Monday, May 7, 2012

B&G IV Thunder Thighs

I am sitting at "home" today doing nothing and fighting the urge to hate myself for it. I say "home" because I'm caught up in a sort of gypsy style of living right now. Not here, not there, but still in existence. Yes, as little a connection I feel to the reality of living in a solid location, I still manage to feel like a real person....although, it is difficult.


Let's begin, shall we. Today's blog is going to be about body image. YES! I too wish to join the age (ish) old dialogue. But all I really want to do is talk about me. Talk about my brain, and talk about the connection between my brain and my body....and consequently, my soul.

The media sucks. It just does. It isn't going to change, no matter how many rules Vogue lays down for itself. No matter how skinny they "won't allow" their models to get, their models will continue to be skinny...much much skinner, in fact, than I will ever be. Ain't it the damn truth. The god awful truth that some things are just unatainable. The enfuriating truth. Here's the real question, though: why the hell am I trying to attain such an ideal?

Since I was a child I have been hyper-aware of the difference in sizes of people and what each size means in realtion to popularity, credibility, and general loveableness. Since I was a child, I have been aware of exactly what size my body looks my own mind. In this reality, what I look like in my mind vs what I look like when I actually see myself is completely different.

If I may, I would like to describe the way my body looks to me when I SEE it:
I am average in height. I have normal-ish pale skin. My eye-lids are a strange shape. My forehead is HUGE. My neck is long, and my chin has twins...sometimes triplets. I have great face skin. FACE. GREAT! My breasts are really really big. The area below my breasts and above my belly is slim and sinched. My belly is growing. Floppy, pasty, and much larger than even two handfulls. My hips are wide. My thighs are large and pale with bright blue veins and red and white splotches of psoriasis. I am terrified of showing this part of my body. My upper thighs are covered in psoriasis. It is terrifying, and it wasn't always this way. But I have always had a healthy amount of cellulite. I have trouble fitting my thighs into pants. Pants are currently made for this image of legs that doesn't actually exist, I think.

I wonder: if cellulite was called just "thighs," would it have such a stigma? I mean, if thighs were just thought to look like that, like they do, like the ripply fat were just part of the reality, nameless, a part of the whole...would I hate it so much? I digress.

I do not like to shave my legs a lot. There. I said it. I shave maybe once a week. SO, currently, I have kind of hairy legs. My calves are quite shapely. My left leg is home to a large, bright red, and flakey patch of plaque psoriasis. But my legs have always been scabby and scarred. I have always been far from dainty in my collisions with the outside world.

I have always wanted to be skinnier. Even when I was skinnier. I have always wanted this. I have always imagined myself as a picture of anything but myself. In fact, the picture of me I have in my brain often doesn't match what I see in the mirror. This is where the seperation occurs. I actually think in my brain that I look smaller and more toned than I do when I look in the mirror. So my brain is not convinced of the reality...or the reality seems like it should be different. Whatever. My brain is confused. When I am moving about, interracting, existing, I am sexy and slender in my mind. When I see pictures of myself or my own reflection, my brain registers something different, and I go crazy trying to be okay with it. It's NUTS. I know.

Here is what I would like to be different: I would like for the image I see in the mirror to match what is in brain, and I would like to love that reality. Instead of living in a prison of fear over the picture I have of my thigs, I would like to draw strength from the power and uniqueness that they represent. I would like to be in awe of the strength with which they hold my body up and together. The power behind my thighs, my buttocks, and the curve of my waiste. I would like to draw confidence from the strength of my arms and shoulders because of how spindly they are not. And my face, my face looks younger than it is, but holds the truth of years of experience, of days in the sun, and days in the rain. And my hands, my hands that have been a source of insecurity because of their roughness...My hands that are not afraid of the mud. My hands that are not afraid of anything. All of it is my legacy. All of it is who I am. No, I am not a size, but I am a vision. A vision. We are all visions of the smallest details that seperate and unite us. All of the shapes and sizes are a mural of the singularity of life. That is power. That is strength, and that is love...unfettered.

The truth is, it isn't about fat or skinny. We all feel it, and we all battle the discrepancy between what is real and what we see. And it isn't male vs female either. WE ALL FIGHT THE SAME BATTLES. And that's okay. That's good. That's life.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Driving and Crying (Boys and Girls part III)

Last week I had a breakdown that I brought on myself. I admit that. I say it loud, and I say it clear. I climbed into a hole and then started crying about how unfair it was that I was down in the hole. Luckily, I have friends that kindly point out to me where I am and why I'm there. I started climbing out very slowly throughout the week, and then I let go this weekend, and plummeted to the bottom again. But this time, after about twenty minutes of crying, I figured out a better tactic for climbing out. Here goes:

God, isn't it hard to be alive? I mean,'s incredibly difficult, and "difficult" isn't even a sufficient word. We play so many games with each other. Every minute of every day, we're playing some sort of game. Tip-toeing over words and customs, holding our breath for hints on what step to take next, building foundations on expectations and disappointment.

