Wednesday, October 31, 2012

skinny--by Kate Savage

“Nobody loves the head of a dandelion. Maybe because they are so many, strong, and soon.” - Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

My jaws don’t shut. It’s Grandma Virginia’s jaw, chin skewed to the side and teeth gaping, no corn on the cob for this one. The dentist assistants saying ‘Okay, now you can close your mouth. Close your mouth. No, like this.’ When they brought the problem to the attention of my parents it became a family joke. ‘We knew you couldn’t shut your mouth!’

They tried to fix it when I was eighteen, a clean double-jaw-break. The surgeon botched it, left me shatter-jawed and wired-shut for three months. 

While my face puffed up blue and purple, the rest of me melted away. You can only drink so many Ensures in a day: my weight dipped into the double-digits.

I have always been small. Always worn the clothes that friends have grown out of, like I’m a five-years-back echo of their current, full-bodied selves. But with a mouth finally forced shut, I became less than skinny. I became a ghost. I would look at my hollowed-out face in the mirror, my flat chest and the sharp lines of the bicep on my sharp arms, and up would clamor two voices: one saying ‘oh no oh no oh no what have they done to me’; and the other saying ‘Whew. Finally.’

This is what I never wanted to confess: that there is something delicious about being a ghost. About being hardly there. About being so thin that you know nobody could ever think you ought to be just a bit thinner, not even in your upper thighs, not even in the pocket of skin between your boobs and your armpits. 

Becoming a ghost taught me to hear this background noise of disapproval: an ear-ringing of body-hate, woman-body-hate, which I didn’t know existed until I caught a kind of silence. 

But even 90 pounds and mute I knew it would be back, I’d be shamed again by some new tactic to make me hunch up under my old embarrassment just to be here bodily, to be taking up space that could probably be better used with somebody -- something else -- anything -- I’m sorry.

It took my body a time to reassert itself, even once I could chew. I went to the ocean with my boyfriend at the time, and started turning blue instantly, the waves pushing me around when everyone else could hold their ground. He said it was cute.


“Mothers visiting a class at the Seminary in the early thirties were so shocked at the sight of a pupil drawing a heart, arteries and veins on a blackboard to explain the circulation of the blood, that they left the room in shame and dismay. To preserve the modesty of the girls, and spare them too frequent agitation, heavy paper was pasted over the pages in their textbooks which depicted the human body.”

-Emma Willard, founder of Troy Female Seminary

I first noticed the sex workers of Chimaltenango, Guatemala, from a tourist van with an all-female troupe of undergraduate students. They had heard this place was infamous for prostitutes, and, stuck in traffic on the winding streets, the girls in the van fought off boredom with a game: pick out the whore. 

And there they were, women in tube-tops, mini-skirts, heels, leaning against dusty stone walls, flirting with men, pushed up against old cars in the hot and dizzy streets. With each new finger-pointing--that one!--the van rocked with laughter. Especially over the women whose bellies extended over the front of their jean mini-skirts, who had wide arms and full faces. Those were the ones that really cracked up the well-manicured, first-world girls in the van. The edge of blame in their laughter at fat prostitutes: Lord, all those tortillas. 

In that hot laughter, you could almost forget that all the sex workers of Chimaltenango, thin and thick, had been screwed over. You could forget that, statistically speaking, the majority of the white women in the van had surely themselves been screwed over. That we could have struck up our own giggling bets about who among us was most likely to have been just as desperate, and just as used, as the cheapest whores of Chimaltenango.

At the time of that terrible ride, I was just the sputtering feminist-who-doesn’t-get-the-joke. I still haven’t drummed up a good retort, some pitch to win the van over to solidarity with the prostitutes and against the forces of commodification, alienation, patriarchy and poverty that create the modern sex industry.

All I have, even now, is the question: what makes the women so laughable? 

The laughter in the van feels like a kind of prudery. As though maybe my culture, the culture of billboards and magazines, is the height of puritanism. We only stop mocking when all the real bodies are covered up and shut out of the way. A Victorian lady couldn’t show her legs: a modern woman can only show legs that have been lasered to have all the hair and veins removed. Surrounded by silicon sacks, a carbon-based breast isn’t worth the adspace. Don’t even get started on <shudder> aging. Worse than simply ugly: the nonconforming female body is ridiculous. That one!

