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 exited 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.
This is a little different than some of the things we’ve done lately, but we thought it was important to discuss. We’re all about empowering women to live their best lives, and we don’t think that living by a book written by men thousands of years ago is going to get you there. There’s a new crop of young, pretty, privileged women on YouTube who are doing their best to spread the message of the patriarchy, and it’s dangerous af. These women seem to have never questioned their belief systems, and are trying to teach other women and girls to do the same. As we’ve said before, most of the people we know and love are Christians, but the people we love deeply are open minded and not afraid to have a discussion about their beliefs. They’re also not bigots, like Kristin and Bethany seem to be.
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,
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,