Archive for November 29, 2015

The Last of the Really Great Blog Posts
In which I totally didn’t cry at all while typing this up

Let me start by saying that I know I present a brash, cocksure type of image on the internet. I like to imagine an old man reading my blog posts and saying something like “the girl’s got moxie.” I like to think I seem very self-confident on here.

Every blog post is me, shooting finger guns at the readers.

Every blog post is me, shooting finger guns at the readers.

 

But the truth is that I looked in the mirror this morning and got very afraid that I was gaining weight. The truth is that, starting out, I was really very worried that nobody would read these blog posts. Who was gonna want to read my writing? Who was gonna care what I thought about body image?
I even got a little scared that somebody was going to get offended. I imagined an old British woman, clutching her chest and saying, “Well, I never.”
I imagined a lot of people seeing my posts and saying, “Who does this Rachel think she is? We’re supposed to care what this loser thinks?”
And I guess my point is that women get that kind of thing a lot. Especially women who aren’t exactly like, super gorgeous. Take this Tina Fey quote:

“I know older men in comedy who can barely feed and clean themselves, and they still work. The women, though, they’re all ‘crazy.’ I have a suspicion—and hear me out, because this is a rough one—that the definition of ‘crazy’ in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.”
I really worry about how ingrained this idea is in our society, and I worry about how it’s been affecting me. I can’t tell you how many times I’d start a post only to think, “this isn’t anything new, is it? Haven’t enough people written about comic book sexism or female representation on television or butts?”
And I guess what I’m trying to get at is that’s some dangerous thinking. Yeah, a million people have written about this stuff, but it’s hardly fixed any of these problems, has it?

Hint: It hasn’t.

Hint: It hasn’t.

 

So I don’t see how it can hurt for one more voice to be out there talking about these issues and fighting the good fight.
And I hope it doesn’t seem brash or cocksure of me to say that it takes a lot of courage to like yourself, but it takes even more courage to tell people you like yourself. There’s something revolutionary, I think, about a woman getting up every day and deciding that she’s great and that she’s not going to pretend that she doesn’t think she’s great. Take, for instance, this social experiment a girl conducted, where she just agreed with the compliments men gave her on dating websites.

Hint: Douches got offended.

Hint: Douches got offended.

 

Society expects a weird amount of false modesty from women, and we should be worried about that. Society expects us to be down on ourselves, which is why it’s important that we be as full of ourselves as possible.
And step one of that is just deciding that your opinion is valid, and what you have to say is valid, and that your voice is just as important as every other voice that’s talking about an issue.
I wrote that post about comic books because it’s something I care about. When I first e-mailed it to my fabulous editor, Molly McCaffrey, I’m pretty sure I included a note to the effect of “sorry if I’m rambling a bit…”
And I said that because I was worried that people would think I was talking too much. Because women, am I right? They talk too much.
And my point is that, no, we don’t. My blog posts are great, screw you. I’m great, screw you. A woman is allowed to keep talking even after “no one wants to fuck her anymore.”
It’s hard to believe that your opinion is worthwhile. But my point is that the more I write and the more I read, the more I start to believe that there’s nothing wrong with what I’m saying.
In 2014 Amy Schumer gave a speech at the Gloria Awards and Gala, and while you should really read the whole thing, towards the end she says something that I think every woman should try to remember the next time she’s looking in the mirror and getting afraid that she’s gained weight:
“I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story — I will. I will speak and share and fuck and love and I will never apologize to the frightened millions who resent that they never had it in them to do it. I stand here and I am amazing, for you…I am not my weight.”

Any time Amy Schumer wants to marry me, all she has to do is ask.

Any time Amy Schumer wants to marry me, all she has to do is ask.

 

I was genuinely nervous about doing this internship, but I wrote every post because, you know, I was getting class credit for it.
But I also did it because these are things I’m worried about, and they affect me, and they affect the women around me.
If you take anything from these posts I’ve been doing, it should be that everybody has something worth saying, and everybody can add to the conversation.

Yes. Even you.

Yes. Even you.

