Newest product! “Confidence is Beautiful” reminder cards and magnets!
I’ve got one stuck to the mirror right next to my toothbrush, and another on the fridge. It’s a reminder I need every day, and it’s a reminder I need especially bad when my depression is kicking my ass.
This is the card (one sided), perfect for thumb tacking to your bulletin board, or sticking in the corner of a mirror!
This is the magnet– I’ve got one on my fridge right now!
Gift ideas for the holidays, for all of the cranky feminists in your life (fat or slim)! This is a gift guide in progress, so don’t forget to check back for more great finds!
books I recommend!
Fatropoliswill take you away to an alternate world where big is beautiful. Hiding your body is unnecessary. Shopping for clothes is easy. Eating your fill isn’t embarrassing. If you’re a fat woman (or man!) this is a book you don’t want to miss! (age appropriate for high schoolers as well)
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is a book to not read lightly. It’s important work, it’s an important read, but it comes with a giant trigger warning. Amazon says “…a passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world. One chapter at a time, this is an important read.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is a graphic novel depicting Alison Bechdel’s childhood, adolescence, and discovery of her sexuality. She shows us her vulnerabilities, her family problems, and her journey to adulthood. I’ve read this several times, and highly recommend!
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood is a graphic novel depicting Marjane Satrapi’s coming of age in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Don’t miss this! (also age appropriate for high schoolers)
On my personal wishlist is Sex Object: a Memoir, by Jessica Valenti. Amazon says “Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes on women’s lives, from the everyday to the existential. From subway gropings and imposter syndrome to sexual awakenings and motherhood, Sex Object reveals the painful, embarrassing, and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s adolescence and young adulthood in New York City.”
Fresh off the press, Feminist Fight Club: an Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace, by Jessica Bennett is also on my wishlist. Here’s why: “Part manual, part manifesto, Feminist Fight Club is a hilarious yet incisive guide to navigating subtle sexism at work, providing real-life career advice and humorous reinforcement for a new generation of professional women… Hard-hitting and entertaining, Feminist Fight Club blends personal stories with research, statistics, and no-bullsh*t expert advice. Bennett offers a new vocabulary for the sexist workplace archetypes women encounter everyday.”
“Fight Like a Girl introduces readers to the history of feminist activism in the U.S. in an effort to celebrate those who paved the way and draw attention to those who are working hard to further the feminist cause today.” How could this not be on my list of books to read and give?!
Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History features 40 women from 31 countries around the world. There’s also a list of 250 additional rad women to check out on your own. Get inspired, or inspire others with this awesome collection!
coloring books on my wishlist!
The Yoni Coloring Book is an awesome gift for anyone you know that loves to color, or would enjoy creating crazy colored vulvas! The illustrator is part of our CFF community.
The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Coloring Book: A Tribute to the Always Colorful and Often Inspiring Life of the Supreme Court Justice Known as RBG.Need I say more than “notorious RBG coloring book!”? <3
**disclaimer! I may receive a commission from purchases made via these links**
My first surgery scars came in high school from putting my shoulder back together after a weird overuse accident. (labral tear– the tissue that holds the ball and socket in place was torn from the bone) After being misdiagnosed for eight months the 3 one-inch-long scars felt like battle scars. (I also did the classic sports injury side effect: ballooning 30 pounds and numerous stretch marks due to my appetite staying the same and my metabolism slowing down– I had been weightlifting and distance swimming daily and immediately had to stop.)
A year later I had a breast reduction, three pounds and some drainage tubes later there are almost two feet of faint pink scars. I have yet to meet a man who noticed my scars until about a month of pillow talk later… it’s been quite the confidence booster. My other surgery scars are from having my appendix plucked out a few years after that. The scars are consistent with an ovary removal, but luckily it was my appendix that was infected and dying instead. The surgical scars could almost count as battle scars — except my belly and boobs have faced no true trauma.
Living life scars.
All along my arms and legs are bug bites. My ankles and shins are regularly disaster areas. Ants and mosquitoes for the most part, but the occasional family of chiggers or no-see-ums will try to take up residence under a flip flop strap. Many bites have scabbed over, and some have finally left smooth purple discolorations that no amount of cocoa butter or shea butter has fixed.
My legs have not seen a razor since January 2011 — thighs alone even longer. Luckily the hair is rather blonde and thin, so I don’t need to worry about shaving over bug bites and opening up scabs. I’ve also got my fair share of old scraped knees and shins from work as well as my years of tree climbing and mud-pie-pancake making in the back yard. Additionally, no guy has noticed my leg hair until I’ve actually pointed it out to him. (Women on occasion have noticed the leg hair… hhm?)
