feelings · feminism · mississippi · motherhood · politics · protest · race · sexual assault · trump

Dear Trump Supporter, On #WhyIMarch

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I live in the deep south, where we don’t have snowflakes, we have thunderstorms, and let me tell you, we saw one today.  Hundreds of people showed up HERE, in Mississippi of all places, to march for women’s rights, to say that Black Lives Matter, climate change is real, love is love, and immigrants make America great, so you can save your insults, because we are not afraid of you.  We are the storm!

I want you to hear me now.

WE WILL NEVER SHUT UP.

I know why you want us to.  It’s because every moment that we resist, speak up, defend our rights, march, rally, tweet, blog, write, perform, sing, and generally take up space, you get a little uncomfortable.  That’s what being wrong feels like. It feels like embarrassment, shame, humiliation.  I understand.  I have felt all those things, and I empathize, but I also see right through you. Your defensiveness, bullying, desperate clinging to old worn out backwards ideas of the south, of faith, of God, of a twisted hypocritical morality are more transparent than the wrapper on a fruit roll-up.

Here’s what you need to know.  We will never get over it and move on.

WE WILL NEVER ACCEPT DONALD TRUMP.

The reason is simple.  Trump has crossed way too many lines, remorselessly, purposefully, to gain personal power.

You may be able to ignore his bragging about sexual assault, but as a survivor, I will never be able to do that.  Every time I see that man, I will remember his cruel, shameful, disgusting words on that tape, and every time they will remind me of my own assaults, of the many times I have been groped, harassed, and treated as an object. Every time he is physically near a woman, I fear for her safety.  I remember the many victims who spoke out against him.  I remember the many young beauty pageant contestants who claimed he violated their privacy and made them feel unsafe.  I remember the insults and the misogynist language he has used to humiliate and threaten women, on tape, for the whole world to hear.  I do not accept that.

You may be able to ignore his mocking of a disabled reporter, but I will never be able to do that.  I have too many disabled family members, have seen too much suffering, and carry way too much empathy and kindness in my heart to accept that.

You may be able to ignore his racism, but I will never be able to do that.  I am raising a woman of color.  I care more about her than I care about anything else in this world.  I care more about her future than anything else in this world.  I care more about her heart and soul than anything else in this world.  I would do anything for that child.  She is the number one reason I marched today.  I will not miss an opportunity to do everything in my power to make her path in life safer and more joyful.

You may be able to ignore his hatred of immigrants, but I will never be able to do that.  I know that had my family, generations ago, and the father of my child’s family, just one generation ago, not immigrated here, that I would not have my daughter, my home, my citizenship, and I know that this country would be worse off.  I cannot accept that.

You may be able to ignore his Islamophobia, but I will never be able to do that, because I know that the freedom I have to practice my religion, is incumbent on all people being free to practice their religion, or none at all, and that hatred is neither Christian, nor practical.

You may be able to ignore his lies, but I will never be able to do that, because I place a high moral value on the truth, on honesty, on facts, on information, on data, on science, and on integrity.

You may be able to ignore the damage he will do to our planet, but I will never be able to do that.  Science does not care what your opinion is.  Climate change is real, and if you don’t understand it, stop reading this right now, and get informed.  All you need to do is a simple google search and you will have a wealth of knowledge right at your fingertips.  Our world already has climate refugees.  We already have melting ice, disappearing habitats, natural disasters, drought, wildfires, earthquakes, rising oceans, rapid warming, grave economic, wildlife, and human loss.  At this point, it is not a question of if it will happen, but, how bad will it be?  Without a president who takes this seriously we will all suffer, gravely, our children and grandchildren most of all, and I do not accept that.

I could go on.  Trump’s list of crimes, frauds, insults, bullying, hate, lies, and ignorance, seems to get longer each and every single day.  The important thing to understand, is that there is nothing he can do to earn my acceptance of him, short of a remorseful public apology to the many groups he has threatened and insulted, followed by his immediate resignation, and disappearance from public life.