So I want to close out this incredible semester by saying what a great experience it was writing on a blog that’s concerned with making women like themselves. And in all sincerity, sappy as it may sound, thank you so much for reading this stuff I wrote. Thanks for letting me ramble, and thanks for letting me have opinions, and thanks for making me really feel like what I’m saying is worthwhile.
And a big thanks to Molly McCaffrey, for basically being the most supportive and awesome editor and blog maker ever. Seriously, she’s the greatest.

–Rachel

GUYS, THANKSGIVING IS COMING
In which I am thankful for an underappreciated holiday

 

THANKSGIVING EVERYBODY.

IT’S TURKEY DAY, MASHED POTATO DAY, CRANBERRY DAY.

bobby

Yeah! Get excited everybody!

But first, let’s all take a moment to acknowledge that Thanksgiving is kind of a thankless holiday. (See what I did there?) Oh, sure, it’s a pleasant enough diversion between Halloween and Christmas, but it’s not really a top-tier holiday. Everybody’s happy to get a couple of days off work/school/whatever, but you don’t drive around the neighborhood looking at everybody’s Thanksgiving decorations, you know?

But why? What’s so wrong about Thanksgiving? It’s a cool holiday where you meet up with your family and eat a bunch of food and everybody talks about how thankful they are for each other. It’s adorable.

In theory, anyway. In practice you probably spend most of Thanksgiving trying to avoid that racist uncle that keeps telling everyone about how white people “saved” the Native Americans.

It’s like it isn’t Thanksgiving until someone’s offended.

 

But one of the most surreal things about Thanksgiving for me has always been seeing three generations of women, all worrying about their weight.

Now, it may or may not surprise you to learn that I come from a family of beautiful, sexy ladies. And yet, every year these hawt pieces of booty talk about their diets, or their weight gain, or tell each other, “You look so thin!”

And my basic point here is that recently my grandmother was worried that she was putting on some weight.

My grandmother. Who is ninety-five.

Like, I would hope that around age eighty—at the latest—is when you could finally stop worrying about your weight.

And I would hope that Thanksgiving, a holiday based almost entirely around food, would be the day that you could put aside your weight woes and just tell society to take their rules and expectations and stuff it.

In other news, local woman makes hilarious Thanksgiving pun.

In other news, local woman makes hilarious Thanksgiving pun.

 

My point here, I guess, is that now is not the time. Thanksgiving is the one day a year when  you’re basically given a free pass to eat what you want, so why not embrace it? It’s a day to stop worrying about whether you have a trim little tummy or slim little hips, and to, instead, embrace the things you do have, like a great butt and some great food and a bunch of great people to share it with (the food, not the butt).

So I am urging everyone out there to not do that thing where you starve yourself through the week before Thanksgiving so that you’re “allowed” to eat what you want. You’re a human being! You’re allowed to eat food! Get pumped about the stuffing and turkey and pies and cakes; get pumped about seeing the people you love (and the ones you…tolerate).

And please, Lord, do NOT talk about your diet. For once, it’s not the time for dieting. It’s the time for that sweet, sweet turkey.

Sorry, I try to avoid putting porn on the blog.

Sorry, I try to avoid putting porn on the blog.

 

And, during this penultimate blog post, I’d just like to say that I am extremely thankful for all the people out there reading this blog that I’m doing. You guys rock.

–Rachel

Let’s Talk about our Skinny Friends
In which I bite my tongue and make an exercise in empathy.

Okay, this blog post is about your skinny friend.

Because we all have that skinny friend.

You know the one. The one that’s size 00, but still complains about her weight.

Like when she says, “God, I feel fat today.”

Liz-lemon-eye-roll

In other news, I can do gifs now.

 

Meanwhile, you’re over here, nine sizes bigger than her, wondering what exactly she’s trying to say? What’s the big idea? If she’s fat, then what are you?

Even worse is when, in the great tradition of the humblebrag, she tries to act like she’s sad. About being skinny.

Case in point, a friend of mine is like, teeny tiny. A little bitty woman. And the other day she grabbed her trim little hips and said, “Ugh, I’m such a twig!”

And it’s like, okay, honey, can we stop all this compliment fishing and just accept that you match society’s current standards of beauty and I don’t? Can we just admit that, like honest adults?

But you know I would be KILLIN' it in 1630.

But you know I would be KILLIN’ it in 1630.

