Category Archives: Rantings

On The Passing of An Icon

Those of you who have been following my writings/rantings know that I’m not a big fan of pop music. So, I decided while the rest of the world is watching the Grammys, I’d write out some thoughts I had on the passing of one of music’s greats (and a woman whose talent I admired very much – sans autotune), Whitney Houston.  She was a true artist who could do things with a song that nobody else could. She was a brilliant mix of talent and passion, and it came through in everything she sang.

Here’s a video of her in one of her better times, singing a song with a beautiful message that we can all learn from.

I wanted to write about her, however, for another reason. Since her passing, the internet has been exploding with everyone’s two cents about it. I’ve heard everything from “Rest in Peace” and “How tragic” to “I’m not surprised” and “Why are we wasting our grief on a crack whore?”.

A penny for MY thoughts? So glad you asked.

I have many thoughts. I’m not surprised. While I’m very sad that she died before her time, I’ve seen firsthand how addiction and mental illness can steal people’s lives away, both literally and figuratively. It’s hard not to wonder every time the phone rings if something has happened to someone I love.  I do not agree, however, that grief is wasted on a “crack whore”. This woman was ill. Her addiction was a symptom of a larger problem.

I know eating disorders and addiction are two different things, but I feel like they stem from the same root. Things happen in a person’s life that are painful and out of their control. They find something that makes them feel like they’re taking their power back: pain on THEIR terms, a set of rules/behaviors that seem to make order out of chaos, and an escape from their pain. I found my escape and control through starvation, Whitney through drugs.

It’s hard at any time to find the stability and courage to be willing to let go of that control. I know I couldn’t have done it if I’d kept living my life in the public eye (on a small scale for me, of course). People in “the business”, no matter how successful you are, will use you for whatever they think they can get from you to further their own careers. It’s hard to trust anyone in that situation. And the world is so fickle . . . I’ve had people asking me for my autograph after a show one day, then treating me like shit the next when I’m waiting on their table. I can’t even imagine what it was like for Whitney on such a large scale.

I hope she finds the peace in death that she didn’t seem able to in life, and I hope her memory gets some peace from those who speak without understanding. Thank you for the music, Whitney.

 

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What Do You Need?

In this recovery business, I’ve been asked many times, “What do you need?”

Damned if I know.

I kinda figure if I knew what I need, I’d have figured out how to get it by now.

WGT is a big believer in being the “master of your own recovery” . . . picking and choosing the ways you want to heal. I completely support this. Being forced into crazy groups in treatment that had NO application to my life only made me pull away farther with the “these people don’t know what the fuck they’re doing . . . they can’t fix me” mentality.

I still don’t always know what I need, (I’m usually better at knowing what I DON’T need), but when I do know, I’m getting better at asking for it. (Thank you all for the stories about what makes YOU feel beautiful. You’re inspiring and brave.) Sometimes, however, people don’t listen to what you’re asking for. They tell you what they THINK will help you, but oftentimes even what seems harmless enough can do more damage than good, depending on where you’re at in your recovery process. I’m still not good at having a voice in those moments to say “Hey, thank you, but that’s REALLY not what I need right now.” I’d usually rather just not rock the boat.

Usually what I think people in this recovery process need more than anything is an ear. We have professionals (usually) who we pay for advice, so unless we ask directly for it, it’s usually not what we’re looking for. (Whole lot of “usuallys” in this paragraph . . . there are exceptions to every rule.) It’s hard, I know. I have a lot of friends who struggle with similar issues, and so many times I think I have an answer to whatever it is they’re going through. I do my best, though, to keep it to myself unless I hear those magic words, “What do YOU think?”.

