A Wayword BoPo Sheep

20150822_111131I am struggling with my body positivity. I’m not sure what else there is to say. The soaring confidence I used to have in the body positivity movement doesn’t seem to be coursing through my veins like before.

It’s not that I don’t believe in the movement. In fact, I still believe it has done tremendous things for my life. I would have never embraced my ability to dance without it. I never would have explored the forest, waterfalls, and hiking in general with out it. I certainly would not have found the confidence to get on stage and try stand up comedy with out Body Positivity.

Yet, if I were to give a “State of My Union” address, I would have to say the state of my self-confidence is at a low. It’s not an all-time low. I still know I am in a better place mentally than I was when I started this journey two years ago. But, it is low.

The only thing I can pinpoint this dip in self-confidence is starting comedy. Specifically, watching myself on video constantly. I tape every set I do. I want to see how my material does. I want to see what nervous ticks I have on stage so I can work on them. The problem with cameras, especially when you have to prop them with beer bottles on a table, is the angles suck. I see myself, admittedly, at some of the worst angles in some the harshest, unflattering light. As I find less about my performance to beat myself up over, I find myself focusing on what I look like on stage.

Let’s be honest. It doesn’t matter what your size is. It is important to think about your image when you are building a career like comedy. It’s important to think about what people see on stage. I have no guitar to hide behind. I have no distractions on stage. It is just me, microphone in hand, wanting to gain the trust of an audience enough that they are willing to find humor where they might not otherwise. What I wear, what I look like is important.

It’s important for anyone, in any field. There is room for personal flair, and for all body types. In whatever any of us do, it’s important to project confidence and look like you have your shit together.
12705568_10207076201757668_390478687671836899_nBut, I’m struggling with the duality of it. Does this mean that I need to worry about my VBO in jeans? The rolls that I have? I’ll be honest. It drives me absolutely nuts. If there is anything about what I see on camera, it’s my midsection that fucks with my mind more than anything else. Where is the line between ensuring I look put together and trustworthy, and yet embracing my body for what it currently is with love and respect?

I don’t know the answer. I am far from someone who can give advice at this point. Perhaps I need some.

It’s not fair to blame it all on comedy, either. That ordeal with Craiglist hit me harder than I ever wanted to admit to anyone. I still struggle with stepping in front of anyone without thinking about it. The struggle with online hate is real. Maybe I should have waited longer before entering a new career, a new community, a new spotlight before working through that. There are other factors, other influences, that don’t have the same BoPo philosophy. It’s also not fair to blame anyone by myself. I have lost my way.

I am a wayward sheep. The farther I wander from my herd, the farther I get from the habits that helped me love my body, and the closer I get to the habits that didn’t. I drink less water. I drink more soda. I put garbage in my body. I will say, this moment has helped me remember something vital about this movement. When you love something, you treat it with care. Body positivity helped me love my body, and want to take care of it. The farther I get from that, the more I don’t care.

I think it’s the feeling of failure that burdens me the most. How could I be such a proponent of a moment for two years, and the moment I really become tested lose my way?

And, I hate to talk about it. I don’t want to be one of those women that seeks input from others to feel better about themselves. I don’t want to be a woe-is-me about this. But, I wonder if it’s important for others to see the struggle. It’s not always easy, all the time. Every journey has up and downs.

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Spring Forward

20150822_111131I know, daylight savings time is a real debate. Some people like it. Some people hate it. But, nonetheless, many of us are about to spring forward our clocks.

Why do we do this? We do this to try to spread the sunlight out to the more useful hours. It is said that the use of Daylight Savings Time saves over 10,000 barrels of oil a day. Say what you want, but it does save energy.

But, what does this have to do with anything you would care about? Well, this got me thinking about body confidence. I was thinking about how I come across situations in my life that take so much energy, especially in the battle of body positivity.

For example, I had headshots taken this weekend in the name of comedy. I found myself worrying about them. Would I look okay? Was it worth paying for a photographer when I’m not a model? The idea of being in front of a camera really shook my confidence.

When the time came, I had a choice. I could either waste energy on these feelings, or spring past them. I had to spring past my insecurities so I could truly enjoy the sunshine of the moment.

Okay, so it might be a metaphorical stretch. But, you get where I’m headed, right?

12705568_10207076201757668_390478687671836899_nIn the last 3 months I’ve had a lot of first times. First time on stage. First real gig. First head shots. All of these moments have come with significant body confidence troubles. My mind wants to put significant energy into how I look on stage. How my outward appearance might negatively affect how my material is received. But, I choose to spring forward, if even in that moment when I have to step on the stage or in front of the camera.

