brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

I had surgery on my butt in August and I’m going to tell you ALL ABOUT IT in a series of posts because apparently what I do on the internet is talk about my ass. Which has resulted in a bunch of really interesting twitter bots following me. Lord help me when I try to get a job and they do a google search on me or something. Anyway. Pilonidal Cysts.

I have a cystic skin condition unrelated to Pilonidal Disease, so when I had gross oozing, bleeding, swelling, and pain at the base of my tailbone/ass I assumed it was just my skin being awful and trying to kill me. I’ve lived with this for LITERALLY twenty years. TWO DECADES. I was aware of what Pilonidal Cysts are, but what are the chances that I’d have hidradenitis suppurativa AND pilonidal disease? IT IS TO LAUGH. Of COURSE I’d have both! I mentioned my butt issues to my general practitioner who said “Hm, that sounds like a pilonidal cyst, pull your pants down” and I did and mooned her and she said “yup that’s a Pilonidal Cyst here’s a referral to a surgeon.”

I foolishly assumed the surgeon could like… lance it in his office and that’d be it. OH LOR. NO. It involves actual knock-you-out surgery and I’m going to talk about that in a later post. But right now I’m going to talk about what a pilonidal cyst is.

There’s a lot of misconceptions about Pilonidal Cysts/Pilonidal Disease and what causes it. The general idea most people have of Pilonidal Disease is that it’s caused by fat hairy gross dudes who sit around too much in a slouched position while playing computer games and jerking off. It’s OBVIOUSLY caused by ingrown hairs, poor hygiene, improper seating posture, etc.

Actually, according to my surgeon, it’s not! It is, I believe, related to Spina Bifida. When the fetus is forming you have the neural tube that eventually closes to form the spinal column. Sometimes it doesn’t close completely and a little pocket or closed tube is formed. Either you’re born with it or you’re not. If you’re born with it, either a hair grows into it or not. If a hair grows into it, either it gets infected or it doesn’t. If it gets infected either it comes to a head on its own and drains (like mine did, continuously for twenty years) or it just swells up and is horrific. It’s entirely chance. There’s nothing a person can do to cause or prevent it. Lancing, antibiotics, etc don’t really affect it. Even if you can get it into remission, it’ll come back. The surgeon I saw stressed that it’s something he sees all the time in men, in women, in thin people, in fat people, in hairy people, in not hairy people, in active people, in sedentary people. It’s just a thing that happens. And it can be treated.

The surgeon I saw removes the entire Pilonidal Sinus in out patient surgery and then stitches it all up. He does not pack the surgical site unless the stitches fail, which I appreciate, as I didn’t want to deal with packing. It took me about 3 weeks before I could sit again (I basically spent two weeks doing nothing but lying in bed, which actually is awful.) In my next post I’ll talk about how to prepare for surgery, and what happened with my surgery.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

A few weeks ago I felt a little weird in my face area before bed. I checked myself in the mirror and my face was blotchy and swollen. I generally felt unwell and had been battling a cold so assumed it was a sinus infection. I complained about it a lot, took ibuprofin, and drank a lot of water and it passed. In retrospect, though, I think it was hives.

Last Thursday I noticed a rash on my stomach. It was faint pink and vaguely itchy. I assumed it was dry skin or possibly that I’d gotten bleach cleaning spray on my skin through my shirt while cleaning the kitchen, but it got darker and itchier and spread. Also the backs of my knees really itched, but I assumed it was just eczema. Today, one week later, it’s covering my body from the tops of my thighs to my throat/neck, and snaking its way down my arms to the insides of my elbows.

I look kind of like a mottled pink and white cheetah or something, all blotches and roseates. My soft organic cotton t-shirts feel like fine grit sandpaper on my shoulders and back. I suddenly find myself scratching fervently at various places, scratching hard enough and long enough that while I haven’t broken the skin and am not bleeding, its moist and slightly weeping. I sit on my hands to keep from scratching myself raw, and suddenly find myself scratching my butt/hips/thighs. I fold my hands together, fingers twined, and suddenly realize I have welts on my wrists and am scratching them.

I’ve been taking benedryl, which does nothing much to alleviate the itching or hives.

My big fear is that I’ve developed an allergy to one of two things:

1) Some super common food that I eat all the time like eggs or butter or wheat or coffee that will be hard for me to avoid
2) zinc, which I take as a supplement to address a skin condition I have (hidradenitis suppurativa) that causes me to randomly and spontaneously break out in abscesses that take f o r e v e r to heal. The zinc doesn’t CURE the skin condition, mind you. It just puts it more or less into remission until you stop taking the zinc and then it gets as bad as ever.

I have an appointment with a doctor for Tuesday. I’d been meaning to make one for a while so I could get a physical and generally get checked out, but I wanted to get new glasses ($200-400) and get my teeth taken care of (god knows how much) first.

I’m pretty nervous about seeing the doctor because I’ve had some really horrific and abusive medical experiences in the past, and the fact that I’m fat does not help at all. We’ve had insurance in place for a while now… about a month?… but I’ve held off going in to get my asthma and PCOS evaluated– as well as starting documenting my skin condition for future disability claims*– because of the incredibly negative experiences I’ve had.

(* this skin condition never gets better. There’s no treatment for it that heals it, the best you can hope for is to keep it from getting worse. It’s very common for treatments that HAD been working to suddenly stop working. It’s intensely painful and can and does affect mobility. It’s one of (the?) only skin conditions one can get SSDI for, a process that’s intensely difficult to do. I fully expect to be in increasing pain from this and potentially require a number of surgeries that remove areas of skin and under lying tissue. The fact that I’m a stay at home parent and spend most of my day in yoga pants or pyjama pants is AMAZING for my skin, as clothing that causes friction also leads to increased instances of abscesses. Yet it’s very difficult to work a job where you’re in soft, unstructured clothing all day.)

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

(content note: discussion of body hate, disordered eating, mental health issues, harassment, etc)

What is a microagression?

A microagression is a small, non-physical act that takes a negative, hostile, insulting, etc stance toward people of lower status. The term was originally used to refer to issues of race but is also sometimes used to describe similar actions with regards to gender and gender expression, class, ability status, etc.

On December 11th, Melissa McEwan started the hashtag #fatmicroaggressions on twitter “because I was having a moment of fedupedness with people pretending that fat people’s lived experiences are not spoken about, not known.”

I started college in 1997 when I was 18 and already pretty solidly in the grips of an eating disorder. If you’d asked me about it, I would have talked about diets and willpower and how unbelievably fat I was. At the time, I was still able to shop in “normal” clothing stores and wasn’t unbelievably fat. But adults had treated me, since childhood, as a massive disgusting fatbag one snack away from imploding from my own fatness. Didn’t I know how disgusting I was? Didn’t I know how cute I’d be if I’d only lose some weight? I look back at photos of myself as a kid, and sometimes I was a little chubby and sometimes I was skinny, but I wasn’t a fat kid. But adults around me were super quick to enforce the idea that I was a fat kid and fat kids were fundamentally worth less than non-fat kids. I think a lot of that was in reaction to the fact that my mom is fat… that they were trying to stage some sort of intervention to prevent me from going down the same (constantly dieting, constantly hungry, constantly hating herself) path she was on. And I internalized that. I took it as a given that I didn’t deserve clothing that fit properly or looked good, that I didn’t deserve to sit on the nice furniture for fear of breaking it, that I didn’t deserve people to treat me well, that I shouldn’t expect to ever find a husband or have kids (neither of which I was interested in at the time) unless I was willing to be strong and use my willpower to lose weight and get skinny. Because I was just lazy and indolent, that’s all, and all I needed to do was pay attention and count calories and measure things and work out and walk just a little bit and not so fucking much.

I stopped doing ballet (and tap and jazz) because my instructor told me I’d never be able to go en pointe, I was too fat. Too bad I don’t live in Russia or I could have joined Big Ballet, made up of dancers who weigh 220 lbs and up. I stopped doing tumbling/gymnastics because the instructor refused to help me get into positions she helped the other kids get into, and responded to my complaints of physical bullying (shoves, pokes, punches, and pinches of my little tummy) with an admonition to lose some weight (I was under ten years old). My pediatrician dismissed my mom’s concerns over my recurring ear infections, bronchitis (2-3x a year), and strep throat and advised her to put me on a diet. (When I turned 20 I got a new doctor who immediately had my tonsils removed. In the ensuing 14 years I’ve had bronchitis maybe 3 times total instead of 2-3 times a year. She also, worried about my weight, put me on an anti-depressant because it tended to suppress the appetite. She completely missed the part where I was incapacitated by Depression and Anxiety, but boy did she see my stomach and decide losing weight would do the trick. She missed the obvious signs of PCOS, too.)

