Just another blog of body acceptance, social critique, rambling rants, and anarchy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

to occupy a space

What with the occupation of wall street and connected occupations in other cities around the country going on currently I've been thinking a lot about occupation, what it means to occupy a space.  While I have a lot of thoughts on the current large scale protest occupations going on I wanted to share a story of another, much smaller, occupation. 
      Recently, a home disappeared.  There's a highway overpass that I ride my bike under at least twice a day.  It's common to see piles of trash underr there, heaps of scrap wood, burst garbage bags of fast food wrappers, and couches missing their cushions.  Often a mattress or box-spring sits on the sidewalk there, propped up at an awkward angle for weeks before it's removed.  About a month ago some one (or a few someones) saw it as an opportunity to make a home. 
    One day I ronde my bike past and noticed that the latest abandoned mattress had been laid flat and someone was sleeping on it.  Good, I thought, so much nicer than cardboard, I hope it doesn't have bed bugs.  A few days later the mattress had sheets; not just any sheets mind you, but red, silk sheets, and I smiled.
    I continued to smile every time I passed through, the day they added a blue and white gingham comforter, pillows, a patchwork quilt.  Soon there was not only a bed, things began to appear.  A small rag gug, a broom, a box full of purses, clothes.  The last day it was there even a poster had been pasted up on the highway trestle behind the bed, an image of a shopping cart grown wings, flying with a flock of birds.  Every time I rode by and the place got nicer, homier, I grinned and hoped they could stay.  Some days there were people, shapes beneath the silk sheets and patchwork quilt, or guys sitting on top of the gingham comforter talking and laughing.  Until one day I bike past and it was gone, no more bed, no more rugs or boxes, even the poster had been painted over like art of so many others who had tried to leave their mark under the bridge.  
   So while my heart goes out to the 700 people arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday, it also goes out to those folks who for a few weeks made themselves a home.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Whole Foods gives discounts for having a lower BMI

In the latest news story of thin privilege disguised as "health initiative," Whole Foods is giving its employees added discounts if they have a BMI below 30 (with discounts increasing as BMI decreases).  Their claim is that this will be both an incentive for their employees to be "healthier" and a way to lower their health care costs.  While they do use a few other markers of health (blood pressure, cholesterol and nicotine use) it appears that one must have a low enough BMI along with these other markers to qualify; meaning that an employee who is totally healthy, with good blood pressure and low cholesterol will not be able to take advantage of the discount.
Even if the BMI was a good marker of health (which it is NOT) I would still have huge problems with this initiative.  First of all if Whole Foods were actually trying to encourage their employees to make healthier choices they could do something like discounting healthier food options for everyone regardless of their current health or size. (ie. give the 30% discount for fruits and veggies while keeping the 20% for packaged foods like crackers and chips).  Secondly, what kind of health initiative rewards some people for the way their bodies happen to be even if they make no effort to be healthy,  while not providing the same rewards to  people who may be striving to live healthier lives but simply do not have bodies that conform to a particular standard.  Even if the BMI was a good indicator of potential future health problems this policy would still make no sense.  Imagine for a moment if those whose families had a history of heart disease or lung cancer (arguably far better predictors of future health complications than BMI) were disqualified from participating in such a "health" initiative, there would be outcry.  Finally the people in our society who have the least access to healthy foods, and are the most likely to be "overweight or obese" are people without much money.  While I applaud Whole Foods as an employer for providing health care to its employees this new initiative likely fails to provide the discount to the people who need it most.  

