My Post-Partum Body, A Year Later

We don't talk about the realities of post-partum bodies enough.  There's a strong narrative that once you have your baby, you do a bunch of work and "go back" to your pre-pregnancy body.  With kegels and push-ups, some grit, and "no excuses" (Thank-you-not-really, Maria Kang), you can get back your body, and by extension, your sexuality and attractiveness and sense-of-self. 

Well, sorry, but that's a big, ol' NOPE.  There is no "snapping back".  These changes are forever. Your body went through a gigantic transformation.  No sense in pretending it didn't happen.

The thing is: I think you can reclaim your body, and by extension, your sexuality and attractiveness and sense-of-self WITHOUT a whole big weight loss "journey."  In fact, I think it's vital that you do.

My post-partum body, 1 year later. - superbalancedlife.com

My post-partum body, 1 year later. - superbalancedlife.com

A year ago, I showed what my post-partum body looked like, a month after birth.  The above picture was taken about a year after that.  Honestly, they're not much different.

My post-partum body, 1 year later - superbalancedlife.com

My post-partum body, 1 year later - superbalancedlife.com

I guess my stretch marks have faded, but I still have the "mummy tummy" and the same hips and big arms.  So what's different?  My head.

To be honest, I put off this post for a couple days because I was actually a little disappointed about the pictures.  A teeny part of myself wanted this to be a Before and After kind of scenario, because we're conditioned to believe that that is the triumph: visible, tangible transformation.  But the bigger win is what's been going on in my brain. 

To be even more candid -- as I compared the photos from a year ago to now, my thought process has gone something like this: "Oh man, it's not that different.  Shit.  And I've gone back to CrossFit, but it's obviously not working, and maybe I should be watching what I eat... OH WAIT A SECOND STOP RIGHT THERE.  Am I doing these things to "fix" what I look like, or to feel good in my body?  I am doing this to feel good in my body.  Eating well, moving my body in ways I like and feel good, sleeping as much as I can, and making time for self-care, those things are the goal in and of themselves."

Taking care of myself is its own reward.  I feel good; so much better than I have in a long time.  I feel motivated and engaged and happy.

So as much as I've been conditioned to see no physical change at all as a bad thing, I don't really think it is.  The life I'm living is sustainable.  I'm not driving myself crazy being consumed by a weight loss struggle.  Today, I ate a salad for lunch, but I also ate oatmeal with dark chocolate chips for breakfast.  *shrug*

This is what success looks like for me: total self-acceptance and making choices that support my strength, health, and life, and also acknowledging how amazing it is that my body has sustained and given life.  It will never be what it was before my kid.  I don't have the time or energy to do the work I did to make it that way.  But I am finding what time and effort I can to make sure I'm the best me that I can be NOW, and that's what really counts.

Ugly Selfie

I was down visiting family over Labor Day weekend with my dude and my cute baby, and of course, my mom wanted to get some family photos taken to hang in her hallway.  And I said yes, because I have a very adorable baby, and it seemed like a good idea to have all of us in photo together, since the gang was all there.

The problem was that a bunch of the photos were taken with the camera at the level of the baby, and since was held in our laps most of the time, that meant mucho unflattering upwards angles.

Exhibit A: all face, all the time. - superbalancedlife.com

Exhibit A: all face, all the time. - superbalancedlife.com

Viewing the photos sent me into a tailspin.  I have a really round face y'all, and upwards angles do it no favors.  And while generally speaking I am very much fuck flattering and all that, I would like to look decent in photos displayed on my parents' walls, you know?

And perhaps I need to recontextualize how my round face looks and be chill with it, but right now, I am doing a lot of emotional work and self-discovery already, being in the first year of parenthood, so I just wasn't up to doing that work in that moment. 

I posted how I was feeling on Facebook, and the first couple of comments were very much "yes, angles matter," with people with typically angular, socially-acceptable faces showing how upwards angles gave them extra chins.  But then, THEN!  Well, then my bestie Megan did something brilliant.  She posted a totally upwards shot of herself with the caption "ugly selfie, no shame!" and just left it there.

No photo of her face straight on.  No flattering angles.  Nope.  She just posted a not-cute picture of herself up on my wall, with no shame, and got on with her day.

It kind of blew my mind.  Being unattractive on purpose?  As a performance, almost?  Showing that we all have angles and times of days where we don't look our best and that's just life.  WHAT?  It was awesome.