Maybe the best way to finally outlaw real, human, sexual bodies is to replace them with purified simulations. We’ve got our own heavy paper to paste over the indecent materiality of flesh: only ours are printed with porn. Behind that heavy paper, the punishment and shaming of women’s bodies -- of our breasts, our thighs, our asses -- hasn’t let up, in all these centuries, for a second. 

And that’s also the odd truth of even bodies that meet the specifications: of course fat-shaming is real, and its cruelty saturates everything. But it’s just one, particularly-vicious head of a woman-hating hydra. Here's the testimony of the skinny kid: the message to be ‘smaller’ won't end with love-handles. We're supposed to keep starving ourselves clear out of particularities, out of our own loud noises and awkward, irreducible ideas.


In the decade since the surgery, my jaw has reverted. Open again, uncloseable. I stay up late talking to my roommate about how black southern culture admires “thick” women, and being skinny is like needing glasses: too bad, but some people can make it work. Sheri Parks, writing about the cultural construct of Strong Black Women, asserts “Ferocity was not imposed on the black woman; it was taken away from white women.” It hits me because I’m that white woman, the Little White Woman. Little White Women have bigger houses than women of color, and all we had to do was cashier our strength, and try to look skinny.

Sojourner Truth talks over my shoulder, no matter which way I turn my head: “Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman?” 

I think: They took everything from her, and then they took her from me. Me and the women like me, trained to be the good, nice women who don’t disobey and don’t take up space. Bodiless, as much as possible. Purified out of the arms that can plough and plant.

I don’t want to flip over dichotomies, draw a new, reversed rubric for passing as a non-ugly woman. Instead I want ferocity, a sisterhood of the ferocious. Where we love the bejesus out of each other, out of the stubborn bodies we bear without coercion. And where the first Rite is taking up space. Look at me! Look at my arm!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

moms stay in the picture--two articles submited by Heather W.

Here is the ORIGINAL article, written by Allison Tate.

And here is a RESPONSE article on the same website.

These are incredible.  Thank you for sending them my way, Heather!

I love the point that Tate brings up in the first--how mothers are SO present in the lives of their children, but documentation might indicate otherwise.  Moms stay out of the picture, not because they don't want to be there, but due to shame regarding their less-than-perfect appearance.  I have memories from a very young age standing next to my mom in grocery stores and seeing celebrities in bikinis on magazine covers "How these hot mamas lost that baby weight!"  "Back in a bikini in only 6 weeks!"

Women are not only expected to (and far too many without the support of a spouse) create, carry, birth, and then rear children, never mind cleaning, cooking, education, employment, finances, and church/school/community obligations.  They are expected (oftentimes it seems, primarily by themselves and other women) to look smokin' hot while they do it all.  No wonder we have so many moms breaking down!

As always, I am in no way discouraging health or taking care of oneself.  But, as always, this discussion is not really about that, is it?

Let send the message to our sons and our daughters, our girls and our boys, that moms don't lose their voice, their worth, and their PRESENCE in our lives when they go grey, or don't wear makeup or cute clothes, or gain weight, or lose weight, have frizzy hair, or when their bodies take different and unexpected turns.

Get in the pictures, Moms.  And don't wait for tomorrow when you lose that weight, color your hair, and stop breastfeeding.  We love you and need you today.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

She Bop--anonymous

Oh…so that’s what that song was about. 

I am a good girl.  I am a Mormon girl.  I served a mission and am committed to living a chaste life.

I also used to masturbate. 

And still do.  On very rare occasions.  

Did I mention that I’m a girl?

It doesn’t seem quite right, does it?  Perhaps it seems as odd as men on this blog admitting they had an eating disorder.  Masturbate.  What an unfortunate word.  It feels dirty just typing it.  Masturbate.
I never exactly did the porn thing.  I do remember watching racy scenes from R-rated movies alone in our family’s den when I was around ten or eleven and touching myself.  I would do this off and on for a few years.  Alone in my room just before I fell asleep or right as I was waking, my thoughts would turn to sex and I would masturbate.  I didn't think about it, nor did I ever talk about it…it was just something I did, from time to time. 

Once a friend asked me as to how I got over it. 

Here’s the thing.  It just sort of went away. 