For more about the rediculousness of the BMI check out:





As a personal anecdote/example:   I am a vegan who eats a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains.  I ride my bike an average of 10 miles a day, often more, in addition to taking multiple dance classes a week, going swimming when it's nice out, and working a job that involves a lot of walking/running around.  I have never had any kind of serious health problem *knocks wood* and my blood pressure is just fine.   Oh and my BMI puts me squarely on the line between overweight and obese.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Last January a good friend of mine set herself the challenge to photograph her outfit everyday.   While I am not setting myself the same challenge, it (along with reading the blogs of tons of fabulously dressed folks)  has got me thinking about putting a little more effort into my style.  I've always erred on the vintage side of things (even if not for the best aesthetically, I went through a phase in middle school where I turned all my jeans into giant bell-bottoms...) and I love pawing through crowded thrift store racks.  I haven't gone out an bought lots of new clothing or anything, but I did get a haircut (which those of you who know me well know is a Big Deal seeing as until a year and a half ago I had never cut my hair at all.  For what it's worth, I have still never been to a hair salon/barber) I have just been putting a little more effort into what I wear because I know that when I feel good about what I'm wearing I feel more comfortable in my body and have more self confidence.  So here are some outfits from this week:

This is what do wear on a day whose activities include: yard sales, a cupcake bake-off, a 2 year old's birthday party, queer country western dancing, and a trip to the local piano bar for sing alongs.

What to wear for farmer's market, house cleaning, a 5 mile straight uphill bike ride to a graduation party in the hills, sitting on the shore by the lake, some gardening, cooking dinner and going out to see some celtic music.

Brunch in the garden with a friend from out of town followed by work (biking to and from) and a potluck.

Maybe I'll keep taking pictures, although if this warm weather keeps up after my job ends for the summer all my outfits may be bathing suits and bike shorts... 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

1964 for tweens

Yesterday morning I was at a yard sale when I found a 1964 copy of Co-Ed: The High School Magazine for Homemakers and Career Girls and I couldn't resist.  The cover is completely pepto-bismal pink and features a punch bowl of some completely toxic looking substance.  As you would imagine it is completely filled with advertising gems like this one:

(in case you can't read it the copy says: "Any good girdle will do a job on the disaster areas- tummy, thighs, hips, rear.  But if the verdict is still short of smashing, read on.  You know that area where your waist ends and your hips begin? It's called the upper hip.  Oftern your hips begin where your waist ought to be.  The area needs smoothing- and Warner's Turnabout...)  
Rarely do we see advertising that so overtly does its job of selling solutions to problems it invented, what most advertising, especially for things like "shapewear," what girdle type garments would be sold as today, sets out to do.

Next up:
Yes, you read that correctly, Spray-on Reptile! I don't think I can even pick that one apart.

In case you ever wanted to write an essay about your life getting married early and living in a brand new trailer park:

If my recent post about problems with awful feminine care made you depressed, at least no one's telling women today that tampons shouldn't be used if you're single... (or are they? I really hope this is not something about how breaking one's hymen with a tampon would make them loose their virginity and therefore, their attractive purity or some such bs)

In addition to all this crazy advertising Co-Ed boats stories, financial and make-up tips as well as an 8 page guide to baking cookies that I may actually refer to (it ends with a score card for cookies, so you can grade your own cookie making abilities.) 
The Buying Tips section starts with the sentence, "A typewriter is vitally important to jet-age living."  who knew I was missing such an important aspect of my jet-age life?! (I wonder if my laptop counts...)
And towards the end there's even a political section, "On Lowering the Voting Age to 18" where people write in with their opinions (seemed to be about 50/50 as to whether the voting age should be lowered) although it was split up into the page of responses from girls and boys.   

ps. If you ever invite me to dinner please god do not serve any of these things!

Friday, May 27, 2011

well duh!

So if, like me, you need a break from reading depressing news stories about how cops get away with rape,  (if she was drunk enough that cops were called to escort her home then by even just "snuggling with her in nothing but a bra" is taking advantage especially considering their power in the situation as on duty police officers.  Just another unfortunate example of how often rape goes unpunished even when women are brave enough to come forward with their stories.)  and how the house just passed a bill that could prevent med students from learning how to perform abortion procedures (if no doctors get trained to safely perform abortions none will happen right?! It won't lead to more women attempting to abort in dangerous ways or anything, and all those women who've had miscarriages will be totally good with carrying dead fetuses to term because doctors shouldn't learn how to remove fetal matter from their uterus' right? Right?! grrrrrr) then I have a piece of good news for you!  The New York Times has finally realized the obvious that not all fat people are unhealthy and not all thin people are paragons of health.  The article still claims that it is overall healthier to be thin however they do admit that, "being a normal weight was not a reliable indicator of health," which is a big step forward in understanding the not so hard to understand idea of health at any size.  Clearly this is only one tiny article, but perhaps it is a step in the right direction. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

