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.

Give Yourself The Gift Of Self-Love

wp-1448999133321.jpgI used to spend the month of December in self-reflection hell. It meant I only had a month to get everything on my resolutions list done (remember that thing from January you’ve forgotten about?) It also meant having a month to think about everything I wanted to change about myself.

This year is different. I don’t need self-hate to motivate me into the new year. I don’t have to fight my body composition to win my self worth.

I know that putting pressure on myself doesn’t help me deal with my nervous habits.

I know that I will never fit the narrow definition of perfect. No one does.

Though, I’m disappointed I put off trying Stand Up Comedy. By the time I got the courage to try it, there was no longer open mic comedy nights. Either I’m going to have to travel to a bigger city (which I suppose is an option) or release this goal into the nether. It was one of the many lessons I learned this year: Some challenges in life you are never ready for. You have face them now, or never get the chance.

IMG951083I don’t need a new year to create new goals for myself. I have spent 12 months working on the goals that matter. I continue to work on my journey towards becoming fully body positive. I saw some new waterfalls. We did a couple parks for our park tour. I’ve even learned how to cook some great, healthy food. (This time last year, I was still slightly afraid of raw meat and my slow cooker.) 2016 will be another year full of loving myself as I am, and embracing all the wonderful thing I can, and already, do.

I can love and support without reservation, because I am worthy. I can befriend without fear, because I am a good person. Radical Self Love isn’t just about being able to love how you look in the mirror. It’s about letting go of any negative thoughts about yourself. It’s about believe you are a decent person worthy of the space (no matter how much) you take in this world.

If I could give my friends any gift this holiday, it would be radical self love. They deserve to see themselves how I see them: Beautiful, amazing human beings who light up this world. I wish they knew the differences they make in peoples lives, and how perfect they really are.

wp-1448999148219.jpgUnfortunately, radical self love isn’t purchased in a store, put in box, and wrapped up with a gorgeous bow. Radical self love is a gift you truly give yourself everyday, all day. When you look in the mirror, when you chase your passion, and when you give unyielding love to those around you.

Give your self the gift of freedom. Pamper yourself with the gift of radical self love this season. You are wanted. You are loved. You are worthy.

Craigslist Chronicles: My Response

girl-850117_1280There are so many moving pieces to this story. It may take a me a few days to tell it all. I figure we might as well start with my response to a group of fat shamers who have been trolling the Craigslist Rants & Raves section.


 

 

I have promised myself for days that I wasn’t going to respond to any of this. I was happy to ignore your ignorance before you brought my second home into this.

Yes, I am the dancer you (3?) seem to dislike so much. I am grateful for anyone, and everyone, who dance with me. If I’m taking good leads, it’s because I’ve been kind to them and they are kind to me in return. The dance floor here is not a competition. I’m going to assume you are a competitive WCS dancer, which is why you are so focused on my technique.

That’s right, posters, I am dangerous. Dangerously lacking in a give-a-damn for your opinion.

I suppose I am a planet. Planet Awesome. Luckily my gravity is selective, which probably why you’ve never gotten close enough to get to know anything about me. I’m also blessed to not revolve around your bullshit.

My diet is none of your business. My health is no one’s business.

All and all, it’s cool you picked me to take your misogynistic bullshit out on. Maybe the fact that I have already started separating my self-worth from the opinions of others is the reason why I made such a tasty target for your forked tongue. A big girl with confidence, and who does not care what your whispering about in the corner? I bet that is frustrating.

bamboo-364112_1920Keep your focus on me, because I can take your shade. (I shine bright.) You are only proving that fat shaming is slowly becoming unacceptable. You’ll have to find some other way to entertain yourself (selves?). May I humbly suggest the COCC classes on interpersonal communication? Or a therapist? I’m sure there’s a monastery far away from my horrific fat rolls that will let you contemplate your outlook on life.
I am incredibly grateful for the statement by the Owner of Maverick’s. I have never felt anything but love and support from the staff and patrons and I feel incredibly grateful to have such a supportive and fun environment to express myself in. If you have ever thought of learning to dance, but have been worried about people being judgmental, please believe Maverick’s is a great place to start. This isolated situation aside, I have never had any problems. The patrons of Maverick’s are far from shallow, and even insinuating such makes me a sad panda.

