Prom Night

4 May

promWhen I was in high school, I couldn’t wait for prom. I was that girl. My daily attire consisted of some combination of jeans, T-shirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants. If the weather warmed up, I’d throw on some shorts. But when it came to events like homecoming and prom, I’d turn it up a notch. I’d put on skirts and stockings, wear a little makeup and even have a purse to carry it in for touch ups. And let’s not forget the heels. I looked like a different person. I didn’t feel the need to dress up on the regular because I had to walk what felt like a gazillion miles to and from in addition to having Pom-Pom practice after school. Dresses were for special occasions.

Today’s kids don’t need an occasion to get dolled up. But they still treat that annual rite of passage—prom—with a bit of reverence. They look forward to letting their style shine through. For many, it’s their own version of the Oscars.

If that’s the case, why shouldn’t they shine bright like the diamonds they are? If that’s the case, why would an adult prevent one from letting her light shine because she wasn’t size appropriate?

That’s the sense I got when I read the story of Alexus Miller-Wigfall of Harrisburg, Penn., who was suspended because a school official deemed her prom dress too revealing. Another school administrator ripped up the reprimand, though no one has explained why Alexus was suspended in the first place.

alexus

Please, tell me what you see. I see a beautiful girl who’s face is beat. Who looks wonderful in red. Whose date looks like he just won the lottery. Who looks simply amazing.

What I don’t see is a girl revealing any more flesh than some of her schoolmates may have. She’s actually quite modest except for the V in the bodice, which, let’s be honest, is as deep as the V in a T-shirt.

It’s bad enough when our peers shame us for our appearances, but for a school official to pick on a student who is dressed so lovely for such a special occasion is reprehensible. How is that ok?

It’s not. This site isn’t just about my weight-loss journey. It’s about coming to terms with who you are, both physically and mentally. Wherever you are on your journey, you still have to live life. You still have to interact with people. And you should try to take moments of joy whenever you can, regardless of what you look like.

Alexus did just that and she deserved to have the prom of her dreams. Screw the administrator who took that away from her.

How to Get Beach-Body Ready

27 Apr
bikini_body

Courtesy of Tumblr

The worst is finally over. Soon, we’ll have non-stop 70-plus-degree days. The sun will shine, the leaves will bud on trees and the beach will be calling your name.

Yes, skinny people, it’s almost time to get back on the beach. I’ve had my own issues with being beach-body ready. Or, really, bikini ready. Those are two different things that are kind of the same, if you think about it.

Being bikini ready literally means being ready to wear a bikini. The funny thing is, bikinis come in every size. I knew this before I put on my first bikini, but still didn’t feel confident enough to wear one. Eventually I got over it and put on the suit you see in the strip at the top.

I even gained so much confidence in my bikini body that I bought a suit in the city known for the tiniest suits to man. Rio de Janeiro, God bless is, has no shame when it comes to being bikini ready. Someone from Brazil told me that to wear a full-piece bathing suit is to stick out like a sore thumb. She even said that she feels weird wearing bottoms that cover her whole bottom. It’s just not done in Brazil.

So when I was in Brazil, I did as the Brazilians did and wore the world’s smallest bathing suit. It was four pieces of fabric held together by string. It covered just what needed to be covered. And not a snicker was heard. Because nobody in Brazil cares. It’s hot, the beach is cool, and you can get some sun and a nice ocean breeze.

The beauty of that is beaches are everywhere. And while having the confidence to do as Brazilians did may sit well with me on another continent, I may not always feel myself enough to rock that sucker here in the states. But that’s not going to stop me from going to the beach. The beach is for everyone and every body. Sand doesn’t discriminate when it gets stuck between your toes. Ocean water is salty no matter what size you are. And the sun will fry you regardless of your dress size.

So if that’s the case, then what’s the fuss about being beach-body ready? Beach-body readiness is the line of propaganda fed to us like warm, gooey mac and cheese to get people to feel bad about themselves for wearing less clothing at the beach. It’s bullshit. In order to be beach-body ready, you need to have and do three things.

