Let's Make 2016 the Year of Self-Love!

TRIGGER WARNING: EATING DISORDERS, TRIGGERING PHOTOS

I love the city of Los Angeles.

It’s home.

It felt like home the moment I set foot in Hollywood, in a way I’d never experienced before.

This city has been so good to me; it has opened up so many of its doors and welcomed me creatively.

I wouldn’t be who or where I am today without Los Angeles.

But, there’s no question, LA can be a tough city.  It can be a hard place to exist in.

Los Angeles has a reputation for being superficial and beauty driven for a reason.  And while it’s not as bad as some people may think, this town is definitely focused on looks.  Add in the crazy pressure and beauty standards set by social media and all the toned, perfectly proportioned starlets walking around everywhere, it’s hard not to feel inadequate sometimes.

But, in all honesty, sometimes it’s just hard to exist anywhere.  We live in a society where we are constantly judged on how we look, a society where nearly every magazine cover, almost every actress, and pretty much every advertisement insists that we – as women – look a certain way.  And if we don’t resemble the ideal, we’re made to feel less than.  Less sexy, less desirable, less worthy, less of a person.

I try really, really hard to practice self-love and body positivity.  It’s been a long 26 year journey, just getting to the point that I can even say I love my body, much less believe it.  And I do believe it – I truly love my body.

And yet, more often than I’d like to admit, I find myself wishing it looked different, or comparing it to other womens,’ or talking badly about my stomach or boobs or butt.

Let’s back track.  I had an eating disorder though much of high school – what doctors diagnosed at first as “athletically induced anorexia,” but what mutated into full blown anorexia by the time it had reached its peak.  I would work out for hours at a time (I was already running cross country and track every morning, but I’d also go to the gym after school), and I cut my calories so severely that I was barely eating anything.  I was already so skinny that no one noticed I was getting skinnier.  Of course, when I looked in the mirror, in my mind I looked gigantic.  I had full on body dysmorphia and, thanks to society, I’d become convinced that big was bad, and that skinny was sexy. 

My emaciated body was far from sexy.  It was frail and fragile – not the strong, athletic body I needed to run 50 miles a week.  But skinny was the only thing I knew how to do – it was the only thing I could control about my looks.  I wasn’t particularly pretty.  I mean, I wasn’t bad looking, but I was awkward and curveless and no boys ever asked me to the homecoming dance or out on a date.  But I was skinny – and when, at some point, my mind convinced me I wasn’t skinny enough, I started starving myself.

If you’ve read past posts on my blog, you know this story.  Thankfully, I got help and made it through a treatment program.  I gained 25 pounds, going from 99lbs (and I’m 5’8” btw) to 124.  I vowed never to let my weight drop that low again.

But in college by insecurities remained, and were perhaps even heightened by my desire to be wanted – to be found sexually desirable by frat boys (eesh my priorities needed some work).  And again, in so many ways, my thin frame seemed like the only real thing I had to offer (sad, I know).  All the drinking and pizza eating I’d been doing freshman year had caused me to gain some weight, and I immediately went into freak out mode.  Freak out mode became bulimia.  I didn’t want to stop drinking, so I just started making myself throw up.  I’d stick my finger down my throat anytime I drank alcohol, or anytime I ate something that felt unhealthy.

Me in college, in the midst of my eating disorder.  I managed to keep my weight around 109 to 112.  Low enough to be super skinny, but not so low that I started having heart palpitations/chest pain/etc. (p.s. this was my outfit for a Kesha concert, not my going to class ensemble)

Me in college, in the midst of my eating disorder.  I managed to keep my weight around 109 to 112.  Low enough to be super skinny, but not so low that I started having heart palpitations/chest pain/etc. (p.s. this was my outfit for a Kesha concert, not my going to class ensemble)

I remember one night in particular, maybe a Wednesday or Thursday evening, when I was staying in my apartment doing homework (this was senior year and I wasn’t drinking nearly as much, and only on weekends).  I was totally sober, had done a crossfit class that morning and had eaten a salad for dinner, but had also eaten a handful of animal cookies for dessert.  I was racked with guilt and disgust after eating the cookies.  I was literally shaking I was so stressed out about it.  I went in the bathroom and threw up for five minutes, until I was crying over the toilet and feeling absolutely helpless.  A different sort of disgust settled in my gut – why am I doing this to myself?  But I couldn’t stop.  I managed to only let my weight drop about ten pounds, and figured out how to hover right there – at about 112 lbs.  It was enough that no one noticed I’d lost weight, and it wasn’t enough to be dangerous to my health.  But it was absolutely damning for my emotional and mental health.

