Rachel Wiley gets honest about loving while fat, and it’s amazing

My college theater professor once told me that despite my talent, I’d never be cast as a romantic lead. We put on shows that involve flying children and singing animals, but apparently, no one has enough willing suspension of disbelief to buy anyone loving a fat girl.

Welp! Rachel is spot-fuckin’-on. Such a captivating and dynamic performer, speaking such important truths.

Even when you find love as a fat girl, you’re in a constant state of disbelief because everyone tells you this is impossible. She singles out Cosmo, for instance: “I will not take your sex tips to please a man that you do not think my body will ever be worthy of.”

PREACH!

I’ve written about this very thing before. About how prior to our first date, my now-fiance assured me that he knew I was curvy, and he liked that — but I was still skeptical, afraid. Rachel speaks to having fears of infidelity based primarily on the idea that she wasn’t small enough — she doesn’t mention anything her partner does to make her think he’d stray, only that her body makes her fear she won’t be enough.

That’s intense stuff. That’s how society’s messages about the unworthiness of fat bodies twist us, seep into our minds, infiltrate our most important relationships. To this day, I get the occasional twinge of sharp discomfort when Chris points out the attractiveness of this-or-that skinny girl. I think to myself, reflexively, “Would he find me more attractive if I were that skinny?”

And I know the answer is no — but it doesn’t matter. Just like he likes girls with crazy brightly  colored hair, and I like dudes who wear eyeliner and puffy pirate shirts all the time, it doesn’t matter that we don’t match every single iteration of each other’s fantasies because we’re in-fuckin’-love. He chose me. I chose him. Nobody else can replace either of us in this relationship.

Thank you so much, Rachel. Keep on keepin’ on.

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An open letter to the men who street harass me

Dear men who honk, whistle, rubberneck, and shout at me when I’m walking down the street minding my own goddamn business,

You do not impress me.

You see, I’m more than just a fat ass sauntering down sidewalks. I’m a person. I have thoughts. I write a blog. I share my life with a cat. I’m engaged to a man who knows how to respect women.

You think that you can better the totality of my whole self in a moment. You know you can get the last word. When you drive past me I have no time to respond. When you walk past me and try to get my attention, you know it would be unsafe for me to fight back.

You could pull me into an alley. You could pull out a knife. Despite my martial arts training, you’re twice my size and strength and you could overtake me if you needed to.

So you have the last word, not because you earned it, but because society stamped it on you. Maybe you don’t need to impress me; maybe reminding me of that reality, raising my cortisol is enough to get you off.

Regardless, you don’t impress me. Because that last word is all you get.

I know I’m nothing to you. I’m so nothing to you that you quantize me into parts: the parts you want, the parts you comment on. I’m so nothing to you that in a split second of confrontation you think you have defeated me as readily as one steps on an ant.

As nothing as I am to you, you are even less to me.

This isn’t to say I don’t care about what you represent. Oh no — your behavior and your mindset are things I am happy to rail against until they are eliminated and women can walk the streets in peace. You see, an ant can lift 50x its own body weight, and we ants are known to work together.

But you, yourself, individually? Less than nothing to me. In my life that is full of kind and innovative people, in my mind that is full of books and ideas and passions and hatreds, you are of so little consequence it’s laughable.

How do you stack up, in significance, against a fiance who tells me multiple times a day that he loves me, who rubs my shoulders after work and holds me when nightmares wake me up?

How do you stack up against friends who surprise me on my birthday, who hold me when I cry, who support and encourage my dreams, who make me laugh until my abdomen cleaves?

How do you stack up against mentors who offer me wisdom with no expectation of repayment, who show me love and kindness I once thought rare until I found it abounding in individuals?

You may have the last word, but the world is full of words, and yours is least interesting of all.

Man, gaining weight still ain’t no picnic

I’m still a human. Despite my activism, my beliefs, my fire for size diversity, it still doesn’t tickle when I gain weight. I’m working on being better about this!

I mentioned that I’ve gained about 10 lbs in the last six months or so.

I couldn’t tell you why. Likely just my metabolism being wonky, as it is wont to do — PCOS and all. I don’t look much different, or else I don’t think I do. Some of my pants are a little tighter, which sucks. My boobs are bigger, which is fine with me!

My main concern is that goddamn wedding dress I had the genius idea of buying a year before my wedding.

Now, I have a bunch of engaged lady friends, and most of them have done the same — purchased their dresses a year in advance. This isn’t a fool’s venture when you don’t have a metabolic disorder. But I do. So now I’m just hoping that I don’t have to flush that money (and the perfect dress) down the toilet once my non-wedding arrives.

My body is never the same weight for more than a few weeks at a time. It’s always in flux, always gaining or losing, even when my habits are static. This makes having a wardrobe difficult. I have the same pair of jeans in three different sizes in my drawer, and they all can fit me perfectly at some point in any given month.

PCOS, man. My ovaries are harsh mistresses.

My PCOS Holiday Party Checklist

Santa Cat!

Santa Cat!

It’s that time of year again — the time to dust off all that expensive shit you bought at Sephora but never have occasion to wear because you get to be pretty for your coworkers!

