Archive for the 'guest post' Category

What is she thinking?! Does she know what she looks like in that?

So far, it’s just raining a little, but we are only a block outside of the evacuation zone and building management keeps sending these ominous messages that include the phrase “STAY AWAY FROM ALL WINDOWS.” It feels vaguely apocalyptic around here. The subway has shut down, and the buses, and I find myself watching a lone leaf, spiraling helplessly up and up, over the raised heads of the buildings, caught in a long finger of wind. It’s all very poetic and dire. Bear is staying home from work, and we’re waiting for the storm together. We were able to buy some coconut milk from Trader Joe’s and some canned clams, before desperate, scrabbling New Yorkers pulled everything off the shelves. We were trying for almond milk and tuna. Our bathroom ceiling has been creaking all night, I think from the weight of a full bath on the next floor up. Our neighbors must be preparing for a power outage, and I am very careful on the way to the toilet, in case the ceiling should cave in. So that’s the news here, and I’m glad I have this guest post to share with you, from the consistently provocative, thoughtful Bethany, who recently sent it to me. I’ve also published a piece of hers about a little girl who thought she was too fat, and one about being average-sized. She sometimes writes things that make me think, “Why the hell haven’t I written about that?” So then I publish them. And now I’m going to return to looking out the window while absentmindedly eating all of the canned clams. Stay safe, people in Hurricane Sandy’s path! And everyone else, of course! There are other things– wild fires, earthquakes, brimstone? those determined-looking cyclists who go right through the red light on the bike path in central park– they’re going to kill someone one day, seriously.  – Kate

 

“What was she thinking?!”

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Have you ever caught yourself wondering that, either aloud or to yourself? Maybe you saw a girl wearing fishnets and crocs. Maybe you saw a very heavy woman wearing booty shorts.  Maybe your coworker wore a pair of pants that were just a bit too snug and gave her a serious muffin top.

I’ll admit that I catch myself thinking it a lot.  And sometimes I say it out loud and sneak second and third peeks at the offender in question.  I’ve seen just about everything:  dangerously short skirts, outrageous dye jobs and haircuts, incredibly heavy makeup, and all kinds of bodies in all kinds of revealing clothing.  Sometimes, it’s hard not to gawk.

But I want to be a better person.  I want to be a person who doesn’t judge so much.  I want to be someone who knows and remembers that clothing, haircuts and shoes don’t make a person.  And I also want very badly to stop being part of the problem that women struggle with today.  My eyes don’t need to be another pair that is looking for flaws and shortcomings.

So I decided that when I catch myself thinking or saying “What was she thinking?” that I might just go ahead and try and answer that question.

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Kate on October 29th 2012 in body, guest post

what if you’re just average?

This is another piece from Bethany. The woman can’t seem to stop writing fantastic stuff. She called this her “rant.” Ranting is sometimes the best:

Fat can be powerful.

If wielded just so, fat can send a message.  Plus size women have access to and permission to use a whole set of powerful words in reference to themselves.  There are specialty stores.  There are magazines.  There are groups of people fighting for and celebrating the thicker, curvier woman.

And of course we all know how powerful skinny can be.  Skinny dominates our media.  Skinny is the key to eternal happiness.  Skinny women are admired and applauded, envied for their perceived self discipline and focus.  Studies have been conducted that indicate that a large percentage of women would trade actual years of life in exchange for guaranteed thinness.

So, we have skinny and fat.  We have big, bold, powerful fat and strong, determined, wanton skinny.  We have Queen Latifah in one corner and Kate Moss in the opposing.  Both look stunning, of course.

So where does that leave me?

No one ever talks about being average.  I don’t know of any Average Advocacy groups.  Being a size eight?  Who cares?  Blah, boring, whatever.  What is there to say about a size eight?  The only thing that I can think of is that it falls neatly between six and ten.

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Even the word “average” sounds plain.  When I hear the word “average”, I hear a lot of other words behind it:  unremarkable, without distinction, standard, ordinary.  It makes me think of the color beige, a big bowl of naked oatmeal, a glass of tap water.  I’m neither fat or skinny, curvaceous or waiflike.  Too big for Wet Seal and too small for Lane Bryant.  I guess that puts me at JC Penney’s.

