23 November 2010

06 October 2010

chuck taylor and the quest for authenticity.

Recently my lack of casual close-toed shoes compelled me to invest in a third (in my life) pair of converse.  I chose white for various reasons, and immediately upon exiting the store I began the process of dirtying them up.  The color is only relevant because white emphasizes how new and clean the shoes are more than the other colors.  Anyway, the last time I purchased a pair of converse I was thirteen and couldn't be bothered about why I preferred them dirty.  These days though, I over think everything, so here comes my analysis of dirty shoes vs. clean shoes with regard to racial subcultures.

When I use the words "white" and "black" here, it is in reference to the particular cultures associated with the races.  I recognize that differing skin tones exist within these subcultures I wish that the cultures were not so inextricably linked to race in our minds, but I do not know how to best alter this and will use "black" and "white" for simplicity's sake.

The Converse Chuck Taylor is a universal shoe.  I see it on the feet of people of all different races and ages.  But I've noticed that we all tend to wear them differently.  People who identify with black culture seem to like to keep their shoes clean.  Once, a kid on my bus wore grocery bags over his to keep them clean because it was raining and they were new.  I don't know why this is, and I'm not going to try to figure it out right now.  I'm just throwing it out there to illustrate difference.  The shoes I want to talk about are the ones on the feet of dirty white kids.

I'm sure you had these kids at your high school: white, upper middle class, into "alternative" rock.  Uniform: jeans, band t-shirt, messy hair, beat down chuck taylors.  I was one of them (for a little while).  I got my first pair of chucks in seventh grade--royal blue.  You see, it was very important that you had chucks, but more important that you did not have the same color as "everyone else."  And let me tell you: as soon as I purchased royal blue, I started seeing them everywhere.  I got black in eighth grade just to give myself more options.  It was also important to have multiple pairs.

There were so many little rules, but above all else, your shoes had to be old and dirty.  Walking around in a pair of shiny new converse made you look stupid.  We might even throw around the word 'poseur,' though none of us ever spelled it correctly.  There was this ridiculous obsession with originality, legitimacy, and authenticity.  You had to like a band before they wound up on MTV or you didn't really like them, and if a band you liked did wind up on MTV (as was inevitable--our tastes weren't all that left of center) it was the end of the world.  If your converse were old and dirty, it signified that you had been a part of the scene for a long time.  If you had a Ramones shirt, you got bonus points.  We hated our parents for being square, and yet, were attempting to align ourselves with the rock subculture of their generation!  We weren't even radical or violent.  We were just dumb kids who dressed a certain way.

I have since gotten over my false musical elitism (sort of), but I still find myself with an appreciation for the old and beat down.  I am comfortably middle class with a free ride at school and plenty of mom's money to spend, yet I still dress in such a way that makes it look as though I have none.  A lot of my clothes cost between fifty cents and five dollars at Goodwill, and having a shiny new pair of converse makes me intensely uncomfortable.  Am I afraid of looking like I have money?  Are privilege and authenticity mutually exclusive?

I'm not entirely sure what I mean by "authenticity," but I know I am not the only one experiencing this.  Ever heard of a hipster?  I often joke that hipsters are people who spend a lot of money to make it look like they spent very little.  This is why Urban Outfitters is so popular--it's full of the clothes people wish they had the patience, luck, and skill to thrift.  I think the practice of paying high prices for destroyed denim is similar.

Why are middle and upper middle white people so obsessed with looking like they don't have any money?

02 September 2010

home improvements

I need to find a balance between militant and precious.

And to dissociate appearances from personalities.

And stop being so prejudiced against Christians.

I'd say I haven't really been feeling myself lately, but as I've never been too sure of who I am, I don't really know what myself feels like.

This is the effect of being at my mom's house, I think.  All I do here is watch TV.

19 August 2010

a fat girl's guide to feeling good

This stuff applies to everyone who has ever had a negative thought about their bodies; I am just writing from the perspective of having been an overweight female for over half of my life because we're the ones who are most openly and constantly told we don't look good as we are and should feel bad about it.

