Another Announcement!

12 Sep

Guys. I’m beyond excited to announce that a dream of mine is finally starting to take shape. I’ve wanted to become a birth doula for a long, long time, but becoming certified through the organization I’d like to use is something that’s a little bit out of my/our reach at the moment. Between finances and kids and schedules, we just haven’t felt comfortable jumping into it right this minute.

At the same time, I feel like I’ve been surrounded by more and more beautiful people who are experiencing pregnancy losses. Be it terminal diagnoses or miscarriages, I’ve just felt that I’ve been made very aware of a need to serve families who are going through the unimaginable. It’s almost as though I can’t get away from it…like being a part of this is something I just have to do.

When I began researching doula certification, I stumbled upon Still Birthday, an organization devoted to serving people before, during, and after pregnancy loss. Their tagline is, “Every pregnancy loss is still a birthday,” something that truly speaks to my heart. Something that bothers me about many (not all, but many) pro-lifers is the neglect shown toward miscarriages and early pregnancy losses. Every loss is still a birthday. Every one. I can think of nothing more honorable or humbling than being allowed to be there for families during the births of these babies, nothing more rewarding and challenging than walking with them as they process their grief. I can’t think of anything more exciting than being able to work with mothers to bring their babies into this world, no matter how long they’re here. And SBD certifies doulas.

The certification is online, affordable, and something I can totally do right now with our current job and kids’ needs. So I’m happy to announce that, starting October 6th, I will begin an 8-week online certification program to become a certified Still Birthday Doula. I still plan to certify as a birth doula through another organization, like DONA, and I want to get my childbirth education certification as well (you can tell I’m obsessed with birth, right?), so this certification is my very first step toward making all of these dreams a reality.

I’d really love it if you would pray for me as I begin this process. I feel very under-prepared and under-qualified. Really, I feel unworthy of this calling. I’ve never experienced a pregnancy loss, so I somehow feel like I shouldn’t be allowed or something. But this is not something that will let me rest; I’ve pondered over this for over a year now and I’m blessed to have a husband and family who understand and encourage me to pursue this goal. Guys, I’m so, SO excited about this, and honestly intimidated and scared. But I know I’ve got an incredible group of supporters, so thank you in advance for your thoughts and prayers. You know by now that you’re coming along for the ride in all of my endeavors and I hope you know that I’m extremely grateful for your presence in my life!
Much love! Mary Susan

How Do I Love Me? (Let me count the ways…) – Shamekia’s Story

10 Sep

 

 

Shamekia is a goofball, a Cleveland native, and a human jukebox. Her desire to become Carmen San Diego when she grew up is part of the reason that she has traveled to three African countries in the past four years (Ghana, Ethiopia, and Kenya). She loves music, food, dancing, cooking, singing (notice a theme here?) and fat animals. She also loves children, particularly when they are listening to stories that she reading aloud.

 

What this really means is that we’re work friends, separated at birth, and making up for lost time just as fast as we can. Here’s Shamekia’s take on loving herself. Enjoy! -Mary Susan

 

 

 

 

 

shamekia

 

How Do I Love Me? (Let me count the ways…)

 

(((Deep Sigh…)))

 

I don’t typically share this with people, but…I didn’t become pretty until I was 27. I won’t bore you with my years of struggle with low self-esteem (although, the struggle is So. Damn. Real, y’all). I’ll just admit that that’s when things started to click for me internally.

 

Most people shudder when I say this, but here goes: I am fat. Legit fat. For some odd reason people think that I’m declaring my ugliness when I say those words. I know I’m beautiful. I know I’m sexy. I’m also fat. The twain shall-and do-meet.

There are days when I forget how far I’ve come (old habits die hard, blah, blah…) yet even in the midst of down feelings, I think I give off a bravado that is more confident than I give myself credit for. It’s like my inner Foxy Brown/Sasha Fierce hops into action (sometimes without my knowledge). Or maybe, just maybe, I’ve learned to love myself before I appreciated what was happening. Love came on like the dawn. At some point I realized I was standing in full sunlight without realizing that it happened.

