Why I am NOT “all about that bass”

I’m sure you’ve heard the song. You have, haven’t you? “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor? It was released about 5 months ago, has been performed live on several late night TV shows and was actually just performed at the CMA Awards 2 days ago along with country music star, Miranda Lambert (I do not personally watch the CMA’s, but the Trainor-Lambert performance is circulating like wildfire on the interwebs right now; you couldn’t really miss it).

If you haven’t already heard the song, you can just type in the word “all” on YouTube and it is the first thing to pop up. Anyways — I am not all about that bass, and now, I am going to explain why.

In the past 5 years, I have been both super skinny and a little fat. Pudgy — I actually prefer the term pudgy. Wait, no I don’t; pudgy sounds awful. How about overweight? That sounds like a more clinical term, so we’ll just go with that: I have been overweight as well as super skinny, and when I was super skinny (aka ages 14-19), I was approached about it constantly. And I mean constantly.

In the 7th grade, a girl who I will call Sadie stated, in front of the entire math class (and me) one afternoon, “Amber is bulimic. She throws up after she eats.” I will comment, here, that Sadie was healthily sized – neither fat nor skinny – and I did look pretty emaciated.

But upon hearing what she said, I was indignant. And shocked. I do NOT,” was all I could muster to get out. Class began and I remained frozen in my seat, not exactly mortified – what she had said really wasn’t true – but disturbed that she thought that I would do that, and that now, other people would think so, too. Eat lunch and then force myself to vomit afterwards. Seriously? I cry each time I become genuinely ill and vomit; why on earth would I voluntarily bring such a tragedy upon myself? And beyond that, I had EARNED my emaciated appearance, thank you very much; for 2 years, every single day, I would portion out a small cube of organic cheese for breakfast, sip on a single, grape-flavored Juicy Juice pouch for lunch, and then eat a freshly prepared salad for dinner with 1/4 of a cup of soy vanilla ice cream and – if we’re really splurging here – 2 bite-sized and sugar-free Back To Nature cookies for dessert (and that is if dessert was permitted.. by myself). That was what I ate, every single day, and along with this self-imposed “meal plan”, I would skateboard for hours each evening and spend the bulk of my weekends outdoors, also skateboarding or, otherwise, hiking through the neighborhood with my beloved school friend, Kayla.

I threw up one time, when I was 15. It was on a weekend day when I had just eaten more lunch than I deemed necessary. Sadie’s comment, from the year before, floated back across my mind. “I could try throwing up, I guess.. maybe it works.”

It did work, and kneeling on the cold, beige tile floor in the bathroom with my head hanging over a toilet bowl was easily one of the most humiliating moments of my life. I was more ashamed, then, of having forced myself to throw up than I had been ten minutes before for what I had called “overeating.” I never did it again. Force myself to throw up, that is.. I have certainly overeaten since then. 

But I was slightly anorexic — for years. There were fasts that I would take regularly for “religious purposes” that were really taken to eliminate an extra pound or two that had crept up on me. I would visit the local public library on the weekends and check out books – sometimes memoirs, other times, fiction novels – about other anorexic girls, and I loved being able to identify with how they thought, felt, and viewed themselves. I even wrote a research paper on body dysmorphic disorder when I was in the 8th grade and it is, to this day, one of my best accomplishments in writing ever. I have a copy lying around the house somewhere..

When I began working at Publix (just a few weeks after I turned 16), I would take my required lunch break half-way through my shift and walk down the street to a gas station. Once inside, I would always purchase the exact same thing: a french vanilla-flavored Slim Fast drink. The first 2 or 3 times, the kind, middle-eastern man behind the counter would just nod his head in greeting, ring me up and wave me out the door, but by trip 4, he seemed.. almost bothered by my visits. Irritated, even.

I smiled and set my french vanilla diet drink onto the counter late one afternoon and he just sat there, on his stool, without picking it up. After a few seconds, with his arms crossed against his chest, he finally spoke: “You don’t need to be buying this. Drinking this each day. It’s no good for you.”

I was taken back. “Oh.. well, I really just like how it tastes!” I thought I sounded pretty sincere. Convincing.

He frowned, shook his head, and proceeded to ring up my order. He would say the same thing to me each time that I returned to his store; you do not need to be doing this. It is not good for you.

Life continued — skateboarding in the evenings, working at Publix on the weekends and, eventually, waitressing, which kept my weight off even more. From ages 14-17, my weight averaged between 91-95 pounds. Then, all of the sudden, I turned 18, left home, got married and began working at a desk job. My skateboarding days were behind me and meals became more and more about convenience — as time progressed, I would put less and less thought into portioning and calorie counting as my focus meandered off into other things; like how many hours I’d worked that week and whether or not I could afford driving to Target and buying some cute things for the apartment that weekend. Eating also became more fun; Chris (my husband) and I would text each other in the mornings from our separate workplaces: “So what do you want for supper tonight? Burritos? Pizza? Mashed potatoes and pizza?” “Yeahhhhh — mashed potatoes AND pizza! And make sure that you remember to pick up a mango key lime pie from Publix on your way home tonight, too — that will be deeeeelicious. How about burritos tomorrow night?”

For 3 years, we had a great time with food. A really great time. I gained, literally, 35 pounds (and in case you didn’t do the math, that is an average of 11.68 pounds each year; nearly a pound a month). And it happened so slowly that I didn’t even notice what was happening.

