The Militant Baker may be a mind-reader

Actual Size

 So I’ve gained weight. So what?

I came across this article by Jes Baker and, as happens so often when I read her writing, I had a lightbulb moment.

Ohhh that’s what I’ve been feeling!

See, I’ve also gained weight over the last year as my body figures out where it wants to be without me messing with it. I’ve no idea how much because I don’t weigh myself anymore, but I can tell by the fit (or rather not-fit) of my clothes.

I thought I was fine, as my reaction to this has been to alter the clothes or just buy new ones that do fit me, rather than having a hate-fest about how terrible my body is. I have not felt the urge to diet/restrict/make a ‘lifestyle change’/double my exercise in order to force my body into eating itself smaller and messing up my metabolism even more. I know full well that my worth has nothing to do with my size.

But there was this niggling little undercurrent that I didn’t even notice, until I read this:

I had just become comfortable with my body (thanks to an arduous amount of body love work over the years) — now, that body shape I learned to love was no more. Now I needed to re-learn how to love my body with all its new features.

Goddamnit, Life.

IT WAS HARD ENOUGH THE FIRST TIME. I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS AGAIN.

Yes. That.

I had learned to love the shape of my arms, but now they’re not that shape or size any more. I loved my muscly legs, but now the muscle is beneath a bit more fat. I loved my pear shape, but I fill in from the middle so now I’m a little closer to straight up and down. Basically I learned to love a particular way of having a body, which is now gone, possibly forever, and I have to start all over again. Geezo. I need to sit down a minute.

Thankfully, Jes didn’t just hit me with that and then walk away from the rubble. She figured some stuff out and I’m super glad she shared it because I don’t know how long it would have taken me to get there for myself.

“My body is going to keep changing for the rest of my life. If it’s not weight gain, it will be aging. If not aging, it could be an illness. If not an illness, it could be any number of things that will cause inevitable change, which will require me to to learn to love the change.”

First of all, I’m accepting that my body is definitely going to change, because I’m a living thing and that’s what we do. Of course I knew that, but I didn’t know know it. If you know what I mean.

“Change is nothing if not constant, and this is where body acceptance comes in. It’s taken me a while to learn that body acceptance isn’t necessarily just about learning to love your body right now — though this is a great first step! It extends far beyond that, and also includes deconstructing the actual reasons behind body hatred: learning why we’ve decided that we’re not OK in general.”

I’d taken that first step, which is a great start, go me! But now it’s time to take the next step and move on. Yes, I can love my body right now, but right now will never ever happen again. I have to learn to love it now, tomorrow, next week/month/year/decade, as it is, as it will be, as it ever could be. I have to figure out why loving it needs so much effort in the first place.

It was hard enough the first time. I don’t want to have to do this again. But I’m going to.

The alternative is sliding back into being miserable with everything because my body doesn’t look the way I think it ‘should’, hating the one thing I can never get away from as long as I live, and putting limits back on my life because of the way I look.

I’ve been there, it sucks, and I’m never going back again.

Let the hard work begin.

 

Go check out themilitantbaker.com (I want a unicorn dress!!)

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One

It’s kind of hard to believe a whole year has passed since I started this blog. So much has changed since then, most noticeably my self-confidence:

I’ve gone from being afraid of crop tops, to wearing them as just another part of my wardrobe.

I’m on the list of life models for a regular life drawing event.

I have far more good body days than bad, and have developed tactics to deal with the bad ones.

I’ve cut from my life any people who (deliberately or not) push the wrong buttons, and I’ve made my introvert time non-negotiable.

I’ve learned to answer back and argue my point instead of being a good, quiet little lady and letting people walk all over me.

And so much more.

Honestly, I kind of expected all that to happen. Maybe not quite so well or so quickly, but I was ready for ‘fake it til you make it’ to work out as it has in the past.

I was not expecting my eyes and ideology to be thrown wide open.

This blog started off for me. I was going to do things I was afraid of so I could change. But over the last year I’ve realised that there’s a good deal more in the world needs changing, and if I can help, in even the tiniest way, I just have to.

My first year has been a learning year. My next year will be one of action. Watch this space.

Stand up speak up fight back

 

31 things I love (part 2)

And suddenly we’re a whole month into 2016. Time flies when…stuff happens.