But of course, there is good news.  We do not need Trump’s permission to be kind, good, moral, just people.  We don’t need his permission to donate our (TAX DEDUCTIBLE) money to organizations that combat hate, help those in need, and help heal our souls.We do not need Trump’s permission to treat each other with kindness and respect.  We do not need Trump’s permission to accept and love all people, regardless of skin color, socioeconomic status, immigration status, sexual or gender identity, or religion.  We do not need Trump’s permission to register to vote, to organize our communities, to run for office, to volunteer, to take back the legislature in 2018, to support women, to fight for our rights, to protest, to make art, to be creative, to believe survivors of sexual assault nor to demand accountability and fairness from our government.  We don’t need his permission to raise an entire generation of strong powerful women, of future presidents, of leaders of the next revolution.

I want us all to take this moment, this day, where we made such an incredible, powerful, open, loving, and massive display of our power and let it be OUR INAUGURATION as the leaders we must be, and Trump supporters, when you live in a fairer, better, wealthier, healthier, safer country because of us, you can thank us later.  You are welcome to join this movement at any time.  There are no walls here.

 

 

 

body positivity · feelings · feminism · motherhood · politics

Goal Setting Video!

So this Friday I was supposed to only talk for a few minutes but FAIR WARNING I talk for like 20 minutes.  If you don’t have time to sit and watch the whole thing I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND. Here’s the basics, sometimes New Years Resolutions aren’t the right thing to do.  If you fail at them, give yourself forgiveness and a second chance, or third chance. Set goals that are important to you, that you want, that you desire.  THANK YOU in advance for watching this video!  If you like it, like, subscribe, comment, share, all that!

xoxo

Leslie

babies · feelings · feminism · motherhood · politics

Afraid of Dinosaurs

museum-367730_960_720Ever since my toddler has started going to preschool three days a week, I have been amazed at the things she is learning. For sure, the things I love most, are the things she picks up from other kids.  She came home the first week and suddenly knew how to roll a car across the floor, something that had eluded her before, playing alone in our house where she showed very little interest in cars.

Today, she was sitting in the shopping cart at the store and we passed some toy and she said, “That’s 5 dollars.”

What?  I mean, I guess she could have picked this up from me or from TV in some roundabout way, but it was so specific.  My mother’s intuition told me this was some statement she was parroting back that she had heard a bigger kid say (she’s the second youngest in her class) while playing.  I have no idea if the toy in question was actually 5 dollars, but I doubt it.  It was just fascinating to me that we were in a store, she saw something and randomly announced, “that’s 5 dollars.”  I laughed so hard.

One of the more random things that she started doing a few weeks into preschool is coming up to me (especially when my attention is elsewhere) and saying, “Afraid Dinosaurs Mama!”  Then she asks me to “hold” or buries her face in my leg.  This is a little performance she does almost every day.  She comes to me, “Afraid Dinosaurs Mama!” and then I have to snuggle her.

As a mom, I sometimes find myself at a total loss for the right way to respond to something, especially seemingly irrational toddler things, especially when I have no idea where they’re coming from.  So I had just been holding her up until now saying, “Mama will protect you.  I won’t let any Dinosaurs get you,” and trying to figure out where this fear is coming from.

At first I thought maybe it was my step-dad stomping around the house, which can be kind of alarming, but she did it even when he wasn’t around.  Then one day at school, she pointed out a giant mural of a dinosaur on a storage building in the playground area of the school.  That could totally be it, I thought, she’s remembering this from school and… I don’t really know.

What I do know is that she wants my affection in this moment and she’s pretending there’s a dinosaur there to get it, so I give it, freely and happily.  I am her mama and I am not gonna let her down, but today it occurred to me to try something new as well.

I taught her to flex her muscles and say, “I’m Strong.  I’m Tough.  I’m Not Afraid.  I’m Brave.”

She LOVES it.  She still wants me to hold and cuddle her, and I do, but now it’s an even more fun game of putting on her “tough girl” face and repeating the mantra.  “I’m Strong. I’m Tough.  I’m Not Afraid.  I’m Brave.”  We did this about 90 times tonight because toddler.  It was an incredibly good feeling.

I needed it.  I needed to teach her something good.  I wish that I grew up in a time where these qualities were fostered in me, where being strong and tough and brave was as important for me as it was for the boys around me.  I learned them anyway, the hard way.

My mom has been trying to console me all day.  She knows I’m grieving over this election loss, over what it means for me and my daughter, for our rights.  I haven’t been able to let much positivity in.  I tell her, “Afraid Dinosaurs Mama” and she tells me, “I’ve felt this way before too.  We will get through this.”  She made spaghetti and it was so good.  She tells me my daughter will be the first woman president.