What men have noticed are my stretch marks… on my arms, the underside of my upper arms, up to my armpits. It’s been a (heart-breaking) favorite to point out since my mid-teens. I’ve even encountered a few over my shoulders. Moving down, I have those crazy pregnancy stretch marks all over my belly, my hips, and creeping around to my low back and sides of my waist. I have never been pregnant, and did not “earn” those scars. Of course my outer thighs haven’t been excluded, and my inner thighs have just begun to catch on to the stretch mark idea. (They’re also big on the rub-together heat rash during sun dress season, which is about 9 months out of the year here.) Stretch marks on my boobs are a given, but they are much fainter in the years since the reduction.
My belly has stripes.
My belly stretch marks began arriving about a year after one of my good friends showed me hers in an angry embarrassed confession. I did my best to be kind and comforting, but I was horrified. Then mine arrived in college (unlimited dining plan = forever stopping by for a coffee refill and a handful of cookies for the walk). First one, then three, then six, then you just stop looking at your belly in the mirror because you don’t have anyone to confess your stretch marks to, and you find that you can only be angry with yourself for causing your own stretch marks. (you know, because fat people made themselves fat, on purpose, and it’s all their fault, like trolls love to remind me.)
I love wearing tank tops (my boobs love the ventilation), but they often show off the awkward underarm and shoulder stretch marks. This means tank tops are only ever for confident days. (regardless of whether or not I’ve shaved my pits in the last week or not, because you couldn’t pay me to give a fuck about pit hair ever again) My legs are very skinny (in relation to the rest of me, I’m a V shape– which isn’t featured in any magazines. ever.) and are glow in the dark white, and my belly looks like it has a stress-beer-pizza baby growing in it.
On my not-confident days I feel the need to find a bigger shirt to cover my belly and upper arms and a way to cover my legs down to my toes. (And obviously keep that belly covered, no peek-a-boo allowed!)
Often I have to skip one (I mean, 95 degrees plus humidity for a huge chunk of the year…) and then if I’m not careful I’ll have a near-meltdown in a bathroom over my bug-bitten white legs showing, my shoulder stretch marks showing, my clothes being too tight across my belly… myself conforming to the shame that society places on fat people, and the overwhelming desire to hide my “unacceptable” body from other people’s judging eyes and potential comments.
Additionally, my pasty porcelain white skin is quite prone to bright red splotches. All over my face, ears, chest, neck, shoulders, and upper arms. When I drink I turn red, when I’m hot I turn red, when I’m embarrassed or uncomfortable or feel stupid I turn red… It’s rather common to find me at some point most evenings– even with taking my anxiety meds — in that bathroom talking myself down from a panic attack while applying wet cold paper towels to my face and neck and chest. If I wear makeup (which is absurdly hard to find in “white as a sheet of fucking paper”) I will turn splotchy under the makeup and be even more embarrassed. The worst is around my parents and grandma — judgement is passed about size and lack of makeup and my blood pressure skyrockets, and then there is constant loud worrying over my red face.
Work in progress. Body love in progress.
I am fully aware that I’m regularly embarrassed by my body (size, stretch marks, farting) but that I’ve personally conquered the hair and scars that adorn me. I often walk around my new place in just my underwear (and not just to save on the electric bill), and my boyfriend doesn’t care. At all. (and since I discovered my body confidence, neither have any of the others, minus a few POS boys that really didn’t work out.) (Yep, when you drink, I definitely don’t look like your favorite porn star.)
I try my best to think and talk positively about my body, and to think and talk positively about all bodies. But this is always a work in progress. It will always be a work in progress. You have to love your body before you can change anything. You have to love your body before you can lose permanent weight through lifestyle choices (eating, exercise…); you have to love your body before you can love the clothes you put on yourself; you have to love your body before you can truly love your partner’s body.
You have to love your body before you can better your body. You must accept your flaws and your fat, you must accept your stretch marks and the hair that does or doesn’t grow everywhere. (Seriously, I have dark blonde hair and light blonde eyebrows, and black pit and pubic hair. You glance over at me and you don’t see eyebrows. Where are my eyebrows?!)
There is no way to tackle your high cholesterol and your overbearing depression, your aching joints and your crippling anxiety, your chronic illness and disdain for leaving the comfort of home until you have accepted yourself. (And yes, this is speaking from personal experience.)
