Re-up: The social implications of a cookie.

“Training the world” — my essay about little girls and body image – has kind of gone slow-mo viral since I posted it last month, first getting decent attention here, then getting picked up by xoJane, then suddenly getting *huge* attention here, then getting picked up by the Huffington Post, and then, just today, getting picked up by HuffPost Canada. I’m so pleased, because if ever there was a post that I would want to go viral, that’s the one — I believe that we do real damage to our girls when we fail to address the ways in which our social norms and mores encourage them to loathe and distrust the only body they will ever have, and we need to talk about that.

But I genuinely believe that we are doing no less damage to ourselves. And so, I decided to re-up the following (first posted this past summer). I think anyone who found this blog because of “Training the world” will find it of interest, too. Thank you so much for being here!

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chocolate chip cookieJust once, when I happen to be in a group of women, I’d like to have a cookie without having to consider the social implications of having a cookie.

This happened to me recently — I was at a little teacher-organized gathering of kids and parents, having a brief conversation with a small handful of women. One turned to the rest of us and said “I want a cookie. Does anyone else want a cookie?” and as one, the rest of us smiled and said no. The cookie-fetcher then said “Well, now I feel bad, I’ll be the only one taking a cookie!” and came back with an apple.

Now, I am a fan of apples and have nothing against them. Apples are a fine thing. And sometimes I genuinely do not want a cookie.

But I have no idea if I wanted a cookie in that moment or not. I just know that when I’m in a gathering of women (particularly if I don’t know them very well), I almost never reach for sweets. I am a woman of Joan-esque proportions, minus all the foundation garments, and I know that I live in a society that has a lot of opinions about women of my size and the consumption of baked goods.

I do not talk about it, will not bond (as so many of us are trained to do) over self-hatred, will not discuss anyone’s weight, exercise program, dress size, or shape (unless it’s to be conspicuously comfortable with the fact that I am large-bosomed). I know that sometimes these conversations can be perfectly healthy and self-affirming, but they too often are not, and I lack the skills to judge each and every conversation on the spot, so I participate in none.

But I am too good at hearing the whispers passing through people’s minds (or the whispers that I fear might be passing there, or the whispers of girls with whom I went to junior high, or the ones on TV) — and so while I will not engage in the body-shaming, neither will I engage in the cookie-eating.

Unless I do. Unless I make a conscience choice to make a political statement and have a cookie in front of God and everybody. Nearly as soon as the apple-bearing woman returned with her apple, I was sorry I hadn’t said some suburban-mom version of “Hellyeah I’ll have a motherfucking cookie!!” Because women need to see each other eating normally, enjoying their food, not weighing every bite. We model behavior for each other, we owe that to each other. I don’t know if I wanted a cookie, but I should have had one.

I always have one when there are kids around, especially if those kids are girls. If the kids are girls, I’ll have two cookies, and talk about how good they are, and counter any self-hating, food-limiting, body-slagging talk that may bubble up as quickly as I can. Because I’m the adult, and I need to model behavior for them, I owe that to them, to show them that women can eat normally, enjoy their food, not weigh every bite.

I don’t blame Women. And I certainly don’t blame the women I happened to be with today, or any women with whom I happen to find myself. I blame All Of Us. I blame society as individuals and society as a collective. I blame me, I blame the magazines at the grocery store, I blame 100-calorie packs and the corporate mind that conceived of them. I blame the air we breathe. I even kind of blame religion, because we have forever bought and sold a terrible, soul-killing notion that our bodies are bad, that they must be controlled, that not controlling our bodies in some vague, amorphous way (because we have to eat something, there’s no avoiding that, so constant vigilance is the only way) is a failure, a sin, something to be condemned, to be shunned, to be mocked, to be shamed. As if God did not know what He was doing when He created us. As if God did not make each and everyone of us to love and be loved, for who we are. For who and how He made us.