1- Cut the crap.  You are what you eat; so if you want to start feeling good about yourself, you need to stop eating junk food.  Fats and oils bog you down.  Sugar makes you crash.  Salt makes you bloat.  Feeling bad physically easily translates to negative emotions, and let's be honest here:  you're probably eating junk according to your feelings to begin with.  When you have pure, healthy, and wonderful foods running through your body, you feel pure, healthy, and wonderful yourself.  I know because I've made the switch.  If you need more convincing, start paying attention to how you feel (both physically and emotionally) before, while, and after you eat something.  When I eat junk the cycle usually goes like this: feeling bad, lazy, or bored; eat some junk and feel good while its going down (I think the act of eating releases endorphins or something similar); feel gross and guilty; eat more junk; rinse and repeat.  So positive, right?  The cycle should be this:  feel hungry; eat healthy snack; feel satisfied.

2- Move.  If you sit around all day like a lump, you will feel like a lump.  You don't have to run a marathon.  You don't even have to jog a mile.  Just get up and move your body around.  Take a walk.  Walking is easy and enjoyable.  You can walk around a park, a city, a mall--I'm not picky.  Well, I'd prefer you didn't walk around a mall, but I'll save my anti-consumerist rant for another day.  One of the reasons people who are overweight or obese feel so bad is that we are blamed for it.  We're only fat because we're lazy, right?  Well you can't be accused of being lazy if you're not, so get off your butt.  Leading and active and healthy life will help you feel better about your body because you'll start to focus on what it can do rather than what it looks like and you'll begin to realize that any fat you do have on your body isn't solely there because of the sedentary lifestyle you no longer live.  Genetics plays a huge and uncontrollable role in body type, and size is almost completely irrelevant to health.

3- Lose five pounds.  I don't care if your doctor says you have to lose 20, 50, or 100 pounds to reach a healthy weight.  Setting huge goals like that without smaller goals along the way will just discourage you from even trying because it seems so impossible.  Five pounds are easily dropped in two to four weeks, especially if you make the above changes, and a five pound weight loss feels phenomenal if you let it.  Clothes that fit before will be a little looser, and you'll be able to squeeze into things that were just a little too tight before.  Hitting a smaller goal like that will encourage you to stick with the lifestyle changes you've made and maybe even push a little harder.  The important thing is, though, that you don't put the focus on losing weight.  This can lead to eating disorders or just general negative feelings because if and when you don't meet your weight loss goals, you will get discouraged.  Instead focus on how much easier it is to walk up that hill from last week and how good it feels to be a little bit sore the next day.  Focus on how you feel, not how you look.  When you feel good, you look better automatically.

4- Turn off the TV.  Not only does watching TV mean long hours of sitting still, it means exposure to a world in which everyone is tiny unless its a plot device that they're not.  The only media I've seen lately that fights that is the Fit for Me Fruit of the Loom commercial that depicts women who have fat as sexy, beautiful, and desirable without question.  Even the Disney Channel, which is supposed to be full of role models for young girls, had me feeling bad after a few too many episodes of Jonas LA because the main character is very small with very prominent collar bones.  Not since That's So Raven has the Disney channel had a star who didn't fall into the category of skinny white girl (yes, I know Selena Gomez is half latin and Brenda Song is Asian, but their body types are still the same).  Every other network is just as bad.  ABC Family has Huge, but fat is still just a plot device on that show.  Constant exposure to a world that is 95% skinny white girls, 4% skinny racially abiguous girls, and 1% girls whose fat is a plot device will make you feel othered.  It is really really hard to fight a message that subtle unless you just avoid it all together or seriously limit your exposure.

5- Change the way you think about fat.  I've posted about this before, but I realized last night that fat is a thing you can have, not a thing you can be.  Do not ever say, "I am fat."   Say instead, "I have fat."  Because everybody has fat, saying that you have it is not so othering.  Thinking of is this way will help you remove some of the negative connotations of the word.  Fat is not and should not be a part of your identity, so saying you are fat is just a little bit ridiculous.  Having fat does not make you lazy.  It does not make you ugly.  It does not make you undesireable.  You may think no one could ever be attracted to you, but chances are you've just blinded yourself to the signs.  That boy I hooked up with?  Apparently we both had huge crushes on each other in high school but I was too concerned with being a dyke to realize I liked him and too entrenched in hating my body to think he could possibly like me.  But he did.  And he was still attracted to me four years later and two sizes bigger.  And maybe you haven't been as lucky yet to be openly persued (even if it was just the one time), but consider the number of people you've been attracted to and never done anything about.  I'm betting there has been someone who found you attractive, beautiful, kinda cute, but people don't just walk up to strangers on the street to tell them they think they look good.  Maybe they should.