Sometimes, the things we need are hard to name, or hard to come by, or both. Today, though, I was walking through my neighborhood (quickly – Toronto got winter-ified today hardcore) and I saw this sign on a telephone pole: 

 

It offered me Love, Hope, Faith, Patience, Courage, Understanding, Friendship, Peace, Passion, Healing, Strength, Beauty, Freedom, Forgiveness, Kindness, and Motivation. Today, I took Courage. The paper is in my pocket. I don’t know if it will work, but I feel a little braver already just knowing that I’ve got it. Kinda like the medal that The Wizard of Oz gave to the Cowardly Lion. He wasn’t actually any different than he was before, but having something tangible to hold onto made all the difference. So today I ask, what do YOU need? Take one, feel free to comment on it or not, and go out into the world knowing that you did something positive for yourself today. And you deserve it.

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If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say

. . . shut the fuck up.

Ok. So y’all know I’m all about speaking your mind but, as with so many things in life, there is a line.

Things have changed a lot in recent years. In days of yore, if you wanted to say something bad about someone, you had to do it verbally or in writing. “Thy face causes offense to mine eye” still hurt, but had a much smaller audience.

From foundmagazine.com

Nowadays, judgement and bullying have become a part of popular culture. The internet allows for anonymity, and anyone can post anything about anyone for anyone else to read. Any. Perez Hilton can write (or draw) anything with this little white cyber-pen about anyone he wants. While I understand he’s gotten better (fewer dripping orifices nowadays), he currently has “Madonna’s Worst Looks Through The Years” as one of his top stories. This works because there is an audience for it.  Same goes for E!’s Fashion Police. Joan Rivers has taken her red carpet acid tongue to a more removed setting, and she and her cronies sit and tear apart all of Hollywood’s fashion choices, crowning a “Fash-ho of the Week”. On the red carpet, I can virtually guarantee that everyone who steps out of a limo got dressed thinking, “I look AMAZING in this (dress, tux, swan . . . )”. I don’t care how famous you are, those words hurt.

*NB I’ve deliberately not externally linked to Perez or Fashion Police. If you want to read these things, it’s your business, but I don’t want to associate this blog with that kind of poison. 

Our generation has grown up with this kind of mentality surrounding us, and it has become a societal “norm”. We, as a culture, feel like we have license to say exactly what we’re thinking on any topic without thinking about the consequences.

Today’s rantings are inspired by two such situations of bullying, both directed at one of my dearest friends. (He’s one of those rare “soldiers” who fights alongside me (on my behalf), and I’m forever grateful to have him in my life.) A couple of years ago, Daniel was on a blind date. He had always struggled with his weight, but he is very handsome, dresses with style, and always looks great. His date showed up at the restaurant, and without so much as a “hello” said, “Nope. Too fat,” and walked away.

A statement like that would crush a lot of people. I have heard time and time again about people who have had similar experiences that have led to eating disorders, depression, and even suicide. Daniel, however, chose to use the experience to turn his life around. He focused on getting healthy, not on getting thin, and is now in incredible shape and is a personal trainer himself (and many other things – this boy is GOING places!).

Yesterday, he received a message on one of his online profiles:

“You aren’t athletic, you’re fat. And what’s with the toque? We all know you’re bald.”

I would like to start off by saying that I have hugged those muscles many a time, and there’s nothing fat about them. And yes, Daniel shaves his head, so he is bald. He also enjoys a toque (Canadian word for winter hat), as it is WINTER here and that gets cold on a shaved head.

When did this kind of attack become okay? It shocks me that anyone feels that they have the right to say something like that to another human being.

This made me think, however. How often do we sit with friends and gossip about those around us? We judge the hair, clothes, etc. of people around us: strangers on the street, acquaintances, and even family and friends. If you are exempt from this generalization, my apologies and congratulations. You are a better person than I am. Do you ever stop to think, though, “If my friend talks to me like this about her friends, how does she talk about me when I’m not there?” Is it any wonder so many of us have trust issues?

Once again, I’m issuing a challenge: Let’s stop ourselves before we judge, gossip about, or bully another person. Just don’t say it. If someone else is talking unkindly, let’s not engage. Then, let’s work on our thoughts. It’s not enough just to stop the verbal attacks. Thoughts have energy, and are you really going to invite all that negativity into your brain over an ugly pair of shoes?