All of this, on every cookie (or piece of cake, or scoop of ice cream) that I eat in public. All of it.

Sometimes, I wish I could just eat a cookie.

More than just a princess – RAWR!

Via Bust magazine, this:

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(I can’t wait to show this to the girl!)

For more on Goldie Blox, click here.

Because I’m pretty sure that in its heart, that coat is brown.

wendy davis big damn hero

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Obligatory link for those who don’t get the reference: Firefly, “Big damn heroes, sir.”

Photo source: Patrick Michels /TexasObserver.org 

UPDATE: Please note this comment by Neocortex just made in the previous thread – all those folks in the gallery last night who yelled and stomped and cheered and brought it home in the last 10-15 minutes are giant Big Damn Heroes, too. Can’t stop the signal!

Texas Senator Wendy Davis literally standing up for reproductive choice.

wendy davisI heard over the Twitter that Texas Senator Wendy Davis needs more material for the heroic filibuster she’s undertaken today in an effort to kill a really, really bad anti-choice bill that otherwise stands to be passed by the Texas state legislature, so I edited my now-thrice posted story of my own abortion. Following you can read what I sent – I hope it helps, but I really wish I could just go and stand in her place for a few minutes. I’m so grateful for what she’s doing – she’s absolutely an American hero.

She has to make it until midnight tonight, a little less than three hours from now – if you have a story you’d like to send, you can send it to Jessica Luther who is in Austin and will pass it on: luther [dot] jessica [at] gmail. (If you don’t live in Texas, just don’t mention your locale).

I’ve had an abortion. Have you?

The current legislative effort to essentially eliminate abortion in the state of Texas has generated a great deal of raucous argument; as usual, the argument suggests the existence of clear-cut opinion, the “supporting” or “opposing” of the act itself.

What is never discussed are the gray areas.

Of course, women within the reach of this story know their own answer to my question; what many of the men in their lives don’t realize is that they would be surprised by the truth.

Many men don’t know that their wives, sisters or mothers have, in fact, terminated a pregnancy. They don’t know because the women they love fear their response. Will he see me differently? Will he — figuratively or literally — kill me? Witness how shocking it was when Wyoming State Representative Sue Wallis, a Republican, disclosed her own abortion in 2011.

As a result of these fears we – as a nation and as individuals – largely don’t talk about abortion. And when we do, we’re often not honest. The shadow of perceived opinion is very long. Publicly we speak as if there were two clear positions — but in private, most of us know this isn’t the truth.

My abortion is a thing of which I’m neither ashamed nor proud. I wish that I hadn’t had to do it, but I did.

The average person might want to know why — because most of us have a sliding scale of morality. Even some staunch opponents will agree in cases of rape; others where there is genetic defect; a larger number, if the abortion takes place early in the first trimester; many, of course, think it’s always a woman’s choice.

I believe there is a vast middle ground made up of most Americans, those who feel abortion is neither irredeemably evil, nor free of moral implication. Witness polls conducted recently by the Pew Research Center: just over half of Americans think that abortions should be legal in all or most cases; 25% are willing to countenance the idea in very specific instances. Only 16% want to ban abortion outright.

At least some of our national ambivalence reflects more about our culture than anything endemically human: Japanese society, for instance, maintains a standard ritual, mizuko kuyo, to memorialize aborted or miscarried fetuses and stillborn babies. In a paper discussing the rite, Dr. Dennis Klass, a Webster University psychology of religion professor and a grief expert, writes: “The abortion experience is seen as a necessary sorrow tinged with grief, regret and fear which forces parents to apologize to the fetus and, thus, connect the fetus to the family.”

This describes my own experience well — but I’m an American. I carry a different culture, and I fear that in apologizing, I accept some notion of personhood that somehow “makes” the entire thing — murder. So, I hesitate.

