Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Music: Gotye

Obsessed with this guy. I came across Gotye (and Kimbra, whose music is equally addicting) through The Next Great Generation and my life has been radically changed. Apparently he's big in Australia but really hasn't received much popular notice in America, and I really can't imagine why. I seriously went from 0 to 24-hour Gotye in no time flat.

I'm not an expert music review so there's really nothing else to say that'll do Gotye justice except for the love of God click the videos and you'll never be the same. 

Or maybe I'm just a hipster.

You like? Care to share your music with the class?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

All Up In Your Facebook with My Body-Positive Rant

Not to make a totally random comeback or anything (oh, hi, blog!) but I woke up this morning to a Facebook thread so simultaneously inspiring and infuriating that I had to leave a giant rant comment on it that I needed to share with y'all who are still tuning in (some of you lovely people, I hope!)

So basically, a friend of mine/girl I know from college-- who happens to be a gorgeous, very skinny former model-- posted the above photo on her Facebook with a caption saying how beautiful she thinks this woman is. Well, I was pleased to see most of the comments on a very long comment thread were positive, which shocked the hell out of me. But of course, some members of the OMG THINK OF MY EYES! THINK OF THE CHILDREN! brigade came out to make comments that basically said the following:

1. She can't possibly be healthy and that's gross.
2. Fat is objectively less attractive than being skinny.
3. Self-love is an excuse to give up on yourself, yuck!

Maybe it was a combination of my desire to spread the word that fatphobia is damaging and the fact that it was 7 a.m. and I was so not yet in the mental space where I can tolerate a metric ton of stupid bullcrap, but I had to feed the trolls and rant. I wanted to post it here because I've been away too long and I thought you might be interested in how I dealt with it. I didn't edit this at all for the sake of authenticity and I wrote it in a huff so if there are weird typos/grammar things, forgive me.

"Just putting it out there that your weight doesn't always have anything to do with your health, because it's just not that simple-- illness and genetics can make you fat or skinny just like eating and exercise can. First of all, I know plenty of overweight people who exercise and eat better than a lot of the skinny people I know. Secondly, it's bull to make that argument because-- really-- do you care what some random chick get told at her doctor's appointment (and if you've never been fat, you might not realize doctors can be hateful, too, about your weight and not want to deal with you beyond telling you you're too fat)? People use health as an excuse for fatphobia, plain and simple. You know what people don't deserve just because they're not healthy? Hate. People are people. We all deserve to feel safe and get some basic respect. Because of the way this society works, most fat people I know (myself included) have hated themselves and wanted to be skinny and tried. But guess what doesn't work? Punishing yourself. And that's all weight loss is for a lot of people: punishing themselves for not being beautiful, not being good enough, not being thin enough. They do it out of hatred for their bodies and it doesn't work. If hating yourself and dieting worked, everyone would be thin. Instead, the hate creates a negative spiral of unhealthy mental energy and actual behavior. At my skinniest, I was my most depressed, held the most self-loathing, felt most isolated from everyone around me, but at the same time everyone was telling me how much prettier I was and good for me. People noticed me, and believe it or not, that hurts. It really does, seeing for yourself that so much of what makes you you isn't appreciated unless you look a certain way. I didn't feel any more beautiful in size 2 jeans than I felt 10 or more sizes larger [EDIT: Apparently in my rage I forgot women's jeans sizes often go by twos. 10 is more like 5, if it's at all relevant]. I ended up gaining most of the weight back, but I'm at a point where I FEEL deserving of love and respect and I FEEL beautiful and no one needs to validate me (despite the fact I have a fiancee who I've been with 4 years who would beg to differ that skinny girls are objectively more attractive). I eat a more balanced diet now than I did when I was skinny and starving myself. I'm more physically fit than I was when I was working out obsessively. I do those things because I love myself and my body. I do it and it's sustainable because it doesn't come out of a place of hate. But I also realize plenty of people probably look at me and other people who deviate from the ideal as disgusting. But that says nothing about me. That says something about the people who would judge others on their dress size."

