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.

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.

Don’t Be A Dick: A Letter To Our Partners

couple-168191_1920Any body positive warrior can rail on and on about the importance of loving yourself. We can tell your spouse, for very good reason, that the only person’s opinion of her body that matters is her own.

Unfortunately, there is one instance can where this logic looses traction. Any woman, anyone, wants to remain attractive for their partner. What my husband thinks of how I look carries a considerable amount of weight with me. There are many times, especially for special occasions, when I dress purely to please him. I want to know he still finds me desirable. Even when my body changes with the seasons of life.

My husband has made, what he believed to be, simple statements that changed the way I did things for years. I still have trouble dancing in front him, because one simple, alcohol fueled, comment he made when we were dating.

So, partners, please do not under estimate the power of your words on your partner’s self esteem.

Let me let you in on a little secret. The way you treat a woman’s mind, and the effort you put into caring and cultivating her self esteem will be returned to you ten-fold. Women are like flowers in that respect. If we do not get sunshine, good soil, and plenty of water, we will never bloom for you. The more you starve us of your warmth, your care, and your support the more quickly we will wither away, and our feelings for you as well.

Make no mistake, the more your partner begins to devalue herself because of your hurtful words the quicker she will also devalue you as a partner in her life.

I get it. Bodies change. You are surrounded by the same media she is, and probably also have a tough time believing that beauty goes beyond the societal standard. You might just be a decent guy who wants his “old” partner back who had the young body and youthful smile. Let me give you some advice to help you out.

  1. Look in the mirror: Have you looked in the mirror lately? I’m guessing you don’t look like your 21 year old self, either.  Does your reflection in the mirror look exactly like the one when you first met? My guess is, probably not. Time is not kind to anyone. Even though society has a kinder approach to how men age, keep in mind that you may not be the hunk she first fell in love with, either.
  2. Be Supportive. Be Kind. Don’t Be A Dick: Truth bomb. Women who are participating in sabotaging behavior, especially when they weren’t before, may be having a crisis of self-esteem. You may think your being helpful when you tell her to get to ass off the couch and exercise, or that her ass looks like it was beat with a bag of nickels, but your doing the exact opposite. You are reinforcing the negative feelings and emotions, which most likely will send her into more unhealthy behavior. Don’t want your wife to eat so much chocolate? Here’s a tip: Don’t be a dick.  On the other side of the coin: Sudden, unexplained weight gain could be caused by any number of health issues. So, maybe instead of worrying about your wife’s outward appearance, you should focus on her internal health. If she’s healthy, then it is what is it. Again: Don’t be a dick.
  3. Remember She Is A Human Being: She is not just some sex doll. She is a human, with feelings and emotions. If you truly love her, then you love her for more than just what she looks like. Focus on those things. Again, bodies change. But her mind, her sense of humor, all the other things that attracted her to you won’t change. Guys, do you realize your wife created life for you. Her.Body.Created.Life. Perhaps you can back off it a touch, eh? (Side note: If the only thing that motivated you to commit to her was her looks, then I can’t help you. You will probably never find a long-lasting, long term relationship with a woman until you take a look at your shallowness. Just sayin’)
  4. Don’t Sabotage Her: If she (not you, SHE) decides she wants to make some lifestyle changes, don’t sabotage them. She may need more time to herself, so she can go to the gym a few nights a week. She may not be able to eat red meat every night. For her to make these changes, it sometimes means making changes to the whole family’s lives. If I were you, not only would I support her new goals but I would get on board with them. (Remember tip #1?) But, at the very least, don’t complain or get in her way.
  5. Is It Really Her Weight?: I’m not a marriage counselor. But, when people start being dicks to each other about things that make no sense (and trust me, being a dick about her appearance is one of those) sometimes it’s because something else is bothering you. I’m sorry to go all psycho-babble bull*#&^ on you man, but it’s true. Take a second to figure out what is really bothering you. Again, if your the decent guy I’m hoping you are, I’m guessing her weight isn’t as big of a deal as you think it is.

Five simple suggestions, my friend. Number two sums it up well, though. Be supportive. Be kind. Don’t be a dick.

Love your partner. With everything you have, and everything you are. Real love goes beyond how a body changes. Bodies change. Lives change. A real relationship learns to morph and grow with these changes in both people. If you want to grow old with her, then love what her body is turning into. You see those stretch marks? She earned those stripes creating life for you. See that cellulite? It’s proof she has lived. See her mid section? She has had some amazing meals that she has created memories over, memories that probably light up her face and remind her of amazing times.girl-517555_1920

Let me leave you with a couple of videos. Body shaming is a real thing. It causes real damage. You may think your being funny, but your really just hurting the person you love. Treat her like a flower. Give her warmth of your support. Give her fertile, rich soil in the form of a supportive home. Give her your love, and let it rain down on her. I promise, you will get your “old” partner back. She might not look the same, but she will love as strongly, if not more strongly, than when you first said the worlds.

P.S.: It is hard to write a post like this without using gender identifiers. Body shaming happens to everyone. I know this speaks a lot of men shaming women, but that can go both ways. Women, follow the same advice. Be supportive. Be kind. Don’t be a dick. 

