Hey, du siehst echt fit aus: A Note from the Editor
By Jordan Sapir
Each month I try to think of an anecdote that relates to the Über Moms topic of the month. Without hesitation, I sat down and wrote to my fellow Über Moms, and felt confident in my contribution to our community. This month was different. I imagined writing about being an athlete and how I was always struggling with body image. How long distance running meant I lacked a muscular upper physique. How, for some odd reason, people have always felt the need to comment on my height, shoe size, thin arms and long legs. How my mean aunt body-shamed me and commented on my thunder thighs. How could I be an athlete and still have the family’s cursed fatty legs? I thought of a million stories, then I settled on one. A story that encompasses my life as an expat in Germany.
After I arrived in Germany, it took me a while to adjust. Some of the major adjustments were the usual culprits: food, language, lack of a speed limit. As a traveller, I was accustomed to most. The one thing that struck my immediate attention was the general surprise at my visibly emaciated frame. When I walked into the modeling agency all the bookers (model agents) looked at me with dismay. I stood before them at 180cm and 50 kilos – when wet. No one in Milan or Paris flinched at my rail thin figure; if they did it was met with grandeur. I was used to being praised for my ability to mannequin collections and sashay down the runway. But in Germany, my agent immediately called my manager and asked if I was okay. Was I sick? Had I always been this shockingly thin?
Out I went to my first of many castings. I came back from that first day with a cast of clouds over me and a broken spirit. Everyone told me I’d work great in Germany. I thought they were lacking diversity and needed ethnic models. What gives? Well, unbenounced to me, my agency was getting distressed calls left and right from designers and showrooms, concerned with my appearance. I was very used to being judged on my appearance, the greatness of my cheekbones and the disdain for my hips. This was the first time I’d ever heard of any clients disappointed by how thin I was.
I finally booked my first job. I was shocked to see the spread of food backstage. There were pretzels with butter, cold cuts, cheese spread and dips. It was generally healthy, but the thing that threw me off was the presence of food (and the paperwork of schedules and call sheets and bureaucracy). For designers in Germany, the sample size was 2 sizes larger than the rest of Europe. When I looked backstage, there weren’t young pre-pubescent teenagers or noticeably slim figures. When I walked backstage, I was the odd (wo)man out. The seamstress worked hard to bring in all of the designs that had been chosen for me. During the dress rehearsal they were silent. The designer, a very well-known German fashion icon, was torn. He really wanted to have me walk, but didn’t want to encourage the look I portrayed. He eventually decided to keep me. Years later, he happily booked me often. I had finally begun to understand the market in Germany. You needed all the same characteristics of the field in other countries, but here, at the time, they wanted healthy, not haggard.
Years later I strutted into a casting director’s office. He entered the office and immediately recognized me. “Hey, du siehst echt fit aus.” I eventually understood what fit means in my host country. Fit means healthy. It means that you look well-rested, at peace, like you’re taking care of yourself. Fit in Germany means that you like sports, eating healthy, that you’re in a good place. After a long time of not being “fit”, I’m slowly beginning to understand what “fit” means to me.
Fit doesn’t mean that I can run fast or far. It doesn’t mean that I can fit into sample size. Fit is not an attribute; it’s a state of being. So, yeah, I’m fit. I’ve got new muscles in places that I’ve never had them in my life. I have swimmers arms, cyclist legs and a mom pouch. I have stretch marks and my boobs are not defying gravity. But you know what? I am up to date with dentist appointments. I’m in therapy. I have a well-balanced and diverse diet. I exercise regularly, meditate, take care of my mind, body and soul. I’m an Über Mom. Being a Über Mom to me means being fit. Not fitting into anyone else’s ideals of fit. That’s what I’ve discovered by surrounding myself with like-minded women. Fit is not a number, not a size, shape or color– fit is just what you do, not who you are. I lived a life so far removed from health, although I looked the part. I’m healthy again and want to share my journey with other women. I’m healthy again. Bist du auch bald wieder fit?
Jordan Sapir, mother of two glitter-laden girls, 2 and 5, studied Journalism and International Political Science in NYC, a place she once called home. She can slaughter five languages fluently. She has worked in a newsroom or two, walked a catwalk or three, and is all for an impromptu adventure. Having traded in her Prada for pretzels, the founder of Über Moms lives in Munich, where she is a stay at home mom and studying to become a certified nutritionist. She is a mommy on a mission and wants to help fellow mothers raise healthy happy families, and beat a PR here and there.