Body Love and Dieting: They’re Not Mutually Exclusive

At the recommendation of a very dear friend, I have started reading “Things No One will tell Fat Girls” by Jes Baker aka “The Militant Baker”. If you’re not familiar with either of those names, here’s the SparkNotes version. “The Militant Baker” is a blog written by Jes Baker which is all about body love, body image, feminism, and fatshion. To be completely honest, I’ve never read her blog. Jes is, in short, one of the biggest voices in the body love world right now.

I’m currently twenty-seven pages in and I am struggling. I just finished reading a guest essay about diet culture and how it’s basically the root of all evil. The essay is called Living the Dream at 250 Pounds or “Why Diet Culture is Full of Shit and can Suck my Lady Dick” by Virgie Tovar of #LOSEHATENOTWEIGHT. Basically, the essay says that if you’re dieting, you can’t possibly love yourself. Which…what? I do agree that diet culture can be toxic when taken too far. When people cross the line between dieting/healthy living and pro-ana (anorexia) ideology. Eating disorders are incredibly serious and it’s very possible to cross that threshold from “dieting” to “disordered eating”, trust me…I’ve crossed it. But losing weight in and of itself, isn’t harmful. Wanting to get healthy so you no longer get winded from a flight of stairs isn’t harmful. Wanting to make sure you live a long life so you can see your nieces and nephews grow up isn’t harmful.

I’m currently eleven pounds shy of my highest known weight, actively following Weight Watchers and exercising, and I’m honestly the happiest I’ve ever been. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see something or someone I hate. I just see myself; a 25 year old woman who has a great job, a beautiful home, and an adorable but trouble making puppy. I see a woman who went on vacation this summer and wore several two-piece bathing suits and didn’t bother covering up. I have a boyfriend who treats me like a princess, and loves me exactly as I am, but also gives me his full support while I’m on this weight loss journey. A boyfriend who makes me feel beautiful even when I first wake up and have mascara in the corners of my eyes and ogre-like morning breath. Making healthy choices and going on daily walks, which I happen to love, doesn’t negate any of that. It adds to it. When I’m outside on a sunny day with my puppy’s leash in one hand and my boyfriend’s fingers tangled in the other, I feel incredible. I feel light, and happy, and truly blessed. When I make dinner and it’s mainly green beans and broccoli with a little bit of grilled chicken, I’m excited to eat because green beans and broccoli are fucking delicious.

I’m getting more and more heated as I write this. Because seriously…fuck anyone who tries to take my happiness away from me. Fuck anyone who says that because I’m following a certain diet I obviously hate myself. Fuck anyone who tries to tell me how I feel. This body of mine, this fat body with all its rolls and stretchmarks has gone through a lot with me. It’s gotten me through dance recitals and golf tournaments. It has taken me all around London, Paris, the Netherlands, Croatia…It has been broken, and bruised, and burned, and scratched but it’s still here. It’s still here to take me on walks, to be loved by my boyfriend, to be fed more green food than it has had in all its 25 years. I love this body. I love what we’ve been through, and I’m excited about where we’re going.

I don’t know if I’m going to even finish this book. As I wrote this little rant I realized I may not even need it. If it’s a guide to loving yourself, I think I managed to reach that point without it. If it’s anti-dieting propaganda, it’s two-hundred some pages of garbage. I’m done with things that try to dictate my feelings and my life. Fuck all of it. I love myself.

Plus Size Musings

I find that I have a very difficult time separating body positivity from complacency. For me, being okay with my body means being okay with being fat. It means not wanting to lose weight. But I do want to lose weight. I don’t want to be fat. I guess it might just be the ironclad grip society has on me. Actually I know that’s exactly what it is. Despite knowing that there’s nothing wrong with being fat, I still don’t want to be labeled as such. Is internalized fatphobia a Thing? It must be, and it’s becoming increasingly more apparent that I’ve got it.