I ask myself: When I aborted my first pregnancy, did I kill a baby? No. But did I stop the potential for life? Absolutely. Insofar as life itself is simultaneously the most mundane and most divine fact on our planet, this means something.

But I’m willing to say that I don’t know what that something is. I can only function in the cold reality of my own world — and as such, I alone can judge whether my abortion was a moral choice. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t happy, but it was the least-bad of two bad choices. It was moral.

I don’t know anyone for whom abortion is easy; I don’t know anyone (any woman, at least) who sees abortion as birth control. These choices are stunningly complex. When we deny that, when we talk as if we are all 100 percent clear on this issue, we deny our humanity. And we deny our grief.

And why, in the end, did I have my abortion? I’m not going to tell you that—as Rep. Wallis said in 2011, it’s “none of your damned business.” You and I don’t know each other, and my reasons are personal. I don’t need to defend them.

And neither does your neighbor, the stranger at work — nor, perhaps, your wife.

 

Within living memory.

suffragette force fedWithin living memory, the unalienable right of a particular class of Americans to vote had not yet been legally recognized by the American legal system. That particular class of Americans represented fully half of the country’s inhabitants.

They were women.

Now, I will grant you that applying the phrase “within living memory” to a 94 year old fact is a little bit of a stretch — but there are American women alive today who were born into a world in which women couldn’t vote, and plenty more who were raised by such women.

Ninety-four years ago today, that all changed, with the US Congress voting to pass the 19th Amendment: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Some history:

Between 1878, when the amendment was first introduced in Congress, and August 18, 1920, when it was ratified [by three-quarters of the states, as all Constitutional Amendments must be], champions of voting rights for women worked tirelessly, but strategies for achieving their goal varied. Some pursued a strategy of passing suffrage acts in each state–nine western states adopted woman suffrage legislation by 1912. Others challenged male-only voting laws in the courts. Militant suffragists used tactics such as parades, silent vigils, and hunger strikes. Often supporters met fierce resistance. Opponents heckled, jailed, and sometimes physically abused them.

So, yeah. To the women in positions of cultural, social, and/or political power who declare themselves “not a feminist, or anything,” even as they live and work in a world to which they would not have any access were it not for the work of our foremothers and -fathers, I say: If you’re not a feminist, I’d like you to grab a time machine and go back to 1919 to explain to the suffragettes why, exactly.

I’m sure they’d love to hear it. Just as soon as they have a moment to spare.

For more on Miss Paul (above), click here

The social implications of a cookie.

chocolate chip cookieJust once, when I happen to be in a group of women, I’d like to have a cookie without having to consider the social implications of having a cookie.

This happened to me just now — I was at the park at a little teacher-organized end-of-year gathering of kids, having a brief conversation with a small handful of women. One turned to the rest of us and said “I want a cookie. Does anyone else want a cookie?” and as one, the rest of us smiled and said no. The cookie-fetcher then said “Well, now I feel bad, I’ll be the only one taking a cookie!” and came back with an apple.

Now, I am a fan of apples and have nothing against them. Apples are a fine thing. And sometime I genuinely do not want a cookie.

But I have no idea if I wanted a cookie in that moment or not. I just know that when I’m in a gathering of women (particularly if I don’t know them very well), I almost never reach for sweets. I am a woman of Joan-esque proportions, minus all the foundation garments, and I know that I live in a society that has a lot of opinions about women of my size and the consumption of baked goods.

I do not talk about it, will not bond (as so many of us are trained to do) over self-hatred, will not discuss anyone’s weight, exercise program, dress size, or shape (unless it’s to be conspicuously comfortable with the fact that I am large-bosomed). I know that sometimes these conversations can be perfectly healthy and self-affirming, but they too often are not, and I lack the skills to judge each and every conversation on the spot, so I participate in none.

But I am too good at hearing the whispers passing through people’s minds (or the whispers that I fear might be passing there, or the whispers of girls with whom I went to junior high, or the ones on TV) — and so while I will not engage in the body-shaming, neither will I engage in the cookie-eating.