 

I think we all secretly hate our skinny friends a little bit.

But, yes, okay, much as I am loathe to make this point, maybe we should give them a break.

Because—and I’m no skinny expert—but I don’t necessarily think that our skinny friends are lying about hating their bodies.

I know what you’re thinking. “Woah woah woah, hold up there, Rachel. I’m a little sick of sympathizing with skinny ladies. They get all the representation and all the cute clothes, and while skinny shaming is sort of a thing, let’s not pretend it’s on even close to the same level as fat shaming.”

To which I say, yes. I agree with you completely. It is so goshdarn hard to work up sympathy for a skinny girl when you’ve spent your whole life being told that her body is the ideal.

But let’s hold off a little bit. Because the fashion industry has this great thing going right now where it does its darnedest to make women feel bad about themselves (even though it doesn’t need to). And what that means is that, right now, every woman can find a reason to dislike the way she looks.

She has acne! Her hair isn’t fluffy enough! Her hair is too fluffy! She’s too fat! She’s too thin! She’s too whatever.

And nobody is juuuust right.

And nobody is juuuust right.

 

See, we’re projecting. I want to be skinny, so everybody wants to be skinny, right? So if a woman with a thin figure starts complaining about said figure, then she has to be faking or fishing for compliments or something. It’s not like she could legitimately wish she looked different, because no skinny person feels that way, right?

And while I know how annoying it is, I’m starting to wonder what exactly is so wrong with fishing for compliments. If you want a confidence boost, then why does society dictate that you take this annoying side route of insulting yourself first?

I don’t think we compliment each other enough. For instance, the other day a friend and I were discussing another girl we knew, and all we were really saying was stuff like, “Gosh, she’s so pretty, and she’s so nice, and she knows how to do a really good winged eyeliner and like, wow, that takes a steady hand woman. Good job.”

Teach me your ways.

Teach me your ways.

 

And I started to wonder, why were we saying this stuff behind her back? Why not tell her to her (immaculate) face?

If you think that your dear friend, whom you love, is fishing for compliments, then just compliment her. Don’t lie to her or anything, but in a society that spends so much time putting ladies down, what’s so wrong with wanting someone to tell you they like what you’re doing? Skinny or fat, everybody could use a little verbal pick-me-up sometimes.

So, okay, my point is that there’s nothing wrong with feeling bad about yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel good about yourself. We need to stop resenting other women for having the same hang-ups and worries about their bodies that we have. It’s downright hypocritical.

So before I sign off, you’re all beautiful, I love you, I’m proud of you, and you really rocked that outfit you wore yesterday.

—Rachel

Everybody Hates “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” for the Wrong Reasons
In which I encourage you all to watch a sub-par reality show.

01

Okay, maybe you’ve seen this show, maybe not. But what I’m sure you have seen are the people getting angry about this show.

It glorifies obesity!

It promotes an unhealthy lifestyle!

It just shows how far America has fallen!

But, okay, let me take a minute here to say that none of that is true.

First of all, if anyone is “allowed” to be fat (and Jesus Christ, it’s not like it’s a crime), then the star of “My big Fat Fabulous Life” is. Whitney Way Thore rapidly gained weight as a result of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a disease which, as a side effect, makes weight loss extremely difficult. Her obesity is not a result of some hedonistic lifestyle where she just shovels mountains of food into her mouth constantly. The show, in fact, chronicles her attempts to stay active and involved in dance, which was one of her passions prior to her illness.

Sorry I can't be your scapegoat!

Sorry I can’t be your scapegoat!So anyone who dislikes this show on those grounds just has to admit that the real reason they aren’t a fan is probably that they are mad that a fat woman has the nerve to be on T.V.

 

 

Gasp! IN A BIKINI???

Gasp! IN A BIKINI???

 

Also, this is hardly the first show to feature a fat woman, and fat women are hardly an American invention. For instance, My Mad Fat Diary, from the UK, is a great show about an obese teenager. (Really, it’s fantastic. Watch it.)

So… it’s time to get to an awkward little wrinkle in this blog post, which is that I kind of hate My Big Fat Fabulous Life.

I know! I’m sorry! I just don’t think it’s very good!

Like, man, I want to be supportive of fat ladies being on television, but man do I not like this show.