By my senior year of high school, I was subsisting primarily on heavily caffeinated diet sodas. They were calorie free and filled me up sloshily and gave me energy which I needed because I was taking in so few calories. They also gave me horrible headaches thanks to the artificial sweeteners, but it was worth it, because no calories! I counted calories to the extreme, measuring out teaspoons of peanut butter for sandwiches and making hot cocoa with half the amount of the mix recommended. And when I was too hungry to keep doing it, when I’d been fasting for three or four days, I’d go on a binge and eat until I hurt while hating myself the entire time. I had excruciating nightmares for years about eating, would wake up racked with guilt from eating in dreams.

At some point in college I encountered the Venus of Willendorf and, possibly somehow through that, Marilyn Wann’s website Fat!So? which was a life changer. They both started me thinking in a very fundamentally different way about my body and my place in the world. I later discovered Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size (HAES) and Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose and other blogs from the fatosphere.

I’m a lot healthier– and a lot fatter– now than I used to be. I rarely have my blood sugar drop so low I get shakey and nearly pass out. I haven’t fasted or binged in a long time. Keeping a food log can trigger incredibly unhealthy mindsets and behavior in me, but I can keep one if I need to (for instance, to be sure I’m taking in enough calories in a day). I still deal with stress by losing any inclination to eat, and sometimes realize that it’s almost bedtime and I’ve literally eaten nothing that day. I still have deep rooted problems, physical and mental, from the way people have treated me and my body for daring to exist as a fat person.

And I encounter similar problems pretty much every single day, people pre-judging me and my worth based on my size.

When I was pregnant, my first OB-GYN did not have a scale that went above 250 lbs. In order to weigh in, I had to leave his office, walk into a different office of a different doctor, and ask to use THEIR scale. I’ve had doctors fret that I was too heavy for their exam tables (I’m not). I’ve had medical staff refuse to use a larger sized blood pressure cuff (which skews my BP reading, making it register as abnormally high) or insist on using a thigh cuff (which is too big, and also gives a false reading… this time of too low). I’ve had many medical staff offer me exam gowns that were ridiculously small, because they simply don’t stock plus size gowns. When I had just delivered my child via C-Section, which is major abdominal surgery, and was still unable to feel anything from my chest down, I was expected to self-transfer from a gurney to a bed because the nurses didn’t want to touch my fat body. When I accidentally soiled myself (again, just had major abdominal surgery, had no sensation below the chest) they refused to clean me up and I lay there caked in feces for over an hour. When they DID clean me, they did an incredibly poor job. The morning nurse assumed I was simply incontinent and had regular bowel leakage because that’s just how fat people are. Medications, including birth control, are not tested on people over a certain size, resulting in fat people routinely being given the wrong dose of medication.

Every day that I leave my house I know I am going to be judged harshly by people. They are going to pull faces if I sit near them on the bus or train. They are going to be extra angry if I’m too slow crossing the street. People who see me with my kid assume I’m his aunt or nanny and not his mom. I know for a fact that I’m statistically likely to receive inferior medical care, that if I need an EMT they might stand around mocking my size instead of assisting me, or might post photos of me and insults to twitter or facebook. If I go into a grocery store, someone would feel it well within their rights to take photos of me and post them online with insults. In fact, there’s websites devoted to mocking people my size. People feel it acceptable and normal to casually insult me simply for existing, to judge me and find me wanting based solely on what they see.

I’m not going to pull that ridiculous “last acceptable prejudice” card or claim that anti-fat bias is somehow unique in the world of hatred and -isms. I’m also aware that as a white woman who usually doesn’t look obviously disabled I don’t get slammed with as much bias as other fat people in the world.

But still.

Every day I wake up and go out into a world that’s full of assholes. Every day I wake up and brace myself for absolute strangers to attack and deride me. Every day that I post something online i wait for the “lol ur fat” responses to roll in– and they frequently do.

So Melissa McEwan started this hashtag and people started posting under it. And some of it’s petty little shit like cashiers side-eying their Halloween Candy purchases and some of it’s bigger stuff like being denied birth control or having eating disorders and other medical issues go undiagnosed/untreated. And some people responded with WELL THAT ISN’T REALLY MICRO NOW IS IT.

I have 2 responses to that.

1) When you deal with toxic bullshit every single day, what should be a huge instance of hate and bias kind of sinks into a background noise. Pretty much every very fat person I know has had their medical concerns dismissed because they’re fat and “they just need to lose weight.” So on the one hand, that is (or should be) a huge fucking issue. On the other hand, it’s incredibly common. Almost every fat person I know dreads having to find a new doctor (or A doctor if they haven’t got one) because it means you’re probably going to have to shop around extensively just to find a person who treats you like a human being and not a gross sack of lipids. So a lot of the things mentioned under the hashtag? Are super huge things and not micro at all. But you know what? Those things are so common, so ubiquitous, and so many people feel they are deserved, that they just… lie there. Accepted. Acceptable.

2) It’s rare for the voices of fat people to be centered, to be heard, to be granted legitimacy. So fat folks see these kind of thing, and on twitter there’s very little barrier to entry, and suddenly… they’re entered into a conversation with other people who have Been There, who have Experienced That, who have Survived That, who Know How It Is. And the dam breaks. And all this fear and resentment and anger comes pouring out. Yes, there’s a difference between that woman on the bus who got up huffily after you sat down because your thigh touched hers and she didn’t want your gross fat cooties and the time you went to the doctor and he dismissed your questions about MS and advised you to eat more kale and lose weight, but at the same time, those exist on a spectrum of hate that affects all fat people and both are equally acceptable ways to react to fat people: with disgust, with anger that they exist, with dismissal. Just go away and don’t come back until you’re skinny.

The trolls, of course, have come out.

It’s easy to lose weight, they say. You’re just making excuses, they say. One asshole, whose entire account seemed to have been created solely to seek out and harass people who’d participated in the hash tag, tried to dismiss some of my claims. MAYBE THEY JUST SECRETLY HATE YOU.



Sweet troll.

Precious little one.

It’s not a fucking secret.

It is socially acceptable and valid to hate people, to treat them as less than human, to consider them both worth less than thinner humans and also to consider them worthless.

That’s not a secret at all.

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ha ha, ow

Thursday, 29 August 2013 12:20
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

In 2003 or 2004, I forget exactly when but it’s when I was still working at the bakery, Nesko had the day off. He drove me into work at super early in the morning. We were stopped at a red light, a woman in little shorts jogging slowly across the cross walk in front of us, when a guy in a pick up truck slammed into us from behind. We jerked forward a bit, and my left knee hit the front dashboard. I’m super anal about showing up to schedule shifts, so after exchanging insurance info Nesko dropped me off at the bakery and I worked a full shift. THEN we went to the ER (and filed an accident report). The docs gave us both pain killers and muscle relaxers for neck and back pain, but I didn’t mention anything about my knee. However, I’ve had pain in that knee ever since, pretty consistently. It’s like a grinding feeling. I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s something… bone chips?… floating around and grinding against things.

Niko’s started preschool and it’s 4 blocks (half a mile) away. On his second day of school, we meandered over there and got him settled in his classroom, and then I headed back home. About a block away I started fretting to myself about how my knee was hurting worse and worse and that my right hip was starting to hurt because I was walking a bit funny, almost limping. I turned into the alley behind our building as a bit of a short cut. I was within sight of our back fence, about two buildings down, when suddenly I felt a snap and my knee was replaced with searing, blinding pain. I staggered to the side, unable to support my weight, and then managed to hop over and lean against somebody’s garage door, gasping and cussing.

It was pretty awful.

I managed to hop, hobble, and lurch to our fence, where I found an old fence post and used that as a sort of crutch thing to get me up to the house. I dragged myself up the back stairs. I’ve been in pain ever since.