 

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

 

 

A Story Of Body Discrimination

shopping-cart-53797_1280A friend of mine was shopping the other day for meat and cheese. She was standing in the check out line and decided to grab a bag of Doritos to go with her work lunches. While still standing in line she hears, “Ma’am?”

Then again, “Ma’am?”

After the third “Ma’am”, she turns around to see someone is trying to speak to her. It was a “perfectly dressed” young man trying to get her attention.

“You know, they put those there for THAT reason. For mindless, no will-powered, fat, morbidly obese people, like you to buy.”

My friend was shocked and said, “Excuse me? As you can clearly see I’m holding lunch here. If I choose to purchase chips to have with lunch, so be it. Who are you to say what I can or can’t buy, anyway?”

angry-man-274175_1280“It is my concern! You are fat and ugly and killing this planet. It’s my duty to point out your wrongs.”

A man in the line came to my friend’s defense, and told him shut up or he will be picking himself up off the floor.

The young man replied, “You’re just helping these fat people stay fat.”

My friend said, “I’m well rounded, happy, curvaceous women whose happy living in my skin. I did not say things to purposely hurt others. You, my friend, are not. Whose’s soul needs the work? Not mine.”

Stand Up Against Body Discrimination!

I was just thinking the other day that maybe I was starting to bark up the wrong tree. Maybe the world had become a more tolerant place for people of all body types, and maybe my focus should be elsewhere. Then, like a lightening bolt of truth, this story shows up on my Facebook feed. This happened in my town. The town that hands out bumper stickers that say, “Be nice, you’re In Bend.”

This story is a prime example of why we cannot stop fighting for body acceptance. We must continue to empower people to stand up to these emotional terrorists. We must support all people, and let them know that they are allowed to be happy living in their skin.

girl-672254_1280As for the troll, he is proof there is a long way to go. It makes you wonder how many people who “looked healthy” he didn’t call out. Did he criticize every high processed, non-nutritious food choice every shopper made that day? I highly doubt it. And, when did being fat cause global warming, anyway? He was participating in the last, socially acceptable, form of discrimination. Verbally abusing someone is never okay, no matter what they look like. I applaud everyone who stood up, my friend and the Good Samaritan. I also applaud of those who responded to her story on social media with support and love.

We must take our power back. Please stand with me in saying that this gentlemen’s behavior was unacceptable. Not just for my friend, but for everyone who experiences body discrimination. This happens daily, even hourly. Somewhere right now, someone is being treated with the same disrespect and spoken to with such hate.

Stop BodyDiscrimination!This is the 21st century. How someone looks does not make them, somehow, a lesser person. Just because someone does not conform to the unattainable ideal of beauty does not mean you have the RIGHT to tell them what they can or cannot do. Fat people are human beings.

Stand up against body discrimination. Everyone deserves respect.

How To Stop Giving Trolls Your Power

 

 

How To Stop Giving Trolls Your Power

I’ve been writing posts lately to dissipate the lie that being body positive is somehow the opposite of living a healthy lifestyle. (Read here, and here.) Those posts are for people who are thinking of becoming body positive, but worry it means compromising their health journey.

I find it so crazy that we live in a society where there is such a narrow definition of health and such a high standard for those who are “allowed” to pursue happiness.

That’s not the soapbox I’m on today. Today, I want to talk about concern trolls. Those pesky voices that fuel the fat phobia of our society. They are more like concern puppies, finding ways to pee all over every positive influence we have.

pet-423398_1280Concern puppies think they come from a good place. They say that they care about us, and want us to be healthy and happy. Because they are the (self appointed) saviors of our health, they think they have a divine responsibility to monitor and police everything we do. There is no comment too personal, no judgement too ignorant, for these super villains of body terrorism. It makes you wonder if they ever realize the damage they do to people’s mental health. If I actually care about someone, I attempt to not be a hurtful dick. Just sayin’.

They should have met my grandmother, who is probably watching Fox News in Heaven right now (don’t judge, Fox News was better back in the day.) She had a favorite saying: your rights only go beyond your nose. We should have gotten her saying that on video, so I could show it to those who need the reminder. We all have a right to the pursuit of health and happiness. Those rights do not extend to policing and micromanaging someone else’s journey.

giphyI wish concern puppies spent more time focusing on themselves, and less time worrying about me.Which is why I take my own advice. Fat phobics don’t do my aerobics. What I eat doesn’t make them &#*^. They don’t pay my bills, so I will pay them no mind. (Thank you, Mama Ru. Can I Get a Halleloo?)

It’s incredibly easy to turn these trolls into puppies when I think about what they’re working with. It’s about body currency. They felt like they have to work hard to pursue the unattainable ideal of beauty before they can find love and self-worth. (Check out the The Militant Baker post on the subject. Very enlightening.) You begin to realize these people are carrying around souls that have been corrupted by the dark side of the “health” industry. Add on the fact that body terrorism is the last acceptable “ims”, and we can understand why these puppies can’t keep themselves together.  They aren’t horrible people, just horribly misdirected. They probably were never loved as puppies, which is why they still try to pee on everything.

dog-658381_1280See? Isn’t it difficult to take them seriously now?

Unfortunately, this is where the puppy analogy ends. We can’t put leashes or muzzles on them or put down puppy pads to protect us their stream of hate. Though, there’s no harm in being the rolled up newspaper that swats them on the nose. Puppies needs to know their place.