Monday, October 16, 2017

Me too.

[CONTENT WARNING: Discussion of sexual abuse of a minor, non-consensual touching, and sexual harassment.]

Friday, March 27, 2015

I Let a Stranger Hold My Baby

I realize it's been ages since my last post, and we've got a lot of catching up to do. Here's what you need to know for the purposes of this post:

I have a baby now - let's call her A.

She's four months old, and freaking adorable.

On to my story: I was visiting my grandmother at the rehabilitation center where she's recovering from a bunch of not very fun stuff, and naturally I had the baby with me. We were hanging around outside, waiting for the nurses to finish a procedure, and A was busy making friends with with the other visitors. 9 times out of 10, she would receive coos and happy exclaimations from passerbyes, with some people even reaching to hold a tiny argyle-socked foot. Although there was a little voice in my head freaking out over the idea of everyone else being covered in germs and getting her sick, there was a much louder voice reminding me that not only has she had her shots, but that the antibodies I give her through breastmilk and her being exposed to the world while she still has that additional protection is pretty much the best thing I can do for her health right now.

Another visitor, a woman, came over to smile at A. She then made eye contact with me, still smiling, and grasped A with the intent to pick up the baby. I had a choice: let her hold A, or tighten my grip and refuse. And I'm no saint -- my first thought was "AHHH NO WAY!!" But I took a breath and recognized that she didn't mean any harm. I let go, and let her hold the baby. And because I didn't immediately respond by telling her to back the hell off, I got to witness the most gorgeous exchange:

A, smiling in the hands of this new person, as the woman made funny faces and noises to make that smile beam even brighter. She then kissed A on both cheeks, and handed her back to me.

I admit I was on edge the entire time, and I inwardly grimaced at those kisses, crossing my fingers that she wasn't sick. And that was kind of uncomfortable for me. BUT. The joy this woman took in greeting A and the smile on my child's face -- that was priceless.

As you probably suspect, A turned out fine after this encounter -- no sickness, just richer for having been welcomed into this world by another friendly face. And I wouldn't have made the same choice if I had felt like the woman didn't have good intentions -- but it did still require that split-second decision to trust. Which got me thinking: recently, I've seen a number of assertions from individuals swearing they would never allow a stranger to hold their baby. Similarly, there's been a spate of stories about police being called on parents for having allowed their child to play at a park or walk home without an adult. Obviously, there's an appropriate age for leaving childen unsupervised, and my daughter is nowhere near that age. But to think that we've reached a point of protecting our children where we can neither allow them the freedom to explore on their own (in a controlled risk situation), nor trust other people to have good intentions toward our children even with us there -- that seems a sad state of affairs. Tracy Cutchlow, writing for The Washington Post, lamented the loss of caring for children as a community, and called for the reestablishment of "block mother" behavior, where adults help care for and keep an eye on the neighborhood's kids, not call the police when they see an unaccompanied minor. But such behavior requires a sense of empowerment on the part of the adults - that they are allowed to act in a caring capacity toward a stranger's child. And I wonder if the initial refusal of many parents to allow interactions between well-meaning strangers and their baby isn't contributing to the hands-off, "call 911" approach.

For me, allowing a stranger to hold my child proved an example of the good that can happen when we don't asuume the world is out to get us -- and I'm glad I did.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I'm not really here.

I know it's been a long time since we've talked.

And I hate to say it, but . . . it's going to be a bit longer.

I just went through my calendar to make sure I'm not double booking myself anywhere in the near future. Here are three important things I've learned:
  1. I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO MIND TO SPEAK OF. If you want to schedule something with me, please tattoo it on my forehead. Even then, please call to remind me. I will have forgotten it as soon as I'm no longer looking in a mirror.
  2. ALL OF YOU BIATCHES GETTING MARRIED THIS YEAR . . . Congrats. Good on you. (One wedding a month, for four months solid. Yeeeeeehaw!)
  3. MY SMART PHONE AND MY PERSONAL ASSISTANT (Hi Husband!) ARE THE ONLY THINGS KEEPING ME FROM INSANITY. These pretty much speak for themselves. With Truth.
Until Next Time,


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Why I'm Smashing The Scale This Year: A New Year's Revolution

On Tuesday, I excitedly noticed my name mentioned in the Huffington Post's article about The Militant Baker's #SMASHTHESCALE body love revolution photo series, and of course immediately shared it on my Facebook. A couple of my friends reshared the link, and I had been thrilled to see all of the positive responses to this photo series which I think is so incredibly powerful.