And then a bunch of other people joined in.  And that was incredible.  It was so silly and real and irreverent.  I loved it.  I continue to revisit that thread for all my gorgeous friends' silly faces, and it's just awesome. 

It gave me the courage to post the unflattering photo, which I am also doing here.  Because normalizing that we all have those moments, those angles -- that's a big deal.  It's liberating.  It's inclusive.  It's humanizing.  It's radical.

So, if you wanna join me in the ugly selfie challenge, post an unflattering, real photo of your mug on Facebook or Instagram and tag it #uglyselfiechallenge.  Trust me, it's awesome.  Freed from the burden of having to look good, you can explore what your face looks like at any angle.  You'll notice things you didn't before maybe (cleft chin?  extra freckle?)  And you get to just be you.

Let's do this.

Exhibit B: no shame. - superbalancedlife.com

Exhibit B: no shame. - superbalancedlife.com

Wear Clothes You Like

One of the longest journeys towards my self-acceptance centered around buying clothes.  It's always been relatively easy to accept my body sans culottes, if you will, because I can see everything, I know what it looks like, no surprises.  I like my curves and my strength.  But with clothes on?  Oof, girl, there's a battle.

For one thing, we all know the fashion industry is epic levels of fucked up.  From sweat shops in third world countries, to stupid sizing policies, to the lack of quality and fast fashion, it's got issues.  My biggest problem was the whole aspirational clothing wishful thinking thing. 

My weight has fluctuated some over the years.  Not like epic amounts, but I've definitely gone up or down a few sizes in my time.  And the rub of it was that I kept saving my smaller clothes for "someday".  As we all know, you can't live for someday, you gotta live in the here and now.  It's all we've got.

I had a victory last year when I got rid of some tiny-ass pants, and the world was a better place for it.  But I still had the occasional sentimental clothing item around in a smaller size, and that's been hard to shake.  I'm happy to say that I've figured out that holding on to that stuff is actually weighing me down, because when I see it, I miss the person I was inside it, as well as recognizing the happy memories it holds.  It's a bittersweet waste of energy, and another form of not living in the now and letting your dysmorphia run the show.  Photos and memories themselves are a better way to hold on to those good feelings, without being tempted to try to be a past self.  But the best antidote to aspirational clothing?  Buying clothes that fit you now that you actually like.

I can't even tell you how damn liberating it is.  I have heard nearly every body-pos blogger talk about this one, but for serious, it's a game changer.  It takes a loooong time to really get it, but once you do?  Shivers!  Sparkles!  The biggest damn unicorn singing you Bootylicious while handing you ice cream and tickets to a Beyonce concert.

Once I realized that I could wear anything and in a size that actually fit, shopping became exhilarating and my closet became a delight.  I went to clothing swaps and didn't look at the tag -- I just threw that shit on my body, and if it fit and looked amazing, I kept it, and if it did not, I gently removed it and suggested it to someone else.  Boom.

In stores, I guess-timated my size, and wasn't afraid to go up or down depending on the fit and the fabric.  Clothes were just ... clothes -- vehicles to enhance the lovely, strong, capable body held inside.  I didn't pause to check out my cellulite in the mirror, because I already knew it would be there, and that fretting about it wasn't going to change a damn thing. 

Instead, I just got on with my business, no longer an apologetic servant to clothes, pleading with them to fit me.  The game has changed.  Clothes serve me now.  And if they don't make me look good, back on the rack they go.  And I am more than good with that. 

Get yo'self clothes that fit. - superbalancedlife.com

Get yo'self clothes that fit. - superbalancedlife.com

Ode to My Belly

This is a little silly and vulnerable, but often the best things are.  And everyone likes it when you do something kind of embarrassing, right?  Here it goes:

Like many women, I have had the hardest time embracing my belly.  Some people don't like their eyebrows, or feet, or wrinkles, or ass.  For me, it's my tummy. 

That sucker refuses to be flat.  It's always had a bit of a bell curve, ever since I was a little girl in a red two piece strawberry bathing suit, with a pokey-out belly.  Throughout my teenage and young adult years, it was a constant battle to camouflage it with empire waist tops (90s), bootcut jeans (00s), and a combination of flowy tops and high-waisted jeans today.

But the thing about pregnancy + a miscarriage is that I think my belly is here to stay.  I've tried, girl.  I've done sit-ups til I near about puked.  I run.  I plank (front, sides, backwards, whatever).  I do those crazy ball exercises.  But it's not budging.