I am legitimately afraid for people’s lives.  I am afraid for soldiers who may be sent to another unending bloody war at this man’s hands.  I am afraid for Muslims, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, refugees, people of color, and women who will lose much at this man’s hands.  I am afraid of Black churches being burned.  I am afraid of schools falling apart.  I am afraid of nuclear weapons.  I am afraid of the never-ending bitter objectification of women.  I am afraid that so many people don’t care about that, or don’t understand it.  I wish these things were dinosaurs.  I feel better prepared to deal with dinosaurs.

But I have a daughter, and I have to teach her, and I have to hold her and protect her.

That’s the way forward.  Raise more women who know that they are strong, tough, and brave.  Support the women in your life who are afraid but still fight.  Hold women.  Protect women.  Teach them they are strong.  Teach them they are tough.  Teach them they are brave.  That’s how we change it.

body positivity · fat acceptance · feelings · feminism · weight loss

The Last Diet I Ever Went On

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A photo from my former “style blog,” where I stand posed like a flamingo and hold an ice cream bar.

Back in the early 2000’s there was a very popular diet book called The Skinny Bitch diet.  It was a New York Times bestseller, and a secret manifesto for an extreme form of veganism. You were of course, not to know this from the cover.  The word “vegan” isn’t mentioned at all in the marketing. Your first clue that it’s bullshit is that they have to lie to you to get you to buy it. Then when you actually read it, they sell you a vegan diet with compelling, manipulative and graphic depictions of animal slaughter.

The book goes much further than just mere veganism though.  It’s a highly restrictive way of eating.  No animal products of any kind (not even honey, because it comes from bees) and no sugar, no refined carbs, no processed food (unless it was vegan… hypocritical much?), strongly encouraged organic food only, and no caffeine.

For a lot of women who were sick of being fat (so all of us back then, and yes obviously, you could be sick of being fat without even needing to be fat, that’s how pervasive fat hatred is), this was a very appealing book on the surface.  It was like a sassy, edgy, cool diet book. It was marketed like chick lit, and for those of us tired of feeling sad and being on the sad Atkins diet or whatever, it seemed like this might be a diet book that would make us feel angry instead, which is much more satisfying.

The authors used really mean bullying language and lots of profanity; lovely little quips like “don’t be a fat pig anymore,” and “you need to exercise you lazy shit.”  I LOVED it. Let me tell you, for somebody who deeply hated herself, this book was like a breath of fresh toxic air.  The book hated me too!  Finally, I had semi-scientific proof that I was horrible.

This mean ass book had me MORALLY CONVINCED that following its every command was the right thing to do.  It was also a very convenient excuse for me to become the most annoying of all my friends and to have VERY STRONG OPINIONS about why this current version of restrictive eating was TOTALLY ABOUT LIKE THE PLANET AND STUFF and not because I hated my body and wanted to erase it somehow.  One of the ways the diet industry loves to convince you to buy their books and products and restrict what you eat is by convincing you that you have a moral obligation to do so.  Buy this or you’re bad- erase yourself or you’re bad- alienate all your meat-loving family and friends or you’re bad, and so on…

(P.S. I am not anti-vegan.  I know there are reasonable vegans out there who have great reasons to be so.  I also know that veganism is not a miracle cure for weight loss though, and that anybody selling you veganism as a weight loss method is not to be trusted.  A vegan diet does not equal a place in Taylor Swift’s Supermodel Squad.)

Naturally, the authors had totally bullshit credentials, so they wrote a diet book of course, which was cool because they were also already thin. We all know that naturally thin people are like, total experts on losing weight.  It’s kind of like if I had decided to become a mommy blogger before having my kid, even though I’d never given birth, because, I like totally have a mom. I was born!  Listen to me!

So needless to say, this eating disorder masquerading as a diet worked it’s magic.  I bought it all hook, line, and sinker.  I followed the diet in this book for months, to the letter.  I was very committed and yet remarkably, I never lost any weight.  There are lots of reasons why scientists now believe diets don’t work, yet we keep trying them, and I was no exception. I spent tons of money on this diet too, because it was so restrictive and it was like, only the most expensive foods possible were on it.  I was also starving all the time because everything was so low calorie I had to eat a ton of it not to feel hungry, then of course it would pass right through me and I’d be hungry again in what felt like minutes.

