I love Neil Kramer. It’s Facebook updates like these (along with his brilliant iPhone pics on his instagram feed) that just make me want to high five him for cutting through the bullshit and just saying or showing us what is.

In this case, it’s a brilliant case of Funny Because It’s True. In fact, it’s so funny, my sides are getting stitches from laughing, which makes this also fall into The Truth Hurts category.

Let’s look at a few examples in my feed from today alone:

 

I love A Beautiful Mess. They speak to the body/self-acceptance crowd working to embrace their crazy and imperfections. It’s the same message, but usually with more swear words, I try to share on Girl Body Pride.

 

Mighty girls.

Attitude is everything.

Enough said.

 

Now we’re getting somewhere. I can hear my Complex bitching, so we must be close.

 

Dr. Oz. made me cry again. Well, it was him or the companies using his image (with or without his permission) to sell the idea that FASTER, THINNER, BETTER, BEST is and always will be the only way to find happiness within. And there we are. The punchline. Love yourself and tell your children to do the same, but just make sure you work on that belly fat before having the audacity to believe you are anything other than perfectly beautiful and worthy of your own love and efforts just the way you are.

Neil? Yes. Facebook fucks with me. So does going grocery shopping, the headlines on the glossies while checking out with my kale and coconut milk because I’m allergic to almost every food on the planet, and my own brain when pity parties involving food that tastes good but makes me feel horrible sound like a brilliant idea.

How do I handle it? By hitting “Publish.”

 

;

My mother wants to know why I cut my hair so damned short and what size dress I am wearing now.

An aunt clicked her tongue and shook her head as she lamented my daughter’s lack of Spanish-speaking skills.

My uncle’s sister — whom I have not seen since I was five — asked why I only had one child. Then she nodded approvingly at my sister and the four children running between her legs because working ovaries are obviously a sign of a good and proper Mexican woman.

Rapid fire Spanish from a relative who flew in for the wedding wondering how old said child is now as she hides her face from another pair of prying hands in the folds of my dress. Four of her five years and 2,500 miles between us and the Mexican Show Pony Craziness that comes with special occasions has turned my three-quarter-Mexican-child into a white girl who expects strangers to respect her personal space.

She looks so much like you.

You look so much like your mother.

Your sisters look so much like your father.

And I am instantly 13 again. Insecure. Out of place. Unsure of where I truly belong.

***

We flew in to Detroit from Tucson a few days ago for my cousin’s wedding. Buttercup is the flower girl. And we’ve spent the last 20 minutes outside of the church waiting for everyone else, including the bride, to show up late. No one from the church is looking for us yet. They are used to running on Mexican time.

Buttercup is playing in the courtyard with her four cousins. She is grateful they speak English, I think. Small talk keeps me and my sisters occupied because the divide between us is more complex than the miles we just crossed. Because we are in the same place, though, we will pretend to try. No one will be expecting weekly phone calls to stay in touch after we return home. And yet there are no hard feelings. It’s just understood.

Family begins to arrive. Hugs and kisses and You Look Great, Mijitas are exchanged. Sometimes because it is expected. Others because it is sincerely meant. We — The Husband, Buttercup, and myself — stand alone in the midst of the Spanglish craziness. I am acutely aware of the fact that I am thinking in English.

***

The rehearsal takes two hours. By the time we are ready to leave the church for the rehearsal dinner, Buttercup is crabby and asking to go home. We oblige, taking my mother and one sister with us, grateful to hide behind the excuse of a tired child. The bride and groom nod their understanding. More hugs and kisses are exchanged. And we are free.

Buttercup is full of smiles and laughter as soon as the car door closes and the engine starts. No longer overwhelmed by the noise and the outstretched hands, it’s apparent the child is more like me than I sometimes realize. In the middle of strangers who are bound by blood, she wants to hide and remain unnoticed. But with close friends who have become family, she is light and she is happiness.

It’s time to go to my mother-in-law’s house now. It’s where we are staying while we are in town. As we turn to leave, my mother hands me a small bear.

Don’t forget this, she says.

It’s my one-eyed bear from childhood. I smile and hug it close as my mother makes sure to remind me her dress size is smaller than my own. I’ve come home again.

 

So I’m standing in the grocery store check out lane with Buttercup, patiently waiting our turn to pay when I made the mistake of actually skimming the headlines and blurbs about various celebrities relating to their weight, how they either lost it or keep it off, and why this should matter to me. And you. Because emulating Angelina Jolie did wonders for Octamom.

About that…

My eyes dart from one blurb to another and as each one gets seared into my brain and the only cohesive thought I have is that Buttercup will never be allowed to set foot in a grocery store again for fear of psychologically damaging her in an effort to pick up a gallon of milk.