So instead of hating on it, I wrote it an ode.  I know.  This is not The Breakfast Club.  It's not a little crunchy and embarrassing.  But whatever.  I needed something to feel better about it, so I spent about 10 minutes considering it in the mirror over the weekend, then I got out my Radical Self Love Bible and a sharpie, and penned this ode.

ode to my belly - superbalancedlife.com

ode to my belly - superbalancedlife.com

I'm not totally there yet with the belly love, but I'm moving closer.  And it feels good to accept all of my parts.  I'm a whole person, and all of me deserves that acceptance and love.

What body part do you have a hard time with? 

This is the heaviest I've ever been, and I love myself anyway.

I find myself today at probably my heaviest weight ever.  I don't know for sure, because I stopped weighing myself awhile ago.  It was making me crazy and upset, and it was kind of a worthless measurement for me at this time.  (It's probably a worthless measure all the time, actually.)  At any rate, I haven't been making a concerted effort to lose weight lately, and I'm okay with that.

I gained weight for good reasons -- a wanted pregnancy.  When I miscarried, weight loss wasn't something I chose to focus on for a couple of reasons. 

  1. Hormones.  They were still pretty messed up for a long time.  Cycles, feelings, cravings -- all off.
  2. I have a lot of injuries right now, beyond the miscarriage.  My shoulder, a right heel thing, recurring side calf shin splints (kind of a mystery: I get them on the outer sides of my shins, instead of on the front.  If you know what this is, holla atcha girl.)  In March, I went on a heavy exercise binge, and now I'm paying for it.
  3. I want to get pregnancy again, soon.  And extreme diets like Whole30 or anything with strict calorie restriction can put a dent in my conception efforts, because losing 10% or more of your body weight freaks your body out.
  4. I tried, and it didn't work anyway.  In April, I tried a Flexible Dieting/IIFYM deal, and the calorie/macros tracking was driving me back into disordered behavior.
  5. I think trying to get back your pre-pregnancy weight right after delivery is one way that the kyriarchy objectifies us all over again.  Rather than focusing on your baby and healing from the arduous journey of pregnancy and childbirth, the pressure is on to "get back" your attractive, fuckable body, as if nothing has happened to you.

In some ways, choosing not to focus on weight loss was one of the most revolutionary things I could do.  Focusing on healing myself instead of some arbitrary aesthetic goal imposed on me and all other post-partum women by society is a radical act.

And the good news is that I am healing.  I hit a PR on my 3 rep max back squat the other day.  I threw up (the lightest, but still!) wall balls in a metcon.  I can actually sleep comfortably for the most part, without waking up with shoulder pain.  I've been going to body positive yoga regularly.  And for the most part, I eat  healthful, varied, and interesting grub.

I also know that by developing healthy habits and maintaining them, I am doing the best thing for my health.  Short-term, extreme, restrictive diets might give me short-term results, but I don't think the sigh of relief, or feeling of accomplishment at those results would be nearly as satisfying as the hard-won contentment I've found.

My body is amazing.  It has been on a hard, long, learning journey this year.  And it has carried me through all of it willingly.  It shows up for me day after day.  My injuries are a warning.  They say to me, "Hey, don't overdo it.  We've been through a lot.  Spend this time nurturing yourself, bringing us back to full health and vitality.  You can lose weight any time, but now is not the right time.  Heal, rest, rejuvenate.  Then hit it hard, like you always do.  You are not less, you are not unworthy because you're not losing weight, or a smaller size.  You are doing your best, and that is enough."  If I ignore those signals, I don't deserve my body's adaptiveness, its flexibility, its strength.  I need to show up for my body like it has shown up for me.

It's a great body.  And I live it in it now, fully and completely.  I love it, and that is worth more than anything weight loss could ever give me.

And sometimes, I even pull off looking cute.  - superbalancedlife.com

And sometimes, I even pull off looking cute.  - superbalancedlife.com


A Conversation

I was chatting with my good friend Michelle about bodies and weight loss and self-acceptance and love the other day.  I'd sent her Nourishing Wisdom a couple weeks ago, a follow-up to an evolving conversation we've been having since she came to visit me in February.  With her permission, I'm sharing parts of our conversation here, because it's a good one.