I remember the book telling me that skinny bitches only ate one piece of fruit for breakfast, that’s it, and only if we were starving could we have another piece of fruit. There is not a nutritionist in the world who would tell you one piece of fruit is enough calories or balance of nutrients to get you through an entire morning after you’ve not eaten since maybe 6 pm the night before, and that meal was carrots.

I talked about and defended this diet constantly in order to justify how annoying I had become, placing myself in an ever-spiraling cycle of being the most annoying person around.  I was super socially detached, because I couldn’t eat nearly anything I didn’t prepare myself.  I tried to save face a lot by just not eating in front of other people at all.

After months of this, eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore, but I was too embarrassed to admit to anyone that this totally unsustainable way of life was making me so miserable.  I never “got used to it” as all diets promise. So I developed this habit of most nights, after starving myself all day or just not having enough money to buy organic avocados and raw almonds for 3 meals a day, going to Wendy’s after work and eating their latest monstrosity, an incredibly delicious sandwich called the Baconator, that feels like eating a heart attack in physical form, with large fries and a coke.  I would shovel this into my mouth in secret in the parking lot of the Wendy’s, so nobody could see my shame, all the while mentally torturing myself for being such a failure.

Then in front of everyone else I would eat slices of orange bell pepper and talk about how much energy I had, even though I was constantly exhausted.

Then, one day while I was living my double life, I came across an article in O Magazine written by a fat girl about my size who had been dieting on and off for years and had stopped and embraced something called “fat acceptance.”  From what I remember about this article (which is very little) she talked a lot about her relationship with her mom and how she thought diets were actually making her gain weight, I think?  She said she had found peace when she started reading fat acceptance blogs.  This was the most shocking thing in the article.  These were literally like BRAND NEW words to me. Okay? FAT. ACCEPTANCE.  What in the hell was that?  I was instantly suspicious.

I was so fucking skeptical my eyes nearly rolled right out of my head, out the door and went off to live a life of their own somewhere without me and my confused ass brain, but the concept that there was something out there that might free me from this misery I was in was so fascinating I had to know more.

I googled “fat acceptance blogs,” with the same curiosity I would, “is Bigfoot real?”

The internet was a little different back then.  If you google this today, you get directed to feminist websites that have entire catalogs of articles written about this.  There’s a Wikipedia page for it.  There are dozens of actual books written about it.  There’s a whole glossary of new terms with which to discuss it.  Back then, it was a relatively small community of bloggers who wrote on their own individual blogs and shared information. It was insulated.  It was subversive.

I don’t know if I can properly convey how it felt to read these blogs.  Literally for the first time in my fat life (all of it post puberty) I felt like I mattered, but more than that, I felt like myself.  Truth bomb after truth bomb just flooded my consciousness.  Everything was just a resounding brilliant exuberant form of “YES!”  Fat people are people!  It’s not nice to make fun of people, even if they’re fat!  Fat people can be healthy!  Skinny people are sometimes unhealthy! Diets don’t work! You deserve love! You are a person! Your body is not bad because it’s fat!  Boom. Boom. Boom.

The fountain of all this fat acceptance wisdom seemed to emanate mainly from one place though, and that was Kate Harding‘s blog, Shapely Prose, where Kate and other bloggers dissected fat hatred, and proposed the radical feminist concept that fat people are people. She certainly wasn’t the only influential blogger, but she was definitely at the top.  She was whip-smart and was published and featured in bigger more reputable places than just her blog.  She also wrote about feminism and other things not related to fat acceptance. She had a ton of credibility and she is an even more respected and widely read author today.

Kate had inspired thousands of women to consider the possibility that they weren’t worthless horrible human beings simply because they didn’t look like Victoria’s secret models.  She had also written, really, the quintessential manifesto for fat acceptance which was and still is, the Shapely Prose FAQ page, in which she answered with sass, research, science, data, logic, and incredibly well-reasoned arguments why being fat is not a crime, it’s actually okay, fine, and not a moral failure.  I will forever be grateful to her and that community for speaking out and giving me this life line.

The thing was, not in a bullying way, but in a frank, in-your-face, truth-telling bad ass kind of way, Kate’s writing gave me similar feelings to what the Skinny Bitch diet had, but instead of angry shame it was more like angry feminist inner power, and this time I could tell, for whatever reason, that without a doubt, she was right.