It’s such a strange situation to be in, knowing that what you think and feel is, for all intents and purposes, wrong, but not being able to change your way of thinking. It doesn’t help that I’m constantly reminded that I’m fat and that it’s Bad. I’m reminded every time I look in the mirror and see a curve or roll in a place it really shouldn’t be. Every time the store doesn’t carry an article of clothing in my size, or I have to pay extra for it, or I have to order it online and pray that it fits when it finally arrives 5 to 7 business days later. Every time an airplane stewardess asks me, in a hushed voice, if I need a seatbelt extension. Okay so that last one has only happened once, just this week in fact, but it was still humiliating.

The problem is that it’s always on my mind. My size is always on my mind. Even when I’m spending a day relaxing at home, and I’m sitting on the couch reading a book, I’m consciously aware of every roll, every single minuscule piece of skin that’s peaking out, how my neck must look; does holding my head like this give me a double chin? It’s exhausting. And that’s just an easy day. That’s a day where I don’t have to worry about what other people are thinking. On those days, it’s almost impossible to get myself out of bed in the morning. Walking down the hallway at work is a chore. Going to the cafeteria to get a salad is a nightmare. What all of those people must be thinking…look at that fat girl, getting a salad. What is she trying to prove? Does she really think we believe she normally eats like that? If she did, she definitely wouldn’t be the size she is.

Some days there just isn’t enough false confidence in the world to get me through. People tell me to “fake it till you make it”. Well I’ve been faking it for 24 years now. When do I finally get to make it? When do I finally get to look in the mirror and be happy?

Why The Plus Sized Fashion Industry Can Kiss My Plus Sized Ass

Earlier this week while browsing through some of my favorite Instagrams and waiting for my Forever 21 Plus package to arrive, I had an idea; Why not try to become a plus size model? I’m not entirely unfortunate looking and hey, I can rock the larger sizes when I put my mind to it. With gorgeous women like Ashley Graham out there preaching body positivity and acceptance I thought, now’s your chance, Jordan. The train is heading in the right direction. Hop on now! Sadly, after researching some modeling agencies that have plus size, oh excuse me…’curve’ models, I discovered that I’m actually “too fat” or maybe just “not the right type of fat” to be a plus size model. Which just seems ridiculous to me. How can someone who wears plus size clothing, every single day of her life, be “too fat” to wear that clothing and have her picture taken? The answer is the astounding lack of representation in the plus size fashion industry.

But first, let’s talk about the term ‘plus size’. What does it even mean? Well, Wikipedia defines it as, “a euphemistic term given to clothing proportioned specifically for people whose bodies are larger than the average person’s.” The fashion industry defines it as “a term for models who are size 8 and up”. Google defines it as “(of clothing or people) of a size larger than the normal range.” And last but not least, the most worrisome definition of them all comes from popular website Urban Dictionary. There, the top definition for ‘plus size’ is:

“A nicer way to refer to someone who is overweight, typically a female model. It is a term that tries to make being overweight seem like a GOOD thing when in fact it is not. The modeling industry has been criticized for starving its models so now some people feel the need to turn things around and make muffin tops the new trend. We come in all shapes and sizes but that doesn’t mean we need to embrace being unhealthy whether that means glorifying big thigh gaps and collar bones or saying a “real woman” needs to have something you can “grab onto” or that her belly needs to be able to serve as a natural pillow that you can rest your head on.”

I’m not even sure where to begin here. Using the words ‘average’ and ‘normal’ in definitions of plus size alludes to the fact that women who wear those sizes are wrong, different, other. And while it’s great that lately there has been this outcry of women telling you to ‘love the body you have’ and that ‘beauty has no size’, one quick look at the fashion industry tells you that it most certainly does.

The first modeling management company I looked into when I was doing my research proudly boasts that it is their “mission to let models be healthy and happy, while providing them with an opportunity to work as a model at their natural body shape and size.” You know the saying, ‘sounds too good to be true’? Upon further research into their company, I came across their blog which gives you helpful tips on ‘How to become a model!’ Right after saying that they “really try hard to create opportunities for models that are not the ideal measurements because we feel beauty comes in many shapes and sizes and should be represented.” They go on to state that they “accept model submissions for models who are a minimum of 5’7”-6’1”,” and that they “look for models who are sizes 8-18. To be more specific [they] look for a hip measurement between 39″- 47″.” So by their standards, I’m 1 inch too short and my hips are 3 inches too wide, even though I comfortably wear size 18. Interesting. For an agency that prides themselves on stuff like “beauty at any size” what they really mean is “beauty at any size as long as you’re THIS size”.