Love who you are. - superbalancedlife.com

Love who you are. - superbalancedlife.com

Michelle: Getting down to my lowest weight did not magically take away any of my self hate. It just meant I was very small, which frankly looked weird, and I was cold ALL the time.

It's just difficult when you're a very goal-oriented person not to think of yourself in that way. How do we balance a healthy desire to achieve goals with self-love and acceptance?

Kelly: I think the first step is to make the goal loving yourself.  So the goal becomes 1. Read this book about self-acceptance,  2. Make an art journal, 3. Listen to this CD series about self-love,  4. Go to yoga x times per week, etc.  You slowly move the goals to be more self-loving things, and you focus on behaviors, not outcomes.

When you do these practices enough, it becomes easier to think of your body in a different way. It's the attachment to it "having to be this way" that's causing you pain.

I've noticed it a lot with clothes, like, "I want to wear these pants again." And that's totally fine. However, it's my attachment to that idea that's causing drama. It's fine to want to wear them. But it's not okay when I base my happiness on being able to wear them or not.

There are other pants. There are other vintage dresses. There are many ways to be, all worthy of love and acceptance.

Michelle: It's like a kind of refocusing . . . every time I feel myself becoming anxious over the competing priorities in my life, I remind myself to think of loving myself first. What does it mean to choose the loving option? Frequently, it means backing the eff off of the absurd expectation that I can fit it all in without causing harm, and choose the path that will bring the most peace. Today, that means not going to the gym in order to focus all my time on my paper tonight.

And clothes are so tough. I feel like we define ourselves by them in so many ways.

Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. It helps when you realize that today is only one point on a long journey. My body has changed so much because of derby, CrossFit, hormones, pregnancy, non-pregnancy... I just can't hate on it anymore. It's so nice to me. It carries my soul across long-distances. It stretches and bends to accommodate whatever I need. It doesn't complain overmuch, given what I ask it to do all the time.

And when it DOES complain, I need to listen. Last week I was super not feeling CrossFit or eating any particular way, because I was just so emotionally and physically tired. And this time, I listened. I took the week off in a sense. I did what I felt would serve me and my body best. I went to the chiropractor, I got a massage. And I did end up doing one day of lifting, because I felt good that day.

And as it turns out, giving myself the room to do what I needed and wanted meant that this week, I am feeling much more like killing my workouts and eating salads out of mason jars. Now, everyone's mileage may vary. But that's how it was for me.

All this was made possible though, honestly, by a moment where I just threw up my hands and thought "I'm done. I cannot walk another step in self-improvement fueled by disappointment in my body any fucking longer. I surrender. Even if it means that I'll be chubby the rest of my life."

It was that surrender, that total acceptance - even at rock bottom - of myself that's made everything work.

Michelle: I love this: I cannot walk another step in self-improvement fueled by disappointment in my body any fucking longer.

And I could alter it for myself by substituting disappointment in with “fear of”...and hopefully the surrender part will just happen. I'm only just understanding what a traumatic couple of years it has been, for me and for so many of my friends. Things are hard enough already without piling self hate on top. It helps no one.

Kelly: It really doesn't. And honestly, when you told me "I'm happier in a smaller body", I took it at face value. But a small part of me asked, "Yes, okay, but what are you doing to get there? What is the cost of it?" Because I look at pictures where I was my thinnest, and I know that that girl was "happier", but only to the extent that happier meant "more free of the crushing weight of my fear of being a larger person in this world".

I was more free of it, because I was smaller. But my own self-acceptance and okayness with being a plus-size (well sort of - I'm an inbetweenie) woman is a harder-won, better, and harder victory.

My point is: being fully in your body, accepting its wrinkles, curves, dimples, freckles, age spots, bunions, stretch marks, rolls, whatever ... it's really hard. But it feels fucking awesome when you get there. Because you can go out to dinner and really ask yourself: what do I really *want*? What does my body feel like it *needs*?

And it tells you. When I get home from the South I crave piles of vegetables. I like having a lot of vegetables every day because I grow them in my garden, and that relationship with the earth and soil, combined with creative cooking, has changed my relationship with plants.  Now, I like them. But I also like ice cream. And either choice is fine. I just have to listen to what’s best for me in that moment.

But when you accept your body as okay, those choices become about you. Not about what all the other external voices have to say. The body has a wisdom to it, a deep intuitiveness. And we can tune in, or we can tune out. But the choice becomes less fraught when we know we are okay.