Fuck the haters.
Fuck society’s opinions, fuck the status quo, fuck anyone that has a problem with your body. You and your health is yours and your doctors. (And if your doctor wants to size shame you, or offer any other sort of physical shaming, get rid of that mother fucker.)
Yes, parents/partners/best friends are allowed to be concerned for you. They are not allowed to berate or harass you, belittle or shame you, in any way, in their expression of concern. And you have every right to tell them that, repeatedly, until you become rude. (Once, my concerned grandma gave me money for a 6 month gym membership because I told her– politely– to get the fuck off my back about my belly unless she was genuinely willing to help. Today I’d rather have a yoga studio class card, but don’t underestimate people’s willingness to help you help yourself.) Those that truly love you will help you however they can; once you can express your love and acceptance of your body, and your desire for productive and permanent change of any sort, get rid of anyone left in your life that does not support you in a kind and productive way. There is nothing wrong with having a time-out year (or five), or very limited contact with rules, with a family member.
The golden rule (treat others as you’d want to be treated) is always in effect. Do no harm, but take no shit. Love and accept your body, it’s the first step in treating your body better. And when you value treating your body better, your life becomes better, and you can start to rediscover some of the happiness that society’s ideals have taken from you.
To the CFF community — what about your wonderfully imperfect body have you been able to accept and overcome? What has been the most challenging aspect you’ve worked on? What have you worked on and not conquered?
Today marks eight weeks since my father threw me out of the house. Simple version, we had a misunderstanding over what was my money and what was his after State Farm settled the car claim from my February wreck. (Truck ran a red light on my way to work, shattered the driver’s side window with my head, totaled Camry, concussion, still have horrible left-side-only headaches.)
I’ve been lucky enough to stay at my boyfriend’s place (which is half of a mini-trailer), but his landlord figured it out two weeks ago. So in addition to never being there without him (I’m stuck at the restaurant/bar he manages unless I can make $0 plans with friends, or unless I’m in class) my car isn’t allowed to be there. And so the car lives at the bar now too. The car that previously belonged to my father, that he gave me (oh wait, just kidding, no gifts) when he got a newer car in March, is never with me. And for someone living out of their car, not having your car with you is actually really upsetting.
My boyfriend pays rent weekly, making it harder to save up money. He is the manager at a mom and pop type restaurant, not a chain, so he maxed out his hourly pay rate years ago and gets no benefits. He has been living with one of his good friends, but has a sort of separate bedroom in a mini-trailer in the backyard. It’s been alright, especially when we were both working all the time; but now that my work season is over and I’m not hearing back from job applications it feels unbearably small. I’ve got a reusable grocery bag of clothes and a beer box full of Etsy supplies for my online shop…. and somehow they’ve taken over the whole place. Also, a lovely summertime perk is the plethora of enormous water bugs (yes, there is a difference between a roach and a water bug, and the water bugs are usually 2″-4″ and fly. Also, water bugs come regardless of how clean or dirty your place is.) Last night I think we killed five in the first hour we got back to the bedroom.
knock me over.
I was knocked on my ass February 1st. State Farm has reimbursed me nothing for my doctor bills (ER, family doctor, chiropractor, neurologist, several x-rays) and is currently ignoring me, so I’ve got to get an attorney. The bills that I’ve paid total definitely over a thousand bucks now, and I’ve got an ever-growing stack of bills from the mail. (I made a lovely $12 thousand last year according to my taxes, so that thousand really hurts and it’s now accruing interest on my credit card, which is not being paid off at the end of each month…)
Mid-February my boyfriend finally had the sore on the bottom of his foot checked out. This story will get its own post later. He was released almost two weeks after, and had two surgeries and enough antibiotics to make him sick as fuck every night. (it was great holding him every evening while he puked from the antibiotics, and the nurse would demand he eat again since he had just taken his insulin) He was diagnosed as being diabetic, and now takes insulin shots. His foot had a diabetic ulcer, which went septic the night before he finally went in. By some miracle they took a toe and put a dime-sized hole through his foot, but he still has both feet. Today he is walking around, no hole, working, and has sworn off flip-flops for the rest of his life.
gimme a break.
All this to say that the month of March was really hard, and he came back to stay with me and my father since my bed is more supportive and his place has no kitchen. (and his landlord is an asshole, in my most humblest of opinions) I was trying to work as much as possible, while making sure he got to all of his appointments and all of mine. He was ineligible for unemployment because he didn’t get hurt on the job. Temporary disability takes over a year to get. Luckily, in a sick way, his income was a few hundred under the line for “you’re responsible for all of it” and he recently (in June) got the paperwork to make lifetime monthly payments on his hospital and surgeon bills.
