Fat and Not Afraid

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Lipstick and Lies

October 11, 2014

Have you ever had a reaction to something someone did or said that was so strong it surprised you? Not a trigger, that's not what I'm talking about, but a gut reaction of NOPE that blindsided you? That happened to me Friday morning while trying to get the four of us out the door to our various destinations. Kat was playing with her crayons, picked one up, rubbed it across her lips and said "Look mom! Wipstick! I beautiful." Wait, what? In that moment between thinking and speaking there was room for a lot because the human brain is a marvelous computer. I know my jaw dropped, then clenched. Thinking back on it now I get tense across the shoulders and my hands want to make fists. What am I angry at?  Whoever it was who said "Here, try this!" instead of "Not for babies" when she was showing interest in make-up. Y'know, 'cause she's TWO.

I didn't waste my breath with "Oh Katherine, you're far too young to begin buying into the beauty myths and garbage societal expecations for your gender! You have been and will always be beautiful without any help at all from any make-up! It's just a collection of toxic colours that will poison your body and weaken your confidence. You don't need it. Noone needs it. "

What I said was "Kat, you are beautiful without lipstick. It's not for babies." She tried again, making a kissing sound this time, and I said no, it wasn't for her, and why didn't she draw with the crayon instead? Distracted, I won for a time. For now. A few minutes or maybe months more of breathing room in the ongoing battle to keep my daughter from becoming...something.

I wasn't expecting to have to worry about this so soon. I wasn't expecting people close to me to tell me to calm down and that I was being ridiculous for being upset about it. I'm sorry (I'm not) but she's my daughter, and she's TWO, and I feel that I'd be doing her a disservice if I blindly allowed her to just fall into current gender roles and expectations. Make-up's purpose is to a) make money for companies off of women's (commercially created) low self-confidence/esteem and b) uphold the dangerous notion that women are sexually available at all times. We can tell ourselves all we want that 'I do it for me, because *I* like it" or "It's just a part of my daily routine" or whatever, but unless you've actually taken the time to sit yourself down and analyze why exactly you wear the stuff, and for who and be honest with yourself, I'm going to say no, it's very likely you're not wearing it for  yourself, you're wearing it for the people around you; your boss and/or coworkers because it's expected of you in order to be seen as professional, for your partner because you want to look 'nice' for them, like you 'tried', and just because hey, women wear make-up, even for something as simple as a trip to the store for a loaf of bread. Our bodies are seen as public property, to be commented on and critiqued by complete strangers, on a daily basis. Women have a very fine line to walk between wearing enough make-up, and not enough, and for heaven's sake it had better look natural, like we didn't even try, or the illusion is ruined.

Katherine is two. She is, IMO, far too young to be thinking about playing around with make-up of any kind. Ryan agrees with me and will be helping me to discourage her from this particular imaginary play for a while. We understand that it's likely inevitable and that prohibiting it will only make it seem even more desirable, so an outright ban isn't feasible. We are hoping that friends and family will help us out and also not play along, and continue to compliment and encourage both our kids on things that have nothing to do with their physical appearance. If Kat grows up to be the most feminine of women, that's fine by me as long it's a conscious choice and not how she feels she *has* to be. The same goes for Gabe; there's more to being a man than big muscles. To quote another mommy-blogger, "I really have no desire to add to the messages she will be inundated with her entire female life, that makeup makes you look better, prettier, sexier, and that is what women do."

 

 

Two? Two?! TWO!?

August 21, 2014

Two years ago today Katherine was born via cesearan in a BC hospital. Her delivery was fraught, my recovery slow, but other than that little bump at the beginning the last two years have been AMAZING. She is the sunniest toddler in the 'verse (and I can say that 'cause I'm her mom and it's her birthday!) and I truly never ever thought I could love like this. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity. Sure, it's not sunshine and roses every second of every day but it never is so I dont' expect it to be. She's almost potty trained, speaking in 3-5 word sentences (though pronunciation and word placement still needs work), loves bunnies, Spiderman, trucks and Toopy and Binoo, playing outside and especially at the park on the swings, and car rides. Omg does this girl love car rides! Doesn't matter if it's to the beach or to just dropping me at work, her day isn't complete without a 'caw wide!' Sadly I work all day today so I wont see her much but I know she's going to have fun with her Auntie Melissa and other family.