And maybe, just maybe, once we’re thinking more kindly about others, we can start to turn that kindness on ourselves.

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Children Will Listen

Ever since I started making this blog public on my Facebook and Twitter pages, friends have been sending me links to various articles, pictures, etc. as inspiration. I have a bookmark folder full of pages, and hope to do as many of them justice as I am able.

Today, however, I found a link on a friend’s page that moved me, and I wanted to share it with you right away. The story is titled,

“Mom, I’m Fat:” One Mother’s Inspired Response to Her 7 Year Old

From the article on http://www.rachelsimmons.com/

I highly recommend you read the article, but if you’re (word)pressed for time, I’ll give you the Coles Notes (Cliff Notes, for you non-Canadians) version here. A mother of FIVE (impressive/brave enough as is . . . ) watches her 7 year old daughter examine her body in the mirror. The girl tells her, “I’m Fat”. After twenty minutes of feminist, healthy talk, the mom is at a loss. She finally strips off her own clothes, makes her body jiggle, and makes up a rap along the lines of “We are perfect, just the way we are”. The girl ends up laughing, but the mom is left unsure if she has changed anything.

Every generation, the pressure on girls (and boys) to achieve the perfect body seems to grow and grow as the “ideal” body shrinks and shrinks. The onus isn’t just on parents anymore to raise their children to be strong, confident human beings, especially since the media is often more present in a child’s life than her mother or father. It is up to every person to make the world a more loving, accepting place.

But where do we start?

As a child of three, I stood in the mirror crying because I knew I was fat and ugly and that I hated myself. At five, I sighed during story time, because my thighs were too fat to ever be a fairy tale princess. I knew these things to be true,  and nothing anyone could have said would have changed my mind.  These messages don’t come from nowhere, but the answer to countering these beliefs is just as elusive as the cause.

To this day, the things I see in the mirror quite often disgust me. No matter how many people tell me differently, I don’t know how to love my body. I KNOW that the content of a person’s character is what matters. I KNOW that my body does (most of) what it’s supposed to, and it’s easier to walk and run and dance when I’m not emaciated. But these beliefs are ingrained in me. It’s all I know. I’m told that I should stand in front of a mirror and tell myself I’m beautiful until I believe it, but honey, a girl’s gotta work . . . I can’t spend all my time in a mirror.

I’ll get there someday. It’ll take a lot of work, and a lot of opening up to new ideas that make me ridiculously uncomfortable. Sometimes being kind to yourself is more painful than cruelty.

But that’s beside the point. How do we make this different for the next generation, so they don’t have to suffer the way we have? The mother in this article had the right idea.

Wherever we turn, we see women who are dissatisfied with their bodies. It doesn’t matter if they’re fat, thin, or in between, everyone wants to change something, and most people do it quite publicly.

“I can’t eat that.”

“Do you know how many calories are in that?”

“Ugh, I need to go to the gym.”

Women we emulate on tv, in movies, and in real life for their brains, kindness, achievements, etc. are on a diet. If we want to be like them, then we should diet, too, yes?

There’s a woman I admire very much. She has struggled through many unimaginable obstacles in her life. She could have let the pain overwhelm her, but instead she decided that she had more to offer the world than another suffering body. She did the work. She learned to love herself and her body, and doesn’t apologize for it. Anyone who spends any amount of time with her wants to be like her. Yes, she is gorgeous, but she is also brilliant and kind and caring and loving and the personification of “light”.  She is going to change the world.

This change doesn’t start with other people, though. We can’t change other people, but imagine what we could do if, as a generation, we decided to only speak positively about ourselves, and be ok with just “being”. Our children (well, not MY children . . . that ain’t happening) would see successful women who live  the proof that it’s ok to love themselves.

Women (and men) of the world, I want to issue a challenge. Let’s stop striving for perfection, and instead strive to be someone we’d like our children to emulate. I know, it’s going to take a long time and a lot of work. We’ve all harmed our bodies and souls, and learning to live another way won’t be easy. But next time you’re on the subway, look at the little child in the stroller across from you (no, not the screaming one . . . pick one you don’t want to strangle). What do you wish for that child? Now go and make that wish happen for yourself.