Here’s the other thing.  I never knew I was masturbating. 
Growing up in a culture where many parents/responsible adults can’t have much conversation past the initial BIRDS+BEES101 with children and teens regarding sex and intimacy, you’re left to receive the bulk of your education from sexy soap opera scenes, innuendos in pop culture, and dirty jokes told on the playground.  I grew up believing that masturbation was something guys did.  They had penises, and they jacked off.  I had no penis and therefore, could not masturbate.

I never became obsessed with masturbation and I remember by and by just kind of sensing that it wasn’t something that was great for me to do.  Something in me just kind of said, “you should stop.”  

So I stopped. 

For the most part.  

Years after the fact, I found out that was I was doing was, in fact, masturbation.  I was shocked.  But it was all done in ignorance, so I could easily let it go. 

In watching so many of my male (and some female) friends struggle with pornography and masturbation in a church culture, I cannot help but to wonder if all of the guilt has exacerbated the problems and encouraged addiction.  I’d have to do my research, but while SO many men look at pornography, it seems that addictions come up most frequently in the lives of those who adhere to a strict faith tradition.
Please don’t misunderstand.  Pornography is devastating and dangerous.  It dulls the spirituality and sensitivity of those who engage in it.  It promotes violence, and rape.  It damages and taints our views of women, of men, of bodies, and most destructively, of all that is supposed to be beautiful and fulfilling and intimate in sexual intimacy.  I would encourage any who struggle to seek help and freedom.   

In the same breath, it’s not a matter of IF the men in our lives will view pornography.  It’s a matter of when.  So how could we frame these encounters to help our men (especially our young men, and women as applicable) understand that while pornography is wrong, they are still good, and human, and have so much to look forward to in a healthy sexual relationship with their partner?  Pornography will not assist them on their journey to these things. 

Urges and desires and curiosities—these things do not make us mutants.  As Mormons, we understand that the human body is more than “a thing fit only to be tortured and contemned”.  These urges are rooted in a desire for something really beautiful and eternal—complete intimacy.  Love, acceptance, and unity expressed in physical oneness representative of commitment and loyalty.

(I have plenty to say about sex for a virgin, eh?  I have older sisters.  They talk.)
I can’t help but to wonder if perhaps some of these problems would go away if children and teenagers didn’t feel so ashamed of their sexuality, and instead understood the profound positive reasons for keeping your thoughts clean and your life chaste.  Perhaps if we had a more open dialogue parent-to-child, teacher-to-student, we could get the facts straight at a younger age about what really is so great about sex in a committed and healthy relationship.  Perhaps we would feel less of a pull to satiate our curiosity with dirty jokes, racy scenes in movies, and pornography.  Perhaps we’d have a clearer understanding of “the real thing.” 

Though I no longer masturbate (for the most part), one thing no one tells you is that as a woman’s sex drive does not (as I once assumed) peak in the teenage years.  Rather, once she graduates from high school, she’s looking at a solid decade plus in increase of drive.

Actually...there isn't much of a conversation about a woman's sex drive period.  But I imagine that's for another entry on this blog.

On the rare occasion it does occur, I don't beat myself up for it.  I recognize that I am a human, and I am a woman who has a sex drive.  And this is not something to be ashamed of.  It was, in fact, God-given.  And dear parents, teachers, and leaders--I know you are doing your best and your intentions are so good, but not acknowledging my sex drive, or your sex drive, isn't going to make it go away and ensure chastity.  I think it creates more problems. 

I let it go.  Move on.  Try to keep my thoughts clean not out of fear, but out of respect for myself and my future partner. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Scary Beautiful--stolen from Gregory N.

Go HERE and watch THIS.

Unrealistic, uncomfortable, impractical.

Hmm...sound like anything else in our lives?

I mean, these are hideous, but what if they weren't?  What if society told you they were fashionable, stunning, and a must-have for every woman?  What if these were beautiful?

How far are we willing to go in our pursuit of beauty?

Monday, October 15, 2012

If I'd only known before...

There is a book on my bookshelf that I've read and re-read several times since I purchased it a few years ago. It's called, "If I'd Known Then", by Ellyn Spragins. It's women in their 20's and 30's writing letters to their younger selves, giving advice and encouragement. It is something I've wanted to try myself, and also something I've wanted to read from other people too.

I think we should start a series of these letters, on this blog. So send them in anonymously, or send them to Dana and she can post them. I'm sure we all can think of something to write ourselves, even if it's just:

"Dear 12 year old me, when you kicked that boy in the kneecap and made him cry because he was saying mean things about your family... you made me proud. Your family is the most important thing to you in life... thanks for knowing that even as a kid. :)"

See? It's fun!