Even at my most committed on the Skinny Bitch diet, I was dubious that it was trustworthy.  For one thing, I never became the svelte sophisticated glamorous thin woman I had been promised on the Skinny Bitch diet, and I had followed it to the letter for months, yes, even exercising.  I had just gotten sadder.

Nothing in my life improved from dieting, and I think it was this sort of rock bottom that allowed me to see the light.  I was depressed, unfulfilled, overworked, underpaid and not pursuing any of my passions.  I wanted to write but I wasn’t writing.  I wanted to do theater but I never auditioned.  I wanted a boyfriend but I detested my own body and appearance so much that men could smell my misery from a mile away.  I was a walking red flag.

I wasn’t in control of my life at all, and I was placing all my dreams and effort to make those dreams happen in the hands of a diet book written by self-proclaimed bitches.  It’s not like this was the first diet I’d gone on.  I had been on many before it, but this was the last one (and in my opinion the most evil).  I no longer wanted to be thin above all else.  I wanted to be a nice smart person and a good human being, and I started by being that to myself.

I forever gave up on the idea that “once I was thin,” everything would get better, and you know what happened?  Pretty much everything got better.  I moved to New York, where I got my first published writing work.  I put up my own original plays.  I started my own blog, a body positive style blog that I wrote as a silly character/alter ego named Coco Beautiful, and it started raining men.  I was pulling HOT dudes that I never would have even had the confidence to look at when I was in my dieting craze (otherwise known as my entire teenage to adult life to that point).

Also, this new “fat acceptance phase” did something no diet ever managed.  It stuck. Despite the fact that fat hatred is still resiliently lurking around every corner, I am still fighting it, over 8 years later, and my life is better than ever.  My mental health is the best it’s ever been.  I have a beautiful healthy child who fills my life with joy and purpose.  I’m dating a great guy right now.  I’m getting paid for my writing work.  I have incredible friends and family.  I feel beautiful.  I love my style and taste and feel wonderful and sexy in my own skin.  I eat. whatever. I. want. to.

It wasn’t easy and it still isn’t.  If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot more people trying to convince you to be thin than not, but it’s a lot better, and one thing I know for sure, is that I’m pleased as punch not to be anybody’s bitch, skinny or otherwise.

babies · feelings · feminism · mississippi · motherhood · politics · protest · race · sexual assault · trump

What Happens When You Throw an Anti-Trump Rally in Mississippi

img_20161009_184224Donald Trump has brought out a side of me I haven’t seen since my college days.  He has made me militant af and so far there’s no sign of my backing down.  My level of rage has not abated.  Hearing that garbage human talking about women that way on Friday was very triggering to me and apparently I just live like this now and because I am back to pre-pregnancy, pre-breastfeeding levels of caffeine intake a day  I have a lot of manufactured energy to burn.

I got the idea to throw a “Never Trump” rally and immediately texted my friend Lindsay, who is a very reasonable person, and who has protest experience, and whose husband is a police officer and would know if I was doing something illegal and is also a normal mom with kids who doesn’t want their president and role model to be a sexual predator.

I knew if she agreed to show up, I would go do this rally even if I could only get a few people to show up.

For anybody who doesn’t live in Mississippi, it’s hard to explain the level of political apathy and willful ignorance people engage in here.  The polite term for racists, misogynists, and white supremacists here is, “my redneck cousins,” or “my REALLY redneck cousins.”  When people have gotten engaged lately, it mainly seems like they support Trump.  I wish I could say it were just everybody’s redneck cousins, but it’s not. It’s average people, working class, etc…  He has held rallies here with thousands of people in attendance.  The headline our local TV station chose in the aftermath of the tape was about Trump apologizing for the tape, instead of you know, that a candidate for president had bragged about sexual assault.  It’s no secret that this is a very red state, so why bother protesting?

At the end of the day, I just couldn’t keep quiet.  It seemed too important not to make some kind of statement and I truly believe that most people here would never leave their daughter alone in a room with this guy and would be deeply ashamed if their son acted like that, so I thought it was worth it to try something.

It was very important to me to do it before the debate and in a timely manner before the press moved on to whatever Trump scandal erupted next so I created an event Saturday to protest the next day, Sunday.  I knew this short notice would probably prevent me from getting a bigger crowd, but I didn’t want to wait.

