An old post, from my old journal, but with new persepctive...

I've been reading Veronica Monet's Sex Secrets of Escorts and while most of it isn't particularly great writing or things i never knew before -- she does make a few good points, among which are a few I want to share with you:
Escorts, by virtue of their profession, must love their bodies. The common woman often does not. They take the time to pamper and primp their body because it's an expression of love and care for themselves.

. . .

Throughout history, courtesans weren't paid only to be beautiful, but to be witty, smart, engaging and often had access to a world of learning that other women did not. They were allowed to challenge men in ways that other women often could not.  Some would even go to say that the women who were courtesans by choice (not by lineage or force) were the early feminists -- embracing knowledge and regaining control of their sexual pleasure.


Journalistic Integrity, Part II

Once upon a time (7/12/2010), I posted a blog entry named "More of that Journalistic Integrity BS" in which, much like the Great Oz, I stepped out from behind the curtain to reveal myself:

I broke New Rule #3 ("I will not think badly about myself when I look in the mirror.") a gazillion times.
Heck, it's the rule I break most often, without fail. No only do I have an adversarial relationship with the mirror, I have an adversarial relationship with my body.  (For all the bravado of FGvW, Robby is pretty insecure).

For as much as I scrutinized the photo above, I don't have the traditional type of body dysmorphic disorder where I think I'm larger than I truly am.  I am quite the opposite.  When I close my eyes and run my hands over my body, I see and feel the person underneath the fat suit.  When I open my eyes, I'm disappointed with what I see--a body that doesn't represent who I am at this moment, but is the legacy of all the bad decisions that I've made and all the past pain in my life. I look at myself and don't see me. I see a prisoner.

This ties in to how many people say to me "but you aren't fat..." and how I feel bad calling myself FatGirlvsWorld when I know many women (and men) who are larger than I am.  It's the fat brain (the one that fears gaining it all back).  No matter how much weight I lose, how fast I run, how strong I am, or how much I truly love myself, I still think that my body just doesn't represent who I truly am on the inside.  In other words, there's a cognitive dissonance between who I think I am (mentally, physically, etc.) and the physical reality of who I am.  The result is frustration and scrutinizing.

Yesterday, I got a new bikini from H&M (as well as a dress and a light jacket).  When in the dressing room, I was utterly horrified by the way the lighting made me look, but I closed my eyes and tried to let my inner vixen make the decision about whether or not I wanted the bikini. Inner vixen said yes, I do want this bikini.

I put it on when I got home and wanted to show the world my purchase, but my old nemesis, the mirror started playing tricks on me:

But in the end, I posted the picture (at 2 am... hours after I took the photo):

Nota bene:  I'm not giving you the finger, I'm giving the fat the finger.  Why?

oh typos...
I feel like such a hypocrite when I am all "RAWR, YOU MUST LOVE YOUR BODY" and at the same time I'm deeply insecure -- but the truth of the matter is that perception sometimes feels truthier than the truth.  Who among us hasn't had the misalignment where your heart and mind completely love you, but your eyes betray that progress? 

So yes, I think too much.  I intellectualize things that should be visceral and natural.  But holding up that mirror to myself to understand why I think the way I do about my own body is the foundation work that I need in order to make a permanent change. Eventually the way I perceive myself/my body will match how I see myself/my body.  Make sense?

In other news, RAWR -- I look pretty hot in the new bikini, eh? It's a great color on my pale ass, Irish skin.

BTW, I love all the tweets and blog posts that are flying in the face of magazines' "Bikini Ready Body" -- all you really need to wear a bikini is SPF and chutzpah.

In the war against ourselves, is there ever a winner?

I've written before, in passing, about psychologist/Buddhist practitioner Tara Brach and her book, Radical Acceptance.  I just wanted to take an opportunity, on this Mother's Day eve, to talk a little about it in the context of how we care for ourselves.

The book starts out with an anecdote about how her friend was learning to be "her own best friend." Tara had a visceral reaction to this: 
A huge wave of sadness came over me, and I broke down sobbing.  I was the furthest thing from my own best friend.  I was continually harassed by an inner judge who was merciless, relentless, nit-picking, driving, often invisible but always on the job.  I knew I would never treat a friend the way I treated myself, without mercy or kindness.  My guiding assumption was "Something is fundamentally wrong with me," and I struggled to control and fix what felt like a basically flawed self.
 Strikes a cord, right?
When we experience our lives through this lens of personal insufficiency, we are imprisoned in what I call the trance of unworthiness.  Trapped in this trance, we are unable to perceive the truth of who we really are.  [ . . . ]
[B]ecause our habits of feeling insufficient are so strong, awakening from the trance involves not only inner resolve, but active training of the heart and mind.  Through Buddhist awareness practices, we free ourselves from the suffering of trance by learning to recognize what is true in the present moment, and by embracing whatever we see with an open heart.  This cultivation of mindfulness and compassion is what I call Radical Acceptance.