I've probably fed the trolls and if it starts a proverbial shitstorm, I'll update you. Maybe no one will say anything about it or notice it, but at least I put myself out there so that some people might look in the mirror before they go judging others.

Have you ever seen people being fatphobic on your news feed? What did you do? If you said anything, what did you say (P.S. you go, girl!) If you didn't, why not? Would you handle it differently in the future?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On Body-Positive Blogging and Why We Need It

found here

Relatively recently (okay, a month ago) an article ran on Refinery29 about body-positive blogs and whether they are truly of benefit to the people who write and read them. As you can imagine, I was really interested in what the writer, Katie J.M. Baker, had to say on the matter, which I can basically sum up as the following (the tl;dr version, if you will): body-positive blogs are kinda good because they encourage self-acceptance, but they're also hurtful because they're a venue through which young girls to compete with one another and fish for compliments, for approval from strangers.

Now, this post here will not be meant as a complex analysis of the article, which raises some interesting issues that I definitely see coming up with body blogging. What I want to do instead is reflect on the nature of this blog in an attempt to show what kind of purpose these blogs can serve.

Body-positive blogging, for me, is cathartic. It has been a challenge, emotionally-speaking, to turn this blog into a very public window into my life for the sake of helping others. I see sharing personal triumphs and tribulations as a way to create a circle of support not just for myself but for the people who read this blog as well.

There have been many instances when I was concerned about this blog becoming a too self-centered. The one instance that comes to mind immediately is Love 365, which was, for any newcomers, when I wrote down one positive thing about myself every day for one year and posted my list every Friday. Before I started it, I discussed the idea of Love 365 with my boyfriend because I wondered if it was too navel-gazing a journey to embark on in public. Would anyone on the Internet care about what I like about me? Would my readers be completely turned off? After all, we're sort of encouraged to be overly-modest: admitting you're awesome often gets interpreted as arrogant instead of confident. But seeing how awful some people-- including myself-- can feel about themselves, I wanted to make a statement that would work toward changing that. It's okay to love yourself. You're awesome and that's totally fine and you should shout it from the rooftops. I invited my readers to participate in the project and hoped for the best.

I was, honestly, overwhelmed by the response. Did my little campaign go viral? No. But did it get enough responses to leave me humbled? Absolutely. I was so taken aback by all the positive responses (and the lack of negativity). I was honored to see strangers on the Internet e-mail me their love affirmations for the week and commenting with positive thoughts about themselves, often about their bodies. That's a special thing. Maybe I didn't start a worldwide movement, but in 2010, I know a whole bunch of my readers took the time to think about themselves as beautiful, worthwhile and totally okay for even just long enough to write an e-mail. It was amazing.

I feel the same way about the response I've seen to posts about my struggles to love and accept the body I'm in. I've become determined to make this blog heavily feature personal narratives, because I think personal stories hit home in a way that more straightforward articles simply can't. We sometimes have to be reminded that inside these bodies are souls that are strong, that hurt, that feel deeply, that survive. It seems that when I post the stories I'm most afraid to share-- that I sometimes also think are most narcissistic-- that I get the most wonderfully-positive responses. There is something about a stranger on the Internet spilling her guts that brings forth a whole ton of emotions in a reader; I know that because those are the articles I respond best to and because of you.

I will never stop being amazed by the kind of comments and e-mails this blog gets. When I write something that touches something in someone else-- that causes them to, in turn, tell me their story-- I know what I'm doing isn't just narcissistic. Body-positive blogging isn't all about getting compliments and seeking approval: what I get out of it is the incredible feeling that comes when you realize another person felt a little bit better because you said what they've felt. Not everyone wants to share their human experience with the Internet, but if I can share mine in a way that makes others feel as if their story is out there, that's enough.

Because of the nature of the Internet, blogging can easily turn into a competition to get the most hits, the most reblogs and retweets, the most "likes" and all that. It can turn into a search for approval, and as a person entering the field of journalism, of course I write with the hope that people like what I have to say. But as I've matured as a blogger and as person, I've discovered many things that are much better than stats that make blogging meaningful.

Body-positive blogging is wonderful because you get to see your readers relate to you. It helps both of you to not feel so alone.