And then I saw this comment from a friend of a friend:
"I hate destruction of things that can easily be donated to someone else. Goes along with the "musicians" who smash guitars....what's the purpose? Use the energy to dig a hole and plant a tree, or rake leaves for an elderly person. Maybe THEN you'd lose a pound or two."
Of course, I couldn't keep my big mouth shut (even though, I know, Haters Be Hatin'), and I just had to repost my response here. Conveniently, it also ties in the The Militant Baker's call for #smashthescale blog posts, tweets, and photos all this week, and you can view the entire blogroll here.

As to my response:
Hi Concerned Person! I'm the woman who came up with the idea for Smash the Scale, and I'm hoping that I can help alleviate some of your concerns. I, and a number of my fellow The Body Love Conference volunteers, also hate seeing waste. That's why we purchased the scales secondhand, and upcycled a number of scales from women providing their own. We did try to recycle them through a community art effort afterwards, but unfortunately that fell apart. The best we could do is dispose of them responsibly, which we did.
As to the second part of your comment, if you take the time to read about #smashthescale, you'll find that this isn't merely a group of overweight women frustrated in their efforts to lose weight. As you can see in the pictures, there are women of all shapes and sizes, from model thin on up. The goal isn't to say that being healthy doesn't matter, but rather to call out the wrongful conflation of a number on a scale with the idea of health. Scales can give us data about our bodies, but that's all it is -- just data. Not self-worth. Not beauty. Not desirability. And in my opinion, our culture's obsession with losing "a pound or two" being the equivalent of self-improvement is a dangerous and damnable idea.  
I have felt fat since I was twelve years out. I was 5'7" and weighed 150 lbs at the time. That's a normal, healthy BMI, and I was a normal, healthy kid. But combine the fact that I had hips and thighs and an ass when my friends didn't with the notion that losing weight is the same as being healthy, and what started as a pre-pubescent with low self-esteem evolved into a seventeen-year-old who routinely made herself vomit in the alleyway behind her house because her parents monitored how long she spent in the bathroom. Oh, and vomited in the bathroom at school. And at the gas station. And at work. And anywhere else I could -- all because I was so afraid of "being fat," of having that number on the scale increase. Of having that number on the scale not decrease. And because of all that self-harm, I lost a whole twenty pounds! You tell me -- was that destruction of my body a worthy way to use my energy? I did lose weight, after all. 
It's taken a lot of hard work, self-love, the support of family and friends, and actively fighting against my body dismorphia to get me to a place where I don't automatically look in the mirror and hate myself. But when I'm having a bad day, those old feelings still creep in. I have moments where I want to binge-eat my way through two burgers, three donuts, and a giant-size portion of chocolate and/or chips because I feel out of control of my life and my body and eating food is a way to forget and find comfort, and then vomit it all up again because HOW COULD I DO SOMETHING SO AWFUL, I'M GOING TO GET FAT. Thankfully, because I've spent years learning to resist that cycle, and because I'm finally learning to love myself, I don't. And nowadays I can even go running, and lift weights, and dance around like a crazy fool with an aerobics video (and I do), without having it all come down to how "fat" I think I am, or whether or not that activity will help me lose weight. Do I want to be healthier than I am right now?? Hell yes -- I want to be stronger, I want to be faster, I want to avoid the heart attacks that spot my family health history like some deadly genetic acne. And am I taking steps to get there? Absolutely. But in the meantime, I need to be able to love myself as I am, and not spend all my waking hours obsessing over whether or not that square lump in my bathroom and society's bullshit beauty trends say I'm worth it. 
And that's why, destructive or not, I smashed my scale. Was it wasteful? In a way, yes - and that's why I don't expect nor think it necessary that every person physically destroy their scale just to engage in this movement. Was it a waste? Not for me. It was terrifying, soul-baring, cathartic, and ultimately empowering to physically destroy something that has been too much a part of my life for way too long -- but a waste? Absolutely not.
If you want to get in on this ish -- and believe me, you do -- there are a number of ways you can join the movement:

  1. Blog about it, and share your link on The Body Love Conference Facebook.
  2. Share your story on The Body Love Conference Facebook or in the comments here, and I'll pass it on to the Militant Baker! We want to read and share both on The Body Love Conference FB and The Militant Baker FB. Let's drown out the annual New Year's Weight Loss Resolution Chorus with a rousing battlecry of our own!
  3. Create your own image like I did with this simple PNG overlay. Instructions on how to do so here. Post it to the Body Love Conference's and/or The Militant Baker's FB wall so your pic can be shared as well!
  4. Tweet and tag @BodyLoveConf. Hashtag the shit outta your posts with #SmashTheScale and #Smash The Scale on Tumblr. Instagram your pics to The Body Love Conference here.
Ultimately, why do I believe we need to smash the scale? Jes put it best:
"For every girl bent over a toilet, worshiping at the altar of thin. For every teen who cries herself to sleep at night because she’s not good enough and doesn’t know why. For every child who didn't know they were fat until someone told them. For every woman who hopes that happiness is on the other side of that pill bottle. For every person who's stopped eating when they're still hungry. For every woman who hopes that happiness is on the other side of that pill bottle this time. Or maybe this time. For every woman that thinks she’ll be worthy of love if her thighs were smaller.  For every woman that holds back tears while she tries on jeans. For every child with a Weight Watchers chart on their bedroom door. For every man who's been told to put his shirt back on. For every teen who starves for a gap. For every skinny girl accused of anorexia and every fat girl that’s called lazy.

For every person who looks down at a number for so long that they forget to look up at the world.
For you. 
Choose your weapon.
Smash the Scale.
And with it, all obligation, expectation and guilt."
Let's make 2014 the year we love ourselves.

Hallelujah, amen.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sorry Boys, I'm Not Your Dress-Up Doll

I should probably be writing about the new Lily Allen video (My initial reaction: I like it; followed by my more thought-out reaction: Does that make me a #solidarityisforwhitewomen -style racist? Yikes . . . more contemplation later!), or explaining where I've been since The Militant Baker freaking rocked my world by linking to my post about Maria Kang, fitsperation and privilege (moving to the new house, making art, and not sleeping very much is the short answer). However, last night I had this brilliant idea for a post series, and I just can't wait to get it started. Therefore, without further ado, I give you:

Feminist Undercover: Keeping My Big Mouth Shut, One Shift at a Time

Tuesday nights, I work as a bartender. Generally, I like it: I get to join in for karaoke when I'm not too busy, the pay is good, and the owner is chill. The customers are also pretty chill, for the most part. But here's the thing:

Every week, I wear a pair of cowgirl boots. And not just any boots -- these are my very favorite, super-comfortable red cowgirl boots that the Mr. gave me for Christmas seven years ago. Since then, I've rarely appeared without them -- with the exception of my wedding ring, they are my most-worn accessory. And I love these boots. I love the way I stomp around in them. I love the way they make even the most mundane outfit look cool and artsy. And I love the way they support my feet -- especially over a long shift at work.

The highly controversial boots.
Apparently, not everyone at the bar feels quite the same way. And last night, when I got on shift, my boss pulled me to the side, explained that I was doing a great job and no one has any complaints, except . . . "People are tired of the boots." I didn't have to ask to know exactly which people we were talking about. 

See, I catch the tail end of the day shift's crowd. And overall, they're nice people -- hardworking, mostly blue-collar, mostly middle-aged dudes looking for some cheap beer and a pretty girl to talk to before they go home alone. And I know that not everyone can be an ├╝ber-progressive feminist baddass like myself, so I don't hold it against them that sometimes their conversation topics leave me wanting to either give someone a vicious intellectual tongue-lashing, or run for the door. And I understand that part of my job is to look cute, and act cute, and put up with their unsolicited comments on my appearance, because at the end of the day, they are the customer, the beer is the product, and I am a major part of the packaging that makes a 66¢ bottle of Bud worth the $2.50 they pay for it. And lord help my closeted feminist butt, but I keep doing it week after week because the money's good and I need that money right now.