 

When things aren’t clicking for me, when I don’t walk with my normal strut, I have to remind myself of when I was 13 (the worst year of literally everyone’s life). I have to tell that girl that things get so much better. I have to tell her that she is and will be surrounded by love and laughter and people that truly respect her. That she is fearfully and wonderfully made by a God that is smarter than her, so don’t succumb to low self-esteem. Ever.

 

Loving my body is a constant lesson, like being given the same homework assignment that’s due every day. So, what’s so great about my body anyway?

 

My lips are the ‘Cupid’s bow’ shape that is simply made for deep red lipstick (shout out to Sephora).

 

My smile makes people happy.

 

My skin is the perfect shade of brown that looks good in every color.

 

My hair (when well behaved) is a rounded crown of ancestral glory.

 

My hips are epic. My. Hips. Are. EPIC. They are all that is great about womanhood and I’ve been told my many that my hips remind them of music.

 

Do I have to remind myself constantly of the prime real estate that my soul occupies? Yes.

 

Do I still battle with comparing myself to others? Sometimes.

 

Everyone has their bad days, and I’m not exempt from that. But that’s when I read my favorite poems:

I surround myself with friends. I cook. I dance. I laugh my ass off. I remember that God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.

Words…and an Announcement!

9 Sep

Many of you may know from Facebook, but to make it super-official, I’m excited to share some good news. I am proud to announce that I’ve joined Stephanie from the Help a Girl Out project as a co-writer, project developer, and general brainstormer. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be a part of this project that is already making a huge difference in the lives of women and girls! Go check us out on Tumblr…and just as a little incentive, here’s a teaser from my first official HAGO post. You can read the rest here…thanks for loving and supporting me, y’all! And as always, don’t forget to love yourself! -MS

 

 

The other day a coworker returned to the office from her lunch break visibly irritated about an encounter she’d had at a restaurant. As she was eating her lunch, a nearby child looked at her, then asked his mother, “Mom, why are some people so fat?”

 

When my coworker related this story to us, everyone became irate.

“You’re not fat! You’re beautiful!”

“That’s horrible!”

“I’m so sorry!”

“How rude!”

 

Apparently the child’s mother replied something about how some people eat different things and bodies are different. My coworkers were horrified by this response. They wanted the mother to explain to the child that he shouldn’t make comments on people’s appearance in public. I rather agree with both responses, given that the child was old enough to know about politeness in public. That’s really not the point, either way, though.

 

What horrified me the most was everyone’s reaction to my coworker being labelled “fat.” The feeling of indignation in the room was palpable. It was as though she told us that the child had called her “stupid” and I was reminded of this quote:

 

“She was struck by how mostly slim white people got off at the stops in Manhattan and, as the train went further into Brooklyn, the people left were mostly black and fat. She had not thought of them as “fat,” though. She had thought of them as “big,” because one of the first things her friend Ginika told her was that “fat” in America was a bad word, heaving with moral judgement like “stupid” or “bastard,” and not a mere description like “short” or “tall.” So she had banished “fat” from her vocabulary.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

 

We’ve all been admonished to banish the word “fat” from our vocabulary. How many times have we said, “I’m fat” only to be assured through heartfelt euphemisms that we’re merely big-boned, chubby, fluffy, plus sized, full figured, anything in the entire world but fat.

 

 

Read the rest here!

‘Twas the Night Before Preschool and All Through the House…

4 Sep

…Everybody was eating dinner at 8 pm ’cause I can’t get my crap together.