Here's my letter:

Dear 16 year old Lana,

In Autumn this year, you're going to realize something about a certain boy you think you love (as if you even understood it back then). He's going to ask for more than you're prepared to give, and when you say no, he'll dump you within 5 seconds of your answer. You'll be crushed that someone could not mean any of the feelings they said they had, but it will teach you more about life than you knew before. I know you don't believe me right now, but you will say no because you're tough as nails and nothing keeps you from forging your own path. Not even your mom can convince you to do what you don't want to do, so I just want you know that I'm extremely proud of you for sticking up for what you think is the right decision for yourself. You'll waiver a little later when you meet other people, but it will only remind you of your tough choices that you made and make you stick back to your decision even harder later.

You're tough, and even though life seems to run you ragged and torment your emotions during this time of your life, you are funny as hell, and you have more going for you than most of the girls who you envy. They will just get married and get fat before you've even started your program in your bachelor's.  Sometimes you'll be jealous they have someone, but you'll never be jealous that they got fat so young. I know, I know, as an adult that shouldn't be where my mind still goes, but it does, and I know you'll understand what I mean by that. What I'm trying to say is, you have more going for you than you ever realize. Comparing yourselves to these girls that seem to have everyone after them, big boobs, and amazing style to boot will one day not have those things because they took a different path than you who always tried to be different. One day someone awesome sees you as the best thing since Neil Armstrong landed on the moon!

So don't fret my dear, it's the ones that seem a little weird and unpopular in high school that get the cool lives later. Just think about all those nerds that invented Apple, or all those gawky girls that end up as supermodels, and listen to your mom. She said you'd get a lot of dates in college. Mom knew what would happen no matter how much you rolled your eyes at that. 

Oh and also, stop listening to that stupid pop/rap music, it makes you dumb. As much as you think it's just music, it makes you sound like a slut when you sing along and you end up acting like an idiot during that phase of your life. Have some class, girl. Stick back to your No Doubt, your indie bands, and your classic rock station, you end up reverting there anyway after you get sick of all the mindless music that is produced by talentless people. 

Oh and please don't stop drawing when you get to college. You lose the skill, and you had a good one... and I miss it.
Anyway, hang in there, and I'll see you when you're older!

With a lot of love,
Older Lana
Ok, mine was a little lecture-ish but yours don't have to be. Anything you want to say to yourself, just do it. It's really fun to read over later. 

I can't wait to read all of your letters to yourselves! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My self esteem and my new marriage.

I always looked at the future being when I'd feel better about myself, but I couldn't seem to feel better about myself in the present. So how would my future ever be anything but the present it presently was?

I know, that sentence really is a little too much isn't it?

I will explain.

I recently got married. As in, 28 days ago. Can I just say it's been a blast? It's been a month of discovery, plus the 2 months of prepping for it in our short engagement. (REALLY SHORT). We dated for 2 years though so there was a good time frame of getting to know each other. Right before we got married, I was nervous and scared that I wouldn't be a good wife because I knew what my mind was capable of doing for the bad. I knew all the things I had thought about myself over the years, not being good enough sexually, not being pretty enough, etc. Now I was worried about all the stuff I had to do as a wife! I was so worried I would disappoint him... even though he'd never led me to believe he had expectations like the ones I was putting on myself. I wondered if after we got married, would the good I was supposed to feel about myself just be there?

Funny story is, it is here.

I know, we're not supposed to let someone else dictate our self esteem. Trust me, after 2 years of regular therapy sessions with the most wonderful lady I've ever met, my husband doesn't completely dictate how I feel. It wasn't always easy for me though. I came from a family of beautiful people, who all started as ugly ducklings in one way or another. All my siblings are amazingly talented, attractive people. We all had awkward phases in junior high or high school, and all of us have been outcasts before, including myself, (see my letter to myself HERE). Throw in a father that bailed to find another woman to hang out with instead of his family, and the stereotypical girl with daddy issues was created. I spent a lot of time with boys, men and friends that I allowed to walk all over my self-esteem. When I met my husband, I'd had this string of men cycle through my life that in one way or another showed me I wasn't good enough, physically, sexually, mentally, or some other way, and took huge chunks of me with them when they bailed.  (Such a stupid thing I allowed to happen)

A small tip for you girls out there dating guys like this: If a guy tells you, "If we get married, my wedding gift to you would be new boobs, because you'd look better with a huge rack", dump him, and kick him in the balls so much he needs testicle replacements, don't continue life with him in it.