I'm not a doctor or any kind of official expert, but I know this stuff works.  I've been reminded by doctors, family, friends, and boys on the bus--kindly and not so kindly--that I am overweight since I was nine years old.  I've been told I was fat and therefore not good enough for more than half my life.  That's a huge amount of baggage weighing me down (pun not originally intended but totally supported).  But in just the last three months I've started making these changes and I have never been more in love with my body or my self.  I just feel good all the time.  Well, most of the time.  But its still a huge (oh my god, I love puns) improvement over the hatred I used to feel for myself and almost everybody else.  None of us can be perfectly in love with our bodies all the time, but I hope we can all start to feel as good as I've felt recently.  And if we stop letting the media and anonymous assholes on the internet tell us how we should feel, I think we can make it happen.  Be positive, y'all! 

I can't believe I just said y'all.  Ok, I can.  But don't hold it against me.  :)

11 August 2010

i kissed a boy and i liked it.

Ok.  So if you've known me at all over the past four years, especially if you knew me during the last two years of high school (hell, if you just went to my high school--I had it emblazoned on my damn tshirt), you'd know that I've long identified as a big ol' MO.  Lesbian, dyke, gay, I like women, etc.  "But wait!" you say, "your post title says you kissed a boy!"  Well, folks, that's what we're going to talk about today: my long and mildly stupid journey to realizing that gender doesn't matter.  I repeat: GENDER DOESN'T MATTER.  But I have a feeling most of you already know that.  On to my blabbering.

When I was fourteen or so I started to realized that I was attracted to girls, and considering my very long and very vocal history of obsessing over boys this concerned me.  Well, it actually didn't bother me that I liked girls.  Not for long anyway.  I wasn't homophobic.  I loved my gays!  I just never thought I'd be one of them. A year or two and many angsty journal entries later (I think I like girls...  But I still like boys!  Oh, what to do????) I started coming out as gay to a few friends, then everyone I met, then my family.  I was uncomfortable with the word "lesbian" and very uncomfortable with the idea of being bisexual.  It came with so many nasty, slutty, attention seeking connotations.  I certainly wasn't going to be bisexual.  No sir.  Not me.  I like girls only.

If there's one thing at which I excel, its convincing myself of things that aren't true.  I knew I was still attracted to men and I have the journal entries to prove it, but I desperately suppressed those feelings to avoid the bisexual label.  This is why I am convinced that every person who claims homosexuality is a choice is not only right on some level, but also bisexual.  Everyone who isn't a zero or a six on the Kinsey scale really sort of does have a choice--though it is much healthier to not make it.  Anyway, I eventually made myself comfortable with the words that meant I was a woman who like women.  Only.  How disgustingly limiting of me.

This summer I've been focusing a lot on being more honest with myself and more open to everything really, and I've finally gotten to the point where I can appreciate the differences biological sex has to offer, but ultimately the gender of the person I'm with doesn't matter.  So, yeah.  I hooked up with a dude last week.  And it was great.  Who would have thought I'd get my hands on a man before they ever touched a lady?  Not me (well, a little).  Certainly not anyone who's ever seen me wear my 'PS, I'm a Lesbian' tshirt. 

My point is:  hook up with or date or whatever who you're attracted to, and don't worry about their gender, or their parts, or what it means for your sexual identity.  Still be responsible about sex though!

I'm so over the whole concept of sexual identity.  The idea didn't even exist until a couple hundred years ago anyway.  Greek and Roman men hooked up with dudes and it didn't make them gay or bisexual.  Those words didn't exist.  Those ideas didn't exist.  Ok, it was a bit more complicated than that, but you can find out for yourself.  I no longer claim the term 'lesbian' to describe myself, and I'm not going for 'bisexual' either.  'Gay' is cool because its a bit more open, but those labels, while handy, really only reinforce the gender binary.  A woman who likes women.  A man who likes men.  A man or woman who likes men and women.  WHO CARES?  I'm a person who likes people.  And if you must label me, I guess you can call me queer.

I tried to explain the concept of queer to some fifteen year old boys I ran into at the playground last night, and of course I couldn't.  But maybe that's the beauty of it.  A label that doesn't mean anything but also means everything.  Those of us who claim queer cannot be pinned down.  I'm starting to get the feeling that this is even bigger, even more radical, and even more lifechanging than we ever imagined.  And we thought it was pretty big already.

