Wednesday, July 29, 2015

BAM! Love Yourself - Curly Hair, Don't Care

Ever since I was a child, I have idolized my mom. Whenever I went to the salon with her, I would watch in fascination as she would get her short hair permed. The wrapping of the hair, the addition of chemicals, sitting under the heater thingy as it set. It looked like all those glamorous ladies in movies of the 80's. So, sometime around third grade, I decided to get my own hair curled! I mean, it was one step closer to being the amazing woman my mom is!

The only problem is that I was in third grade and overweight, so already a target for bullying. Let's just say the perm took very well, I had amazingly tight curls, and kids LOVED making fun of me. If there was a spill on a floor, one of the boys would tease that they could just "turn me upside and use my mop hair to cleanup."  I used mousse back in the days before fancy mousse technology, so my hair was slightly crunchy. Girls would straight up touch my hair without my permission to show each other how "weird my crunchy hair is". I HATED IT! I didn't want other people touching me. I didn't want to be used as a mop! I just wanted to live with my curly hair.

But alas, after a few years, I gave into the bullying and broke down, quit perming my hair, and bought a straightener. After all, I had to keep my natural curl from coming out, even the slightest wave seemed like a risk for teasing. And if it was a risk for teasing, that meant it was ugly.  But I have very very baby fine hair. I have plenty of hair, ti's just very fine, and so my hair can only grow to about my shoulders, and it is very obviously fine when I straighten it, with almost zero body or volume. I lived for well over a decade, closer to two, feeling unhappy with my hair and constantly looking for an option to love it.

If I didn't blow dry it, my hair went up in a ponytail or bun so the natural wave wouldn't show through. My hair has some amazing natural wave, so my hair stylists always wanted to curl it and have fun. I'd let them do it, but be self-conscious of my curly hair all day, avoiding the mirror.  I had enough trouble keeping my hair straight in the desert in the summer. So I knew SOMETHING had to change when I learned I'd be moving to San Antonio, TX. While not the most humid place, San Antonio has a fair amount of moisture in the air, and any styling I attempted would be null and void around halfway through the day.

I gave in. I decided to go curly. When I moved to San Antonio, I stopped by Walgreens and bought some mousse and a blow dryer with a diffuser (SO necessary if you have fine hair and want it to be curly AND have body). It didn't take long for me to become used to my new style. In fact, I fell in love with it the first day! Besides the ease of styling, my hair fell so naturally into position around my face that it was like my hair was made to be that way!

Since making this change, I have become vainer than ever before. I love my hair. I love my looks. I love looking at myself in the mirror (though I still do have the occasional pony tail days, because life is hard sometimes). I have become the selfie QUEEN!! Don't believe me?  Here are some examples:

And these are just select selfies from my instagram, which I swore would NEVER be filled with selfies (whoops, guess self confidence fixed that).

So what's the point? For years I struggled with my hair, because I was teased in elementary school. For over a decade I avoided one of the key things that makes me feel beautiful!  What about you? What is your favorite hairstyle? Your worst? What is one thing you maybe feel inspired to go try again? Are you going to do it?! Do it! (Unless it's a mullet, rethink that, unless that's totally you, then do it!). Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

BAM! I am more than a physical stereotype!

With the amazing reception of my waterpark post, I was telling some of my coworkers (and friends, because my coworkers are my friends) about my blog and how excited I was at the views I was getting. I often describe my blog as a body acceptance blog, even though I do occasionally post about other things, like my lifemy opinions, and my sleep habits. However, my whole life has been a rollercoaster about happiness, and while a lot of my problems have been rooted in other areas of my life, much of my disappointment, frustration, and sadness has come about from my discomfort in my own skin. As I have found amazing joy in body acceptance, it's something I want to spread to everyone.