Happiest of happy birthdays to you, my sunshine girl!

 

Loss

August 14, 2014

Ok, so I guess the Universe is never really done kicking anyone in the pants. A few days ago I found out a dear former professor and idol passed away from cancer. I hadn't spoken with her in a couple of years but I still feel her loss keenly. Dr. Alanna Bondar was a my introduction to feminist and Canadian literature greats like Margaret Atwood, and I credit her with beginning me on my path to actual critical thinking of the media I used to blindly injest. She introduced me to post-modernist analyzation of works and the Old White Guys club of literature, and when I began university she was a powerful symbol to me of what a woman could do. I remember one night very early on she introduced herself as "Doctor Bondar" and we should remember the Dr. part because she had worked very hard for it and it meant something to her. She wasn't "Ms" or "Mrs", she was Doctor. Alanna was the heart of our university's annual creative writing publication and our poetry night. She travelled and wrote a book and had not a few articles published in various feminist and eco-feminist publications. I looked up to her and always thought she'd be out there somewhere in the world, drinking wine, having conversations that sparkled, wearing ridiculously colourful outfits and absolutely refusing to settle down and be anything but her most authentic self. Her memorial will be sometime in November and I plan to attend regardless of whatever else life has in store.

Rest in peace, dear teacher. Or don't; I imagine the after life is an even brighter and more interesting place now that you're there, and there are some who could use a good conversation.

Then we lost Robin Williams. This stings. Every time I think about how I'll never get the chance to meet him, to tell him how much I love (most) of his work, I get a bit teary. But the worst is how much Robin always reminded me of the best of my dad. For me this has been a tiny insight into how much it will hurt when someday my own father dies. I am rarely, if ever, affected by celebrity deaths as I have no actual connection to them. Sure, I might like their shows or movies or know a little bit about their personal lives, but more than "Aw, that's too bad" doesn't happen. This time, however, it's very different. Ever time I see a picture of him, grey blue eyes sparkling with mirth and irreverence, hairy arms and short, broad torso in mid gesture, I am strongly reminded of my dad at his absolute best, and it just hurts. Thankfully, my dad is still here so I have (I hope) lots of time to tell him how much I love him and how much he means to me, but in the meantime I'm just avoiding the media circus as best I can around Robin's death.

And finally, because bad things tend to happen in threes, a part of my son's innocence was stolen from him at knife-point at the park on Monday. He and a friend went to play and a pair of bigger kids from his school were already there and somehow, none of us grownups is sure, one of the bigger kids ended up threatening Gabe with a knife. Gabe knows him from school and as far as we can figure out he was telling his friend to avoid the two bigger kids because he'd had problems with the one before. Gabe and his friend ran home and we had the police here Tuesday morning to speak with Gabe and the friend and figure out who had done the threatening and then go talk to that kid and his parents. While things seem to be resolved for now I'm planning on calling the school to advise them of what happened so they can keep an eye on that kid, and on the bus too (He takes Gabe's bus too and from school every day).

I don't know if I can express how angry I am that this happened to my son, my baby boy, in a place that should have been safe for him. It was the park. The park! It was two streets over, less if you take the forest path. He was with a friend. This should not have happened but it did and I'm at a loss. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that he's alright; things could have gone much worse, especially if the knife weilder had tried to hurt his friend, but I know that after Monday he's different. He knows that there are people out there who will hurt him for real, for no other reason that they can. I don't want to think what might have happened if he had been alone. He didnt' tell us about it himself because he was afraid the big kid would find out and hurt him. We had to find out about this from Gabe's friend's parents, who live across the street. My son has the biggest heart. He is a good person. He is a sweet, funny, caring boy. This should not have happened.

So I'm sad. And I'm angry. I don't know what to do with it, as usual. So I'm writing. Thanks for reading.

 

 

Life Goes On!

August 6, 2014

Hello everyone! Good news! Life is done kicking me in the pants (for now) and we're moving into our own place come the beginning of September. For a while there we thought we were going out West again but an opportunity came up here in the Sault we couldn't pass up, so here we are and  here we're staying. We'll see what happens in six years or so when a chunk of our debt is paid off.

