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Friday Five 4

Welcome to Friday, everyone. You did it! You survived the week. Hopefully it wasn’t too difficult.

I love these things:

Hope the rest of your Friday goes smoothly and you enjoy your weekend!

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TW: eating disorders

I read a book tonight called Binary Star by Sarah Gerard. The main character was anorexic and bulimic, so it had the potential to be a little triggery for me. It wasn’t. I didn’t come away with a need to binge or starve. I ate dinner. I finished my water. I did a couple of loads of laundry. And now here we are.

I was prepared to put it down, though. It would have triggered something earlier in my life. I’m glad I didn’t have to, not only because I like to finish books when I start them but also because not getting triggered was an amazing experience. It’s one I’d like to have again.

I haven’t dabbled with consistent disordered eating or lied about my eating habits in a long time (like, the kind of long you can measure in decades). But I’ve wanted to. At some times more than others. It’s always been there, that unstable feeling like I’m standing at the edge of a canyon and need to concentrate very hard on not toppling right on in.

For a moment, it wasn’t there tonight. I saw the character’s behavior for the downward spiral it was.

Tonight I feel like I’m in my right mind, which is a new feeling for me regarding food issues.

I had a post scheduled to write today about being judged for my weight, both when I was thin and now. More accurately, I had planned to write the first of my nostalgia posts where I take old blog posts and reorganize them slightly to shed new light on the subject. I am going to take rampant liberties with this one.

The original post was about external messages that people (women, specifically) receive about weight and its ties to their perceived worth. That is a conversation I have often, and it is a conversation worth having. These messages are a plague. They’re dangerous. Particularly when they come directly from people we love. And the people who bear the heaviest burden of the effects of these messages are hardly ever the people actually responsible for them.

Tonight, however, I’m thinking more about how people in general and I in particular absorb(ed) messages about body image, process(ed) these messages, and turn(ed) that processing into behavior that’s not always healthy.

I have always suspected that problems can be alleviated but never really go away. I assumed that my history of disordered eating and all the messages that helped to lead me there would mean I’d always be stuck in doing the work of the cycle:

  1. A message is sent. It could be one of the abominable judgy messages, or it could be a message like a book with a character who has some serious eating disorders. It might even be a great message, like body positivity statements.
  2. The message sticks because I absorb it as a trigger.
  3. I reframe my internal reaction to the message. To me, reframing is different from adapting a positive attitude. For starters, the term reframing doesn’t make me want to punch the person who suggests it in the throat. To me, reframing is about getting to the truth of a situation rather than just throwing a blanket of sunshine over it, blindly hoping it will smother anything untoward that lies beneath. I filter through the message’s layers, attempting to separate them into piles of true and false, healthy and unhealthy, helpful and destructive. For the record, this doesn’t always go the way it ought to go, despite very good intentions.
  4. I react/respond with external behavior. Sometimes, I process, and the truth does set me free, and I behave with sanity and reason. More often, there’s no time for that, and the chances of making a good vs. bad choice are about 50/50. Sometimes I think it out and still make bad choices, such as eating more than my body is comfortable holding just because it’s there and I can.

Whew. Are you exhausted? I’m exhausted. If you’ve ever wondered why a person with an addiction or mental health issue can’t just get over it, this is why. Getting over it is hard work. If it weren’t, it never would have been a problem in the first place.

Tonight I caught a glimpse of what it was like to arrest the cycle at stage two. I received a message, and my gut reaction was to see the truth of it. No trigger. No exhausting process just to get through the night intact.

This must be what people with a healthy relationship with food and good body image feel like all the time. It’s incredible. I highly recommend it.

And I have no idea how it happened. I mean, I suspect it has something to do with the years and years (omg the years) of working through that cycle (with and without qualified professionals) with varying degrees of success. But even the thought of that is exhausting, so if you are reading this and it hurts you more than it helps, let me just carry that to the unhelpful pile for you.

Nor am I done. I’m not saying that I’m cured and that I’ll never struggle with food issues or the temptation to engage in disordered eating again. I have no way of knowing that for sure. I kind of doubt it, actually, although that would be really nice. I learned tonight, though, that moments of right-mind, true, gut-reaction, health are possible. And that I want a whole lot more of that.

For all of us.

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In the Firefly universe, the crew of the Serenity was always trying to avoid Reavers, the ones that had an adverse reaction to their environment and lost their damn minds, giving in to hate and every vile impulse that comes with it.

It’s hard to avoid them in this world, though. They have jobs and pay taxes. They’re raising children. They hold rallies at our universities and on our town squares.