So my husband came in to the picture after I'd successfully removed all the friends, and men from my life that would treat me like that. My self esteem was at an all time high, but it was new and fragile. I was really honest with him about where I stood in life, and in how I felt about myself.  The coolest thing about that is, while I half expected him to be just like all the other jerks out there, he proved he was a man more worthy of me than anyone else. He was extremely patient, uplifting and kind.

So in a way, he does help my self-esteem. I say, never let people dictate how you feel about yourself, but if they are good people who always try to build you up... LET THEM BUILD YOU!

Marrying him has made me feel completely wonderful in my skin. I feel more beautiful naturally, because of how he respects and treats me than I ever have. It's like being married to him is home. I'm so grateful that my awful string of men led me to him, and not to another douche bag. I feel like with him, I can try anything and not be afraid to fail, because he will support me in what I want to pursue.

He told me the other day, "With you I feel like I can be successful at anything."

I always wanted to be that for someone too, but I was such a mess of a person, I wasn't sure I'd be able to be someone else's positive foundation. It's true what people say, you can't  love someone else right, if you can't love yourself. When you start to love yourself, you can love others properly. Those people that say these things are so right. We should all listen to them more.

If you're stuck in a self-esteem mud pit, I promise there's a way out. Figure out what it is that brings you down, and get rid of it. If it's you and your awful thoughts about yourself (like it was for me), do what you have to do to stop the negative. It brings more positive into your life than you'll ever know. If you are doing the negative talk, you know just how much you can destroy yourself. Wouldn't it be great if you could take that powerful ability you have to ruin your day, and turn it around and use the same power to make yourself feel amazing?

Get rid of the negative thoughts, friends, influences, significant others, and start to LIVE!

One of my favorite things I've had since I was a kid is a picture of Jesus saying, "The greatest gift I could ever give you is if you could see yourself the way I do." Each of us are divine creations, and if we could see the masterpiece that we are, we'd never think negatively about ourselves again.

I'm just really grateful that I finally have a man in my life that sees me the way I need to see myself.

It's only natural that such a great guy would be so good
lookin', right?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Born in Blood--Anonymous

Blood. It’s an unavoidable part of life. I get a paper cut, there’s blood. I stay up too late, my eyes get bloodshot. Children are born in blood. Men die in blood every day. I wish I could die in blood for 3-5 days every 27 days or so.

It’s torture. Women in tampon commercials dance and swim and run and jump as if it weren’t killing them. I don’t dance or swim or run or jump for 3-5 days straight once every 27 days or so. It’s a bloody hell, and I mean that in the most literal sense.

I beg my body to stop. I can literally feel the lining of my uterus separate from my insides and it feels like death. I spend those 3-5 days moving from the bathroom to the bedroom, trying not to exert myself for fear of an upswing in the the pain levels. I avoid sharp knives for fear that I might not be able to take it anymore and perform a very dangerous hysterectomy on myself.

I beg my body to leave me be. I don’t sleep for at least 1 of those nights. I don’t sleep well the other 2-4. I toss and turn and beg God for a release from the constant, sharp, stabbing pains.

On the worst days, I beg my body to give me death.

I beg it to be fertile so I can have a break for 9 short months. I beg my OB to give me something to help, but he can only offer birth control. I find that to be counterproductive.

I beg my body to free me from my bloody hell. To no avail. I beg my it to stave off the pains for a month or two. I try to take comfort in the early-onset menopause I’ll almost certainly inherit.

I love my body--with the exception of about 3-5 days every 27 days or so.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Today I Ran, Because I Can--Adele

I actually went to the gym today. Most of the time my gym membership is more like a Monthly Donation to the Charity of Planet Fitness. However I've noticed that I feel best when I've been active, and my job has me being a little less active than usual lately, so I decided it would do me good to go. Going to the gym is sometimes more loaded an issue for me than it "should" be. Oftentimes I feel like I need to get in shape before I can go to the gym to work out.....y'know what I mean? I'm still navigating the unfamiliar territory of Exercise for Enjoyment.