Fortunately, my plan of staying off it as much as possible is paying off. Every day it’s hurting less. It hurts less this afternoon than it did in the middle of the night when I woke up to pee, which hurt less than it did that evening before going to bed, etc. I’m healing. And I’m super lucky that our house mate has been able to take Niko to school and pick him up again, letting me just sit around and convalesce.

I don’t have insurance, or I’d have called 911 right there in the alley and had an ambulance come get me. I don’t have insurance, but will be covered in November through Nesko’s new job. All I need is for my body to hold on for 3 more months. But stuff keeps blowing up and costing money and time and etc. Come on, body! Hold it together!

In retrospect, I think I stepped funny and sprained my knee. It feels a lot like what happened years and years ago when I stepped awkwardly off a ledge I didn’t know was there and felt a similar snap in my ankle. It wasn’t broken, just badly sprained, and time and coddling did most of the healing. I’m hoping that’s what’ll happen with my knee, but plan on going out and picking up a cane or something this weekend. And my knee’s just moved higher on my “get this checked out ASAP” list. Sorry, funny looking mole! You’re not causing me pain so you’re getting downgraded!

I’ve noticed that my knee’s been hurting a lot more since my whole face swelled up from my teeth going bad. It’s like I get a little inflammation somewhere and then my whole body goes to hell, everything swelling and hurting and acting up. If I could trade this fleshy shell in for something cybernetic I absolutely would.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

There’s a Jenny Craig ad featuring a woman sobbing because she realized there were no photos of her and her infant daughter, but now she’s lost a bunch of weight she can take SO MANY PHOTOS and REALLY LIVE HER LIFE.

This commercial makes me so, so angry.


There is nothing preventing you from taking photos of your fat ass, or living your life, but you. I super hate the societal message that women who are fat should hide away and never be seen, should exist in a state of shame, should do everything they can to reduce their physical bodies to an acceptable size. It leads to ill health both physical and mental, and it leads to people putting their lives on hold, waiting forever for the magic moment when they’re slim enough, when they’re good enough, when they’re deserving enough, to actually live.

Get out there and live.

Bust out the camera and take photos of yourself, have family and friends photograph you.

Then look at the photos.

You may hate the way you look, but seriously, the more you look at them the more used you get to them, and the more you’ll get to like them. Pretty soon you’ll stop focusing on your belly or thighs or double chin or weird hair or the way your shirt bunched up or your crooked teeth or your zits or whatever the problems are. You’ll just see you. And you’ll see you having fun and doing things and being with people you love.

I have very few photos of my mom, because she spends most of her time hiding from the camera “feeling fat.” Looking through family photo albums there’s a weird sense that she doesn’t exist. When she is photographed, she’s usually hiding behind someone or something, or half out of the photo, or something like that. One of my favorite photos of her is her on the stairs with a terrible haircut, a perm that went awry. My dad took it to document her awful hair, and she’s laughing, and you can see her brilliant smile and sense of humor and how gorgeous and full of life she is. Another snapshot is her on the day she graduated from college, holding her diploma triumphantly, in her weird hippy shirt and her hair longer than she usually wore it. She’s so alive, so present. Her favorite photo of herself, one that she carried around in her wallet for years (and might still have), is her standing in the sunlight in cut off jean shorts. She’s at her slimmest, and she keeps it to remind herself of how perfect she was then. She was taking prescription amphetamines and spending time she normally would have been sleeping running on treadmills to use up the excess energy. She was also in her 20s and hadn’t had kids yet. But oh, how she clings to that photo. It’s like something out of the long-running (now ended) syndicated comic “Cathy.” I mean, at one point, Cathy pulls out a photo of herself at her slimmest and compares her current fat self to it.

There’s a quote I ran across once and now I can’t find it again. I don’t know if it’s from a story, a blog post, a song lyric, or what. “We were young and beautiful and didn’t even know it.”

We’re all young and beautiful, and we don’t realize it, don’t recognize it. Especially those of us raised female. We worry about our fat and our breasts and hips being too large or not large enough. We fret over our skin and hair and posture. We’re perfect, but convinced we are imperfect and those imperfections make us unlovable. And we get older and bigger and more wrinkled and our hair thins and we lament our lost pasts. Why didn’t we take more photos? Why didn’t we run around enjoying our bodies? Why did we spend so much time hating ourselves? But we’re still unkind to our bodies, still viewing them with suspicions, still expecting perfection and disappointed in the reality. We had from the camera, too fat, too wrinkled, too female.

And our family looks through photo albums and we’re not present, we’ve made ourselves invisible.

It’s easy to pick up a camera and take on photo taking duties. It’s a service. It’s part of the emotional heavy lifting that’s expected of women. But it’s also an excuse. If you’re handling the photos nobody else has to. If you’re the only photographer, it’s an easy out, an easy excuse to not be in the photographs yourself.

Please stop doing this.

Take photographs of yourself, let others take photos of you. Leave a record of your life, be present in your life. Just live. Stop thinking about your body and live, exist. Give yourself permission to exist and take up space. Stop being afraid of not being perfect, not being good enough. Stand in front of the camera and just be.

When Niko was an infant, my sister-in-law snapped of photo of me sacked out on the couch holding him. I hated the photo when I first saw it, the first tens of times I saw it. I’m so fat. Look at my chins. Look at that huge mole. Ugh, my hair. Ugh, my hairy arms. Ugh, my crooked glasses. But the more I saw it the more used to it I got. Yes, I’m fat. That’s how my body is. I’m fat and I’m hairy and that’s just me, it’s how I am. And look at me, there with my baby, relaxed and happy and both of us safe and comfortable and asleep. It’s an intimate moment, a photo of us just being together and loving each other. I love that photo now, and Niko loves to look at it.

You are who you are. Please, please, stop putting your life on hold until you’re a better version of yourself. Start your life now and actually live it.

And take some photos.

You’ll appreciate it later.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

You’ve probably seen the latest Dove viral ad campaign. It’s a video available on you tube about how totally awesome Dove is because of their decade long “Real Beauty” campaign and how now they’re going after the people who are REALLY evil: “art directors, graphic designers, and photo retouchers.” Not ad executives and companies, no. Just those evil artists who for reasons TOTALLY UNKNOWN make women feel bad ON PURPOSE about their bodies. But how to “catch them in the act!!!” and “make them reconsider”? They needed a plan! So they created a Photoshop Action and released it into the wild, where it will be used by amateurs who want to make wedding and baby photographs look better. Billed as a “skin glow effect” they posted it on reddit and other places where art directors, graphic designers, and professional photo retouchers TOTALLY hang out and get their totally professional Photoshop Actions, Brushes, etc from.

In reality, all the Action does is revert all changes made to the original image and pop up a scolding message.

Don’t manipulate our perceptions of real beauty.

Of course, to undo that reversion, all one has to do is hit… well… undo.

BAM! A totally effective message that will OBVIOUSLY CHANGE THE WORLD FOREVER!

Or, more likely, go viral and make Dove look totally awesome and progressive because they just love women so much and are so willing to take on those horrible evil photo retouchers who are just the WORST, right?

Dove, remember, is owned by Unilver which has those atrocious Axe commercials (women! they are fuck beasts for fucking!) and SlimFast (women: you are fat cows, stop eating!). If they really wanted to push for long acting real social change, they could apply pressure to Unilver to at the very least stop marketing Axe the way it’s marketed.

Of course, they could also change their own advertising as well.

I mean, if Dove really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, maybe they shouldn’t find new body parts for women to be ashamed of? I, for one, never knew my armpits were ugly until Dove told me so.





If Dove really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, they wouldn’t market Firming Creams, and their criteria for casting calls wouldn’t be quite as shameful (beautiful skin and hair only! No zits or scars, those are GROSSSSSSSS).


If Dove (and Unilever) really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, they wouldn’t market skin-lightening creams (which are physically as well as emotionally harmful) around the world.

Like diet companies who co-opt HAES and Size Acceptance verbage, and companies who practice Greenwashing, Dove is taking Body Acceptance language and using it to sell product. They are telling women what they think women want to hear for the sole reason that they want to sell products to those women. There’s nothing inherently wrong with companies advertising their wares. What’s wrong is the incredibly hypocritical advertising Dove uses. They aren’t trying to change the world, but they very willing to use social justice and activism language to sell their products and their subtle form of body hate. Dove doesn’t give a shit about your body or how beautiful you feel, they just want your money.