My father (my confidant, my support system, my grown child that I tucked into bed each night for seven years, my child that I made doctor’s appointments for, my sure-proof way to shorten panic attacks, my roommate) quickly decided that we couldn’t be at his house Friday afternoon until Sunday night so that he (the extrovert in all of this) could have his own space. The number of required days “away” continued to increase in April, and my boyfriend tried to go back to work since his savings had hit the “lets roll coins” point. It took three weeks for him to figure out how to alter his at-work work/rest/eat schedule without awful headaches and dizzy spells and pain. By the end of May he was back to his usual 50 hour weeks.
In mid-May my father and I had it out about the money that he feels I just stole from him (to which I continue to say, how can I steal my own money?). He told me to get out and never come back to stay at his house again. This was all through text, and was quite the panic attack inducer. I transferred my money back to him, but he was already in a full blown manic anger fit. Several years ago he was diagnosed with several Cluster B category disorders. I didn’t know this until after he given me the boot; I had always thought most of his problems stemmed from his childhood PTSD, which was pretty epic awful. Right now I don’t care to look up in my carry-everywhere-memory-notebook (yep, that’s a thing now. thanks truck concussion…) what his official diagnoses are. I know that he doesn’t take medication, he just started seeing a new therapist that he doesn’t like (and has told me he lies to), and he has decided that the answer to all of his problems is mindfulness. (Check out Deepak Chopra on Amazon, it’s very interesting but not a cure-all.)
Just in the last few days things have taken a turn for the better, but I’m still shocked at the things my father said and the way he said them. He has let me come back and get some stuff, but he is always there watching. It’s still a full-blown what the fuck situation in my head. My boyfriend and I are usually good, but living in about 100-150 square feet with a fucked up toilet has caused some serious rudeness and yelling on my part. He is doing me a favor letting me live there, and protecting me from the landlord.
We have no money saved. We live paycheck to paycheck off of his paychecks and my bit of Etsy income, and the food stamps he finally started receiving. It’s all I can do to not fall into the “no one will ever call me back” hole, and I desperately don’t want to go back to the theatre and all of it’s bullshit in August/September. It is shocking and disgusting that medical emergencies create financial emergencies that can leave a person paralyzed and in despair in their day-to-day, paycheck to paycheck life. Between my boyfriend’s social worker and a family friend that is a social worker we attempted to tap every potential resource that might be available. In the end, he got to go have a few check ups at the local clinic for crack heads and he got approval for food stamps right as he was going back to work.
We have plans and ideas and thoughts on saving money, moving, borrowing money, getting better jobs, building up an emergency fund…. but I had no idea just how absurd and awful things can get, and I’ve had the easy version. Homeless, yes, but I’ve had a bed and roof and air conditioner and water bugs every night where I’m squatting, and I’m so grateful for that.
*disclaimer, purchases made on Amazon or Etsy through the above links may give me a commission
According to my father I am the useless 23 year old dependent. I cannot find a job, and I’m not looking hard enough. Sometimes when the primary breadwinner loses their job, the child steps up and becomes the primary bread winner. Why hasn’t that happened?
Why can’t I be more dedicated to filing out dozens of online applications, and even more walk-in local applications? Why am I so disheartened by my lack of application response that I don’t want to keep filling out applications? I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve received a response from a potential employer letting me know they’re no longer interested and have found their person. I feel like I’m screaming out into a vast wasteland, and my voice has become hoarse. No one wants me to serve their burgers or stock their shelves. No one wants me to be their administrative assistant. Despite over seven years of employee and volunteer management, no one wants me to oversee a single person or task.
Every time I think we’ve made up, and I just start to get comfortable again with my father, this comes up. I’m not pulling my weight, I’m only getting more depressed. I’m able to pay my car insurance and student loan payments but not my phone or my medical bills and prescriptions.
I do something wrong, and then my sister or mother does or says something he deems as mean, and his only outlet for anger is me.
Yes, I have applied for a job today. No, only one job. I’ve done more job research, but that doesn’t really count.
I want to wait tables for drunk sloppy gross men for $2.13 an hour; I want to mop floors and take out trash for $7.25 an hour; I want to pay all of my bills and pay rent. I don’t know what to do. I just can’t keep doing this.