If you don't know what I mean when I say "queer," the Wikipedia article on the subject is actually surprisingly spot on to the definition my wonderfully intelligent and radical Charleston friends have come to.

05 August 2010


Bloggo on hold till Monday due to travels.  In the interim, a revelation:

Gender doesn't matter.

California agrees.

And on that note, did it ever bother anyone else that only the men had to sign up for the draft when we were high school seniors?  It bothered me, but I kept quiet since it worked in my favor.  But don't we want equality on all fronts?

02 August 2010

my boys

I took the walk!

See further details on my other blog: better consciousness.

My "professional" camera wasn't allowed inside the venue, so I couldn't get any shots of the actual show.  But it was nice because it meant I got to really experience the event (best show I've ever been to, btw) rather than get caught up in recording it.

my boys

Well, I neglected the ol' bloggo on Friday because I was busing hanging with my boys Zac, Taylor, and Isaac.  Yep, I went to see Hanson in Asheville Friday night.  Jealous?  Probably not considering the number of my friends who completely discount them based entirely on their former 90s boy band status and that one silly song they sang.  And their girly haircuts, right?  But I would hope most of you are now enlightened enough to see the problems with that.

Actually, they were three reasonably talented and driven boys who have grown into three very talented, driven, and conscientious men.  If you have any doubts about their talent or growth as musicians, just check out their latest single:

This show was absolutely the best concert I've ever been to.  Yes, it even beats Tegan and Sara.  Maybe because I didn't have a friend there drunkenly harassing Taylor, but mostly because their energy was up, their personalities really shone through on stage (Taylor-charismatic, Isaac-chill, Zac-a little shy), they gladly played all the old favorites (not begrudgingly like some artists), and the old music held up well against the new music, which is truly fantastic.  The audience was also the most unified I have ever been a part of.  We sang along with an incredible clarity and I felt a sort of sense of community as most of us were women in our 20s who have loved these guys since elementary school.  Some guy dressed as a Blue's Brother was invited up on stage during one of my favorite songs and one girl in the audience got pulled up to actually dance with Taylor.  I felt like I was eight years old again, and thirteen, and seventeen, and twenty all at the same time.  It was the best Friday night I'd had in a long time.  I really can't remember when I've smiled so much, and even through the intense pain in my feet that was caused by what I really want to talk about today.

Three years ago in conjunction with the release of their album The Walk, Hanson started an activism project called Take the Walk wherein the brothers meet up with fans before a show to walk a mile in an African child's lack of shoes to raise money to help with the AIDS crisis and other aspects of poverty in Africa.  They give one dollar for each mile walked, and as of Friday enough people had walked enough miles to circle the globe twice.  Each walker has the option to put their dollar towards clean water wells, shoes, HIV/AIDS treatment, schools, or telephone service to access health care.  We also have the option to match our dollar or donate more.  After burning my feet on the streets of Asheville, I was really feeling for the kids without shoes, but I chose clean water, I guess because without clean water you'll die of disease or dehydration before any of the other things matter too much.

Hanson works with TOMS Shoes on the barefoot bit, and probably got the idea of barefoot walks from the company who sponsors One Day Without Shoes every year to raise awareness about the importance of shoes to the people who don't have them.  But Taylor kept reminding us that our walk was not primarily an awareness walk (though we did get people asking questions).  No, Hanson's Walk is about people coming together and taking action and inspiring others to do the same.  And I left feeling really empowered despite--and maybe in part because of--the pain, but I can't help but think it isn't enough.  Don't get me wrong, what they're doing is really fantastic, and they have made huge differences to individual lives, but they're really just treating the symptoms in a way.  How can we take it a step further and break the poverty cycle, both abroad and at home?  I just feel like the world's problems are so much bigger than any of us and I start to lose hope.  But that's what the walk is about, I guess: hope, inspiration, change.  Coming together so the problems don't seem quite so big.  But I still want to break down the system.  And maybe learn that sweet dance up there. ;)

28 July 2010

skin deep

These women are beautiful.  These women have fat on their bodies.  Beauty and fat are not mutually exclusive.