Lindsay and I got the word out fast.  We posted our event on the WLOX article about Trump “apologizing,” and we DM’d multiple likely anti-trump groups.  Our event was shared 14 times in 24 hours by regular people and large progressive groups with huge followings.  We invited people across political party lines and we got at least 54 interested people.  I knew we would only get a small fraction of those to actually show up and I was right, but the people who did come, were so amazing.

I made some very basic signs that said “Never Trump” and a few other phrases, got there early and waited.  I used my stroller to carry everything and set up camp in Gulfport’s largest and most prominent public park right near HWY 90, the main drag on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  People slowly filed in.  We ended up with 8 adults and a few of us brought our kids.

We had a brief prayer/moment of silence for Survivors of Sexual Assault.  My toddler interrupted me and squirmed throughout my short speech where I read off a list of different things Trump has done to disqualify him for the presidency (and public life at all) and then we got our signs and headed toward traffic. (I wore my babe in my Tula, so she was safely attached to me, not running off).

I was very nervous about safety.  I told everyone to stay together, and not to engage with anybody who came at us with negativity.  I told everyone that if at any point they felt threatened or unsafe we would shut down, and if anybody looked like they would get violent we would immediately call the police.  At one point a young skateboarder kind of scared me because my overactive imagination (and the reality that there are tens of thousands of gun owners here) made me question if his cell phone was a gun.

So imagine my relief when the first cars drove by our signs and started honking in support!  We did get a few people (all white) who gave us the bird or a thumbs down or yelled something at us.  We could hardly ever make out what they said.  My absolute favorite moment was when a guy shouting his support for Trump and giving us the bird got slapped in the face by his girlfriend in the front seat.  I was dying.  It was like watching a metaphor for the feminist struggle physically manifest itself in front of my eyes.  The skateboarder kid?  He politely asked to take a selfie with us.  His mama raised him right.

All in all, it genuinely seemed like people were happy to see us out there.  Practically every black or Latino person who drove by us honked or shouted or waved or gave us a thumbs up of support and even some old ass white people did too (and a few other white people).

My favorite was the black guys in their big trucks revving their engines.  It’s just such a quintessential way to show your feelings in the deep south.

It was really nice to meet the other people who showed up to protest.  We all added each other on Facebook and exchanged info about our backgrounds and political involvement.  I think I’ll see them again at future events.

My daughter loved it.  We were outside. There were other kids there.  I brought crayons! Her absolute favorite part was when we would chant.  If you’ve never heard a little baby shouting “Never Trump!” you haven’t lived.  It sounded like this- “Ne-ba Chump! Ne-ba Chump!”  I’m so proud of my little activist.

All in all, it felt amazing.  It felt very empowering to be holding a bright blue sign and shouting at the top of my lungs, utterly rejecting this sleazebag, out loud, in public, unashamed, not hiding.  I felt like I was accomplishing more than I might just losing my shit on facebook during hour after hour of my rage spiral.  I had my laughing baby on my back, good people at my side, perfect weather, sunshine and a cool breeze.  It was a beautiful day and people saw us, they listened, and maybe we let people know, who wouldn’t dare come to a rally, that there were people out there who felt the way they did, that they weren’t alone, and it’s ok to stand against the crowd of people telling you to tow the party line, or not to vote your conscience.  It felt like freedom.

So that’s what happens at an Anti-Trump rally in Mississippi, you have fun, your baby is cute, you get an overwhelming majority of supporters versus cretins, and you meet super nice politically engaged people!  I think you know what your weekend plans are everybody!

feelings · feminism · motherhood · sexual assault · trump

Sexual Assault is #notokay

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The first time I was sexually assaulted was when I was 12.  A boy in one of my 7th grade classes groped my breast.  I was embarrassed and scared and ashamed.  I wanted to stay quiet.  A girl I was friends with witnessed it.  She made me tell the teacher.  The boy was sent to the vice-principal’s office. He came back to class that period and sat next to me every day for the rest of the semester because there were assigned seats.  I don’t think anyone ever called my parents.  I don’t know if he was ever punished.

The second time, a family member forced me to hold up my shirt to show him my breasts and threatened me if I didn’t do it.  He also snuck in my room and lifted my shirt while I pretended to sleep because I was too scared to move.  I was 13.

Too many times to count, as a young woman dancing in a club or out for a night, a man rubbed his erection on me on the dance floor or groped me or tried to kiss me without my consent.