 

Seriously guys. The night before Maggie’s first day of preschool ever we ate cardboard pizza at 8 (bedtime) and they were bathed and bouncing off the walls by 9. Winning. I really haven’t been able to get it through my head that I’m old enough to have a kid in preschool, much less that my kid is actually old enough. I just don’t feel qualified for this milestone. I mean, I relate this to that feeling when they send you home from the hospital with a newborn. You’re all like, “Seriously?? Y’all trust me with this human?? Okaaaaaaay…”  I just feel like I’m playing make believe grown up the majority of the time. Like if I went to preschool, instead of a center to play “house” there’d be a center for playing “responsible adult”…only I doubt I’d play.

 

Now, I know excellence of this level seems unattainable and I’m going to be honest. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be as bad at organization as we are. But if you’ll follow my simple Guide to Chaos, come time for your firstborn to go to preschool, you’ll be a psychotic maniac just like me.

 


 

 

 

 

 

The Oh Bless Your Heart Guide to Chaos – First Day of Preschool Edition

 

The Weeks, Months, and Years Prior to Preschool

  • In the kazillion days leading up to preschool please make sure to avoid all thoughts of your child’s impending education. Resist the urge to research and live in happy denial that your baby has zoomed through toddlerhood and is now a candidate for some sort of a classroom. It is imperative that you put off thinking about preschool as long as possible…
  • Except for 1-3 days per month in which you completely freak the biz out over your lack of planning and compulsively research every single aspect of possible educational theories, styles, and types from Montessori to Reggio to homeschooling to unschooling to obedience school to just letting them be raised by wolves. These are all viable options and should be obsessed over in the wee hours of the night as you creepily lurk in your child’s room sniffling over how big she is.

 

Choose a Preschool

  • Make friends with somebody who has their crap together and get their recommendation for a preschool.
  • Go visit that school and get excited that you have friends with such good taste. 
  • Go drink some wine to celebrate.

 

Paperwork

  • Once you get your child all signed up, they’re going to give you a shit ton of paperwork. Pardon the expression, but ohmylawd there is so. much. paper. This is great for those who are striving to increase the level of chaos in their home. Don’t be overwhelmed by the paper. Simply take it home and resolve to complete it once the kids are napping.
  • Divide your stack of paper into approximately seven separate stacks, just like cutting a deck of cards. Now take those seven stacks and hide them in seven completely irrelevant places in your home. If you’re having trouble finding dumb places to put important papers, I suggest giving a few stacks to a younger child. Sure, they may just end up in the middle of the dining room floor, but I guarantee that they’ll be ripped to shreds by someone practicing their “penmanship.”
  • Because the kids are never napping, put off completing the paperwork until the night before the parent orientation meeting at school.

 

Parent Orientation Meeting

  • Go there right after work and pretend to be normal. (Please note that when Friend Katy saw me at our orientation which I raced to immediately after work, she commented on how fantastic I looked and asked if I had colored my hair or something. In all reality, all I had done was take a shower and actually fix my hair that day…unlike all the other times she sees me and I look like a hobo. Guys, this is how you know you’ve made it.)
  • Get more paperwork and follow the instructions previously mentioned.
  • Get real excited about all the ways you’re going to be involved with school, ’cause you’re not going to be the mom who doesn’t bring stuff and help with parties and whatnot. Volunteer to bring salad for the teacher’s lunch on the first day.
  • Immediately forget about the salad.
  • Silently size up the other parents in hopes that somebody, anybody is as cuckoo as you are. They’re probably not at your level of chaos, though, so don’t get your hopes up. It’s lonely at the top.

