Body Image and shit
I think a lot about body image. I really do. I’m not a small woman, and no one in their right mind would call me petite. Do you think I’m mad about that? Abso-fucking-lutely not. I’m curvy, I’m strong, and I’ll kick your ass (or at least joke about kicking it) if you disagree.
That being said, I’ve never really been comfortable with my body. I’ve always been a victim of the cultural body image issue for women in the United States.
Even when I was a chain smoking size 6 my senior year of college, I was never happy with my body. Size 6!? YOU TINY WHORE. WHY AREN’T YOU HAPPY?
I remember a sexual partner during that size 6 time tell me I had great legs. In response I said, “No. Don’t look at them. I hate them.”
Size 6 Valerie hated her stomach, her legs, AND her butt.
Five years later, I’m a grown-ass woman approaching 30 who evidently does crazy shit like google search, “sexiest female bodies according to men.” SPOILER ALERT: It’s depressing.
Maybe I wanted some validation that men found my curvy physique attractive. DON’T JUDGE ME.
As I was reading an article about how men are “totally cool” with the extra pounds around my midsection or my disproportional vulva (what!?), I had a minor epiphany.
FUCK IT SO MUCH AND FUCK IT SO HARD.
Seriously, fuck it.
I’m tired of this focus on how we look. I’m so. FUCKING. tired of it.
Everyone should be comfortable with how they look. I think our society should embrace people of different body types, skin colors, and any other variant that I’m leaving out.
You know what our time should be focused on? OUR GOD. DAMN. HEALTH.
Stop giving a fuck about impressing other people with your perfectly flat stomach. Stop getting surgery to be what the gender to which you are attracted wants from you. Instead, be good to yourself. Take care of yourself. Exercise. Think about what you put into your body. Give a damn about your own god-damn health and be a better fucking person.
So, really.. why am I pissed? I’m pissed because there are so many media outlets telling me how I should feel about myself. And fuck that.
- I can run a god damn marathon.
- I can bench more than most of the men in my strength training class. (To be fair, I do work with some nerdy men.)
- I can play an entire 90-fucking-minute soccer game without needing a sub.
You know what I’m worried about instead? How men perceive a woman of my “size.” And that is fucking bullshit.
So fuck it.
I’m a size 10.
I’m in great shape.
I’M A VEGAN, MOTHER FUCKERS.
I’m not always going to be comfortable with my body, but I will always know that I’m healthy as long as my blood pressure and cholesterol tell me so.
FUCK EVERYTHING ELSE.
If you somehow find this post and you’re not one of the ~30 people who follow me, this is what I want you to understand:
- Stop worrying about how other people perceive you and start focusing on your health.
- Go walk a couple of blocks.
- Cut out a bit of dairy from your diet.
- Go get a blood test to see what your levels are.
Instead of worrying about whether people think you’re fat, worry about your cholesterol. If you adopt healthy habits, your life (and your body) will be the exact shape and size you want it to be.
Size 6 “Healthy Weight” Valerie smoked a pack a day. Size 10 “Fatty McGee” Valerie runs 20-30 miles a week and has ideal blood pressure and cholesterol.
Which do you think is better?
Why I Don’t Believe in God
I struggled with whether or not I should post this. I wrote it a few months ago and rediscovered it while I was cleaning up my desktop. So, here it is. Don’t hate.
Like so many other born-again atheists in my generation, I was raised Catholic. I diligently went to church with my family every Sunday. I happily sang along to the hymns, knelt when I was told, closed my eyes for prayer, and wished peace to my neighbor. At that point in my life, Sunday mass was not leading up to the transconfiguration and consumption of the body and blood of Christ; it was simply measured by the number of songs that were left until the service was over.
That all changed for me shortly before I reached high school.
I was a lost kid as I approached the end of the 7th grade. I wasn’t doing drugs, being delinquent, or trying to stealthily pilfer my parents’ liquor supply; instead, I was torn between how my Christian values told me to treat people and how I acted with my middle school cohorts. I didn’t know how to treat everyone how I wanted to be treated while maintaining my social status, and because of that, I didn’t really feel like I fit in anywhere. Could I really claim I was following the way of Christ while deliberately making fun of the people who weren’t as “popular” as me?
I know holding on to memories from middle school might seem like I’m holding too closely to the past, but bear with me, because there’s a defining moment approaching in 3…2…
I remember one example more vividly than I remember anything else from that time in my life. There was a girl named Nancy* (who wasn’t one of the popular girls), who had a crush on Matt (who was popular, a skater, and had a crush on me because he thought I looked like Britney Spears). Matt had no interest in Nancy, and probably had no idea who she was until the day my defining moment happened.
