All About That Bass

I am not a petite woman. This we know. At 5’9″ and 200 pounds, nobody would ever describe me as a small person. Which, as the mission of this blog tries to convey, is something that I’m coming more and more to terms with every day. Hey, I’m curvy, I gots booty, it ain’t no thang, right?

Well, unfortunately, as most of our media-laden, celebrity-stricken society continues to perpetuate bias against the big gals, just because I’m getting more comfortable with myself doesn’t mean the rest of the world is. Sure, there’s less straight-out animosity towards us totally lazy and disgusting fatties, but all that former vitriol seems to have simply been replaced by concern-trolling under the guise of being worried about the health of every plus-sized person in the world.

And while there are songs out there that celebrate the whole concept of being beautiful on the inside (Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful,” comes to mind), there has yet to be a Billboard chart-topper that specifically celebrates what we’ll go ahead and call the non-ideal body standard.

Enter: Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” which my friend Lara sent to me just yesterday. First off, this is the catchiest song you’ll probably hear all summer, and I apologize in advance for the fact that once you listen to it, you will DEFINITELY have it stuck in your head for the rest of eternity.

Aside from possessing an outrageously catchy chorus, however, the song also has a pretty empowering message. As Meghan (looking absolutely fab-u-lous) sing-talks:

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

Of course, it’s difficult to ride the line between empowerment and appreciation for one body type without dissing another. As a cursory glance at the comments section on Youtube will tell you (once you’ve tossed out the ones trolling on Trainor’s appearance, since we know all the dregs of humanity hang out in the Youtube comments section), there are quite a few folks who feel that Trainor’s song crosses the line into body-shaming, particularly with this line:

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that

“Skinny shaming!” they cry. “I don’t have a booty, so you’re saying boys don’t want me?” they ask. And, to be honest, with my new persona of a body positive lady (and that’s all bodies, yo!), I was ready to jump on the bandwagon with them at first. After all, body image issues exist for women who are 80 pounds, women who are 280 pounds, and women everywhere in between. So regardless of whether you are bootylicious or a skinny bitch, I can see why some people took offense to that line.

But I also think it’s more complicated than that.

Putting aside the fact that the music industry is just as responsible for perpetuating the ideal of thinness as the television and movie industries (I swear, if I hear one more person say something about Adele’s weight…), if you really look at the full lyrics of the “skinny bitches” line, I think it’s obvious that there’s a different kind of message at play here:

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
Nah, I’m just playing I know y’all think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

So, sure, it’s in a lyrical, rhyme-y way (since, let’s remember, this is a SONG which means the lyrics have to sounds good first and foremost, which has the potential to affect the clarity of one’s message), but Trainor is obviously not saying, “Skinny bad! Fat good! Yarrrr!” Rather, she’s saying that everyone’s got messed up body image (which they probably do), and in spite of that, everyone is already perfect (which they probably are). So instead of dissecting her word choice, let’s go ahead and bask in the warm fuzzies of that sentiment, shall we?

Here’s the bottom line for me: just having not-Megan Fox’s body in today’s day and age is hard enough on a personal level, let alone on a public one. Weightism is one of the most accepted forms of discrimination still occurring today, and since it’s just a fact that being fat is always going to garner way more criticism and judgment than being thin, I say that any attempt to make The Ideal Body more realistic is worth it.

So, yes, I am indeed all about “All About That Bass,” and its outrageously catchy bottom-line message:

Every inch of you is perfect, from the bottom to the top.

The Power of Words

I like words.

I mean, I must, right? I wrote an entire book that consists of over 80,000 of them, and I’m working on another. (Slowly, slowly, hahahaha.)

I don’t know if it’s because of the whole Shakespearean pen being mightier than the sword thing, or if it’s just because I love to hear myself talk (which, of course, I do), but I just really like words.

There are quite a fair few words that I have a particular affinity for. I don’t just like them, I really like them. Words like:

  • Effervescence
  • Proclivity
  • Defenestrate (literal meaning: to throw out a window)
  • Irrevocable
  • Kerfuffle
  • Ineffable

But then, conversely, there are a handful of words that I really, really, really hate.

And I don’t just mean the bad words, you silly goose, I mean that there are a few words out there that incite nails-on-a-chalkboard-esque cringing from me. Maybe it’s because of the sound it makes when you say it aloud, maybe it’s because of the way it looks when it’s spelled out, maybe it’s because of its meaning (or the fact that nobody seems to know how to actually use the word correctly — I’m looking at you, irony), maybe it’s because OH MY GOD THAT IS NOT ACTUALLY A REAL WORD. A-hem. But for whatever reason, some words are just the worst.