Encouragement Pinata

A couple of months ago, I was having what is commonly known as "a very hard time."  Without going into too much detail, it felt like my life was failing on multiple fronts - work, family, body stuff... and it was really intense, and sad.

Worst of all, my normal internal self-cheering mechanisms weren't working.  Our resilience gets tested when we experience stress and sadness on multiple fronts, and it becomes harder and harder to bounce back.  I'd lost my bounce.

So I did something that's quite difficult for me to do - I asked for help.

If I couldn't cheer myself up, I reasoned, maybe my friends could.  Maybe they could see things about my situation that had hope.  Maybe they could see super powers in me that they knew would activate with the right boost.

So I put this note on Facebook:

Friends, I have been having a really tough time lately with medical news. I need some help cheering up, and I had an idea: an encouraging pinata!

The idea is this: you send me an encouraging note, weird Japanese candy, janky wind-up toy or whatever, I put in a pinata, and then I smash it! This combines lots of good thoughts and juju with the benefit of a HULK SMASH. If you’re down, PM me and I’ll send you an address of a friend who will be assembling stuff. I’m just going to make the pinata, but they’re going to fill it, so I won’t see anything until SMASH TIME.

I know this may sound a little self-serving, and I’m sorry. But I need something bright to save me from despair, so if you feel like participating, shout. Much love to all, and also, should you need an encouraging pinata in the future, I will make you one. ♥

To my surprise, more than just my 3 best friends were down.  I got messages from many folks that day, asking to participate.  One of my friends commented that the pinata was a great idea because a lot of the time when someone we love is struggling, we don't have anything concrete to offer.  By giving my friends something they could do for me, I helped them to help me. 

I waited a little over a month, and then bought this guy.

Encouragement Pinata.  Basically the best idea I've ever had.

Encouragement Pinata.  Basically the best idea I've ever had.

I figured there was some kind of poetic symbolism in smashing my dragons/dinosaurs.  It might feel more satisfying and less morally dubious than hitting Hello Kitty in the face repeatedly.  Or maybe not.  But anyway, this is the pinata I chose.

To my surprise, over 20 people contributed to my pinata.  I had a friend collect the packages, so it would all be a secret. 

On the day of, I borrowed a big wooden sword, had that same friend stuff the pinata, including some stuff I'd gotten for it: my favorite flavor of Jolly rancher, red Raspberry, and some vintage stickers.  I got them because I wanted to be a friend to myself. 

And then it was time for the smash:

Encouragement Pinata SMASH!

Encouragement Pinata SMASH!

You know, this was truly one of the most fun and surprising and affirming experiences of my life. 

When I first got the idea to do an Encouragement Pinata, I thought I was being kinda selfish.  Like, who am I to ask for people to send me notes and presents?  But I did it anyway because I really needed it.  I've been sad and discouraged, and it's been really dang heavy.

In the midst of so much cloudiness, I needed some light.  And I got it.

It's not weak to ask for help.  It doesn't make you selfish or bad or grabby to reach out and ask for what you need.  And what's so great is that everyone really came through for me.  I feel loved and buoyed up by the care the donors have shown me.  Every time I need to be brave or strong or move forward, I will think of them.

And since I am not Amanda Palmer or Lena Dunham, I decided to send everyone a little something back.  I'm making surprise balls for the 20 people that sent me something.  Doesn't matter if it was just a post-it note, or a book, or a whole jar of hand-folded origami stars, or even 10 individually-wrapped mini chocolate bars (all of which appeared in the pinata), they're getting a treat.  Because I like surprising people.  And because no one was more surprised than me at how generous, lovely, and yes, encouraging, all of my friends are.

Don't Forget to Look Back

I'm someone who looks forward a lot.  If you know me in person, you also know I document quite a bit as I go along, but I rarely actually look backwards, which seems kind of funny to me now.  Why document all of this stuff if I don't look at it that often?

It's for days when I want to locate a happy memory.  It's also useful for seeing how far I've come.

As part of honoring my body's journey, I decided to check out some photos of me in the past and see if I noticed anything.  These are from 2008 (sorry about the picture quality):

I clearly had not yet learned how to stand up straight or pose for pictures.  Also, this sweater? Not flattering.

I clearly had not yet learned how to stand up straight or pose for pictures.  Also, this sweater? Not flattering.

And another, a little later in the year, after I'd gone on my first stint of trying to eat healthy and hit the gym, in order to be in better shape for my wedding.