But today was a good day. Although I hadn't been running -- ahem, jogging -- in FOREVER, I managed a mile...and it truly felt so good. I normally hate jogging on a treadmill, but today I tried to focus on my body - the feeling of impact as my feet hit the surface, the sensation of my muscles working together in my wasn't easy, but for the first time is a very long time, it was joyful. I wasn't consumed with self-loathing as the activity jiggled the excess on my backside. I didn't compare myself to the other runners on the machines on either side of me. I just ran. And I enjoyed it. Because my body is imperfect, but it can do some amazing things. And I'm grateful for it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

some words on skin--anonymous

I have really terrible handwriting.  It swoops and cuts and floats off lines and really only I can read it, which suits me just fine because most of the time it looks like I’m taking scrupulous notes at work on like “Being your own Brand” or whatever corporate silliness is being presented, I’m more likely writing stuff like ruminations on “Why Am I Not A Wizard.”

My handwriting is unreadable to others.  People have compared it to Arabic and to runes.

I like the rune comparison, though.  I taught myself the futhark (the rune alphabet) when I was younger, and wrote notes to myself best I could in that simplified encryption.  Runes were sigils of protection and magic and meaning, from the Germanic word “to whisper.”  Runes were made to be carved into surfaces that were hard to cut; like stone.

Skin is not as hard as stone but it still dictates marks the same way—quick long jagged lines, leaving red marks and little white susurrations of scars. 

I am covered in these scars still, several years after the original lines were written, by me.  Most are in places I can easily hide, but not all.

I have been judged and questioned and avoided because of these scars.  People ask weird questions, too abruptly, too loudly.  People’s eyes flicker to them and flare and then go hostile and cold, and this hurts more than any cut ever did.  Sometimes people don’t say anything to me but I find out they care later.

People read these and read them in a way that I feel is wrong. 

This is not a venue for a discussion of self-harm.  I will say that I am not embarrassed or ashamed of my scars when it’s just me.  Considered on their own merits I actually think they are quite pretty.

I know people consider self-harm to be such a terrible inscrutable thing, but to be honest it wasn’t, for me.   A lot of people don’t understand that people do that sort of thing because it actually makes them feel better, and most of the times the things they are trying to feel better from are far more frightening and gruesome.  There are better coping mechanisms and no one should do it—but anyway, not the venue. 

The really cliché stuff about all that is true though, in that it’s annoying that the really really bad stuff in my life did not leave anything visible, anything people can judge me over.  I mean, old news to anyone with any sort of emotional trauma, but there you go.  People only see the scars, which is to them a discrete semiotics of instability and madness.  Which I mean that's how humans work, and I know that, and yet.

To me these lines across my body are barely even memories anymore--the side effect of seeing them everyday translating into a kind of semantic saturation where the marks are meaningless.  However. The scars are what people can see and thus read and thus interpret, the pale lines of a linear and incarnate echolalia of anger.  The other echoes, the real echoes, of voices and actions that still seep and bleed unhealed in my subconscious—those are things that are hard for me.  Not these stupid lines of broken code.

So even though I am intellectually fine with scars, sometimes they become one more way I am marred and one more way I am alienated from my body, and one more way to alienate others from me.

I know I shouldn’t let it bother me.  But every so often I get very very sad, especially when I see how otherwise lovely people react and the barriers it sets up between myself and them.  Otherwise wonderful people have a lot of hostile or contemptuous or pitying reactions to seeing self-inflicted scars.  Or they get scared because they don’t understand it.  It’s easier to think someone is crazy than that they were in pain or deal with things differently than you.

Part of me—more now than it used to be—part of me just wants to be all DEAL WITH IT (EXPLETIVES) but while there is strength to be gained from those trains of thought, it’s not a solution.

A part of me wants to treat it like the nonissue I kind of feel it is.  But life isn’t like that.  People care about really stupid stuff.  I learned (maybe too late) to keep most parts of myself to myself, even though let me tell you I have been around the weird block and I’m actually probably the most boring and nowadays stable person ever.  Seriously though.  My facebook feed can basically be summed up in the phrase "work, amirite?"

But still "cutter" is used as dysphemism for crazy, weird, unfit, overemotional, etc. person. 

And then most of me wants to retire into solitude as a hermit with long sleeves who won’t have to worry about any of that messing things up when trying to make friends or date or whatever.

I don’t know what to do.  I want to accept that I am still lovable with these marks but it is very hard at times.

