Tag Archives: body positive

The Spectrum of Threatening to Disgusting

5 Oct
skinnyvcurvy

Courtesy of About-Face

A fashion week/month is still in full swing. I love it because I love clothes and seeing what the designers have in store for the following season (even if I can’t afford the hems on those clothes).

The models that strut the runway are there to present the fashion. Their job is to sell the clothes. In order to to that, the clothes have to be appear appealing. Because all women aren’t shaped the same, it’s useful if the clothes appear on different body types. One day, the trend will change and designers will create pieces that look good on different body types.

Until then, we have to contend with the Joan Smallses, Jourdan Dunnes, Kendall Jenners and Gigi Hadids of the world. But just because these women all wear the essentially the same size, it doesn’t mean their all built the same. To the average woman, these are tall, thin women. But Gigi and Joan have larger busts. Kendall has longer legs. Jourdan has the better strut. It’s these pieces of these women that get picked apart by fashion bloggers and critics.

Gigi posted a photo of her walking in the Versace show lat week where (gasp) her thighs were touching. For shame! Gigi Hadid is a tall, thin model. She has a few more curves than some of her colleagues, but not as much as the Tyra Bankses of the world. A few comments on her Instagram led her to respond about the sea change in the fashion industry where her body type hasn’t been accepted in the industry for a long time.

A post shared by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid) on

There are positives and negatives with this. First, good for her for having body confidence. So many women her age are still struggling with being confident in their shapes and size. She’s already ahead of the curve. The problem, however, is that, as she says, she still fits sample sizes. She has abs. Gigi, while still experiencing body shaming, sits on the threatening end of the body spectrum.

A recent article on New York Magazine’s site brought up why it’s so hard for people to discuss weight. Unlike some of our other metrics (age, height, shoe size), weight fluctuates so much for a variety of factors. Despite where you lie on the scale, your place on the spectrum of threatening (thin) to disgusting (obese) is solely at the discretion of others. It’s a wholly unfair system, but it’s how we see each other.

Gigi Hadid’s comments are the same as a size 2 woman complaining to her size 22 sister about how she can’t find the clothes she likes in her size. It’s not that the size 2 woman doesn’t have the right to complain, it’s that it’s coming from someone who seemingly has everything. It’s the poor-little-rich-girl syndrome.

I’ll admit that I have fallen prey and been victim of these judgements. My struggles with fluctuating weight are well documented on this here blog. I’ve been both the skinny and the fat friend. It’s easy to think others are living in glass houses when you’re trying to clear the sludge from your own windows. It takes a lot of personal effort not to focus on other people’s seeming successes while you’re working on your growth.

I wish I could offer an easy fix for this, but there isn’t one. It comes with time. You learn not to let others have their space to vent their issues without judging them for wanting better for themselves.

Getting the Message Across

8 Sep
Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 11.10.50 PM

Comedienne Nicole Arbour

When I began this blog, it was to document the journey I’ve taken on my road to weight loss. It has been up and down the entire time. It was when I realized that it would always be up and down that I knew I could speak to others about this process. I was never morbidly obese, but I did have conversations with my doctors in the past that revolved around the need to take better care of myself. It was hinted at by friends and family members that my weight had taken a turn. But it wasn’t until I decided that I needed to take better care of myself that it clicked with me.

Not once did anyone curse me out about my body. Not once did anyone make me feel like I was less than a real human being. I still dated, I still hung with friends, I still went clubbing and dropped my 200-pound butt like it was hot. Losing weight was more about ensuring a better future for myself and feeling more confident within myself than it was about pleasing others.

And that’s where I have a problem with “comedienne” Nicole Arbour‘s  viral video that fat shames people she believes aren’t making the right decisions for themselves. Nicole, who is a slender woman, devoted six minutes and eight seconds in what she claims is satire to demean, dehumanize and shame people whom she considers fat. She compared overweight and obese people to Frankenstein’s monster. She claimed that a family she’d seen at the airport received preferential treatment not because they were disabled but because they were overweight. What annoyed me most is that she says fat shaming is not a thing, at lease not to people who don’t have a medical predisposition to weight gain.