Unless I do. Unless I make a conscience choice to make a political statement and have a cookie in front of God and everybody. Nearly as soon as the apple-bearing woman returned with her apple, I was sorry I hadn’t said some suburban-mom version of “Hell yeah I’ll have a motherfucking cookie!!” Because women need to see each other eating normally, enjoying their food, not weighing every bite. We model behavior for each other, we owe that to each other. I don’t know if I wanted a cookie, but I should have had one.

I always have one when there are kids around, especially if those kids are girls. If the kids are girls, I’ll have two cookies, and talk about how good they are, and counter any self-hating, food-limiting, body-slagging talk that may bubble up as quickly as I can. Because I’m the adult, and I need to model behavior for them, I owe that to them, to show them that women can eat normally, enjoy their food, not weigh every bite.

I don’t blame Women. And I certainly don’t blame the women I happened to be with today, or any women with whom I happen to find myself. I blame All Of Us. I blame society as individuals and society as a collective. I blame me, I blame the magazines at the grocery store, I blame 100-calorie packs and the corporate mind that conceived of them. I blame the air we breathe. I even kind of blame religion, because we have forever bought and sold a terrible, soul-killing notion that our bodies are bad, that they must be controlled, that not controlling our bodies in some vague, amorphous way (because we have to eat something, there’s no avoiding that, so constant vigilance is the only way) is a failure, a sin, something to be condemned, to be shunned, to be mocked, to be shamed. As if God did not know what He was doing when He created us. As if God did not make each and everyone of us to love and be loved, for who we are. For who and how He made us.

All of this, on every cookie (or piece of cake, or scoop of ice cream) that I eat in public. All of it.

Sometimes, I wish I could just eat a cookie.

Do we want to prevent teen pregnancies? Or shame teen mothers?

New York City has recently seen some really awful ads directed at shaming teens into pregnancy prevention, ads which by and large (though not entirely) ignore the fact that, as I’ve mentioned before, pregnancy requires sperm, and in most cases, sperm is delivered via human male. The ensuing online conversation has reminded me of a piece I ran in the Chicago Tribune in September 2008 about these same issues, so I thought I’d post the piece here. You’ll note that my references to pop culture (and the 2008 Presidential campaign) are a tad dated now, but the problem itself is not.

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teen pregnancy adsAMERICA is awash with the news that, wait for it: Teenagers get pregnant.

From the fictional worlds of the movie “Juno” and the TV series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” to the reality-based worlds of celebrity and politics — with the odd, if phantom, working-class pregnancy “pact” thrown in for good measure — American society has suddenly noticed that kids occasionally become parents. Which, we surmise, must mean they have sex.

These are not facts with which American society has ever been particularly comfortable.

Typically, our response has been either: Woe-is-me-the-sky-is-falling! or What-a-bunch-of-stupid-sluts. Or both. (It goes without saying that the males involved are only rarely called to account. We know who Jamie Lynn is, but, pop quiz: Can you name the baby daddy?)

We’ve condemned girls and parents. We’ve compacted their struggles and imperfections into talking points or mean-spirited punch lines. We’ve read commentary suggesting that young girls are stupid enough to willfully follow in the fertile footsteps of fictional characters or wealthy actresses.

In the course of this “discourse,” teen sex and pregnancy are reduced to a series of bifurcated judgment calls. We demand that decision-makers and media oracles respond instantly to all of it, neither encouraging nor allowing time for reflection — and woe betide any who change their minds over time. No, we want an opinion, we want it in black-or-white, and we want it in stone.

As unambiguous as we might wish the subject were, though, the reality of teen sex and pregnancy won’t go away just because some want it to. It isn’t laughable. And it’s not really news.

The hormonal imperative to reproduce has been getting young Americans in trouble since before there was an America: As many as a third of colonial brides were pregnant at the time of the Revolution, according to several historical sources, and possibly more than a third of births were out of wedlock.