And because I love you guys oh, so very much, I’m going to go ahead and, potentially causing myself (and other word-sensitive folks) irreparable harm, list some of them:

  • Moist
  • Irregardless
  • Squirt
  • Viscous
  • Phlegm
  • Sanguine (most confusing word ever — it’s derived from the Latin word for blood and yet means optimistic?!)

So, yes, I guess I should refine my original statement to say that I like most words. But I think I should note that the word I hate most in my entire earthly existence isn’t even on this list. It’s a word that I hate so very, very much that I don’t know if I want to write it again here now.

And what is this awful, terrible, no good, very bad word, you ask?

  • Fat

hate the word “fat.” I hate it so much that sometimes I get angry just thinking about it. And do you know why I hate this word so much? It’s not because of its meaning, or because of how it sounds, how it’s spelled, or any of that.

It’s because I honestly think that I could trace almost every bad feeling I’ve ever had about myself, every ounce of self-loathing I’ve ever felt for my body, every time I binge ate, every time I forced myself to throw up, and even now, the self-worth I feel as a (sort-of) adult, to that word. So many of my thoughts and actions throughout my life have gone into attempting to avoid being called that word. 

I hate that any word in any vocabulary of any language has ever had that kind of power over me.

My first memory of being called fat is still vivid. “Aiyah, you’re getting fat,” was precisely how it was phrased, a few words from an aunt who I’m sure had no idea the impact those words already had on me. She didn’t really mean anything by it, I’m sure. I couldn’t even tell you exactly how old I was — 8, 9 maybe? — but that comment marked the exact moment I consciously realized that getting fat was bad. (I don’t know if it’s important to note or not, but I was not a heavy kid. My struggle with my weight really began when I hit puberty.)

Of course, I’d soon come to realize that it wasn’t just bad to be fat, it was the worst possible thing you could do as a girl. By most of modern society’s thinking, that is. Forget being cruel, bigoted, jobless, uneducated, selfish… no, no, being fat was, of course, much worse. I like to think that the tide is beginning to turn on that particular train of thought, but then I make the grievous mistake of reading the comments on certain posts on Facebook and, well… whether it’s under the guise of concern-trolling or it’s actual hatred for non-standard body types, people are pretty damn nasty.

I know that for me, even with the strides I’ve taken and how far I’ve come in my journey of self-acceptance, I still fear being called fat. Lately my emphasis and goals have been in accepting and loving my body as-is, and so I try to exude an aura of self-confidence and body love despite of — or rather, because of — my size. But in reality, I am still so affected by the words and opinions of others, and I’m still afraid of other people calling me “fat.”

There are a lot of awesome folks out there working hard to redefine the word “fat,” and regardless of your feelings about the merits of being fat vs. thin, or of your opinions about what it means to be at a healthy weight, I think that’s something we should all support. This isn’t a post about fat acceptance or the obesity epidemic, it’s about taking away the power from a word that can, at least in my experience, cause immeasurable harm to one’s ability to love oneself.

This is about taking one more small step towards being able to take back the word “fat,” to reclaim it, to return it to its roots. Roots that most definitely did not include making someone feel like they are less worthy, less beautiful, or less deserving of love just because of their size. For all the nine-year-old girls out there who are barely on the cusp of learning what it means to own their body at all, I think it’s so important that we do start to turn that tide.

“Fat” is just a word. It’s a word that, in this context, is used to describe appearance — the same as “thin” or “fit” or “tall” or “short” or “brunette” or “blonde.” But we have injected so much significance and negativity into those particular three letters, that it has the power to affect us more than any of those other words ever could. (Well, I guess you could argue that the word “thin” has as much of an affect, just in a different, much more positively accepted way.) So in attempt to take one small step towards changing that, if for nobody else but myself, here I am, embracing it. This is my personal attempt to redefine that no good, very bad word in my life:

I am fat. I have fat on my body, just like every other human being on this planet. I have more than some, and less than others, and the particular amount of fat that anyone has does not define their worth as a person.