Some people have adopted scarring as a for of self-expression, forming elaborate patterns and beautiful designs through a process rather wonderfully called “scarification.”  Red and white whispers on skin.  Owning--being--your own brand.

A scar after all is nothing but healing.  It is what makes you whole again.

Scars should not be frightening or confusing; they should be triumphant.

I can’t smooth mine away and they are set, ugly and gorgeous and knotted, with victories and losses.  I can’t take back what happened or what I did.  And mostly I don't want to.  Without my scars I would not be me.  I would be some other, some more insipid pale iteration of myself.

So far I am just trying to remember that when I read fear or disgust in people’s eyes, and try to remember that if they can read my arms and legs wrong, maybe I am reading their faces wrong, even though mostly I think I am not.

(I also try to remember that life is too short and also it's waaaaay boring to have so many superficial issues with yourself, but that doesn’t always help, does it?)

I will say this, though: that if you see someone with scars, don’t balk or think they’re crazy or think you know what they mean.  Unless you’ve written in that language, you can’t speak it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

I am a child of God--by Jessica

I could go on and on about my personal journey with self image, self confidence and dealing with my weight but today I will spend only a moment on that subject. I will say I have looked at my thighs with utter disgust, contemplating a way in which I could cut some of them off. I have counted calories, I have worked out just because I wanted to be thinner and wanted to fit into a pair of jeans. I have checked myself out in the mirror to check if I looked good enough, if my curves were in the right places and altered my posture to accentuate certain parts of my body. I have looked at those close to me with jealous eyes hungering after their perfect legs and toned arms. I have thought that bulimia wouldn’t be that bad. I have been very foolish.

Through the past years I have began on a journey of seeing and understanding my body from Gods perspective. This journey accelerated in April and now I can honestly say that 95% of the time I LOVE my body. When I look in the mirror and I see a spectacular creation, a healthy, vibrate and energetic being and that being is me! What a miracle I am! Yes there are images and messages everywhere telling me that in order to be happy I need to be a size 2 or less, weigh 130 pounds, have a perfect face and toned muscles and wear sexy and sassy clothes, but to honest I don’t care. I am a size 8 and weigh 150 pounds, I am strong, healthy, I can run, dance and be playful at any moment and I am so happy that my body works.

How have I gone from wanting to cut off my thighs to loving my physical appearance? First off it is a daily conscious decision that I make. Yes, I make it every day. Daily I choose to love what I see in the mirror. Second, I have been educating myself about my creation, who created me, why I was created and what does my creation has the potential to become. I was created by God, I am a child of God and do know what a child of God has the potential to become… A God! How liberating. Every time I look in the mirror I see a God in training.

God created everything about me spiritually first and then physically. I am a complex being spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. Everything about my physical being has God’s signature written on it,` I just have to look for it.

I have become picky with what I allow into my being. I have filtered out the elements of my life that were encouraging me to see my body an object; TV shows, blogs, movies, images, songs, and people. I am on an important journey I want to fulfill my destiny and become a God and I can not afford to allow elements into my life that will distract me from my goal and leave me feeling of less worth.

The most recent change I have made is the way I dress. When I get ready for my day instead of looking at my wardrobe and trying to wear something that will make me look cute, hot, skinny, attractive I look for items that complement my character, my personality. I am a vibrant, energetic, animated and happy person so I try to dress according to that. I wear color, I love layering colors and adore accessories. Now when I look in the mirror I see me, my personality and character radiate and I am beautiful. When I pass my reflection instead of looking at the way my jeans fit or if my tummy is flat enough I ask myself “do my clothes allow my light of Christ to shine?”

My last thought is inspired by a remarkable friend; she challenged me to have a captivating heart. I have been thinking about what my heart looks like, is it captivating? Is it kind? Is it honest? Is it true? Is it thoughtful? Is it virtuous? Is it Christ like? I have been trying to focus more efforts on what my heart looks like and to see past the shapes, sizes and clothes of others and see their hearts. If the first thing we saw was our heart many self image problems would cease to exist.

We are all children of God and we can become a God. Let’s not waste our time letting external factors tell us otherwise. If you don’t believe me get down on your knees. I dare you to ask God if you are beautiful. We are God’s GREATEST creation. Instead of thinking negative thoughts towards your body seek God, seek goodness, seek light and seek truth within yourself. You are full of glorious reminders that you are a child of God and that you are indeed beautiful. You have so many reasons to celebrate yourself!