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yogurt from a measuring cup

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I was spooning vanilla yogurt into a measuring cup today when it dawned upon me that the entire process—container to spoon to measuring cup to spoon to bowl—wasn’t just a waste of dishes, it was a waste of time. It was ridiculous. I was being ridiculous.

Last I checked, yogurt was not a common culprit for weight gain. Chocolate. Cheese. Bagels. McDonald’s. Sure. But yogurt? Not so much. In fact, I’m pretty sure yogurt is advertised as healthy. It has calcium, makes our bones strong, makes us strong.

And I was measuring my consumption!

This isn’t something I do every day. In fact, this isn’t something I do at all. Which, according to my too-tight shorts leftover from last summer, is the problem.

So this morning I redownloaded My Fitness Pal, an app that helps you count calories and encourages you to measure yogurt, back onto my phone.

Two summers ago when I counted calories, it didn’t feel quite so ridiculous. It felt healthy, maybe because I was using it alongside a workout plan that involved lots of running and recipes that turned pancakes healthy. But today, in the kitchen, with a bowl of vanilla yogurt, it felt nothing but ridiculous.

Because I am not fat.

unnamed-3For Lent this past year, I gave up body-shaming thoughts. Maybe not an act quite as holy as the Church was looking for, but I figured if God made me this way and loves me this way, then who am I to not love myself? So I stopped calling myself fat when the button of my jeans dug into my belly and I stopped thinking dresses would look cuter if my legs were just a bit thinner. I also started a 30-day paleo cleanse during this period.

During those thirty days, I ate fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish.

I didn’t begin the cleanse to lose weight. In fact, I wasn’t really thinking about weight. The cleanse was done as an attempt to uncover which foods were causing my face to break out and my stomach to hurt. I became pretty good in the kitchen during the cleanse, finally learning how to cook cod and cauliflower. I also stopped being so hungry for chocolate and cheese as I snacked on carrot sticks and clementines.

Midway through, I stepped on a scale.

I’d lost seven pounds and that changed things. I didn’t suddenly see the cleanse as a way to help the inside of my body, but instead to improve the outside of my body. To make me skinnier.

On Day 28 of the cleanse, I was at a diner with my sister and she was ordering a shrimp burger and I was asking the waitress if there was any way I could order just two eggs and she was looking at me like I had two heads made of eggs, and I thought to myself: Is this worth it? At that point, I was doing it just to do it, to say I ate nothing but fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish for thirty days. It wasn’t about my face or my stomach. Is this worth it?

It wasn’t.

I stopped the cleanse in that diner on Day 28. I ordered a lentil burger and sweet potato fries and I enjoyed every damn chipotle-mayo dipped bite.

Life, I realized, is not meant to be spent in a diner watching your sister enjoy a shrimp burger while you sit on watching, drinking the chemical-tasting lemon water. Maybe it’s also not meant to be spent with Netflix and chocolate peanut butter popcorn, but there has got. to. be. a. balance.

That balance is not yogurt in a measuring cup.

Today, while scooping the yogurt, I reminded myself of my Lenten mantra: you are not fat. And I believed it.

I. AM. NOT. FAT.

I am a sister and a daughter and a reader and a chai tea-drinker.f809dd3e26dfe9f6206538e79fec7af2

I am twenty-three and free and happy and spinning in the wind as sunshine pours down on me.

I am pale and covered in sunscreen and praying as waves crash down.

I am hopeful and sometimes tired and a baker of the greatest oat cakes.

I am cranky during movie interruptions and sad when the rain cancels plans.

I am in debt with library fees and confused by parking garages and a fan of vanilla yogurt.

I am growing.

I am growing.

I am growing.

I am not fat.

So when I try on last summer’s crop tops or a pair of high-waisted shorts I bought when I was nineteen, I remind myself of this.

I AM GROWING.

And then a surge of gratefulness surges through me because this girl  who grows, she is the happiest she’s ever been and she smiles more than she ever has. She spends time with those she loves and she buys birthday presents and makes cards and cookies and flies on swing sets and she throws love around like glitter at a Ke$ha concert. She doesn’t try to measure it.