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Kate on August 14th 2012 in guest post, Uncategorized

my grandmother’s booty

This is a guest post. Liz wrote to me, saying she had a story to share. And then she wrote this in 30 minutes. Some things just need to be said: 

I look like my maternal grandmother.   Not just a little, but eerily similar.  It becomes more pronounced the older I get.  By default, I look like my mother.   Both of those beautiful women were Sicilian.  Dark hair, dark eyes, arresting facial features, soft olive skin, and… big asses.  Tiny waists, and massive booty.  When I was a teenager, my grandmother would turn to me and said, “Elizabeth, you thank GOD on your knees every day that you got your daddy’s ass.”  And she meant it.   My mother did not like pictures to be taken of her; her initial insecurity went over the top when, due to a life saving surgery, half of her face was paralyzed when I was 1 year old.  We have very few pictures of her after that.

Both my mom and my mawmaw were vocal about their “ugliness.”  I grew up, a witness to their self-lacerating, self-hating, shame filled lives.  When their bodies were mentioned at all, it was to discuss the latest diet, or shove guilt around in proper measure.   They never told me I was ugly.  They never told me I was too fat, or too thin.  They never used negative language in my direction.   But, they didn’t have to – when used on themselves, a smart little girl is going to put two and two together.  “I look like Mommy.  I look like MawMaw.  They are not pretty.  They are too ‘different.’  Wait.  That mean’s I’M not pretty… I don’t fit the mold.  I’m not as good as other people.”

I internalized the self-hatred to such a degree that I accepted the fact that I had to be a nun because no man would find me attractive.  I was only 12 when I arrived that this obvious conclusion.  Only, slowly, very slowly, I started to think differently.  I traveled overseas – and got attention from men.  My circle of friends and acquaintances grew wider and wider, and I started to vocalize my beliefs, which led to the realization that they were completely UNFOUNDED and IDIOTIC.  I started to like things about me – my long legs, my eyes, my nose, my cheekbones, how I carried myself…

Then, my mother died when I was 20.  Shortly after that, MawMaw passed as well.  I was faced with debilitating grief, but also, a gift.

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Kate on August 7th 2012 in guest post

the little girl who thought she wasn’t pretty

This is a guest post. When I read it, it sort of hit me over the head.  Thank you, Bethany.  

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Recently, I was sitting by the pool with my best friend’s six year old daughter, who happens to be significantly overweight for her age.  There are several medical and genetic explanations for this, but I wasn’t thinking about any of those things when she looked at me and said, quite simply, “I’m not pretty because I have a fat belly.”

In that moment, we were the same.  The twenty six year old woman and the six year old girl were exactly the same, living with an all encompassing inadequacy.

This should never be the case.  I should be both wiser and more jaded.  She should be oblivious and happier.  At this point in my life, I should be full of sassy body positive quotes and affirmations.  And at this point in her life, she shouldn’t even need them.

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Kate on July 18th 2012 in body, guest post, weight

how to be a dancing kind of person

Sometimes I ask an ETDC reader to write a guest post, because I like the way she tells her story. This is one of those times. In this post, Caroline breaks down her path to body acceptance for us. Reading this, I remember that we all start out dancing…

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i was a really exuberant, enthusiastic kid.  Apparently i was a very jumpy, running-around, dancing kind of kid.

But at some point i realized i was fat, and i lost that enthusiasm and exuberance of movement.  We all know that fat and beauty cannot coexist, and being beautiful is the most important thing for a girl to aspire to!  I remember being maybe six or seven years old, running as fast as i could in my babysitter’s house, from the living room to the stairs, back and forth until i was out of breath, and then asking her if she thought i’d lost any weight yet.  I was ashamed of my body, ashamed of my appetite.

My first diet was Weight Watchers when i was about 11.  That… didn’t go very well.  I spent the rest of my adolescence either dieting or binging, including a stint at a fat camp – oops, i mean fitness camp - when i was 18.  I continued being neurotic about my weight and appearance through college.  Things got particularly bad during my senior year, when i alternated between weighing and accounting for every morsel i put in my mouth, and stuffing it indiscriminately with cookies.  Somewhere in there, i stopped moving joyfully.  I still dragged myself onto the elliptical trainer, but there was very little dancing.