Even so, I have my limits. Back when I was in high school, some random girl once handed me a "Fashion Police" citation for wearing a pink t-shirt with red sneakers. Back then, I simply laughed and threw the slip of paper away. Now imagine me ten years older, with a whole lot less fucks to give.
Me: "I'm sorry, I really like my boots. I dress up for the customers, I do my makeup for them -"
Boss: "No, you do that for yourself. You do it to get better tips, pick up some more hours . . ."
Now, I may be misquoting here; because a slow miasma of rage had begun to creep across my vision. But the basic implication was, if I vary my footwear, I stand to improve my nightly haul and potentially pick up more hours on the schedule. Let's ignore the questionable logic of that statement and focus on the important stuff: 

"So you want me to wear . . . more?"

Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe we have just discovered my bar's "Flair" policy.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

On Maria Kang, Fitsperation, and The Problem With Fitness Privilege

(This is a cross post from my personal health and body positivity Tumblr. Enjoy!)

Warning: LOTS and LOTS of swear words coming up. You've been warned.

Now let's get down to business.


There's already been a ton written about super-fit mom-of-three Maria Kang. If you haven't been living on the internet recently, you can read a decent summary over here. I understand her intentions weren't to shame people, and I think her accomplishment is amazing. I even think it's a great thing to set as a goal and pursue, if that's what you're into.

HOWEVER. (Let's pause before the following paragraphs to put a big ol' "IMO" in front of everything I'm about to say.)

Monday, September 30, 2013

In Which I Discuss All The Things, Part I

Not pictured: Anxiety, Stress, Bad Decision Making,
Reverting to Your College Eating Habits Because
That's All You Can Afford Right Now
HOLY CRAP, let's talk real life for a hot minute.

First, the Epic Roadtrip Of Awesome was freak-out-no-holds-barred-let's-force-all-our-friends-to-view-a-slideshow level of EPIC.

Lucky for you, I have too much stuff going on right now to edit those pictures (and yes, since learning to use Photoshop, I basically can't post pictures without pulling them through an editing process. I just cant. I have a problem).

Instead of that
. . .

When we got back from said alluded-to Epic-Roadtrip-Of-Awesomesauce, I had this really bright (not really) idea about getting back to house shopping. We'd looked around a bit before our trip and there hadn't been anything that great, so I figured more casual browsing wouldn't hurt.

Except then casual browsing turned into casual viewing turned into casual finding a great house turned into casual putting in an offer -- except oh wait, there's nothing casual about that, and then wouldn't you know but all my brilliant plans of not becoming overly involved went straight to hell.

There's probably an old saying about, "when you drive by the house you just put an offer in on and notice that the fridge is sitting in the front yard for some mysterious reason, you might want to reconsider your decision," but I'd personally never had such an experience until, um, the fridge was sitting out in the front yard for some mysterious reason.

Turns out, some motha effers were in the process of clearing the place out, and had been interrupted by our drive by. Don't worry, they got right back to work after we left, and the fridge was gone by the next day (I know that's what you were worried about). I have never felt so personally responsible to people I've never met - I'm still replaying how we should have handled things differently. Adding insult to injury (for them), upon further inspection, we decided we didn't want that house after all -- which then meant, for those of you who are house-shopping uninitiated, that we had to wait for our thousand dollars of "I swear I'm super serious about this" earnest money to be mailed back to us in check form, and apologize profusely to our realtor for wasting his time on paperwork, yadda yadda.

But wait, there's more! Within a day or so of cancelling on the one house, we decided we wanted to buy another one of the houses we'd seen. And guess what that offer required?

If your answer is "One Thousand Dollars Earnest Money" -- good job, you've been paying attention. On the bright side, apparently it's possible to squeeze extra money from your monthly income, so long as you give up luxuries like fresh produce and making sure you're not going to run out of gas. With our penny-pinching budget in hand, we managed to wring not one, but TWO earnest money checks from our rather anemic-looking bank accounts (not the first nor the last time I'm going to wonder why exactly I thought freelancing was such a good idea . . .), and hop on board for the second time.

Which brings me to the loan approval process . . .

Will Chad and Kate get a house? Will Kate finally let go of her overly optimistic expectations that anything will ever be easy? The adventures continue next time!