I grew up in the 80’s, and was in high school from 89-93. I think that’s important framework for my experience. Also, Mom? Quit reading here. You can pick up at the next part. We knew then that sex ed wasn’t great. In fact, I don’t remember much sex ed at all except, “Don’t do it,” and my mother’s overbearing, “If I find out you do it in high school, you’re grounded until you graduate.” She was afraid of her kids getting trapped in a small town and in a bad forced early marriage, because that’s what happened in those days. We lived over an hour from the closest community college, and odds weren’t great for young parents, so I knew her concerns were valid. Growing up in a small town, also, she didn’t want us to get reputations that would follow us forever, especially if we decided to live near that area forever. Still, we could have all benefited from better sex ed. Plenty of girls got trapped and pregnant. I know sex ed was truly lacking in our small town, because the first time I let my boyfriend go to third base junior year it was an awful, painful experience, and neither of us knew what he did wrong. We didn’t ever try again.
Looking back, neither one of us knew what was happening with my anatomy or how to navigate it, and we were well past the age where most people knew the basics. Most of the girls in my class were having sex, but they seemed to do it because they wanted to make their boyfriends happy. Most of them talked about how it was usually painful and how they were terrified of getting pregnant, but none of them had a parent or a sibling old enough to be comfortable giving them real, useful information. There were a couple of girls we knew were having sex (it was a small school) who didn’t talk about, but as I look back on it, they were the ones with much older siblings or a free spirited parent (or a boyfriend who had the same) who probably gave them the right advice, so they weren’t complaining. That’s just the way it was back then. We didn’t even have the internet to turn to, and the librarians at school and at the public library knew your parents or grandparents. My mom WAS a librarian, so I wasn’t going to check out books about how to have hand sex, that’s for sure. I got the bulk of my sexual education from TV and my mom’s romance novels at home. All of those factors made me decide that I wasn’t going to “do it” until I was older. Two of my best friends made the same vow, and we all graduated as virgins.
Looking back, I know that I sabotaged a lot of my relationships as a way to avoid getting dumped when guys found out I wouldn’t put out, which I think screwed with my ability to form healthy relationships and develop real intimacy. It did actually prevent me from getting asked out in the first place, which I guess was good. When I finally did have sex, it was underwhelming, but OK. I couldn’t see what the fuss was about. Then I went into my first bipolar manic phase, and decided I wanted to find out. Of course, I didn’t know I was bipolar at the time, so things didn’t go well. I still didn’t know what I was doing, physically, but I met a guy who did. He, however, wasn’t a good guy, but I liked the feeling so we had a toxic relationship for a while. Fun!
Most of my adult relationships
That relationship ended badly, as it was destined to. I ran into a more toxic relationship, because I was crazy at the time, didn’t know what was happening in my head or with my body, hadn’t ever had a healthy or potentially healthy relationship that I didn’t sabotage, so I didn’t think I deserved better. That man became my son’s father, who became progressively more abusive. I divorced him before my son was two. The reason I gave is that I didn’t want my son growing up to think that it was OK to treat women that way. The sad things is that, at the time, I didn’t love myself enough to realize that I was a woman who shouldn’t have been treated that way. I’ve always had a lot confidence in my abilities at school and work, but that’s different than deep self love that won’t allow you to stand for being taken advantage of in any way, or to be physically and emotionally abused.
At this point, I was a mother. I’d gotten pregnant (in a very unplanned way, might I add) and I still didn’t know my body. I didn’t learn until a very liberal, feminist, sexually educated friend found out just how repressed I was and bought me drinks until I agreed to go buy a vibrator, that very night. She was sure I’d back out if left until the next day, and she was right. Catholic guilt and repression are serious beasts. Finally, at 25 years old, I got it. How ridiculous is that? I also wondered why we didn’t give these out to our teenage girls, because honestly, they’ll get the job done better than any groping teenage boy could ever dream of. Still, I can see how that would create intimacy issues like the ones I have, or maybe completely different ones. Having Bob, my battery operated boyfriend, helped me toss away men that weren’t right for me and men that didn’t deserve me until I found my current husband.
Click the picture to buy this pillow if you want to.
Seeing the featured image as an instagram post from Dr. Laurie Mintz made me realize why so many people have unplanned pregnancies, get STDs, are repressed, and are just bad at sex. Schools lie to kids in sexual education just as freely as they lie to us in history books about the great, completely non-problematic, non-murdery, non-racist, non-genocide-y, history of our nation that included happy slaves who were super grateful to be sold to American white people and happy to have work and a shack to live in, Native Americans who were excited to give up their culture and be pushed onto reservations after lots of them somehow died all at the same time.