When I mentioned that my blog is about body acceptance and my fat and fearless posts, I was surprised when a gentleman with a very fit body showed immediate excitement. I'm used to plus sized women wanting to read of my experiences, but it was the post I mentioned about the true purpose of the body acceptance movement that really got him excited. I texted him a link to my blog, and he actually read my posts! Last night he texted me. This text included the following: "I loved the part about the skinny teenage boy who can't bulk up because that was exactly my experience, and a big reason why I wanted to read it."

Now, he sent this text after I had fallen asleep, but I read it at about three in the morning on one of my nightly wakings. It got me thinking. I do the Fat and Fearless series because it's something I can relate to. I love to label myself as "the fat girl". But I want my blog to reach out to more people. This left me with a conundrum, how could I write posts to help the confidence of people that I can't relate to? How can I help the girl who is so thin, people tease her for having an eating disorder? Or the person with hair that they feel is too dark and coarse? Or even that skinny teenage boy who wanted to bulk up and couldn't? I've never been there. I've always been the fat girl.

And then it hit me, I am more than a fat girl! I mean, it's EASY to see who I am outside of physical constraints. I know that I'm a flute-playing, musicology student, animal-rights advocate (be happy I haven't gotten into THAT on my blog, because once I get started, I don't shut up.. hmm.. maybe I should add that to my blog...) who expands the title of crazy cat lady to a level previously thought impossible. But that's not going to help with body acceptance!

When I say I'm more than a fat girl, I mean it in the physical sense. Yes, I'm a plus sized woman, and yes I LOVE MY BODY, but I love so much more than the extra weight I carry around. I am pale. I don't mean this as a "white supremacy" thing. I am more pale than the average white person. People laugh at my paleness, heck, I laugh at my paleness! Once, while wearing shorts, my music minister tried to introduce my pasty white legs to the sun, since they had obviously never met in the 25 years of my life (all in fun and games, a big part of body acceptance is being able to laugh at your uniqueness).

I have big wrists, in more than the fat girl way. Tons of fat girls can still wear bracelets and such. Nope, it's all mens watches for these wrists. I have baby baby BABY fine blonde hair that I can't grow past my shoulders without it beginning to look scraggly and unkempt. It's also naturally wavy, but not a uniform wave, and bullying in the past has given me complexes about the curl in my hair that I only got over in the past two months! That's right, at the age of 25 I have FINALLY braved past bullying I received in fourth grade, over a decade ago.

I am freckly. Tons of people are, some wish they weren't. There are also tons of people who aren't, some of whom wish they were. I have two crooked fingers on my left hand. I have a hump at the base of my neck that was pointed out by a physical therapist and I still fret over. I have a scar on my forehead that I got in third grade. I bruise far too easily. I don't even have the hope of ever having a thing gap with these thunder thighs. I have "child bearing hips". My body shape goes between an hourglass and a pear depending on the day. The hairs on my toes grow too long. The right side of my face is more animated than the left giving me a crooked smile.

All of these things are uniquely me. And they're probably things that, for the most part, only I realize. And yet they're also all things I was able to list with ease at three in the morning and then list again hours later when I write this. Some of these I have learned to love. Some of these I am still learning to love. But you know what, they're all things about my body that bother me, and they all fit into the concept of body acceptance! So, in my new, upcoming series, BAM! (Body Acceptance Movement!), I have decided to focus on a different body part of body concept. Because, well, hopefully we all at least have skin and bones. And maybe as I focus on loving every inch of my own body, I can help my readers focus on loving every inch of theirs, even if they are the polar opposite of me.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Fat and Fearless: Waterparks!

With my recent move to San Antonio and the addition of a career that actually pays money, I wanted to treat myself to a mini-vacation. So off to Schlitterbahn New Braunfels I went! The weather was PERFECT for a waterpark, and I had a fatkini that had barely even been worn. Of course I was nervous! Fat people don't belong at water parks according to the general public, ESPECIALLY in bikinis. With my boyfriend being bigger as well, I spent hours googling information about weight limits. Only one ride had a weight limit, I was just in it, and my boyfriend's back injury would prevent him from going on it anyway. There was nothing at the waterpark that was preventing us from going.