Continue to come at me. I can take it. I hope out of this disastrous shit show we can grow some understanding. These kinds of things happen every day, to hundreds (thousands) of people. Being bullied and shamed because of how you look is no easy thing. There have been enough studies to show that shaming people for their weight is not a positive catalyst for change. In fact, it can trigger disordered eating habits, which have the potential to be life threatening. I’m strong enough to take these words, and I’m happy to do it if it means you (all of you?) are leaving other big girls alone for awhile.

As for my behavior on the floor. I’m not sure what that is about. But, I know it’s tough for some people to watching a big girl have a good time and even express her sexuality. But, it’s not my job to make you comfortable with my body. It’s my job to be comfortable in my body.

Again, maybe look into that monastery. Because I’m not going to stop dancing for anyone.


 

In addition, I am incredibly grateful to all the people who have come to my defense. I don’t want to spend too much time focusing on the negative without spotlighting there has been way more positive things said on the matter. This brings us to our first lesson of the Craigslist Chronicles: No matter how many negative things are said, always know that you have twice as many people who have your back and love you for who you are.

When Your Partner Is A Dick: Letter To A Shamed Spouse

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girl-517555_1920Sometimes the people we love the most misuse their power. They use their words to damage us, cutting us at the very core of who we are. There is no truer example of this than when one partner body shames another.

As a body positive warrior, I could spend a lifetime lecturing you and trying to get you to understand that the only person who’s opinion about your body matters in your own. Unfortunately, I even know that is futile when it comes to a romantic partner.

We all want to be attractive for them. We want to be desirable for them. When we dress for a night out, we dress to please them. Their words, even when they are said in jest, cut deeper than our partners probably realize.

You are not going to catch me telling you it’s okay. I’m not going to tell you that our partners are blunt, and fixers, and are just wanting to fix a simple problem they see. It’s never going to come from me that being shamed by your partner is a simple misunderstanding.

Body shaming, from anyone, carries with it heavy and sometimes irreversible emotional damage. When these unkind, and frankly abusive words, come from a partner they hit hard and their damage lingers for years after.

Despite what your partner may say, please listen to me. You are attractive. You are worthy. You are a good person.  I know you want to run from these words, because you are given reason to disbelieve them. I know I cannot make you believe them. But, woman-591576_1920promise you are at least listening when I say them.

You are attractive.

You are worthy.

You are a good person.

Your spouse has fallen into a trap, and maybe you have fallen into the same one. Society has built in messages about body image that are meant to strengthen companies who financially gain off of your misery. Fast food restaurants gain profit from emotional eating. Weight loss and exercise companies gain from everyone’s displeasure with their inability maintain the standard of beauty. Salons and make-up companies also profit from this. The media has been told it has to help uphold the unattainable standard of beauty so these companies can profit of our pain. Your spouse is fed these media images just like you are. They are told they are only successful if their spouse attains these goals. The problem isn’t yours. It’s theirs. You have every right to be happy, and healthy, in whatever way that looks on the outside.

If your partner cannot support you, and love you, through all of the changes your body will go through, then I humbly suggest you detach your self-worth from their opinion. Their opinion is flawed. It is tainted. As hard as it may be, know you have a right to detach your self worth from your outward appearance, and from what other people may think of your appearance.

You also have the right to a happy, healthy, and supportive home. If your partner is not being a partner in the endeavor of making your home these things, then they are not holding up their end of the bargain.

20150131_144911Your body will change with time. No one looks like they did when they were 21. No one looks like they did when they get married. The changes in our body are proof that we are living, breathing beings with memories and experiences. Your journey, and the proof of that journey, deserves love and respect. Don’t let anyone, partner or not, make you feel otherwise.