Oh…is that harsh? My bad. Full disclosure – if you need me to be gentle about this, you are not going to like what I have to say here.

I have tried. I have been reading the news and scrolling through social media and racking my brain to find a gentle way to say this, but I have come up empty.

Gentleness is just not an appropriate response.

I would find it curious if an outspoken white supremacist enjoyed reading my blog. Maybe we have the same taste in food? But if you are reading this and are a person who attends white supremacist rallies or sympathizes with those who do, then this post is for you. You wanted attention, and for the next few paragraphs, you have mine. Congratulations, I guess.

I know in my head that you are as fully human as I am, but I have a difficulty seeing any trace of humanity in how you think and act. You may have an endearing characteristic, but I cannot see it through the stinking fog of your white supremacist beliefs. This is not a difference of opinion. I will not agree to disagree. White supremacy is evil and detrimental to the world.

I believe in a God who can redeem anyone, but I also believe that God waits for people to turn their hearts in repentance before doing so. I harbor immense cynicism that you have the willingness or maybe even the capacity to repent.

I agree with Nelson Mandela that no one is born hating whole chunks of humanity. I also know from personal experience that viewpoints that are revealed to be false and bad behavioral habits can be unlearned. In order to have those experiences, however, I have to be open to them, and I don’t see that openness in you.

But just in case I am wrong (and I hope that I am), I have a little advice on how to begin.

[One of my limitations in this conversation is that I don’t know how to fix this without Jesus. So if atheist friends or friends of other faiths want to give advice on where to start, please feel welcome to do so in the comments.]

Since it seems that most outspoken white supremacists, particularly in the southern regions of my country, profess the Christian faith, let’s start there.

That you are wrong about this is not up for discussion. You are wrong. Period. Get on your face before the God you serve and repent. Ask God to help you change. Beg God to help you change. Do not let go until God answers you. Do this every day until you no longer hate the people you hate today.

Next, I know you are really good at being angry. Anger is not wrong, but it needs to be pointed in the right direction. Get angry at white supremacy. Get angry at how it invaded your mind and heart and warped your soul. At some point, were you forced to choose between outwardly embracing white supremacy and being disowned by your family? Doesn’t that make you furious? Lean into that fury. Turn your hate toward this mindset that poisoned your life and every relationship you have. When change seems hopeless – and there will come a time when it does – that anger may be the only fuel that keeps any hope of redemption alive.

I and many others have a lot of ideas on where to go from there, but frankly, I would be surprised if you ever bother to get to this point.

So that’s what I have to say to you. Change. Start to do so immediately. You want to be a person who deserves to be heard? Become a person who says and does worthwhile things.

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Friday Five3

I really love my schedule this month. Tomorrow I am hosting a write-in for my writing group (DFW area writer friends – email or DM me for details if you want to come!), and next weekend I am reading all weekend, and the weekend after that I am hosting my Hemingway party. I don’t usually like to plan all my weekends, but I don’t mind so much when it looks like writing and reading and drinking.

Five things that go with July’s apparent theme:

  1. The reading weekend is in conjunction with 24in48 – basically, as it sounds, you pick 24 hours out of July 22 and 23 and read like crazy. I’M SO EXCITED. If you’re in the area and want to come wrap yourself up in a blanket and read (and not talk other than to ask “May I have more tea?” Or, you know what – just help yourself. The tea is there for the taking.), that’s cool. We can be (silently) excited and literate together.
  2. Shawn Smucker’s The Day the Angels Fell comes out on September 5, but it’s available for pre-order now. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy, so this is one of the books that I’ll be finishing during 24in48. From what I’ve read so far, I can attest that you will want this book. Go! Pre-order!
  3. My favorite thing I’ve read this year about modesty culture – refusal to accommodate uncontrolled men. I also appreciate her comment moderation instruction to “Be feisty but gracious!” Words to live by. Thinking of making that my mantra.
  4. An artist reimagined the 50 states as food puns. I think Alahama is my fave. Or Kenturkey.
  5. And just in case you’re curious – this is what I’m having for dinner tonight.

What have you been doing/reading/eating lately?

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Friday Five 4

My mother is one of my favorite people. She is tough and moody and full of both wonder and practicality. She is the reason I have such a soft place in my heart for Emily Gilmore, because some of Emily’s lines could have come straight from my mother’s mouth. Today, I am highlighting items from the Internet that reminded me of her when I read them.