The average American woman wears a size 14. The average plus size model wears size 8-12. Where are the women who wear size 18? 20? What about 26? How are ‘plus size’ women supposed to feel when we see a size 8-12 woman advertising clothing for size 22 bodies? Are we supposed to be inspired? Are we supposed to assume that we’re going to look like that if we wear those clothes? Like, ‘oh, if I just buy these skinny jeans and that top then I’ll have that killer hourglass figure!’ Please. It’s no different than ‘straight size’ clothing advertising where they have size 0 models wearing clothes meant for ‘normal size’ women, which is apparently size…what? 6? Bullshit. Do I need to say again that the average American woman wears size 14?? One of the major issues the fashion industry has (and I fear will continue to have) is a failure to recognize that different body types exist! Not every plus size woman is going to have that ‘perfect’ hourglass shape, but that’s what the industry sees as being plus size. It’s what the industry deems an ‘acceptable’ type of fat. Meaning that women like myself, who lack that hourglass figure, are ‘unacceptably’ fat. Along with the despairingly obvious lack of different body types, there’s an embarrassing lack of different races. I don’t think I know of a single Asian plus size model. I can only think of about 4 black plus size models. But I know of about 30 different white plus size models with their long, straight hair, blue eyes, and perfect hourglass bod. Where are my beautiful women of color? Disabled women? Where are the women with flaws? Cellulite? Muffin tops? You know…women people can actually relate to.

It’s bad enough that although more plus size clothing stores are beginning to pop up here and there, for the most part a size 16 woman can walk into a store and not find a single thing in her size. Occasionally stores will have a ‘plus size section’ which is usually a tiny corner in the back of an enormous store that offers maybe 10 different ill-fitting options, but it’s usually at a higher price than the same thing in straight sizes. Fat tax? It’s totally a Thing.

The problem with the plus size fashion industry is that it still ostracizes the women for whom it’s supposedly intended. But here’s the thing. Us Unacceptably Fat™ women, flawed women, short women, are the ones who keep all of the shot callers in the fashion industry in business. We see the ads. We buy the clothing. Simple as that.

I Wish I Wouldn’t Have Eaten That: How a Fat Girl’s Quest Backfired

Yesterday I posted what I suppose could be considered Part One of what I’ve just now decided to call the “Fat Girl’s Quest” series. It documented my less than healthy, but ultimately effective, start to my weight loss journey. The timing for posting that last night and writing Part Two today couldn’t have been better, for this morning while I was doing my daily social media scroll, I had one of those ‘Your Memories on Facebook’ things pop up. I took a screenshot for you:

Yupp, that’s right. On this day one year ago I was at the peak of my weight loss journey. I had managed to lose 50 pounds through a ‘diet’ of barely eating and obsessive exercise. To say that the 12 months since then have been less than stellar would be a colossal understatement. About a week and a half after that post, I went on the most amazing 11 day vacation to London. I’ll have to tell you guys about it sometime. Anyway, when I returned home from vacay, I had the hardest time getting back on track with my exercise. As in, I didn’t exercise at all. Sure, I had a few bouts of walking on the treadmill here and there, but it was nothing like I had previously been doing. I’m still struggling. I go through these weeks where I make exercise a priority and then suddenly the next week I’m just completely drained and couldn’t make myself move after work if my life depended on it. Which, if I keep these horrible habits up, it just might.