And it isn’t bad because of some inherent badness associated with a fat woman being on T.V. It’s just bad in the same ways that a lot of reality T.V. shows are bad. Like, the issue that things are pretty obviously staged, but the people on the show aren’t good enough actors to convince you that they’re not staged.

And it straddles that uncomfortable line between reality T.V. and like, outright creepy voyeurism for me. Like, there’s gonna be a special where her fans pick a tattoo design for her, and she’ll get the tattoo done on live T.V.. That’s weird to me. That’s not quality television!

Plus, gonna be brutally honest, Whitney is kind of annoying. I watched one episode of this show for research purposes, and the whole time I was like “Oh my god shut up.”

If she's reading this, I hope she takes comfort in the fact that I feel bad for not liking her.

If she’s reading this, I hope she takes comfort in the fact that I feel bad for not liking her.

 

But, goshdarnit, I will fight to the death for this show. Because Lord knows there are plenty of other crappy reality shows out there, and if you think that The Bachelor doesn’t promote an unhealthy lifestyle, then you are an incorrect jerk.

BUT AT LEAST NONE OF THEM ARE FAT, AM I RIGHT?

BUT AT LEAST NONE OF THEM ARE FAT, AM I RIGHT?

 

And this all ties into something else I’ve been thinking about. You remember my whole post about comic books and how they’re pretty much the pits when it comes to female characters?

Well, I recently read a comic called Lumberjanes, and this comic had it all… Female writers! Lesbian couples! A variety of body types!

Cute art!

Cute art!

So I read it, and… I didn’t like it that much.

I mean, like, it was okay? There wasn’t anything really wrong with it, but it just didn’t really WOW me, you know? It wasn’t quite my thing.

Please don’t let my dumb opinions keep you from reading this comic.

Please don’t let my dumb opinions keep you from reading this comic.

I think the issue we’re facing here is that the viewing public puts a lot of pressure on any media that tries to do something new or represent an underrepresented group.

Like, if people don’t like a Batman movie, nobody ever says it’s bad just because the lead was a white guy. Nobody who criticizes it is ever accused of hating white guys. It’s bad because the director was bad or the actor was bad or something else went wrong with the movie-making process.

Or it's because they gave him nipples.

Or it’s because they gave him nipples.

But if people don’t like a Wonder Woman movie, it’s because people don’t like movies about women! Duh!

So every movie or reality show or comic book that takes the risk of representing an underrepresented minority is stuck in the shitty position of essentially defining that minority for the viewing public. So if they aren’t absolutely AMAZING, then they’ve failed at some imagined moral obligation to be incredible. Like, a standard action movie is allowed to be mediocre, but if a comic book about lesbians is bad then it’s either failed feminism on the whole, or it’s impossible for anyone to criticize it without the fear that people will think they’re just criticizing lesbians.

I think the issue here is that representative media is stuck in this binary where it’s either good representation or bad representation, and it means that we can never appreciate the work on its own merit. Everyone’s analyzing My Big fat Fabulous Life based on how well it represents fat people, rather than how good it is at being a show in general. And I think part of this is just from the desperation to have a good show about a fat woman! Everybody’s a little afraid to admit that they don’t like it, just because they so desperately want it to be good.

To me, “Lumberjanes” is good representation, but the story is missing something. And it sucks that we can’t just appreciate these works on their own merit, and instead have to overanalyze every aspect of them in the interest of examining how well they represent something.

So if My Big Fat Fabulous Life fails to entertain me, then it is not due to an inherent failing of fat women to be entertaining. If “Lumberjanes” wasn’t quite my thing, then it’s not because comic books can’t be about strong women. I am not a bad person for not enjoying these things, and neither of them have set feminism back just by being kind of less than okay. If anything, we have to have these middle-ground shows and comic books so that they can establish a norm in which fat women are allowed to be on T.V. and lesbians are allowed to be in comics.

And if they aren’t perfect? They deserve credit, if nothing else, for shaking up our monotonous media a little bit.

—Rachel Sudbeck

 

 

Why are Bagels so Great?
In which I ponder how freaking good food is.

bagels

Lately I’ve been thinking about bagels.