What has changed, though, is birth control. The modern day fairly bristles with it.

Among sexually active 15- to 19-year-olds, 83 percent of girls and 91 percent of boys report using contraception — possibly explaining the 34 percent drop in teen birth rates between 1991 and 2005, according to the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Yet the recent reversal of that trend (teen births have since risen 3 percent) reminds us that we must never relax our efforts at education. Every single kid has to be given the necessary information and urged to be smart, even when hormones scream.

Getting pregnant young is a tough thing. Carrying a baby and raising the child is hard work; giving one up is, for many, even harder. And though I support reproductive choice, it can’t be argued that abortion is a cakewalk either. I know — and I was an adult when I had mine.

And abstinence programs just don’t work: A 2004 study by Yale and Columbia Universities found that fully 88 percent of those who pledge abstinence have premarital sex anyway.

So we’re left with birth control, and information. And kindness, and compassion.

Again, and again (and again), we’ve got to tell kids that unprotected sex makes babies, and babies change lives. If they make youthful mistakes anyway, we need to be there to help them make wise decisions and keep their lives whole.

This isn’t easy. Planned Parenthood reports that 73 percent of teenage moms come from poor or low-income families; the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports that some 80 percent of teen fathers don’t marry their children’s mothers — and that two-thirds of families started by single moms are poor.

We may not like these facts, but that’s what they are. Facts. And they don’t bode well for anyone: not the mothers, not the babies, not the country.

This is what we need to be talking about, not the moral fiber or relative philosophical consistency of this particular 16-year-old, or that political party. We need to be talking about, and dealing with, the facts.

Sadly, one of the people who recently had reason to face these facts publicly — Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin — has failed on this most basic front. She has expressed support for abstinence-only programs, and as Alaska’s governor, reduced funds for a program intended to house young mothers while they get the life skills they need to become successful adults.

Rather than focusing on the poor decisions or sheer bad luck of individual young women (famous or not), we need to give all teenagers all the tools they need to keep their lives on track; when the next girl falls pregnant anyway, we need to surround her with all the support — familial, societal, and governmental — she may need. Oh, and we should probably involve the fathers too.

Is teen pregnancy a good thing? No. But it happens, and every baby born should be given love and a good chance. Every single one. With a lot of dedication, it can work out.

Just look at Stanley Ann Dunham’s boy, Barry. He’s running for president.

Why white people can’t use the n-word.

n_wordMuch of my political commentary really boils down to: Don’t be an asshole.

So, honestly, my personal go-to response to the very notion that white people occasionally get wrought up over the fact that they really-but-really should not say the n-word under any circumstances, “friendly” or not, is: Don’t be an asshole. Because seriously, how hard is that? Millions of people are telling you that when you use that word, it’s painful and offensive. That should, in a perfect world, be enough.

I mean, come on! The n-word isn’t even like, I don’t know, “bitch,” about which there is real disagreement among women. Millions upon millions of black folks are pretty clear on the fact that white Americans should never ever put that word in our mouths. Ever. “But they say it to each other,” you say? So the effing eff what. You are not them. The English language is positively chock-a-block with words — words that don’t carry the lash, and centuries of systematic terrorism, and the rending of families, and the continued devaluation of people who happen to be going about the business of Being Human While Black — that you can use with your black friends. I promise! Do.Not.Be.An.Asshole.

Alas, the world is not perfect, and “don’t be an asshole” isn’t really much of an argument. Indeed, the argument could be made that understanding why a particular behavior is asshole-y is pretty useful in ridding ourselves of said assholery — and as he so often does, Jay Smooth has our backs on this. Give him a listen, and tell all your white friends.

And don’t be an asshole.

On Marissa Mayer, Yahoo, and cupcakes.