uch, apparently it is now the policy in several south Florida ob-gyn offices not to see "overweight" women, solely on the basis of their weight (anyone over 200 or 250lbs*) without regard to their overall health at all.  (the article can be found here) I have heard countless horror stories about the poor medical attention fat folks receive, but rarely is care so blatantly refused.  Claims are constantly made in the media and from medical professionals about how obesity is dangerous to ones health, but perhaps those of us seen as "overweight" are having health problems because we are being told that we do not deserve basic procedures like pap smears.  With recent legislation trying to cut affordable providers of such basic womens health services like Planned Parenthood this kind of policy makes it even harder for fat women, even those who can afford their health insurance premiums, to receive the care they need.   

*and what the hell kind of measure of fatness is a simple weight number? It's worse than the BMI which is flawed for all sorts of reasons not least of which is that it ignores that muscle weighs more than fat, but really a simple number cut-off doesn't even allow for tall people!  I suppose if their argument for denying care was that their examining tables can only hold 200lbs this policy makes sense, but examining tables are fairly standardized and in hospitals they hold up men as well as women, and for most tall men 200lbs is fairly standard. I'm by no means a medical professional or a manufacturer of examining tables, but it seems like they must be made to hold more than that, and if they're not it's the problem of the manufacturer and not random women attempting to stay healthy by having regular gynecological exams!

Friday, April 29, 2011

It must be body confidence, self appreciation day or something.

    Ever since spending last week in Portland, OR doing pretty much nothing but lazing around petting my friends adorable cat and appreciating being in the vegan food capital of the world in the best way I know how (read: eating a ton, there was fried pie. twice.) I’ve been feeling all bloated and uncomfortable in my skin.  (true story, I had a 5 year old come up and ask me how my stomach got so big, ah the bluntness of children).  This week I’ve gotten back to my usual routine of biking 10 miles a day (for transportation), going to dance classes, pushing around a baby stroller, and eating out of my garden as opposed to out of some trucks (Portland is not only full of amazing vegan food, it is full of food carts) I’m finally starting to feel more like myself. 
    This morning I was working on a painting for a friend of mine (see below) and the figure in it turned out to sort of have my body, and I liked it. 

While painting I was listening to stuff on last.fm when this song came on, and I’ve been listening to it pretty much on repeat ever since.  It’s going right up there next to India Arie’s Video on the list of songs that I can blast as reminders that you are gorgeous and you don’t need anyone who says otherwise.  (Also on the list Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine, and Cee Low Green's Fuck You
    Then I watched this week’s episode of Glee (yes, I am guilty of watching it regularly) which in addition to containing the amazing line, “the only straight I am is straight up bitch,” focused on accepting yourself for your flaws, rather than in spite of them.  While Glee has all kinds of problems (and this episode is no exception) the internet is already full of critiques of the show, no need to add mine.  However the general point of it fit in well with the overall message of the day.  [Unrelated, but I thought the comparison of Emma’s OCD and many of the kids insecurities about physical attributes was interesting.  I’m not sure I liked the way it was handled, but in a society that is big on quick fixes for every “problem” we might have (crash diets, pills, and as the show mentioned, plastic surgery) people with mental illnesses are often dealt with in much the same way as those with perceived physical problems (fat), ie. ‘your willpower’s just not enough’ or ‘just take this pill and your life will be better!’ suggestions that help no one. Just something to think about.  Also, I’m voting Lauren Zizes for prom queen, because really, if this doesn’t scream prom queen I don’t know what does!]