In the meantime we have to try and get our stuff from storage in BC! Please help if you can by vising my Go Fund Me page and donating and/or sharing. Thanks for sticking by me during this dry spell. I'm looking forward to writing again and have thoughts on things I'd like to share with you. I just haven't had the oomph to get my butt infront of my keyboard with things how they've been, and did I mention I'm working full time now? No? Well I am. It's tiring but I think I'm doing ok. See you in less than 6 weeks!

 

 

In Defense of Feminism

June 21, 2014

Have I ever mentioned I don't like change? I hate it, and when I say hate I'm not being hyperbolic. I hate it. It is hard for me to change my mind even in the face of good data, but I *will* do so eventually. For example, the other night I was complaining about nuclear power and how the fall-out from Fukushima is giving Japanese kids thyroid cancer and can we PLEASE JUST STOP WITH THE NUCLEAR POWER NOW?! A friend pointed out that, pound for pound, nuclear power is cleaner than oil, gas or coal when it comes to producing energy. My counter-arguement was that nuclear's supposed cleanliness meant next to nothing when we have a melt-down. We're both right, but there's a bigger picture. The nuclear power industry is like the airline industry, an apt comparison Ryan came up with; when things go bad, they go very bad and a lot of people die, but most of the time it's going along just fine and is very very safe. Over the years there have been only four major nuclear accidents. How many major oil spills have there been? Gas leaks? Mountains leveled for coal? Pits dug for crude? It's disgusting. So my perspective has changed somewhat on nuclear power.

This brings me to the last month and some, and some big changes that happened around me. Very long story short, a dear friend got tired of close friends and family not calling themselves feminist and threw down the gauntlet; either wear the name proudly or GTFO. It wasn't just about the label though, it was about not being all in, not being 100% on the same team, years of little things adding up until she'd finally had enough. It got very very messy, a lot of things were said, and in the end she has a lot fewer friends but I think she's happier. As one of the few people deeply involved who does call herself a feminist, this has left me in an awkward spot socially, and dealing with some cognitive dissonance mentally. It's the latter I'm working through by writing today.

During the ensuing conversations, arguments, debates on semantics and such, a common point kept coming from the not-feminists; they don't want to associate with a movement that doesn't like them, or is downright hostile to them. Feminism began as a white, straight, middle-class woman's movement and hasn't moved very far from there in the last hundred years or so.  Supposedly there's room in feminism for everyone, but actions speak louder than definition and there are a number of groups that just really don't feel comfortable inside feminism; women of colour, trans*folk and men. I'm sure I've missed some but that's just a few examples that came up because of the gauntlet. If a group of people told you that as a man, every time you had sex with a woman it was rape, would you want to be a part of that group? If a group of people took your stories and told them for you would you want to be a member? If a group of people shit on your choice to be a stay at home mom or changed your name when you got married, you'd probably avoid those people.

On the other hand, I am proud to call myself a feminist. I'm a feminist because I recognize that every form of oppression and violence on earth affects women disporportionately, from hurricanes to rape, murder and war. Fully half the human race is at a disadvantage, and then you can add in the extra oppression of not being straight, white, cisgendered and Christian. Feminism at it's core is about equality. This is why feminism as a label is important, as opposed to humanism or equalism. Those two terms erase the reality of what being a woman on planet Earth is like, and if we can't look that simple truth in the face we can't begin to change it.

A few bad apples screaming about how they hate X Y or Z shouldn't define a movement that's done so much good. The people who say that all sex is rape, are judgemental assholes of women's choices, and appropriate other people's culture and stories in order to 'help' them, aren't helping.

I really enjoy having the ability to vote and own property, and not geting looked at sideways (often) for not changing my name when I got married. It's awesome that I can drive a car or go to work in any profession I choose, and I have feminists of the past to thank for that. Not equalists or humanists but feminists. The terms just don't carry the same weight for me. However, being a feminist doesn't mean I get to tell other people what labels they're obligated to wear. If you walk the walk and talk the talk I don't care what label you choose for yourself. This is where me and my friend differ; she's disowned anyone who wont wear it and while I don't necessarily *like* humanist or equalist or whatever, I respect the decision to keep the term away if feminism has treated you badly.