It's wonderful because you might someday get an e-mail saying that you inspired someone to try not to hate how they look so much. It helps both of you to feel hopeful.

It's wonderful because you might someday read a comment in which someone tells a story they've never told before because your openness has helped them be brave. It helps both of you to be courageous.

It's wonderful because you and your readers are undertaking a challenge together when you write and read body-positive blogs: to learn to love everyone, including yourselves, unconditionally.

Are these blogs narcissistic? Yes, a little. Do people write them looking to "win" something? Of course. But the good far outweighs the bad, and the blogosphere would be a very different place: one worse off for a lack of candid stories and open hearts.

What do you think about body-positive blogs? What makes them great? What makes them, well, not so great sometimes? If you blog about body image, what has the experience been like for you?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Music: Julian Smith

(warning: lots of flashing lights!)

So, I wasn't sure if this should count as "Monday Music" because Julian Smith is a comedian, but then I decided that any song that can perfectly encapsulate my life and get stuck in my brain deserves a share. I'm not sure if I blogged this in the past, but it deserves a revisit anyway. Julian Smith is funny, adorable and has a lot of other catchy songs on his channel and website that you need to check out.

What about you? What's stuck in your head? Or, are you reading a book? What would happen if, say, someone were to interrupt you while reading it?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fat People Nightmares

Last night, I checked up with Twitter before going to sleep, which only would have been a good idea if I wanted to go to bed slightly perturbed, which I didn't.

I'll cut to the chase: on the top of the list of Trending Topics was the hashtag #fatpeoplenightmares.

Now, I'm sure you can fill in the blanks for yourself regarding what a bunch of lovely people on the Internet think fat people are afraid of, but I'll give you a small sampling. For instance:

Aren't they lovely, folks? Round of applause, please.

So what do fat people really have nightmares about?

We have nightmares about strangers passing ludicrous judgments on us due to our outward appearance.

We have nightmares about being discriminated against at school or work.

We have nightmares about being given sub-par medical care due to factors we might have little control over.

We have nightmares about the people that publicly embarrass us in order to feel better about themselves.

We have nightmares about losing loved ones to disease.

We have nightmares about losing loved ones to a loss of love, a break-up, an affair, a moving-on.

We have nightmares about not being quite good enough.

We have nightmares about not being beautiful.

We have nightmares about our fears holding us back from what we deserve.

We have nightmares about not being deserving.

We have nightmares about the horror movie we saw last week.

We have nightmares about dying.

We have nightmares about a lost pet never coming back.

We have nightmares about failing at something that means the world to us.

We have nightmares about the monsters our mothers say aren't in our closets.

We have nightmares about rejection.

Skinny people and fat people and in-between people? We have the same nightmares. The same dreams, too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I get overwhelmed sometimes.

Okay, a lot of times.

It can be hard not to panic when the e-mails and assignments keep pouring in, you haven't secured a Grown Up job yet (don't worry, you're still waitressing at the same place you have been since you were 16), you're in the process of getting ready to move out and the dog won't stop barking at particularly intimidating lamps on the TV (she's a little stupid).

But everything comes together in the moments before crunch time when I settle in with a cup of chai and my favorite Pandora station to get ready to spend an evening writing. And I love to write because I'm an inquisitive kind of person: for me, spending a night looking over interviews and tying quotes together is like doing Sudoku. Journalism is about fitting puzzle pieces together, and as overwhelmed as I get at first, the sense of accomplishment I get from finding the story is worth it. In these moments, with my tea and my music and my laptop, I know that somehow, I am in the right place and everything will be just fine.

Everything will be just fine.

What happens in your perfect moments? When do you feel most in your element? 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Pair OR The Mental Health Benefits of Letting Stuff Go

I can tell you with absolute certainty what the oldest pair of underwear is.

I know what you're thinking: whoawhoawhoa back up, too much information. I do not need to hop aboard the Overshare Express and read about your ratty old panties. Well if that's what you just thought you can just take it back, you jump-to-conclusions-er.