 

The Night Before School

  • Sure, you’ve had weeks to buy a backpack and pick out the first day outfit and all that, but I find it far more beneficial to wait until the absolute last minute to start doing this stuff. Planning ahead is a rookie mistake.
  • Remember the salad.
  • Rush home after work, greet your spouse, then divide and conquer. He’s gonna take the preschooler to buy that backpack. You get extra points if you did actually buy a backpack earlier, but had to return it because the zipper immediately broke upon entering your home, as all zippers do. Extra trips to the Target are always good at increasing chaos and decreasing expendable income.
  • You need to take the other two kids to the store at dinnertime because bagged salad is why.
  • Purchase adorable sugar cookies with fish iced on them as a “first day of school” treat. Congratulate yourself on your pun, then remind yourself that you’re literally the only person in this situation who will get it.
  • Race around like a maniac trying to get people to go to bed for Pete’s sake. Don’t get anything done, not really. Just resolve to do that stuff when you wake up at 4 am the next morning.

 

The First Day of School

  • Sleep through your alarm but get up early enough that you feel like you’ve got a little time to spend on yourself.
  • Realize you’re out of milk, but you decide that evaporated milk is just as good and then mix that with sweetened condensed milk and vanilla for your coffee creamer because Pinterest that’s why. Feel so good about how Pinteresty you are.
  • Pour yourself a cup of coffee and watch these videos on YouTube:

 

 

 

  • Look at the time and freak the shiz out.
  • Scramble some eggs and slap ‘em on plates, then decide that this nutritious breakfast needs some toast.
  • Throw some toast and butter on the griddle (make sure to set the burner on HIGH, that’s really important) and run upstairs to wake the cherubim from their slumber.
  • Rouse the dead, brush their teeth, change appropriate diapers, smell smoke, curse.
  • Run downstairs, remove charcoaled toast from the kitchen and put it on the patio table to air out.
  • Dress people. Attempt to make sure your preschooler look presentable. 
  • Remember you have to put the kid’s name tag on a piece of string so they can be easily identified. Don’t use the hemp string, but break out the Christmas ribbon and go with gold/silver snowflakes. Holla atcha boy.
  • Also remember that you need to put the kid’s name in the princess backpack that everybody else is going to have.
  • Also remember that you were supposed to pack extra clothes and crap in the princess backpack that everybody else is going to have. Put that off for tomorrow.
  • Also remember that you never really finished that salad. Crack open some salad bags and carefully arrange them in a crystal bowl. Take a moment to be annoyed that of the eight hundred old ladies that bought you wedding gifts, not one of them thought to get you good Tupperware, but bought stupid ass crystal bowls instead. Secretly pray that this dumb bowl gets broken at school. Salad done.
  • Change the poo-splosion that is the hallmark of your youngest child’s morning routine. Curse.
  • Throw people in the car only to realize you have to take the obligatory first day of school picture on the front steps. Do that now.
  • Fight morning traffic to get the younger two to Nana’s house because you effed up on childcare and the poor woman who is home sick with bronchitis is going to watch them. Resolve to get your crap together for goodness sake.
  • Drop the younger two, run to the grocery store and buy dressing for the salad ’cause you were just not Pinteresty enough to make your own dressing like you planned, you psycho.
  • Get to school and do yo’ thang. (Please make sure to appreciate that your child has absolutely NO idea what that pretend ironing board is for.)

 

The Evening After The First Day

  • Decide you’re going to do better tonight so you can do better tomorrow.
  • Feed and bathe the children at a reasonable hour. So reasonable, in fact, that you’ve got time to trim their nails!
  • Discover that your oldest has not only been biting her fingernails, but her toenails as well.
  • Gag, vomit, gag, gag, gag. Vomit. 
  • Throw in the towel and call it a night.

 

Girl, you have got this chaos in the bag! Congratulations!

Go, Shawty! – Layne’s Story

2 Sep

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Layne from mrspennylayne. Guys, Layne is just one of those infectious people gifted with the ability to make folks feel treasured. Because you are treasured when you’re with her; it’s magical. I need you to know that one of my favorite memories of this girl is from college when I directed the pageant on campus (and that’s a completely different post for another time) and Layne’s talent was performing the Evolution of Dance. She nailed it every. single. time. Girl has moves, y’all.