One of the worst things is that Dove is actually in a position to make actual changes in the industry. Instead of telling everyone that we should pat them on the back for promoting size acceptance and bodily diversity (while actually showing a pretty narrow range of sizes and skin colors), they could just use a wide variety of women of different body types and ethnicities. They could show instead of telling. They could push for Unilever to do the same with other ad campaigns as well. And they could pressure Unilever to drop the body shaming, sexist, manipulative language and images that other Unilever products use. But Dove isn’t doing that. Instead, they’re creating viral videos that do the bulk of advertising for them (saving them money) and creating good will among their users. It’s an effective ad campaign, but it’s also an insulting one.

Dove claims that they’re against distorting perceptions of beauty, which is harmful to women, while telling women that their armpits are ugly and their skin is saggy and their scars are gross and their frizzy hair is uggsville and their dark/uneven skin is THE WORST, but hey it’s ok because they can spend money on products to make them prettier YAY GIRL POWER WOOOOO now how about a nice round of SlimFast for all? The hypocrisy is thick on the ground.

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Friday, 8 July 2011 12:57
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

I want to say that it’s been, literally, years since I’ve read Cosmo or other magazines-aimed-at-sexy-young-ladies. Which isn’t to say I don’t read magazines aimed at women, because I do read Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living and I’m aware that they have their own issues with sexism and aspiration and stuff. But I’ve been a lot happier and healthier since cutting fluffy fashion mags about dieting and sex and spending and enforced femininity/gender roles out of my life. There’s a common area on the 2nd floor of the building I work in, and I’ve been eating lunch there, and someone left out a stack of old Cosmos; and every time I walked past them I had this almost physical itch to pick them up, to read them, to open up their bright candy colored covers with scantily clad women on them and read about SEVEN SEX SECRETS ABOUT YOUR BOYFRIEND EVEN HE DOESN’T KNOW and THAT ITCH: IS IT DEADLY and FIVE HUNDRED MUST HAVE FASHION ITEMS ON SALE NOW etc.

I grew up as, you know, that girl. I had terrible glasses and terrible hair and terrible fashion and smelled weird and had no friends and poor social skills. I hung around adults aching for their approval. When I was in high school and early college, magazines like Cosmo were a little doorway into what the world considered “normal.” That normalcy included a LOT of body shame and disordered thinking, to an extreme that even I– desperate to fit in– picked up on. And maybe if I’d been more mainstream all my life I wouldn’t have picked up on it, but having it suddenly thrust at me wholly formed, with no real previous exposure, it really stuck out. But I kept reading them, because that’s what women DID. They read the right magazines and wore the right makeup, and wore the right clothing, and bought the right things, and did the right exercises, and knew all about how to please their men in bed and out of bed, and if I could just figure out the right secret code to life I could fit in and be successful too.

Oh, internet. Thank you so much for allowing me to meet other women who didn’t follow ladymags, for exposing me to so much feminist writing. It was like a frigging lifeline.

Self worth is way better than this season’s hottest lipgloss.

On the other hand, thank you internet also for allowing me to meet so many Fancy Ladies, Fops, and Dandies who enjoy the hell out of this season’s hottest lipgloss, makeup, nails, clothing, shoes, and accessories FOR THEMSELVES and not because they HAVE TO, and showing me that I can do the same. Fanciness and fashion doesn’t have to be the enemy, you know?

More and more I’m finding a healthy middle ground and it’s so great to have so many resources.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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For my GQ/Trans* friends, are any of you attending Be-All 2011? A friend of mine mentioned it to me, and then I mentioned it to a few other people and none of them have heard of it, so here’s a heads up if you’re unfamiliar with it.

Here are the Seminars, Vendors, and Registration Info. Like most conventions it costs money. They have Scholarships which one can apply for. A lot of the seminars look REALLY fascinating and informative.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I wanted pizza for dinner. I’ll be frank, here. Pizza is my go-to food. I would have to eat a LOT of pizza for a LONG period of time to get tired of pizza. It does not take much pizza for me to literally get sick of pizza, however. As much as I enjoy pizza, I’m lactose intolerant AND have problems digesting more than a small amount of meat, so pizza with, say, cheese and pepperoni or sausage? Wow, that can potentially cause some problems. Oh, onions and garlic also make me sick if I eat more than X amount, and X varies. So basically my most favorite food in the entire world frequently causes me SEARING AGONY AND PRAYERS FOR DEATH.

Welcome to the State Of My Guts post, I guess.

Anyway, I was slightly concerned for a while that I had a problem with a wheat allergy or sensitivity, or celiac or something, because I frequently get sick when I eat pizza and not being able to eat wheat specifically or gluten generally is like a big nightmare for me. But then I realized that I’d eaten a quantity of (home made) (blueberry) muffins today and was fine. So flour is not the problem.

So I walked around my kitchen a little bit, looked in the freezer (no pizza) (I knew there was no pizza and looked anyway, hope springs eternal, ok?), looked in the cabinets, looked in the sink (for what? I don’t know. I just looked.), looked in the freezer again, and then made a sandwich. I had some chili cheese fritos on the side, and now they are all gone.

I really want some more chili cheese fritos.

I think my body is trying to kill me.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for awhile know that in the past, I’ve grappled with disordered eating. It mostly took the form of binging and fasting (where “fasting” is “going 2-3 days without eating until I’m so hungry I consume the entire world, then freak out about it”) and severe calorie restriction (like, trying to live on 500 calories a day, mostly in the form of diet soda). I’m also really, really fat and it took me a while, but I’ve gotten comfortable in my body. It’s a fat body, but it’s MY body, and (at least until recently) it more or less did what I wanted it to do, when I wanted it to do it.

I used to do a lot of manual labor. I used to dig up (small) trees and haul them around; muck out horse stalls and wheel around overloaded wheelbarrows full of sodden straw and manure; toss around 75 pound bags of flour and sugar; unload trucks full of slate, mulch, compost, etc; work all day in the hot sun.

When I started trying to practice Health At Every Size (HAES) and intuitive eating, my weight stabilized. (I also stopped eating so much dairy, because it makes me ill. It helped me listen to my body more.) I mean, I had a kid 2 years ago, and I had no problems losing all the (minimal) weight I gained while pregnant. I currently weigh the same amount I did before I conceived.

Only I feel fatter than I used to. Like, I feel like I’ve gained 20 pounds or so. My clothes don’t fit well. I feel sluggish and confined. I’m a lot more sedentary than I used to be (this has been a long, cold, wet winter and I don’t have a driver’s license, so going out and doing things and moving is… challenging) and I think I’ve lost muscle and gained fat.

I don’t like my body like this.

So I’ve started working out and holy shit am I out of shape. I used to dance competitively. I used to Irish Step Dance, which means I basically used to jump up and down for an hour or two at a time. I can’t even imagine doing that now. Well, I mean, I can imagine it… and when I put my head down to work out, I’m done far too soon. It’s depressing. I’m still working on it, working out, waiting for the snow to melt and the temperatures to break so I can actually leave the house with the toddler in tow. We can walk a mile to the library, to the park, etc and that’ll help.

But I’ve gotten into some bad food habits as well and I need to correct that. I don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, I’m a sucker for bread (especially with butter), and I could stand to stop eating so much pre-packaged processed food. We have an actual fruit bowl in the dining room, on the table, and having the fresh fruit RIGHT THERE AND VISIBLE is helping us remember to eat it (Niko calls apples and oranges myommyom balls) and I’ve upped my fruit intake quite a bit. I found some great recipes for cauliflower and we’ve been doing a good job of eating more cooked veggies AND more salad (we splurged and got fancy dressings, croûtons, flavored almonds, etc for extra fancy restaurant style salads).