Anyway here’s the round up of body love for the second half of January:

Day 17: I love that my body can dance, and that I can see myself getting better at it.
I’ve tried to write about salsa and how it makes me feel, but it’s not the kind of thing that can be pinned down by words.If the music is right and the leader is good, for a few minutes I know what joy is.

Day 18: I looooove swinging my kettlebells around. It’s so much fun and makes me feel super strong that my arms and legs can swing 20kg of iron around. Can’t wait til I can afford some 15kg bells!

Day 19: I love my ears.
I love that I can wear earrings in them. I love that through them I can hear music and songs. I specially love the dinky little elf point on my right ear.

elf

Day 20: I love my one double-jointed thumb. Because it’s a little bit weird.

thumb

Day 21: Today I love my tongue (I’ll spare you the photo) and my sense of taste. I love that it can adapt and change and learn to love things I thought I didn’t like. Except tomatoes. They’re just nasty.

Day 22: I love my grey hairs (which apparently don’t show up very well on camera), simply because not everyone lives long enough to GET grey hairs. If I’m lucky, I shall live until I go completely grey.

Day 23: While we’re up here, I love my Thorley hairline.
We have this wee triangle either side of our forehead, just to make sure we know which clan we are

hairline

Day 24: Today I love my shoulders. Just because.

Day 25: I love my lips. I can speak and play flute and eat and hold things when my hands are full.

Day 26: I love my super fast reading skills. There are SO many books in the world, I need to get through them asap!

books

Day 27: I love that I can use my body to help other people.
Plus I still find it completely amazing that I can lose a bag of blood and my body will just make more of it.

SAM_3557

Day 28: I love that my body is so vocal, although I still need to work on listening to it. It tells me when I need sleep, food, alone time, exercise, whatever I need to function well. Right now it’s shouting “humans were not meant to run on pizza and noodles!”.
Message received, body.

Day 29: I love my confidence. It takes pretty much constant work, but it’s growing all the time.

RFL

Day 30: I love my honesty. And honestly, today I’m struggling.
But never mind. Lemsip, early night, and I’ll be right back to full tilt self-love tomorrow.

And finally Day 31: I love my lovely dark eyelashes.

eyelashes

They Want Fat People To Eat Poop Now

I said I would stop re-blogging things so much and write more in my own words, but in this case words fail me.
What the actual hell?

Dances With Fat

You Cannot Be SeriousElaine Yu, an assistant professor and clinical researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, will be conducting a clinical trial to see if taking pills containing the freeze dried fecal matter of thin people will make fat people thin.  If you’re thinking “How the everlovingcrap did this happen?”  let me assure you, you are not alone.

Here is how the everlovingcrap this happened:

A series of studies (of mice and humans) found that thin and fat subjects had differences in their gut microbes. Then in a 2013 study, microbes were taken from four sets of human twins. In each set of twins, one was thin and one was fat.  Those microbes were then transplanted into mice.  Those mice who received microbes from the fat twin gained weight regardless of which of three diets they were fed (my favorite part of this study may be the use of the phrase “mouse chow” but that’s obviously…

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Speak For Yourself Oprah

Once again, better than I could ever say it.

Dances With Fat

WTF are you doingWhen Oprah first bought stock in Weight Watchers last year I blogged about it and said “while Oprah has every right to join Weight Watchers, be a spokesperson for Weight Watchers, buy stock in Weight Watchers, get “I Love Weight Watchers” tattooed on her ass or whatever, that doesn’t make long term weight loss any more likely, and it doesn’t make Weight Watchers any less of a scam.” I was going to leave it at that, until I heard her first commercial for WW.

It’s tricky criticizing Oprah because she has done truly amazing things, fighting racism, sexism, misogyny, and a crushing pressure to be thin to do it.  There are so many things about Oprah and her work that are incredibly admirable, but this Weight Watchers thing is a problem. First of all, her choice to promote Weight Watchers seems to mean one of two things:

Scenario 1:  After all her years of…

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All change (or not)

Shop changing rooms. They’re tricksy little beasties, somehow highlighting every ‘flaw’ you have while making new clothes look amazing. I’ve always wondered how they do it. Sorcery, probably.

I would hate to count up the cumulative hours I’ve spent in those cubicles, cataloguing the parts of my body I hate most. What a horrible, sad waste of my life.

But since jumping feet-first into body positivity, I thought I had left that changing room self-hate behind me. I’ve completely turned some of my most hated parts into my favourites. I love my body now, so how much better would it be to see it in full, lit up, in shiny new clothes? Surely it would be fun!

