Moving day

Hey all.

I’ve officially made my first post on my new blog, During the Miles. I will most likely be doing all my writing there and my tumblr from now on.

Thanks for the outpouring of support in the past few weeks. I hope you will follow me at During the Miles and Where the Fruit Is. Either way, know that I am grateful for each and every one of you who have taken the time to read, comment, and follow.

To new adventures!

A move, but not THE move

Ever since I came back from my Christmas trip, a blog idea has been rattling around in my head. Trying surfing was such an amazing experience, and it really made me wonder what else I’ve been putting off because of fear/my weight.

I decided to try to do something every week that intimidated me, scared me, or made me uncomfortable. It’s going to be what Nicole jokingly called “the year of YOLO.” I am doing it on tumblr, so it will be shorter, more media-heavy posts. I am still contemplating a move to a different wordpress-style blog for my stories and essays. 

Anyway, I hope this little experiment will teach me some things. I hope it will give my life the kick it’s been needing. I hope I will begin to see that I don’t need to be so afraid.

I’d be honored if you’d join me for the ride. 

Two awkward girls?

Hi all. Amanda here.

First of all, thank you. There has been an incredible response to my previous entry. As of this writing, the version on CNN’s ireport has had over 20,000 views and 3,000 shares. Whether negative or positive, it’s hit a chord–and I really, truly hope that it has helped a few people in some way.

P.S. I would do some linking up there, but I’m having trouble with it. So much to learn, sigh.

When I sat down to write that blog entry, I was actually in the process of transitioning this blog to another site. I was so bothered by the note on Danielle’s car, though, that writing that entry just had to happen, and so I posted it here, even though it didn’t really fit the writing we had been doing.

To make a long story short, Nicole has decided to go in a different direction, so we are down to just one awkward girl. (Insert gratuitous joke about mood swings/Sybil here.) And while I have plenty of awkward stories, I kind of want to be able to write about other things. It won’t be all serious, but I want the freedom to write a funny story about a cringeworthy episode of my youth one day and an essay about modern feminism the next. I’d like to write about what it was like to grow up on a wildlife refuge in the middle of North Dakota, and about my weight loss journey. Sometimes I might even fangirl over Tom Hiddleston, but I’ll try to keep that to a minimum. My point is, I want to write about all those things, and I’m not so sure “2 awkward girls” is the address for it.

So. I may be moving, and I will certainly keep you informed. I hope my new readers will make the move with me when it happens. I hope you keep telling me what you think, like you did on my last entry. I hope to someday make enough off of my non-professional writing to buy a latte for myself once in a while (hey, I’m just being honest).

Anyway. Just saying: changes are coming, but I hope you’ll stick with me.

The world is not a safe place for a fat girl

Today, a friend of a friend posted this picture on facebook.

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Apparently, the woman who received this note parked next to two guys. It was a tight fit, so she had to squeeze to get out of her car. When she returned to her car from shopping, the other car was gone and this was left on her windshield.

I can only imagine how she felt. I’ve been there. I’ve witnessed people I love be there. My heart goes out to her, and how she must have felt in that moment–cheeks flushing, heart pounding, feeling like a bucket of cold water had just been thrown over her. I’m sure her weight was not what she was thinking about when she returned to her car from shopping. Maybe she was thinking about going home and getting supper for her family. Maybe she was thinking about whatever she had just bought at Ace. Maybe she was worrying about something that happened at work. I can almost guarantee you she was not thinking about her size.

But these two men had to make sure she was.

Beyond the rudeness, the cruelty, the idiocy of their actions. Beyond the fact that it just highlights how a woman’s body, to many people, is only meant to look attractive to them–and HOW DARE any woman not conform to that. Never mind the problem of a woman only having value if she is a certain size, race, able-bodiedness, etc. Never mind how unthinkable it is that anyone would leave a note this hurtful to someone a stranger who didn’t so much as speak to them. All of that aside . . . what really bothers me is that, if confronted, these two young (I assume) men would make all sorts of excuses, and undoubtedly one of those excuses would be something like, “Look, really we were helping her. She obviously needs to lose some weight.”

BULLSHIT.

I am here to tell you now that unkind words have never helped anyone make any kind of lasting change for the good of their health.

The ironic thing is, these men would probably never be satisfied. If they saw the woman who posted the picture eating a salad at McDonald’s, or working out at the gym, or huffing along the bike trail trying to jog, they would still feel the need to make a crack. And they would feel justified in it, because she deserved it for being fat.