[Radical Acceptance] is the necessary antidote to years of neglecting ourselves, years of judging and treating ourselves harshly, years of rejecting this moment's experience and our life as it is.  A moment of Radical Acceptance is a moment of genuine freedom. 
(1) I'm not trying to sell you Buddhism, and (2) I didn't mean to quote half of the prologue;  however, I do think that each and every one of us have had moments where we feel that "something is fundamentally wrong with me" and if you've ever picked up a magazine or watched TV, that message has been reinforced with a bit of "something is fundamentally wrong with you."

Marketers LOVE to prey on this insecurity.  I love the story of how Listerine made halitosis a household word, and not the other way around.  Think about how many other products prey on the insecurity of "ZOMG my breath must smell bad and offend everyone around me!"  Cosmetics companies sell the paranoia that we are being scrutinized (oh noes! fine lines! blackheads!), so we must use harsh chemicals to strip the natural, protective oils on our skin and hair, and then cover it up with some unnatural oils, and then, in the case of women, put on a mask or dye (there's a big difference between "enhance" and "cover").  Our natural scents are offensive and so we must prevent and/or neutralize it (antiperspirant/deodorant), or completely mask it with a perfume, cologne or body spray.

We're sold apparel to make us look taller, thinner, younger, fitter, with bigger/anti-gravity boobs, bigger butts, bigger packages, etc.  How could we possibly attract a mate if we showed up looking like our natural selves?!  How could you possibly feel good about yourself leaving the house looking like that?

The food industry sells us this idea as well as the exercise/gym world.  Not only are they homogenizing our food resources (corn! soy! fake sugars!), but they sell the idea of one vision of health -- the thin, flexible, young (usually white) woman, and the beefy, unnaturally muscled/tanned/oiled man with the perfect head of hair.  Until we look like mirror images of them, something is wrong with our bodies -- we should seek improvement immediately!  We are told that our insides are toxic and so we must detox and cleanse them.  We're told (ahem, Biggest Loser/Bob Harper) that we should restrict calories and increase activity to achieve aesthetic ideals, which is very different than educating people on how to make a healthy choice for themselves.  Just scare the bejeebus out of them by telling them something's wrong with them and that you have the cure.

I remember getting a pamphlet when I was 10/11 telling me that this magical thing was going to happen to my body, and that it would be marked by "secondary sex characteristics" (i.e., not just the joy of my "monthly friend"):  arrival of body and pubic hair; boobs and hips would get bigger; etc.  But from the onset, I was taught to be ashamed of these things:  my mother insisted on a bra that would compress my breasts; and though leg and underarm hair was a sign that I was becoming a woman, I was to remove all traces of it.  As an adult, I'm aware of a whole industry surrounding the insecurities that women feel towards their own vaginas and pubic hair (and shame on you men and lesbians for compounding this insecurity by asking/insisting that your lover be shaven/waxed -- it's up to her and her alone, just be happy that you were invited to the party).  

**deep breath**  I'm rambling, aren't I?

The whole point of what I'm trying to get at is that whatever it is that anyone of us may or may not be doing to improve our health should (1) be an expression of the love that we have for ourselves at this very moment, (2) not a result of fear, insecurity, or perceived unworthiness, (3) not come at the expense of our whole self.  We should not introduce behaviors, people, or products in our lives that seek to undermine that love with fear or insecurity.

What would you have to put aside to call a truce with your own body and mind?

I was talking with a friend the other day about our shared anxiety disorder, dermatillomania and said:  The hardest part of the work, for me, is trying to get it through my thick skull that black heads, white heads, ingrown hairs... etc... all have a way of working themselves out -- that if I just wash with soap and water, my body will take care of the rest -- that I don't need to play doctor and fix it.

What an amazing concept -- I'm not something broken that needs to be fixed.

I am loveable, worthy, and beautiful just the way I am, even if that's moments after stepping out of the shower, without makeup, without my contacts, without clothing that reverses the effects of gravity, or even without brushing my teeth.  Even if I didn't go to the gym that day, even if I split a donut with a friend, even if I popped a pimple, even if I just farted, I'm still worthy of loving my beautiful self.

**sigh of relief**  

"I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member" ~ Groucho Marx

In a shot heard 'round the world, Abercrombie & Fitch's CEO doesn't want fat chicks wearing their clothing.

I feel you and all of your righteous indignation when clothing makers decide to cut-off their sizes at a certain point and that just so happens to not include you.  I empathize to a degree.  I hear all of your love for brands that decide to include larger sizes.  I see your pom-poms.

