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The Ultimate Body Positive Challenge: To fall in love with yourself

Back in February, I participated in a body positive challenge. I was needing to feel more confident and sensual in my body, needing to accept where it is now. I’ve grown so weary of my body wearing my trauma for me. I’ve grown so tired of trying to protect myself from the opinions of others by covering up and denying that my body can be beautiful and magical and downright amazing when I decide it is.

But like most women, I have a complicated relationship with my body. When someone compliments me on it, I react rather adversely and predictably. “Oh no, it’s not.” In my mind, I’m just echoing the ongoing opinion of larger, older women’s bodies. In my mind, I’m enforcing a truth universally acknowledged. But what I’m really doing is rejecting my own beauty, even if it’s a sliver of what I’d want it to be. I’m denying that to myself over and over again.

Taking a Risk for Myself

trapped by fearFor the past year, I’ve been inching towards making my living as a sex, relationship educator, writer, consultant something or other. Basically, everything that I love to do that isn’t the practice of law. To do any of this, I needed to start curating more of an online presence. It means more writing (yay!). It means developing content for a more expansive website. And it is showing who I am as an educator and professional. And because I’m teaching about intimacy and sex, that includes representing who I am as a sexual woman.

The only professional photos I have are ones I got done about 4 years ago for my mediation practice. And while I love those photos, they aren’t the best representation of what I offer as a sex educator. So I contacted my friend, Anthony Graham, with Broken Glass Photography.

I have tried and failed to do boudoir photo shoots. It usually becomes a last minute cancellation because I’m curled up in a ball crying with the anxiety of it all. Most shoots I see with women of my size and with my belly don’t look comfortable or at ease. And each time I would see such little representation of either women my size or women of color, I felt more and more that I didn’t have any assets worth seeing once you know that women of my size aren’t usually celebrated or revered.  Read the rest of this entry

Body Positive Catch-up time: Days 9-11 (#bodposfeb)

Yep, because I can’t always find time in my day to write and because the shit show of the news has captured most of my available attention span, I haven’t kept up with body positive February posts. Not that you were necessarily keeping track, but here’s my attempt to get caught up. These are somewhat big assignments, so I can only break it down into a few days at a time per post:

Day 9: Express appreciation for a source of support in your life.

It would impossible for me to narrow in on just one person in my life, or just one source of support in my life. I could talk forever about the gratitude and appreciation I feel for the sources of support I have access to in my life, especially my husbands and my family. But I thought I might highlight a few people who don’t get the praise and recognition that they deserve. Here are a few highlights.

  • For Blush – To say she’s my girlfriend would be inaccurate unless you also include the fact that she’s the closest I come to having a true best friend in my life. She is the earthy, airy equivalent to my intense fire and watery adaptability. We have similar tendencies, similar callings, similar structures in our relationships. But offer each other a non-judgmental place to vent and work through problems as well as a place to obtain release without the strings of expectation or over-attachment. I love her feedback in my life and love the safe space she provides always.
  • For S – To say that I look forward to his emails, to his manner of prose and his confessions of the challenges he faces in his life would be an understatement. He has an ability to see into my heart whenever I write and to pull out the main points much better than anyone else. He’s a writer, teacher and lover, and his messages never fail to lift my spirits, touch my soul. He “sees” me and that is one of the most powerful ways to support me in my life.
  • For Chris (PA) –  Well, there are two Chris’ in PA in my life, but if I were a goddess, this one would be the high priest of my temple. In fact, a lot of out interactions these days focus on me building my temple. He offers such unconditional support. When I’m feeling down, he’s there to remind me who I really am. When I face hardship or a loss of faith in the process, the system or my own fate, he is there to remind me that I am building something grand in my life, something worthy that only those who are equally worthy can witness. He promotes my spirit without making me entirely inaccessible on a pedestal. He guards my soul.

Day 10: Share a song, poem, book, movie or TV show that helps you feel body positive.

There are two of them. I always listen to these songs back to back in this order:

English translation of the lyrics:

Lyrics for Soy Yo by Bomba Estéreo has been translated in 2 languages

I fell down, I stood up, I walked, I rose up
I went against the stream and I also got lost
I failed, found myself, I lived it and I learnt
When you fall harder, the deeper the beat

I keep dancing and writing my lyrics.
I keep singing with all the doors open
Going through all these lands and you don’t have to travel so far to find the answer

and don’t you worry if they don’t approve you, when they criticize you, just say
That’s me That’s me That’s That’s That’s That’s That’s
That’s me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me

I keep on walking, keep on laughing
I do whatever I want or die trying
Nobody cares what I’m doing, the only thing that matters is what’s on the inside
I like to be on the sand, bathing on the sea without a reason without a care
To sit down doing nothing, looking far away and being relaxed

and don’t you worry if they don’t approve you, when they criticize you, just say
That’s me That’s me That’s That’s That’s That’s That’s
It’s me me me me me me me me

I’m like this I’m like this I’m like this
Relaxed
and you don’t even know me
So relaxed
I’m like this I’m like this I’m like this
Relaxed

and you don’t even know me
You know what I mean
You know what I mean
Relaxed
So relaxed
Relaxed
So relaxed
and don’t you worry if they don’t approve you, when they criticize you, just say
That’s me That’s me That’s That’s That’s That’s That’s
That’s me me me me me me me me
Yes, That’s me


Oh holy shit. This was a hard one to do, partly because crawling into the brain of my past selves is an exercise in confronting many of the same insecurities I feel today. I am in tears at a coffee shop writing this…But I suppose that’s the point, isn’t it?

So, here we go:

Dear Janet, 

At this point in your life, Spring 2004, you gave birth a few months ago to your amazing and wonderful little boy. You carried a life inside you, have been nurturing him to grow into a healthy and happy little boy. And you are impatient to finally act on all the return of your sexual energy. And you’re starting to delve into the world of polyamory, one salacious LiveJournal post at a time. 

For the time being, you are keeping your inklings secret from your husband because you don’t want to hurt him, you don’t want him to feel like he isn’t enough. You remember being good at seduction and by this time in your life, you’ve decided to take a few tenuous steps toward exploring multiple partners and satisfying a voracious and vivacious sexual appetite. But because you have not yet found your local communities to create a safe space for this exploration, you are talking to people on Yahoo messenger who are more invested in the thrill of the illicit conquest than being a caring partner in your journey. But remember this: 

YOU ARE NO ONE’S CONQUEST

You just met with a guy who we’ll call Mitch. A professional cheater. He meets you close to the office and you give him a blowjob in his Mercedes. When you meet with him again, he asks you to hike up your skirt so he can see more of you (since we’re just before the days of sending digital photos). 

A moment of truth for you. No one but Husband has seen you naked since you gave birth. A birth that took a severe toll on your body. Stretch marks. Weight gain of 60+ lbs that no matter what you to try to strengthen your core you just can’t seem to get yourself back into shape. And a paranoia about food thanks to gestational diabetes.  

Honey, I can feel the shame and self-blame washing over me as I write this. I hate how we’ve felt about our body. Our miraculous and beautiful body for what happens in this moment and for the moments you will endure after this. 

Because in this moment, he looks at you, at your vulnerable state of wanting to be accepted and cherished like the good old days. He takes one look at you and says, “Well, at least you’re good enough for a blowjob” as he pulls your head down for a blowjob in his Mercedes parked in the law school parking garage. You will feel dirty and used and wholly disposable and that will carry through for years to come. But more than anything you feel ashamed. Ashamed that your body isn’t good enough for this beautiful man with the empty heart. You will feel ashamed that the men you will encounter after him will reinforce this message–leaving at the restaurant to pay a bill because your clothed appearance “sickened” him and turned his stomach. Finally, sending a naked photo of yourself at the request of the man who has been giving you orgasm after orgasm on the phone for the past 2 months–only to not even get a thank you for two full weeks.  No response at all. 

All of this crushes you. Makes you feel unworthy of love. You look wistfully at swingers’ websites, longing to be as pretty and desirable as them to be able to attend their events. Subsequent people you will meet will reinforce the message that big isn’t beautiful (even though to be honest, your size is pretty normal). You will enter the poly and kink communities already apologizing for your body before anyone ever sees it. You will compare yourself to other women, opting out of relationships if they start dating someone thinner than you–assuming that you aren’t desirable, you’ll start to withdraw from relationships to make room in that person’s heart for the thinner, prettier, younger, or sexier partner. You choose not to pursue connections because you don’t want them to see your flaws and deem you unworthy. You do the work for them.

You’ll continue to push yourself to own that vulnerability and at least try to take nudes, to share yourself and to project yourself as someone with confidence in herself, because it’s important to you to at least try. I know because I still do it today. I still challenge myself to show up, to show myself to some degree or another (although being outed certainly had a chilling effect on ever being so public ever again). You’ll reject the compliments and shun those who claim to desire you. You’ll assume that your tits are your only asset and you will tell your body every day that you hate it for the shape it took after this pregnancy. 

But I am here to assure you that if you can recognize the opportunity, what is happening to you right now is not a reflection of who you are, but of the values that infect our society. You do not reflect those values and so to stand against them, to speak up against those standards is to pose a threat to them. Their words are not the world you want to live in. This will fuel your passion for social change–to change the very fabric of our societal values. This isn’t easy work, but these experiences are only a reflection of the reasons why the world needs an adjustment. 

Trust me when I say that the most common word people use to describe us is “stunning” with “radiant” being a close 2nd. And that is extraordinary. Because that is  what we want to be known for. This is who we are and what we want to project into the world. 

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Artist unknown 

We are Colorado girls. And we love what is natural and true to self. We are Chicana and driven by a fire and passion for societal change. We are amazing and beautiful and know how to seduce both men and women with ease and with compassion. What happens in these early days of your polyamorous expression is only a dismissive grumble from the unworthy world of the objectifying masses to the world of the thoughtful lovers. I promise, by the end of the year you will find people with a desire to truly see you and know you and they will change your life. Laz, Min, Husband, Hawk, S, BeachBum, Ambyr, and so many others will see you for not just the value that you bring into the world, but will absolutely worship at the temple that is your body. 

Have heart, my love. You are beautiful and loved and these early experience will prepare you to establish your boundaries, assert yourself and eliminate anyone who cannot approach you with the awe and reverence that you deserve.  Believe that we are growing more powerful by the day.

Don’t let these insecurities get you down…you will change lives in sharing who you are–stretch marks and all. You are sacred and holy and will one day rise as a queen and a goddess to guide those seeking the light in the darkness. 

 

 

 

 

Days 3-5: Nice Things & Indulgences #bodposfeb

I honestly haven’t been avoiding these challenges, but when Warrior has a long weekend at our house I have a hard time finding the mental space to write. And as he and I negotiate whether he’s moving in after his divorce, these are the things that keep me hesitant. 

Anyway, all of that is to say that these challenges have been on my mind this weekend but I haven’t gotten around to writing them. 

So…

Day 3: Write 3 nice things about your body. 

This one is definitely one of the hardest for me. My body is a source of significant angst for me and it’s hard for me to admire myself or to ignore the faults for the beauty of this vessel. So, for this one I had to imagine what I might say to a lover or a friend in giving them a compliment or gushing about what I love about them. 

  1. I love how soft and silver my hair is. I have good hair days more often than not and I love my silver streaks, even the silver poking out at the roots. I love that it’s given more texture and depth to my hair. I still love the streaks of red, the patches of black. But silver actually has made me look younger. 
  2. How can anyone not enjoy my breasts? I mean they aren’t perky and taut, but they are soft and infinitely touchable. Even my gay leather brothers love snuggling close because of them. And for the lovers who pay attention the right kind of teasing, the right kind of play can induce orgasms. 
  3. I also really love my eyes. I want my eyes to communicate what may be difficult for me to find words to encompass. They change color and turn a bright sea green when I cry. While others prefer my smile, I like my eyes better. 

Day4: write three nice things about you that aren’t physical

Umm…that might be harder because while my body is superficial, there’s a shred more objectivity. I can compare against others (“Why yes, we agree that your boobs are rather extraordinary compared to a, b and c!”) and I can piggyback onto the components bestowed upon me. But internal stuff, well, I could think that I’m nice and kind, but am I really

Retweeted from VoluptusHedone (@VHedone)

But I guess that’s true point of this exercise–to say something candidly nice about ourselves without the safety net of knowing whether it’s true. It’s about embracing that it’s true for us. 

  1. I value my spirituality. I care deeply for my calling in life, for the meaningful connection to ritual and symbolism. I feel called to serve a more divine purpose in life, to serve as the hands of the goddess, to be devoted to the service of humanity and to give of all of my talents, all of myself to this calling. 
  2. Of all my talents, I have an inane gift for acceptance. I’m not easily scared by the darkness of others. I give love through my unconditional acceptance of who someone really is in their soul. I try to abandon judgment and shame but my acceptance doesn’t always mean approval, it is just a loving embrace of their path and their humanity and the vulnerability and trust they’ve placed in me. 
  3. I likewise find my greatest courage comes in moments when I am at my most vulnerable. I am always willing to risk being seen especially if it might help someone else find their own courage or light. I am willing to face my fears, to use my voice, to connect to others, to wade through darkness even if I make a fucking fool out of myself because the risk of staying hidden becomes larger with each passing day. Visibility is vulnerability. And I am secretly so proud of myself each time I can show trust in the compassion of others. 

Day 5: Treat yourself to a food you love. 

Every Sunday Husband and I have been sitting down for lunch to plan out our menus for the week. Today I had a huge craving for G&B’s Fish n Chips. Half order of prawns, chips, a side of curry sauce and a Bloody Mary. It is quickly becoming my favorite part about Sundays. They now know my order too! 

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