People who reject the label based off of Pat Robertson's stereotypes up there are just ignorant, and ignorance can be fixed. (The willfully ignorant, on the other hand...) I have no problem with people who reject the label because of shitty experiences with feminism. Hell, I get why some men may not want to use the term because they're not women, and don't want to overpower women's spaces with their privilege. That's cool if misguided. The movement needs MORE voices, more diversity, not less.

Honestly I think the word needs claiming; the 'yes, feminism is really about equality for EVERYONE' people, like me, need to be a lot louder. Feminism has never had a good name in the larger culture, there's always been pushback against something so woman-centered. But I can't make people claim something they don't want. I can't make people care about something in the way I care about it. All I can do is all I can do and hope it makes some change. Would it be cool if someday all my friends could wear "This is what a feminist looks like!" shirts? Yes, that would make my whole year. But it's not going to happen, and I'm ok with that.

First of May

May 1, 2014

Happy Beltane to one and all! May your day be full of whatever brings you the most joy! Celebrate the beauty and passion of the season in whatever way is most fulfilling to you and your loves. Revel in the long days and starry nights, the gentle rains and caress of the breeze across bare skin. Spring is here!

Well, there's still some snow here in the shaded places, and it's been cooly raining for a few days, but I don't care. It's time for me to shake off this incredibly long winter and embrace Spring wholeheartedly. Too bad Ryan is going to work all day...

Out of Gas

April 15, 2014

Out of mental spoons. Out of fucks to give. That's me right now. All of my energy is currently focused on getting through the day by day of my life. It's the uncertainty of what might come next that's bothering me the most, making me waver between frustration and hoplessness with a terrible blankness inbetween. All I want to do is sleep. Or scream. Or cry. I do none of these things. Instead I gave an interview to my local online paper about what it's like to be working and living on minimum wage with two kids and being homeless at my inlaws. (Stay out of the comments unless you've got a lot of sanity watchers points). There are pieces missing, about how I was out west for two years and had a good job and lost it, but that past doesn't change my present, how far we've fallen and how quickly it happened.

The current hopelessness troubles me, the knowing that fixing this problem is out of our hands unless we earn more money or spend the next year or two or five saving for a house. Ryan recently got a new job, one he doesn't hate and that I hope will treat him well, but it's still just part-time. He's been promised full time in the future, but we've heard that before. Being hopeless, not being able to help myself, is literally depressing me. I can't DO anything but keep putting one foot infront of the other and get through the day and apply for jobs.

Ryan suggested last night on our way home from my mom's that we use our return tickets for a little trip for ourselves, go back to the Island and visit Tigh Na Mara spa for our wedding anniversary in June since we didn't make it last year. I admit I felt a leap of excitment, but I quickly squashed it. Hope it a firefly I can't afford because I'm so damn tired of being let down and disappointed, and we have so many other things we should spend our money on instead, like getting our things out of storage or saving up to either get a house or move. Instead of jumping in with ideas or planning, like Jen of last year would have done, I said "If you want us to do it, it's up to you to plan it. I just don't have it in me to hope something that wonderful could happen."

Say Nay Nay! Goodbye to John Pinette

April 7, 2014

After my weekly tune-in to Cosmos I was shocked to read online that comedian John Pinette had died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism on Saturday. John was one of very few comedians I actually enjoyed, a man who could make me laugh almost to the point of tears. His routine "I'm Starving", especially the France and Italy skit, is my absolute favourite. My hometown has a strong Italian influence  so yeah, I can relate. What I really loved about John was his ability to laugh at himself, but not at others. Yes, he was a fat comedian and he often poked fun at himself, his weight, and his eating and exercise habits, but he didn't make fun of others. He was sensitive and kind and I'm really going to miss him.

Anything less than stellar about John has been left out because I don't know about it, not because I'm trying to gloss over it.