So this girl, the one who grows, she turns the bathroom scale upside down, and tosses the measuring cup in the sink, leaving the dishes for later, and she scoops as much yogurt into the bowl as she feels hungry for. Because she doesn’t want to look back on such a happy time and remember it as the year she ate calcium from a measuring cup.tumblr_nfeyktAiqk1rk5a9yo1_500

a belated resolution

fae3d2303be52bcff85673a2161e4dd8My best friend and I are frequent visitors to the land of self-deprecation. We complain about breakouts, bad hair cuts, and love handles. We criticize our bodies—and our maybe unhealthy lifestyles that contribute to our bodies—with the expectation that the other will pick us up, build us back up.

And so, together we discussed New Year’s Resolutions. Naturally, and along with every other girl living in North America, “work out more” found its way to both of our lists. Honestly, I could work out only twice this year and it would be considered “more” than last year, but still, I was setting my expectations higher than that. I didn’t just want to work out, I wanted to lose weight. The weight, specifically, that I most definitely gained when I made the ever-so-wise decision to make five pounds of fudge this Christmas season.

Come New Year’s Eve, I felt myself in a new sort of situation. I was abandoning my resolutions. Three Cheers for the kiddos who stick to them and use the New Year as a chance to implement healthier habits into their lives, but when I found myself spending time with a group of people—people who I didn’t have many shared commonalities, except for maybe the elementary school we attended—I discovered my real resolution for the New Year: be more me.

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I don’t say that in an “I’m the best ever! I should be even more me!” way. I’m not a totally obnoxious human being. But that when I’m in a group of people, I should want to be like me, not like them.

3770415fb9d45e82c36add236d6d8249So I resolve to stop sending out “What are you wearing tonight?” texts.

I resolve to start picking out my own Instagram filters, and requiring the feedback of my best friend or mom a little less.

I resolve to not say “I don’t remember” when people ask me what I’m currently reading out of fear that they may look down upon my choice.

Because I don’t want to speak the truth with hints of irony in my voice. And I don’t want to pretend I’m not a (not-so) starving artist. Because the library is one of my most favorite places in the world, but Target comes in a close second. And as much as I’d like to dedicate my Instagram to #VeganLife, today I ate ice cream cake for breakfast.

Because we live behind screens that protect us and they let us choose the image we portray to the world, and I don’t want to show anything but me.

“Be unapologetically me.”

The final resolution I decided upon.

Because I think there’s a difference between changing and bettering yourself. And I want to better myself. In ways that may include going to the gym, but that may also include harping on myself less when I don’t go to the gym. And I want to send out more birthday cards and bake more birthday cakes. Because I think it’s physically impossible to stop eating carbs altogether.

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Occasionally, in misplaced rants, I hate on my own body when comparing it to Cara Delevigne and every other model wearing clothes from the Size Zero industry, wearing clothes that will never look the same on me. And I hate on my body not because the size it is, but because of the size it is not.

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 4.53.15 PMRecently, however, I had this interesting revelation that likely even a fourth grader could’ve told me had I known to ask: my body can never—and will never—be a size zero or two or even four. It’s not something a diet could fix or some more time at the gym. It’s something that is just not written in my cards. Don’t get me wrong, I do not have—and never have had—specific ambitions of becoming that tiny. But I’ve seen plastered in front of me what the “ideal” is, and I’ve noticed that I’m not it. I think we all have.

But I can’t change my body. So it’s senseless to be mad at myself for a body I didn’t choose. And it’s senseless to feel frustrated with myself when my face breaks out, when that, too, isn’t my fault.

You can better yourself.

But maybe changes aren’t as necessary as we think. Perhaps when the New Year rolls around and we’re all scrawling down all the things we need to change, we should perhaps scratch out a few. Because not everything about us, even the things we might consider “flaws” need to be changed.

So I’m trying to better myself. And I’m trying to love the things I cannot change. Or, at the very least, I’m trying to not hate the things I cannot change.

Because I am me. Unapologetically me—except for when I’m late. I will continue to apologize for being late, as at this point it’s part of my DNA.

All I can try to do—all any of us can try to do—is be the best version of ourselves. To better ourselves. To unapologetically resolve to not change ourselves this year, but instead love who we already are, love who we’ve always been.