When my boyfriend took my "before" picture, I felt gorgeous! I was rocking my bikini, I was feeling confident, and I was excited to have fun. And funnily enough, THIS FEELING DIDN'T CHANGE. I knew I was going to write this blog post and so I was really aware. I looked at people. As I passed them. As I stood in line. I made the distinct effort to observe those around me. Not ONE person gave me a dirty look. When I got in line for the only ride with a weight limit, I wasn't questioned, not once. No on called me fat or made Seaworld references. I even had conversations with various people, and they treated me LIKE A PERSON!

Thanks to the DryPak, I was able to take my phone on rides with me for even better selfies!
It wasn't until day two that I received ANY comment about my appearance. It was from two naturally dark-skinned people asking if I remembered sunscreen. Of course I did! I mean, I put it on, mutiple times! But yes, the ONLY comment about how I looked was my ridiculous paleness, not about my fat. When I went down rides, everything jiggled. People I passed had a beautiful view of my buldging stomach, my flabby arms, and my overly junk-filled trunk. Did some of them look at me and see a fat girl? Probably. Do I think people may have said in whispers that I shouldn't be wearing a bikini? Absolutely! Do I care? NOT A DARNED BIT! I had the time of my life. I focussed on the rides. On the fun. I wore my bikini with pride. I mean, it really showed off my figured. I teased the niece and the nephew of my boyfriend, who came along with us. I went out of my way to kiss my even bigger boyfriend in public, to embarass the niece. And even at his grandeur size, no one said anything to him. All we did was have fun!

OK, but maybe my stomach wasn't QUITE ready for the advancement in body acceptance. I am regretting the weekend just a bit, but only because I am in immense amounts of pain from a sunburn. Oh, and I just posted a pretty awesome video on YouTube of me riding a waterslide. You know you want to watch it! Do so HERE

Post a comment! What's your biggest fear of being a fatty at a waterpark, or what's your biggest accomplishment as such? Any lifehacks for waterparks?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

This BIG Girl Made a BIG Move to the BIG City!

Hello readers! I am so sorry I haven't posted in, well, a really long time, but my life has been so busy with changes, blogging just wasn't possible. Don't worry though, I have TONS of great ideas for my blog featuring recipes, body positivity, and of course some amazing Fat and Fearless posts (including Water Parks and Online Dating! Be excited!)

Since my last post back in APRIL, a lot has changed. When I wrote that post, I was working at Walgreens full time and feeling clueless about my future. Until I got the call that would change everything. The call of a job offer. In my dream field. For a career job. In San Antonio, TX.  And I had two weeks until I started.

Now, while I was only living 2 hours from SAT, I had a LOT to do. Getting a moving truck. Packing. Giving my two weeks notice. Saving money (because moving costs a LOT of money). Making arrangements to get my two kitties to San Antonio (I'm a Crazy Cat Lady and I am NOT ashamed!). Finding an apartment! (Sidebar: I would like to say how much I love the idea of an Apartment Finder. Mine was AMAZING! He video chatted me the weekend before I moved down to tour some apartments and helped me get settled. If you move to San Antonio and need a realtor, ask me and I'll give you his info). Moving in! All this in two weeks.

Surprisingly I was successful. I am thoroughly settled in now. Settled into my apartment. Settled into my job (which is everything I dreamed of and more). And, most importantly, settled into the 7th biggest city in the nation. Which is a pretty big accomplishment for a girl from a town of 50,000 in Idaho who only used highways to get from one city to another. Now I take highways everywhere. Hell, the entrance to my home is on a highway!