Nancy was sitting very close to our “popular kids” table when a girl called her over. This girl had apparently learned of Nancy’s crush on Matt and wanted to “help” her flirt with him. The girl convinced Nancy that it was a good idea to go sit by Matt, and while she did, to take off her glasses, put one end in her mouth while looking up at him and batting her eyelashes. Nancy was excited at the prospect of winning Matt’s affections, so she eagerly acted on the girl’s advice and hopped over to his table. While she was enacting the suggested flirting methods, we watched rejection spill across Matt’s face and the heartbreak that overtook Nancy. My friends laughed. They mocked her and all she wanted to do was harmlessly catch the eye of a boy she fancied.
I just sat there. I didn’t laugh, but I was complicit in making that girl feel like nothing at that moment in time. I sat there while one of the nicest girls I’d ever met felt like she wasn’t good enough. A girl who treated everyone better than she expected to be treated was made to feel like she didn’t matter to two tables full of entitled middle school bullies. She had never done anything to wrong anyone at our table, yet for some reason, it was important for us to show that we were better than her. I felt so much at that moment. What was I doing? How could I stand by and watch them belittle this girl? Is this who I am? I was by no means a saint at this moment in time; girls who I deemed “less popular” than me on my soccer team would ask me about my boyfriend-of-the-week and I would roll my eyes at them. I would treat them like they weren’t allowed to talk to me because, not only was I more popular than them, but I was also a better soccer player than them.
After that moment of watching those girls laugh at Nancy, I realized something: that if this is the company that I keep, these kids who were so willing to demoralize another human being, that I, too, must not have been good company. All of the mean things I said to any person who wasn’t “popular” like me came rushing to the foreground; I wanted to distance myself from that girl, but I wanted to do it while maintaining face.
So I began pulling away. It might have been opting out of an invite to the mall. It might have been starting to make friends with some of the other girls in my class. It was a subtle transition for me out of the popular kids circle, and it happened slowly and over time, but it happened. I found a new group of friends: they were nice and they didn’t seem to care if they were popular or not. I genuinely enjoyed their company and they never intentionally tried to hurt anyone. But somehow, I still didn’t feel like I belonged. I didn’t yet feel like I was home.
If you’re thinking, “girl, those are heavy thoughts for a 14 year-old,” you’re right: I turned to half-heartedly ending my own life because I didn’t know how to rectify who I was with the person I wanted to be. I didn’t know how to overcome the tremendous wrongs I felt I’d already committed. One night, I took half of a bottle of nighttime Tylenol and fell asleep with a suicide note tucked carefully under my pillow. I woke up the next morning with a stomach ache and a feeling that some miracle spared my life. At this point, I was truly at rock bottom and wondering who I was. At 14. Middle school is hard enough without an existential crisis, ya know?
And that’s where the Catholics came in. At the start of my freshman year, I got more involved in my church youth group. At first it was only because it was required for my impending confirmation (which still felt like a chore to me), but I quickly realized that church was about more than blindly believing in something my parents instructed me to believe in (upon punishment of eternal damnation): it was also about building a community with people who shared my beliefs.
The community that I found in the Catholic community in Ames, IA saved me. I could relate to my peers on every level and they accepted me exactly how I was: broken and in need of an emotional home. Naturally, I dove head first into youth group.
And I loved every minute of it. I found this community of people who were a) Catholic and b) accepted me for who I was. Dream. Come. True. I got more and more involved: I went to conferences around the Midwest; I gave speeches to the youth in our local congregation about how God saved me from rock bottom; I went to the National Catholic Youth Conference and attended conferences at the Franciscan University of Steubenville to meet other youth who were also passionate about developing a closer relationship with God through the Catholic church.
Throughout these years of my life, I never felt more alive. I had friends who legitimately earned the title of best. I found a community across the world that I knew I could turn to when I had a crisis of faith or any doubts about God or who I wanted to be. I found a future vocation in devoting my life to God in the form of becoming a nun. I really thought this could be it for me, until I started studying the catechism of the Catholic church more closely.
I found more and more problems when I studied and not enough answers. That same girl from middle school resurfaced, struggling to align my own beliefs with how an institution told me what to think and what to believe. I kept wondering how an all-loving God could send me to hell for not believing in him. Shouldn’t it be my actions that determine where I end up in the afterlife? Why would this God who loves everyone condemn someone just because they happen to love another human who shares his or her gender? Why would my church spend so much time devoted to defending our beliefs instead of spreading the love that I read in each and every gospel? If I’m truly to follow Jesus, shouldn’t I be spreading that love based on my actions instead of the specific and often polarizing beliefs of my particular denomination?
And then it hit me when I was a freshman in college like the final defining moment in a series of three: I didn’t believe in God. Or, at that moment, I didn’t believe in the version of God that my Catholic upbringing told me of. God couldn’t be all-loving and vengeful. God couldn’t be forgiving and hold a grudge. The son of God couldn’t have sacrificed himself to build a church that is so quick to cast out others who don’t share its beliefs.
It all started to topple from there; I realized that the Catholic community in which I had found my home was nothing more than a popularity contest. The youth that were acting as though they were speaking in tongues while possessed by the holy spirit? They just wanted attention. Those who boldly told their stories of transformation and do-gooding? They just wanted to prove they were the fairest Catholics of them all. The people that I met (and I’m certainly no exception), just seemed to want recognition for all of the good they were doing. They wanted to be the best Catholic, not the best human.
I stopped believing in God because I stopped believing in the church.
But the beautiful thing? That removal of belief didn’t leave any void in my soul; instead, it renewed my faith in humanity. I started thinking about all of the incredible people who volunteer that do so without any promise of reward (either earthly or in the afterlife). Those people who do what they do because they believe the only way to make the world a better place is by actively MAKING it a better place. Doesn’t that sound familiar? I don’t think it’s ignorant to believe in God as long as you truly act in a way that not only pleases your god, but also makes the world a better place. I mean, Jesus was the first Humanist, right?
One thing I believe that I’m still firmly rooted in is that we can only truly make this world a better place by doing good for others without promise of reward or recognition. Those who are fortunate need to use their time and resources to make life even the teensiest bit better for those who are struggling to feed themselves and their families. If we’re all truly living in Christ’s image, shouldn’t we be unconditionally helping people?
So, that’s pretty much it. There are a lot of details I’ve left out for brevity (jokes, right? this entry is long), that led me to my current state. It might not make sense to many how I’ve leapt from wannabe nun to atheist, but here’s the skinny: god or no god, we’re all here and we’re sharing this planet. The good we do here shouldn’t come from the promise of heaven; instead, our actions should be motivated by making this earth and the lives of everyone around us better. I don’t believe in God; I believe in Humanity.
Yesterday at my Computer Literacy class, I messed up when I told the students how to do something in Microsoft Excel. I said, “Oh no sorry, that’s apparently not how you do it. I forget sometimes and make mistakes.”
One student replied, “If it’s hard for you, imagine how hard it is for us.”
I wish we all thought more about that. I sometimes think my life is hard without thinking about it in the context of the rest of our culture. Sometimes I think about how I’m sad that I can’t take a vacation I want because I don’t have enough PTO. Then I realize there are people that live within 5 miles of me that are sad because they can’t feed their families and I’m worried about taking a day of unpaid in my otherwise incredibly comfortable existence.
Extreme example? Sure. But I’m writing this to remind myself and others: anytime you think you’re disadvantaged, think about those who are less fortunate than you. Whether it be knowledge, capital, or environment, there is most likely another human on the planet who only DREAMS of being in the position that you are.
first love, y’all.
I was in love once. I would never use the word epic to describe this love in a way that books or movies would, but it felt epic at the time. Two friends realizing they were actually crazy about each other and having the guts to admit it feels pretty epic, doesn’t it? Sure, we made those confessions in a dimly lit bar in downtown Ames and, following the aforementioned confession, promptly filled the awkward silence with our nervous nicotine habits, but that doesn’t make me look back any less fondly on the memory.
When I dropped this man off at his apartment on the night we realized we were going to be together, he said, “I’m going to go upstairs before I do something stupid like invite you up or try to kiss you.”
We shared that blissfully awkward moment until he got out of my car and walked to his apartment. I remember watching him walk up the stairs and, as he approached the door, turning and smiling at me. I had no idea that I would fall in love with that man so easily, without any fear or any concern about what might happen stopping me. I was just living my life in that moment.
I had a movie-worthy first kiss once. I remember driving to the apartment of my first love knowing I wanted to kiss him for the first time. We had been going on dates after our confessions of mutual affection, but we were still delicately transitioning our friendship to something much more beautiful.
I remember sitting in my car nervously contemplating how he might react when I kissed him. These thoughts quickened my heartbeat to the point that I knew I had to act or I would over think it and chicken out altogether. I got out of my car and ran up the stairs to his apartment.
I found him at the top of the stairs and, without words, laid one on him. If you looked coldly at the mechanics of the kiss, I’m sure it wasn’t as beautiful as it felt. But at that moment, we were both relieved of the tension we felt while simultaneously being struck with the anticipation of an exciting new way to appreciate one another. It didn’t just feel right; it felt necessary. If there was ever a moment in my life where I felt like time stopped, it was certainly this moment.
I was heartbroken once. For almost 3 years, I was certain I’d found the one I was supposed to be with for the rest of my life. That 3 years now feels like a life lived long ago. I used to look back at that time and feel only pain. Now, when I think of these memories, I can’t help but smile. Who wouldn’t?
I wanted to write this post because, in the end, after all the time I spent crying on the kitchen floor thinking I’d never feel that way again, I still feel lucky. Nothing can replace the memories of finding your first love, and I certainly wouldn’t want anything to.
Upon the suggestion/demand from my roommate Christine, I created a blog about life as a single lady in Austin. That sounds SO boring, right? Well, it’s more about my ridiculous experiences with dating in general and OKCupid in particular.
Sometimes I talk about dumb things I do when I’m drunk. Sometimes I talk about dumb things I do when I’m sober. Most of the time, however, I talk about awkward and unintentionally hilarious things dudes do when they want to get in my business.
So enjoy, mock, criticize, judge, laugh, hate, [other verb here]. But if you’re looking for posts from me, follow that little blog.
I’m not normally one to buy into the hoopla of New Year’s resolutions. The year may increment, but resolutions just seem to add unnecessary punctuation to the natural flow of my life, so I’ve never been a big fan. BUT, with that opening sentiment, I’m sure you’ve guessed that this year, I’m jumping on the bandwagon and setting some goals to achieve in 2012. So, here they are. My less than exciting and incredibly cliche resolutions for 2012:
A poorly written tribute
My grandfather passed away in May of 2011. I never really talked a lot about it because it affected me, and continues to affect me, more than I care to admit to my friends. My grandpa Zane was always my #1 fan, and always the man who convinced me I could do anything I wanted without saying a word. I played ASA softball from age ~9-14. The competition level, my skill, the games: that’s not what stuck in my mind from those 5 years. I actually remember very few specific plays from that time.
What I do remember? My grandpa. At every. single. game. Sitting in that spot between the dugout and the bleachers. It didn’t matter how well or poorly we were doing: he was always there. And he always had one of those cheesy buttons that had my softball photo from our team photo shoot on it. Even when I chose soccer over softball, he would still come to games that were close to Manson. I still remember the first high school soccer game I played in Fort Dodge (about an hour from Manson, where my grandparents lived): my grandpa sitting between the bleachers and the goal I was guarding at the time, wearing the softball button from my U-12 softball team. He didn’t have a clue what was going on, but he was happy to be there supporting me.
I guess these silly stories might not mean as much if you don’t know other things about his life or specific details about my life with him. But, know this: Zane Meier is a fucking bad ass. And if I ever decide to have a baby (and it’s a boy), his name will be Zane. And I can only hope he’ll be half as bad ass as my Grandpa.
Christmas ‘10, which was regrettably the last Christmas I had with him, held my funniest memory: him sneaking more wine even though my Grandma told him he wasn’t allowed. He just seemed like a kid victorious over some simple 3rd grade teacher when he got a refill, which did nothing but make me smile during what would be one of our last Euchre games together.
I went home last Christmas as a last minute thing, and I’m thankful I did. But I’m also so full of regret. Had I known it was the last time I would see him, I would have said this:
Thank you for being so supportive of my sports.
Thank you for being so supportive of everyone you know.
Thank you for being the best Grandpa any girl could ever know.
Thank you for coming to my soccer games even though you wished I still played softball.
Thank you for loving me so much.
I love you so much.
And thank you for teaching me to enjoy bowling even though I’m terrible at it.
I miss you.
Sorry for such a serious tumblr post, y’all. It’s just been a long time coming.
This boring everyday situation happened to me: I found a comfortable balance of pillows to prop myself up to work on my laptop for a bit while I was home sick. Just when I got comfortable, I realized I needed to reach over and grab my power cord. There was a moment where I stopped and mourned that I had just gotten comfortable, and debated if I could go without power for just a little while longer. I decided that I might as well just get it over with because I could easily get comfortable again. Pretty boring, right?
After I finished readjusting the pillows to get comfortable again, I realized that’s what my life feels like right now. I’m so comfortable with everything about it that I can’t help but wonder if I’m complacent to make any changes to my life because I’m afraid of feeling uncomfortable for even a moment. Or if somehow, by wanting something in my life to change, I’m showing that I’m ungrateful for everything I have.
Right now, I think I’m at the place in my life where I just got comfortable, and I’m putting off moving from this space for as long as I can.
What’s funny is that people who aren’t hipsters generally express distaste for them and those who appear to be hipsters hate to be identified as such. Everybody hates hipsters … especially hipsters. And the ironic part is that hipsters’ opposition to pop culture has become pop culture.”
I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
— Kurt Vonnegut