When I was 17, I was not allowed to wear thongs, so I did what all proper teenagers do: during days off school, I snuck out of my house when my mother was at work, walked to the mall and bought some. It started with the ultra-plain kind they sell at Old Navy, three-packs of simple cotton thongs in neutral colors. I didn't stick to these gateway drugs of the undergarment world for very long, though: things quickly escalated to perusing the super sale racks at Wet Seal for the kind of sexy polyester I had always wanted.

I ransacked the place.

I acquired panties of all kinds of colors and patterns and stashed them away deep, deep in my dresser. I did my own laundry without fail for fear I would be caught and publicly shamed by my mother, who would be extremely disappointed that I was clearly sleeping with every guy in town based on a few purple ruffles. Pantygate would be the end of the world, but it was worth the risk for sure. I was 17 and I wore thongs. I was an adult.

There was one thong I did not have to hide in the laundry.

It was probably my favorite: light beige, silky smooth with flirty, flouncy mesh edges that were sprinkled with light pink and purple sequins. There was a bow on the front and the back.

This thong stayed in my drawer for one reason and one reason alone: it was too small. It was too small, but too pretty to get rid of.

When I was 17, I was the thinnest I have ever been in my entire life, but even at the weight I was, I longed desperately to be smaller.

This thong, my favorite one, was a challenge.

Five years later, I have gained all the weight I lost back and then some. Needless to say, I have never worn that thong. I never even came close to fitting into it, honestly-- no closer than the day I bought it anyhow. Yet for five years and countless spring cleanings, I have held onto that thong. I have picked it up, looked it over and put it back in the drawer for keeps.

Someday, I would think, someday I will be thin enough to wear this.

Recently, I chucked another piece of challenge clothing that I'd become quite attached to. It was a denim miniskirt I got at Old Navy around the same time I bought the thong. I haven't fit into it in years: it is a size 0, which in retrospect I can't even fathom despite Old Navy's penchant for vanity sizing. My boyfriend was with me while I was pruning my closet and brought it out.

"Can you believe I wore this?" I asked. He shrugged.

"Does it fit you now?" he asked. I raised an eyebrow and demonstrated. The skirt got to about the very bottoms of my thighs before it had stretched its farthest.

"Toss it," he said. He's very practical.

"I can't," I protested. "I like it. I don't think I'd ever wear it again even if I could fit into it, but it represents a time when I was skinny." It sounded sillier aloud than it ever did in my head.

"You know, you talk about how okay you are with your weight all the time, but if you were really okay with it, you would just get rid of that thing," he said. "It's stupid to keep it around just to remind you you were skinny once."

I make fun of this boy all the time, but he had a point: why was I keeping a piece of clothing I didn't even want as a trophy of my smallest size? That isn't the kind of body positivity I'm trying to have for myself. Thin Vanessa is not someone I need to mourn. Thin Vanessa and Fat Vanessa are the same person. I do not need that skirt as a memorial. Thin is not my biggest accomplishment, and I don't need to hold onto something in a way that suggests it was.

The skirt went into the box for Good Will. And as corny as it sounds, it was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders.

But I still have these panties, and I don't know what to do with them. Rather, I know what I need to do with them, but I am ever-so-slightly hesitant to make it happen. Even if I am ever thin enough to fit into them, do I really need them around as a reminder? Do I need to keep clothing that doesn't fit me to prod me to be the best I can be? Because "thin" and "best" are not the same. Thin is a challenge I do not need to undertake. I try to take care of my health and treat myself well, but how accomplished I feel in life should not rest on the number on the scale and a $2.00 pair of underwear.

I know what I have to do.

Will it be hard? Strangely, yes. For whatever reason-- and many of you have probably felt the same about clothing-- this particular pair of underwear means something to me. This thong means a time when I was close to some sort of commonly-held physical ideal and a part I battle with every day misses that, wishes so hard I could be that again. It would all be easier, maybe, but I know it wouldn't be because I've been there. No matter what you look like, if you don't love and accept yourself, you will always be unhappy with your appearance. This thong says, too, that even when I was that close, I was not close enough. I was not good enough. I know now that that isn't true. I was good enough all along, and you are, too.