Once, when I was hanging out with friends at the People’s Improv Theater in New York, a place I loved and felt safe in, where I put up my first plays in New York, where I still have many wonderful friends to this day, a man who had previously been banned from the theater for allegedly assaulting another woman, without any provocation from me, grabbed my face and kissed me in the middle of the conversation.  I was drunk and confused.  I tried to shake it off.

When he tried to do it again, I stopped him and said, “you shouldn’t have done that the first time.” He got angry and started yelling at me but it was loud and crowded and nobody noticed.  He accused me of leading him on and walked away from me.  A guy I had a crush on was nearby and I was embarrassed.  I was afraid he would think I was into this guy or with this guy who had kissed me without my consent.  To other people it probably looked innocent enough, drunk people making out in a bar, maybe even dating, getting in an argument, you don’t want to interfere, a guy wouldn’t do that in front of everybody if it wasn’t ‘ok’ right?  Especially a guy with a bad reputation who maybe needed to prove that women liked him?

These are my stories, and they all make me cringe and feel afraid and skeptical of men to this day.  I have more too.  I’ve been followed home by men, cornered in elevators, yelled at on the street.  I’ve even been roofied.  I think the horror of being roofied made me talk about it for a long time with a sense of humor.  It was the only way I dealt with it.  The man who roofied me and my friend didn’t get away with anything.  He didn’t get his hands on me, but when I think about what would have happened if he had, I can’t handle that, so I joke about it being a wild night.

Not anymore.

When I heard the Donald Trump tape of him, a rich powerful famous married man, bragging about kissing women without permission, how he could get away with anything because he was a star, how he couldn’t control himself, how he tried to fuck married women, how he moved on them like a bitch, how he could grab their pussies, I felt and remembered every time a man has sexually assaulted me and so did millions of women.

These are my stories, but the story I have told people many times about sexual assault is this, and it is the one that has stuck with me the most, and it is the most powerful one I know.  Once in college, a bunch of the girls in our theater department at school snuck into the school at night to have a slumber party for the graduating seniors which makes me laugh so hard to this day.  This is the kind of wild stuff we college girls got up to.  We snuck INTO SCHOOL.  We hung out with our girlfriends in sleeping bags in the middle of the acting/movement classroom floor.  We sat around sharing our feelings and our stories. We CLEANED UP AFTER.  These were the kind of girlfriends I had.

At some point during the night, we were playing some version of Truth or Dare that just turned into truth, and we all shared our deepest darkest secret.  There were 13 of us, and as we went around in a circle, all but ONE of us had a story about sexual assault.  Some version of a man violating us, taking advantage when we were drunk, or touching us without consent, or raping us.  For some of us it was a family member, for some a friend, a boyfriend, a guy we liked…  In a room of 13, only one had been spared.  It was the moment I knew.  Men are dangerous.

Obviously I’m talking about this, and trust me, I feel very vulnerable doing so-  I feel scared and nervous about the repercussions- but obviously I am talking about this because a man who can do this to a woman, who can brag about it, who can delight in it and laugh about it, cannot be the President of the United States.  It can never happen.

Anybody who votes for him or defends him, is defending sexual assault.  He is against women.  He hates women.  There is no way that you can think this is excusable or okay and not hate women. My language is strong but trust me my actions will be stronger.  Not only will I vote, as I have in every election, local or otherwise since I have been registered in Mississippi, but I will bring my daughter every time.  Not just this November, but every time, until I am dead.  This will be OUR STRONGEST FAMILY TRADITION.  I will NEVER shut up.  I will NEVER stand down.  I will raise my daughter to understand her rights and how to fight back.

I know I live in a red state.  I know I live in the south.  It does not matter.  I will NEVER stop doing everything in my power to stop this endless bullshit cycle of assault.

I know the stats.  There is a strong likelihood that my daughter, even though I am fiercely protective of her, even though I cringe to think of this ever happening to her, will be one of the 12 girls in that room and not the 13th, but you can better believe that I will teach her how to fight back.  I will show her the video of Gigi Hadid elbowing her molester in the face.  I will take her to the polls.  She will grow up with the first woman president of the United States.  We will change the culture.  We will change the country for women.  We have to.

babies · body positivity · fat acceptance · feelings · feminism · motherhood · weight loss

I’m Not Thinner, I’m Just Gorgeous.