Fighting Frumpy

April 1, 2014

Generally I prefer to think of myself as casual, leaning towards business casual depending on the situation. TeeFury shirts make up a large chunk of my wardrobe, along with jeans and plain longsleeve shirts that are great for layering since Spring hasn't really gotten here yet. (I will note, however, that it's been above freezing and raining the last 24 hours, so at least the snow is melting!) While I don't really give a damn about what other people think about how I look, I do *try* at least to look put together when I leave the house; matching accessories to my outfit, clothes that look and feel nice, hair done (which amounts to brushed and up, bangs done), teeth brushed and maybe some coloured lip gloss.

The one place I find where I fall decidedly from casual to frumpy is the pajama department.  Most of my pjs are just old t-shirts of Ryan's, with the recent addition of two pajama sets that are painfully frumpy. One set is, I kid you not, zebra striped with bright pink buttons down the front, and the other is all pink fleece with heart patterened pants. They're super comfy and perfect for kicking around the house, but they cross the line, even for me.

There's something about the word frumpy that I hate, and when it's applied to what I'm wearing, it makes me feel like I need to try harder. Frumpy is old, ugly, unkempt, unacceptable.
That anyone would say I look frumpy (I'm looking at you, husband!) makes me want to go on a shopping spree. I would love to have nice kicking around the house after a long day clothes, things that match but aren't made of flannel or have cute animals on them.

What is the frumpiest thing you own, if anything? Do you love it or hate it?

 

Cosmos Is Back

March 17, 2014

I was watching the clock like a hawk watches a plump rabbit; at 8:30 it was bedtime for my son, Gabe, but my daughter Kat was still fighting it. At 8:51 we laid her down *again* with the hopes that she would finally fall asleep. We waited. She seemed to be down, so I scampered upstairs, snagged a snack and a drink, hit the bathroom and leapt back onto my seat just in time for the opening credits to finish rolling on my new favourite show, Cosmos.

From Wikipedia: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is an American science documentary television series.[1] It is presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson and is a follow-up to the 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was presented by Carl Sagan. .. The series premiered on March 9, 2014,[4] simultaneously in the US across ten 21st Century Fox networks."

The first episode was riveting and I loved every second of it. Science and exploration are one of the things I get really excited and passionate about and Cosmos didn't disappoint. I learned about the Local Group of galaxies, to which our own Milky Way belongs, and the Virgo Supercluster, to which that group of galaxies belongs. There are MILLIONS of superclusters out there that we know about! Imagine all the stuff we DON'T know about! The Universe IS SO BIG it blows my mind. Literally, I cannot comprehend how large it is. But that's ok, I have Cosmos to help me come to grips with all the awesome.

Thanks to a healthy interest in this stuff for a long time, and a decent education in the same, Cosmos doesn't have a lot of surprises for me so far, but I imagine for a lot of folks it's very educational and informative. Also, I love how it factually but gently destroys the fundamentalist Christian worldview of God creating the world and everything else in 6 days, the world only being so many thousands of  years old, etc etc. It doesn't argue, it just lays out the evidence and moves on with the science. Much like during the Bill Nye 'debate' of a couple of weeks ago, it's obvious to anyone with an education of any kind, anyone who's NOT drinking the fundamentalist Kool-Aid, that particular worldview needs to go the way of the dinosaurs.

Don't get me wrong; I am a person of faith.  I have deep respect for (most) people of faith, and (most) faiths. My faith, however, was formed and is based in science (for the most part). Watching a show like Cosmos, for me, is almost a religious experience. Learning about how the Universe works, our place in it, the origins of life and evolution, natural selection and the Big Bang, are I imagine what listening to the stories of Moses, Mohammed and Jesus, Buddah and Krishna are, to people who feel and believe very strongly in those various faiths. The modern world, however, has no place for people who believe that the Bible or any other set of ancient rules needs to be followed to the letter. It has no place for those who willfully and hatefully ignore science.

Cosmos could be a real gamechanger for people, an introduction to deep concepts and interesting topics that maybe they've never thought about before. We need science, not fundamentalism. We need to remember and return to our close relationship with nature, to be a part OF it, not try to continue living as if we are a part FROM it.

                          

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Every once in a very great while there may be a post which contains a link to a product or service for which I've been paid to promote or have recieved for review purposes. I Blog With Integrity so you'll know which is which.