26 July 2010

screaming insecurities

Here's the thing about fat:  Fat means you're healthy.  It means you can reproduce.  Fat is energy stored up for later.  Fat means no painful hip bones getting in the way during sex.  Fat means you can take advantage of fat soluble vitamins.  Fat protects your heart and lungs.  It means healthy skin and hair.  Fat insulates you from the heat and cold.  Fat is beautiful. 

Yesterday one style blogger I read posted photos from a canoe trip and felt the need to warn us ahead of time about the visibility of her lower back and went on to express how uncomfortable she was with bathing suits due to her fat and cellulite.  You guys.  This girl is hot.  If I had to guess I'd say she's a size 6ish, maybe 8, and I have never once seen evidence of a love handle, bra bulge, or any of the other number of things women stress about.  Granted, she has complete control over which images of her we see.  BUT if you're someone who is very attractive, is generally agreed upon to be very attractive, and you have between 30 and 70 comments every day telling you how attractive, funny and creative you are and you still have body issues, there is something wrong.  And its not something wrong with you, its something very very wrong with society.

To the blogger I'm talking about, if you're reading this- know that this isn't really about you.  Its about a much much bigger trend that scares me, and your post is simply what brought it to the front of my attention.  Every day from the day we are born, women are bombarded with words and images about what we should look like, how we should dress, what we should like, etc, etc.  We know what kind of damage this bombardment is capable of: 6 year olds on diets, teens with eating disorders, soccer moms turned gym rats, and just general dislike of our bodies, always finding fault.  Apparently this bombardment is so damaging that months and months of 50 positive comments a day aren't enough to combat it.  Fifty comments telling you how great you are and you still don't feel awesome about yourself?  Jesus.

I have to admit that I'm still struggling with my own body image.  I was always the biggest of my sisters and got a lot of crap for it.  Pile on top of that the media frenzy and you wind up with a fifteen year old with stacks of tabloids featuring starved Mary-Kate, Kiera Knightly, and Nicole Richie stashed under her bed.  I starved in the morning and binged in the afternoon and spent my evenings flipping through the magazines and browsing the internet for "thinspiration."  I did manage to whittle myself down to a size 12, desperately wishing to be a size 2.  I was disgusted with my own body and anyone else's who was any bigger.  I think I did a lot of damage to my little sister as well with all my hateful talk, even if I was just talking about me.

And this is my main point: You have to love your own body, for yourself, and for everyone else.  Women (actually all people) feed energy off of each other, and when the energy you project is body negative you eventually wind up with a huge downward spiral of women tearing each other down whether they mean to or not.  My little sister's best friend who is a natural stick was devastated when she hit 100 pounds.  Keep in mind she was 15 or 16 when this happened.  When my sister, who is definitely bigger than her friend but still totally gorgeous and totally healthy, was telling me about her friend hating her body she said something along the lines of, "If she thinks she's so disgusting, what must she think of me?"  I had felt this exact same thing the countless times any of my smaller, more beautiful (so I perceived) friends expressed dislike of their bodies.  Its totally discouraging.  So when this particular gorgeous blogger expressed her swimsuit insecurities, all those old feelings were briefly dredged up.  But ultimately I was more worried for her.

The journey to complete body love is tough, especially in the West.  I should know.  After about a year of the starve, binge, hate cycle I realized that I needed to start eating better.  Stopping the starving was pretty easy, but I kept up the binging (I never made myself throw up, though I did try once).  It wasn't until I was seventeen and had regained the weight and then some that I realized I needed to stop the hate too.  I came across some old pictures of size 12, possibly eating disordered me and I looked great!  Save the yellowy skin and dark circles.  I kept digging and realized that even before that my body looked really fantastic, despite what my sisters might have told me.  I felt like I had wasted so much time and energy hating my body when it looked fantastic.  And that's what I was doing.  If you are hating your body right now, you are wasting time and energy.  Instead, use that energy to do something that makes you feel better.

Over time I've managed to change my beauty ideals to a more realistic standard by distancing myself from Hollywood and the fashion world and spending more time with beautiful friends of all different shapes and sizes who are working hard to start loving their bodies too.  The fact that I still have ideals is a problem that I'm working on, but these things take time.  We have to change the way we think about bodies.  We have to watch what we say.