So! Marissa Mayer, a person of whom I’d never heard before yesterday, has been tapped as the new CEO of Yahoo. Here’s what the Forbeswoman blog had to say about Yahoo’s hiring news:

When Marissa Mayer was announced as the new Yahoo! CEO yesterday, there was a collective wow. A 37 year old woman! An engineer! Another role model – in Silicon Valley, a place in dire need of more women in top positions. And then a little part of me got greedy and thought, can you imagine if she were a mom too? We could watch as she juggled and managed her inevitably hectic life.

But then last night news broke that Marissa Mayer is six months pregnant. This is too good to be true! Why should we care? Because women all over this country who seek employment while pregnant worry, obsess and hide their growing stomachs with the valid fear that they will be discriminated against. And now Yahoo! has hired a six months pregnant woman to run their 20 Billion dollar company.

Excellent!

Here are the “five things you need to know about Yahoo’s new leader” according to People, arguably the only place most Americans will ever hear Marissa Mayer’s name uttered:

1. She Made History
When she started working for Google in 1999 – years before Google became an everyday verb – Mayer was the company’s first female engineer….

2. She’s Glamorous…

3. And So Is Her Apartment…

4. Her Cupcake Recipe Is Better Than Yours…

5. She’s Going to Be a Mom…

I… cupcakes?

Is this a laugh or cry moment?

Is this People quietly subverting expectations of American womanhood by introducing the notion that a woman doesn’t need to eschew normative gender behavior in order to be a geek (and a powerful geek at that)? Under item #1, the site quotes Mayer as once saying “I’m not a woman at Google. I’m a geek at Google…. If you can find something that you’re really passionate about, whether you’re a man or a woman comes a lot less into play. Passion is a gender-neutralizing force.”

Or is this People reinforcing the very expectations that we saw on display last month when Family Circle pitted Michelle Obama’s cookie recipe against Ann Romney’s? Are all women, regardless of their power and influence, required to conform to our notions of good womanly behavior in order to be worthy of our attention and praise? Is People reminding America that it’s ok for girls to like computers — as long as they’re pretty, too?

What if Marissa Mayer were fat? What if her apartment had free weights in the living room? What if she’d had her tubes tied because she knew that she didn’t want children? What if she hated cupcakes?

Please don’t misunderstand: I have no problem with glamour, or cupcakes. I really, truly don’t. I am so excited to wear the pretty new dresses I just bought for my son’s bar mitzvah weekend, and baking is pretty much my favorite kind of cooking. It’s certainly the one I’m best at. Not to mention that I’ve consistently made the choice to work part time so that I could be my children’s primary caregiver. To look at me, I’m very nearly June Cleaver.

But if you were to write about my career of Israel/Palestine advocacy, or my skills as a writer, and make 80% of your article about the time I made a dragon cake for my son’s birthday and the fun I had shopping for those dresses — I’d frankly want to tear your head off. And I didn’t just spend the last 13 years climbing the corporate ladder and busting through the glass ceiling on my way.

The news about Marissa Mayer is really, truly excellent. This is the sort of event that takes us closer to that magical day when people will be judged for their skills, not their social roles, and being a parent will be recognized as a nearly universal condition shared by grown men and women alike. (I’m guessing, off the top of my head, that no one wrote stories about it when Yahoo’s last CEO became a dad, for instance). I’m quietly nursing a hope that the last name “Mayer” means Yahoo’s new top dog is Jewish, to boot, and I can add her to my Fantasy Seder list.

But I can’t help but feel that the folks at People haven’t quite gotten the memo yet. It was a five-item long listicle — could not three of those items been given over to Mayer’s skill-set and achievements? Would that have been such a tough sell?

Apparently so. Or, at least, the editors at People think so. And given the outsized role that People plays in our national discourse, that frankly makes me sad.

Cyclical dieting as a form of bulimia; normal eating; & being so sick of it all.