BEYONCE SHOWS OFF HER NEW MOM BODY

 

Beyonce shows off her New Mom Body right next to a blurb parading empty promises.  CGI, airbrushing, crash diets, and really creative camera angles will work for us Regular People, too, it seems. I’m assuming that means I should clear our the guest room for the personal macrobiotic chef and his entourage, right? Oh, but where will the nanny take care of my child while I workout with my personal trainer in my home gym for six hours a day so I can get to headline-ready shape before  filming starts on my next blockbuster?

Wait…you mean that isn’t how this is supposed to work?

 

 

 

LOSE 13 POUNDS IN SEVEN DAYS EATING CAKE!

There’s only one way I can think of this actually happening…and that’s how I ended up in therapy the first time.

Next?

 

 

GET A BETTER BODY! CELEBRITIES SHARE THEIR CONFIDENCE BOOSTERS!

Because focusing on inner beauty and feeling good about the reflection in the mirror no matter what the scale says is exactly how y’all got onto the big screen to begin with, right?

 

 

 

DROP 47 POUNDS BY MEMORIAL DAY AND WALK OFF JELLY BELLY!

 

Hold the fucking train, people. They mean by Memorial Day of 2013, RIGHT?

 

 

 

THE BRIDESMAID STAR ON LOVING WHO YOU ARE!

FINALLY! A moment of clarity! A publication willing to buck societal expectations and instead celebrate who and what we are now instead of promoting the bullshit promising us that We Too Can Lose Six Pounds in Four Days and Feel Great!

Maybe other publications will start to do the same! Maybe a new generation of young and impressionable girls won’t be subjected to the planetary version of high school hell and come out on the other side the better for it.

Maybe…Look!

Ladies Home Journal is jumping in with more insight on the subject…

 

WHY CAN'T WE SEE OUR REAL SELVES IN THE MIRROR?

Seriously?

I dunno…I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that could possibly have something to do with the contradictory messages about self-worth and body image and their direct correlation with the engrained importance of Other People’s Opinions in our psyche regarding how society perceives us to look? Maybe it’s the fact that our value as women is measured by today’s media using our measurements and not our achievements? No, wait! I’ve got it….

It’s because we were so busy eating cake for breakfast and losing 47 pounds by this Thursday that we totally forgot to clean the mirror, isn’t it? Silly us…

Oh that isn’t it?

 

 

WHO WANTS TO PLAY "FIND THE FAT CHICK?"

 

I’m being facetious, obviously. I think Melissa McCarthy is a talented actress with an adorable voice and I love her confidence. She also, in my humble opinion, happens to be gorgeous. That being said, I’m thinking product placement and the fact that the only reason I noticed the bottom rack (on multiple magazine racks, I’d like to point out)  is because I was on my knees taking photos of random magazine covers for a blog post about how those mean old magazine covers called me Fat and Unhappy. And that’s when the cashier gives me my total and tells Buttercup how beautiful she is.

“I know,” she responds with the confidence she inherited from The Husband. Then she catches herself and notices that I seem to be waiting for something. She clears her throat. “Thank you.”

And we head for home, my four-year-old already learning that society appreciates the pretty things.

 

 

I’m having a pretty shitty Writerly Ego day. Actually, it’s kind of been a shitty Writerly Ego month, to be perfectly honest. And when I’ve shared this little emotional nugget with the BFF and The Husband, I’ve received a raised eyebrow and a “YOU HAVE A FUCKING AGENT” in response to my pity party. I get where it’s coming from. I am in a position a lot of writers would kill for. I have a wonderful agent who thinks me and my writing are worth something and deserve a place on the shelves at Barnes & Noble next to writers I admire like Jenny Lawson Jill SmoklerRobin O’BryantAnna Lefler and Heather Armstrong.

It seems, however, that the platform I am currently standing on may not big enough to get there. Or maybe it just feels like that because I’m a writer and us artistic types are moody and overly emotional and maybe I just need a vodka-flavored cookie. Because really? I’m pretty proud of my little platform. I bust my ass for free because writing is who I am and what I do and the writing part is actually more important than getting paid part…for my sanity, at least. The bills sitting on my desk waiting to be paid, however, would rather I stop trying to stay Not Crazy and just get a fucking job that probably wouldn’t leave me the time to write for the awesome sites I contribute to.

I love sharing the funny on An Army of Ermas and Funny Not Slutty. Getting a spot on best-selling author Lissa Rankin’s Owning Pink site is something I will forever be proud of. I’ve been published on Hippocampus Magazine and almost fell over when StoryBleed accepted the same piece for publication on their site. And then what I’ve got going on over here on this little ol’ blog o’ mine. I’m working on getting my name out there and my writing on more outlets, but these things take time. And Platforms don’t build themselves overnight.