I am here to tell you that the world does not feel like a safe place for a fat woman.

It doesn’t feel safe because you never know where the crack is going to come from. It might be from a stranger in the Ace Hardware parking lot. It might be your doctor (true story). It might be someone you were trying to let merge in front of you in traffic (also true story: they rolled their windows down and asked, “Could you tell me where the donut shop is?” and then laughed and drove away). It might be your own family members. It doesn’t matter how often it happens–you always feel blindsided. So you begin to put up walls. Walls that are hard to take down, even around the people who love you. Walls that make it hard for people to love you. Walls that make you flip out and fight or wither and hide after the slightest jab, no matter how light-hearted.

I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be like this.

We can and must crusade to change the world, of course we must. We must teach our kids to treat every person with respect, whether they find them attractive or not. We must treat each other with love and kindness.

But–more importantly–we must learn to do this for ourselves.

The world will never completely change. People will always continue to be cruel. Learning to love yourself is the biggest, baddest armor you can give yourself. And it is only then that any kind of real change to your health or size can happen.

No one can shame someone into losing weight. It just doesn’t work. And self-loathing-induced dieting is only effective for so long. There are only two options: starve yourself to death or start gaining weight back. After a youth spent restricting and binge exercising, gaining was what my body decided to do. No matter how much hate I heaped on myself for what I was becoming, I couldn’t reverse the upward trend.

I am certainly no weight loss expert, and I have a long way to go myself–in both improving my health and in learning to love myself. It will be a long road. But you know what helped me get to the place where I could start to lose some weight? Loving myself, at least part of the time. Surrounding myself with people who loved me unconditionally. Not tolerating any kind of body shaming from people in my life–even if it meant making the difficult choice to cut people out of my life. Dating men who told me (and meant it!) that I am beautiful, sexy, desirable exactly the way I am. Knowing that if I stayed exactly the way I was I’d be just fine. That’s when things started to change.

I visited family in Southern California over Christmas, and like any thawing Midwesterner I wanted to be at and in the ocean as much as possible.  My cousin laughed and took pictures as I splashed in the Pacific on Christmas Day.

When I saw the pictures she took, I wanted to cry. “What a whale of a woman,” I thought.

I posted the picture on a facebook board I frequent, seeking relief from the mean voices in my head. The biggest thing that surprised me was how many women said, “You are so brave for wearing a swimsuit in public! I couldn’t do that!” Women smaller than me. Much smaller than me.

That reminded me of how far I had come. I wore a swimsuit in Ventura and a wetsuit in San Diego (second only to LA in terms of SoCal shallowness) and you know what? I didn’t give a fuuuuuuuug. I figured I would never see those people again. I noticed the disgusted looks I got. As a bigger woman you’re always in tune with that. But I just didn’t care. I loved myself enough to do what I wanted to do, which was to be healthy and active over the holidays.

I am not friends with the woman who posted the picture of the note on facebook. But if I were, I would say: I hope you love yourself. And if you don’t, I hope you work on that first.  I know that the world is especially cruel to an overweight woman, but people will always find something wrong with you.  Don’t worry about changing your body–worry about changing your mind.

I am here to tell you that everything else will follow.

 

 

 

The One About Ovary Pancakes (Amanda)

Can we talk about pancakes? 

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Pancakes, man. AmIright??

For the record, my mom makes the BEST pancakes. The. Best. Like, you will eat to the point of pain. And then you’ll wait a little bit and then eat some cold pancakes. They’re that good.

For the other (?) record, I prefer my pancakes with butter, no syrup. Preferably with some organic, hand-rolled butter from grass-fed cows, but that’s because I’m a pretentious a-hole. Syrup just masks the delicious carb-y goodness of the ‘cakes. 

Anyway. Can we also talk about what should have ruined pancakes for me–but didn’t?

Can we talk about ovary pancakes??

Some of you may be laughing already, because you know where I’m going with this. Some yahoo decided to make a sex ed (why don’t they call it “menstruation ed”? That would have been more honest) video, and when it came down to showing young girls what their reproductive systems looked like in detail, he/she (let’s face it, it was probably a he) thought, “PANCAKES. THAT’S HOW WE’LL TEACH THESE YOUNG IMPRESSIONABLE FLOWERS ABOUT THEIR GIRL-GUTS.”  Sicko. 