So, feel free to steal my poor metaphor (but good advice). Sometimes it feels like we can’t run from our insecurities. I think working through insecurities, especially those connected with body issues, can take a lifetime to unravel. There are so many societal messages that reinforce our negative self talk. But, instead of spending energy trying to ban them forever, maybe we can all start at trying to spring forward. We can tell our insecurities we will fall back on them after our tasks are completely.

Spring forward for your goals. Spring forward so you can experience new things. Spring forward so you can love yourself. You might be surprised what results you get when you spring past your insecurities, if even just for an hour.

Katy Ipock Headshot

Why Deadpool Is My New BoPo Spirit Animal

20150214_185614My husband wanted to see dead pool for our Valentine’s Day/Anniversary. (Yes, we got married on Valentine’s Day. Everyone celebrates our love. You are welcome.)

I knew what I was getting into, and was actually excited. Who doesn’t love a Ryan Reynolds in a spandex suit? And the filthy humor is right up my alley.

Here is what I didn’t expect. As I was watching Deadpool beat the snot out of bad guys, I realized his power comes from his lack of fear. He knows he will survive any damage. He is truly invisible.

What if we all lived our lives this way? Of course, I’m speaking metaphorically. I’m not suggesting you believe that you are immortal, and no bullet or car accident is going to harm you.

What I mean, is what if we all lived our lives like the words and attitudes of those around us just bounced off? What if we believed that no one could damage us with their words, actions, and attitudes? Sure, they cause a hole for a moment, but our bodies will just close that shit up and we will survive.

What if we all realized that we truly, kick ass?

20151005_093717I think if we all believed that no one has the capability of hurting us permanently, we would all live a more fulfilling life. No more worrying about judgement. No more nights wasted wondering if our mere presence is disruptive. What dreams would we strive for if we didn’t take into account how others will react?

So, channel your inner Deadpool ladies. Remember, that though it may sting for a moment, the words and actions of others are meaningless.

They are the opinions of sheep.

We All Lose Our Way

20150328_140727I feel like I’ve been writing a lot about the intersection of body positivity and health. I get on the soapbox and talk about it’s possible to live in that intersection without sacrificing your self love or your desire to be your healthiest self. There is a way to meld these two together in harmony. It’s all about checking your motivatations and not making any decision purely to chase the unattainable goal of the perfect looking body. Thinness isn’t health. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Here’s the thing. I’m feeling like a fraud lately.

Ever since I went on stage for my first open mic, I’ve been battling the old voices. I thought I was strong, and ready to take my next step into the world. But, I worry. Will my weight keep people for appreciating my humor? Will people give me a chance? Will they still be able to relate to me, and what I’m saying, even if I don’t “look pleasing?” Do I need to start wearing make up at every show, and update my wardrobe?

It has motivated me to start working out at home. This is something I have battled forever. “Traditional” exercise has always made me feel weak in the past. But, that has changed. I am up to doing 100 squats, 100 crunches, and 85 push ups. I’m going slow, but it is feeling amazing.

But I know I’m doing it for the wrong reasons. I’m doing it in hopes that, eventually, it will start changing some of the dimensions of my body. I’m hoping, on top of all the healthy stuff I am already doing, this will help my body begin to conform to a more “acceptable” shape.

20140823_085751There is some truth to my rationalizations. I’m not hiking right now, it’s too cold and wintery for me. And, it doesn’t stay light late enough for me to go for walks after my husband gets home. Plus, I’m not dancing as often. So, I need to do something at home while my son is at school. I need to keep my stamina up so I can hike and hunt waterfalls this coming season.

But, I have to admit, my head isn’t in the right place, either.

We all get lost on our journeys. No one is prepared for every twist and turn. The trick to is find your way again. I’ll get there. So will you.

The Oprah Outrage

20151101_155613Remember my post a few weeks ago, where I said I wasn’t going to response to the body negative things anymore. I wasn’t going to perpetrate there hatred by shinning light on it? This won’t be the first time I break that rule.

You probably know, but may not, that Oprah has endorsed Weight Watchers in a very big way. Ignoring the fact that she owns 10% of the business, she opened in her video (which arrived on everyone’s feed thanks to the Facebook Sponsored post system) with this statement:

Inside every overweight woman, is a woman she knows she can be.”

Oprah, arguably the most powerful and successful woman in the world, has put herself out there and say she doesn’t feel happy with herself because she is overweight.