So, from San Antonio, Texas, thanks for reading! I'm so excited to continue my life and share my message of beauty and confidence with the world! I work with youth, and mentioned my body acceptance ideals to some of the teenage girls and one girl said "I wish I had the same mindset you did." I hope I can make a difference in her life, and in the lives of girls her age, and maybe, just maybe, in your life as well!  Oh - and saving all the kitties. Because, ya know... kitties.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

College Did NOT Prepare Me for a Full-Time Job

I recently got employed in my first time job. As in, within the last week. I’ve had jobs before, but they were all part time. I’ve even had multiple part time jobs before, but they all worked around my school schedule. Basically, for the past seven years, the main focus of my life has been college. Part time jobs helped pay bills and stuff, but they weren’t my everything. That was school.

Technically, my focus is still school, and will remain that was until I get that degree. However, as I look at the future world of getting my dream job, I need experience, and you get experience by working. Additionally, I’m reaching the magic age of 26 where you lose your health insurance, and I have prescription requirements which require me to have insurance. Yes, my school offers it, for $400/month. Yeah… I’ll just get a full time job and get paid AND get a cheaper health insurance plan.

You’d think that after 7 years of college, a Bachelor’s Degree, and all the course work of a Master’s Degree, I would be overqualified for an entry level retail job, no matter how many hour a week you’re employed. Now, in some cases, you’d be right. However, in most places, you’d be wrong. From the four days of full time work that I’ve experienced, one particular thought has remained in my mind, and occasionally popped out of my mouth. College does NOT prepare you for full time work!

In college, you’re taught to sit and listen. Now the listening element, that is a great thing for you to learn. You need to listen to your boss and your customers. However, you don’t have a notepad or laptop in front of you. You need to listen and look them in the eye and react and smile and nod and remember on your own. This is not what happens in college when you’re sitting in the desk with your head down and your eyes flitting between the powerpoint and your notes as you rush to make sure that you get every little detail to make sure you pass that test.

And the sitting, the sitting DEFINITELY doesn’t prepare you for a full time job. The more I think about it, the more I realize that being a college student is far more sedentary than most jobs. Now yes, there are some jobs that have you sitting at a desk all day, but many jobs, even if it’s a desk job, have you running to your boss’s office or going to talk to one of your members or running to the stock room or even standing at an event for a few hours to schmooze whoever you’re trying to get money out of. In a retail job, you do a LOT more standing. Only a few hours into my first shift my feet were hurting. Now, I realize that I was wearing the wrong shoes for the job, and fixed it on my last day of the 4 day stint, but shoes aren’t something you think of so much in college, at least not their efficiency over their appearance. I hurt everywhere. I bruised my knees from kneeling while facing product on the lowest shelves, so I started sitting and squatting. My butt, hips, thighs, back, they all hurt. I know I’ll get used to it, but I can’t help thinking “why am I not ready for it now? I have a college degree dammit!”

You definitely aren’t taught to react to customers in college. You chat with your friends and make cliques. In a job, you have to interact with everyone. In college, it’s easy to become a shut in. You bury your nose in a book and research and sit quietly in class and MAYBE you get some social time, but often that is encouraged by alcohol. In work, you soberly approach everyone you meet, smile, ask how you can help them, and have to answer questions when called on. “I didn’t do the reading” is no longer an option. Your dog cannot eat your homework. And often, there is a limited amount of research you can do. Work is trial and error. You want to know where something in the store is? You ask and you remember, or you walk the aisles until you’ve found it.

Attention span over time? In college, your classes are on average 50-70 minutes long and you get a good 10-15 minute break in between, minimum. A long class would be your 3-4 hour night class. 8 hours with minimal breaks? Yeah, we don’t do that. Even when we’re studying we give ourselves facebook breaks or mental breaks. Yeah, you get your designated breaks in any full-time job, but they aren’t as frequent as you experience in college. And in a world where technology is causing us to have lower and lower attention spans, it can make 8 hours feel like weeks.