1. Have a body

2. Take that body to the beach

3. Wear whatever you want

This weekend, some Londoners are planning to protest this sign, saying it body shames people into feeling bad that they don’t look like the model at the beach. Screw that company and screw anyone who wants to put people down for not being their definition of “beach-body ready.” You do you.

If you’re not feeling your look that day, you don’t have to wear a bikini or even a bathing suit. Wear what makes you comfortable. Look up the weather that day. Find out if you need to bring an extra set of pants if it’s getting cool that night. Or rock out in your kaftan. Or cover up head to toe in a burqa, if that’s your steez. It doesn’t matter. If you want to be at the beach, take it to the beach.

All I ask is that you slather on the SPF, because skin cancer doesn’t care how much you weigh.

Body You Want vs. Body You Get

27 Apr
reflections

Courtesy of Tumblr

I’m getting old. Well, older. My birthday is in a few weeks, but I’m reminded daily of the toll age is taking on me. Mostly, the toll age is taking on my hair. In the past few months, I’ve noticed more and more white hairs popping up to besmirch my luscious black. I had a feeling this would happen. While my mother barely grayed, my father has a head full of white hair. I can’t remember him not having gray hair, albeit not this much.

This constant reminder of days gone by can be a drag. But the good thing is, I can dye it back to black. I can cut it or style it to where the grays are hidden. And if I get it cut in a style that looks like I told my beautician to betray me, I can go somewhere else and get something better. Or I can wear wigs. Or I can get braids. Or I can shave my head and start all over again.

There are numerous options available to me when it comes to getting the hair I want. I may find a style in a book that looks great there, but looks terrible on me. The same can be said for my body.

There is a trap we all get into when it comes to weight loss. We look at Vogue, Elle, InStyle and the rest of them and see the Jourdan Dunns, Joan Smalls, Lara Stones and the like. Or we look at the sports magazines and see the Serena Williamses, Rhonda Rouseys or Alyson Felixes of the world and we paste them up on our vision boards.

“That’s what I want to look like,” we tell ourselves.

Courtesy of Tumblr

Courtesy of Tumblr

The problem with that is we don’t always know what we’re in for. Serena and her sister Venus share the same 100+ mile-an-hour serve, they have the same nose and even their giggles sound alike. But they are shaped very differently. It’s not that one works out more than the other. It’s that they are physically different.

Discovering that the work you’re doing won’t make you look like your idol can feel like a setback. Try to think of it as a step forward. Your weight-loss journey is yours alone. Your idol didn’t take you there. Your idol didn’t prepare your meals or lace up your sneakers. Your idol didn’t wake you up at the butt-crack of dawn to burn calories. That was all you. Your idol was your motivation, don’t let them be your goal.

You did all the work and now is the time to celebrate. Take pride in the muscle you’ve toned on your arms. Take another gander at those gams that have shaped up recently. Rub on that stomach that’s not pooching out as much anymore. It doesn’t look like your idol’s. It looks like you.

not_the_sameWe’ve all heard the lines. “I’d kill for her calves.” “Her arms are my obsession.” “That’s what I want my butt to look like in a dress.” It’s a nice idea, but maybe it’s not for you. Maybe your calves don’t curve that way. Maybe bicep curls and triceps dips will only keep the turkey giggle away and not form tighter muscles. And maybe your butt is just your butt. It doesn’t make your body less than anything you’ve seen in the magazines.

John Mayer had it right: your body is a wonderland. It will move how you want it, but it will shape on its own. Love it anyway.

Feelin’ Myself

15 Apr
feelin_myself

This night, I was feeling pretty good.

Some days I feel like junk. Take today: my hamstrings ache, my thighs feel like tree trunks, my ankles feel weak and I don’t think I can lift my arms above my head. Then there’s the laughing. I like to laugh. Aside from sleeping and eating, it’s my favorite thing to do. But it hurts when I laugh. Ab work will do that to you.

It’s my own fault. I’ve been working out like a monster, ready to Hulk Smash anything in my sight. It’s all for a purpose. I’m ready to start feelin’ myself.

It’s not that I haven’t been feelin’ myself already. The eight pounds of clothes I’d worn during the never-ending winter were piled on in the most aesthetically pleasing way. I keep my pretty on fleek regardless.