Emily McCombs, blogger at xoJane and owner of a lovely first name, is not only a dang entertaining writer, but also a painfully honest one. Among the issues about which she is painfully honest is body image, specifically as regards her struggles in adulthood with what she terms “subclinical bulimia.”

There is, of course, a life-story behind McComb’s eating disorder issues, and it’s a well-written, even entertaining story, so I encourage you to read the whole thing, but there are two things that I want to get at specifically, things that I think touch on the lives of a lot of women, myself included.

Because a diet worked so well for me once, I have considered my compulsive eating the problem and adhering to a diet the solution. Not until now have I been emotionally able to see that my dieting is actually part of the binge cycle…. Throwing up is not the only bulimic behavior I engage in. My yo-yo dieting is just as much a part of the cycle as sticking my finger down my throat.

She goes on to reference The Rules of Normal Eating,

which identifies the four basic rules that “normal” eaters follow: 1. eating when hungry. 2. choosing satisfying foods. 3. eating with awareness and enjoyment and 4. stopping when satisfied. Is that definition as mind-blowing to you as it is to me? Do people actually live this way? Can I?

I wrote about the effort to determine what “normal eating” is very early on in this blog’s life (pivoting off a quote that began “Who started the lie, anyway, that women shouldn’t have an appetite?”), because it’s a concept with which I genuinely struggle — a struggle which is, in turn, a thing of which I am ashamed.

I’ve never had an eating disorder, nor have I ever had particularly disordered eating (there’s a difference — & according to one study, two-thirds of American women aged 25-45 have disordered eating). I’ve long recognized that life-long diets are a kind of ED, and I’ve neither dieted nor weighed myself for the better part of two decades (more, actually).

But I am not the size America wants me to be, and that dogs me.

I am (and a healthcare professional has actually confirmed this for me!) broad — my bone structure is literally wider than that of the average bear. I’m proportional, but I’m a bit wide.

I’m also big-busted, and as most naturally big-busted women will tell you, all that pillowy goodness tends to come with pillowy goodness elsewhere on the frame as well. I am, my children have told me, a delight to hug. My husband finds me beautiful and (though I feel shy saying it) even sexy. I still get looks, and the men doing the looking are still cute.

But I am not the size America wants me to be.

I am not now, nor will I ever be. I could, with some truly dedicated disordered eating, get smaller, and when my clothes get tight about the waist, I do consciously eat less until they no longer are. But as I don’t actually eat all that much, there’s not a lot of wiggle room. I’ll never be small.

So I attempt to accept this, as I have attempted to accept it since that day I stopped weighing myself in college (one exception: Prior to our nuptials, the husband and I put on a fair amount of happy fat. We both consciously dieted for the wedding). I talk a good game, because I’m a big believer in faking it until you make it, not to mention not adding to the dysfunction that swirls around us. I don’t bond over tales of self-loathing or food-shaming.

But I don’t accept my size. Not really. Not fully. I am aware of eyes on me (real or imagined, I couldn’t tell you) as I eat in public; I struggle to not be aware of them in private. I eat well, I eat what I want, I stop when I’m satisfied — but I have to tell myself, nearly every single time I put food in my mouth, that that’s all good and fine. That it’s ok to eat.

And that’s where my shame lies. I don’t want this albatross around my broad, pillowy neck for the rest of my life. I don’t want even one more synapse to go to those thoughts and those concerns. I have guitar lessons to take! Books to read! Ideas to have! Beautiful dresses to enjoy! Every self-doubting thought I have about food or my body takes time and energy away from all of those other things and I hate it.

I did recently come to a brand new idea, one that I’m able to access on most days: If I have to struggle, this is a worthy struggle to have. If I am to go to my grave having wasted time on food issues, let it be in the effort to support myself. Let it be in the effort to shout the voices down.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a kind of peace, and it’s the best I have for now. I’m holding firm to the hope that in fighting this fight, I’m helping my daughter forge better tools for herself.

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