Wednesday Coffee – Full-Bodied and Robust

I’m not one for taking mirror selfies. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it yourself, but I don’t do it because I suffer from what some call “bad body image” and what others would call “body dysmorphic disorder.”  In other words, I find it hard to see a photo of myself and think it looks good.

I don’t usually post about personal stuff like this nor do I get very heavy with my posts, preferring to post fluff that will make everyone happy to anything that might show my fears and skeletons. But two things have prompted this post.

One: I saw a woman in my store the other day who could easily weigh less than 100 pounds. I’ve seen her around during my several years’ service at my store. Each time I see her, she gets thinner and thinner. Every time I see her, it breaks my heart because all I can think is “there but for the grace of god go I.” That could have been me. Easily. So obsessed with the idea that I’m fat that I can’t see the truth.

Two: I came across an old post of mine from several years ago about the clothing industry. Not the fashion industry that has crazy thin models that parade around with their plastic surgery. Everyone knows that they are an unreachable standard of beauty. No one really wants to be them. I’m talking about the people who make clothes. The ones who apply the words “extra large” to arbitrary sizes and coined the term “plus sized.” The one that when you go to buy pants from the same brand, you wear three different sizes, and then when you wash them once they are so tight you have a muffin top, no matter your actual body type.

So I have a few more confessions to make on top of my past inability to see myself as anything but fat. I wear a size 17 pants. This lodges me firmly within the “plus sized” family, which starts at size 12 and suggests that anyone within that size and higher are an outlier group that shops must cater to differently than the “average” twiggy teenager who wears clothing smaller than that. I weight 181 pounds. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, I am overweight for my height of 5’7”. I am bordering on obese. Don’t look it up, really. Your sanity doesn’t need that kind of pressure. I know mine doesn’t.

So. Now that you know that I’m overweight and plus sized, please look at the photo I have attached. A mirror selfie.

I used to be so obsessed with the idea that I was fat that I couldn’t see the truth. That I am me. I am beautiful. Clothing industry tries to make me think that I am worthless because of my body size by suggesting that I need to shop in different stores than “normal people.” The very health officials that are supposed to be keeping me healthy are trying to grind me into the dirt by calling me overweight, borderline obese.

And they’re doing the same to you.

So. The next time you feel bad about yourself and your body, look yourself in the eyes in the mirror and say, “Fuck them. I’m beautiful and as long as I can see that, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says.”

Because the fashion industry thrives on making sure you feel bad about yourself so you buy more clothes. And the health industry no longer sees you as a patient, a human being, but instead a customer. Someone to sell something to. Like a miracle pill.

So let’s stop this self-depreciation nonsense and see our bodies for what they are. Ours. And no one else’s.

I can’t help that customer but I can try to help you. Don’t fall prey to what others think. I’ve beaten my body dysmorphic disorder and so can you.

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Tuesday Coffee: Write Every Day

It is an old saying that you have to make your own mistakes, and I suppose that is true in a lot of things. I always prided myself in seeing others make mistakes and not doing the same thing they did. I learned by other people’s mistakes, not my own. But at the same time, I was terrible at taking advice. When I first started in the Writing Popular Fiction MFA program at Seton Hill University, I was told to write every day. There was a module on time management and my class was given a calender on which to plot out when we would write. Every day. I giggled to myself.

I filled in the calendar for a week, knowing full well that I wasn’t going to be writing on any other days than my two days off.

I did this for two terms. Writing was hard. It dragged. I hated what I wrote and I had to lock myself in the bedroom, music blasting to be able to concentrate at all. Sure, I made my monthly page goals, but I didn’t have any fun.

So this term, I decided to try that whole “write every day” thing. And guess what? Writing became easy. I liked what I was writing. I could suddenly kick over 1k words in about an hour. Amazingly, keeping your book fresh in your mind helps. So, don’t be like me. Don’t ignore advice. Learn from my mistakes.

Write every day. Make time for it. It’ll be worth it.

Wednesday Morning Coffee

The invention of the hoop skirt in the southern states during the Victorian period really did stand to reason. Have you seen how many layers the average Victorian lady wore? There’s at least four layers of petticoats (for propriety, you can’t have any gentlemen even getting the impression that you have legs, let alone get a glimpse of their shape), topped by bustle or other type of flounce (also sometimes worn as a separate layer over top the skirt), and a skirt. On the top, there was a a chemise, a corset, and a corset topper, only to be covered by a shirt and a jacket. Good gravy.

When I wore a similar construction as a Halloween costume this past year, I was hot. Capital letters hot. H. O. T hot. And it was October and already chilly. I was not even wearing any of the proscribed petticoats, bustle, chemise, or corset. And I was still ready to die.Really, it’s no wonder there are so many stories of Victorian ladies fainting. It wasn’t their delicate constitutions, it was that they were just overheated.*

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So really, a construction that holds your dress out from your body must have been the only way to survive. That and the paper fan. Thank heavens someone invented shorts.

* this is not an actual fact. Please do not include this in a history paper.