It’s just that I’m trying to remain hopeful. Even though it had been in the low 30s halfway through spring, the weather is finally breaking. I’ll keep my standing bi-weekly appointment for a pedicure. I’ll be able to enjoy the simplicity of wardrobe that comes with deciding between sundresses (because any of them are perfect for the weather). I’ll be able to slip those perfectly pedicured tootsies in one of an array of sandals and walk out of my door.

Until then, I’ve got to prepare. So it’s five to six days at the gym. It’s salads, lean meats and rice and beans. It’s steamed vegetables and fruit cups. Because my favorite time of year is coming and I’m going to stop the world with my skin-baring ways.

I’m going to whip all that work I put in at the gym. And on the running path. And in my living room with workout DVDs. Because in order to stop the world, I’ve got to get what, in my mind, is right. I like seeing the results of my efforts and the summertime shine allows the perfect opportunity for that.

Fellin’ yourself is the culmination of an insane amount of work. Look at your body idols. Even if they’ve had the help of a surgeon to get their curves just right, they still have to work to maintain them. And the result is being a show off. They show off their arms, legs, abs, shoulders, backs, etc. Why? Because they can. Because they’re feelin’ themselves.

Even if you haven’t reached your peak, you’ve done some great things for yourself this winter. Now that the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing and your toes have wiggle room outside your Uggs, take advantage of it and start showing off.

Get your pretty on fleek. Whip all that work you did to make it this far. And stop the world with your confidence. You deserve it.

Carry on.

…On Kelly Clarkson

6 Apr

Nick Jonas and Kelly Clarkson Perform Valentine's Gig at G-A-YDuring the summer of 2002, I was an editing intern at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. At the time, the paper was one of the top publications in the country, consistently lauded for its reporting, opinion pieces and photography. I was there to learn everything I could to help me on my journey toward a successful journalism career. I took time out to learn different things about how the industry works, how editors interacted with different reporters and even higher management. Most of all, I learned whether or not this was the career for me, since it was one I had been chasing for such a long time.

Also, at the time, I was knocking on 180-190 pounds. How is this relevant? It isn’t.

clarkson_idolYou see, at the time that I was learning more about the field I hoped to pursue, another young woman was being tested and mentored by people in her field. Her name is Kelly Clarkson and she is the winner of the first season of “American Idol.” Clarkson and I don’t have much in common besides being unapologetic ’80s babies our fluctuating waist lines. She’s a Southern girl who hasn’t minced words about her love of food. I’m a Midwestern girl who has vowed to leave no Goldfish behind.

Still the biggest thing we share is our passion for our professions. Clarkson is an amazing singer. Her voice packs so much power you feel it through your speakers. And it has absolutely nothing to do with her weight.

Clarkson will celebrate her daughter’s first birthday in a couple of months. Since the birth of her child, she’s gained some weight and doesn’t seem to give two shits about it.

“I yo-yo. Sometimes I’m more fit and I get into kickboxing and hardcore, and then sometimes I don’t and go, ‘Nope, I’d rather have wine!’” she said on Ellen.

Others seem to care more than she does. Both British TV personality Katie Hopkins and Fox News host Chris Wallace have jumped in to give their opinions about Clarkson’s weight. Neither has a right to judge. It’s not for us to decide when or how a person chooses to take care of their health. Clarkson is going on tour this summer, which will require a lot of stamina. It’s not her first time, so I’m sure she knows how to prepare herself mentally and physically for the task.

I am not, nor will I ever be, here for body shaming. It is not the job of others to dictate what another person should look like. The weight-loss journey is a personal one. It is a road filled with highs and lows, smiles and tears. And it is never ending. Just as we evolve in our careers, we evolve on our journeys. One day you’ll be happiest at your thinnest, the next you stop beating yourself up over that Five Guys burger. As long as you are still living life the best way you know how with some sense of purpose, your size along the way doesn’t matter.

As fans, all we require of our artists is that they show up (preferably on time) and perform with gusto to earn our hard-earned money. Clarkson is perfectly capable of doing that at any size. If she decides to lose weight, good on her. If she decides this she’s happiest at the size she is now, good on her. All I want is for her to sing “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “My Life Would Suck Without You.” Everything else is up to her.

scew_em

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