Maybe we should have burned our history books and instead of taking Sex Ed, just learned this song in a required choir performance. I’m sure it would have gone over well in a town that petitioned to have MTV taken off of cable and succeeded.
Part 2 will discuss some of the history and politics of sexual education and repression.
We’ve been doing more on YouTube lately, but I just realized we’ve been negligent on adding the videos to the blog. I’m going to remedy that today and post them from oldest to most recent. We’d love any feedback, and if you have topics you’d like us to cover, or anything you want to ask us, feel free!
Here’s a video we did on 4 Key Areas of Self Care.
Oh, hey there. It’s been a while. I’ve been out of sorts. I had a couple more medication changes that fucked me up quite a bit in the past several months, and I kind of hit a wall in my career, personal development, and my relationship, and I certainly didn’t give myself time to grieve the loss of my dog properly. I was exhausted, depressed, and totally unmotivated. I gave zero shits for way too long, and now I’m trying to find my path back to the person I want to be; the best version of myself. I’ve found, though, that I spent way too much time and energy trying to make myself want things that were no longer what was best for me. I was trying so hard to convince myself that my goals should be the same as they were in the past that I didn’t take time to evaluate if those were still things I wanted. I went down a rabbit hole only to finally realize that if I’d achieved those goals, I wouldn’t be happy anyway. I needed to acknowledge that goals change as we do, because it’s tough to let go of things, and that’s totally OK.
It’s hard for me to blog here when I’m not feeling myself, honestly. Our mission is to help women live their best lives, and I was certainly not living mine. Nowhere close. I guess I was practicing self care, if self care looks like eating cookie dough out of a tub. (I mean, I think it CAN look like that, once in a great while, but let’s be honest. Doing it fairly regularly isn’t self care. It’s self harm.) Who the hell was I to help guide anyone else? I was a hot mess. What I guess I really lost sight of, though, is that I’m a woman, and if we’re trying to help women live their best lives, why was I uncomfortable starting with myself? I’m pretty sure there are plenty of people out there going through the same things I am, or who could learn from my journey.
Part of it is that it’s really hard to be totally raw and honest online. The Pinterest/Instagram/Blogosphere corner of the internet is full of people with photoshopped and glossed over lives. I don’t blame anyone for wanting to put their best foot forward, especially in a cruel world full of strangers who sometimes want to make themselves feel better by taking other people down. I find that women, especially, fall into this pattern of behavior. When you’re miserable and things aren’t going your way, it’s a hell of a lot easier to lash out and judge other people than to turn the mirror on ourselves. I know I’ve been guilty of that toxic practice. The nickname Mitch the Bitch didn’t come from thin air. I wear the label “Bitch” proudly when I use my skills to stand up for myself and for people and ideals I love. I’m not so proud if I use it to personally attack people. It doesn’t make me better, it doesn’t make them better, and it doesn’t make the world a better place.
It’s equally as bad when I use my elevated skills of verbal decimation on myself, whether I say it out loud, or I say it inside my head. I’m always up for a good self deprecating joke, honestly, and that will probably never change, but I need to be a lot kinder to myself when I stumble. I need to be a lot more honest with myself, as well. A character trait I’m not terribly fond of is my all or nothing, zero to sixty in ten seconds personality. It’s great to ramp myself up and throw myself into something I care about or to reach towards a goal, but it’s a train wreck when I don’t allow myself room for moderation or failure.
Be real; who else does this? We say, “I stayed on my diet for three days then I ate some fries, so I’ll start again Monday,” or, “I really wanted to start blogging again, and I wrote a couple I’m pretty happy with, but then I ran out of time and motivation and now I look stupid because who the hell wants to follow me?”
The answer to failure shouldn’t be, “Fuck it!” if it’s something you really want. If it’s something that you think will make you really happy, start again today. Commit again right now, and if you stumble, start again right away. Don’t give up, but forgive yourself if you don’t succeed and follow the path that you thought would lead you to your goal. My goal is pretty simple. I want to be healthy and happy. I want to be the best version of myself and I want to help other women do the same. For me, that’s going to require nothing but pure honesty, self love and acceptance, and accountability. I’m going to be honest with myself and right here on this blog. I’m going to love myself to identify self destructive behavior, take some time to analyze why I did it, and find a better way to reach my goals when I start again. I’ve found that what we sometimes think will make us happy isn’t really what we originally think it is. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the minutia of what we are trying to do that we don’t take time along the way to reevaluate and make sure that the place we’re going is still the destination we want to reach.
So here I go again, but not on my own. I have AK and my family, and other amazing, strong friends and mentors to love me and guide me, and maybe I have you. You have me if you need me. Reach out. I don’t care who you are, or where you are in your process. You don’t have to be spiritually awakened, because I know I’m not there yet. You don’t have to know exactly what you want or how the hell to get there, but if you’re reaching for something and you’re not content, hit me up. I’m actually a lot better at advice for other people than I am for myself. Even if I can’t help, I will almost always say something ridiculous and make you laugh and see things from a different perspective.