If you're feeling a little insecure, that's ok.  In fact, I probably overreacted to that blogger's comment.  But you definitely definitely shouldn't let that insecurity settle.  The best thing you can do for your body image is to eat right and exercise.  And it absolutely isn't about losing weight.  If you make exercise about losing weight you'll hate yourself if you don't and you'll give it up, discouraged.  Exercise is about being healthy.  Its about being amazed at what your body is physically capable of.  And its about pushing just a little bit harder.  Most importantly, its about fun and feeling good.  I never feel better about myself than about ten minutes after a good workout.  But for god's sake, don't rely on a scale to tell you how healthy you are.  The scale has no idea.

I have lost a little bit of weight since becoming vegan two months ago and adding a little exercise, and I do need to lose some weight for medical purposes, but I'll never be without fat and I never want to be because here's the thing about fat:  Fat means you're healthy.  It means you can reproduce.  Fat is energy stored up for later.  Fat means no painful hip bones getting in the way during sex.  Fat means you can take advantage of fat soluble vitamins.  Fat protects your heart and lungs.  It means healthy skin and hair.  Fat insulates you from the heat and cold.  Fat is beautiful.

23 July 2010

be kind to your boobs (and your back)

Of the four girls whose backs I can see from my seat in world history, only one of them wears a properly fitting bra.  When a bra doesn't fit, the whole world can see the problems it causes, and you'll likely wind up with a sore back.  Sure the bra is evolved from a misogynist tool of the patriarchy, but these days it can make life a lot more comfortable for women with particularly large or floppy chests.  That is if you find the proper fit.

A bra has three main components: the band, the cups, and the straps.  The band is the primary source of support and therefore the most important part.  It also seems to be the part women have the most trouble with.  It should fit snugly but comfortably and remain horizontal at the level of the underbust all the way around.  Most often women choose bands that are too tight causing unsightly (and uncomfortable!) bulges.  I also see a lot of bands that ride up in the back, transferring the burden of support to the much weaker straps that the wearer has adjusted to be too short.  The first row of images show the problems of an ill fitting band.  Additionally, when buying a bra, choose one with a band that fits best at the last set of clasps so that as the elastic weakens and stretches over time you can adjust the fit by using the next set in.

Next come the cups.  I find that these are the most difficult to fit because THEY AREN'T EVEN BOOB SHAPED!  Seriously, what's up with that?  But if you are lucky enough or diligent enough to find a cup that fits it will just cradle your boobs with no gapping or spilling.  I think the last image up there is a combo of loose band and small cups.  If your boobs are hanging out underneath, they obviously aren't being supported.  The top of the cup should rest seamlessly against your skin--otherwise it will show through your top.  If the bit of the band between the cups gaps away from your chest, your cups are too small.  If there's any space between the cup and your skin anywhere, the cup is too big.

Now the straps.  These are really just there to help keep everything up and in place and aren't even really necessary--hence the possibility of a strapless bra.  Never the less, they should fit well too.  All bra straps are designed to be hugely adjustable but you will probably need help getting them just right unless your arms don't have any bones in them.  If they cut into your shoulders they're too short, and if they slip off all the time they're way too long.

Measuring will help get you in the ballpark, but the best way to find a well fitting bra is to set aside a couple of hours and head to a big department store or a specialized store like Victoria's Secret where the employees are specifically trained to help you find the perfect fit.  Expect to try on a ton of different size combos and styles to find the one that works for you.  Finding the right bra takes effort, but the reduced potential for back problems and increased daily comfort are totally worth it.

21 July 2010

a very merry unbirthday! to you!

Yes, you!  But not me!  Because its my birthday!  I'm 20!  It's weird.

Well this year I decided to make some new years resolutions that I'll hopefully hold on to throughout my 20s.  I'm ready to start a new chapter in my life.  And, I mean, what relevance does January 1st really have for any of us?  And it falls right in the middle of the school year.  Hardly a good time for a fresh start!  But now: I'm entering a new decade in my life; I'm going to a new school next semester in a new place; I'm adding a women's and gender studies major; I'm newly vegan.  Time for changes.

These resolutions are more open ended so if I don't do them one day or even for a whole month I don't feel defeated (I actually got this idea from Style Magnet who doesn't blog at that site anymore, but I've cut way back on my style blog reading anyway).

Resolutions are:
-Read more.  And good books, too.  Not just stuff for funsies like PLLs.  But funsies are allowed.
-Move my body more.  See last post.
-Stay vegan.
-Be proactive.  This applies to everything from my art to my studies to my potential future career.
-Be open.  To whatever.