So, why is this causing an uproar? There are probably million of women who feel this way. They want to be healthier, and happier, especially with this time of year when so many of us are looking at ways of self-improvement.

The best way to explain this might be to, again, take you through my personal journey.

3rdMy first memories of trying to be active is in elementary school PE. We were running relays. I was not very fast, but I was enjoying myself. At one point, for whatever reason, I fell. The kids laughed, and the teacher brushed it off. It was the first I had ever felt my ankle hurt.

For the rest of my childhood, anytime I would run or walk for an extended period of time on or both of my ankles would begin to throb and seize. All the adults in my life would say the same thing. It’s just growing pains. I felt defective. It was like being told that my body was not made to be active.

I also grew up in a time before body positivity, bully prevention, or what feels like general awareness of child mental health. It’s was acceptable to everyone that I be called fat like it was a nasty thing to be. If a kid spit on me in the playground, I was treated like the bad one and told to play somewhere else. I was chastised when siblings would push my face into a slice of cake I didn’t want to eat while being told I was a pig. When I was told to go kill myself, I was made out as the bad guy because I started making plans.

The lesson I learned was simple: To be “bad” at sports is to be fat. To be fat is to be ugly. To be ugly is to be worthless.

Once I got to middle school, I just began to believe what I was told. I had a gigantic chip on my shoulder. My PE teachers would yell at me when I was laying on the floor trying to understand why my ankles would seize. The kids would laugh. And of course, the ever present taunting.

Once I got to high school I just gave in. I believed that I was a bad student because I was bad a sports. I believed I was a bad person because I was fat. I believed that this meant I was ugly, and worthless, and didn’t deserve to be anything but a “fat slob.”

If you ever wonder why a kid like me would give up things when struggles would come, it’s because when you are told all your life you aren’t worth effort.

It became the reason I allowed people to mistreat me, abuse me, and generally ignore me. It was also why I allowed the adults in my life to tell me it was my fault.

This progressed through my adulthood. I never completed college because I didn’t feel smart enough. I was convinced my co-workers hated me because I was fat and wasn’t pretty. I was sure that my only job in life was to sit on a computer all day, and be a fat slob.

0987121-R1-054-25AI crash dieted through my early adulthood, losing over 60 pounds twice in my life. It never stuck, because I never learned how to actually take care of my body. The easy fixes the media sold me never fixed the real problem. I was deficient in self worth.

It wasn’t until almost two years ago, a light bulb started to click. I went on a walk with some friends, the whole time apologizing in advance for being slow and fat and ruining their time. I thought they would have to stop for me every few steps so I could catch my breath.

I’m not going to say that we never stopped, but I was not the only one catching my breath.

I walked 3 miles that day.

A few weeks later I saw my first waterfall. And I cried.

I started to realize the basis for everything I ever felt about myself was a lie. Not everyone is a star athlete, but this doesn’t mean that you aren’t worthy to work out. Not everyone is stick thin model, but that doesn’t make you unworthy of love. Sure, I was fat but that didn’t mean that I was unworthy of happiness or a fulfilling life.

I realized that being fat is just a descriptor. It is a way of describing someone’s appearance. It has nothing to do with their happiness, their abilities, or what path they should take in life. Being fat isn’t a lifestyle you have to conform to UNTIL you have earned your right to be seen in public.

20150614_114923It’s taken me two years to fully untangle the lies of my early life. I still have people who try to shove them down my throat. But, I think I’m doing okay.

That is why Oprah’s statement is so inflammatory. If someone like Oprah can tell a world that SHE isn’t good enough because she isn’t thin, she is discounting every success she has ever had. She is telling people that the only thing that matters is how you look. Her one statement says until you conform the societal standard of normalcy, you are unworthy of happiness.

Believing that lie kept me unhealthy, scared, and depressed for almost 30 years. It kept me from believing that I could achieve anything. No young person should feel this way. No child should have their self-esteem tied to their appearance. Every person is human. Every person is worthy.

Inside every person is their full potential. But, you don’t need to lose weight to find yourself. Your weight does not dictate who are you, what you are good at, or what you are worthy of being.

As for the ankle pain? Well, after almost 10 years of never feeling it, it came back a month ago. I had been dancing in non-supportive shoes. Almost every day for a week my ankle would seize. I’m 30. Somehow I doubt it’s growing pains.

