Thursday, May 05, 2016

My Body is for Commentary But I Own It


When I was 14 we were on our way out of town for vacation. My mom was driving and my grandmother was in the passenger's seat. I was sitting in the back looking out the window, and I happened to make eye contact with the driver next to us, an older teen, who took it upon himself to scream "FAT COW! FAT COW! FAT COW!" over and over, as he drove away, red faced and bellowing. I understood what was coming out of his mouth, but when my mom asked, I said that I didn't.

When I was 25, in graduate school, I was out with friends drinking, dancing, and having a fantastic time. I think it was my 26th birthday, in fact. I have sweet dance moves, my mom's rhythm, and I LOVE to dance. It makes me feel uninhibited and tends to amplify my personality. After a while on the floor, I looked over just as a glob of spit landed on my shoulder. When I looked up to the balcony a man was looking and laughing.

The things like this stop me in my tracks for a minute. They remind me that my body is not standard. That I'm not good enough, and that because of that fact, my body is open for public commentary. For action. For judgment.

Despite the fact that I'm not perfect and that society deems it peachy to commentate on my fatness, my early 30s saw my confidence bloom. I'm not sure what it was exactly, but I got tired of hiding. Out went the hugely oversized t-shirts, the gigantic jeans, the clothing like drop cloths meant to cover and camouflage. I began to feel more confidence in my appearance...as I was. A lot of it probably had to do with the fact that I have great support in my life...my mom, my husband, my family, friends. I also came to a point at which I wanted my outside, what people see every day, to match my inside. Irreverent, outgoing, confident, able.

When I started my C25K running, I knew there would come a hot Texas day that would call for short sleeves and maybe even shorts. Shorts are something, that most of my adult life, I have only worn on vacation, once I get a tan. Tank tops...same thing. As I was shopping for workout gear I thought to myself, "It's going to be unbearable. By June and July it'll be 90 degrees before the sun comes up."

In the interest of avoiding heat stroke, and wicking sweat away from myself, and buying the most useful workout clothing, I went for the things that scared me. The skin-tight, cooling running leggings, the barely-there flyaway top with the racerback straps. And you know what? I looooove them. I love them for how they feel against my skin and how they look and how they make me feel about myself. Badass. I've earmarked my "Real Women Dollars" at Lane Bryant for a pair of shorts next month.



I wish I could tell 14- and 25-year-old me that it gets better. That those moments that stop us in our tracks are just blips. That while they may stick with us, they are not the worst things. If we want to wear a thing or do a thing or let our insides show on the outside, we should do it. Without fear. What makes us different will probably not be ok with everyone, but we have to try to be ok with ourselves first. The moments I've been harassed for being fat stick with me, but they will not define me. Let the inside show. 

I posted this video to YouTube about a month ago discussing my super short, buzzed down, masculine, daring, kickass haircut and what that means in regards to the inside matching the outside. It's a natural pairing with this post, so I've included it below.







45 comments:

  1. It offends me that people feel the right to comment on anyone's appearance unless they have something positive to say. We're all not supposed to look the same way - it would be a very dull world if we did. I personally think you're gorgeous!

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    1. Thank you, Kathy! It just strikes me as so unbelievable RUDE above all other things. I just can't.

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  2. I am so furious that people feel like they have a right to harass you about your body. You are bad-ass and amazing, and you look hella fly in your new workout clothes. Keep it up!

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    1. Thank you, Leah! Now I just give them the finger. lol

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  3. I love your hair and never once did the word "masculine" come to my mind. You rock it! (I think labeling hairdos as "masculine" or "feminine" is problematic anyhow...gender binary and all that jazz!)

    I sooooo agree with wanting to tell my younger self to ignore all the crap people dish out. I always heard that the 30's/40's are this great time of "I'm gonna be ME, screw you guys" confidence, and I think I'm feeling it. :)

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    1. I agree that it's problematic, but here in the Land of Unreasonable and Antiquated Stereotypes it's alive and well! Ugh. Whole other can o'worms.

      Agreed re: 30/40s screw you attitude. My mom assures me 50s are even better. lol

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    2. Oh girl, I HEAR YOU on living in that Land. Here, too. Sigh. :(

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    3. The 50s are better. I'll vouch for 'em! I take very few things personally anymore and seriously don't have time or energy to care when someone is rude or nasty to me. It says something about them, not me, anyway.

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    4. Amen sister. They can make themselves look like assholes all day.

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  4. I'm so sorry those things happened to you - that's horrible, especially at age 14 when most people's confidence is so fragile.

    Way to go on getting some workout clothes that make you feel like a badass - that is most definitely the way you want to feel going into a workout!

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    1. It is horrible, but I am so very fortunate because many young ones have it so much worse than I did, especially with the rise of bullying culture. I grew up in a school were I knew 98% of the kids all my life. I got the occasional comment, but nothing on the level of these two incidents with any regularity. I'm not sure how I'd be if I'd come up with what kids (and grown ass women) have to deal with today...especially on social media channels like YouTube, etc. Out of control.

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  5. Oh yeah, wait for the almost-60s! Nothing gets to ya.

    You go, Andi!

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  6. You look kick ass in your new workout gear!

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    1. Thanks! And I feel great, so big thumbs up for that!

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  7. YES! I'm also in TX, and I was wondering what the hell I was going to wear while working out. Around the same time I started getting serious about meeting my fitness goals, Her Universe came out with a line of Avengers workout clothes, and they had plus sizes available. I LOVE Black Widow, so I immediately checked out the selection. Everything was tight running pants, shorts, and racer-back tank tops. I was hesitant at first, but then I said F it, and bought one of each. You know what? I look fabulously awesome while I sweat :D

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    1. OOOOHHH, wish I'd known about these! May have to investigate further. Proud of you for taking the plunge!