So I’m doing what I can to, in general, improve my body’s health. But the urge is there: to stop eating entirely; to count and reduce calories to almost nothing; to go on a faddish crash diet; to try to win that elusive prize of thinness by any means necessary even if it means shaking hands and dizziness and vertigo and poor health. It’s so sick. There are foods that make me ill (upset stomach, mouth rash, migraine… not all at the same time) and I should keep a food diary so I can track what it is that’s making me sick so I can cut it out of my diet. But I fear that if I start logging food I’ll start restricting again. That way lies madness, and by “madness” I mean “obsession and compulsion and terrible anxiety nightmares.” There are times I wish I could just not eat ever again, never put anything in my mouth again, shed my physical body entirely and just drift away.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I got shoes that fit for the first time in 1994.

I have very wide feet, and prior to that I stuffed my feet into whatever shoes (usually shoes designed for older, adult women who were on their feet a lot… nurses, for example) I could. My feet are actually deformed from this. I used to literally walk on top of my little toe, which was turned entirely under my foot. I know a lot of women who have this problem. In the summer of 1993, I’d gone on a trip with my mom to Australia to spend a few weeks with her best friends who’d moved out there years before (this was back before the internet was commonly used, before email was pervasive, back when Air Mail still existed and my mom would get packs of Onion Skin Paper (translucent!) and write in tiny, cramped handwriting on both sides of the paper, and it was so incredibly expensive to send just a letter, never mind an actual package, and phone calls were arranged far ahead of time and were short because of the expense) and for some reason we went to a discount shoe warehouse place while we were there and I got a pair of cordovan leather lace up shoes that almost fit, and the shoe seller told my mom to look for Dr Martens when we got back home. They were this shoe from England that ran wide, she said, and were very sturdy. Hard to find outside of England, a little pricey, but worth looking for.

We called around and eventually found a pair of 3 hole greasy black leather shoes at, I think, Marshall Field’s… not just any Marshall Field’s, but the one in down town Chicago (which is now a Macy’s because hey, who needs history or continuity?). I was appalled at the price, something around $100. People actually spent that much money on shoes? Really? This is a thing, that people do? But we got them, shoes that fit, sturdy shoes, shoes that didn’t cause pain. They fit like a dream. The actual topography of my feet started changing, to the point where my toes now look like normal toes and not like those weird sausages you find in jars that started out round but turn kind of square from being packed so closely together, and my pinky toes are straight and I walk like a normal human being, and I have better balance and posture and my foot bones don’t ache the way they used to. I wore those shoes until I literally wore them out. I wore them every day for five years, and that wear involved building sets and getting drywall screws and broken glass stuck in the soles and digging them out with pliers, and walking all around campus both High School and College, miles and miles of walking, and walking in the hot summer and walking in the freezing cold (and well salted) winter. The leather got softer and softer and conformed entirely to my feet. I replaced the laces multiple times.

And then one day I was walking across the quad after a rain storm and realized that my feet were soaking wet. Like, sloshing slopping squishy wrinkled feet wet. I’d worn the tread off the soles years ago (and this was back when Dr Marten’s had deeper treads, so that’s saying quite a bit) and now the soles had deep splits in them and every time I walked through a puddle they sucked water up.

And I was heart broken. I actually held on to those shoes for something like 5 years after they bit the dust, with grand plans to take them to some magical cobbler and get them resoled. At one point the company used to resole shoes but in general they don’t do that any more. And no pair of DMs I’ve gotten since them, even the same style, has fit as well or lasted as long or been as comfortable. Maybe it’s because my feet have changed shape, or because I’m older; maybe the quality of the shoes has gone downhill. But I’ve bought, in my life, 5 pair of DM shoes and 2 pair of boots (prices ranging from $100-$150 each) and after that first pair have only gotten about 2 years worth of wear out of them before they start getting really uncomfortable (one pair barely lasted a year. A buckle broke off after a month or two, only, and they became extremely uncomfortable to wear after about 11 months, and I still have them because Christ they were expensive and I hate the idea of throwing out money like that. I’ve gotten more wear out of $20 kicks from Payless.). They just wear down in ways they didn’t used to. The uppers are mostly fine, but the bouncing soles, the flimsy-seeming (to me, anyway) “new” treads, the inner foot bed… they wear out so fast. Most shoe repair places explicitly state they don’t repair/resole DMs because of the bouncing sole/AIR WAIRE. There’s a place in Boston that will resole SOME DMs for $60 if you also pay postage both ways (or, you know, are in the neighborhood and bring ‘em in).

So I was kind of excited to see that Dr Martens has a line of shoes and boots with the label “For Life.” They’re guaranteed, you see. If they wear out, they will repair or replace them. That’s exciting! They cost more (The style I love and keep coming back to costs US$95 for “regular” on their site and US$130 in “for life” version) but not that much more, right? $130 is a big chunk to drop on shoes, but if I can wear them for 4 or 5 years, that amortizes out pretty nicely.

Except on top of the premium you pay for the shoes, it also costs $25 in handling fees (and additional postage both ways) to get them repaired or replaced. And damage to the “foot bed” (aka insole or inner sole) isn’t covered. I don’t know about you, but my shoes? Show wear in the foot bed. I have worn through the foot bed and into the filler (the material between the foot bed and sole) in some shoes, which is not very comfortable at all, but shoes aren’t exactly free so I just keep limping along. I don’t know how one would prevent wear in the foot bed, either. Would an insert-able insole be enough protection? And would there be enough room in the shoe for both an insole and my foot? (possibly not)

I’ve been looking for shoes both online and in retail stores for months now. I do not currently have a pair of shoes I can wear to walk or stand for a long distance/period of time, which is severely curtailing my physical activity and outings with my kid. The closest parks/play lots to use are about a mile away and if I walk there and back with Niko, I wind up with pain in my feet, ankles, left knee, right hip, and lower back (I supinate when I walk; the outer edges of my shoes wear out faster than the inner edges. When my shoes get old/worn enough the difference in wear is enough to throw my entire body– feet, ankles, knees, hips, back– out of line and puts tremendous stress on my joints). I spent 20 minutes at a shoe store last night (that doesn’t sound like much time, I guess, but they primarily had high heels, clogs, and boots in the lady section and no smaller men sizes, so I was picking over the same handful of shoes over and over and over) and couldn’t wedge my feet into most of the shoes.

So, you know. The idea of quality, comfortable, fitting shoes with a guarantee is appealing as hell. But I don’t think this guarantee covers the way I wear shoes, and honestly, I’m not entirely confident in the quality level of DMs anymore. So I’m still looking.

It’s really frustrating.

brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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Someone on a feminist website recently posted a bit about the BMI and ended it with the admonition that fat people should just put down the donuts, a line that was cliche years ago and thinking that is, frankly, dangerous and hateful. I mean, seriously, if it was that easy to lose weight there wouldn’t be so many fat people and the dieting industry wouldn’t be raking in the money hand over fist the way it is. But it’s easy (lazy) thinking that fat people are just weak and immoral and more in love with shoving food into their gaping maws than being slender, and it paints thin people as morally superior since they can just step away from the food and not indulge. Why yes, there is a reason that it’s bad to be fat, it’s bad to be female, and it’s fucking awful to be fat and female. This ties into the whole puritanical don’t-have-pleasure-ever women shouldn’t lust after or enjoy ANYTHING (sex, alcohol, food in general, “decadent” food in specific, chocolate in specific, shopping in general, shoes, money, power, respect) mindset so very prevalent.

I digress a bit.

One of the arguments against fat people being healthy or active is that every single fat person it’s mentioned who is fat and vegetarian, is fat and exercises, is fat and jogs, is fat and participates in triathlons, is fat and hikes, is fat and mountain climbs, is fat and swims, is fat and rows boats, etc is that that particular fat person is a statistical outlier. Sure, THAT fat person acts in ways that are healthy and active and is still fat, but that’s the exception to the rule! Fat people in general are ticking time bombs of obese ill-health, and it is ALL. THEIR. FAULT. If only they’d just PUT DOWN THE DAMN DONUTS and BACK AWAY FROM THE TABLE. On the flip side of that, however, nobody ever says that thin people who are completely sedentary and/or eat nothing but junk food are statistical outliers. They are given an automatic pass for having an acceptable body shape, just as the fat people are automatically damned for having an unacceptable body shape. And yes, “overly” or “excessively” thin people are damned and told to eat a sandwich.