Turns out, no.

I went in to try on the most beautiful dress in the world, and some other fairly nice dresses, and the inner snark started from the second I closed the door. It went for my socks, the size and shape of my feet, my thighs, my hips, my stomach, my arms, my overall size, my hair, my stretch marks, the clothes I was wearing that day, and the clothes I had taken in to try on.

Honestly, it nearly overwhelmed me at first. It’s been so long since I faced such a tirade from my inner Nasty Voice that I couldn’t remember how to defend myself. My eyes filled up, and I was on the brink of a major meltdown.

Then up popped the Body Pos voice I’ve been working on for months.

“Excuse me? You seriously think it’s okay to speak like that? Would you say that to your friends? Would you let your friends, or anyone for that matter, say those things to you?

No. No you wouldn’t. So what makes you think it’s okay to speak to yourself that way?”

*Nasty Voice mumbles something incoherent*

“You can shut up now. We have, in fact, noticed that we’ve become bigger recently; you don’t need to point it out. We also decided that size/weight/body fat percentage have no effect whatsoever on our inherent value and self-worth, remember that?

You know only 5% of the population can achieve that shape you’re comparing us against. You know we are not in that 5%, never have been, never will be, no matter what. And you know that doesn’t stop us being hella sexy and downright fabulous.”

At which point the Nasty Voice died a violent death and vanished, leaving me and Body Pos voice to live in peace forever more!

Except this is real life, and I’m only human.

I silenced the Nasty Voice long enough to not cry, and to try on the clothes I had picked up. But when I tried on the most beautiful dress in the world it pointed out that a size 12 would have fitted me 6 months ago. I tried another and it sniped at the way the material lay over my hips and bum. A third and it laughed at the sag in the chest area that I can never quite fill.

The difference this time was that the comments slid over the surface instead of cutting in deep. They flitted across my mind and then they were gone.

Then I tried on a jumper dress. It’s the kind of thing I would never normally go for, but I tried it on anyway and Body Pos voice said “Heck yes!”.

This is what progress looks like, I suppose. I am changing. I am kinder to myself now than I ever have been before. But when the simple act of walking into a changing room can cause a meltdown, I clearly still have a lot of work to do.

Excuses, excuses

So this little nugget has started making the rounds again

e01d440671c7ec49d3f760fb71f8b512

and somebody asked me to give my response to it. Check me out, I do requests now!

Here follows my response:

 

I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question. What’s my excuse for what?

For not having three children under 5?  Well I’m a bit too busy with Voicebeat and Salsa4Water and Madrigirls and Shapenote and spontaneously staying out til 3 o’clock on a Saturday morning and all the creative hobbies I’ve picked up and running and kettlebells and…you get the point.

Plus I’ve not found anyone worth reproducing yet.

For not being a fitness professional? My brain runs naturally toward admin. I don’t take admin jobs just because they’re all I can get; I enjoy this stuff. Shuffling a bunch of random information into a coherent report, or slotting the final piece of paperwork into a personnel file so it’s ready for audit is really satisfying to me.

There’s also the fact that I’m an introvert. Just the thought of my entire job consisting of one-on-one sessions with people I don’t know very well or standing in front of a whole class of people, is exhausting.

Or are you actually, seriously asking what’s my excuse for not looking like you?

Really?

Let’s start with the fact that we don’t have the same parents. Or grandparents. Or any familial link whatsoever. My genes are not your genes, your body is not my body, we process and distribute fat in different ways, we have different metabolisms and gut bacteria, and muscles. Basically, we’re different people.

You do understand that different people are…different? Right? You don’t actually think the shelf of identically-shaped Barbie dolls is a realistic goal for society, do you?

Has it even occurred to you that maybe some people don’t need an excuse because they wouldn’t want to look like you?

Yeah you fit the shape that the media tells us everyone must fit into (even though only about 5% of people can achieve it) but, honestly, I like my shape better. You’re kinda straight up and down, and I like curves.

But even if none of this were true; if there actually were a ‘healthy size’ or a ‘correct shape’ for people to be; if it were physically possible for everyone to become exactly the same size and shape as you if they just tried hard enough, do you really think shame is the way to get people to do that?

