Archive for March, 2009

25
Mar
09

Does our body dictate what kind of person we are?

Tonight, I was walking out of my cultural theory class and I had a conversation with one of my classmates that went something like this:

Classmate: My legs hurt.

Me: Why?

Classmate: I’ve been working with this personal trainer. I’m trying to become a better person.

Me: Through working out?

Classmate: Well, I can’t treat other people right before I learn how to treat myself. 

My first thought, as I suppose you can tell from my immediate reaction, was that going to the gym is not the way that I would love my body. This is because gyms contain 2 things that I dislike most in life: (1) exercise machinery and (2) large groups of women in spandex. 

Secondly, I don’t think there is anything wrong with working out or attaching a certain level of pleasure to it (although I don’t understand it). But, it seems to me that there is something very dangerous about employing it in this context. If we gauge our own ethics by the way we “treat” our bodies, do we then make external judgments about the bodies of others?

Being a vegetarian I feel like I walk that fine line. Although, my commitment to vegetarianism has more to do with my impact on the world than that of my own body I have to be very careful about not making judgment about what other people choose to put into their bodies. 

My classmate, who is also my friend, derives her belief about exercise from a distinctly religious context. She, too, is a vegetarian, because her religion equates diet with the way she treats her body as well as the way she treats the world. She extends this tenet into a belief that working out has some sort of attachment to morality based on this relationship. 

Did I mention that I just got out of cultural theory class? Sorry if my academic brain took over there. The point it that this is certainly not the first time we have all heard this logic before. That looking good by this narrow, exclusionary standard of beauty makes one a better person. And when it is explicit in that way it is very easy to critique because it seems so transparent. But the subtle ways that these ideas permeate our culture at so many levels…That really scares me.I really believe that it is this subtlety that allows violence against people who don’t fit these arbitrary standards to not warrant the sort of reaction that those of use in the fatosphere would expect. 

And because I was not able to share my thoughts with my friend during our short goodbye, I am so grateful to be able to flesh out my thoughts here. So, with that I am going to attempt to recover from the worst flu and get some rest.

23
Mar
09

Taking a Bite of the Big Apple Part Three: The Serious

TRIGGER WARNING: PLEASE READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

It has taken me some time to get this post up, partly because my thoughts are so scattered, and partly because I’ve had to confront some of my own inner demons. But I think part of my continued healing comes from reading other folks’ experiences and taking the time to face my own.

So, in the first post of the series I told you all about my outfit I wore to an event I went to my first day in NYC. The event was a book launch and panel discussion for an amazing book called The Cries of Men: Voices of Jamaican Men Who Have Been Raped and Sexually Abused, written by O’Brien Dennis.  This book is raw, and I had a rough time reading it. Sometimes, it got a bit too real, too much…sometimes people’s prejudices, which Dennis outlined beautifully, got to be too much for me and I had to put the book down and walk away before I lost all hope in humanity.

But I wanted, no, needed to finish it.

As I listened to Dennis’ story, my heart broke. It broke for him, it broke for other men who share his experience, and it broke for women who have been through this too.

For Dennis, this book was groundbreaking in more ways than one. Men rarely admit to being sexually abused, or hell, abused in any capacity because it isn’t seen as “manly”. In Jamaican culture, homosexuality is frowned upon (a vast understatement, let me tell you), and the publishing of this book basically insures he can never go back home.

As I listened to the panel, my mind wandered a bit.  What makes me so sad is that society is structured to where those who suffer traumatic experiences are not allowed to by societal norms to share what they’ve been through and ask for help. They’re made to feel ashamed, dirty, worthless, the whole nine. They’re made to feel that the abuse was their fault, that they somehow wanted what happened to them.

It ought not be this way. Period. Yet every day another boy or girl, man or woman goes through the exact same thing, and maybe one or two might seek help.

Now, this post is short, because I don’t want to ramble. I want y’all to take my snippet in, go read the book, go read other books like it, and do what I’ll be doing: go find a place and volunteer. Be that shoulder for someone who is being shamed into silence.

And if you are someone who is/has been that person shamed into silence, please, please, don’t go through this alone. There are resources and I beg of you, seek them out and take them.