Meanwhile, the USA is a country with a great deal of poverty and many many people– many of them fat– who go to bed hungry each night. It’s a country where many children cannot count on having enough food to eat, where it can be difficult to find fruits and vegetables or anything that doesn’t come in a box or can and loaded with preservatives and additives. It’s a country where a person can be both overweight and malnourished at the same time. But with all the focus on OH MY GOD FAT PEOPLE ARE EVERYWHERE there’s very little attention paid to the fact that these fat people are often starving/malnourished or came from a childhood of food scarcity, and that the body’s natural reaction to starvation/malnourishment is to cling to fat– cling to iiiiiiiit!!!– and that it’s not an issue of overindulgence at all.

Because it’s easier to shame people than it is to address a serious social injustice. And it’s easier to point fingers at people who are lesser than it is to examine critical fallacies in the medical system. And it’s really easy to forget that the BMI was rewritten so that literally overnight a bunch of people were suddenly classified as overweight who before hadn’t been, and that likewise the critical numbers for cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar have been rewritten so that more people now have medical conditions they wouldn’t have been labeled with a few years ago. Explosive epidemic? Not really. Just a re-writing of criteria.

But that doesn’t write headlines, sell diet products and plans, and make people into disgusting non-humans so, you know, it’s not talked about that much.

brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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Kate Harding’s piece on The Fantasy of Being Thin is a really important piece that more people should read. It’s a fantasy I’ve succumbed to myself, both in relation to weight and other things. My life will just be perfect when I finally…loose weight, clear up my skin, find the perfect way of organizing my closet, find the perfect lipstick, find the perfect book shelf, start baking my own bread, get a better job, learn to drive, get a different hair cut, buy better clothing, live in a different building.

If I could just change everything about my life, everything about me, if I could just become unrecognizable and completely different, then I can finally do all the things I want to but am afraid of. Then I can finally be happy.

I used to spend a lot of money on products I never used, mostly make up and skin care and hair stuff. It was like… shouldn’t owning these things count for SOMETHING, even if I don’t actually use them, or only use them sporadically, or use them and then take a shower to wash them out again because I don’t know HOW to use them so just look like crap? I’m making the token effort, here! I’m being an appropriate consumer! Doesn’t that count?

I’ve been fidgety and anxious about my hair lately. About six months after I gave birth, it started dropping out in fist fulls and clumps; a fairly normal post-birth experience that is nonetheless freaky as all hell. I went and got my hair cut from mid-back to jawline. The hairdresser called me “brave.” Then she asked about the bald spots. The shorter hairstyle helped a lot. There was less hair clogging the drain, less hair forming tumbleweeds that drifted forlornly across the floor, less hair for Niko to grab and yank. And it dried faster, out of the shower. It’s down to my bra straps now, and I’m torn between continuing to grow it out and getting it cut short. Very short.

The problem with me and short hair is that my hair, like my nails, grows very very fast. This means that unless I oil my nails regularly, they are very dry and brittle; and this means that it’s very expensive for me to keep a short hair cut maintained. I’d need to go in every two weeks or so or I’d start looking weedy and shaggy. And unlike curly hair which can be very forgiving of home cuts, my hair is very straight (except for the hair that fell out and grew back in) and shows mistakes very, very clearly.

I’m getting to the point. Bear with me.

Someone on my friendslist posted about a haircut recently, very short, with slightly longer bangs. See, you keep the bangs a bit longer, and can play with them and style them. It’s a style that I like. It’s a style I’ve thought of getting before. It’s a style I was lusting after during our recent heat waves where my hair went a week once without ever being dry (it was either damp from the shower or damp from sweat almost the entire week; it was AWFUL). It’s also a style that, to look its best, to look “on purpose,” needs styling and product.

And how likely am I to purchase and use product? To spend time on my hair other than dragging a comb through it and then pulling it back with an elastic?

Do I really want this hair cut, or do I want to be the kind of person who can get a short, edgy hair cut and look good in it, and who has the time and know-how and interest (and money) to maintain the hair cut? Is this where I am, or is this where I want to be because I’m unhappy with something much bigger about where I am?

I’m not sure. I think it’s the latter.

But I need to start living in the now and the reality and stop chasing after the fantasy. What I am, what I have, isn’t bad. I need to take better notice of that.


Thursday, 25 March 2010 20:18
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Some people get dish pan hands.

Apparently I’ve come down with a bad case of dish pan nails. They are extremely dry, splitting, and flaking.

I’ve started aggressively oiling them, and they’re already looking better-ish. But I’ve trimmed them down to the quick and I hate having nails this short and I’m really bothered by this. Fortunately for me my nails grow super quickly so they won’t be this short for very long. That rapid growth is apparently part of why they’re so dry/brittle. I should oil them all the time, not just when it’s dry out/my hands are in a lot of hot soapy water. I never remember to, though.

I think this is part of why I stopped wearing nail polish. The polish and polish remover both dried my nails out extra.

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It is, for those if you experiencing winter in the midwest, very very dry.

If you are a normal person, you’ve probably had to deal with dry, scaly skin and nose bleeds.

I had my first nose bleed ever yesterday.

Oh, sure, I’ve had blood in my snot a few times, especially when it was super dry and I had a cold. But yesterday? I made up for a life time sans nosebleed. Blood ran in a river for, honest to God, an hour. You know how I usually exaggerate stuff for effect, comedic or otherwise?

I am not exaggerating.

A friend of mine who’s suffered such extensive, frequent nosebleeds that she wound up getting her nasal vessels cauterized, talked me through it– the nose pinching, the head tilt, the waiting. My hand cramped up from holding my nose shut. My eyes watered, and my lips dried out from breathing through my mouth. It was kind of like a nasal period, complete with giant black slug-like blood clots.

Let me tell you, internets, it was awful.

Especially because, once I stopped actual blood streaming, there was still both a faint trickle, a bit of a runny nose, and a gigantic fear of dislodging the blood clot. Yesterday was Christmas according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar, so we went to Nesko’s family’s house for dinner, and I was all paranoid that I’d 1) start bleeding again 2) people would notice I was being nasty by sucking up snots instead of blowing my nose.

We got some cash presents, which we are going to use to get humidifiers, one for each bedroom. I cannot imagine dealing with a nose bleeding baby, and would like to head that trauma off at the pass.

Feel free to tell your blood horror stories, nose blood or otherwise, in the comments.

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Despite what the commercials claim, dieting isn’t going to fix all your problems.

No, joining weight watchers isn’t going to prevent jerks from slamming into your desk and spilling coffee all over your shirt. Nor will joining weight watchers prevent rain from falling from the sky and getting you wet.

I just… what?

Dieting isn’t some magic fix that will repair everything that’s wrong with your life.

Also, if you are an adult, don’t be surprised if a child’s size chair is too small for you. No amount of Special K magical special diets will turn an adult’s butt into a child’s butt.

Adults and children are different sizes. Children are smaller than adults. Yes, there are especially large children and especially small adults, but in general, child-sized things are child-sized because children are smaller than adults.

As baffling as the weight watcher’s commercial was (seriously? coffee spills can be solved by losing weight? only fat people spill coffee when jerks bang into them? rain, which once fell on the just and unjust alike, now targets fatties?), the Special K commercial seems more harmful. There’s the push to shrink female bodies, to reduce them to non-adult sizes. There’s existing rhetoric about how dieting mentality infantalizes women by removing their ability to chose what to eat, that dieting mentality punishes women for defying the ideal feminine norm and growing hips and butts and breasts (you know, secondary sexual signs). But now the message is coming clear: adult women are fucking hose beast lard bags if they don’t fit neatly into furniture scaled for children. Women: they need to remain child like and child sized or they are useless and terrible and need to be fixed. Adult women: there is something wrong with them.

The hell?

Note also that both commercials show conventionally attractive women who do not appear fat, or even chubby, and who have children. Ahh, true womanhood. Hot and fertile.

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I was reading this thing online and someone posted a list of symptoms of a gall bladder attack.

They sounded exactly like this pain/nausea/vomiting I’ve been dealing with for years.

It was so bad I actually went to an urgent care clinic, and I used some of the exact same terminology to describe my symptoms. I later went to a GP and again, used the same terminology (felt like a belt/band tightening around my upper chest/below my breasts, for instance) to describe what I was going through.