After college I moved to AZ to live with my then boyfriend.  The bulimia, while not as severe, was still intermittent.  If I had more than two or three drinks (which was very often – we drank a lot) I had to throw up.  If we ate out somewhere and I splurged on something fried, then I had to throw up when we got home.  I managed to live with him for almost two years, and he never figured it out.  One night, toward the end of our relationship, I told him the truth – that I was vomiting at least once a week on purpose.  I don't think he knew what to do or how to be supportive.  We were already a mess, and I think this news was just too much for him.  A month or so later we broke up, and I moved back to TX for a few months before moving out to LA.

Since moving to Los Angeles, my weight has stayed consistent at a healthy number.  Building a supportive network of friends out here has really helped me to stay strong in the face of my eating disorder and insecurities.  Discovering feminism and the idea of self-love has given me a reason to fight – to fight back against the nasty voices in my head telling me I’m not pretty enough, skinny enough, good enough. 

I still struggle.  Every single day I have to remind myself that I’m beautiful, that I am enough. There are times when I eat something unhealthy and my instinct is to break down – my instinct is to fall back into the dangerous habits I developed over the last ten years of my life.  It’s hard.  It’s really, really hard sometimes. 

Me now, healthy and feeling more like myself than ever before <3

Me now, healthy and feeling more like myself than ever before <3

Everyday I see pictures of girls and women who are skinnier than me, “prettier” than me, more successful (by whatever standards) than me.  All of those terms are subjective and meaningless, I know that.  But in some ways my mind is wired to think along those terms.  That’s the way the world has conditioned me to think.  And it fucking sucks.  So I shove and push and dig myself out of those feelings.  I claw and bite and snarl at the notion that there’s only one kind of beauty, one ideal body, one model of success.

I long for the day when I no longer have to claw and shove and fight.  I hope, one day, I will feel completely at ease with who I am and how I look.  But I know that takes time.  All I can do is try my best to love myself.  So I work fiercely to embrace self-love and to practice positive self-talk.  I work fiercely to remember that another woman’s beauty does not negate my own.  I work adamantly to remember that, at the end of this life, it isn’t how I looked that matters.  It isn’t how flat my stomach was or how big my boobs were. 

Me, a few months ago, about to get 2nd place in the Malibu Half Marathon :) &nbsp;I'm so proud of this body - a strong, healthy body that allows me to run and move through the world with energy and passion! &nbsp;Note: no thigh gap. &nbsp;Note x2: who gives a fuck?!

Me, a few months ago, about to get 2nd place in the Malibu Half Marathon :)  I'm so proud of this body - a strong, healthy body that allows me to run and move through the world with energy and passion!  Note: no thigh gap.  Note x2: who gives a fuck?!

Life is too short not to love yourself.  It’s an ongoing process for me, but it’s a journey I’m so glad to be on, and one that has been incredibly fulfilling.  It’s made me vulnerable but strong; it’s left me scared, but showed me just how brave I am.  The journey toward self-love isn’t easy, but it’s so, so worth it.

Thank you for supporting me on mine, and know that I support you wholeheartedly on yours.

xoxo

Girl Thing

Girl Thing

eating ice cream

a perfect replica of erotica

her bubblegum hair is puffed and pouffed

her breasts perky and plump with night drowsies

maraschino lips and a soft unfolding

stardust on her eyelashes

glitter in her sheets

a pastel pin-up

primed for cake and candy

sugary sweet tooth

and the mint chocolate chip drips

sticky fingers, melty daydreams

a baby doll anime-eyed darling

with a perfect pussy

sculpted from the glamour mags

porcelain and pretty

a soft and sultry

sexed up Girl Thing

Books Every Grrl Should Read - Part One "Gurlesque"

I’m an avid reader.  For as long as I can remember I’ve loved books.  I’m also an avid promoter of all things grrly and feminist.  I’m currently in the middle of an incredible non-fiction book about all things woman, and it inspired me to do several posts about my favorite female-centered books (by and for women; but men, you should definitely read them too!).