When we started this blog, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do here, of what my role should be, and really, what I thought I wanted and what I thought would make me happy. Some of that is still right, and some of that has changed, but I promise, it’s OK to figure it out as you go along. Don’t stay committed to things that don’t serve you. Seriously, knock it off. If you made a goal to run a marathon but you keep injuring yourself, that might not be the right goal for you. There are other ways to get fit and strong. I’m not saying to divorce your husband or quit your job right now, especially if you love them and see a way forward and a future with them that could be fulfilling. I am saying that the way forward might look different than you thought it would, and you need to be open to that.
I have a lot more to say. I want to talk about spirituality and the divine feminine, and I started this blog to talk about gratitude. I’m going to write about both soon, but this is what came out right now and I’m not second guessing it. This needed to come out for a reason, so here it is. You’ll see the good, the bad, the ugly, and the utterly ridiculous here, so strap in for the ride.
Love, light, forgiveness, and an appropriate amount of cookie dough,
The great awakening has begun and is only going to continue through the next few years…all will be affected. Many are like me, First Wave lightworkers (Twin Flames, Empaths, Starseeds, etc.), who are here to assist in the raising the vibration of the planet. We have gone first and have gone through a lot, I mean a fucking lot of shit, in order to clear the way for the rest of humanity to awaken and ascend. The 3D density of Gaia, or Earth, is falling. In it’s place a 4D density, a lighter world, built from the heart space…where Unity and Christ Consciousness prevail and it is being led by humans who resonate as feminine energy…gender plays no role here, it is just the vehicle…it is the soul I speak of when I say feminine/masculine. The Divine Feminine is rising, awakening to her truth and seeking equality and justice. Not just for them, but for all of humanity. We understand that the masculine’s are just as programmed, of not more so, and just as hurt. We know healing both the masculine and feminine, balancing the energies will heal our children, will create a New Earth for all.
Divine feminines are feeling the call to something better, something different, something magical. Our intuition is off the mother fucking charts, yet we battle with it…change is not easy and we have not been programmed to be independent in every way, to trust ourselves no matter what others think. We are needed though and the Universe is assisting us in awakening/ascension, even if it means making us uncomfortable. The Divine knows we are bad asses and can handle it, learn from it. We are seeing our truths, breaking free from the labels, expectations, judgments and just general fuckery patriarchal programming has caused.
We are walking away from jobs, careers, relationships…anything that no longer serves us, where giving and receiving are not equal. We are fucking pissed at patriarchal programming that has us objectified sexually, demeans our intuitive gifts, teaches nurturing, compassion, grace and gentleness are submissive qualities, that emotions are “weak” and let’s be honest, just the general enslavement and dis-empowerment that has gone on for thousands of years, fucking thousands…it’s time, y’all. The Universe is calling for balance, justice and equality for ALL, no race, no gender, no sexuality biases and Divine Feminines MUST lead the way…WE are leading the way. I see my sisters awakening everyday, I see many in ascension beginning to step into their missions and share their stories, uniting us. It’s so damn exciting, challenging fo’ sho, but so fucking exhilarating to know what’s coming and be a part of a change we never believed we would see.
So where does this start…by loving your damn self. As within, so without. If you want to be treated with respect, then respect yourself…say no, set boundaries and walk the fuck away from anyone/thing that doesn’t. If you want abundance, than think and believe you are abundant, release the guilt, shame and resentment that makes you feel unworthy…practice self care, treat yourself as if you are abundant. If you want love, then be love, forgive and show compassion to those that hurt you…be the perfect partner to/for yourself…take yourself out to eat, to a movie, whatever it is that makes you happy, do it with yourself. The universe will bring your perfect partner when you’re ready. My point, focus on you…your happiness, joy, passions, the life you want to create…the rest will work itself out.
Feminines are guided to me daily for advice on all things spiritual, as well as, healing sessions. I am so happy to help in anyway I can, as I know first hand how amazing, magical and miraculous life can be after awakening. Yes, the soul work of ascension is hard, but the magic and miracles become more and more frequent…a great motivator to continue doing your healing work.
Divine feminines are awakening. Awakening to our power, intuitive gifts, strength, grace and dignity. Releasing shame, guilt, resentment, anger and taking our motherfucking power back. We are like the phoenix, rising from the ashes of patriarchal programming, to lead the way to balance, justice and equality. We lead by example and it all starts with love…self-love.