Nobody suggested gall bladder issues, even though I also reported that my dad had recently had his gall bladder removed.

This causes me actual, serious pain and projectile vomiting– once, so much vomiting that I began vomiting blood because my throat/nose were so irritated they were bleeding. It’s utterly, utterly awful.

And apparently can be helped with dietary changes.

I already avoid most dairy because I’m lactose intolerant, and don’t eat meat that often because too much animal fat makes me ill (but not in a heart burn-y, gall bladder-y way). I love cheese and I love butter and pizza is pretty much my favorite thing in the whole entire world to eat, but… I can either live with pain that keeps me up at night, or I can start cutting this stuff out of my diet forever.

It sucks. But it feels awesome that I might have a solution to this AT LAST. Especially one that doesn’t involve shelling out money for medications that make me functionally retarded unless I take a supplement to counter the side effect.

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Lisa Needs Braces*

Wednesday, 1 July 2009 21:33
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Originally published at You can comment here or there.

I have an incredibly high level of dentist-related anxiety, much of it due to a dentist who apparently didn’t know how to inject Novocaine and who also didn’t believe me when I told him I was in pain, and some of it due to a dentist who I don’t even remember except with terror. Something about being alone in an office (like, desk and chairs office) at the age of 3 or 4 with no parent, while he threatened to handcuff me to something (a chair?) if I didn’t behave while he was cleaning my teeth. Stay classy, medical professionals. Stay classy. Also, I had an orthodontist who found my mouth too small for his fat fingers so he broke my jaw while trying to cram his hands in there, and who refused to trim my wires because I could just “bend them back with a spoon when I got home,” even though I was physically there in his physical office and they were gouging great big bloody furrows in my cheeks.

Good times.

What I mean is, my reactions to the dentist have a root in actual physical and emotional pain. While they continue to be irrational and overblown, they didn’t come walloping up out of nowhere. I have a long and established history of dentists causing me pain and either not believing me or else insulting and belittling me when I talked about that pain. One dentist, for instance, physically restrained me (shoved me back against the chair and held me down) while he worked on me. I wasn’t a little kid (not that it would have been appropriate for a little kid, mind), I was in high school. He tried to do the same thing to my brother, who is larger and stronger than I am and who managed to get away from him.

I also haven’t had dental insurance in a long time. While I did have a dental care plan worked out a few years ago, a sudden financial emergency that ate up all our savings, the money I had set aside for my dental care, AND all my credit, put an end to that. I also took a medication that caused dry mouth that lasted for years after I stopped taking the medication. So, you know, I have some pretty bad cavities. Two of these cavities are so big that they need root canals.

I did see a dentist about them, but I was pregnant at the time. I thought it would be a simple matter of filling one tooth. Some very quick X-Rays later I was told brusquely that I needed two root canals, my teeth were in bad shape, and the office was going to give me a referral to another place but I had to figure out who I could see (my insurance situation sucked ass and hardly covered anyone in the area). I was reluctant to get major work done while pregnant so just sucked it up and waited and withstood tremendous, searing pain that fortunately didn’t last for very long. It came and went, luckily. At least for awhile.

And then it came and didn’t go. It hurt so badly I wanted to claw my face off and pull certain teeth out with my bare fingers. Or die. You know. Whichever. So I arranged to see a dentist.

He took a bunch of X-Rays, told me my teeth were shit, mocked me for having so many cavities, and had a dental tech “polish” my teeth. Then they took the bib off and told me it was time to set up an appointment. For five weeks later.



Granted, the dentist was going out of town in two weeks, but five weeks later? There was no way to squeeze me and my SEARING FUCKING PAIN in earlier? Apparently not.

And then the pain settled in and wouldn’t leave. It hurt so bad I couldn’t sleep. I’d just sit on the couch and fold laundry and watch PBS specials on Peru and whimper and sob, tears running down my face, trying to keep quiet so I wouldn’t wake Nesko up because it was like 2:00 am. I was downing Tylenol III, extra strength Tylenol, and 4 Excedrin at the same time, and still longing for death because the pain was barely being touched. And then my stomach started hurting from all the Excedrin, which is one of the few non-prescription pain medications that works for me.

I turned to the Vicodin left over from my C-Section. I only had 8 left and didn’t want to use them up. What if the pain got even worse? I tried to space them out, take them with non prescription pain killers, not eat or drink anything that would make the pain worse, not let my teeth touch each other, that sort of thing.

I was able to get an appointment yesterday and went in.

Apparently it’s impossible to do more than one root canal at a time, so I had to chose which tooth to get worked on, which was an ass choice to make because they both hurt like hell. No matter which one I chose I’d still have terrific pain. I chose the right one, though, because since making the initial appointment that tooth had begun falling apart, and at least the left one still seemed stable.

The dentist gloved up and got a cotton swab with numbing gel on it. As he brought it towards my mouth, something jabbed me in the lip and I flinched away. He gave me A Look and said in a voice dripping with contempt “It’s just a Q-Tip.” I told him that yeah, I knew what it was, and that something had jabbed me in the lip or given me an electric shock or something. He checked out the swab and yeah, the wooden shaft of it had a splinter that had jabbed me in the fucking lip. Maybe I’m just a demanding, needy, asshole but I really don’t think it’s professional or decent to treat someone who is obviously on edge and nervous with contempt. “It’s just a Q-Tip.” Fuck you.

He swabbed my gum (no dentist has done this before; one used to give me an injection before the Novocaine that hurt like HELL and I’ve mostly just gotten Novacaine shots. They aren’t THAT bad) and then injected Novocaine into the outside of the gum, near the lip. Then he started drilling. And it hurt.

I’m pretty used to drilling hurting. I mentioned that I had a dentist who didn’t know how to administer Novocaine, right? Because I have so many idiosyncratic reactions to pain killers, I just assumed that Novocaine didn’t work on me. I even have had cavities drilled out with no Novocaine whatsoever. When I had a dentist who administered Novocaine correctly for the first time, I was surprised and thrilled. People had been telling me for years that I was just a fucking coward with a low pain tolerance who couldn’t tell the difference between pressure and pain.

In point of fact, I know what pain feels like.

I mentioned that the drilling was hurting and that it felt really cold. Very cold. Like when you stick an ice cube against a metal filling and the metal conducts the cold up the nerve and you feel like you’re being stabbed in the brain with an ice pick cold. Ok, I didn’t explain it THAT much. I was too busy trying not to scream, punch him, and flee the room. He gave me another Look and told me that he could give me “40 injections of Novocaine” and I’d still feel stuff. Then he started drilling again and it hurt even more. I gasped and made this terrible high pitched whimper and climbed 3 or 4 inches up the chair, white knuckling the arm rests. He asked where the pain was and I said it felt like it was right up the middle of my tooth and up into my eye socket. He let out this huge sigh like I was incredibly inconveniencing him and give me another shot, this time in the roof of my mouth.

He started drilling again, and I knew he was fiddling around with my teeth and I felt pressure and the occasional bits of pain that didn’t last long. But it wasn’t that OH MY GOD I WANT THIS OVER JUST PULL THE FUCKING TOOTH pain.

He didn’t think my pain was real.

Which, honestly, is pretty par for the course when I see any dentist or doctor.

He drilled and drilled and did stuff and I tried very hard not to pay attention so I wouldn’t freak out, and then it felt like he was drilling other teeth, including a back molar– possibly the wisdom tooth that I need to have pulled. I didn’t want him to touch any other cavities; I’m pretty sure he’s not covered by my current (State issued/funded) insurance and I wanted to go to a specific place that IS covered, so this little adventure might well end up costing me a hell of a lot more than I thought. He didn’t ask me what type of fillings I wanted, he didn’t tell me what filling is in the premolar he worked on (pretty sure it’s temporary, but he didn’t say anything), didn’t tell me if I needed a crown or anything, didn’t mention root canaling the other tooth, just told me to make another appointment. I was too shaken up to really ask any questions, although I did ask about pain relief.

He advised me to take Tylenol, which can cause migraines in me and usually doesn’t work at all on pain (not that he’d know that, that wasn’t part of any intake evaluation and isn’t really a common thing) or midol.


Because apparently I can expect cramping and bloating in my mouth in the near future.

I was too rattled to really push the issue, but brought up the OH MY GOD SEARING PAIN and he told me that it was because I was grinding/clenching my teeth.