I know what I have to do.

Do you hold on to clothing that doesn't fit? How long have you had it? Don't you think it's time you gave it up?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Music: Ke$ha Unplugged

Yes, this is Ke$ha without autotune. The world may implode.

Now, I know I wrote a post awhile back about the ill effects of raunch culture in which I cited Ke$ha as one of those ladies corrupting the youth of America. Okay, maybe I wasn't that melodramatic, but there's a lot that Ke$ha sings that I find distasteful in the lyrics department (secretly, I think Ke$ha songs are really fun and catchy, but I'm sure I'm not alone). However, I am not one to deny credit where credit is due. Some of you may have seen this around this Internet already (I may have even tweeted it), but it's worth a listen because girl actually has a gorgeous voice. I know, I was surprised, too.

Reason for posting this today? I don't know, no reason really other than I've listened to it on repeat for about an hour every few days since I found it, and that's reason enough to share.

What have been listening to on repeat? Care to share with the class?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Results May Vary

*Need a hump day pick-me-up? Download the very awesome 23 Things You Might Not Know About You e-book, compiled by some awesome bloggers including Amanda Oaks of Kind Over Matter.

*Added this to your list of daily blogs to check: The Cosby Sweater Project.

*Fabulous girl group XELLE shoots a music video for "Party Girl" on a moving New York City subway car without a permit, and it turns out awesome.

*Sky Island is a really creative online game you have to try. Navigate the world and collect stars by transforming your environment.

*Dana at The Body and the Brood asks if we should really be at war with obesity.

*I wish there were way more of these: World Culture Infographics IRL.

*I found this article about runner Darryl Houghtelling to be really inspiring. Yes, it's a weight loss story, but it's one that focuses on health and joy as reasons to be active rather than shame as a reason to get thin.

*My nerd might be showing here, but I love this adorable blog about amigurumi.

*What? You need another flash game to play? All right, try Reimagine the Game on for size -- this one's only for lovers of pop culture and memes. I warn you, it's tricky (and gory-- I mean, it's Newgrounds, what did you expect?)

These are few of things that I'm lovin' lately, but results may vary. Tell me what you think and share your favorite links in the comments!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Okay, okay, I've screwed up. I can admit when I'm wrong, you know. I abandoned this blog for a month, whichwas probably longer than I had to. Will you forgive me? Pretty please? I'll be good this time, I promise.

Anyway, are you curious what I've been up to at all?




Yeah, no big deal or anything.

So, I've basically been preoccupied with finishing school, graduating, moving back in and looking for permanent employment. I'll be returning to my waitressing job for now, but my boyfriend and I are hoping to move out as soon as I get a real job. Ideally, we'll be out of the house by August when he starts law school, but we can't get our hopes up too high.

All in all, I still can't believe I'm done with college. I don't think I'll really feel like this isn't my summer vacation until August/September rolls around and I find myself not packing up to return to Clark. I'm thinking I'll be okay.

This is kinda irrelevant, but I've also been on a vegan cupcake baking spree. I bought Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, and it's amazing. Seriously, I would recommend this cookbook even to non-vegans. I've only tried a few of the recipes so far, but many of them don't have ingredients that are too bizarre (no, say, free range wheat grass) and the preps tend to be pretty easy. I've eaten them almost exclusively with non-vegans, all of whom agreed they're awesome and don't "taste vegan" (code for: they don't taste too healthy). My boyfriend, a junk food connoisseur, claims the peanut butter ones are the best cupcakes he's ever had. I would also add you should buy this book for the chocolate frosting recipe alone, which is absolutely otherworldly. You will never buy store frosting again.

Anyway, a friend and I tried a recipe for margarita cupcakes which came out amazing. May the limes that gave their lives for us be eternally blessed.


Are they as pretty as the ones in the book? Not in the least. But were they delicious? Oh hell yes.

Basically, I just wanted to let y'all know I'm back and I don't plan on leaving you again. The last whole bunch of months have taken a toll on my blogging schedule, but I think the break-- even if it was full of other work-- will have done wonders for my blogging mojo.

See you tomorrow, lovelies!


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