If you don’t listen to the radio, read tabloids, or the internet, I’ll introduce Ariana Grande to you. She’s a pint sized singer who has had 10 songs chart in the top 10. She’s been nominated for several awards, and she’s only 25 years old. She got her start on a terrible Nickelodeon show, and has actually make the transition from child actor to adult singer successfully. Some of her songs are legit bops, and I’d kill for her voice and range. There are rumors that she’s a diva (sometimes deciding that she doesn’t want to walk and making her bodyguards carry her) and most of us saw the tape of her licking donuts.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about why I’m blogging about her. We’re not a gossip rag, but we do cover women’s issues, and this is one of them. Arianna’s last boyfriend was a rapper named Mac Miller. I’d never heard of him before his DUI earlier this year, that happened shortly after Ariana Grande broke up with him. Apparently, they’d been together for 2 years, and he was already an admitted addict before they got together. Yikes. I think women, especially when we’re young, have that attraction to a man, and even if he’s got issues, we go for it, certain that we can change them. Spoiler alert: you can’t. Your chances of changing a man for the long haul are slim to none. For any human to change an ingrained behavior, they have to admit that their behavior is a problem and they have to want to change. Yeah, it’s possible that your new man who is a sweetheart unless he’s drunk will make an effort to quit drinking for a while, especially if you’re around, because you ask him to. However, if he doesn’t see it as that big of a problem, he’s not going to change, especially if he’s an alcoholic.
Sometimes I read celebrity gossip when my husband wants me to be cleaning the house, which he thinks I need to change. He doesn’t understand how keeping the house looking perfect at all times isn’t something I care about. I think it would be lovely if I became a person who prioritized scrubbing tile floors and attacking clutter, but it’s not something I see changing. See how that works? In my mind, it’s not that important. I’m not a hoarder living in a shithole, but nobody’s coming to take photos of my perfectly decorated, sparkling crib anytime soon.
Back on topic. So Miller gets in an accident in May for a DUI. He wrapped his car around a pole and blew twice the legal limit. Several sources claim that the biggest factor in Grande’s decision to break up with Miller was his increasing substance abuse. She was in that relationship from the ages of 23-25. She stuck it out for a lot longer than I would hope any young woman I care about did. Miller admitted in many interviews that he had substance abuse issues. He admitted that he wrote and released an entire album with songs about cocaine. Now, do I think that a breakup can lead to an addict increasing the amount of drugs and alcohol he abuses? Absolutely! But do I think that Ariana Grande had any responsibility to stay in a shitty relationship with Miller, his drugs, and his booze? NO. I think the fuck not, and neither did she. This is the statement she released when the internet picked up their pitchforks and blamed her for his DUI.
Ah yes. Woman falls in love with toxic addict. She stays for a long time, supporting him and praying things would change. Surprise! He didn’t change, and eventually she bounced. He’s an adult human being with plenty of money for rehab. He chose not to go. I’m not in their relationship, but I can imagine there were plenty of talks about it. Promises to change. Ultimatums, controlling bullshit, tears, and more broken promises. If any other woman were living in that hell, I’d encourage her to get the fuck out. So, why is it that thousands and thousands of people have been tweeting at Ariana Grande that she’s a murder? That this is her fault? That she caused HIS drug and alcohol abuses? He was a grown ass man. He was a man with a terrible disease (as I believe addiction is) but ultimately we’re responsible for our choices and consequences as adults, especially if your choices hurt other people.
And there’s the rub. If you’re in a healthy serious relationship, your partner needs to be your priority. You don’t get to hurt your partner over and over again and expect them to stay. I can assure you that if I stopped managing my bipolar disorder, woke up every day and punched my husband in the face as hard as I could, then grabbed a baseball bat and hit him in the nuts with it whenever I had an opening, he’d leave me. I have a disease, but if I wasn’t treating it and I inflicted harm upon him every day because I chose not to fight it, my husband is under no obligation to stay with me and take the abuse.
Addicts can love you. Of course they can. They just can’t put you or your needs ahead of their addiction. If you let them, they’ll take your soul, they’ll take your money, they’ll crush your spirit, and then they’ll take more. I don’t think they want to hurt you, but if they’re actively using, they aren’t thinking about how their actions affect you, especially the combined effect of months or years of their bullshit. You will never be the priority in the life of the addict you love.
Why in the fuck would anyone blame a woman for getting out of a toxic relationship? Why? You can try to help a person, but if they refuse to help themselves, the abuse is going to keep on happening.
Now we live in a day and age when any nameless, faceless asshole can directly access celebrities on social media. Do they forget that there are actual human beings behind the @s and the #s? They can say things like,
“THIS IS YOUR FAULT,” “You lowkey evil,” “It’s crazy because you really did kill him,” and the most popular, “Fuck you, @arianagrande you did this.”
