Back in November I made a decision. It was one that has changed my life in a lot of ways – in some ways I’m still uncovering. The biggest unexpected change was the weightloss, and I’m honestly not sure how I feel about that.
I have had a long battle with both my physical and mental health. With Fibromyalgia and it’s host of associated issues (IBS, TMJ, and others) my body has rarely allowed me the freedom I crave. But it had gotten to the point where I had to do something. It hurt to move, it still hurts to move… but it hurt laboriously so. I couldn’t keep up with my daughter, and I had far more bad moments than good.
Now! It’s important to note, that while my body may not have FELT good physically, I loved my absolutely FLABulous self. I loved my curves, my bends, my plump, fantastically round self. I was glorious in my fatness.
This was not about losing weight. This was not about fitting into societies view of what can be considered PURDY. In fact, my desire to do better for myself had NOTHING to do with how I looked. In all honesty I was shocked when my clothes stopped fitting.
I don’t know what I expected… honestly. I mean. I knew my body would change somewhat. I figured my clothes would fit better and that I’d lose some weight. But I figured I’d probably drop from my 188 lbs to about 160 and that things would just fit nicer. The end.
I was working out daily for 45 minutes to about an hour for several months and tracking what I was eating, making healthier choices. I never cut out any foods. If I wanted it I ate it (and still do). But I don’t need to eat an entire bar of chocolate to get that marvelous high that comes from allowing a perfect square of chocolate to melt away in your mouth, it’s gooeyness spreading through every crevice filling your senses with it’s delectable self. In fact, I eat between one and three squares of chocolate a day. LOL I love it – especially when it has something salty in it too, like a peanut or pretzel or popcorn. Mmmmm…. so I’m not about to deny myself that pleasure.
Even now that I’ve moved into what I consider “maintenance” mode, I am still losing weight. And I truly am not sure how I feel about it. Like I mentioned. I LOVED my fat self. Fat is beautiful. This body of mine now seems strange and odd, and I’m not entirely sure it’s mine or how to embrace it the way I did before. I’m sure I’ll get there… but I haven’t yet.
It’s an odd thing. Being secure in yourself. Loving yourself… and then changing so much. I’m still FLABulous on the inside – but people look at me differently now. In the span of the 20 minutes it took me to drop the girl off at the library for book club until I walked home and started blogging I was checked out by two people. And, okay… I got checked out before too. And it was the nice subtle “yeah she looks hot” nod I’d get, respectful, but with a little hint of the good kinda bad. I got one of those today. I like those, I think most people do. But today I got checked out in the creepy way that makes you want to rush home, lock your door, and have a searing hot shower to wash the scary grossness away.
I didn’t worry for my safety or care how others saw me when I was bigger. Now, someone like the guy in his classic car today… who stops close enough to the curb that he could have hit you, and then drools over you, memorizing your body and the way it moves as you cross the street in front of him, locking you away in his horrifying spank bank? Now people like that make me feel fear. And that is SOOO not okay.
In a quest to get healthier, to keep up with my seven year old (yeah, she turned seven this July… mind-blowing, right?), to play and run, to go on hikes, and carry arms full of treasures, and backs full of growing girl… and to do it all at the same time. Somewhere in these awesome wonderful goals I have also opened myself up to those who leer, ogle, and make one feel small and afraid. It’s a pretty shitty thing to realize about our society. And I knew it all along. I had just figured that things were getting better, but they aren’t. They really aren’t. They aren’t better at all.
So here I am, 45 pounds less of a person than I was before, feeling things I don’t remember how to feel. And it’s time to walk back to the library to pick up my daughter from her book club. I need time to process, but I’m a Mom… time to process is one thing I don’t have. I’ll continue. Because that’s what I do. And I may not be as FLABulous as I once was, and people may have started looking at me differently, devaluing my personhood pushing me into a little spank-bank in their brain, but I’m still the same fabulous me. I just need to learn how to live within this new body and appreciate her for what she is… because who she is hasn’t changed.
Last night we took our daughter to see the new Disney animated movie, Frozen. I had heard very little about it besides being an adaptation of The Snow Queen and having been heavily inspired by Norway. The Snow Queen was never one of my favourites (so I’m happy to report it’s a VERY loose adaptation), but the idea of Norwegian princesses??? I was beyond excited for. Damon’s family and mine both, coincidentally, hail from Norway… and I very desperately want to make a pilgrimage there some day. So this was a movie I knew we’d be seeing shortly after it came out. Knowing what I know of both Disney AND it’s princesses? Well… I was nervous. They don’t exactly have a history of strong female leads.