Of course, I’m sure I’d still feel less than amazing than if someone else were to call me fat, since my natural inclination is to assume everyone else does so with the implication of judgment and insult attached, but hey, it’s a step, right? And while I do hope one day that, as a society, we can help de-awful-fy my least favorite word, for now, I’ll just work on making these words more of a fixture in my vernacular:

  • Worthy
  • Beautiful
  • Honest
  • Significant
  • Memorable
  • Wonderful

The Missing Ingredient

So, as evidenced by the increasing infrequency of my posting, I guess you can probably imagine that work has gotten muy loco once again, and this poor, neglected blog is suffering the consequences. Well, there is good news and bad news that comes out of this fact, the bad news being that, of course, my posting has gone out the window… as have my *ahem* weigh-ins. (Oops.)

BUT. The good news is that the thing that I’m working on is a flippin’ huge, rocktastic, amaaaaahzing party that Y-O-U are invited to attend!

Yelp Gets Lucky

Yelp Gets Lucky is taking place on Friday, June 13th from 8 – 10 PM (or 7 PM if you’re part of the Yelp Elite Squad) and it’s going to be a seriously good time. We’re talking tons of noms, draaaaanks, and entertainment, all courtesy of amazing local businesses!

Best of all? It’s 100% TOTALLY COMPLETELY FREE to attend! All you gotta do is RSVP on Yelp. That’s it. For serious. So local readers, you have no excuse not to come out and play, okay?!

Aaaaanyway, now that that shameless plug is out of the way, let’s get back to me making pitiful excuses for why I haven’t been blogging. I mean, wait. What?

Okay, so here’s the real deal. (Buckle in, this is gonna be a long ride, folks.) I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this blog and where I’m going with it. You know, thinking about where I was in my life when I wrote that first post three and half years ago, and where I am now. Thinking about the goals I’ve achieved, the ones that I’ve failed at, the ones that I first achieved and THEN failed at maintaining afterwards… and how with the onset of this dream job and so many things in my life falling into place, maintaining this blog has lately felt more like a burden than a joy.

I know, I know, that sounds bad, and maybe it actually reads harsher than I really mean it to, but, hmm. How do I say it… I guess I’ve been kind of tiptoeing around the fact that I’m just not as passionate about blogging as I used to be. And I’ve been blaming it on being busy or being distracted or whatever, but I think we all know that it’s not really about not having the time to do it.

I mean, here’s the story of this blog in a nutshell: I was fat and unhappy, so I lost a buncha weight. And it was awesome! Aaaand then I gained a whole bunch of weight back. And that was not so awesome (especially to admit… publicly… on the interwebs) but, unlike before, I was fat and happy. Not happy about being fat, but you know what I mean. But, hey, I write a weight loss blog. So I knew that eventually I needed to own up to regaining the weight, and that I also needed to re-lose it. I had it in my mind that if I did it once, I could do it again just as long as I did all the same things I did the first time around. So that’s what I set out to do.

And sure, it worked for a while, because just paying attention to myself and what I was eating again was enough to help me shed those first 10, 15 pounds again. But then… I dunno. My drive just kinda — poof! — disappeared. And I couldn’t really figure out why. After all, I was doing all the same things I did the first time. Counting my calories, exercising (well, kinda…), cleaning my diet back up. And it was working! I was losing weight again. And yet… something was still missing.

I just haven’t been able to muster up the same enthusiasm towards my weight loss that I had the first time around. Maybe it’s because I’ve taken so many steps backwards that the fact that I’m finally moving forward again isn’t really a big deal. Because I’m still so far from where I once was. So, you know, celebrating a loss that I had already lost but subsequently regained doesn’t really seem like an appropriate thing to celebrate anymore. There’s too much guilt and shame involved now.

Beyond that, though, I think part of the reason why doing all the same things and following the same path doesn’t feel quite right anymore is because while all those things might be the same, I’m not. I’m pretty damn different now than I was three and a half years ago (um, thank GOODNESS, right?). Pretty much everything in my life has changed since then — my job (VIVA LA YELP!), my relationship (I think I’ll keep him), even my family (hello, Auntie Gretchen!). In fact, the only thing that hasn’t really changed is this pervasive obsession I continue to have with losing weight and, while we’re being honest I’ll just say it, being thin.

Let’s just face facts: While I talked a LOT about how, really, this blog is about getting healthy, and, really, it’s about working through my food issues, and, really, it’s about loving myself, you wanna know what it’s REALLY been about? Losing weight. I mean, it’s right there in the title. And I feel like in having that focus right from the start, I was always in the mindset that there was something about me that needed to change. That needed to be fixed. And that one basic thought right there, despite all my best efforts and a lot of denial, led the way for a lifetime of doubt and self-loathing to settle in under every victorious blog post, every one of my successes.