19
Mar
09

Taking a Bite of the Big Apple Part Two: Shopping

So, this post was supposed to have gone up yesterday, but I got caught up taking care of other things. Per usual. I need to work on my time management.

Anyway.

So, of course the biggest part of going to visit with my two best friends was going to shop. Now, BuddingStarlet and I did the clothes shopping thing before IntellectualFeminist made it to the city because, as she’s told y’all before, she hates clothes shopping. So, on an unseasonably warm Friday morning, we made a trip to the ATM and took a stroll down 125th street in Harlem.

Aside from the various shops, there were many people with their own tables set up selling everything from candles to elaborate blown-glass bongs (BuddingStarlet doesn’t know I really thought about buying one just to set on my dresser because it was so pretty.) I saw books, incense, “designer” handbags, a plethora of black art, Obama t-shirts…you name it, they had it. If they didn’t have it, they’d get it.

Of course, they had Ashley Stewart, Lane Bryant, and the Avenue for the usual plus size offerings. I actually ducked my head into the LB to see what I could see, and I found a beautiful cream, black, turquoise, and orange dress (cream background, black sash and hem at the bottom, turquoise and orange accents) which for some reason I cannot find online.  ETA: Thanks to Christie for putting a linky to a picture of the dress in comments! I still can’t find it online; but should you want to peruse the stores, this is what it looks like:

Let the spring dress shopping officially begin!

Let the spring dress shopping officially begin!

I was happy for the 30% off friends and family discount because let me tell you, I wasn’t excited to see the $69.50 price tag. But that discount, plus the added excitement of no sales tax on clothes in NY, brought it down to a reasonable $48. When I got home, I’d received some new coupons, so I’ll probably get this dress next time:

It's more beautiful in person.

It's more beautiful in person.

I also went to the MAC store to look at the purple eyeshadows, and I picked up two beautiful shimmery shades and a great pink creamsheen glass. And I managed to convince BuddingStarlet to try out some red lipstick…it looked amazing, just like I told her it would! (I wouldn’t be a friend if I didn’t rub it in! 🙂

The day before, BuddingStarlet, myself, and one of her gentleman friends (who I’ll introduce to y’all in the next post) walked around Times Square, looking at the lights, the sights, and of course, shopping. I got the opportunity to see the biggest damn Macy’s I’d ever seen before.

No, really. It’s MASSIVE. As in, we’re walking past, and I say, oh, this is the Macy’s you were telling me about! And then I look back across the street and realize WE’RE STILL WALKING PAST IT. I didn’t go in, because I was afraid I’d buy the whole world. Next trip, though, I’ll have to make a day of it.

We also went to H&M. Now, I’ve been to NYC before, when I was in high school, and I loved the accessories because they didn’t make any clothes in my size. Well, they still don’t make clothes in my size, but they still have amazing accessories. I picked up this beautiful white straw fedora (it’s a man’s hat, but whatever) with a blue striped ribbon trim for $7.90. I tried to find more hats because at that price, it’s totally a bargain, but no dice. It was ok though, because that hat will be in heavy rotation come this summer (BuddingStarlet picked one up too.)

When IntellectualFeminist made it to the city, we had one more shopping trip to go on. She wanted to go to the Old Navy. I, of course, was wary as all of the plus sizes have been taken out of the store. But you know, it’s like 4 or 5 floors of merchandise. Perhaps, just perhaps, this massive flagship store would have something there.

Not. A. Damn. Thing. It’s hard to sour my mood when it comes to shopping, mainly because I am so desensitized to not being able to find my size in stores, but this just pissed me off. All these floors, all of these pieces, not ONE thing for me? WTF? I simply leaned against a railing as BuddingStarlet and IntellectualFeminist looked at jeans. My co-blogger looks at my face and says: “Ah, we’re in protest mode, huh? I understand.” I’d tell the Old Navy to go to hell, but I know that there is stuff on that website RIGHT NOW that I want because on my salary, I can afford it. Bastards. Ugh.

Anyway.

My mood perked up pretty quickly by the time we made it to the bookstore. Not the Barnes and Noble or Borders, but the Strand Bookstore. It is this awesome store full of used books at amazing prices. I picked up a baking cookbook by Dorie Greenspan for HALF the price I would have gotten it in the BN. When BuddingStarlet first told me about the store, I told her I was pretty familiar with them because I think (and I’m pretty sure about this) they also sell books on Amazon too. I’ve gotten many a textbook from them at an amazing price.