I hope everyone out there is enjoying their unbirthdays!

19 July 2010

you don't have to pay for exercise.

I know.  It seems obvious.  But this really didn't occur to me until this summer.  Going to a gym is not your only option!  In fact, you don't even have to exercise to get exercise.

Don't get me wrong: I love a good workout at the gym.  It feels awesome to be able to leave and say, "I just burned 347 calories!"  And silently competing with your neighbors can be a great motivation to push a little harder.  BUT unless you just relish the almost clinical feel and just can't wait to watch Will & Grace while you pump your legs, mustering up the motivation just to make yourself go can be daunting.  I think it's because when we put the label of "exercise" on it as something we have to do, it becomes unappealing.  I mean, how clean is your room before you finally get to that paper, right?  Because its necessary you want to do anything but.

Still, you have to get your butt moving if you want to be any sort of healthy.  This isn't about losing weight or looking good (the conclusion my dad jumps to every time I mention the subject), but it's about forcing the sugar out of my blood and into my muscles and being generally more active.  And besides, what if you're being chased down by an axe murderer?  Don't you want to be in good enough shape to get away?  I'd be the first one down, for sure.

So I've been trying to exercise without exercising.  Hike a mountain.  Swim in a lake.  Go for a bike ride.  Go for a walk, even.  Anything beats sitting in front of the TV or computer writing up a stupid blog post about exercise.  I wonder how good of a workout typing is?  Stenographers were fit ladies, were they not?  I digress...  Living room dance party? I've done that one.  Hell, climb a tree!  Its what kids used to do and they were in great shape!  Go outside and play.

My point is: exercise can be fun and it doesn't have to be necessary if you work it into your day.  Park further back.  Take the stairs.  Do the dishes by hand.  Have sex.  I realize that most of these activities are more fun with a partner, so the number one best thing you can do for your activity level?  Find active friends.

I realize we've all heard this stuff before, but I had to go to class today.  AND Sam's.  So I'm kind of drained.  Shopping at Sam's is scary, y'all.  And it definitely counts as moderate exercise.  THEY DON'T EVEN HAVE BEANS!  What kind of crazy store doesn't have beans???  Needless to say I won't be going back, for more reasons than one.  But I'm sure I can whip up a few posts on that subject alone.  But now I have to go tend to the beans that I didn't get at Sam's (had to pop over to his now rebranded, more mom friendly partner store Walmart).  Yuck.

16 July 2010

she's one hairy son of a bitch

One hotly debated topic among some of the feminists I hang around with is none other than the removal of body hair.  OK, so it's not really hotly debated, but the subject does come up and is of particular importance to women who have only just realized their feminism, lesbianism, queerness, etc.  As soon as we hit puberty and that peach fuzz starts to darken, we are expected to remove it.  I remember being in sixth grade, begging my mom to let me shave.  She said, "Maybe in the spring when you start wearing shorts again."  My thoughts were, "HELLO, I still have to wear shorts in gym class!!!"  And every other eleven year old girl in my gym class was, indeed, hairless.  So I stole one of my older sister's disposable razors and shaved my legs.  Problem solved.  Fast forward eight years: college sophomore, lazy bones, winter time.  For me, shaving always took a hiatus during the winter because my legs were covered, so who cares.  When this spring rolled around and I packed my tights up with my winter clothes, I did shave my legs and pits maybe three or four times.  But after what was probably about a year and a half of philosophical thought pertaining to body hair, I decided to stop shaving for good.

But enough of my personal journey towards hairy legs and on with the debate!  Sometime last year I came across some postings in a facebook group about the subject by a couple of radical friends of mine.  Their argument against hair removal was basically that women have been historically pressured to remove their hair by men, that it was another "trapping of femininity."  They claimed that any feminist worth her salt simply had to maintain her body hair as a political statement against patriarchy.  This has been a rather gross generalization and exaggeration of their posts (which were already a couple years old by the time I read them), but I've gotten the impression that quite a number of more radical feminists actually do hold this view.  Their arguments didn't sit well with me as I felt (and still feel) that feminism is supposed to be about women (and men) having the right to make their own choices regarding, well, everything--and without any societal or political pressures.  Isn't the expectation not to shave your legs just as bad as the expectation to do it?  I think yes.  Men and women should be able to remove or maintain their body hair without judgement or ridicule.