I mean, heck, even when I did lose 60 pounds and felt happy and whole and looked rockin’ in tapered denim, I still wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to continue to “fix” myself, to lose more, to be skinnier… and I’m pretty sure that lack of contentment is probably a key factor in why I started to regain weight in the first place.

IMG_8199.jpg IMG_9111.jpg

So yes, I obviously would love to get back to that place, that weight, how I felt at that time. But I don’t want to get there by spouting positivity on this blog but secretly wishing I could chop off the rolls on my stomach in private. The truth of the matter is that I’ve spent far too much of my life punishing myself for my body, being mad at myself for lacking the self-control to be thin, hatefully comparing myself to other women.

Now, let’s just hit the “pause” button for a hot sec, because I want to clarify that this post is in no way a declaration that I’m going to stop blogging. I’m obviously waaaaay too egomaniacal to ever do that. Please. But I am starting to reevaluate what it is that I’m looking to get out of this and put into this blog. Because I don’t think my real goal is just to lose weight any more. Or, at least, I don’t think I want it to be.

Maybe I’m finally getting to a place where I truly do want to work towards being able to fully accept and love my body as-is. No improvements needed. And I promise, I’m not trying to use this as an excuse to be lazy and eat whatever I want and be unhealthy. This is all about trying to implement a shift in my perspective, and I think it’s time for me to take a break from this total fixation I have on my weight, my size, and my body in general. Or at least, to TRY to take a break from it.

And you know, while I’m working on the full mental overhaul that I’m sure will be required to get me to see things just a little differently (I tell ya, the media industry really has done a number on me), I’ll continue to eat healthily (for the most part, as I do now) and go to the gym (for the occasional part, at least) and we’ll see where that gets me for the next little while.

Aaaaand since this post has LONG since passed the “eyes glazing over” stage right into TL;DR territory, I’ll go ahead and stop myself here. Let’s see how this attempt at a shiny new perspective goes, shall we?

Body Love vs. The Desire to be Thin

Howdy, folks! Happy Wednesday! I don’t know about you folks located outside of the Eastern seaboard, but here in Northern VA we got hit with a ridonkulous amount of snow yesterday!

Everything you read on your friends’ Facebook feeds is true. My car is currently buried under half a foot of fluffy white stuff and it literally comes up to my dogs’ bellies when they go outside. It’s kinda nuts, especially when you consider it was almost 60 degrees on Monday!

But speaking of fluffy white things and my pups, yesterday was also Daxter’s birthday!

Can you believe he’s FOUR years old? *sniff* They grow up so fast! I still remember him when he was thiiiiiiiis big:

Anywho, now that we’ve gotten all that adorable feel goodery out of the way, I wanted to dive into something a little deeper. I’m not sure how I got to it, but I recently came across The Militant Baker‘s amazing blog and, specifically, her post about the Smash the Scale Revolution. And, as it will likely do for you, it got my brain cogs movin’. And since this blog is pretty much the place I go to air out all my weird thoughts on the rare occasions that I get them, well… here we are!

So, the Smash the Scale project is pretty much exactly the awesome thing you probably think it is: a movement to try and get women (and men!) to stop focusing on making their bodies culturally and societally appropriate. In The Militant Baker’s words: “It’s about making a conscious decision to detach your worth from that number on your scale. Smashing the Scale isn’t about being unhealthy. It’s about deciding what your definition of beauty is and knowing that it is enough.”

See, I can wax poetic for ages about how I want to get healthy and be strong and how I’m not at my best when I’m being lazy and unmotivated — and all of that is true. But what I don’t say very often, what I don’t even really admit to myself, is that underneath all of those good intentions and righteous reasons for doing, well, this, is still that pervasive, seemingly unavoidable desire to just be thin.

I’ve never been thin. Not really. I mean, I think maybe I was a lanky child between the ages of 5 and 7 1/2, but other than that, I’ve always — always — existed more as a Mindy Lahiri type:

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I mean, all those times in high school when I thought I was fat? I would KILL to still think THAT’s me, fat. I mean, not really, obviously what I really wish is that I *didn’t* think that being 5’9″ and weighing 160 pounds is fat, but I digress. The point I’m trying to make is that I’ve never really known what it’s like to be THIN. Like, I dunno, wears clothing with an “S” on the label, able to pull off stomach-baring shirts thin. And logically, I think that I know that my body type is not and was never meant to be skinny in the conventional sense. I’m tall, I’ve got wide hips, big bones, big other things that start with “B”, yada yada. But “knowing” that and KNOWING that are two very different things, and the fact of the matter is that even now, even after all the growing I’ve done — or at least thought I’ve done — there is very little I wouldn’t do if it meant I’d magically wake up tomorrow as a size 4.