But the truth is that even if they did go up to size 16, there would still be people left out.  Even if they went up to size 20, there would still be people that can't shop there.  And that's okay.  That's their choice.  Producing clothing over a certain size requires the patterns to change, which requires different factory setups.  At some point, they just do a cost-benefit analysis and decide that they aren't going to expand the sizes.

What people are mad at is that this CEO decided to paint a very bleak picture about size and acceptance.  Are we mad because he's a jerkface and pointed out the disparity about how differently people are treated because of their size, or are we mad because he's making money off of it?

That's for y'all to debate if you wish.  I just want to remind you that, as consumers, we yield not just a lot of power with our dollars and how we spend them, we also have a voice. And in this case, I choose to believe that Abercrombie & Fitch just wants to see me naked.  I mean, I don't blame them.  I'm pretty hot naked.

So wouldn't that be the best kind of protest?  A naked flash mob of people they're unwilling to clothe.  I don't like flash mobs in general (the kind that sing and dance) but heck, if you're going to flash someone, might as well bring friends.

Yesterday, I also took the time to cause a little trouble:

  1. For me to be "skinny," I'd have to lose a lot of muscle.  And well muscle is sexy, so that isn't happening.  I'd rather be healthy, strong, fast, confident.  Skinny is for the birds.  (That isn't to say that I know plenty of people who are healthy and slim, but "skinny" seems to be a status symbol, not an indicator of actual health and happiness).
  2.  from what I've heard (and the BL history supports this) -- he's recommending women eat a diet of 800 calories (for 2 weeks).  That type of calorie restricting (no matter how long) IS NOT HEALTHY and promotes disordered eating habits.
  3. If you've been reading my blog (thank you) or following me on Twitter (thank you), we're probably like-minded (i.e., don't have our heads up our asses) in that we know that exercise requires fuel. 800 calories is barely enough to support someone in a coma, let alone someone leading an active, physically fit life.
  4. He's teaching people how to live 2 weeks of their life -- not how to live the rest of their life.  If you can't do it every day for the rest of your life, then it's a gimmick (right up there with his diet pills).  And slapping the word "skinny" on it just panders to all the insecurities we have.  And because it's Bob Fucking Harper (or Jillian Fucking Michaels), people buy into it. 

So... please take a stand with me and show the world (see where I get the whole "vs World" bit from?) that HEALTH and HAPPINESS are more important than labels ('fashionable' or 'skinny').  That's the club you want to belong to.

If it's good enough for Martha...

So Martha Stewart joined
And well, if it's good enough for her, it's good enough for me.

Brief history:
-- I used to have a profile when I was 18, mainly because I had low self confidence.  Guys would talk to me, but it was mainly because they wanted to meet my friends.

-- I've joined PlentyOfFish (cesspool, deleted), OkCupid (some friends were on it, and I've made some friends using it), Match, Eharmony (they didn't really want me), as well as SeekingArrangement (purely to research why guys want that kind of arrangement, yielded interesting results).  Heck, I even met people off of Craigslist (back when it wasn't sketchy... okay, it was always sketchy).

-- as compared to some women I personally know or have read about, I don't go on as many dates as they do.  Don't get me wrong, if a guy asks me, I'm usually pretty game.  But I dislike it if I give a guy my phone number and all he does is text me when he's horny. 

-- I've had mixed results:  guys who would look at me and bail, guys who were clearly only interested in sex, and guys who were plenty nice, but there was no chemistry.

-- and well...  ugh....

So why did I get a 3-month subscription to  Well, I was listening to a Jillian Michaels podcast from a while ago called "Making Friends is Hard to Do" and she talks about it in terms of how your life changes when you get out of unhealthy environments and relationships and need to rebuild, but she also fields a call about a woman who is timid about dating.

I've blogged in the past about how I'm perceived as "Intimi-dating"  and how people have always advised me to tone it down, when I meet guys. Jillian said something to the tune of "eventually people will figure out who you why not be authentic? You have nothing to lose by being who you truly are." That really struck a nerve.  I think part of the reason why I'm gunshy about dating is (1) I don't want to disappoint and (2) I'm too worried about the image I'm crafting for the guy to see that I don't enjoy myself.

Jillian makes the good point that you should be who you are, and if someone doesn't like that (and has the balls to be honest with you) then they are doing you a favor by just eliminating one more person from the dating pool.  I don't need validation from some stranger that I'm worthy of (their) love.  I already know that because of how I treat myself. But I also know that I am my best person when I'm loving on someone that deserves my love.  So I also am worthy of giving myself my best chance.

I'll let you know how it all goes :)