I've never sat alone in a car with a boy that I couldn't have kissed without any consequences. There have been too many times that I have sat quietly, trying to guess the next step. Then there were the times when I just leaned forward and kissed him myself. Every single time, he, whoever he was, leaned into it. There would be the deafening silence of each of us holding our breath. The rustle of our clothes as we shift in our bucket seats mixes with the next breath, and we both sink, with a sigh, into each other's embrace.

And these are the times that we don't have to work for. These are the times when we throw caution to the wind.

I've spent so much of my life terrified that I'm not getting it right. Tied up in knots wondering what step comes next or which step I missed. When the reality is, not a single moment of moderation or negotiation matters one bit. And NO ONE knows. Not even me, most of the time. I mean, I know, but I forget. We all do, and we tumble down the mountain with noting to hold onto. I used to always think that I was the only one tumbling, but when I stepped back and looked more carefully, I saw everyone falling, tumbling, chasing each other down the mountain.

The next step is up ahead, unseen. The games we play and the characters we unwittingly represent in those games are of no use in reality. My head and my heart want to tell the truth, and as long as I live in the truth, there is nothing that can really frighten me.

I am struggling with my own insecurity. I can see you struggle with yours. When I let go, a little bit of the deep seated anger in my heart dissolves, and I am able to pick myself up off the floor. When you let go, we get to help each other.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Boys and Girls Part II

I suppose it is now time. I've been putting this blog off for a while, and, at the moment, I have a massive pile of work to complete, but I can't sit idly by right now.

In the past twenty-four hours, a great deal has been happening in Washington concerning women. It is all unsettling.

My senior year in high school, my English teacher made us draw research paper topics from a hat. I pulled out a small slip of paper on which the words "The Woman Rebel" were neatly typed. I chuckled to myself. It was too me.

My education, almost in its entirety, took place at a private Christian school, and I loved it. Not only did I consider myself to be a Christian leader, but I felt my calling was deeper than what I was being told. I never bought into the idea that women could not teach the Bible to men. I always felt that kind of thinking was flawed. We had a big debate in school during my eighth grade year wherein the question was put up for discussion as to whether or not women could read the Bible or speak in chapel (which met three times a week). I remember the ignorant things boys said to me during this time as I talked openly about the validity in a woman's voice. I remember lying in bed at night, praying (although my praying was never a very bowed head on my knees experience, it was more like chatting with God), and asking the question out loud, "if you don't want me to speak, why did you fill me with this  burning desire to do so?" I still hold to that. I have never and will never buy into the idea that the place of a woman in ANY case is silently behind a male head of the household. There is not a single part of my being that can withstand taking the back seat, even more so today.

Thus, when I received my research paper topic, it seemed as if it had been designed for me, as if the teacher had nudged it forward a little before I plunged my hand into the masses of less appropriate topics. So I learned about Margaret Sanger and her battle to educate women about their bodies, about birth control. At the time, birth control was not legal, but it was available to the very wealthy. How convenient. The wealthy were aided in the protection of their assets through the ability to stop having children when they desired. Middle and lower class women had no access to family planning options and were therefore forced to continue having children (if they wanted to continue to have sex) despite their socioeconomic stature, despite whether or not they could afford it.

All Sanger did was publish a pamphlet, "The Woman Rebel," and mail it to as many women, young and old, that she could. The pamphlet contained information not only about contraception and family planning but also about the basics of sexuality. She sought to educate women as to what was happening to their bodies. It was sex education, and she was arrested for it. SHE WAS ARRESTED FOR TEACHING WOMEN ABOUT THEIR BODIES. This was 1914.

Today, almost 100 years later, women currently have a panel of MEN discussing their right to affordable birth control. A PANEL OF MEN. We  have MEN that want to tell us what we should and should not do with our own bodies. They believe they are the voice of God. But this is not the god that I know. I  have never met this god in my life, and although I have distanced myself a great deal from organized religion, I still claim to know God. I still believe in God. And this is no god I have ever met.

If  you don't understand feminism, if you have bad feelings about it, I encourage you to open your minds to it. Read a small book entitled Feminism is For Everybody. It is a book by the wonderful teacher, writer, and theorist bell hooks (she does not capitalize her name...sooo edgy). It may seem to be ridiculous. It may seem to be a waste of time to you, but it is not. Feminism is anti-sexism. That is all. Feminism is the belief that we are equal human beings, different in many ways, but we all meet the challenges of life on the same level. It is not our place to subordinate each other. It is not our place to dominate.

I could write volumes. I'm sure I will at some point, but at the moment, I will leave you with two quotes from bell hooks that seem to very appropriate at the moment:

"I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else's whim or to someone else's ignorance."

"Being oppressed means the absence of choices."

and finally

"Even the most subjected person has moments of rage and resentment so intense that they respond, they act against. There is an inner uprising that leads to rebellion, however short-lived. It may be only momentary but it takes place. That space within oneself where resistance is possible remains."