However, there is one thing that college truly prepares you for in the job world: acting on my toes. Sometimes a customer will come to you and ask you a question, and you may not know, and you can take the time to track down the answer and ask, or you can take the product and look on the back and deduce the information for yourself. Like when you are in the middle of a multiple choice exam and you don’t know the answer to a question but another question on that page gives you the answer. In college, you always try to act like an expert to impress your friends and peers and teachers, and in a job setting, you have to in order to gain your customer’s trust. Oh, and you’re probably pretty good at bagging items after stuffing all those books in your backpack.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Body Acceptance: What it's REALLY about

For the past year (or 11 months, if we're getting technical) an article has been sweeping the internet, and probably your facebook feed, about one blogger's "6 Things [She Doesn't] Understand About the Body Acceptance Movement." If you really haven't read it - just google the words I put in quotes and check it out, because I refuse to put a link to that in my blog. If you can't tell yet, I am a big advocate of body acceptance, which should NEVER be retitled as "Fat Acceptance," because, despite what the haters want you to believe, it's NOT about fat! I am a moderator of a few plus sized forums on Reddit. I write this blog. It is the ONE "controversial" topic I will comment on on friends' pages.  So, and I can't believe I'm doing this, here I am in all my plus sized glory, in a BIKINI, and I was SO excited to put it on for the first time.

Instead of directly replying to the previously mentioned blog post, I am going to write a post about the TRUTH of the body acceptance movement for someone who actually has experienced the benefits of it. Because I used to hate myself because of my body. I let my appearance dictate my happiness, and that is wrong.

SO LET'S START: Body acceptance is NOT a physical health movement. It is, in no way, Healthy At Every Size (HAES) or saying that everyone in the world is healthy. Body acceptance is a MENTAL health movement! Let's face it, our waist lines are growing due to various reasons, which, honestly, I'm not sure anyone is 100% sure about. Because, let's be honest, there's a new fad diet being introduced every other day about a new food that will make you lose weight and the number one food that makes you gain weight. There are diets that let you eat as much fatty bacon as you want as long as you avoid carbs. There are diets that say you should avoid ALL SUGARS, including those found in fruits. There is probably a diet that says a stick of butter a day is fine as long as you don't eat any meat. I don't know - I'm not a dietician.

Body Acceptance is about happiness! Body Acceptance is the ability to look in the mirror and say "this is what I look like right now, and that's ok." Body Acceptance is the ability to be well over 200 pounds in weight and feel comfortable enough to wear a bikini or a dress or whatever you feel comfortable in! Body Acceptance is a step AWAY from the concept that your appearance, whether it be your waistline or your overly bushy eyebrows or your imperfect nose or that awkward birth mark, does NOT dictate your happiness for life. Body Acceptance is the realization that everyone can be beautiful to someone, and if I'm not you're type of beauty, then THAT'S OK!

The fact of the matter is, people try to say that the Body Acceptance Movement (we should call it BAM! - doesn't that sound exciting?) is an excuse for being unhealthy. IT IS NOT. I would like to say right here and right now that health is NO ONE'S business except yours and your doctor's! Got it? It's not your right to go to Joe Schmoe on the street and discuss how his weight or appearance means he's unhealthy. The same way you shouldn't verbally abuse a stranger smoking a cigarette on the street because it's unhealthy. The same way you can't tell a college student on his 21st birthday the dangers of drinking in the long term. It's NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS!

You can be a member of Body Acceptance and be trying to lose weight! That's totally fine! Basically, that person is saying "I love how I look now, and if I do this, I may look different, but I'll love that just as much!" Body Acceptance is a way of saying that we shouldn't dictate our lives around appearance, we should dictate them around health. If your doctor *who you chose and you trust, not just any doctor* says that you need to change something, then "Sorry, I am a Body Acceptance Advocate" is not the correct answer. Because, just because your doctor tells you to lower your carb or sodium intake doesn't even guarantee that you'll lose weight.

Fun story: Cholesterol, Heart Problems, even Diabetes? They don't discriminate based on weight. I am very close with people who are very thin but have high blood pressure or diabetes or high cholesterol. And when they made the changes to fix these, their blood pressure or cholesterol levels went down, not their waist lines!