” . . . maybe if we are surrounded in beauty/Someday we will become what we see”

~Jewel

Jan. 19/12 – just found this article that echoes what I was saying . . .

Parents’ New Year’s Resolution Weight Loss Behaviors Can Contribute to Eating Disorders in Children

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I Just Don’t Get It.

I really don’t. I know what it‘s called. I know the chain of events that led to it being a featured player in my life. I’m told that if I just do everything I’m supposed to, it‘ll get easier over time. I started this blog, in part, to help explain it to the “normies”. But I just don’t understand this disease.

How does the brain decide to go against nature, telling you that everything will seem better if you just don’t eat? That you’ll feel better about yourself if you just throw up? That the only way you’ll be a worthwhile person is if you exercise until you pass out, then stand up and start all over again?

How can I wear a pair of pants that fit comfortably in the morning, then hold them up later in front of a mirror and decide that there’s no way my ass will fit inside them? I KNOW my ass fits. I JUST took the pants off. Yet standing in front of the mirror, my body looks a full two sizes bigger than the pants.

When you don’t understand what you’re trying to fight, every day is SO frustrating. It’s like that SNL sketch where Chris Farley finds himself a contestant on a Japanese game show. You can watch it here. In the event that SNL takes down this video, I’ll give you the basic rundown: Chris Farley’s character doesn’t speak Japanese, and it’s soon apparent that any wrong answer by a contestant will result in said contestant being forced to cut off a body part. It’s funnier than it sounds. Farley lucks into the right answer several times simply by repeating the last thing the host says, but eventually not understanding what’s being asked of him leads to his being electrocuted.

I don’t speak Japanese. Well, I know some basics, how to swear a little, count to four, and, oddly enough, I know the Japanese word for “squirrel”. But that’s beside the point. If I were trying to solve a problem in Japanese, I would likely not be successful. I don’t understand what’s being asked of me. The same goes here. I know there is a problem to be solved, but I don’t understand it. More often than not, the effort involved in trying leaves me crumpled in a heap, crying.

Usually at this point in a post, I have some clever twist or profound thought that sums everything up in a tidy little package (I suspect I mixed too many metaphors in that sentence . . . ) In this case, I’ve got nothing. All I can offer today is the knowledge that, whether you’re trying to understand your own eating disorder or that of a loved one, if you feel confused, frustrated, and at times, hopeless, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Sometimes, that’s all any of us has to depend on.

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It’s been a while . . .

*****PLEASE READ MY FOLLOW UP TO THIS POST HERE*****


. . . but never fear: there’s enough idiocy in the world to keep me ranting for years.

Back in September, I wrote a post wherein I proclaimed “Maggie Goes On A Diet” to be the Worst. Book. Ever. Well, while watching daytime tv (again . . . this time Anderson Cooper’s new show), I discovered a book that gives it a run for its money.

Meet “My Beautiful Mommy

Basically, “Mommy” is getting plastic surgery, and this is a book to help her explain to her 4- to 7-year-old child what’s going to happen. Mommy explains, “You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn’t fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better.”
So . . . as little 6-year-old Maggie (remember her from Maggie Goes On A Diet?) looks in the mirror, she sees her tummy stretching out as she grows, and her clothes don’t fit as she gets bigger, she’s going to know that something is wrong with her and needs “fixing”. Hopefully, Mommy is smart enough not to allow her child plastic surgery, but that just means that little Maggie is going to look for other ways to fix her body. Maybe there’s another book out there that can teach her how to diet . . . oh wait, there is.
Moms of the world, stop damaging your children in your endless quest for perfection. Health is one thing . . . vanity is another. Fix your issues before you pass them onto your children. You can either pay for your therapy now, or your child’s therapy ten years from now.
Here’s a video from ABC News explaining the book.

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WTFashion?