While Frozen has it’s issues, one cannot argue the absolute joy I found in both Anna and Elsa’s characters. Both completely unique, strong, believable, awesome female roll models. These are princesses I would be happy to have Lily-Ann look up to. They are truly wonderful, and they are NEVER overshadowed by the male characters who are very much there to support their story vs take it over. In fact, one of my favourite moments, that made the feminist me shout out with a WOOT, was when the romantic male lead actually ASKS if he can kiss Anna. He doesn’t assume that his advance would be welcome, he doesn’t just put himself into her space, he is worried and concerned and ASKS – allowing her character to take the reins and remain an autonomous individual. It looks to me like Disney may finally be listening and realizing that Women are vastly different from one another and we all have different goals and dreams… but that we ALL deserve to be respected for those very things.
And yeah! The girl is now absolutely tickled when I call her my little Norwegian princess. 😀 Because while she’s a princess who has enjoyed excavators, lego, and swordplay… she really has always been a fancy dress-up playing princess who happened to be Norwegian.
Sing with me now: “I am… I am Supermom. And I know what’s happening. I am… I am Supermom. And I can do anything.”
I read a blog post today that I had to come share. It started out saying:
Look, I know the areas in life where I excel. It unfortunately doesn’t involve me being a size two and wearing the most. stylish. boots. you ever did see. I will not be doing a triathlon, I’ll be the one over there handing out water and cheering you on while eating a muffin. My house isn’t ever company ready. Just move that pile of Legos, I will make dinner. I can make you laugh, I can make you think. I am a great friend. I am amazing in bed. I like the woman that I have become. I can also throw a party like you wouldn’t believe.
My name is Michelle and I throw “Pinterest worthy” parties for my children.
I don’t think this makes me a shitty mom, a superior mom, or that I have too much time on my hands. I assure you, I do not.
I also don’t think it makes you a shitty mom for NOT throwing parties like that for your children’s birthdays, having a spotless house, and working full time.
I encourage you to check it out here: http://www.sowonderfulsomarvelous.com/2013/06/moms-when-are-you-going-to-learn.html
The whole point of the post was what I’ve always said, that our priorities and skills may be different, but that doesn’t make any one of us better at being a Mom than the rest of us. That it’s time we supported one another, cut each other some slack, and honestly do the same for ourselves.
The author goes on to say that she is NOT Supermom. But you know what? She’s wrong. She’s totally Supermom. Just like you and I.
We are ALL Supermoms. I mean honestly! Think about it!
Today, I’ve already walked back and forth from my daughter’s school three times, and I’m going to do it one more time before the day is through. And yes, one of those three times I seriously contemplated stripping down to my skivies and laying on a neighbour’s lawn because the heat was so freakin’ unbelievable (35 degrees, insane). But taking the time to make my daughter feel safe and valued? That makes me Supermom. Does it make those Mom’s who’s kids are in daycare or who have to eat lunch at school less super? Hell no. It just means we’ve made different choices about how best to parent our individual families. And that’s totally okay. Being a Mom is tough. It’s not for everyone (and kudos for those of you who recognize this is not the life for you BEFORE you end up in the middle of it). There’s a whole lot of judgement out there for the things we do or don’t do… but come on. At the very least we should be able to count on our fellow Supermoms for support and appreciation. We all rock pretty freakin hard!
When I was young, I shaved my legs every day; EVERY day. Spring, Summer, Autumn, AND Winter; every day. The media told me that having smooth, moisturized, soft legs was an important part of being pretty – and as a teenager and young person I bought into it. I believed the myth of beauty society fed me.
As I came into adulthood, I still shaved – though not with the same frequency. I spent a great deal of my time as a young adult sick and in pain… pretty just wasn’t as important when you hurt so bad that you can’t get up and down stairs without dissolving into tears. But I still shaved and moisturized. It was part of being a girl. We couldn’t have people thinking I actually grew hair on my legs.
Then I became a Mom. And yes, even then I shaved my legs. By then it was just one of those chores you do. Going swimming? Better shave. Wearing shorts or a skirt? Better shave. Just part of the self-grooming routine. Something I didn’t think about. Something I did in a rather robotic fashion, another member of the trained masses.
I want my daughter to grow up knowing these things are choices – even if we don’t always feel they are. Not all Women shave. In some parts of the world it would seem odd to do so. My daughter believed this until she was three. Then one day she laughed, astonished, at the ridiculous notion that a Woman could choose not to shave. That was the day I stopped shaving my legs.