Good for her that she realizes some people are different.

Let me set some facts straight: I do not, nor will I ever condone fat shaming. Having been on this journey for so long, I understand the pitfalls that come with trying to lose weight. I know what happens when you hit a brick wall after working so hard. And I fully get that it takes much longer to learn to maintain healthy habits than it does to embark on them.

What people like Nicole fail to realize is that prejudging, shaming and dehumanizing people who are fully aware of what they look like doesn’t help them. When was the last time a negative comment from a stranger positively affected you? When was the last time being called fat, disgusting, slow, or “Jabba the Son” made you want to do laps around the park?

Telling people what you don’t like about them and hiding it under the mask of “I accept everybody” isn’t just lying, it’s hurtful. Passing it off as comedy and satire only makes the jokester look like the true asshole. Nicole says in her video that only racial minorities, people with disabilities and the LGBT community are the only ones who are discriminated against. Everyone else (I’m looking at you women, religious community, poor, etc.) has no right to complain, especially overweight people.

Overweight and obese people are judged and commented on every day. Walk down the street and you’ll hear people commenting on another person’s size, possibly within earshot, every other block. It’s one of the last ways to criticize people that is still socially acceptable. And it shouldn’t be.

People like Nicole and John Burk, who released a similar video earlier this summer, need to take a good look at their methods of encouragement. If you want a healthier society, make a better effort to work within that society instead of ridiculing people you know nothing about. If you see an overweight person struggling, talk to them instead of berating them. Give then your personal trainer’s card. Offer your own services. But don’t be the dick who continues to beat people while they’re down.

#WorkThatBody2015

24 Aug

tracee

There’s this thing that happens on your weight-loss journey where you really start to feel yourself. You start taking notice of the physical changes in your body and gain a new admiration for your skills. You know how to control your portions. You’ve mastered the art of balancing your fitness regimen with your calorie counting. You’ve perfectly tamed your crave monster.

And the results are showing in your stride, the cinch of your waist, the draping of your clothes. In essence, you look hot.

You admire your good works, as you should. You can receive the compliments that are lauded upon you for your new approach to life. You walk with your head held a little higher because you are owning this.

This is one of the perks of sticking with your health-minded plan and gaining new comfort and confidence in yourself. Admiration for the renewed you comes with the territory. The only downside is that it can be coupled with exploitation.

The new you that you’ve come to appreciate is also being ogled and objectified by people who know nothing about you. This may have been the case for your old body. But maybe now you notice it more. The leers, the suggestive gestures or even a random camera snapping pics (trust me, this happens).

How do you balance your new found confidence with not letting others taint your experience?

That’s the question that came to me when reading Tracee Ellis Ross’s blog post accompanying the tribute video she made for her mother, Diana Ross. Tracee has long been an advocate of women being comfortable within themselves without needing outside validation. From her Love Your Hair campaign to this #WorkThatBody2015 post, Tracee has been pushing women, especially women of color, to “feel the joy” of being inside their own bodies.

Tracee, who even says herself that she’s often encouraged women to shift our gaze from how we are seen to how we are seeing and, more important, feeling,” felt joy and pride in watching her mother prance, dance and shake it out to “Work That Body” a generation ago. And it’s that joy and confidence that filtered through her into the tribute video.

Just because her mother was in a leotard and pushing her tush to the camera didn’t mean she was begging to be ogled.

I saw a woman feeling joyful in herself as a whole being; she didn’t seem to be presenting her ass or saying look at all the ways I can make myself look appealing to YOU. She seems to be saying, “this is ME feeling good and I am strong and sexy and joyful in ME”!~Tracee Ellis Ross

Understand: finding joy in yourself doesn’t mean to have to shake it, whip it, nae nae it or even drop it like it’s hot. It’s about having the confidence inside shine through. Dance around the house naked. Put on your favorite shade of lipstick or gloss. Dress up super cute and take yourself out on a date.

Feel good and strong and strong and sexy in you!

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.