So really, as much damage as I thought I’d do, I didn’t do so bad. A hat, a dress, a book, two eyeshadows, and a lip gloss. And I had a ton of fun exploring the city.

Coming up: the serious part of my trip. And y’all know that if serious doesn’t mean the shopping, it’s got to be deep. Stay tuned.

16
Mar
09

Taking a Bite of the Big Apple Part One: Traveling

Hi, Y’all! I haven’t forgotten about you, I promise. I got back from my much anticipated trip to NYC last Thursday, and since I’m just now starting to get over a cold, I haven’t had the chance to tell y’all all about it.

It’s gonna take some time, actually. So I’ll be telling y’all about the trip in three parts: traveling, shopping, and…the serious. I figured I’d save the serious for last because 1) I’m still trying to get my thoughts together, and 2)…it’s serious. Serious things that make you think ought to be put last for impact.

That being said: on to the travel!

Well, I took off on a muggy Thursday morning, and I wouldn’t get to NYC till mid-afternoon. BuddingStarlet and I had an event to attend that night, and I wouldn’t have time to change my clothes before we went. So, what does a fatshionista do? I traveled in my event outfit.

It was simple really. I was wearing this dressfrom Target, with a green cami underneath, black tights, and black shiny patent flats. I belted the dress with a black patent belt. I used the money I got when I took back my beloved raspberry coat  that didn’t fit properly in the arms, and I got a cute grey hat as well (they don’t have it available online).

I ended up going with a black trench coat that my mom scored on sale at Lane Bryant (it too is no longer available online), and it kept me warm the whole trip.

But that dress from Target traveled so well, y’all. Comfortable, non binding, the whole nine. I will give a warning to my taller glamazons out there: even on 5’7 me, the dress was a bit shorter than what I was used to. It’s also a touch sheer, so you’ll want a cami or something underneath so as to not showcase all of your lusciousness (unless that’s what you happen to be going for, to which I’ll say: rock on!)

Outside of the wardrobe, I flew on a new to me airline: Continental. I usually fly Northwest or Delta, but the ticket prices were out of control this go round, so I gave Continental a try.

Now, Northwest is notorious for having itty-bitty seats and too short seat belts, and I was prepared for more of the same. Well, Continental does have itty-bitty seats, but not as small as Northwest, and their seat belts…actually fit comfortably. As we boarded the plane, the flight attendants were pleasant. They passed out blankets and pillows as we got on, and when people looked too cramped, they looked for extra seats and asked people if they wanted to move so they could be more comfortable.

Now, a woman across the aisle from me was having a rough go with her seat belt. She managed to get it closed, but the flight attendant noticed her struggle and asked discreetly if she would like a seat belt extender. (I’ll note here that I have no idea if the woman would have been charged for it, or if every flight has them, but I say it’s a start.) The lady declined, but she, as was I, was quite surprised at the offer. I haven’t seen that on other carriers, and I like that quite a bit.

The second startling thing: Continental feeds you! When I told BuddingStarlet, IntellectualFeminist, and my mom about the meal, they were just as shocked as I was. I figured airlines had stopped that to cut costs.

Now, my first flight was all of 45 minutes, and so we were left with the typical drink offering by way of a snack. But my connecting flight was 4 hours, and I just knew all we’d get was peanuts. Remember, I had an event to go to that evening, and there would be no time for food before we went. So I was prepared to have a grumbling tummy. Imagine my surprise when all of a sudden the card was wheeled down the aisle laden with sandwiches, salad, and…a fun size bag of M&Ms. And, despite every stand-up comic’s opinion to the contrary, it was quite tasty.

All in all, the flight was really pleasant, although I did regret the tights+jersey dress combo (for whatever reason, I had some serious static cling going on, and I kept thinking I was flashing people because the dress kept riding up!)

So, for me, Continental gets a big thumbs up for travel pleasantness. I’ll be riding with them again.

Coming up on Wednesday: the Shopping! I scored some great swag and a book…and I can’t wait to tell y’all about it. Stay tuned!




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