So, clearly, despite all my best intentions, I still very much buy into the societally-pressured, glossy magazine idea of conventional beauty. Which is why it’s so hard not to hate myself for re-gaining the weight that I worked so hard to lose, because somewhere inside, underneath, below, there’s a part of me that basically equates me being fat with me being ugly. Which is RIDICULOUS. And I know that it is. But, hey, given what the kind of messages blasted at us from every direction, can you really blame me?

I try to focus on the good, the parts of myself that I know that I love. And I try to gain objective perspective about the parts that, while I don’t necessarily consider beautiful, are not exactly grotesque either. But it’s hard to always focus on the positive, to always accept yourself the way that you are. Which is why I so commend things like the Body Love movement and the Smash the Scale Revolution. Because we really need all the support and inspiration we can get when it comes to this. And because it is never as simple as you think.

I really don’t believe in the pressures and demands that society and culture puts on women (and men!) to look a certain way in order to be considered beautiful. But I still succumb to them. I don’t believe that being thin automatically equals being beautiful, or vice versa, but I still want to be both. And as a weight loss blogger, as someone who is actively working to lose weight — yes, to be healthy and strong but also to, well, lose weight (duh!) — am I simply perpetuating the cycle? Broadcasting my specific attempts to lose weight, and thus to become at least slightly thinner, is not exactly me screaming to the world that I am part of the Body Love movement.

In a perfect world, I would be able to love my body as it is AND still be okay with changing myself. It wouldn’t be about rebelling against society and showing the world that Big is Beautiful, and it also wouldn’t be about trying to “fix” the way I look. It would be about being okay with whatever I WANT to do — whether I want to lose weight or I want to stay the way I am. And if I wanted to lose weight, it really would be because I wanted to be fit, not because I wanted to fit in. And if I wanted to stay the way I am, it would be because I really did think that I am beautiful as-is, no changes needed (and because, as we know, fat does not automatically mean unhealthy anyway!).

It’s awesome that there are so many body love/body acceptance/size acceptance movements happening, because obviously the current “ideal” absolutely needs to change. But pressure comes in a lot of different forms, and Hollywood isn’t the only one with opinions on how people should look or act or think. If I’m being honest, sometimes it feels like my only options as a large-and-in-charge lady are to either A) want to lose weight and hate my body or B) stay fat and love my body. Like, if I were a true proponent of body acceptance, I shouldn’t want to change. But I want to be able to both love my body as it is AND still want to change it. And I want it to be okay to want both things.

The fact is, some days, I do hate my body. I tear up thinking about the stretch marks that I will have forever. Some days, I hate the fact that I’m not naturally blonde and I hate that I have arm hair and I hate that the fingernail on my right middle finger is weirdly smaller than the one on my left. Maybe it’s because I caught a glimpse of my pooch in the mirror as I bent down to pick something up. Or maybe it’s because even though I’m a size XX at Old Navy, when I try on the same size at J.Crew, it doesn’t fit. Or maybe it’s just because it’s a Tuesday and that’s how I woke up feeling.

But some days, I love my body. And I don’t just mean when I’m focusing in on my eyes or the cupid’s bow dip of my upper lip or sticking my chin out so you can kind-of-sort-of see my collarbones. I mean sometimes I look at the rolls on my stomach or the fleshy part of my upper arm and I am really, honestly, truly, just like, “Huh. Cool.” It might not be as often as the days when the reason I love how I look is because of my eyes or my cupid’s bow, but it has indeed been known to happen.

There’s no rhyme or reason to how I’m going to feel about myself or my body at any given time, because I’m fickle and I’m emotional and I’m constantly changing and I’m HUMAN. But I would certainly like the scales to tip in favor of loving everything about myself — even if I still want to change some things.

While I won’t be literally smashing my scale any time soon (I still intend to weigh myself as a way to chart my progress, of course), I am really grateful to the Smash the Scale Revolution for opening my eyes and making me really think about my motivations for why I’m doing what I’m doing here. Because in the end, just wanting to be thin is clearly not enough of a reason to make weight loss stick. I’ve found that out the hard way! And maybe if I learn to really love myself at 233.2 pounds, then when I get to 220 pounds or 190 pounds or 160 pounds or wherever I end up, I won’t have to worry about anything other than just being me.