 A lot of people I know very much understand and embrace this, but in wider society having hair is considered a masculine trait and smooth skin considered feminine.  For a long time I was accepting of body hair on women only if they were masculine and wasn't comfortable with the idea of hairy legs and a dress.  I quickly recognized the core of the problem and soon began working towards increasing my comfort level.  These days I'm throwing on sleeveless tops and shorts or skirts without a second thought about hair showing, but I'm still only at a point of associating hair with casual femininity and am not sure how I would feel if faced with a formal occasion.  I'll get there, I'm sure.

Distracted by my own personal journey, it took me until yesterday to wonder how the feminine/masculine associations came to be in the first place.  So of course, I looked it up on wikipedia.  Apparently women didn't think twice about body hair until around 1915 when the rising popularity of sleeveless dresses inspired a targeted advertising assault on armpit hair, claiming it was "unsightly."  As hemlines remained longer until the 40s and 50s, women didn't bother with their leg hair.  The popularity of shorter hemlines and the sheer nylons (under which hair looked "dorky") that came with them seem to be the top causes for the persisting expectation that womens' legs remain smooth.

Another thing I'm starting to notice is that these "trappings of femininity" we so often blame on patriarchy are perpetuated much more strongly by women!  Womens' magazines that tell us to remove our body hair and wear makeup to please men are run by women!  I personally find makeup to be kind of gross and body hair to be kind of hot (and I like women), so ladies: quit bringing eachother down!  Body hair can be feminine and beautiful.  Let's just all be.

14 July 2010

sweet land of liberty

Seeing as our "great nation" just celebrated its 234th birthday, I thought the subject of "America" might be appropriate for my inaugural post.  We in the United States have a bit of a nasty habit of referring to ourselves as "Americans" and to our nation as "America."  This probably doesn't seem like a problem to a lot of people.  It is the United States of America after all.  Right?  Well I didn't realize it was a problem either until my 9th grade Spanish teacher very specifically pointed it out.

You see, "America" and "the Americas" actually refer to TWO WHOLE CONTINENTS!  That's over 900 million people (according to Wikipedia's population estimates) and over 600 million of them are citizens of nations other than the United States.  So when you say "America" in reference to the United States you are actually devaluing the lives of everyone in South America, Latin America, Mexico, and Canada (kind of like how when Catholics and Mormons refer to their respective churches as THE Church it sort of invalidates every other religion that ever existed).  As most of the population affected by "American" arrogance is Spanish speaking, the Spanish language fittingly has a word specific to citizens of the United States that makes no reference to the continent on which they (we) live: estadouinidense(s) (in Spanish, United States = Estados Unidos).

I haven't studied any languages other than Spanish, so I can't say if they are the only ones to come up with a better word, but why don't we have a similar word in English?  These words are apparently called demonyms- words used to describe inhabitants of a place, usually derived from the place name.  We have them for inhabitants of every other nation (Chinese, French, British, etc.) and even for many states (South Carolinian, Californian, Floridian...), but the only demonym we can come up with for ourselves is American--a word that applies to far more people than just those in the US.

The only answer I can come up with is that "United Statesan" is too cumbersome for the average lazy American tongue.  To combat this, I try to say "I'm from the US" rather than "I'm American" and "people in the US" rather than "Americans."  And of course it's always easy to replace "America" with "The US/United States" in writing and speech.

Language is a powerful tool on the path to equality (and in the maintenance of inequalities), and if I can make such a simple change to my speech to help level the playing field among my fellow beings/consciousnesses, I'm going to.

Update (7/15): Today I realized that in my arrogance I forgot a very important detail--that most of those Spanish speakers to our south are not really "American" either.  They are the descendants of European colonists as well.  The people who have been truly shunned by our appropriation of the word are the native and ancient inhabitants of these two continents: the Aztecs, Maya, Incas, Olmecs, and each of the large, unnameable number of tribes that lived and thrived in North America before the Europeans came and wiped them out with their Guns, Germs, and Steel (shout out to my man, Jarod Diamond!).

07 June 2010

three beauties

final project for my advanced photography class: a book of tea stained contact prints from my 1925 box camera.

01 June 2010


double exposures made in the darkroom.

29 May 2010


These are all contact prints from my 1925 box camera.  I love the soft dreamy quality the camera imparts.