People have been fat-shaming at least as long as I have been alive. That’s 27 years – more than enough time for everyone to ‘move more and eat less’ their way into your body shape. But there are still fat people in the world (hi there!) and not everybody looks like you. It’s time to consider the possibility that fat-shaming is no use as a weight loss tool.

And why would it be? Why on earth would we spend time and money looking after something we hate? There’s a botanical analogy I quite like:

If a flower is a weed, you kill it.

If you like a flower, you pick it.

If you love a flower, you nurture it.

When you fat shame me (and yes, that photo is fat-shaming), you’re trying to tell me that my body is a weed. It doesn’t matter that you believe this weed can be transformed into a lovely flower; you’re telling me that my body, as it is right now, is bad.

That’s reeeeeally not going to make me take care of it. At all. I’m actually more likely to go eat a double cheeseburger with fries because my weed-body doesn’t deserve good food, while telling myself repeatedly what a sack of wasted oxygen I am. Yah, that’ll get me losing weight in no time.

Thankfully, I no longer derive my self-confidence from my outward appearance. You can try to fat shame me but I am just not listening.

But, for the sake of people still stuck in the trap of the diet industry, please stop. They are amazing, beautiful people just as they are but because they believe people like you, they can’t see that. You’re destroying them.

What’s my excuse?

My excuse is I don’t care how you think I should look. My excuse is I don’t need to alter my body to fit your ideal, because it’s perfect just the way it is. My excuse is I don’t need an excuse.

If you want to do whatever it takes to look the way you do then fine, do you.

But don’t you dare try to manipulate me and steal my happiness by making me feel like my body is made of excuses. Like the one and only reason I look the way I do is because I’m too busy ‘making excuses’ to take care of my body.

There’s enough rubbish in the world without people sticking narrow-minded bullying like that up on the internet. It’s time to stop it.

A really good question

“Basically, I take everything I’ve ever been told I can’t or shouldn’t do, and do it anyway.”

Lately I feel like I’ve been explaining my blog to people a lot.  The first few times I stumbled through some wittering rubbish that probably put them right off. Because words out loud are difficult.

But then I polished it up a bit to get the sentence at the start of this post. I think it sums it up pretty well.

People’s responses have ranged from “cool!” to “um…okay.” to “What, even ‘don’t put a knife in a plug socket’?”. But last week I got a really interesting and thought-provoking response:

“Have you ever regretted the things you’ve done?”

Well. If we’re talking about life in general then heck yes. Regrets ahoy over here. Like you wouldn’t believe.

But do I regret anything I’ve done for this blog?

Not even a little bit.

Don’t get me wrong, there have definitely been some uncomfortable moments (did someone say crop top?) along the way. But that’s actually good; being uncomfortable forces me to grow.

There were some things I was absolutely certain I would regret. But didn’t. In fact I really enjoyed them, learned some stuff about myself, and figured out a way to help fix society. Result.

I don’t even regret the responses I’ve had from people. There have been rants. They’ve told me they found my posts intimidating.  There was one guy who greeted me by repeating the word ‘fatty’ over and over, getting more aggressive with each repetition, and ending by calling me a ‘f*ing stupid girl’.

I do not regret this. In fact, it makes me want to do even more. There’s nothing like an extreme reaction to reinforce that what you’re doing actually matters. The fact that someone would shout and swear at me simply for calling myself fat, proves that there’s a whoooooole lot of work to be done. I’m looking forward to helping with that work!

And that right there is the real reason I don’t regret any of this; it has completely changed me.

Even if the me I used to be ever said anything to invoke such a reaction, she would have taken the anger personally and run off to cry in a corner, vowing never to even think of that topic again.

But I never would have said anything. My confidence and self-worth were based so entirely on what other people thought of me, that I tried never to say or do anything that could possibly get a negative reaction.

Really, it’s no way to live. Hating my body and everything about it because it didn’t fit into the widely-held belief of what a ‘perfect body’ was, trying to feel better about it by waiting for other people to say nice things about it, or putting it down in the hope that they would argue and say how wonderful I was. But ultimately being disappointed because everyone else is too busy with their own issues to soothe me like a nazzy child. And even if they did say something nice back to me, somehow all I remembered was my nasty comments, not their lovely arguments.

Compare that to last night:

Walking home after choir, my hair had frizzed up in the rain and the wind kept blowing stray bits of it into my face. But instead of thinking “WHY WON’T YOU BE PERFECT, HAIR??” I thought how lovely and soft it felt against my skin.