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(This image of me was taken in a photo booth at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York, when I was reporting on a fashion show for Allie is Wired.  I was easily one of the fattest women anywhere in the tents that day, and I think I looked AMAZING.  I really love my outfit, which was completely non-designer cheap ass H&M stuff except for the Coach bag, which was a gift. I have no money.)

Whenever anyone asks me if I’ve lost weight,  a lot of times I say no, or “I don’t think so,” or in the past I’ve said, “Thank You.”

The truth is, I really don’t know, but I suspect not- I rarely weigh myself- and I don’t even trust scales anyway.  The same clothes have fit me for years, with a brief interlude where I was pregnant.  I was chubby before I got pregnant.  I only gained 30 pounds when I was pregnant and lost most of it in a few weeks after pregnancy, probably because my daughter breastfed constantly day and night.  It certainly wasn’t exercise or a juice cleanse.

Other than that I’ve worn a size 14 jean for years and usually an XL in dresses and tops. I’ve stayed a 38DD bra size, a size 8 bikini underwear, a size 7 shoe, except for sneakers which are 7.5.

I don’t sweat my weight.  I feel beautiful and hot.  I never diet (it’s a huge scam) and I eat what I want and I dress how I want and I exercise when and how I want. I am 100% in charge of my body.  I have no real health issues (seasonal allergies?).

I don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks about my weight, and I am proud and happy to call myself fat, not in a self-deprecating way, but just because I am and that’s ok.  Of course, I didn’t always feel that way.  (I’m a woman on Earth).  I used to really hate myself, a lot, and my number one target of my self-hatred was my body.  I would beat myself up over it.  I starved myself trying to fix it.  I let myself wallow in misery and depression and compared myself to thinner girls and really let every mean thing I’d ever heard about how women need to be thin in order to be beautiful or loved or human into my brain and poison it.

As soon as I stopped doing that, I actually lost weight.  This is true.  The last time I lost weight, was several years ago when I gave up on dieting.  I went from a 16/18 to a size 14.  Or maybe I didn’t, because I stopped weighing myself, so how the hell do I know?  I think I did, but maybe I just let myself wear size 14 clothes because I wanted to wear tight clothes and stop being invisible.  Maybe I was never a size 16/18 but that’s just how I saw myself.  I honestly don’t know, but that’s what happened.

The decision that being fat was by far, the least of my worries as a woman, changed me forever. Kindness, respect, dignity, intelligence, and confidence became my only goals, WAY above outer beauty.  Being thin is not a moral obligation and it is not an achievement and it does not bring peace into your life, so I quit trying to attain it.

Coincidentally, my only spiral back into a place of shame and food issues and all that glorious bullshit associated with the pressure to be thin, was when I was pregnant, and for a while after I had my daughter, which is a whole other chapter in my story, and I have been clawing my way out of that pit for some time now to tell it, and I will soon, now that I am finally feeling the light and the joy again of not giving a crap about my weight.

There is a lot more that I have to say about this, but let me get back to my original point.  After this big decision to give myself permission just to breathe and live and not worry about my weight, I got asked this question a lot, and I still get asked this question ALL. THE. TIME.

Whenever I am looking really good (maybe I am wearing clothes I didn’t used to dare wear or people think I “shouldn’t” wear because of my size and pulling them off or maybe I am just feeling good, feeling happy and feeling confident) people ask me if I have lost weight. They mean it as a compliment, sort of.  They mean “You look beautiful.  The only way to be beautiful is to be thin.  Therefore, you must have lost weight.”

Maybe they’re being sincere.  Maybe they think that’s what I want to hear.  Maybe they don’t mean it at all, but they just want to say something nice and they think implying that I have lost weight is nice, because I’m not thin, so that must be my greatest desire and success.  I don’t know, but it is probably the most common “compliment” I get.  What a passive aggresive af compliment that is, right?  I can just hear Lucille Bluth saying it with a painfully phony grin plastered on her face.

My answer going forward has to be that, absolutely, I have lost the weight of fear, shame and depression.  I have lost my obsession with striving to be thin.  I have certainly lost a lot of my pain.  That’s what happens when you reject what you know in your heart to be a lie.  You become free.

So you can stop asking me that.  You can just tell me how beautiful I look or even, don’t worry about how I look at all, or how any women look.  You can let that one go, and if you’d like to know any of my secrets to achieving joy and purpose and happiness, I’m happy to share.