When she’s not dancing, which is rare, she’s hanging out with her husband, John Boy, and their bulldog, Gus, at their lakeside home in Arkansas. Her heart is so good and her blog is fantastic. I seriously can’t tell you how much I enjoy her point of view and distinct writing style. I know that’s the former English teacher in me, but it’s true.  So, please be sure to visit her and give her some love! -MS

 

 

my goodness, it’s good here. it’s comfy to be in ohblessyourheart. it really is. probably because MS has one of the most welcoming hearts i know. her little online living room is just homey to me.

 

my journey to accepting my body as it is started and ended within about a 20 minute time span. maybe a little longer. maybe.

 

i have always been tiny. picture a normal size kid, reduce it by 20%, and there i was. just a tiny little blonde girl with a chipmunk laugh and the uncanny ability to not know when to stop. (i kid. except i was a teensy bit annoying. still am. workin’ on it.) sure, elementary school was hard, and i got teased a lot and really bullied quite a few times. but i was raised in a traditional home with some really great people. for the most part, i never felt like i had to hide who i was. (my parents, to this day, celebrate my quirks. Christmas 2012? “we picked out the ugliest purse. it looked just like you.” it totally did, and i love it even now. and then when everyone got little disney coin purses to keep in their car? “we got you stitch because you’re kind of a mess.”) all that to say, i never felt stifled growing up. but at 4’9.5″ i was just waiting to…actually…grow…up.

 

 

this was taken in fall 2012. yes…that’s me, age 25, unable to ride a state fair of texas ride. the struggle is real.

 

 

i don’t know what made us check. honestly, it was probably an episode of oprah or something. but we decided when i was 14-years-old to make an appointment with an endocrinologist. at the time i thought this was cutting edge technology. (and it really might have been. i have no clue. i never researched it after my 20 minutes of dreaming.) they could take a sample of your blood and determine if you were going to grow anymore. i remember dreaming of the possibilities. what if i were 5’3″ and could be like my friends that grew over summer and looked so skinny come fall? what if i were taller than my sister? my parents? what would my new legs look like? (i literally have short everything. short arms. short torso. short legs. short attention span. glitter. ponies. donuts. bye-bye.) they took my blood. i think i might have cried for a minute because i hated having my blood drawn. then we waited anxiously in the doctor’s office and dreamt of the possibilities.

 

“well, it’s official. you are not going to grow another inch.” (he lied. i grew a half an inch my senior year. rounding me out to a grand total of 4’10.”)

 

just like that, my dreams of long limbs and towering over everyone were crushed. it took 20 minutes total. it should’ve broken me. 14 is a fragile age for any girl, and i was no exception. but, ya’ll, it was somehow one of the most empowering moments i had ever experienced. i remember looking around the room and having the emotional equivalent of an “opa!” moment. it just somehow, magically, didn’t bother me. i remember thinking to myself, “welp, this is as good as it gets. better get used to it. it’s my forever.”

 

for me, it was a gift. it took the guesswork out, and it made me feel 20 steps ahead in this difficult self-acceptance journey. i just felt free. i felt like myself because i was myself. this was me.

 

sure, i still sometimes wish i was a little taller. when you’re this far under 5 foot, it’s hard to stay in shape. on a good day, my body is kind of pin-up. on a normal day, my body is kind of pinup gummy bear. i have a theory that when you gain 1lb. it looks like you’ve gained 10lbs. and, lucky me, for whatever reason, i gain weight in my face first. thanks for that, universe. care for a few more details? i’ve broken my nose well over 10 times. even tried to have surgery to fix it, but it got broken again. it’s so, so crooked now. i was told by a doctor that i have the equivalent of a 90-year-old person’s back. all kindsa loss of disk space and arthritis goin’ on there. i have random bouts of anxiety, and i have years of insomnia under my belt. (thanks, night shift!)

