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. ;)