I was wearing a dress that used to be too big for me. I didn’t beat myself up or call myself names for gaining so much weight; I know now that weight has absolutely nothing to do with my worth. Whether I’m a size 6, 16, or 26, I am glorious.

In that moment I felt like I was actually floating on a cloud of body positivity. I could have done absolutely anything.

I regret nothing, except the fact that it took me 27 years to realise just how fabulous I am.

Compare and contrast

Hands up who’s seen something like this on social media:

compare

The text reads “Malala Yousafzai & Kylie Jenner. Both turned 18 recently. One was given a Ferrari and spent thousands on facial modification. The other was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, survived a gun shot to the face by the Taliban due to corruption in her country, and opened a school for Syrian refugees to combat the lack of education for youth around the world.”

So many problems with this. Let’s go with holding up two people we know very little about to be judged on their worthiness. Because that’s what it’s saying: “Look at how amazing this one woman is, and what exactly is the other one for?”

Comparison is not fair in any case, but comparing Kylie to Malala is just mean.  I’ve had nearly a decade longer on the planet and I’ve not managed even a fraction of that impressive list of achievements. Pretty much everybody fails when compared to Malala Yousafzai.

Luckily for me, this is not high school; there are no grades for writing compare and contrast essays. There is no list of worthiness that ranks people according to what they have contributed to humanity.

Yes, the world would be better if everyone was so willing to help the helpless, but it’s not a requirement for being considered worthy as a person. I will never win a Nobel Peace Prize, but I am still enough.

You might not like Kylie Jenner’s actions or choices (because of course we judge her instead of questioning a society which places so much value on outward appearance that an 18-year-old would pay to change her face) but she is a human being, and therefore worthy of respect. She is enough.

I love Malala’s work because it’s spreading this idea that everyone is equally worthy. Everyone deserves the chance to be educated because they are all enough. And guess what? Even before all these wonderful things, she was also enough.

Everyone is amazing. Yes, everyone. It’s beyond time to realise that, to stop dragging certain people down in order to make others seem higher, and just appreciate every person for who they are.

Can we just stop with the comparisons already?

Onesie McSingleton

I have been single for… around 2 years, I think. I lose track.

During that time several people have suggested joining an internet dating site. Most of them have done so several times, despite the fact that I said no the first time, and continue to say no every time it’s brought up.

I’m assuming the thought behind it is kind. Every last person that mentioned it was in a relationship, some of which started through online dating: They have found something good and they care about me enough to want me to enjoy good things too.

But I still wish they would stop. Aside from the fact that I expect my “no” to be understood as “no” and not “try to persuade me” (in all circumstances), my life is already full of good things.

I have two different choirs, I have salsa, church, book club, farmers markets, vintage fairs, running, baking, crochet, weightlifting, reading, writing. I have a flatmate who is a really good match for me, I have friends, I have family, I have friends so close they may as well be family.  There is no boyfriend-shaped hole in my life that must be filled in order for me to be/feel complete. It’s already pretty darn complete!

Now I’m not saying it wouldn’t be nice if a boyfriend did happen along and fit into my life (there must be space somewhere…), but I am saying that my time is precious and I’m not willing to spend it on a search for something I don’t need, or particularly want right now. Same goes for my money and energy.

But I forgive my friends for bringing it up. Like I said, it’s probably a weirdly caring thing.

What winds me up more is the general pressure from people who don’t know me very well. The ones perpetuating the outdated and quite frankly insulting idea that a woman is nothing without a partner. Thank you so much for that one, Disney.

Of course I used to believe that too. I was with a complete douchecanoe for over a year, when he shouldn’t even have made it past the first, terrible date. I stayed because being with someone rubbish who made me miserable was nowhere near as bad as the thought of being single.  I often think if time travel were invented in my lifetime I would go back there to give myself a wake-up slap.

And yet without that experience maybe I never would have learned how wrong that belief is. Since then I have realised that I am enough, and I’m completely whole just as I am.  Which has got to be better for the next man who does come along – he doesn’t have to be some hyper-supportive superman who I need to fix me, he can just be himself (as long as he’s not another douchecanoe) and be wanted rather than needed. It can be so tiring sometimes to be needed.

So please, stop with the online dating, don’t try to set me up with any of your lovely friends, and if anyone even thinks of mentioning my body clock I will go Nuts McGee.

You have been warned.