 

but you know what? it’s my body. all of it. mine. i could’t possibly be another inch taller because then i wouldn’t be me. and i have to be who i was created to be. it’s the only way my life feels comfortable. my short, curvy figure, my crooked nose, my crazy wonky back, and my ability to stay up for 30 hours for no reason. i can’t claim that i never have moments of insecurity. i have them all. the. time. it’s just part of being an ever-evolving human. i get self-conscious about my nose or if i randomly gain a few pounds. but i always go back to one particular quote that grounds me and helps me over and over again: comparison is the thief of joy.

 

and i wholeheartedly love this joyful life. opa.

Seven Things: 25

29 Aug

Guys, thanks for making my Loving Yourself series so successful. I’ve gotten a huge response from people who are excited to contribute, which is so affirming. I love sharing your stories. Love. It. So. I’ve decided to turn this series into a semi-regular feature. If you have a story you’d like to share, feel free to contact me via email at marysusan.delagrange@gmail.com. (If you happen to be a guy, that’d be super awesome ’cause I want to hear from you, too, you manly man.) Thanks so much for loving each other and me and yourselves so well. You’re magical people.

 

 

 

1. Did you hear our good news?? My husband, the butcher, is one of six (six!!) people in the country to be awarded a scholarship to attend the Butcher’s Guild Conference in Napa, CA in September! My husband is a rock star. He’s a rock star who makes the sexiest tomahawk steaks this side of the Mississip.

 

Proof.

 

The scholarship covers the cost of the conference, so we’ve set up a Kickstarter project to raise the remainder of the travel expenses. So far it’s been a smashing success! So much of a success in fact, that we met our goal in just four days!! I can’t tell you how grateful and surprised and grateful and thankful we are. So, so grateful. 

 

Now that we’ve met the goal of sending Vin to the conference, any other funds raised will be put toward establishing an LLC so we can take this party on the road to local farmer’s markets this summer. So, if you didn’t get a chance to donate before, we’ll still take your money, haha! (But seriously, we will.) Learn more about the project and our plans for the future by visiting our Kickstarter page.  If you’re as passionate as we are about having an ethical responsibility towards animals and food or if you just really love bacon, please consider funding our project. Vin is going to do great things and we’d love for you to be a part of it!

 

 beefmap

And you should really go learn more about what the Butcher’s Guild is all about, too. It is an amazing organization and we’re so proud to be affiliated with them. 

 

 

 

 

2. Children’s Television. Guys. Daniel Tiger has a new baby at his house. I know it aired a while back, but we’re slow to get to things around here. But, y’all. It’s a new baby. On Daniel Tiger. And I got way more excited about this fact than I rationally ought to. Not sorry at all. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little misty eyed over the new baby’s name. (Sniffle)

 

Also, have you seen Peg + Cat? It’s my most recent fave. Friend Katy hates it, but I forgave her because she’s wonderful in every other way. It’s a kooky show about Peg and Cat (duh) who solve problems and teach math concepts. Have I ever told you how much I hate math? I hate math maybe more than anything in the world. Like, I get serious anxiety when I have to do mental math. It verges on paralyzing at times. Peg+Cat is my favorite and it’s about math. I probably like it so much because Peg and Cat are ridiculous. I find myself talking like Peg a lot, so if I call you an “ahmaaaaaaaazing cat,” you should understand and just go with it.

 

 

 

3. Are you guys reading things? Sometimes I am. Mostly when I sneak into the bathroom to pretend to poo when in reality I’m just hiding from my progeny. You really need to tell me that you do this, too. Once you tell me that, you should pick up a copy of I Heart My Little A-holes by Karen AlpertGuys, I laughed out loud many, many times. This book is honest, irreverent, vulgar, crass, full of expletives, and basically everything you ever wanted a book about parenting to be. You know all those dark and angry thoughts you’ve had about parenting but were too afraid to actually verbalize because you thought somebody might come and take you away? Alpert just says ‘em. She’s unapologetic and, while my style of parenting and views on politics probably differ from hers, I am all kinds of grateful she put those thoughts down on paper. Cause lets be honest, we’ve all contemplated killing Caillou. (But never Peg. Or Cat. I’m looking at you, Friend Katy.)