You are worthy. You are enough.

Sweater Dress: The Look

20151008_194012I wrote previously about the day I purchased my first sweater dress. I learned a lot that day, especially that not all clothes are worthy of my body. But, this dress certainly was.

I will admit I’m not a huge fashion person. I tend to live in clothes that are more worthy of a #OORL (outfit of real life) hastag versus the #OOTD (outfit of the day) loveliness most of my counterparts are posting these days.

Fashion, generally, makes me sad for one of two reasons. The first, is it reminds me that I do not have a large amount of income to devote to developing and maintaining an amazing closet. I always feel like, when I do really try to pull an outfit together, that I am usually missing some vital piece of the vision (usually the shoes.) Secondly, I still battle with the difference between hiding my physical flaws from the world and wearing what makes me feel comfortable and pretty before I look in the mirror.

After getting this sweater dress, and finding everything I ever wanted in my current wardrobe to pull it together, I was reminded if something amazing about fashion. Finding clothes that are worthy of my body, and really taking the time to get dressed, is a way of honoring my body and investing in it. I suppose I cannot do the moment real justice with words, but I will say it was empowering.

The selfie I sent her with the text, "Did I do this right?"

The selfie I sent her with the text, “Did I do this right?”

I also wanna give a shout-out to one of my best friends. She walked me through the entire process of trying to style this dress. A sweater dress, in many ways, is one of the most unforgiving and difficult wardrobe pieces a person can wear. Since it was my first, ever, I desperately needed someone to hold my hand through it. I appreciate you (and love you!) Thank you for making this outfit happen. ❤

Alright, so on the the knitty-gritty. I really own no brand name clothes, so I’m not sure it will help to tell you the brands of these pieces. The dress was purchased at Ross. They have quite a few short sleeved sweater dresses on the rack right now. The dress is a 1x.

The belt actually came with a dress I got at a clothing exchange a year or so ago. I wear the belt more than I wear the dress. I’ll admit I don’t wear a belt very often, but I am slowly beginning to understand their benefits, especially in a case like this.

The leggings were from Wal*Mart. Though, they may be one size too big these days. I found them bunching up and getting loose after 20 minutes if I didn’t keep an eye on them.

1444349916240The shoes! These were the most commented item, for sure. I have had these shoes for almost a year. To be honest, I don’t remember which discount shoe store I purchased them for. They were, originally, part of my anniversary outfit this (last?) year. Occasionally I find reasons to bring them out.

My make-up was very minimal. I just wore lip gloss and mascara. Seeing as I never wear make-up usually, this made enough of an impact for me. I accented the mostly black/grey outfit with a pop of red in my earrings and my bracelet. The earrings were purchased at the Saturday Market in Portland last year.  The bracelet was an amazing, handcrafted, gift from a friend for my birthday a couple years ago.

The best thing I wore was my confidence. I never once doubted how amazing I looked that night. My husband and I had an amazing date, and got to spend a couple hours really enjoying Downtown Bend, and each other.

 

The Truth About Becoming Body Positive

I should start out by saying it is my truth about becoming body positive. It would be pretty messed up (read: asshole-ish) of me to assume that my journey is the same as anyone else’s.

My problem is the expectation of how this journey would go. (Remember that saying about the root of all heartache?) I figured “becoming body positive” would be a magic wand that I would pick up and *poof* all my body image problems would just disappear.

20150921_140359Becoming body positive was suppose to be an upbeat version of “Blood Mary.” I would look in the mirror and say “I love myself” 3 to 30 times until I vibrant, happy woman appeared.

In reality I am finding the transition to be much slower. Every week there are successes and there are setbacks. One day I am feeling amazing in a dress I haven’t worn in almost a decade, and just a couple days later I’m looking at really shape-hugging sweater dress on my body in a dressing room and cringing. I am just as susceptible as anyone else to having my body positivity derailed by my own reflection, a picture at a bad angle, or even the negative words of others.

