Thursday, April 21, 2011


Last Friday I met Mary at the doctor's office. At 74 years old she's spent the last seven years battling an illness that at its most vicious point  last year reduced her 120lb frame to a mere 69lbs.

A favorite in the clinic, she'd rescheduled an appointment and her doctor "a handsome Italian" (her words) had snuck her in.  As her thank you, she'd brought him a  cannoli from her local bakery. "He loves them" she said.

As we chatted on family and illness and rescued animals and heritage we laughed and commented that we were perfectly matched for conversation- two chatterboxes  who because of our heritage (she Greek and I Scottish) and upbringing have an innate interest in storytelling and a little inherent nosiness.

As our conversation continued Mary kept returning to a familiar refrain focused on her health struggle and weight loss last year.

"I lost so much weight you know. Now I'm all bone [touching her clavicle]. Doctor told me to eat. I told him ' How can I eat when I can't swallow?' Doctor told me to drink cool water. I said ' How can I drink. I can't swallow.' He said I might die. Now if I can just put on some meat ..."

This refrain was repeated in pauses, inserted in shifts in the conversation. After an hour and the 6th repeat or so she giggled and remarked,"if I could take 10lbs from some of these folks here..they'd be happy and I'd be happy. And my doctor. Not from you though- you're good. From someone who doesn't need it. I always said I'd rather have more beef than bone [with a grin]."

More beef than bone. I liked that. I giggled with her in that waiting room thinking on how I've always liked women with a little curve. A little beef.

Reflecting now, I realize that this concept of beef and bone has been a paradox in my life. I desire in others a little beef. But for years for myself I've desired only bone. And that's led me in stages from boney to beefy and between.

Now, as I try strive for acceptance of myself and hope to nurture my self, I realize that I'm going to take on this beefy-bony paradigm.  And while I don't know exactly how it will all unfold, my gut tells me that Mary's got something right.  So now when I find myself admiring my boney clavicle, I'm going to pause and grin... but at the beef as well as the bone.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Taking time

The last couple of weeks have been a large silent stressor for me-complete with little sleep and high anxiety. It's coming to a close now which is wonderful.

I've been coping with healthy and unhealthy combos; hour long bouts of exercise followed by red wine and sweets. I'm thankful for family and friends who have been patient and more optimistic than I have been.

Today, after a long night, I took the morning off work and slept for hours. I then headed to a scheduled pedi and facial. Now I sit on the quad at BU enjoying the  good weather until an alumnae meeting.

I managed the best I  could over the past few weeks though I'm sure that if I had consistent self care mechanisms built in to my life it could've gone better.

Today was my reminder that I need to build more naps, self love and peace into my schedule-both for the stressful moments and for the pure joy of living in balance.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pantyhose and paradigms

Last night I attended Paint the Town La Red, an annual fundraiser to benefit The Network La Red (TNLR). There my thoughts for this entry percolated. TNLR is a social justice driven, anti domestic violence organization for the GLBTQ community. Their fundraiser was one that recognized the harsh realities of funding for anti-violence work and funding for GLBTQ-specific programs in this current economy. But mostly, it was a celebration of the power of individuals and community in creating positive change to end domestic violence.

I am consistently awed at TNLR's intentionality. From the acts who performed to the emcee's for the evening, to the sneak peak of the video they're producing, folks of different backgrounds were all part of the event and the conversation. It is true testament to their work that they consciously strive to create partnerships and conversations with all members of the queer and allied community.

It was relevant to me that during the course of the evening, as I was internally celebrating TNLR and appreciating my queer and allied folks in the room, that I was also noticing the appreciation for queer bodies of all types - particularly sizes.

In the queer community I find this appreciation for curvy queers and fat femmes more than I have within any other community. In act, the only other community I've entered that is supportive of fat folks is Weight Watchers, and that group is geared toward changing fat to fit (or thin). But within the queer community I've found in my peers, in my lovers, and in the culture an openness to curviness, to broadness, to thickness, to fatness that is less than in other communities. Not that the community is perfect, but it's better.

As I pulled together my outfit for last night I stopped off for pantyhose. Faced with rows and rows of nude and black and silky black and suntan and misty black and A and B and Q and super Q, I thought... "Wow. There's so much going on here." Our definitions of nude and suntan - color of skin defined by white skin and changes to white skin. There were no colors available in that rack (half a store aisle) to represent the varied tones of my sisters and brothers of color. Availability was defined in that store by white folks. Access defined by a white paradigm.

And then the sizes. A for the skinny folks (up to 130lbs or so) B for the mid-size folks (up to 160 lbs or so), Q for the curvier among us (up to 180lbs or so) and super Q for everyone else... (though only if you're under 220lbs...). And I wondered. What the hell happened to C? Why Queen? Why Q and super Q?

I'd like to imagine some fat-positive queer at a company board meeting arguing for Q. Stressing that round women, voluptuous women, curvy, fleshy, fat women are regarded with disdain in society. That dominant skinny culture has neglected fat women. Made them pariahs and for that, the pantyhose companies should take up a rallied cry of support, of appreciation. "Fat women are queens! Their broad hips and full thighs should be worshipped!" and thus, the Q and super-Q size was created to deify fat folks as a subversive counter-culture method of combat. Designed to slowly strip away at dominant culture paradigms of fatness.

But, I'm sure that's not the reality. Right now, the A B Q system reeks (to me the childhood report-card-aholic ). Reeks of success and failure. A = skinny = stellar grade. B = above average weight = good grade. Q = round = not on the system= too fat to even give a C = beyond failure, purposeful segregation. Scarlet letter Q.

And this grading system of curviness and thinness (I'm sure) was not constructed on a scale that accounts for curvy women's bodies. For cultures in which curvy is graded up. In which fleshy thighs and round bootys are norm. No, I'm sure it was created on a dominant white paradigm of "what is" and "what should be". White white twiggy white girl body.

I almost went commando.

Instead I opened my wallet. For the pantyhose...and for TNLR (you can too). Through their work and the efforts of my community I know we're going to slowly continue to deconstruct these paradigms that oppress us as groups and engender discrimination against individuals. It's important that we do.