Which I haven’t been. I have never done that except under very specific stressful situations which this isn’t one of.

He told me that no, I have been! Most likely while asleep.

I said no, I don’t grind or clench my teeth, and most of the pain has been while I’m awake.

He argued that no, I must just not be noticing it, but I’m totes grinding/clenching my teeth and if I don’t believe HIM then I can ask his RECEPTIONIST who either grinds/clenches his teeth or else is psychic and knows my mouth better than I do.

Considering that touching tooth to tooth is painful, and that I have TMJ and so really really notice when I clench or grind my teeth, I really don’t think that’s what’s going on. But hey! He’s a DENTIST! He obviously knows me better than I know myself!

My entire body hurts today. All my muscles were tensed up as I braced for pain after pain yesterday. I had to keep opening my mouth, knowing that he was going to shove more instruments in there that were going to hurt me. I had to keep my mouth open while foul tastes and odors and pain wafted around and my jaw hurt more and more from staying open. My tooth that was worked on hurts like fuck because, duh, it was worked on (this is normal and will fade soon) and my other tooth hurts like fuck because it still needs work. And pain is radiating out of that tooth even when I’m sitting with my teeth far apart; my jaw doesn’t quite align right and my molars are crooked enough that it’s not really comfortable for me to have my mouth shut “normally” most of the time. Either my top front teeth rest directly on top of (but slightly to the side) of my front lower teeth, or else my lower lip is caught between the two of them. (My teeth/jaw aren’t as fucked up as this sounds, really.) Trust me, I am not grinding or clenching my teeth, and I still have searing pain that makes my eye socket hurt.

I’m not sure if this tooth will withstand the week and a half wait till the next appointment, and I’m literally sick at the idea of how much this will all cost. Literally. My stomach’s in turmoil. When people talk about the high cost of being poor, this is part of that. If I’d had dental insurance OR the money to properly deal with this crap when it was JUST small cavities– hell, if I’d been able to afford regular dental cleanings and thus prevented the cavities– this would not be the huge expensive pain-wracked issue it is now.

*for the less nerdy out there, the title is a reference to a Simpsons episode where the Union Homer is a member of has to renegotiate benefits. The existing Dental Plan is at risk of being discarded, but Lisa needs braces. Homer winds up fighting for the Dental Plan so his kids can get adequate dental care.
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brigid: (Default)

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

I just want to say this to people who claim that there’s no call for feminism any more because men and women have equality:


Also, fuck you!

Because Ketel One? Does not want my filthy, disgusting vagina money! No! Ketel One is for men only!

There was a time when substance was style.
When men were unmoved by the constant current of the crowd.
When they didn’t drink their vodka from delicately painted perfume bottles.
There was a time when men were men.
It was last night.

Ketel One! It is vodka for men! AND ONLY MEN. Manly Men. Not like those other pansy girly vodkas in their delicate (girly!) painted (unmanly!) perfume bottles (probably only bitches and faggots drink that shit, am i rite?)!

As I lack a penis, Ketel One is obviously not for me. It is men only! They have a sign that says “no gurlz alloud.” And it’s really sad, because I loved their print ads, which were classy and interesting and understated.

And then there is Bacardi!

Bacardi wants you to know that I am very, very ugly.

I am fat! I have “lumpy rolls!” I have breasts that don’t look like softballs! I have a hairy mole! I have acne and I wear glasses and I have teeth that don’t look like a picket fence (ie perfectly straight). I have freckles and cellulite! I am a human being with flaws, and apparently Bacardi doesn’t want to be associated with me. If only I were a super hot woman or a man of any appearance, Bacardi would welcome my dollars with open arms. But they do not!

Alas, I will no longer spend my hard earned money on Ketel One and Bacardi. My screwdrivers and cranberry screwdrivers will be made with Grey Goose or Finlandia or some other brand. My strawberry Daiquiris and Rum and Cokes will be made with Captain Morgan’s (and Coke). I am certain they will be glad to receive my appalling vagina-tainted money without casting aspersions upon me, as a non-penis having, apparently non-penis pleasing person.

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What the fuck.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009 11:14
brigid: (Default)

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

I was trying to think of a cute, catchy headline like “proximity to grocery stores fuels obesity?” or “since when is access to a wide range of foods a bad thing?” or “douche bag writer exposes fat bias.” But seriously, what the fuck is this shit?

One might think that “everyday low prices” for food would mean that people would eat much more–stuff themselves, even. [...] Further, we found that Wal-Mart’s effect on weight is largest for women, the poor, African-Americans and people who live in urban areas.

Fat people aren’t a glutenous mass of binge eating gluttons, cramming sacks of groceries into their gaping maws at the first opportunity. Providing people with a grocery store that sells, you know, groceries doesn’t trigger an epic shift in corpulence simply because food is available. I cannot BELIEVE that article includes that as a concept, that providing people with groceries to feed themselves with will make people fat. Or do skinny people not use grocery stores?

I’ve lived places where it was very difficult to purchase fruits or vegetables, because the only local stores where either convenience stores that either don’t carry said items or mark them up atrociously, or the fruit and veggie selection was horrible (Imagine walking into a store and every single cauliflower is mildewed and all the apples are shriveled). To get actual fruit or veggies took three hours of commute time, spread over 2 buses and a train and about two miles of walking. I’d get off work at 5:00 and not get home until 8:00 or later, which is particularly miserable in the winter in Chicago. Or, I could hit the convenience store across the street, skip the healthy components, and have a weaker dollar because all the food was marked up. I frequently didn’t have the energy for a 3 hour trek carrying 30 pounds of groceries and would just go across the street.

So given a choice between really expensive or very unappealing fruits and veggies and something less healthy (but filling) like chips or crackers, what do you chose? If your only bread option is enriched white bread, you’re not getting much sandwich related fiber. Sliced turkey or chicken is a hell of a lot more expensive than bologna or fatty peanut butter. “Real” cheese is more expensive than pasteurized processed cheese food, and also tends to go moldy if not used up quickly (assuming you don’t purchase it moldy; I’ve had that experience as well). Not everyone has access to a Whole Foods or Trader Joes, and even if you live near one that doesn’t mean you can afford their prices.

The first is the substitution effect: a change in consumption mix due to a change in relative prices. If a bag of salad is $2 and a bag of potato chips is $1, then the price of salad in terms of chips is two bags and the price of a bag of chips is half a bag of salad. If a Wal-Mart opens and reduces the price of salad to $1 a bag and the price of chips to 75 cents a bag, the “salad price” of chips has risen (from 1TK2 bag to 3TK4 bag) and the “chip price” of salad has fallen from 2 bags to 4TK3 bags. In short, salad has become cheaper relative to chips.

The other effect from a change in prices is the income effect, which is a change in consumption due to a change in purchasing power. If Wal-Mart sells food at lower prices–even if our incomes don’t change–every dollar can buy more.

No shit, Sherlock. How is this even news? Seriously? Have these people never had to go shopping? Never had to make a budget? Never had to decide between buying fresh vegetables or buying milk? Never had to skip the lunch meat and keep making peanut butter sandwiches even though you can barely choke down another God damned peanut butter sandwich but that’s all you can afford?

We’ve illustrated how changes in relative prices and purchasing power affect people’s decisions, and this research suggests that people do make the right decisions when the prices of healthy foods fall and purchasing power rises.

Ooooh, right. Because women, poor people, People of Color, and people living in urban areas eat crap food and are unhealthy and fat because they’re just too fucking dumb to know otherwise, despite the near-constant barrage from every media source on the planet dictating what, when, and how much people should eat. It has nothing to do with food availability or price. Imagine that!

Americans live in one of the richest countries in the world, yet lots of folks are physically unable to realistically buy affordable, healthy groceries. It’s very, very difficult to be healthy without a healthy diet, and it’s incredibly depressing that the assumption this dude had, right off the bat, was that providing access to affordable groceries would cause OMG TEH FAT. Seriously, what?

But I guess when you assume that non-white-male folks just shove corn chips into their gaping maws at every opportunity, you’ll assume that given the chance to buy corn chips in bulk at a low cost will lead to madness. Of course, that’s an assumption with no basis in fact what so ever.

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