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donuts & daydreams

“perfection is the disease of a nation” –Beyoncé

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I used to exist on a diet of donuts and daydreams,
because I was too tired to eat
and too short on time to sleep,
so instead I shortchanged myself,
and as the warm water of a safe shower
fell down upon me,
I let my tears blend in,
because I was taught to say yes to opportunities,
to take advantage of opportunities
resume-boosting opportunities,
no-one-will-ever-give-a-fuck opportunities.
I was taught to say yes to an iCalendar that
was probably ready to say no for me,
because somewhere along the way,
I learned that it was better to subsist on donuts and daydreams,
than to have what-could’ve-beens haunt you in your sleep.

I’m quite certain, the only thing I ever learned
to say no to
is high caloric desserts,
and I’m quite certain that I’d love ice cream even more
if there was no nutrition label on the side,
and I’m quite certain that maybe clothes fit looser
when calories were counted,
but I’m also certain that cashews weren’t meant to be
measured on a scale,
because I’m sick of weighing me,
and I’m sick of weighing cheese,
and I’m sick of missing crackers and carbs.

I feel a subconscious sense of pride
whenever I actually think That girl’s too skinny,
because I have a friend who’s starved herself of life
(and food)
and I can see that her legs are. too. small.
which means that I am still on the right side of the
BODY IMAGE DEBATE.
Maybe I’ve sat on the border,
patrolled by Cosmo and the gents at GQ,
but no one will ever look at me and think her legs are. too. small.
and as I wish that maybe my legs could be
Just a little bit smaller,
I am grateful for this problem.
Grateful that I don’t have this leg-too-small problem.
Grateful like I’m grateful for self-serve
frozen yogurt
and queso fresco,
and the Wendy’s drive-thru at 1 am.
And I’m grateful for the way my roommates and I pretend
our “skinny” mirror is actually reality,
and it’s the rest of the world that’s skewed.
But I’m not grateful for the way I used to let donuts
fill me up,
because hydrogenated oils have never done a good job
at filling my soul.
And I’m not grateful for the line on Life To Do List,
that tells me to get a 4.0
and I’m not grateful for the validation that comes only
from another’s words,
and I’m not grateful for the way I once said
college was a waste of time,
if I’m not employed afterwards.
I’m not grateful for that.

I long ago learned how to love the world—
that I should love the world,
that the world is worthy of my love—
but I think maybe I never learned how to properly love me.
Because the Internet, and parents, and health class videos have said
Love Yourself. You are so worth loving. You are perfect.
But I’m not perfect.
And I’m wondering if maybe someone would like to add an asterisk
to the bold directives we’re given as preteens,
so maybe we could be certain that we are worth loving
* even when our jeans fit too tight,
and our mascara is smudged from the snow,
and our skirt is flying with the wind,
and we begin crying in the middle of a biology test,
and when our heart is too broken
for us to even realize it’s broken,
to even realize that there are people—professionals (or at the very least,
professional glue)—who master in putting us back together.
And we’re lovable even when there’s a minus
beside the B,
lovable even when we’re not grateful for the burden of perfection we’ve been bearing.

Because I’m sick of the amendments that don’t outright say,
but have always implied
that I’m lovable if and only if
I can proudly print my transcript
and if I fit into my skinniest of jeans.
I’m tired of treating mascara like it’s my best friend,
because I think a best friend will love me
pale eyes and all,
because I’m sick of amendments that make me late to class
as I straighten the crinkles out of my hair
and I’m sick of the war I’m always waging
against myself
as I sit through my day, drowning out talks of
history and ethics and grammar rules,
and instead think about whether or not I should
begin another juice cleanse.

Because no one has ever loved me less
for gaining a pound
and no one has ever loved me less
for failing an exam
and no one has ever loved me less
for raccooned eyes and vulnerability
and contagious smiles and snorting laughter.
No one has ever loved me less for my tears,
but I’m tired of crying anyway.

Because it’s easy to love donuts,
and though I do love me,
it’s not always easy to remember why
I love me
because I subsisted on daydreams of a world where
no one will care if there is visible skin
above the waistline of my jeans,
but I awoke to reality where I was taught that the
world is worthy of my love,
but I am not worthy of the world’s love for me.