No, she didn’t do this. Miller did it. He abused drugs and alcohol to the point that the relationship couldn’t go on. Then he bought more drugs, he took them, and he died. It’s tragic. He was only 26 years and and had a lot of life left to live. He had friends, he had talent, and I’m sure he had a family, but addiction doesn’t care. He had a girlfriend who seems to have loved him, who said she supported him and prayed he’d get better, but she finally had enough. In her own words, she isn’t his babysitter or mother.
I don’t need to be a fan of her to say this. I say it as a human being who has addicts in her life; particularly addicts who have been enabled by others. Let me tell you: that doesn’t work either. Nothing will change until the addict wants to change. Ariana bounced right out of her relationship with Miller to a quickie engagement to Pete Davidson of SNL. I love Pete on SNL, but he’s been very vocal about his own issues with drugs in the past, so it’s possible this young lady might be in for more of the same. As someone who made shitloads of really terrible choices in her 20’s, I know some of us have to make mistakes several times before we learn our lessons.
In the meantime, blame the addiction, and yes, blame the addict. They’re still culpable. However, you cannot blame a romantic partner who has had absolutely enough of this bullshit.
I need to wait until I get a raise, or a promotion, or all of the stars and my charts and the planets and everyone I know aligns with my goals, when it’s going to be easier for me to do.
I’m telling you right now that you need to STOP THAT. I can’t tell you how many goals and dreams I’ve let slip away because I was waiting. Waiting for what? All of the above, and more. I think it’s normal that we’ll never do and become everything we dream of. Sometimes fantasies are a fun, safe escape, like thinking of what kind of home you’d buy if you won the lottery or where you’d go on your dream date with Luke Hemsworth.
I always wanted to be an actress, and enrolled as a journalism major and a theater minor in my first year of college, but I doubted myself too much and let the dream of acting go. My teeth had a gap, and even though I was only maybe 10 lbs overweight at the time, I’ve always had a curvy, hourglass shape that wasn’t popular in the 90’s era of Kate Moss and heroin chic. I was thin, healthy, talented, beautiful and creative, but I had no confidence in myself. I convinced myself that there was no money in acting, which is actually pretty true for the vast majority of people who give it a shot, and switched my major to business. I didn’t give a shit about becoming a general “business person” so I dropped out of college. I let a goal go, but since I was so mired in manufactured self pity, I didn’t set another one. I got drunk and let depression set in. I did end up going back to school, and didn’t graduate for financial reasons, but that ended up being an amazing decision for different reasons.
There are other, more achievable goals that are gone because I waited for the right time. I know everybody has them. I felt really called to go back to school and get a degree in Nutrition, but I waited until I was more financially stable. This was in 2008, right as the economy crashed and the real estate market went into the dumpster. I was hit pretty hard by that. I was (and still am) a Realtor in the Phoenix area, and we work on commission. Our companies don’t pay us a salary–we are independent contractors. If you don’t sell a home you don’t get paid. On top of that, the median home price went from about $300,000 to about $113,000. When you make a percentage of the sales price, that hurts. My husband was a finance manager at a luxury car dealership, and people really slowed down their luxury purchases during the recession. The value of our home, like every other home in the metro area, tanked as well. On top of it, 2008 is when I first developed the symptoms of chronic illness I’m still dealing with. There’s a school of thought that says that some people are prone to develop autoimmune diseases, and it takes a period of stress or a traumatic injury to kind of turn the disease “on.” I believe that the prolonged mental stress and the unhealthy way I dealt with it may have advanced my conditions. Once you have them, you have them for life.
I’m lucky that I’ve had remissions from Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. I know that my best shot at helping myself go into remission is to exercise regularly, eat really clean, avoiding gluten,sugar, and peanuts, and limiting dairy and other grains. I’ve been tested and those foods are inflammatory to my system, and I know from trial and error (mostly error…shit tons of error) that I feel much better when I follow those rules. I have’t found a medication whose benefits outweigh the side effects. I have wanted to study holistic nutrition, because from where I stand, Western medicine is doing an absolutely fucking terrible job of treating autoimmune disease. What works for one person will make another person worse, and vice versa. There are a bunch of autoimmune disorders, and often times, when you have one, more eventually come to join in.
Knowing what I know now, I would have figured out a way to go back to school at that time. Working as a nutritionist in a traditional setting generally requires a master’s degree, while I’m a few credits away from a bachelor’s degree in a totally different field. If I’d taken the leap then, I would have been in my mid to late 30’s upon graduation. If I were to do it now, I’d be in my late 40’s, and with the cost of college, I don’t want to start a new career at that age and have to deal with student loans until I’m in my 60’s.