Body Acceptance is about being able to go out into the world with a smile on your face, even if you didn't get a chance to do your make up today or your hair isn't cooperating! It's about SO MUCH MORE than the size of your body. It's about the fact that I have man wrists. My wrists have no fat on them but they're so big that I have to wear male watches because the petite female versions just don't work. AND IT'S OK! It's the fact that a young lady is balding and you can see parts of her scalp, but SHE'S STILL BEAUTIFUL! It's the fact that this teenage boy cannot bulk up for the life of him, but remains skinny and "scrawny", AND IT'S OK!!! And yeah, it is about that plus sized girl who cries whenever her father tells her that she is too fat for her own good, because SHE CAN STILL BE HAPPY! SHE DESERVES TO BE HAPPY!

So please, quit trying to make body acceptance into something it's not. It is NOT an excuse, fat promoting, skinny shaming, eat whatever you want and sit on the couch all day. It's not even saying "oh, you're not fat" to your plus sized friend. NEWS FLASH: I know I'm fat and I am fine with it. It's just not. It IS about happiness despite what cards you were dealt in the physical department. And remember, if you've never been overweight, or underweight, then you can't judge.  The struggles of weight loss or weight gain are REAL and still very misunderstood. You never know the story behind someone. Just because a person is still over 200 pounds doesn't mean they haven't already lost 50. Just because a person is thin doesn't mean they're anorexic! And shaming someone one way or the other does NOT encourage them to change, it will probably make them worse actually.

Body Acceptance is about only one thing. Remembering that we are ALL people and that we all have a history and no one knows the complete history of anyone else. Not even my mom knows my whole history! If you aren't someone's doctor, then it's not your place to comment. Ever. Period. Just go back to kindergarten and the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. Make your world one of happiness, and spread it into the lives of others. Because, while you can change your body, you CAN'T change who you are or how people perceive you, and a bitch is still a bitch, no matter how pretty (or ugly) she may be.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Fat and Fearless: Flatulence

Today we're going to discuss the f-word. Flatulence. Farting. Forcing fumes through your anal opening. Because, let's be honest, if you're the biggest person in the room, you're going to be blamed for any foul scents that waft through the room, even if you KNOW it wasn't you, you will be blamed. For those of us who were bigger throughout our adolescence, we will feel the fear of letting one rip in any sort of public setting, or maybe even alone with our cats, because we know the shaming that will come.

After all, people with a bigger waistline are easier to insult for the average person anyway. I mean, we're insulted everywhere. In the media, on the internet, and to our faces. So when a thinner person toots, the people around them may just let it go. After all, she's pretty, who cares if she farts?? It's natural. But the MINUTE a plus-sized person lets out a fart the room is ablaze in laughter and people waving their hands at their noses in an attempt to get away from the smell and fake coughing and gagging. It's terrible.

So let's get some things straight. You know that children's book "Everyone Poops"? Well here's a concept. EVERYONE FARTS! In fact, I remember in high school seeing a news report that a person with a healthy colon should pass gas at least seven times a day. Divide that with 24 hours a day, that's right around one fart every three hours. And yes, our diet will affect this. Go get that Mexican Food with extra beans and yeah, it's gonna happen more often, but cabbage will do the same to ya!

Being in my adult years, I have made a conscious decision not to respond to farts in any way expect with people I know, love, and trust. But if you're in public, keep your mouth shut! You never know if it was the fat guy in the corner who already has self-esteem issues, or the little kids trembling next to his mother, terrified that someone's going to notice, or maybe it's that super fit lady in the corner who just had  a lunch of black beans and chicken.

Oh, and if you're plus sized and feel that pressure churning? Just let it go. Don't sit there in misery. Don't run out of the room in hopes of keeping other from noticing, that may make it even more noticeable. And you know what? If someone comments on it, take it with pride. Take in a deep whiff through your nose and say "Yep, that was me, just making sure everything's still working down there!" And go on with your life. Because WHO CARES!? Love your farts the same way you love your body!