But i don’t really want to write about my tortured relationship with my body.  I want to tell you about how i got out of it, and what i do to maintain my body-love now.

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Kate on July 5th 2012 in guest post

what happens when you turn thirty

This is a guest post from one of my favorite writers. Her name is Erica. I met her in a class that actually changed my life. In that class, I thought, “I want to be like Erica.” Later, she was in my tiny writing group. The entire time I’ve known her, she has worn the most unassuming clothing. Like she really just likes to be comfortable. In this city, I had never seen someone do that. She struck me immediately and continuously as a person who likes being herself. Who can just sit there being herself for as long as you need to sit there with her, figuring yourself out. I was thrilled when she wrote to me yesterday and said she needed to write this post. Then she wrote it. 

I turned thirty yesterday. I was in my twenties for a long time—a whole decade. I turned twenty in Maine, where I was living in staff housing behind a luxury resort, paying $35 a week in rent and saving money for a trip to Europe. How’d I get to Maine? My car broke down and I found a job. It was adventurous, I was young, and my life was yawning open like a carpet unfurling.

In Maine, I learned how to hear complaints from guests at the hotel without rolling my eyes. I learned all the wrong ways to be a customer. I learned that having a compassionate boss makes a big difference. I met a man in his sixties named Legs, who told me that losing his girl had been his Auschwitz. And I said, “Everyone has their Auschwitz,” but I didn’t know, then, what mine was, what it might be. In fact, ten years on, I think it’s a little dramatic. But still, I understand my point—that everyone suffers more than they think they can suffer. Everyone has to face what once seemed untenable.

 When I was twenty, I didn’t ever expect to turn thirty.

Thirty felt like something I’d experience during the trip to Europe I had yet to take: seeing a distant shoreline—no, the faint suggestion of a shoreline—from a ferry and thinking I’d never actually make it to that new country. When I was twenty, most of my friends were older than me. Throughout my twenties, actually, most of my friends were older than me. Their lives became a little more stable a little sooner than mine. A lot of them got married. Now, a lot of them are having children, or are at least thinking about it. A lot of them already finished graduate school before I decided to go.

I lived in Vermont from the time I was twenty-one to twenty-three, after six months in Europe where I learned how to open my mind (only sometimes with, ahem, help), how to speak quietly in a cathedral, how to communicate love to the non-English speaking parents of friends you met in America. In Vermont, I learned how to live with people of all ages, and how to love people who were older than I was by more than a few years. I learned that when a man asks for or gives a massage, that’s definitely code. I learned that in Vermont, it’s not called soft-serve—it’s called a creamee.

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Kate on June 20th 2012 in friendship, guest post

sex on the battlefield

This is a guest post from Anna Sansom. We met on Twitter. That happens sometimes, in this crazy new world. I really liked her blog, and I asked her to write this post. This is Anna:

 Here’s what she has to say: 

I was 15. I was horny. And I knew I would never have sex. I knew I was doomed to stay celibate forever because no one – man or woman – would ever find my body worthy of love.

The evidence stared back at me from the mirror: my body was ugly, misshapen, alien. At 15 my body was covered in angry, red stretch marks from puberty’s overnight arrival. My sacrificial body hadn’t stood a chance. Puberty had roughly torn my skin apart wherever it could: my hips, breasts, upper arms, the backs of my knees, my upper thighs.  It wasn’t just my skin that failed to keep up with puberty’s rampage: my breast tissue ballooned, the ligaments strained, gravity won the day, and the result was long, stretched breasts. I never had pert, round, youthful breasts.  My nipples always pointed down, my breasts sagged: pendulous.

Puberty dealt me another cruel blow: acne on my chest and back that left me with white polka-dot scars across my shoulders and in my cleavage.

I was 15 and my body looked like a battlefield.

I was 15 and I weighed over 200lbs.

And yet, at 15, I was horny.

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Kate on May 4th 2012 in body, guest post