There is, however, a naturopathic school in my area that has a short program that’s a lot more affordable and only lasts about 15 months. That’s now on my list of goals. It doesn’t give the kind of accreditation I’d need to work in a hospital or nursing home, for example, but I like learning for the sake of learning and I’m certain I could find a niche for that education.
Another goal I let slip away was traveling. I had my son at 23. The goal was never to have a child so young. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kid a lot and wouldn’t trade him for the world, but I’d wanted to wait until I’d finished college and had done some traveling before settling down with kids. In fact, I always thought I wanted 5 kids. Haha. That was before I had one and realized that I could do a good job raising him, but I was too selfish to be an adequate mother to more kids. I did the math and realized that I’d be 41 when he graduated from high school and was on his own. I knew I’d be young and healthy and able to travel at that time. Well. Life had other plans that didn’t involve that health that I was sure to have. Flying is actually pretty tough on me, since I take medication to suppress my immune system so it doesn’t kill me. I mean, that’s cool, but when I’m in a tin can in the sky that recirculates air that every other potentially ill passenger has been breathing, it leaves me prone to illness and infection.
Of course, there was a time when my son was young that my husband and I absolutely could have traveled. My son stayed with his dad, my ex-husband, for a week or more at times. We had the financial means to travel anywhere we wanted once in a while, but we didn’t do it. We made short trips to Vegas and weekends in the high country of Arizona, but we put off traveling abroad.
There are a lot of other examples that I won’t get into, but we all have goals we waited for. Some of them aren’t important to us. Some of them may have even been harmful or spun our lives in a terrible direction had we achieved them. I love myself, just as I am right now, and I’m the sum of my experiences from before I was born to the moment I’m typing this. Who would I be if I made different choices? I’ll never know, and that’s OK. What I do know is who I am right now is amazing, and I’m going to love the person I am right now unconditionally and let her know it’s OK to reach for her goals.
I recently filmed a small part in a short film. I’m up about 25 lbs from where I want to be, but as I researched how to get back into acting, that didn’t even occur to me. I’m in such a better mental place right now than I was as a confused, insecure 17 year old college student, that I didn’t realize until I talked to AK on the phone yesterday that the old me would have waited until I got my weight back down to apply for roles.
While I have many goals yet to reach, and many that I’ve let go, for better or worse, I think I’ve climbed my highest mountain. Loving myself, and being confident in myself, has been something I never thought I could fully do. I still need to work on some things. I could cut some of the self-deprecating humor, but honestly, I find most of it hilarious. I need to work on treating my body better, as emotional eating is still an issue. There’s more…of course there is. None of us is perfect.
We can always improve, but we have to start where we are. Start today. Start right now. Don’t wait until Monday, or until your kids are in school. Start taking steps towards what you want, even if they’re tiny baby steps. Don’t forget how truly amazing and unique you are. Go get it.
All female bodies are not the same, nor should they be. AK and I are almost exactly the same age and the same height, for example, but her body is healthiest at a size 0-4, and my body is healthiest at a size 8-12, depending on the brand. I have a broader, more bulkily muscled frame than she does. Her frame and muscles are lean. We’re both beautiful in our own way, and we think all women are too. For us, the goal is to be as healthy as possible, and if we look great, that’s a bonus.
However, if you watch TV or movies, look in fashion magazines and on popular Instagram accounts, you’ll find that the vast majority of women are size 00-4. They might be tall and lean like Taylor Swift, Allison Janney, or Blake Lively, or they may be short and tiny like Ariana Grande and Jada Pinkett Smith, or somewhere in between like Amanda Seyfried and Megan Fox. All of those ladies are beautiful, but Hollywood has a type.
I’m glad that in recent years we’ve seen more representation of different body types in the media. Plus size model Ashley Graham is a great representation of that. Still, have you noticed that in film and television, women who don’t fit in a sample size, like Melissa McCarthy and Chrissy Metz, tend to have story lines that are dependant on weight issues? McCarthy and Metz are both incredibly talented, but Hollywood doesn’t really seem to know what to do with them. Melissa McCarthy is a really talented comedian and seems to really enjoy physical comedy, which is great, but she’s rarely shown as the beautiful, strong, kick ass type. Instead, she’s often in an unflattering wig and clothes that don’t fit, and fat jokes abound. Rebel Wilson is another talented, plus sized actor, and she’s best know for her turns in the Pitch Perfect trilogy, in which she plays a character who goes by “Fat Amy.”
Here’s where Penelope Garcia, who has been played by Kirsten Vangsness on CBS’s Criminal Minds, is revolutionary. Vangsness and I have similar shapes, so when I discovered Criminal Minds earlier this year (I know it’s kicking off its 14th season, don’t @ me), I paid attention. I almost never see women my size represented on screen, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one as strong, powerful, and put together as this character. Vangsness is a size 12 according to a recent article I found, but she, like most women of my size and shape, can go up and down a bit, especially depending on the brand of clothing you’re buying. She’s not technically “plus sized,” but she’s certainly a body type we don’t see much in Hollywood. She discussed the topic in an interview with Pride.com.