I’ve always noticed this bone on the side of both my ankles that didn’t seem right, though no physician as ever said anything. After some googling, I believe that I may have Accessory Navicular Syndrome. (I’m lucky the internet gave me something so benign.) It’s on my list of things to mention to my doctor, even though there is nothing to really do with it. But it would unravel one last lie. It’s not that I am bad at sports, or unworthy of being active, I just have an extra piece of awesomeness. If I would have know that when I was kid, my entire world would have been different. One more reason why telling fat kids they suck because they are fat is a bad lie to tell them.

Do I honestly expect my doctor to care? Not really. I’ve never had an adult in my life saying anything other than, “get over it.” The world still believes that the worst thing to be is fat. The world believes that every problem is because of fat. I wonder how many more lives that lie will derail?

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A New Study, A New Excuse To Shame

katy1A study came out of England and has swept the feeds of all of us, thanks to to the article in the Daily Telegraph. The study supposedly concludes that it is better to be “skinny and lazy” that “fat but fit.” 

I feel like this contradicts many studies that have been saying the exact opposite. I refuse to be one of those people who ignore science because it negates my beliefs. If this study truly shows that it is better to be skinny and lazy, than so be it. I’m holding out judgement until I can do more research.

That being said, articles like this are dangerous. The rhetoric of the posts around this article are disturbing. I can understand wanting to help people live their best, healthiest lives. I also understand, and believe that the duty of our scientific community is to discover the answers to all of our questions and concerns, whether those answers make us uncomfortable or not.

Saying that obesity is akin to terrorism only creates an environment for fat people to continue to be abused and bullied. It doesn’t really matter what this study says. There have been plenty of studies that say that shaming people for their body type does not help anyone become healthier. So, please, keep this in mind. Fat or not, the people in this study (and those they represent) are still human beings. Please don’t use studies like this as an excuse to malign and degrade.

In the meantime, I don’t see this as a reason to change what I’m doing. I still contend that becoming “body positive” has led me to the healthiest lifestyle I’ve had so far in my journey. Not that it really matters to me, but I am down 2 pant sizes and at least 20 pounds. (I have not stepped on scale outside of my doctor’s office in almost six months.) It may not be rapid weight loss, but it has been done in a healthy way that has created sustainable lifestyle changes. My Yo-Yo days are over, thanks to loving myself.

Articles like this can be disheartening. It gives ammunition to those people who are just “worried about our health.” It will give opportunities for more attention hungry Nicole Arbors to jump in and add more fuel to the hate fire. I imagine in the next few days there will be a lot of rhetoric on the topic. I hope you remember, as I hope to remind myself, that this study doesn’t change a basic principle. No matter what we look like, or what our health status is, we are deserving of basic decency and dignity. As a fat person, I still have just as much of a right to be in public and happy. I am deserving of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (wherever that pursuit takes me).

I am not a terrorist because I am unwilling to conform to an unattainable standard of beauty.

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Why You Should Take The Picture

katy1We are in the midst of party season. As someone battling with the weight of body shame, this season is both fantastic and frightful. My nightmare before Christmas is always the pictures. Yes, I’m admitting that even as a proud voice for Body Positivity, I still struggle with taking pictures. I’ve almost lost my fear of the selfie, but I’ll admit that I tend to only post the images where I look a certain way. It’s the group pictures that I can’t really control that still bring anxiety.

The thing about pictures, especially at this time of year, is they really aren’t about what anyone looks like. I know that seems silly, given that we are creating a permanent record of appearances. But, truly, it has nothing to do with how anyone looks. Taking a picture is a really futile attempt to freeze a moment in time. It’s about trying to use the magic and sorcery of modern technology to place a moment into a bottle and keep it with us for the rest of time.

12313576_934377866615255_5393670197344542289_nWhen I look back on pictures, I’m not looking at what the other people look like. I’m not picking apart my imperfections. A picture is a jumping off point, the spark that ignites a memory. As we move farther and farther from that point in time, we need that spark to remind us of the amazing moment we had in our lives, and importantly who we shared it with.

I know it’s scary to get in front of a camera. I understand the sweaty palms, the raised heartbeat and the heaviness that body shame brings to the picture. But, I also know that when I am older and far away from that moment, I won’t see or remember any of that. I will embrace the sorcery, and let the picture spark the memory. I will remember the joke that shared minutes before, and the loving exchange of hugs moments later. It will bring back to life the people in the room with me, even when life takes them far away. family

Pictures aren’t about being perfectly posed, impeccably dressed, or aesthetically pleasing. They only capture the best of us if we let them, and the best of us has nothing to do with how we look. So, smile and let the love of the moment shine through you. Remember you are creating a spark, for yourself and for others. Let them see you shine.