  1. As I’ve mentioned before, I love Simone Biles. She does not abide foolishness, and that includes the foolishness of being told what to do with her face. When asked why she wasn’t smiling during the judges’ positive feedback, she replied, “Smiling doesn’t win you gold medals.” I love her so hard.
  2. Mom Lesson #453: It’s okay to be mad; it is not okay to act like a banshee and pitch a fit on the floor when innocent people are just trying to get their grocery shopping done without incident. Kristen Bell and my mom would get along.
  3. While I’m not sure my mom would be comfortable with the idea of my attending Pride at all, she would insist that if I must that I at least Do. It. Right. If you’re going to try to be an ally, do the work of listening to what that means.
  4. I enjoyed and related a lot to this article on Gen X getting caught in the middle of Boomers and Millennials. My mother would respond with a combination of “Suck it up” and “Well, make them pay attention.” Yes, mother. I’m not sure why they call their generation the Silent Generation. That does not describe either of my parents accurately at all.
  5. I don’t know why this reminded me of Mom. I just can’t quite put my finger on it. This certainly doesn’t resemble her at all. Swear like a Mother.

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Friday Five2

I didn’t strike on International Women’s Day, because reasons and also because today begins a series of days off to celebrate my birth month. I am getting my hair chopped today and treating myself to my favorite shampoo that I never buy because it’s hella expensive. But happy birthday to me. And so today I thought I’d bring you places I love/will love and recommend that you check them out, too, as well as a couple of gems from International Women’s Day that I particularly enjoyed.

[These are all Denton-y or Denton adjacent. Sorry, folks who live afar.]

  1. Salon LaPage – Everyone here is awesome, but I especially love Meredith. I’m picky about hair, so once I found her, I pretty much followed her wherever she went.
  2. I’m so excited about trying Kimzey’s Coffee. I am a sucker for a cute coffee shop. There may be a post about it if I loooove it.
  3. There will be brunch at Abbey Inn on the square. I think I want steak and eggs benedict. Or maybe chicken and waffles with bacon pepper gravy. Or maybe I just go multiple times so that I don’t have to choose just one.
  4. Karen Gonzalez via The Mudroom – My Single Life or Why I Love Women’s Day.
  5. And some ridiculous levity from the Reductress – 4 Men Named Kyle Who Have No Idea There’s A Women’s Strike.

Have a lovely weekend!

 

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Friday Five2

I got sucked into the Internet this week, and I was not my best self. It will surprise no one here that I have many opinions with lots of passion and intensity, and that’s why I don’t Facebook actively because as it turns out, people are not so much persuaded by being overwhelmed as they are driven to drink and binge-watch on the Netflix while avoiding my texts.

Ahem.

To that end, the first two links I have are some tips on being in spaces with people who get your dander up (like me, perhaps) and how to do the work of getting past all of that and still have meaningful conversations.

  • How to Survive in Intersectional Feminist Spaces 101 via CrossKnit – This is a great place to start if you read the title of the post and said, “What do those words mean?” or if you have a negative view of what those words mean to you. It’s also a great refresher and reminder to those of us who think we know everything. Keeps us humble. Also, her follow-up post makes me howl with a weird mix of respect for her for owning up to things that people confronted her with, self-recognition, humility, glee, gratitude, and inspiration.
  • How to be a friend to the LGBTQIA+ community – from GLAAD and from Carlos Maza via the Washington Post archives. Absolutely engage in these behaviors yourself. But if you see other people engaging in these behaviors and your behavior gets called out as a result, know that it’s not really about you but rather their desire to support and defend people they see being mistreated.

More things for your reading enjoyment/thought provocation/action-taking:

  • Obama via The New England Journal of Medicine discusses the dangers and irresponsibility of repealing the ACA without something workable to replace it.
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates via The Atlantic – My President was Black.
  • DeVos is not a suitable candidate for Secretary of Education. Here are a list of Senators who are key in making a decision on DeVos on Tuesday (first numbers are their local offices; 202 numbers are their D.C. offices). If your senator is listed, give them a call, but if not, call one of the others:Susan Collins (ME) 207.622.8414; 202.224.2523
    Lamar Alexander (TN) 615.736.5129; 202.224.4944
    Lisa Murkowski (AK) 907.586.7277; 202.224.6665
    Johnny Isakson (GA) 770.661.0999; 202.224.3643
    Orrin Hatch (UT) 801.524.4380; 202.224.5251
    Richard Burr (NC) 336.631.5125; 202.224.3154; 910.251.1058; 828.350.2437
    Michael Enzi (WY) 202.224.3424
    Dr. Bill Cassidy (LA) 202.224.5824
    Pat Roberts (KS) 202.224.4774
    Tim Scott (SC) 202.224.6121
    Rand Paul (KY) 202.224.4343

And a bonus post for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, including a remembrance of how it all started.

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