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  8. It's a shame that people act that way, and I'm sorry you went through that. I admire you for flipping off the haters and being unapologetically yourself, because you are beautiful! Rock those new workout clothes, because you are amazing!

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    1. Thank you, Brandie! Gotta rise above. Haters will always be there lingering somewhere.

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  9. Andi, you rock! I love your hair and I love the fact that you're so happy with who you are.

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  10. I hesitate to comment, as I haven't had the same experience as you, but I have also never gone for tight or short or anything (I've always dressed like a "mom") but in the last year I started wearing spandex (Maybe not actual spandex, but fitted) running shorts. Not for the looks, but once you try a good pair that doesn't ride up (and it's all trial and error, my running partner and I don't like the same ones, we have different shapes) you'll never go back. They don't chafe! They don't get sweaty between your thighs and bunch up! It really is a game changer on comfort on sweaty runs.

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    1. AMEN SISTER! The fitting and the not chafing and the functionality is so so good whether it's tights or capris or shorts. Now if I could stop the damn wedgies.

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  11. Andi, you are a badass! Keep on rocking those cool, new workout clothes! The haters are gonna hate no matter what - so just keep being strong and living your life. I'm all for making the outside match the inside :)

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    1. True story! Thank you, Nadia!

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  12. I love your positive attitude. Due to rheumatoid arthritis and steroid treatment, I have gained a lot of weight over the past four years. Last week, an insurance agent told me my premiums would go down if I worked a little harder on my "build". I am already my worst judge; but, it is so much worse to hear it said out loud. I have great support from my family & my husband. I don't know what I would do without them. I try so very hard not to judge others. I know tons of people who would benefit from your video. Thanks for posting it & stay beautiful!

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    1. Isn't it? And especially when it's someone with no context to the situation, I'm sure. Like, what the hell do they know? Ugh, just so problematic all around. Thank you for taking the time to comment, Tina, and hang in there! I'm glad you have a great support system!

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  13. I think confidence is hard to come by at any size. Far too many times I remember things I've said or done that embarrass me rather than things I've been proud of. I wish we could gain a permanent sense of self-approval regardless of the outside. Which is, I think, what you're saying.

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    1. Self-approval is definitely the key...no matter what the issue. Weight or otherwise!

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  14. Kudos to you for being so brave!! I definitely am not at the point where I am comfortable with myself, but I have brief periods of time where I have been... I hope you continue growing into being confident you!

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    1. I hope you can hang onto those times that you were more comfortable, Kelly! It can be very difficult.

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  15. Yes. Everything here. I can't tell you how much I love this.

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  16. If I were there, I'd probably have glared at the one screaming at you. Plain rudeness. Ignore them. Be proud of you! Because we all sure are!

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    1. Ha, and I'd have appreciated it! I'm not sure anyone I was with really realized it (pretty tipsy by then).

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  17. Andi, I absolutely love this post, and your video, too!! And I'm so happy you love yourself - that's the best feeling, isn't it?
    I have really short hair too - a pixie fuck-you cut (love that term!) - but not shaved at the sides. I've had the sides and the back shaved a couple of years ago, though, but longer on top back then. And it's with short hair that I feel the most like my kick-ass self, too. Where I feel confident and strong, and just know that things are going to work out.
    I'm pretty sure we'd get along really well offline, because like you, I'm outspoken, not always tactful (but I don't do that on purpose!), and I've almost finished my studies to finally become a teacher!!
    Awesome post.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. It is absolutely the best feeling! And my gosh, it can take a while to get there. Isn't it amazing how hair or makeup or whatever it is that floats our boat can give us such a boost? Gotta hang onto those things for all they're worth. Haha, I'm never not tactful on purpose either, but sometimes my mouth and my gusto take over. I think we'd rock it if we met! Wishing you so much good juju for teaching! It's amazing and exhausting and exhaustingly amazing.

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  18. Go girl!

    We've all been there, in one way or another, but you wrote it and you wrote it beautifully.

    I've never understood why any man thinks he has the right to spit at a girl he decides is not to his taste.

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  19. When I look back, I see that I didn't really understand that people were making fun of me which is quite a blessing; my mother, on the other hand, was pretty blatant about her disdain for my size which, I now recognize, was her own fear about her weight ups and downs. I hate that you had these experiences, but I also know that they have helped shape who you are today...an incredibly strong, fierce, beautiful woman. Thank you for sharing this AND for rocking these damn running outfits! I can't wait to see more!

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  20. What a wonderful, powerful post -- thank you for posting.

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  21. You go, Andy! Whatever keeps you motivated it's good. Plus, those skin-tight no-sweat pants are the best. I bought my first pair recently and really like them. And in this heat they're really good.
    I've fallen off the exercise wagon more times than I can count but I always got back on, the last time only a couple of weeks ago. No matter what happens - stress, lack of time, lack of sleep even - there comes a time when I say, that's it, and take out my running shoes. Your post inspires and motivates me to keep going. You rock. Keep running.

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  22. Ugh, Andi. You are such a freaking inspiration. I'm so sorry that people have been terrible, but I love that you love yourself anyway.

    And you did make me feel like I can get there one day too.

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  23. You rock, Andi! I'm still getting braver about doing fun things with clothes and hair and I find you inspirational :)

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