“Stylists on the set of the CBS series have gotten a bit of Vangsness’s do-it-yourself spirit as well. “They kept saying, ‘Can you bring your own clothes? We don’t have anything in your size.’ Because in Hollywood they have size zero and size 22,” says Vangsness, who is a size 12. “But if you lie somewhere between the 12 to 16 range…they keep trying to put you into a size 4. It’s the strangest thing. What ends up happening is they buy four size 2 Marc Jacobs dresses and make one size 12. Then someone out in TV land watches it and is like, ‘I can get that dress.’ No, you can’t because you don’t have a seamstress that will alter exactly to your body. I feel for everybody.”
I feel you, girl. We’re also in that size range where straight sizes fit us strangely and most plus size stuff is too big.
The character of Penelope Garcia is a rich and layered one. She’s a brilliant former computer hacker who leaves the dark web to go to work for the good guys, profiling criminals. She’s strong, witty, and doesn’t apologize for the space her body takes up. She’s confident, a great friend and co-worker, and a solutionary. She’s also a bit of a weirdo, wearing bright clothing and usually a few more accessories than fashion dictates. She has romantic relationships with attractive men and a flirtmance with co-worker Derek Morgan, who is played by the ridiculously attractive Shemar Moore. Their platonic friendship is deep, layered with mutual love and respect, but they never cross the boundary into a romantic relationship. The sexy banter between them would be enough that most HR departments would write them up, but it’s sweet, funny, sexy, and a great break in the middle of serious storylines about psychotic serial killers.
What Penelope Garcia doesn’t do is whine about her weight. She doesn’t come into the office bitching that she only eats carrot sticks and still will never be the size of her gorgeous, athletic, thin, co-worker and close friend, J.J. Nobody suggests Keto or Paleo or the Cabbage Soup diet to Garcia. I haven’t heard anyone say, “Oh, Penelope. You have such a pretty face. Have you tried Pilates?” They do invite her out for drinks, confide in her and love her, and she pays that all right back. She’s been on the show for 13 years, and I’ve never seen Penelope Garcia give a fuck about her weight. She’s healthy, she’s happy, and she loves herself. She doesn’t hide her figure in oversized black sweaters; she flaunts it in bright, sometimes crazy, but flattering patterns. Her hair color changes often, and her makeup is bright. This is a woman who isn’t trying to blend into the wallpaper, making self-deprecating jokes, and waiting to start her life when she hits a magical number on the scale. In a world where people call Beyonce fat and where Scarlett Johansson has been turned down for roles because she’s too curvy, Penelope Garcia living her best life is what we need more of, especially since Vangsness is entering her 14th year of playing this groundbreaking character and I don’t see other shows stepping up and showing other 3 dimensional average sized women. Think about this: Criminal Minds premiered just months after Friends Joey, Chandler, Ross, Phoebe, Rachel and Monica took their final bow. I loved Friends, of course, but the Monica fat shaming was a bad trope. In fact, in the episode about what could have been in alternate futures, tiny Courteney Cox was in Monica’s fat suit, portrayed as an awkward 30 year old virgin who had never been in love and doesn’t seem to have any rich relationships in her life. We haven’t evolved enough since then.
But, Mitch, you say, there are other female fictional characters that appear on screen with more weight than we’re used to seeing. Surely, they can’t all have fat plotlines! I haven’t seen every movie or TV show ever made, so that might be true. I think we’re close with the amazing Aidy Bryant on Saturday Night Live. In fact, she did a Weekend Update segment as herself discussing how hard it is to get roles that don’t revolve around her size. She was once offered a part in a movie. The character didn’t have a name-it was just “Ugly Fat Friend.” Aidy is anything but ugly, and to keep up with SNL’s production schedule, guest starring in other TV shows, and doing stand up and other projects, she must be pretty damn healthy. The great thing about SNL, whether you’re a fan or not, is that the actors often do the sketch writing as well. They have more control over what they do and how they’re seen.
Click play to see Aidy owning this song along with her female castmates and guest star Saoirse Ronan.
We also have the hilarious Katy Mixon headlining her own show on ABC, called “American Housewife.” The show was originally entitled, “The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport.” I have to admit, the character is super relatable to me. Katy’s character, Katie Otto, seems pretty happy with who she is, and she has a loving, supportive, thin, capable husband (which is something I’ll get into in a separate post.) The character and her family move to a super affluent area so their children can have the best education possible, but they’re a middle class family in an area like the Hamptons or Calabasas, and the other moms are tiny, mean, and judgemental. Katy keeps it real, and seems to be happy with herself, but it is hard for her to not fit in with the other moms, even if she really dislikes most of them.