As I remember it, the boys had had their sex ed (which should have been named “Nocturnal Ejaculation Is Normal Ed”) a day or two before we girls did. There was increased activity on the playground as we fifth grade girls chased the boys, trying to get them to tell us what their sex ed was all about. Of course, I had an older brother, and being a nosey little sister I had already read his “Nocturnal Ejaculation Is Normal” booklet and knew all about it. I didn’t let that on, though, because that would have ruined the fun of chasing the boys.

So later that week they take all the boys out and leave us girls for our special class. They pass us out our booklets and then shut off the lights so we can watch a movie. As I recall, the plot is two girls on a sleepover when one of the girls gets her period overnight. ZOMG. So the next morning over breakfast, to explain what in the world is going on with the crimson tide, the mom decides to make pancakes in the shape of the female reproductive system. You know, like you always do in those situations. 

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To this day, whenever my doctor is talking to me about something going on in my girl-guts, I picture the batter being poured into a uterus, then ovaries, then–whee!–the fallopian tubes. So I guess the video did its job.

As we left the room after the video, all the other fifth grade girls were like, “Ewwww!  Who would EAT those pancakes?”

And I was like, “Uh, I WOULD. Dudes, isn’t anyone else hungry?” 

 

Historical Awkwardness, part 2 (Amanda)

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“Onward, Sparky!”

I feel as though I would be remiss in letting you believe that my history of awkwardness ended with cut out pictures of baked goods taped pornily onto my headboard. Oh no, friends, the awkwardness continued, and at least one more incident had to do with cutting pictures out of magazines. At some point my mother should have just taken the scissors away from me, I think, but you know, fine motor skills and all that.

So a few years after the chocolate cake porn incident, we had moved halfway across the state and I had made a friend (A! friend) in the neighbor girl who lived a mile down our gravel road. Her name was Dawn and at 9 she was already cooler than me. Her parents let her have magazines with names like “Teen Beat.” I felt lucky to get a pink transistor radio for Christmas, but Dawn got TAPES. She was pretty B.A.

So, I went to Dawn’s house one day and saw a poster on her wall of the most glorious men I had ever encountered–taken from the aforementioned Teen Beat.

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SWOON.

I was like, “Who’s that?” and she was like, “Duh, it’s BON JOVI.” As before, my close-but-not-quite reasoning was, “Wow! It’s cool to put pictures of famous people on your walls!”

So close. So close, Amanda.

So I went home and again raided my only available resource–mom’s stack of Family Circle and Women’s Day. I searched and searched, but alas, there were no pictures of men who looked even remotely like the guys from Bon Jovi. In fact, in my estimation, there weren’t that many pictures of famous people period. LAME. Finally, though, my persistence paid off and I hit what I felt was surely teen idol gold.

Holding up the page, I asked, “Mom, is she a famous person?”

She glanced at the page. “Uh, yeah. Guess so.”

I looked at the picture again. This nice lady with lots of make up seemed really happy about prunes. “Well, who is she?”

“Barbara Mandrell.”

Good enough. I ran into my room, clutching the magazine, and oh so carefully extracted the page and proudly put it on my wall. YES. FAMOUS PERSON ON MY WALL. FINALLY COOL.

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For all my google-fu, I couldn’t quite find the exact advertisement, but this still from a tv ad should give you a pretty good idea.

The next time Dawn came to my house, she noticed Barbara Mandrell and her prunes and asked, “Who’s that?”  Oh, how the tables had turned! Smugly, I replied, “It’s a famous person.” And then for good measure I added, “DUH.”

* * *

Luckily for me, the book fair soon came to school and I was able to beg my mom into getting me a REAL poster of a REAL heartthrob. Remember that pink transistor radio? Well, in the middle of North Dakota in the 80’s, all you were gonna be able to tune in was country, oldies, or adult soft-rock. SUE ME THIS IS ALL I KNEW. So the poster I picked out?

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That glorious mullet…that braided belt…those tight stonewashed jeans.

Total score.

Not too long after that, I got lucky again and Dawn’s dad, who was also my Tae Kwon Do instructor, had scored for us posters. Signed posters. OF VIRGIL HILL.

Who’s Virgil Hill, you’re saying?  DUH. ONLY THE BEST BOXER TO COME OUT OF NORTH DAKOTA.  He too had a glorious mullet that was proudly displayed on my wall:

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YEAAAAAAAAH.

Some time after this my grandparents came to visit again and I again(when would I learn?) went to show them the tangible proof of how cool I had become. My grandmother stepped into my room and locked eyes with two be-mulleted men, one with very tight jeans and the other shirtless and fight-y and GASP BROWN.

She walked back out without saying a word. Bless her heart.