Cute shoes!  I wish they'd lasted.

Cute shoes!  I wish they'd lasted.

Better fashion, better pose, and I look happy. 

Here's two from the past few months:

This is my partner's way of trying to be "arty".  I think the angle is silly, but the outfit was cute.

This is my partner's way of trying to be "arty".  I think the angle is silly, but the outfit was cute.

Dress, cute booties, statement necklace.  BOOM.

Dress, cute booties, statement necklace.  BOOM.

My thoughts:

  • Even I, with my disordered, dysmorphic brain, can tell there's a difference.  I look a lot stronger, especially my arms.
  • My face looks a little more defined.
  • My tummy isn't so prominent.  That could be because I learned how to pose better, and dress my body to disguise it, but I also just think it's a bit flatter.
  • Also, hello, my fashion sense has really evolved.  Wow.  I dress like a damn grown-up now.

This is why this exercise is important: if we are dissatisfied with where we are now, seeing progress from where we were can really help.  It puts things in perspective. 

Over the last 6 years, I've changed a lot.  I may not be a skinny minnie, but I'm a lot of other things - fashionable, cute, happy, fit, and strong.  And that matters. 

Today, I wish to honor the progress I've made, both physical and incorporeal.  I want to affirm that I'm more accomplished, strong, compassionate, thoughtful, socially responsible, wise, and kind, than I was 6 years ago.  That's something to be proud of, and to acknowledge.

Once I've acknowledged it, I can thank  my body, brain, and soul for getting me here, and then gently let it history go to focus on the challenges of today.

Have you thought about how far you've come?  What markers show you that you've made progress?

I Never Wake Up Like That: The Work We Do to Look Effortless

Gala Darling, someone I like a great deal, wrote a post today called I Woke Up Like This: On Flawlessness, And Admitting The Effort Required.  It was pretty good, but it kind of pissed me off.  It's a reaction to a piece from The Cut, Why Not Admit We Didn't Wake Up Like This?, which is about how celebrities pretend that their lives are effortless, which leads to the cult of curation of our own lives, and the perfect lives we display on Instagram.

Everyone is kind of sick of it, because we know it's not real.

Let’s be straight-up: “effortless” is bullshit. Every woman I know is working herself to the bone. Even those of us on the lighter side of life — green juice-drinking, yoga pant-wearing, gratitude list-making — are toiling away to make our life look and feel a certain way. No matter how unconventional your lifestyle, there is still an element of keeping up appearances. It’s insincere – and phony — to admit otherwise.
— Gala Darling

Yes, it is.  And both of these articles are right to point this out.  However, I don't believe they goes far enough, and that what's got my goat today.  We're all so afraid of being judged that we aren't brave enough to post the un-retouched, unfiltered, un-instagrammed photos.  We still all curate our lives for other people, even though we all know we're playing a part in the facade.

Well, at least influencers and celebrities do that stuff.  Not everyone does.  You'll notice, perhaps, that a lot of my photos come hot straight off my damn iPhone.  I'm not above a little Instagram filtering from time to time, mostly because I like contrast and saturation to make photos visually more interesting.  But there's never trickery.  I don't Photoshop, I don't wear a bunch of makeup, I don't curate a whole lot.  Hell, sometimes my food photos come on the compostable paper plates in my office.  Sure, I share the victories, but I also share the stuff I'm disappointed aboutThe stuff that hurts.

I do it that way because that's what being real is.  It's being yourself, in public, while being totally fucking terrified about it.  But you do it anyway, because it means something.  Because people want to see it.  Because it gives them the room to be their gorgeous, flawed, totally human selves out in public too.  That's integrity.

Right after we worked out.  Can't get more real than that.

Right after we worked out.  Can't get more real than that.

And yeah, it would be nice if the women who present these perfect facades would own up to the fact that so much of what they put out to the world is carefully chosen, takes a lot of work, and is curated within an inch of its perfectly staged, white-washed, confetti-strewn, gold tassel-loving life.  But even better would be if they let go of the perfection a little bit and dared to live without so much artifice.

Like actually posting a selfie without ANY makeup or add-ons, when that was the challenge you gave your crew in an effort to get them to love themselves.  That would be brave.

The Measure of Our Greatness

I am totally having a rough morning today.  Ill-advisedly, I stepped on the scale, and the number wasn't great.  But for the first time ever, I stopped the negative thoughts before they could really ramp up, picked up that scale, and gave it to my partner and told him to hide it in our basement.