It’s Office Holiday Party time.

This year, I didn’t have any weddings to go to (next year I’ll have, like, fifteen), and I didn’t have anything to get dressed up for. So this is my one occasion to fancy myself up. After over a year of unbroken casual-ness, there are some tasks and routines that may slip my mind, especially given my excess of male hormones.

So here you have it, ladies: a PCOS Holiday Party Checklist for you, me, and all our hirsute cysters!

  1. Shave my hobbit feet. I was breaking in my heels yesterday when I realized that the tufts of black hair on my feet looked pretty conspicuous next to the black glittery bow adorning my sparkle-pumps. I never bother getting rid of that hair because you couldn’t pay me to care, but I’ll make an exception for this occasion!
  2. Get rid of my ladystache. I have to admit to taking a sort of lackadaisical approach to my upper lip grooming. To wit, I have an emergency razor in my car for when I don’t realize until it’s almost too late that my mustache is looking especially thick that day. I was trying on my red lipstick last night when I realized that things are looking awful shadowy in Facelandia. Nothing makes a mustache pop quite like red lipstick.
  3. Make sure I’m prepared for all menstrual possibilities. PCOS turns ye olde endometrial shed into guerrilla warfare. Expect the unexpected. All sanitary items, pain pills, and chocolate must be accounted for should the Redcoats come.

Don’t let me forget any of these things!

So I “lost” NaNoWriMo

The graph of my NaNo stats. I came so close, and then I just stopped.

So this happened.

I lost with over 47,000 words.

As you can see from that graph, I was on pace to “win” — i.e., hit 50,000 words — by November 29. I was ahead of schedule! I was hitting that word count every goddamn day!

And then I moved.

If you’re one of those people who don’t like to read about “excuses,” feel free to skip over the following — note, however, that it’s not an excuse for anything because I don’t give a damn, I wrote over 47,000 words and that makes me really friggin’ happy.

I’ve moved several times over the past seven years. Different college apartments, different out-of-college apartments. This was the first time I moved to a house, the first time I moved not only me and my cat, but my partner. And when you’re a lazy 25-year-old whose only exercise consists of walking up and down the stairs in her office building (unless you consider scooping litter a light bicep curl), moving friggin’ hurts.

My fiance and I were both reeling in pain after hauling our furniture in and out of vehicles and up stairs — and we got a lot of help, too! If anything could convince me to get up off my lazy ass and do a push-up or two every so often, that ordeal certainly did.

I was too tired and in pain to write.

So I stopped writing.

I was slow to pick my manuscript back up again after we’d started to settle in. After all, we were busy with Thanksgiving and IKEA trips and all of the recycling that follows said IKEA trips. (So many cardboard boxes. ALL THE CARDBOARD BOXES.) I didn’t hit 50k words until December 9 — over a week late.

But dude, I wrote 50,000 words.

Dude.

50,000 words.

That’s more words dedicated to a single project than anything I’ve ever done before. Hell, even 47,000 blows anything else I’ve done prior out of the water. I used to think I couldn’t do long-form writing, that I’d always be stifled by the inner editor who hates everything I write into oblivion.

But not this time, motherfuckers. I have a little over half a novel done. And while I might have “lost” NaNoWriMo, I’m still counting this one as a win.

“I don’t want to hear it, Julia. Frankly, your incessant self-deprecation ceased to be charming ages ago. You will do as you’re told, and you will do it well. I cannot correct your lack of faith in yourself; that is wired so delicately into your fabric that a magician’s careful hands could not untangle it. So there is nothing more to say. Do your damn job.” She gulped down the rest of her drink. “And I shall do my penance.”

Growing up goofy & finding where I belong

cat lying on floor

I wonder what my cat dreams about.

When I was a kid, I actually had an ugly duckling dream.

I must have been four when I had this dream. I was in some sort of alternate fantasy universe, chilling with a bunch of other girls, while we were being assigned our princess symbols. I guess we were kind of like Care Bears, because those symbols would go on the belly of some fancy dress we had to wear and had some meaning as to what we represented. The symbols were your typical girly girl fare: hearts, stars, glitter, rainbows, and the like.

Everyone was called and assigned a symbol except me. I knew it was because I was less worthy.

I felt that way for most of my life — that I was somehow less worthy than the people around me. Maybe some deficiency of character. I also spent most of my childhood thinking I was ugly. Looking back, I wasn’t an ugly kid. (There are no ugly kids.) I felt goofy-looking because puberty hit me early, because I had a broad shoulders but wasn’t athletic, because I had thick glasses and acne and frizzy hair. It didn’t help that I was socially awkward, hopelessly unable to read the social cues of kids my age. Every time I thought I had them figured out, it seemed like they were ten steps ahead of me with whatever was in style next. My ability to draw Pokemon and help them with their homework was my only social currency.

Even as an adult, I’ve always had to fight my own inferiority complex and impostor’s syndrome. When I scored a full ride scholarship to my alma mater, a classmate told me that it was only because “everyone did,” and I took it to heart. When I won two departmental awards in a row for my college papers, I thought it could only be because of a modest turnout for paper submissions.