During my obsessive exercise stint I start having quite a bit of pain in my knees. Not only do they hurt, but they make this awful, crackling sound whenever I bend them. My nurse mom and PT best friend told me it’s crepitus. So I just forgot about. That is until I was attempting to do mountain climbers during one of my random exercise benders and my foot slipped. I almost cried it hurt so badly. After about a month of it hurting more often than not, I made myself an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. Turns out the crepitus and aches in my knees is from being fat and that the number one thing I need to do is lose weight. No shit, Sherlock. I’m glad that I wasted the time and money to come here and have you tell me that. It’s not like that’s the one thought constantly running through my mind. But not only was that ‘diagnosis’ glaringly obvious, it was fucking embarrassing. I mean, while trying to not be fat anymore I hurt my knees because I’m fat. I cancelled my follow-up appointment. One, because I haven’t lost any weight and two, because my insurance wouldn’t cover the physical therapy sessions he wanted me to go to and I don’t have 500 bucks to shell out twice a week for the next 6 weeks. It’s cute that they thought I did though.

I still struggle with disordered eating. Or maybe it’s an eating disorder. But ‘eating disorder’ sounds too serious. Inaccurate. I mean, I eat. Obviously I do, otherwise I wouldn’t look like I do now. I have a close friend who suffered from an eating disorder for a number of years, and I talk to her about this stuff a lot. She tells me that on days that I binge (and wish I had the guts to purge) that I did it because my body needs the calories. She tells me that if I just ate enough to keep my body satisfied those binges wouldn’t happen. She tells me that recovery is great, but it only works if you’re ready for it, and that I’m just not ready yet. The thing is, I don’t think I need to ‘recover’. I don’t think I have anything to ‘recover’ from. Like I said, I eat. I probably eat too much. In fact, I know I eat too much. Those 50 pounds I lost last year? Yeah…well, I’ve found ’em. They dispersed themselves across my body. How can I not regret every single bite of food I take when I can feel it settling in my hips, my stomach, my thighs. How am I supposed to enjoy food, want to eat food, when all it ever does is fill me with regret, shame, and hatred. How am I supposed to enjoy food when all it’s ever done is ruin my life? Show up on the scale. Show up in the mirror. Show up in pictures. Make me feel like I’m undeserving of love, kindness, even basic human decency.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m actively trying to not eat a lot, actively trying to force myself to workout, and all I’m doing is gaining and gaining and gaining and I just don’t see the point anymore. I hate how I look, I hate how I feel, and I  don’t know what to do about it.

Your Boobs Will Thank You

Alright ladies, it has been cited by fashion insiders several times over that about 80% of women go around wearing an incorrectly sized bra, and you know what? I say enough is enough. Ignorance is not an excuse, so let’s talk about this, shall we? As you may (or apparently may not) know, wearing ill fitting bras can have quite a few consequences, some of which are admittedly vain, but others are quite serious.

Continue reading “Your Boobs Will Thank You”

A Whole Lotta Awesome

I hate when people say something about “finding a man” to me. Mainly because I didn’t realize I was missing one?? I’ve gone 24 years without a man and I’ve done some pretty kick ass stuff, (you know…graduate from a Big Ten university, score a well paying job, travel to different countries, etc. etc.). At this point, a man would literally only bring me down. I will never understand the idea that a woman is ‘incomplete’ if she doesn’t ‘have’ a man. It’s a crock of shit to be honest with you. (Note: let’s stop with the whole ownership mentality when it comes to relationships because…yikes). Look at Susan B. Anthony. Condoleezza Rice. Tyra Banks. Freakin’ Joan of Arc. The list goes on and on. Women can, and often do, accomplish incredible things without a man by their sides. So let’s kill the idea that women need men in order to be considered ‘whole’. We’re already ‘whole’. A whole lotta awesome.

Do What Ya Gotta Do

This morning when my alarm went off at 4 am I realized that there was no way in hell I could get myself out of bed and not have a shitty day at work. So I decided to get a couple extra hours of sleep and work from home. I’m very fortunate to have a job that allows me to do that, and a chill boss who seems to like me. After 3 glorious extra hours of sleep, I naturally woke up and was ready to face the day. It got me thinking; you gotta do what ya gotta do.

Continue reading “Do What Ya Gotta Do”

A Letter to My Nieces (That I Shouldn’t Have to Write)

You are smart. You are beautiful. You are loved. As you grow into the extraordinary women you are destined to become, you will encounter people and obstacles that will try to tell you otherwise. Do not listen to them.