She actually creates extra trouble for herself by pushing back against the other parents. She thinks these people are all shallow and materialistic, and for the most part, they are. She’s concerned about her children’s values changing to reflect those of the new community, and she fights it pretty hard. Still, there are several fat jokes in this show, and some of them are pretty cheap. Also, I think it’s important to note that Katie doesn’t make an effort to know most of the juice cleansing, work out clothes wearing, luxury SUV driving moms, so she’s also being judgemental based on looks. I still call it a bit of progress, just not badass Garcia progress. I do want to note that American Housewife has a different kind of progress-Katy’s best female friends are women of color, and one of them happens to be a lesbian. I love the real-life aspect of that. She has friends who don’t look just like her, who come from different backgrounds. She and her husband are very much in love and rarely put each other down, especially not to the extent we see in other sitcoms. They are portrayed as partners, which is good to see.
In today’s society, even though racists and homophobes, abelists and misogynists still run rampant, they’re being called out. It seems like fat jokes are the last frontier for jokes about people. Hell, even Glee, the show that had a “very special episode” and set it’s social justice warrior mission to music every week, had unchecked fat jokes.
Still, it’s TV. It’s the movies; it’s not real life, right? In today’s society people are influenced by pop culture. TV shows, movies, reality stars, and even the President drop cruel words into our ears and onto our screens, and those words embolden people. We become a sum of our experiences, and if we are constantly taking in “jokes” about fatness, about people being different sized, that seeps into the general consciousness. When Trump calls Rosie O’Donnell a disgusting pig and says Heidi Klum is sadly, no longer a 10, it makes people think it’s OK to say those things as well. (Along with all of his other problematic opinions on “others”.) Sadly, I still hear people refer to people they care about as, “my fat friend? The one who you met at my party two years ago?” That’s the rub about being considered average or larger sized in our culture. You’re reduced to one characteristic; two if you’re lucky.
The fat funny girl. The fat girl with great hair. The fat girl who shouldn’t wear skirts that short. The fat bitch. The fat girl who’s got a great personality. The fat girl who is actually really pretty if you get to know her.
So, how do we react to this? How do we stop it? We can support movies made by female directors and screenwriters. Women, even women in Hollywood, have friends who are more than their weight, and that can come through in their storytelling. We can vote with our dollars for TV shows and movies who are doing it right.
In this world, we can use the internet to tell people exactly what we think of them. The comments any celebrity’s instagram will tell you that. So often people tell them they’re fat, they’re unworthy, unattractive. Don’t do that. If you know people who do that, call them out. Tweet at producers and studios that you want to be represented and respected on screen.
Most importantly, love yourself exactly as you are, exactly as you look right now. I’m working on losing weight put on by some medication right now, because the sudden weight increase has been hell on my joints. I’m working on becoming healthier, and for me that’s about 25 lbs of less fat and more muscle than where I am right now, but I’m not putting my life on hold until my favorite jeans fit again. I still love myself and know and respect myself and my journey.
If you have someone in your life that you see as overweight or fat and that’s part of your description of them, even if it’s only in your internal dialogue, stop that shit now. That person is aware of their weight. You don’t need to tell them. They know about diets and exercise, and if they want to work on losing weight or being healthier for themselves, that’s their journey. It’s not yours. It’s fairly likely they are their own worst critic, so you don’t need to tell them that something is tight or doesn’t look good on them. No, not even if you’re “just worried about their health.” Their health is their own damn business. I have friends who eat like shit, don’t exercise, and binge drink regularly. They almost never have people tell them to change because they’re damaging their health. I polled my friends. Unless they’re over size 10 or they’re size 00 or 0, nobody remarks on their “health”. In fact, I have one friend who drinks daily and smokes like a chimney. Nobody said a word to her about her health until she gained a bit of weight. So fuck that.
Everyone’s body is different. I look thin, strong, and healthy at 155-165 lbs if I’ve been working out. AK, who is my height and age, would look completely different at that weight. That’s my peak healthy weight, but for her, I’m not sure if she hit that weight when she was pregnant and felt huge. I have very thin friends with health problems and a friend who is a size 4X whose doctor constantly remarks on how healthy she is overall. Low blood pressure, great cholesterol numbers, etc. She’s working on losing weight, but she’s doing it her way. You don’t get an opinion or comment.
I’m hoping AK will write a post soon about her experience with people telling her she’s too thin. We hit opposite ends of that spectrum, and that’s not OK either. Sorry this is long, but I have words.
-Love, light, health, and the incredible badassery of Kirstin Vangsness AND Penelope Garcia,