Trying My Best to Love Me

This week on Facebook, the radio, and news there was much discussion about a meme showing a very physically fit woman and her three children. The heading said, “What is your excuse?”  There was much discussion both supporting and vilifying this photo. I came down on the side of “if the heading had said, ‘I am proud of what I have accomplished,’” I would have had no issue with the post.  There are many ways to be healthy and many bodies to be healthy in. Size is not always an indicator of health, because like meth y’all. You can be thin and be anorexic. You can be thin and a meth head. You can be all different types of unhealthy and be thin. It needs to be repeated that size is not a sure fire way of determining a person’s heath.

I have body issues by the dozen. Some days I change clothes three times because I feel constricted. I huff and puff and yell that I am too fat to wear anything. Other days I feel like I am a womanly fertility God and meant to be worshipped. Every day is different and I have a sneaking suspicion that some of this is hormone driven. I am me and this is the body I live in. I am beautifully flawed (we all are) and I think it makes me interesting. When people meet me I don’t know if my weight is the first thing they notice? Maybe they say, “Why is that fat lady saying ‘fuck’ so much?” Who knows what they think?

A few nights ago I lay on the couch and watched The Little Couple. Saidee climbed up next to me and asked if she could lie on my boobs. I laughed and said yes, she snuggled up and asked questions about the show, because that is what she does.

“Momma, why are they little?”

“Well, Baby they were born that way.”

“Who is Zoey?”

“Zoey is a little girl in India that they are adopting.”

“Why?”

“She lives in an orphanage and needs a family to love and take care of her.”

“Like Annie?”

Soon she stopped asking questions and I felt her become heavy. Her breath was rhythmic and I could hear a slight snore. On my chest was the head of a six year old that has no question of her place in this world. She is safe, loved, and protected. I worry that I have inadvertently passed on my own body issues to my children. To help keep this little girl from feeling bad about her body I need to be more self aware about the things I say regarding my own body. 

So, to answer the meme I say. I don’t need an excuse for not looking like you. I look like me and I am okay with that, or at least I am trying to be.

I am a size 22 and I am many things: friend, daughter, wife, mother, student, employee, funny, smart, occasionally hateful, and occasionally insightful.  Most of us have a lot going on and don’t need the added pressure of being asked, “What is your excuse?”

What a Girl Wants: An Ode to Women

There are women in this world that I am jealous of. They are women who strike me as interesting, and they are built in all shapes and sizes. I sometimes find myself wanting in the interesting department. Now, my friends will disagree and tell you that I am sapid, but I would counter with – they have to say that because they love me. My jealousy isn’t Rachel and Leah or Cain and Abel in nature; it is more single white female without the killing and identity theft. These women are interesting in a way I want to emulate, which comes across a little creeptastic.

Lesley Kinzel is the senior editor of xojane.com, eats fresh ricotta, has brightly colored lipstick, and was named one of 40 under 40 feminist to watch. I was once named most likely to yell fuck in church. Nope, that is a lie. I was named class wittiest in high school, and I still wear the title with more than a little pride. I follow her on Instagram and Twitter and I check xojane.com to read any articles she posts. She has loudly fought for fat acceptance and appeared on multiple television round table discussions. You want to know what I did yesterday. I watched The Little Couple with Kiaya, went to Wal-Mart, and bought American cheese. I am actively searching for a way to make Kinzel my friend. She will say interesting things and I will nod and listen with near rapture. I need to know if she was born this way, born with a righteous indignation and desire to fight the fat cause or did something happen. When and how did Lesley Kinzel get to be interesting and fabulous?

I compiled a list the other day of things that would make me more interesting. The top two were more tattoos and bourbon. The third was developing a love of Elvis Costello. Interesting women drink bourbon; they swirl the amber liquid around in small glasses and look casual while doing so. Sometimes, when all the plastic glasses are dirty, I put my Diet Coke into a small glass and pretend it is bourbon. I leave it on the counter and let the sticky liquid harden in the glass. Who I want to be is part Julia Sugarbaker, all class, rants, and intellectualism, with more than a touch of foul mouthed tattooed Margaret Cho, calling herself mother to her gay following. Add in the hair and voice of Brittany Howard, the singer of The Alabama Shakes, and I would be the entire package.

Watching Howard play and sing is a thing of beauty. She appears powerful and relentless. Her mouth is wide and expressive. I think she is beautiful and her voice is strong; the night they played SNL, I fell in love. I watched her move, hips swaying to the music. Strong fingers played her guitar and I was jealous. I was jealous of her talent, jealous of her hair, and jealous of what felt like an overt femininity. These women appear strong and graceful. I have no idea what their lives are like nor do I know what insecurities lurk in the quiet spots of their brain. They are my modern day Rosalind Franklin and Sojouner Truth. They are smart and bold. Their femininity is not the womanish of Mad Men, pinched in waists and hands demurely at their sides. This is loud and calls to me; I want to make these interesting women my friends and introduce them to the strong and lovely women of my everyday life.

I want to soak in their intelligence, not just Kinzel, Howard, and Cho, but all my female friends with their stories, lives, and strengths. I want to thank them for being smart, interesting, and openly breathtaking.