 

 

 

 

4. Anybody else have a two-year-old? Can we take a minute to hold hands and promise each other it’s gonna get better?

Meaningful pause…

Thanks. I needed that. This is poor Lily all day erraday. 

Even her Band-Aids need Band-Aids. (And I just now realized how irritating it is to type out “Band-Aid.” Thanks for nothing, Johnson & Johnson.)

 

But look at how sweet she was on a “Mama/Lily Date” to the grocery store…

I just can’t get enough of this sweet little thing. Life’s hard, baby girl, but it’ll get better. I promise.

 

 

 

5. The other day Maggie (who is learning to use scissors) wanted help making a robot mask. Then she got real pissed, and rightfully so, because it ended up looking more like the type of headwear worn by white supremacists and ditched the whole project. I don’t blame her at all.

 

Naturally, Vin scared the crap out of me by sneaking up behind me like this:

So. Flipping. Scary.

 

 

 

6.Okay, I know I already kind of talked about it, but how awesome are all of our contributors to Love Yourself? I just love all of their stories so. much.

If you missed them, you can find them here: LorelaiStephanieKate

Which one speaks most to you?

 

 

 

7. Some links that rock:

    • BuzzFeed’s at it again with an awesome 12 Day Love Yourself Challenge. Anybody want to do it with me and post ‘em to Instagram? I’m starting Monday, September 1 and I’ll use the hashtag #loveyourself…do it, too, so we can love each other loving ourselves. Did that make sense? It doesn’t matter because you get me, you ahmaaaaaaaazing cat!  (You can follow me on Instagram, bee tee dubs.)
    • Your Body is Not Your Masterpiece – A friend on Facebook said we should read this one every single morning. I concur. It’s just so good.
    • What other good stuff did I miss this week? Leave links to good stuff in the comments!

 

 

Have a great Friday and weekend, everybody! Don’t forget to love yourself! -MS

I Move Through Every Inch of Me – Kate’s Story

27 Aug

kateLater in the Love Yourself series, we’re going to discuss the plus-sized end of the weight spectrum. Today, I’m proud to share Kate’s story, which covers the complex issue of struggling to put on enough weight while being told that certain parts of her body were too big. Kate’s story is one of bullying,confusion, and ultimately redemption.

Kate is a dear, dear friend of mine. She’s the kind of friend I call and random times with random questions and she always assures me that I/my children are completely normal. (No, that doesn’t make her a liar. It makes her nice.) I can’t begin to count the number of times we’ve talked each other down from one cliff or another. She’s a Parent Educator with a MS in Family and Child Studies. Kate lives in Texas with her rescued pup, Penny, where she dances, tells stories, knits, paints, and loves on kids and families. You can read all about Kate and Penny’s adventures here.

Don’t forget to love yourself today! -MS

 

 

I Move Through Every Inch of Me

I grew up with a nontraditional body image issue. I was always fairly severely underweight (due, in part, to being on Ritalin from the age of six, and an undiagnosed acid reflux issue), never got enough sleep, and wasn’t physically active. I was pale, skinny, and had large, dark circles under my eyes.

 

My slender frame didn’t save me from ridicule. Kids are pretty awful. “She’s so skinny, I bet she even smells like spaghetti” was whispered behind my back at age ten, and in high school, a girl told me a boy had said “She looks like a man trapped in a woman’s body.” “You’re flat, Kate, like Meryl Streep” my well-meaning best friend in fifth grade said.

 

And yet, I knew gaining weight would be bad. Very bad. I watched female relatives (who I thought slender) go on diets when they went over a certain weight. Even my classmates were taking slim fast in their lunch.