I’m by no means in the same stratosphere as the likes of Dooce or The Bloggess or Scary Mommy and that’s okay with me. I’m not trying to be them. Just me. And hopefully the Me that I Am will one day be enough.

Maybe this sounds like a Poor Me post, but I don’t mean it to. Instead, I wanted to let other aspiring writers out there know that the days of doubting yourself don’t end the moment you sign that contract with your dream agent. And, I’m sure my published writer friends will tell me that they sure as hell don’t end when a book deal is offered or the day their books were released or even the day they got their first glowing review. Because once someone Other Than You believes in your work, it’s not just your ego riding on how many readers connect with that essay you got placed in that literary magazine that you love or how many hits per month your blog is getting or how much better you feel just for having taken the jumbled words out of your head and making some sense of them in a new piece you just started.

Every level of success reached is both a validation of our talents and a new reason to Freak the Fuck out, but it’s a lesson in the writing life that I seem to keep having to be reminded of. Three months ago I was still waiting for the Moment All of My Dreams Would Come True and then the world turned upside down when they did because I signed with my agent. That singular moment took two years to make a reality. And you would be right of you guessed that the Freaking Out commenced after the shiny newness of my situation sunk in. It’s not just me and my ego on the table anymore. It’s me and my ego and my agent’s time and effort and enthusiasm and Belief in What I Am and Have Yet to Become.

But if I think back, I probably went through the same little Self-Doubt Fest when I was accepted onto my college newspaper’s staff and when I saw my first byline and when I was assigned to cover my first murder case at the city newspaper that hired me right out of college. And then again when I left the newspapers to freelance and when I started this blog and when I woke up this morning and my little girl told me that I’m the best mother in the world.

So maybe shitty Writerly Ego days are just part of the process and part of what makes us who — and what — we are. It’s our literary equivalent of the trap women set for men when we ask if This Dress Makes Us Look Fat because we really only need to be reminded that in their eyes we are beautiful no matter what how that dress fits us. My platform is what it is. My ass? Probably looks horrible in that dress. But it’s okay.

Because tomorrow I’m still going to write something. And someone is going to read it.

 

I’m sitting here in my stretchy Walmart-worthy yoga pants and reveling in the Alone-ness. Buttercup is asleep, The Husband isn’t home from work yet, and the dogs aren’t very reliable witnesses. So I take a deep breath, and as I exhale, I smile as I mentally turn off the auto-suck.

You know what I’m talking about, ladies. Unless you’re Kate Moss, there’s a high probability you’ve got a belly pooch even if no one else thinks you’ve got a belly pooch and gets all pissed off and offended when you insist that you do because my left thigh is bigger than all of you so you turn off the auto-suck and at the same moment I do, too, and then we both marvel at the fact that we might not be able to rock a bikini but damn we have strong abdominal muscles if we can hold that in all day.

Spanx are not involved. Auto-suck is simply the ability to train yourself to breathe in such a way that your diaphragm moves up and down instead of in and out while performing what has to be the single longest standing crunch in the history of mankind. The upside is that when you pee you don’t have to worry about painting yourself back into the sausage casing that is a pair of Spanx because that convenient crotch hole they designed is not convenient at all. The downside is that Spanx aren’t affected by too much wine, resulting in a You’ve Had Too Much to Drink Obviously Because You’re Pooching Out So Give Me the Keys rule initiated by The Husband, who happens to be a fucking genius. I never told him about the auto-suck. He just figured it out all by himself. And he still asked me to marry him.

Pretty snazzy.

So was the expression on one of the maternity ward nurses as I was waiting to be emergency induced almost five years ago when The Husband, who was bored, asked me to show her my mad abdominal skills to pass the time. I prepared much like a weightlifter getting ready to dead-lift something ridiculously heavy by closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and focusing on my goal. Then I simply auto-sucked my 36-week pregnant belly into myself before gently letting my bump take up the three feet in front of me it had been before my little trick.

“Did you see this?” the nurse asked a co-worker who came in to join to prep for my delivery. “Do it again.”

So I did. And The Husband and I laughed as both nurses stared in amazement and gushed about how I’d probably push the baby out on the first try with abs like these. And yes, they were wrong, which totally sucked.

My recovery time involved peeing out about 15 pounds of water retention and then getting pissed off when I realized I was going to have to work to lose the rest while consoling myself with something dipped in chocolate. Not once did I consider lacing up my running shoes and winning a marathon six-weeks postpartum like this mom did. Yay for her and her obvious lack of need for the auto-suck. I’m cheering for her, really I am. I’m also thinking it’s over-achievers like her that make the rest of us look bad and calling her names which I know is evil and spiteful so I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and free the belly I subconsciously sucked in while reading the article about Marathon Mom.

Good for her. Now where’s the chocolate?

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