When I was staring at the mirror in the Kohl’s dressing room I had a choice to make. It was one of those moments where I had to consciously, and with severe effort, choose to challenge my negative self-talk. That stupid b*^ch in my head was saying some pretty nasty stuff, especially about the outline of my stomach. She said that I would never be able to wear a sweater dress, because sweater dresses are only for skinny, beautiful people. My body was not worthy according to her.

I made a stand. I closed my eyes and reminded myself that the dress is not the right shape for me. The dress is not worthy of me. Not the other way around.

I turned my back to the mirror and tried on another. I may not have felt as confident, and I had to take a deep breath, but I pushed forward. That is the beauty of this transition. I won’t learn how to reorder my thoughts into a more positive mind-frame if I am never challenged. To practice putting my negative voice in it’s place, I have to occasionally be put in a position to hear it.

This may not be a magic wand, but it is a magical time. Learning to see myself in a new light is like learning to see with new eyes. Like a newborn, it takes time to figure out how to focus right. I may go cross-eyed on occasion, but slowly I’ll be able to see the world the way I was meant to.

The next piece I tried on fit amazingly. My new sweater dress feels like it was made specifically for me. It is a dress worthy of my body. And that negative voice? She’s been put back to bed.

Coming To Terms With My Sensitivity

I realized something recently. And, even though it scares me to be so open about it, I wonder if maybe it will help others. It should be said, that I do not believe that everyone who is on the journey of body positivity shares my same personality traits. We are all unique individuals.

10298045_706325596087151_5885683421153360480_oI am very sensitive. Any criticism has always gone straight into my heart and burrowed it’s way to my very soul. So many of these stinging words still make an unhappy home there. You could say that the locust of my identity has always been singularly exterior. (If you get that reference, I owe you a paper on adolescent gibbons.)

I’m sure you can imagine how being so sensitive can be connected to body image issues. When I looked in the mirror I was thinking about what other people saw. My entire self-image was dictated by the opinions of others. (Yes, as I type that I see the sad irony.) But, as I move with this journey of self acceptance, I am starting to learn that what other people think of me is none of my business and therefore meaningless. What matters is what I think. I think of my body is capable of many amazing things, certainly more than I used to give her credit for. She grew a human. She does a spectacular body roll. She can hike. She can dance. She can comfort. She can laugh.

My whole life, if other people thought I wasn’t good at something, I always took their word for it. Now, I’m learning to neither ask or care what someone else thinks. I am my only judge. Once I started seeing my body without the filter of other people’s opinions, the fog started to lift on the rest of my life. It was like seeing the world through my own eyes for the first time.

cropped-10468476_706325529420491_1185440341718504982_o.jpgAnd, that’s what this journey does for me. It’s not just about being able to look at my body in a mirror (though the fact that I smile when I do is a nice change.) Becoming body positive hasn’t just been about finding more freedom in my wardrobe (though not caring about fashion rules has made my closet more lively.) Going on this journey of self acceptance has improved every aspect of my life. I have learned to harness my own power, and not give it away to others.

I no longer believe that I am too fat to do anything. I no longer believe that my outward appearance dictates my worth. I no longer let other people’s opinions become my self-image.  As I debunk all the criticisms I have taken to heart over the years I am learning the truth. I am worthy. I am capable. I am loved.

So, even though I started this journey focusing solely on my appearance, I’m realizing the work I have been doing as been strictly internal. It’s not about telling other people what they should see when they look at me, but what I see when I look at myself.

I’m also realizing that being sensitive isn’t a bad thing. I can be sensitive to how my actions affect those around me. Instead of focusing on how people speak to and about me, I can focus on how I speak about and to others. And, that is really what life is all about. We are all individuals, each with a unique skill set. I was given the gift of sensitivity, and thanks to the body positive movement, I now have the freedom to use it to make the world a better place.

cropped-12697_669477846438593_6110106555309474913_n.jpg