Fuck the scale.  I don't want to get triggered every day by what my weight is doing.  Weight is an inexact measurement anyway - it can fluctuate rapidly over the course of a day.

I know my weight is up for a couple of reasons:
1. I spent a week in South Carolina eating less-than-nutritious food, because I had very few options, would offend my relatives who had made some of the food, and because I just couldn't bring myself to get overly fussy when the point of the trip was to have a family reunion for my mother in law who has lung cancer.  In the face of lung cancer, weight gain doesn't seem that damn important.
2. My partner made homemade sushi this weekend, which was totally fun and absolutely delicious.  Not eating the handmade sushi your partner offers you?  That makes you an asshole.
3. We also went out on an amazing date to Nopa last night, where I didn't overeat, but I did give myself the space to choose whatever I wanted.  And last night, that was ratatouille with duck egg as a shared starter with my dude, their amazing, delicious burger, which is seriously one of the best burgers I've ever had, and dessert.  Because I am a grownup lady who really loves food as art and nourishment, and that is how I wanted to nourish my body.
4. Ladytimes

Knowing all that made it a little easier to dismiss the lame internal voices in my head and get rid of the scale.  Maybe someday I'll sledgehammer that jerk, but for now, baby steps, you know?

What really got me to do it though was that I read this AMAZING ARTICLE by Ladybud this weekend.  No really, it's literally the best thing I've read all year: Fuck Diets

Read it.  Be incredulous.  Laugh at all the cussing.  Then seriously, ask yourself the hard questions.  Why do we want to be smaller?  Isn't that literally the dumbest thing ever?

Thinking about it this morning, I made this illustration for y'all:

Self explanatory.

Self explanatory.

"...that’s the rub, right there. Exactly why do we want to be smaller? What exactly is the appeal of being smaller? How does it benefit us? Does it make us better mothers? Better students? Better lovers? Better artists? Scientists? Friends? Does it make us more badass badasses?
No, no, no, no, no. You must see that it doesn’t. It doesn’t do anything but make us smaller.
Babies and puppies are small.  So are dimes and Skittles.  You’re a fucking woman.  A woman! You are entitled to occupy as much fucking space as you like with your awesomeness, and you better be suspicious as fuck of anybody who tells you differently."

Couldn't have said it better.  I mean, seriously, why do I want to be smaller?  I'm already a not-big person.  I'm not even technically plus size.  I'm at the upper end of normative sizes, and I have a bottom that stops traffic and decries gravity, as well as ripped arms that refuse to fit in skinny lady arm blazers, but so what?  Maybe clothing makers should actually create clothes that fit badass, CrossFittin' ladies like me.  Maybe it's the INDUSTRY that's the problem, not my body.  And perhaps it's time I stopped giving in to the idea that I must change, and instead starting fighting the activist fight of getting the industry to change.

"That’s a valid message for women and girls: grow, expand, branch out, open up, get bigger, wider, faster, stronger, better, smarter. Go up not down. Get strong, not skinny.
Language affects our thinking whether we like it or not. Every time we tell ourselves, “I’ve gotta get down to a size whatever,” or “I’ve got to get rid of this gut,” we discount who we are RIGHT NOW. And fuck that shit. Who we are right now is okay. Instead of encouraging ourselves and other women to get smaller, we ought to be focusing on what will make us better. Better. Not smaller.
You are not here to get smaller. You are not here to have a thin waist and thighs. You are not here to disappear. You’re here to change the world! Change the fucking world, then! Forget about “losing a few pounds.” Think about what you could be gaining instead.
Think about the possibilities, we could be so much greater, so much more powerful if we refocused our energies. So stop your fucking nonsense with the Slim Fast shakes and the diet pills or whatever the fuck. CUT THAT FUCKING NONSENSE OUT. Get out there and learn and grow and be amazing. Accomplish something real, right now. Don’t wait until you reach your super-whack “goal weight” which no longer has any bearing on real life probably. Your gratification, your happiness and your unconditional acceptance of yourself will do something for you that dieting never will: it will set you free and unlock your true potential."

That's the rallying cry right there fellow badasses.  I am done with my scale and trying to be smaller for the sake of being smaller.  I want to be better.  Stronger, smarter, kinder, more engaged and creative and in-tune with what's going on, just better.

So whaddya say?  Are you in?  Let's do this thing!