In college, when people would flirt, go on dates, or make out with me, I thought they couldn’t possibly be into me — they were just looking to have some fun. In some cases I was right, but in other cases I hurt people’s feelings because they were interested in me, but I couldn’t comprehend their being interested in me, so I acted cold as a defense mechanism — so, you know, I couldn’t be rejected and hurt.

I ended a couple of relationships because I had it in my mind that my partners had lost genuine interest in me and were interpreting shallow interest and familiarity as love. And in a couple cases, they made impassioned arguments against my interpretation, and I still didn’t believe them.

Dear people I used to date: I AM SO SORRY. (True facts: apparently, my fiance was attracted to me long before we started dating. Even though we met on a dating site, this fact STILL boggles my mind.)

Anyway, back to my ugly duckling dream. By the end of the dream, it turned out that my omission wasn’t an indication of unworthiness at all — they just didn’t know how to sort me. I had too many things going on. So they made me a little composite symbol — check out my young literary brain here — “SparklyHeartStarRainbow.” And I had the coolest princess belly of them all.

I guess that even as a kid, I knew that there was something inside me, deep down, that defied all the negative messages I was receiving about my worth. That I had a place in the world, even if it was a little harder to see.

Even now, it’s hard to shake the idea that I’m different. In the midst of my friends, I look for any sign that I’m somehow not supposed to be there, that they only keep me around because they got used to me, or because nobody wants to break it to me that I’m unwanted. Note that I have the greatest friends in the world, because they’ll frequently do things so loving that it fucking breaks my heart. My brain can barely hold their love because it clashes with my own inner monologues. In high school, I wrote in my journal that I felt like a “glitch on the blueprint; an eraser mark, maybe,” that I didn’t fit. That I was a mistake.

Right now, I’m trying to get it into my thick skull that the most incredible man I ever met wants to spend the rest of his life with me. As clingy and loving as my fiance is, that fact is still hovering just over the surface of my consciousness. We just moved in together. He has to deal with me every day. This terrifies me. I feel like there’s something wrong with me that he just hasn’t discovered yet, through some miracle of obliviousness.

I keep telling myself, “This is really happening. And I’m in this,” meaning I’m in my own life. Not just a character in my own life — the honest-to-god protagonist. Worthy of being in the center of my own stage. Worthy.

Claiming that word still takes work, but I have it in me to believe all this — I’ve had it in me my whole life. But all habits take practice.

A radical thought: on weight and Plan B

Thin privilege is reading that a pill is 89% effective and knowing that that number applies to you.

Here’s a radical thought: if the Powers That Be in health research are so concerned with the health of women of size, maybe they should focus less on obesity studies and do clinical trials of medicine on people of diverse weights.

As it turns out, Plan B emergency contraception (levonorgestrel) is not effective in women weighing more than 176 lbs, and loses efficacy starting at 165 lbs. Remember this is not BMI dependent, so it doesn’t matter if you’re short and 176 lbs or tall, thin, and 176 lbs — this drug will not work for you. This information is, to borrow a phrase from Vice President Joe Biden, a big fucking deal. Plan B has been approved by the FDA to prevent pregnancy since 1999. That’s 14 years of women getting bad information about their health.

I ask the FDA, I ask TEVA: What is your excuse?

Seriously, what is your excuse?

The idea that people of different sizes needing different types and dosages of medication is not new or controversial. I take more Tylenol for my headaches than my fiance does because I weigh 20 lbs more than he does. There is more body for that medicine to reach.

Even the idea of hormonal contraception being more or less effective dependent on weight isn’t a new one. The hormones in Implanon, the contraceptive implant, wear off more quickly in heavier women, so they recommend early replacement of the implant in women above a certain BMI. Like Plan B, Implanon is a progestin-only form of birth control.

I learned about the Implanon thing last year, while doing research on hormonal birth control. I tried to find more studies on HBC and weight, and could find very few. Why? Why aren’t these drugs being tested on heavier women? Without sounding alarmist, I can’t help but wonder what other forms of birth control are ineffective for women of size.

Drug companies. Regulatory agencies. If you claim to care about the “health” of fat people, don’t tell them their medicine works when you don’t know. I am so sick of hearing concern trolls sound the alarms about the “obesity crisis” as though zillions of fat people are on the verge of dropping dead by virtue of their adipose tissue, and then turning their heads as they give high-weight people medicine that doesn’t even work.

The most effective form of emergency contraception is still the ParaGard IUD. It is hormone-free and copper-based. It is expensive, but it also provides protection for 10-12 years. However, it isn’t right for everyone. Women with certain metal allergies will not have a fun time with the ParaGard, and it also causes heavy, painful periods for at least the first six months. Some women will reject the IUD, sometimes due to the size of their cervix or uterus.

Women of the world, I don’t have to tell you that your health is not considered a priority to the people who would otherwise love to legislate the hell out of your reproductive system. Unfortunately, we still live in an age where you have to do your own research on your reproductive health, and be suspicious of the information you’re given. Talk to each other. Share your experiences.