The world you were born into is designed to beat you down, keep you down, and criticize you for being there. It isn’t fair, and it isn’t right. This is why you have to be strong. Be aware. Be courageous.

You can be anything you want to be. Get your education. Read everything. A strong, open mind is your most valuable asset.

You both shine so bright, don’t let anybody try to dull that sparkle. You deserve respect, so demand respect. Do not let your thoughts and feelings get trampled on. Your voices are unique, they’re important, and they deserve to be heard. Speak up!

The beauty standards to which you will be held are impossible. They are ridiculous. They do not matter. The measure of your waist does not determine the measure of your worth. Do not make yourself small to make someone else feel big. It’s okay to take up space. You deserve to take up space.  You are radiant inside and out.

Remember that self-care is not selfish. Do not put the needs of others ahead of your own. You deserve to put yourself first.

You are not at fault for the shortcomings of men. They should be held to the same expectations as everyone else. “Boys will be boys” is not a valid excuse.

The “friendzone” is a myth. It does not exist. It’s just a way for men to blame women for exercising their right to say no.

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY NO.

CONSENT IS MANDATORY.

YOU ARE NOT AT FAULT FOR THE SHORTCOMINGS OF MEN.

You have so much love to give. Don’t worry about who you’re giving it to. Who you love should be the very least of your worries. It’s not who you love, but how you love. If it’s real and pure, the gender or race of the person you’re giving it to isn’t important. Celebrate love, in all of its forms.

It’s okay to get sad. It’s okay to get angry. It’s okay to be confused. Your feelings are valid.

Life is hard, and it’s messy. You will make mistakes. That’s okay! Mistakes are learning opportunities. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it makes you smart. Nobody can do this on their own. We are all learning and growing, all the time. We are all just works in progress. Embrace that.

Feminism is not a dirty word. Surround yourself with incredible women. Let them guide you. Stand up against girl on girl hate. There’s no right way to be a woman. Remind girls that we’re all in this together. Reach out to your sisters. Remember that empowered women empower women.

Stay humble & kind.

I’ll be here for you always.

Love,

Aunt Jordan

 

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I’ve been seeing this phrase pop up more and more often on social media platforms, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Self-care is fundamental in achieving mental, emotional, and physical health. Yet frequently, a hefty dollop of guilt is served right on top of self-care practices. Women are expected to put everybody’s needs before our own. It’s ingrained in us. Even the thought of doing something for ourselves before we make sure everyone else is taken care of is often dismissed, and considered ’ridiculous’. But here’s the thing: Loving ourselves and taking care of ourselves allows us the ability to better love and take care of others. Dr. Andrew Weil once said,

“Each time the heart beats, it first pumps blood to itself, then to the rest of the body. It has to work this way in order for us to stay alive. The same is true for us as human beings. We have to take care of ourselves first, so we can take care of others.”

Everyone knows the age old saying, “treat others the way you would like to be treated”, well, shouldn’t that apply to ourselves as well? Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you. If you’re constantly pushing your needs aside to appease the demands of others, that sends the message that people can expect that of you. People will expect their needs to put above your own personal wellbeing. That’s not exactly the recipe for a healthy relationship is it?

Self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant. You don’t have to have a Donna and Tom Treat Yo’Self Day – although if that’s what your particular brand of self-care looks like, then more power to ya. Authentic self-care can be as simple as setting aside 10 or 15 minutes in the middle of your busy day to enjoy a cup of coffee. It can be a bubblebath. Taking a walk. Playing with your dog. Having a glass of wine. Stretch. Dance. Nap. Your self-care is about you. Push aside thoughts of how it might affect those around you, because that isn’t self-care, and it leads to feelings of guilt and selfishness.

Taking care of yourself isn’t easy. It requires courage, commitment, and willingness. But when you make it a priority, it allows you to be more emotionally and mentally available for the important people and things in your life. You deserve to put yourself first. You deserve to take care of yourself.