So here’s your first book review/introduction!

Gurlesque: the new grrly, grotesque, burlesque politics (poems and artwork by a variety of women, compiled and introduced by editors Lara Glenum and Arielle Greenberg).

This book completely changed my life, both personally and in regards to my writing.  I’d always been interested in gender studies and feminism, but it wasn’t until I engulfed myself in this incredible collection that I realized I could merge my poetry with gender/stereotypes/inequality/femininity/sexuality/etc.  I realized that I could charge my words with an electric current of feminism – in whatever form or style I wanted.  I could be ferocious or seductive; I could play coy or innocent.  I could make statements and challenge ideas.  I could play into stereotypes and make them implode messily.  The female writers and artists in this anthology are my literary sisters – it didn’t take me long to realize that I too was a member of the Gurlesque movement.

Speaking of which, here’s an excerpt from Arielle Greenberg’s intro describing, in her words, what the Gurlesque is:

The Gurelsque was born…in Burma and Ohio and Korea and New York and Olympia, WA and other places.  Her ancestor was Ophelia, running around singing spooky songs with her hair all drippy.  Her grandmother was Alice in Wonderland and Eloise and Ramona the Pest.  Her mom was a Second Wave feminist and a hippie and a lady who had never been to a consciousness-raising group but sometimes watched Maude and an immigrant and a farmwife and a former Girl Scout…Her aunts were Angela Davis and Nan Goldin and Hello Kitty and the Guerilla Girls and Dolly Parton and Exene Cervenka and Cindy Sherman and Poly Styrene, the fifteen-year-old multiracial girl with braces on her teeth screaming “Some people say little girls should be seen and not heard, but I say: Oh, bondage, up yours!” as she fronted the band the X-Ray Spex in a 1977 punk club.  (The Gurlesque, 1)

Every time I read that description I get the most wonderful sort of shivers.  It makes me eager to start writing, eager to call up my girlfriends, and proud to be a woman.

The Gurlesque – whether in regards to poetry, music, art, or lifestyle -  is quirky, unapologetic, controversial, beautiful and at times even repulsive.  And the women who represent it, write about it, and live it are all of these things and more.  They – I should say we - are little girls in pink tutus and seductive women in black lace; we are stuffed animals and fishnet stockings; we are rainbow glitter and birth control.  This movement and this book are about innocence and lust, pain and pleasure—female sexuality in all its chaos.  From Gurlesque poets like Glenum, Greenberg, Chelsey Minnis, and Nada Gordon, to artists like Lauren Kalman, Lady Aiko, E.V. Day, and Hope Atherton, to musicians like the women involved in the earlier and inspirational Riot Grrl movement and modern musicians (perhaps Lady Gaga, Sky Ferreira) the women of the Gurlesque are as special and as varied as their creative works.  But through writing, singing, blogging, drawing, sculpting, etc., they all explore modern femininity and what it means to be a female in today’s society. 

Whew!  It sounds amazing doesn’t it?  It really, truly is.  I strongly urge every woman to pick up a copy of The Gurlesque.  The poetry and photography are inspiring, disturbing, and eye-opening.   Every woman owes it to herself to at least learn about the Gurlesque movement

It might seem strange or even frightening at first, but trust me – the Gurlesque can change your life in a lot of crazy amazing ways.

As Greenberg says at the end of her introduction, “Take the girly.  Shake it up.  Make a milkshake.  Make it throw up.”  Let go of your inhibitions, your fears, and your insecurities.  Grab your stilettos, your tiara, your blue jeans or whatever the hell you want and READ THIS BOOK!

XOXO!

(And stay posted – my poem this week will be inspired by these writers and artists, and there will be several more book reviews in the coming weeks!)

You don't have to wear pink to by grrly; it's just my favorite color :)

You don't have to wear pink to by grrly; it's just my favorite color :)

Gurlesque (and über shiny Christmas tree lights!)

Gurlesque (and über shiny Christmas tree lights!)