Lily-Ann has other Women in her life who are non-shavers, my sister for one. But clearly this was something she needed to see with more frequency. It may seem like a small thing, but I needed her to know that we have a choice. We don’t have to shave. We don’t have to buy into the view of beauty that the media is selling, we can choose something different.
I may be the odd Woman out here in North America, sporting hairy legs all year long – without shame and, quite frankly, with a little pride. And yes, it may seem like a strange thing to take a stand on… but I couldn’t let my daughter grow up thinking she has no choice, that she has to go along with whatever ideals society sets before her.
She has options and choices. We all do.
Sure, I could have kept on shaving – but she shocked me out of it. Sometimes, that’s what we need. Something to shock us out of that robotic state we get lulled into. Something to bring us back into personhood. A sudden splash of cold water, a bucketfull dumped on us while we lay half asleep, lounging in the sun. Something to remind us we’re alive, and we have the right to make these seemingly small, seemingly insignificant, choices for ourselves. And sometimes, those small choices end up being some of the biggest.
As of yesterday afternoon, my Power of SHe project has made it’s way onto facebook. This? This is your official invitation. 🙂
For those of you who’ve been following this blog for some time know all about the Power of SHe, for those who don’t, here’s the press bio for my little art instillation: The Power of SHe is about how we, as self-identified Women, define ourselves in light of how society and the media seek to define and confine us.
I’ve been working on the Power of SHe for some time now. It’s been exhibited twice, and continues to grow. I believe it is a very important body of work, and something we desperately need. So I hope you’ll join us as the journey continues. The more the merrier. Let’s force a shift from art project to movement. We can make change happen!
We live in a culture of rape, and it’s truly ridiculous. We teach our daughters how to avoid being raped, when we should be teaching our sons not to rape people. Men should be seriously offended that society views their natural state as rapist, after all… Women and girls are the ones who need to change their behaviour least they provoke some dormant rapist to the surface of that fine gentleman who lives in their dorm.
I would have hit the “reblog” button if there had been one, but there wasn’t. So here’s a diatribe to read. Go. Read. Follow her links. Comment. Share. And for f#%ks sake, lets change the freakin’ landscape. Rapist is not the inherent truth of man.
On Thursday my attention was drawn to a new part of the daily routine for the girl’s kindergarten class. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to do something to have it changed. Today was my first chance.
A simply drawn boy wearing a baseball cap, and holding a bat and ball, coloured blue with the word BOY. His counterpart in pink with a pretty dress and holding a flower with the word GIRL sits beside him. Both on the bulletin board next to the calendar, a counting chart, and other simple items used to subtly teach the kindergarten class basic numerical skills.
The teacher touches the head of each student she deems as “boy”, counting as she goes. “Seven boys.” The number gets written on the wipe off board under the picture representing “boy”. She then touches the head of each remaining child, counting. “Five girls.” That number gets written on the board too. An addition sign gets added between them, and everyone counts on their fingers. “Twelve kids. Seven boys and five girls makes twelve kids.”
Now, my ideal kindergarten is gender neutral. At this age there really is no reason at all to discuss “boy” or “girl”, what each means, and how we each fit into societies gender binary – at least not at school. At the very least, if it can’t be a neutral space, it should be a equal space. And these disgustingly stereotypical figures are far from that. If we must count girls and boys, we need to ask the children “Who identifies as a boy?” Then count the raised hands, marking the result under the word (no picture) BOY. “Who feels like a girl?” Then count those raised hands, marking those results under the word GIRL. But I think we can do better. Why reinforce a false binary by bring gender into question at all? After all, there are more than two sexes, more than two genders (and the terms boy and girl can refer to either gender or sex, which just further muddies the water).
Why not ask “Who likes baseball?” and “Who likes football?” and add those two numbers. Switch it up, and the next day ask “Who likes veggies?” and “Who likes fruit?”. Every day of the week could be a different pairing of questions. After all, we don’t need to come up with the same answer every day. Some kids may vote yes to both, some may not raise their hand at all. This way we practice our early math skills, learn something interesting about our friends, AND we don’t reinforce any false notions about gender or sex – which have no place in a kindergarten class to begin with.
I spoke to kid kid’s teacher about my concerns today, and I’ll be honest. I’m not sure she understood my concerns at all. She thanked me for bringing them to her attention – but it was very much a canned response… what one could expect from someone who has never really given much thought to their own gender or sexual identity, someone with CIS privilege, who has lived in a very small, heteronormative box, their entire life. While I don’t hold this against her, it does mean it may be time for a little educating. Issues of gender and sexual identity are vitally important to the health and safety of our young people (and the adults they will become), and even something as simple as being told they are BOY… simply drawn with a baseball cap, bat and ball, coloured blue… can hurt, when that child knows -inside- it’s not right.