Namely, I’ve been thinking about how freaking incredible bagels are.

They’re like, so good, guys. You can get them sweet, like blueberry, or savory, like asiago cheese. Even the plainest of bagels is a breakfast fit for a king.

And the true miracle of bagels is that they’re pretty much just boiled bread. That’s the basic process of making a bagel. I mean, I’m not a bagel chef; probably there’s a little more involved. But to my understanding the basic formula for a bagel is: bread + boiled water = bagel

Let’s, for a moment, ponder the intricate miracles of life, and appreciate how we live in a world in which the scientific process of boiling bread (which sounds super gross, let’s be honest) makes something as miraculous and great and beautiful as a bagel.

And don’t even get me started on cream cheese.

I’m talking about this because of that Kate Moss quote, “nothing tastes as great as skinny feels.” Now, I’m not intimately familiar with how “skinny feels,” but boiled bread HAS to taste better than “skinny feels.”

The issue I’m getting at here is that there are a whole host of reasons that I’m body positive and opposed to dieting. Dieting is unhealthy, to the point that being skinny has become an end-all indicator for health. I once, direct quote, heard a girl in one of my classes say, “Well, my doctor says I’m practically diabetic, but I’m still skinny, so…” No. Skinniness is not all that it takes to be healthy. Conversely, fatness is not an automatic indicator of unhealthiness.

Not to mention all of the gender issues at play here. Guys are allowed to be fat without going on dangerous crash diets, but ladies aren’t. I’m not saying that men don’t have body image issues as well.

 

 Don’t worry dudes, I feel for ya.

Don’t worry dudes, I feel for ya.

 

But the disproportionate number of women suffering from eating disorders speaks to the pressure put on young ladies to be skinny above all else.

And dieting is such a weird rejection of the fleshy fun parts of the feminine form. It’s taking a woman with life and culture and thoughts and a body, and it’s reducing her to a number.

And I swear to God, the next person who tries to lecture me about the “cleanse” that they’re doing is gonna get their face cleansed.

 

Haha. Facial cleanser. I'm hilarious.

Haha. Facial cleanser. I’m hilarious.

 

And even though there are all of these great reasons (and zillions more) to be against dieting and stuff, the one that I keep coming back to is the simple fact that food tastes so good.

Freaking bagels, for instance. Why are they so good? There’s something so intensely satisfying about them; a morning with a bagel fees like more of a morning somehow, you know?

And I feel this way about most food. People talk a lot about food in terms of family and culture. Like, my Grandmother makes a pecan pie that is freaking amazing, guys. But food, for me, goes maybe even deeper than that.

If I’m sick, then a bread bowl full of chicken noodle soup from Panera is a religious experience. I feel a deep personal connection with every person that delivers my Jimmy John’s sandwich. Every time I eat McDonald’s feels like a tiny victory for my eight-year-old self (who was trapped with an awful mother who wanted her to be healthy for some reason). Calories are some intense carriers of emotion. I know “comfort food” is a clichéd phrase, but it’s so accurate. The right food can turn a day around.

One of my clearest memories is from the time I was around ten or eleven years old. My mom and I had gotten lost on the way to a softball game. We were a half-hour late, and I was really upset. I was crying. I was afraid that I would be kicked off the team, or all the other girls would hate me, or like, the world would explode or something.

And my mom stopped at a gas station to ask for directions, and she bought me a donut and a chocolate milk because I was crying like an idiot and she needed something to stuff in my mouth.

I wish I could express how transformative that donut was. I don’t even like donuts that much, but somehow at that moment it was the exact mixture of sugar and dough and icing that my tiny dejected ten-year-old body needed.

Everything was fine after I ate that donut. The world calmed. We never found the field, but it was all good, because I’d had a donut and a carton of chocolate milk, and they had healed my broken heart.

 

I’m a simple girl.

I’m a simple girl.

 

And I think that dieting denies all of that in a really concerning way. Weight is not simple, and food is not simple. Acting like food is just a matter of calories is a denial of how intricately it’s tied to our hearts (and, yes, our arteries). Even ignoring all the other really important reasons that it’s bad, I think one of the worst things dieting tries to do is rob people of these simple pleasures and comforts.

 

-Rachel Sudbeck

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