyone describing my silhouette as clean and simple.

I am curvy or fat or thick or whatever word you want to use for it. It doesn’t much matter to me. It took me longer than is really reasonable to realize that my legs were never going to be ‘thin’ by any stretch of that word. My body just isn’t made that way.

I always liked her more casual look in Breakfast at Tiffany's, especially the pigtails

I always liked her more casual look in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, especially the pigtails

Thick is a word I think is particularly fitting. It seems best-suited to describe the situation. My flesh and skin and muscles are wrapped around big bones. This is good in many ways. I can’t think of a single woman in my family who’s ever broken a bone, and it’s not like we’re delicate creatures who haven’t tried. The women in my family worked on farms and rode horses and played sports without ever breaking anything worse than a toe. That’s what big bones will do for you.

A body like that will never look like Audrey Hepburn. I have a silhouette for sure, but it’s, well, messy. Chaotic. Convoluted. Things stick out and not always in the “right” places. It’s really only in the last year or two I’ve decided that I don’t hate my body. This is somewhat ironic, as I’m probably heavier right now than I’ve ever been. Oh, well.

I love Audrey Hepburn’s body. I love Robin Wright’s body. I like watching the way they move. I like wondering about how their bodies shaped the kind of women they were and are. But I’ll keep my own bones, thank you, and all the flesh they’re wrapped in, too.

I like wearing tight t-shirts with a design across the chest and seeing the way my boobs distort the shape. I like the momentum my hand gains when I run it along my waist and out to my hip, like zooming down a ski jump and going airborne. I don’t mind the feeling my ass gives me sometimes, like there’s someone back there following me.

So that’s what I’ve been thinking lately. I’m forty-two and I don’t have time to waste wanting anyone else’s body anymore. I’ve got better things to do.

*I have no idea if it’s actually easier to find clothes for a body like Audrey Hepburn’s. It might not be. I don’t know whose bodies fashion designers have in mind, but sometimes I suspect they are not the bodies of human women at all.


  1. Margo Watkins says

    I loved the line about how you like the way your boobs distort t-shirt logos. Having grown up with NO boobs, lemme tell ya … I never distorted any t-shirts. I was slender, waifish and flat-chested … until I hit menopause. I finally weigh what I should, don’t have concave indentations where my butt and boobs should be, and I finally love my body too. Thanks for this article. We women should not be so hard on ourselves.

    • Thanks for posting, Margo! I agree we should stop being so eternally unhappy with our bodies. Wish I could’ve come to this point earlier, but hopeful for our daughters.

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