It’s no secret that I’m body positive. I think we should love and celebrate ourselves as we are. Fat, scrawny, or anything in between… Love yourself!
Of course, loving yourself doesn’t have to mean you love all your parts equally, and it doesn’t mean you have an unhealthy, romanticized view of yourself, it means that you accept yourself as you are. You can have parts you don’t adore (heck, if I could get rid of these “wings” quickly and easily, I would) but you can still celebrate and love yourself for who you are without focusing on some other persons view of who you “SHOULD” be. We need to be gentle with ourselves, and treat ourselves with kindness and love.
Recently I was talking with someone and was trying to celebrate with them on a weightless goal… This individual told me how they’d been several hundred pounds in their teens, and how even though they just celebrated losing another thirty pounds (and are, by many standards, very thin) they are still trying to lose more. When I asked why they were determined to lose even more weight, they explained how awesome it felt to go into stores to buy clothes and have things fit.
I’ll be honest, I felt this weird twinge of twisted self conscious, body awareness – like way back when I suffered from low self esteem and worried constantly about what others thought of me to the point where my assumptions about their views became how I defined myself. And this flash of “what must they think of me???” crossed my mind. It was very fleeting, but I felt it none the less. Looking back, I’m ashamed that it ever entered my consciousness… But it did.
Now as I look back on our conversation I truly feel sadness, not for that brief flicker of self doubt, but for this individual who at our age has such a warped sense of self. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be young, fragile, and to hate your body so very very much…. to the point where it makes you hate yourself. Then to have it further compounded by the inability to buy clothes at the teen trend stores… and to still be dealing with those same feelings of inadequacy now.
That high from dropping weight and the reward of buying new clothes from a favourite store or designer is huge… But when it gets to the point where it becomes an obsession, like any obsession, it can be dangerous and unhealthy. When are we going to learn to love ourselves? To accept our bodies and our many fabulous flaws?
I mentioned that I’d change my “wings” if I could. I love my body. I love my rolls, and my belly button that looks like an upward pointing arrow, my stretch marks…. My body is proof that I have lived and lived well. I have rocked this body, and I love the stories it has to tell. And while yes, if there was a fast, easy, healthy, and effective way to tame my wings (those hanging bits of skin under my upper arms) I’d do it, but I certainly don’t obsess on them. In fact, I rarely think of them at all, and when I do, they certainly don’t make me hate myself – ANY part of myself.
We really do need to learn to love ourselves, regardless of our shape. Embrace yourself. Treasure yourself. Honor yourself. Celebrate yourself. No matter your size or shape, treat yourself like the incredible being you are! Sure, there may be something you’d change if given the opportunity, but let that something be about YOU and not some seriously demented standard of beauty the media shoves on you. Shower yourself with love and affection!
For those of you still holding a mirror up to the world in search of your own personal self worth? Love yourself first. Know that you are amazing. Others will follow your lead.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but in this house? Where we share our lives with an independent minded, little, red-head with spiral curls? We’ve been waiting for the latest Disney Pixar movie, Brave, for the last year… and not very patiently I might add. 😉 So, I probably should have blogged about it a couple weeks ago when we first saw it, but things are what they are. LOL And I’m blogging about it tonight.
Lily-Ann has been waiting with baited breath over a princess who looks like her (and lately, we get stopped in stores, out walking, or at the playground all the time by people who can’t believe how much she looks like Merida). Myself? I’ve been excited over the idea that she’s a princess who isn’t all about finding her happily ever after through a prince – because none of us could ever be complete without a man. *gag & eye-roll*
Finally! A Disney Princess worth letting little girls watch! Okay, so there are a couple who aren’t so bad. Mulan and Tiana come to mind. But with the latest Disney Pixar release, Brave, we finally get a princess who is happy just being herself without needing a prince to complete her happiness. THANK YOU PIXAR! And even more than that? And something I wasn’t expecting at all? We have a beautiful story about unconditional love between a mother and daughter.
Seriously, I was totally caught off guard by the beautiful and touching moments between Merida and her mother. It’s all about expectations, and learning to accept those we love simply for who they are. So with my soon-to-be five year old in my lap (seeking comfort after a scary part) I’ll openly admit to finding a few tears running down my cheeks.
Moms? Take your daughter, and your mom. This is one for a gurlz night out!