 

The year I turned twelve, I started out weighing 66lbs, and ended weighing 86. I finally registered on the percentile. Hopefully people stopped thinking I was anorexic or being starved.

 

But then I hit an interesting dilemma. I was fourteen and at a pool party for my dance team. The director (who was already pulling girls aside and telling them they couldn’t dance until they lost weight) was telling us “Every girl either has a stomach problem or a butt problem.”

 

I glanced down at my flat stomach, knowing I was as small as I could possibly be. Sarcastically, I said, “I guess I have a butt problem, then!”

 

She looked at me, looked down at my hips, and gave me a knowing look I translated to “Uh, DUH!”

 

I was so startled. I knew my waist was really small, and I knew there was nowhere “in” to go as far as my hips were concerned. And hadn’t my relatives always protested when I wanted to sit on their lap because I had a “bony butt?”

 

But then this knowing woman had just affirmed that something on my body was too…big?

 

It continued. Measuring us for our crushed velvet unitards (I KNOW), she winked at me and told me she’d “give me 30” on my bust measurement, measured my waist (almost 24), and said “but what I’m really worried about is your hips.”

 

At the end of the season, she separated us into groups, the circles and the lines. The circles had to run a whole lot, and the lines had to tone. I was in the lines. But then she began workout stations and looked pointedly at me when she said “This one will help trim your hips.”

 

I began to think maybe she was right. Even after I realized how manipulative and awful she was and left the team, going to a strength and stretch class with my mom, I told the instructor I wanted to “trim up these,” pinching the tiny amounts of fat accumulated in between my hips and waist. Any time the question of figure came up, I told people I was a flashlight, which was straight until it hit the lens, then out sharply and straight down. I turned around in the mirror, constantly checking. What did a good butt look like?

 

College came around. I continued the narrative. “I look like a teenager” “I have a…big? butt, possibly” “I don’t have a figure” “I look like a prepubescent girl.” A popular thing for girls to say was that we were made to look exactly such a way that would be most pleasing to our future husbands (a concept I find absolutely disgusting now). My (often silent) humorous reply was “oh no, I’m going to marry a pedophile!” I remember one wonderful moment when, after hearing me joking about my sub-par body, my friend Summer stopped me on the stairs in our dorm and said “KATE! You have a FIGURE.”

 

Wait, what? Is that what that was? I have…a figure. Hips, not a huge butt, but a graceful curve coming from a narrow waist, which rested beneath broad shoulders…almost an hourglass.

 

But, still…

 

Surely no normal man would be attracted to this flat, altogether unattractive, loud, opinionated girl, preordained since before the beginning of time or not.

 

And I was proved right over and over again. No normal man seemed at all interested in what I offered. Which furthered the thought – I’m not exactly pretty. I’m not the kind of person someone would find attractive. I’m not going to have a Some-Enchanted-Evening across-a-crowded-room moment. I’m not the kind of girl boys fall in love with. If someone wants me, it will probably be in spite of my appearance.

 

I didn’t end up dating anyone at all until I was 26. And that was a huge mistake we won’t go into here. I did learn, however, that being wanted didn’t make me feel beautiful. It made my body feel like it was not mine. It was hollow, used.

 

Writing this post, I had time to think when I felt most beautiful. I may never consider myself a knockout, but God do I feel beautiful when I’m dancing. When I’m making something. When I’m playing with children or holding babies.

 

I think body acceptance has more to do with its use than with its appearance.

 

When I move through every inch of me, I am every bit as sensual as the most seductive woman on the planet (no matter what anyone else thinks). When I run around with those littles, I am grace and motherhood without being a mother. When I peer down to double check a pattern, or lift up the safety goggles to examine my most recent project, I am a powerful, strong, capable woman. I hope that is the beauty that radiates from me, regardless of my appearance.

 

Oh, and those “too-big hips”? They look kick-ass in a pencil skirt.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 952 other followers

%d bloggers like this: