Letters to Women

Learned Lessons from One Woman to Another

Breakdown

A couple days after my 32nd birthday I had a breakdown. Something strange happens in your thirties. The concept of mortality crystallizes, becoming a reality rather than this nebulous thing you know about but don’t really think about. It was this reality that hit me. Perhaps it was the fact that I’m not where I thought I’d be at this point in my life or the aforementioned realization, but either way, I felt broken. The uncontrollable sobbing, the fear that gripped every fiber of my being, was excruciating and terrifying and all manner of awful. And perhaps the most shocking thing of all is that this was not the first time it had happened. A few years ago, I experienced something similar, when I was a hospice volunteer and watched a woman die in front of me. The only difference was that this time, I sought help.

Like many, I tend to bottle my most vulnerable & powerful feelings until they bubble up, boil over & whatever other idiom you like. Loads of people have anxiety. Mine is fear of death, a quite human fear and unfortunately not one easily assuaged.

I retreated from the world. Something I had slowly been doing for months. I had found myself wanting to talk to people about how I was feeling, how my fears & feelings of inadequacy were affecting me, but I was surrounded by people dealing with far greater problems of their own. I began committing a dangerous yet all-too-common delusion; comparing my issues with those of others. It’s easy to suppress or ignore the obstacle at hand if one truly believes their obstacle is less difficult, “How can I talk about my crap when Jane Doe is going through X? She’ll think I’m being selfish. She’s the one that really needs a shoulder now anyway. My crap can wait.” The only issue with this is that it presupposes that others know what you are thinking & so far as I can tell, they do not. It also imagines a world where close friends don’t care about you and rationally, I know that is simply not true. The reality is that it was just another way for me to negate my own mental health. How convenient. I continued doing the worst thing I could do, ignoring it, and never got better. Instead it got worse until it couldn’t get any worse and I crumbled.

My therapist expressed surprise upon learning that I’d never seen anyone before. I guess I just always thought I could handle my issues myself, or that somehow my issues weren’t serious enough to warrant seeking assistance. After all, I used to think, I’m not bipolar or depressed or anything else one generally associates with therapy. How foolish. Seeing someone doesn’t mean anything other than admitting something within you is off kilter & needs to be addressed.

I’m so glad to be in therapy. It’s comforting and reassuring in a way I think I knew was possible, but believed to be out of reach until now.

I tell you all this not because I’m brave or because I need to know that the people in my life are happy that I’m ok. I’m not brave – firefighters are brave, soldiers are brave – I’m just honest, but I am more than ok. I feel better than I have in quite a while and have finally begun to understand that this is not something that just goes away. I will live with this fear the rest of my life. But I’m more equipped than ever before to handle it when it starts to negatively affect my life.

I’m writing this for two reasons. The first and possibly more important is because I know I’m not alone and I want you to know that too. I have an incredible support system and I want you to know that I’m part of yours. Even if we’ve never met or never meet, I’m thinking of you and rooting for you. Because I know what it’s like to not be in control of your emotions & thoughts, that helpless feeling that your anxiety has gotten too big, too looming, too controlling. And I know how isolating that can be. So, I need you to know that you are not alone.

The second reason is admittedly a bit selfish. It makes me feel better to get this out. I’ve been distant and probably will be again. It’s just something I need to do every once in a while, when I’m working through stuff. And so hopefully, this will act as a primer / mea culpa to those around me.

As a society we’ve gotten better about talking candidly about mental health, but there’s more we can do. Millions of people struggle with anxiety disorders and other mental health issues that are brushed off because we don’t think they’re serious enough to seek help or talk about. If something is affecting your life, seek help. You’re not weak and you’re not crazy. You’re human.

 

Unapologetic

As 2016 comes to a close and I reflect on all that’s happened over the last year, blah blah blah. Here’s the deal. I learned one thing this year, and it was pretty life changing so I’m sharing with you all. Even though 2016 will go down in history as one of the craziest, wtf years in politics; for me, 2016 will always be the year I learned to be unapologetically myself. From my sexuality to body image, humor to social views, I let it all hang out there this year and truly embraced my self-confidence.

So why do I feel the need to share this revelation with you? Simple. I’m not alone, especially when it comes to women. It took me 31 years to get to this point. When I was a kid I wanted to be Indiana Jones. While many of my girlfriends were planning their dream wedding, I was envisioning an adulthood where I’d live in a cabin alone, with a giant dog (still sounds appealing tbh).

The point being, society told me what it meant to be feminine and I just didn’t fit the bill. In terms of beauty, I was flat chested, too tall and while relatively slender, had big thighs and was not ‘toned.’ In terms of humor, mine was both odd and at times perverted, dry and sarcastic (still is) – not at all ‘ladylike.’ I had no trouble asking someone out on a date. I was forward yet sensitive. I was what one could consider girly, but not really. As I got older I was told that wearing high heels on a date was a big no no as it would be intimidating to be taller than the man.  I enjoyed menswear and action films but also liked wearing makeup and could cry on a dime. I was stuck in this tug of war between the mold I thought I had to fit and what came naturally. Over time I began to think I was some outlier amongst women. But that’s not true at all. In fact, what I realized this year is that the vast majority of women feel the same way I did. And it’s all due to the massive lie we’ve accepted as truth.

As women we’re told that if we’re too sensitive we’ll be seen as weak, but if we’re too forward we’ll be branded brash and unattractive. Or on the flip side, if we’re pretty and dress well and are successful we must have done something else to get there. That somehow it couldn’t have been on our own merit because being smart and being beautiful are somehow mutually exclusive. And if somehow a smart, beautiful woman is successful we say it’s “not fair” for them to have it all. And I’m ashamed to say that I bought into that viewpoint for a long time. I was judged by other women and in turn, I judged other women based on how they presented themselves to the world. It’s a terrible thing because as I now know to be true, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A TYPICAL WOMAN. The idea of what it means to be a woman, to be feminine, is a MYTH. And worst of all is that as women, we’ve bought into this myth. We believe it. We judge each other and ourselves based on something that doesn’t even exist.

Here’s the kicker – once you realize that it’s all bs, and it is, one giant pile of bullsh*t, you can embrace the woman that you naturally are. And while this notion can certainly apply to men, it’s really a needed gear change for women and how we view ourselves and others.

Somehow I’ve subconsciously surrounded myself with incredible women, many of whom live unapologetically. Women who manifest their feminism and womanhood in various ways that are true to their individuality. But I know that there are so many that do not, out of fear of judgment or being misunderstood, or because they falsely believe that it’s not appropriate or womanly. I know, because for 30 years I was one such woman.

This idea may be a hard sell for some. But if you’re someone who has been struggling with your own internal tug of war over how to be a woman in the world, this is for you. I need you to know that you’re not alone. The way you express your femininity is the right way, because there is NO ONE WAY.

So this is my New Year’s wish to you all. Be yourself. Be unapologetically yourself. Embrace every side of yourself. Because there’s no such thing as a typical woman. And believe me, YOUR UNIQUENESS IS YOUR GREATNESS.

Testament of a Tired Woman

I’m tired.

Tired of being paid less.

Tired of getting shushed, interrupted, talked over, and silenced.

Tired of being underestimated.

Tired of being told how to be feminine.

Tired of having my body be objectified and commodified.

Tired of being told I can’t be funny or tough or smart.

Tired of being dismissed.

Tired of being made to feel unsafe, preyed upon.

Tired of being told my expression makes me look like a bitch while the same countenance on a man demonstrates he’s serious.

Tired of being told what is and is not attractive.

Tired of being asked to smile more.

Tired of being called a bitch, whore, slut, nasty, ugly.

Tired of pretending it doesn’t bother/hurt/insult me.

Tired of being judged for my career.

Tired of being told how I should present myself to the world.

Tired of being told to calm down.

But most of all, I’m tired of being treated as less than.

I’m not less than. I’m not greater than. I’m your equal. And I’m not going anywhere.

I’m a Failure & So Are You

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A little over a year ago, I was fired. Why am I telling you this? Simple. We ALL fail, and like most impactful events in one’s life, the experience can leave a person feeling isolated. Whether it’s a failed marriage, business venture, career path that never materialized, or a job; failures happen. The reality of life is that it never, and I mean NEVER, goes according to plan.

The reason I lost my job was simple – I just wasn’t good enough. So while I agreed with my boss’ decision and left on good terms, I still had a gnawing feeling of self-doubt. How had I failed at something I was supposed to be good at?

With every failure comes wisdom. It’s important to understand what went wrong and why. Asking these questions of ourselves is so incredibly difficult. It means admitting our faults. For me it meant admitting that I had been so enamored with a change of scene that I willed myself into a job that wasn’t right for me, nor me for it.

And then there was the isolation. It seemed as though everyone around me was doing fabulously well in their jobs yet there I was, collecting unemployment, fearful I would never find fulfilling work again. It took a phone call from one of my dear friends to shake me out of my wallowing. My friend’s marriage was failing; divorce on the horizon. She too, felt isolated, so she reached out to talk about it. I in turn did the same with my family. The moment I did, I felt such relief. No longer did I have to carry this burden of my failure all by myself. I was no longer alone.

When failure hits us it can be difficult to admit to others that we’re scared. What we will do next? How will we get there? We feel lost. It’s okay. Let me repeat this, because it’s really important. It is OKAY to feel lost. It is okay to have these questions swirling around your head. It’s dizzying, but necessary. Let those questions wash over you, because success is just a failure away, if you let it.

Success comes in the form of understanding where we went wrong and working to improve for next time – whether ‘next time’ is a new relationship, job, or career path.

Optimism is hard work, but it’s worth it. In the months following the loss of my job I took a step back and decided what I truly wanted for myself, and I’m very content with my decision. And while I’m still in a state of transitioning, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time and am looking forward to the next stage of my professional career.

So, whoever you are, I need you to know that you are NOT alone in your failure. Please don’t let it define you. Let it guide and strengthen you. I’m a proud failure. I hope that you will be one too.

The (female) Revolution Will be Shown in Theaters

StrongLeads

 

The (female) Revolution Will be Shown in Theaters      

The Lack of Blockbuster Female Presence

 

Growing up, I wanted to be a man or rather, I wanted to be the male characters I saw in movies. The men I watched on screen as a kid were far more interesting than the women. They were spies, albeit misogynistic ones, but spies nonetheless; traveling the world, saving the day, doing cool shit. They were archaeologists; traveling the world, saving the day, doing cool shit. They were superheroes; traveling the world, saving the day, doing cool shit. In fact, with one exception, all of my childhood movie role models were men. Aliens Ellen Ripley remains my favorite movie heroine of all time, and indeed, Ripley has always been an outlier. Here was a woman who took charge, devised solutions, faced her fears, was not hypersexualized, and was allowed to show her nurturing side with the young, orphaned character of Newt. Oh yeah, Ripley was a badass.

The problem with the Hollywood system is that Ripley and similar female characters were and continue to be outliers. Take for example Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa in last year’s Mad Max: Fury Road. That role was fantastic and arguably the lead role in that film and yet the title and top billing went to the character of Max, a man who does little more than grunt the entire movie. I don’t want to take anything away from Tom Hardy’s performance, but that role was not the lead. Now, had the film been titled Mad Max: Furiosa’s Road, at least they’d both be on somewhat equal footing.

Another character that actually fits the bill of leading role and is helping to change the landscape is Rey from The Force Awakens. But for every Rey and Furiosa, there are a hundred other underwritten and quite frankly, lame female roles. Just think about how many films billed as blockbusters you’ve seen. Now think about how many had an all female or mostly female cast. How about one where a woman was the lead character. This is my frustration.

And I can’t even begin to discuss representation of various ethnic groups and sexualities because this is meant to be article length, not book length. So here’s my issue in a nutshell; the most widely visible women on screen in big budget lead roles currently have been relegated to the following; comedies and comedy remakes.

From the hilarious Amy Schumer to the brilliant duo of Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy, female led casts are leading a comedic revolution in film. Movies like Trainwreck, Bridesmaids, Spy, The Heat, and now Ghostbusters, are an important benchmark in cinema and pop culture. And while I may not think all of these films are hysterical, I love that they exist. They need to exist. But I persist because I just read that they plan to remake Ocean’s Eleven…again(!) but this time with an all female cast. Great! Just what I’ve always wanted; to watch a movie that’s already been made twice, sequeled within an inch of its life, all with men, redone yet again, only now, with women! It needs to stop. I don’t want some outdated Hollywood system deciding that women are only bankable in comedic remakes because betting on serious original female storylines is too risky.

One would think that studio heads would have realized by now that women hold tremendous power when it comes to ticket sales and would start giving more original blockbuster screenplays featuring strong female roles the green light.

I sincerely hope that the success of the above mentioned films will lead to further opportunities for screenwriters and actresses to showcase the complex nature of the gender that comprises half the population, but given Hollywood’s track record with doing anything original, it could be a long wait.

So while I’m grateful that funny women are enjoying their well earned and incredibly overdue moment in the blockbuster sun, (and yes, I’m absolutely going to see the new Ghostbusters) I’m still wishing and waiting to see the women I wanted to be when I grew up, on screen. I want to see the new iteration of Ripley, Rey, and Furiosa.

I want 10 year old girls everywhere to know that they can be funny & irreverent, but that they can also be serious, nurturing, and imperfect. I want them to see a clever, smart as a whip adventurer, space cowgirl, international spy, or all of the above. And I want all of it to be reflected in the lead roles of the movies they go to see in the summer. In short, I want them to see badass female leads who travel the world, save the day and do cool shit.

 

Impact

Last year I became an Aunt. It has definitely changed my outlook on life as well as my view on children. Up until my nephew’s birth, I viewed babies as alien creatures – so far removed from my sphere of recognition that I didn’t know how to act around them. Now, as an Aunt, I feel a great deal of responsibility for this tiny person. There are so many things I want to teach him and so many films I can’t wait to share with him. It is with this in mind that I write this list. He is too young to understand it, or watch the films listed, but in time, it will be shared. It will probably also be edited and adjusted, but here it is as it stands right now.  These are my Top 5 tenants to life as well as the films to help illustrate them in action. As they are universal, I thought I’d post them here.  I know I can always use a reminder of a couple of these.

1. Be Kind

Always be kind to people. Don’t do it to gain some sort of advantage. Do it because it makes you feel good in return. And if you find that being kind to others does not make you feel good, then take a step back and evaluate what’s going on in your own life that’s causing such a feeling of discourse.

(Film: Up)

2. Take Another Look

View situations/opinions/arguments from every angle. Just because someone has a different take than you on a subject does not make their point less valid. Gaining perspective allows you to see the world for what it truly is – one big gray area. It is easy to judge others. It takes strength to understand where a person is coming from. And when you discover that perhaps you were mistaken, acknowledge your change in view.

(Film: To Kill a Mockingbird)

3. Have a Laugh & Dream

It’s okay to be silly. In fact, I encourage it! One of the greatest gifts we are given is the ability to laugh and be irreverent. Try to find the humor in as many situations as possible. The world is only as bleak as you make it. Allow your imagination to run wild. It is through imagination that you will discover anything is possible!

(Films: Ghostbusters, Big Fish)

4. Experience the World

Activity is how we remind ourselves we are alive. Go see the world. It is filled with so many beautiful sights! Take risks. Be smart, but take risks. Fill your time with as much variety as you can. Those are the events, journeys, relationships and experiences that last long after the return home. Never lose your sense of wonder. Remain inquisitive. You will never have all the answers and it is the knowledge of that humility that will keep your fire burning bright.

(Film: Wizard of Oz)

5. Make an Impact

This is one of the easiest things you can do. Your love will leave an imprint of warmth on all that are touched by it. Your kindness will affect those who receive it. Let your instinct guide you and you will create your own path of happiness. You will not realize the impact that you have had. But if you lead a true life, you will have left a mark upon the world and those around you. And that is the best that any of us can do. Trust me.

(Film: It’s a Wonderful Life)

Armor

Today as I drove home from work I passed an intersection where two guys were walking past a young woman on her phone.  I could see from where I was that the one man made some comment to the woman, looked her up and down, and kept his gaze on her as she continued on.  The woman never once made eye contact or acknowledged him or his companion in any way.

If you’re a woman then chances are that you have experienced this first hand at least once in your life. I know I have and I’m SICK of it.

Sexism, objectification and victimization go hand in hand. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been walking somewhere and had some guy blow their car horn to get my attention or cat call as I pass by.  I’ve been called honey, sweetie and doll in business meetings.  A person I had never met before thought it was okay to smack my ass in a bar – it wasn’t – it isn’t.  And I consider all of this to be fairly mild compared to what many women have experienced!  A woman should not feel that her very presence exists to be ogled, used and thrown away and yet, there are lots of people who DO feel that way.

There are men who would NEVER consider physically assaulting a woman and YET have no problem saying “Niiice” while staring at a woman as she walks past.  THAT is objectification and THAT is a PROBLEM.

There is no excuse for sexual harassment or sexual assault and while every decent human being can agree on that fact, there remains a barrier to eradicating the everyday indignities that have depressingly become a part of life for women the world over.  If you are a woman, you know what it’s like.  If you are a man, you may be starting to feel what it’s like, as objectification of both sexes becomes worse.  In the event that you have yet to experience this first hand then let me give you some insight into the lives of women.

As a woman we are programmed to wear armor.  It’s not something that we’re taught, but it’s something we realize is necessary for our sanity as we get older. We put our armor on before we walk down the street.  It’s the reason we don’t respond to cat calls or crude gestures.  Before we go out for a night on the town, we put on our armor.  A million thoughts race through our minds on a daily basis, most of them concerning our physical appearance “what should I wear?” – “is that too short?” – “am I showing too much cleavage?” -“is this too tight?” – “what will people think of me?” –  “I want the cookie, but then I’ll gain weight” – “what’s the safest route to get home?” – “I better take my pepper spray, just in case.”  JUST IN CASE?! I’ve actually had that thought, many times. “I should take this, in case I need to defend myself.” And something tells me that I’m not alone in this. I am aware that men have personal safety concerns as well, but the fact remains that there is a severe double standard here and it needs to change – and by change I mean DISAPPEAR.

We tell ourselves that our armor works, but the truth is that for every deflection; there is another leering glance, another comment, another physical interaction that makes a dent.  For every victim blaming and slut shaming on social media the collective armor that encircles every woman gets pierced and causes us to make our armor even harder. This comic strip does a great job of illustrating what it’s like.  (Ursa creates thought-provoking comics, link here)

When we objectify, we dehumanize. Both men and women deserve the same right to a life without constant “what ifs” in regards to their personal safety.  The world is scary enough without adding the dehumanization of the sexes.

This is NO way to live. The issue is that it’s taken so long for this problem to develop that it’s actually become a societal norm.  We’ve all been a part of the problem either through our actions or our complacency.   This kind of mentality begins in childhood.  Children need to be taught that people are not objects.  They need to see that each person has value and that needs to be reflected in our media (both mass and social) to be effective.  If I have a daughter, my hope is that by the time she is grown, she will never have been made to feel like an object or that her body is the only thing of value she possesses because it brings the easiest attention.  It’s naïve to think that things can change overnight, but I have faith that things WILL change.

I could talk about this forever but I like to keep these things pretty brief.  I’ll probably touch on this again in the future.  Feel free to share how you (men & women) have dealt with objectification/sexism in your life as well as what solutions you think may help us move forward as a society/humanity.

 

Friendship

As we enter another school year there are some things that I wish I had been told when I was a kid/teenager/freshman.  One of the biggest would have been that it’s OKAY to grow out of childhood friendships.  The other would be that finding close friends as an adult can be difficult, but is completely worth it because once you know who you are it’s easier to discover those with a like mind.

I do not mean to negate the friendships I forged in childhood.  They were wonderful while they lasted but the reality is that children inevitably grow up, and in many instances (at least in my case), grow apart. Interests and personalities change, especially during puberty. 

I was not a normal kid. This will come as no surprise to those who know me well – which up until 9 years ago consisted of my family and two friends, one of whom I had not seen in years.  It wasn’t until I transferred to a four year college that I finally found a small core of people around whom I felt comfortable enough to be myself.  

I have a tendency to be too sarcastic, I occasionally cut in while others are talking, I make jokes that are inappropriate and say things out of left field and most of all – I am extremely sensitive. My family has been aware of all this since the day I was born.  I was always this way.  I am working on some things, i.e. interrupting others, but most of it is just how I’m wired.  What can I say; I’ve never been very good at hiding my emotions or mood.  It is one of the biggest character traits that I have and yet it has taken me my entire life to finally accept and appreciate. 

The problem growing up was that I was always too afraid to let my ‘freak flag fly’, as it were, for fear of judgment.  I was terrified that if people got to know the crazy side of me, they would think me too weird to be around, that they wouldn’t get the joke and or would simply misunderstand me altogether.  This isn’t to say that I put on an act around others, but I did hold back.  I still do, depending on the occasion. Sometimes people just don’t need to hear me laughing hysterically at a joke that only I find funny. Needless to say – holding back took a toll on my search for meaningful friendship.

That all changed when I turned 20 and met people who made me feel like I could be ridiculous.  I count them among my greatest confidants, outside of my family.  It turned out that my personality wasn’t flawed, my environment was.  Over the last ten years I have entered various environments that have allowed me to create some of the strongest friendships I have ever known.  Through running I have met many of the women who I am fortunate enough to call my friends.  As someone who always felt that men were more relatable, the realization that there were women who shared my interests and understood (or at least accepted) my sense of humor was a revelation.

It may sound like a greeting card, but friendship is truly one of the most enriching relationships you will ever know.  Finding people who not only see the real you, but WANT to be around the real you, is the best feeling in the world. The honesty that comes with being a friend is practically unfathomable.

So, if you feel out of place or that you can’t be your full self, have no fear. There WILL come a day when you will come across the people you CAN be comfortable around. And if you have friends you can’t be yourself around, then it’s probably time to let them go. It’s difficult, I know, I’ve been there.  But when you are not being true to yourself, you aren’t really living. I am so thankful for the people who have accepted me into their lives and am equally grateful for having them be a part of mine.  So let your freak flag fly, it’s what makes you, you.

(This post was inspired by the passing of Joan Rivers and Elaine Stritch, two amazingly talented women who didn’t give a crap what anyone thought of them)

Perspective

Life is about perspective. The world is a tumultuous place. At times when discussing current events I will encounter someone who questions why we should care. Being removed from strife is a benefit of a lucky few but it is not an entitlement. None of us are immune to compassion, nor should we be.

There is one unifying reason that you should care about what happens halfway around the world, just as much as what is happening here at home. It could have been you. We do not choose our parents or where we are born. The circumstances under which we are created our beyond our control. It is pure LUCK that separates you from every other person on the planet. I am incredibly thankful that I was able to grow up with the sounds of fireworks in the summer rather than the acknowledgement of daily rocket fire overhead. I was born into a family who could provide a stable upbringing rather than one forced to flee their home and live as refugees.

Now, I am sure there are those who would argue that this is trivial because, well, that DIDN’T happen to them. They won the lottery of birth and don’t see why they should be bothered. Or they may agree that while yes, tragic things may be occurring elsewhere, our attention must be focused at home – that our problems here are more important.

This way of thinking creates a rift by reinforcing an “us vs. them” mentality. That perspective can be incredibly difficult to change. It usually only grows deeper until the only thing we can see are our differences. We SHOULD have learned that by now, but instead, as the old saying goes, we have condemned ourselves to repeat the past.
Empathy is in too short supply today. One of my favorite books, and movies, “To Kill a Mockingbird” contains a line that plays off an old saying and yet is a sentiment all too often dismissed in the face of anger, frustration and misunderstanding. The character Atticus Finch tells his daughter “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view- until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” It is the definition of empathy.

It is an ability that allows for thoughtful solutions – ones that benefit EVERYONE, not just a select few. It is the exact mentality that helps solve issues that are present both here and abroad.

So the next time you read the news or hear of an action that we are to take or a policy that requires a vote – stop and take a moment to step into the shoes of all parties involved and walk around a bit. You might be surprised at the perspective that emerges. My hope is that we will finally LEARN from the past and create a globally compassionate future.

Size Matters

I am a size 8, sometimes a 10 and I am not ashamed of this fact. Women in the US have been programmed to believe that a size 4 is average. This is a misnomer, perpetuated by magazines and runway models.  If I were a model I would be considered plus size and yet that is not considered “plus size” in stores.  We have allowed a ridiculous standard of women’s sizes to permeate our society.  It would be laughable if it wasn’t true.  The thigh gap, bikini bridge – complete RUBBISH.

Now, this is not to say that I am condoning obesity or any unhealthy habits. Here’s the deal ladies. If you feel good and your doctor says that you are healthy, then you are HEALTHY and that is all that MATTERS.  Your dress size should not have any bearing on your happiness.  That comes from what you do with your life, not the way your body is perceived by those around you. There are women who are naturally a size 0 and there are women who are naturally a size 16 and BOTH can be completely healthy at the size that they are MEANT to be. 

I’d be lying if I said that my body never gives me anxiety.  It’s almost impossible to avoid.  We all have bad days where we’d prefer if sweatpants were perfectly acceptable work attire. 

The occasional off day aside, it is high time we started giving our healthy bodies their due respect.  Depending on the day and the style I am either an 8 or a 10.  Sometimes I’m a size 12…gasp! And it’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay, especially if said dress makes me look amazing!

Bottom line – health should be your priority, not your size. Are you healthy? Do you feel great?  These are the questions you need to ask yourself.  The fashion industry size of 0-4 is not realistic for most of the population.  And if you are concerned about what men think, trust me, they have no idea what sizes or weight look like on real women. I’ve done very unscientific research on this. Enough of this size shaming placed upon women by the media and by other women.

I’ve said it before but it always bears repeating. You are given one life. The way you choose to live it is up to you.  I choose to live proud of my body…and my size.  Are you prepared to?