I know what you’re thinking . . . eating disorder blog about models. WRONG!!!!! (P. S. There are two subtle Liza Minnelli references in that opening line . . . a cookie to anyone who can identify them both . . . no takers?)

Anyhow, a few weeks ago, my friend Candace brought a major fashion faux pas to my attention. No, not wearing athletic sneakers with jeans and graphic tees (especially if the jeans are just a little bit too short for the shoes). Trust me. This is even more fucked up than that.

Then today (yesterday? Today. “Holidays” all roll into one when you’re boycotting . . . ) I came across another little gem that bears a rant. Here are two big fuck ups from the world of fashion.

I’ll go with the most recent first. I found this on three websites, EmpowHerABC News, and FitPerez:

Image from "Ricky's"

This is “Anna Rexia”, a Halloween costume from a store called “Ricky’s”. Yes, that is a measuring tape around her neck and waist. The costume description:

“If Anna Rexia doesn’t want to put it in her mouth there is nothing you can say to change her mind. You can stop trying to sell her on the point that there aren’t any carbs and it’s all protein because Anna Rexia just doesn’t want anything to do with it. Make no bones about it this girl is as disciplined as they can get. Anna Rexia costume is anything but bare bones! Costume includes headband, choker neckband, removable ‘Anna Rexia’ badge and ribbon tie belt. If you’re starving for attention, this costume will be sure to put you on top of the world.”

WTF.

The second fashion disaster comes from a company called “Teen Modelling” on the website “Zazzle”. (Found on The Daily Mail)

From the Daily Mail

Yep. They’re marketing this for children. For those of you not familiar with this saying, it’s a “lifestyle motto” from the model Kate Moss. Rather than blather on about why these things are fucked up, I’m going to take another tactic. (besides, I already filed this under “Rantings” not “Blatherings”)

I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you how “good” skinny feels.

Skinny is waking up surprised that you slept at all, because usually your body is so out of balance you seldom get more than 2-3 hours. You maybe can’t feel certain limbs, because no matter how thick your mattress is, its direct pressure on your bones has cut off blood flow and bruised your shoulders, hips, knees, and ribs.

You probably start to cry, because you’re so hungry, but know you won’t be allowed to eat anything, at least not until you’ve burned off enough calories to “earn” your food. You stand up and black out for a while, because your heart can’t adjust well to sitting or standing.

You have pillows strategically placed around your house, because the couch, your computer chair, the stationary bike are all too painful to sit on directly. You carefully weigh, measure, and chop your food, because you know if you do one thing wrong or out of order, you won’t be allowed to eat it that day. You sit on your pillow, exhausted from your work out, miserable from your morning weigh in, and eat your small bowl of whatever shit you’re allowed as slowly as possible, because a) it’s the last thing you’ll eat for a while and you’ve got to make it last, and b) you won’t be allowed to sit anymore once it’s done.

You don’t do much during the day, but every minute is occupied. You can’t go out with friends, because they’ll want to eat or go to a movie, and that’s too much sitting. Any time away from your exercise means making it up later, no matter how late you have to stay up.

If you do leave the house, because you have an unavoidable commitment like a doctor’s appointment, you’ll probably have to walk there, never mind how many hours away it is. If, by some miracle, you’re allowed to ride the subway, you’ll regret it every time the train bounces and jostles, because you’ll have to keep checking to make sure you haven’t broken a bone against the hard seat backs.

You’ll cry climbing stairs because you feel like you’ll die before you reach the top. You stop being able to digest food and liquid and end up bloated, like a pregnant 8-year-old. You’ll never be warm, not even on the hottest days. People will stare at you, whisper, glare, or make comments outright. They’d be surprised to know that skinny does not equal deaf. You’re terrified that you’ll pass out in public, because that means people will either try to feed you juice or take you to the hospital. You’ll hide from everyone, and feel the most alone you’ve ever felt in your life.

In short, skinny feels really good. Really. And while I still don’t know if I like most food, I’m pretty sure even dog food tastes better than skinny felt for me.

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