At age 20, I made a rare visit to the doctor; if I can recall correctly, I was there because of a pesky throat infection that just wouldn’t go away on its own and that I had failed at treating homeopathically. “Step onto the scale please, ma’am.”

I smiled, slipped off my shoes and obliged the nurse that was standing in front of me by stepping onto the scale. After about 8 seconds, I stepped off and bent down to retrieve my shoes from the floor.

“117,” the nurse murmured out loud, scribbling the digits onto her note pad.

Excuse me?” I stopped her, my left shoe frozen in mid-air. “117? That can’t possibly be right — the last time I weighed myself I was like 107.” The last time that I had even bothered to weigh myself had also been months before. She laughed, like I was making a joke, and left the room. What the hell?

And then non-medical professionals began picking up on my weight gain also. As well as pointing it out.

I was working behind the counter at work one day, counting cash out to a regular member, when I reached for an envelope and caught the woman smiling at me knowingly.  “What?” I prodded her quietly, smiling back at her.

“How far along are you, sweetie?”

I paused. “I’m sorry?” I laughed, still smiling and genuinely confused — I had never been asked that question before and didn’t really know what she meant by it.

“How along are you,” she nodded encouragingly.. her eyes lowering to my belly. “Your baby!”

My jaw dropped before I could even stop to think about it and I could hear my coworker suck in a breath beside me.

“Oh.. I’m not pregnant,” I stammered sadly, finally. “Just fat.”

I was mortified. Truly mortified.

I went home that evening and examined myself in the mirror, horror-stricken.

“How did I not NOTICE THIS? WHY has no one TOLD ME?”

As a result, I have spent the past year and a half trying to lose weight and have officially – as of today, actually – shed an extra 20 pounds that I just did not need. You will recall that, when I married, I told you that I gained 35 pounds; I am keeping the other 15. I needed those. I feel comfortable now, with my size, and it is honestly a humungous relief to feel so happy and at ease in my own skin.

And that is my personal story of going from super skinny to a little overweight and then finally reaching a happy medium, all within a 5-year time frame. NOW; after all of that, you’re asking — “but wasn’t this originally about.. bass? like, a bass player? or something? Actually, maybe it was Meghan Trainor and the CMA Awards — I don’t know, something like that.”

Yes. Yes, it was about bass and Meghan Trainor, who performed at the CMA Awards this past week, and now, I will address all of that.

The song “All About That Bass” is actually a pretty catchy tune. My husband’s coworker actually suggested, about a month ago,  that our band do a cover of the song (we play weekly at various pubs in the Birmingham area). The very day that she recommended the song, I pulled it up on YouTube; a cathy song, indeed! After watching the music video, I pulled up another video of the song that contained all of the lyrics. It was then that I became disturbed.

Most of the song is super positive; the basic message is this: don’t try to squeeze into a size that doesn’t fit you and don’t ever hate on your body — love your size and remember that men appreciate thick women. That is, essentially, what the song is conveying. And all of that is pretty awesome.

But in verse 2, Trainor breaks out with phrases like “I’m bringing booty back/Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that” as well as “You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll/So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along.”

On the one hand, I can definitely appreciate her self-confidence as well as her subtle implication to live naturally (I also do not want to have silicone infused into any part of my body). However.

Calling thin women “skinny bitches” is not nice. And branding women who do choose to embrace silicone into their bodies – for whatever reason, necessity or desire – “stick figure Barbie dolls” is also not nice.

Coupling these statements with the multitude of graphic memes that I’ve seen circulating over the years — most with a thick, bodacious woman pictured and sultry text that reads “dogs like bones; REAL MEN love curves” strewn across the image — is beginning to make me think that we no longer live in a society that is solely plagued with fat-shaming; it seems, more than ever, that we have now adopted a policy of skinny-shaming also.

And that is wrong. Both of those practices are wrong. But making a blanket statement that “real men love curves” — the word “all” missing but just, you know, understood — is completely and totally and blatantly negating the beauty and appeal of skinny women. And guess what? There are TONS of men out there who do prefer skinny women. That may come as a painful statement to someone who is overweight, but wouldn’t you agree, also, that a skinny person who is, perhaps, unable to gain weight (or who just LIKES keeping their weight at a lower level) would probably take offense to the statement that their lack of curves makes them unattractive and inferior? Yeah.. definitely. Tough stuff, isn’t it? It’s hard to accept, but different people have different tastes, and being skinny OR being thick can easily knock you off of someone’s dating list. That is just life. (And while it’s on my mind, have you ever even heard a song where a thin chick is bad-mouthing “heavy” girls? I haven’t. But please let me know if you have or do and I’ll be sure to write a blog post on it also.)

The best way of nipping this issue in the bud is to just stop making these statements and these memes and these stupid freaking songs. If you are going to create a meme that is intended to be uplifting and encouraging, try to leave out the part about degrading other body types, and if you do want to make a song about loving your own fantastically unique body, I am seriously all for it — but don’t call out the “skinny bitches”, because that’s shameful. Downright shameful.

I can see that a thick and curvy woman is beautiful just as well as I can see that a thin woman is beautiful; we all have different looks and body shapes, and our individual bodies even have their own preferred “comfort” weights where they seem to want to stay at. That is called diversity and that is awesome.

Do love your body; don’t try to change what isn’t wrong.. and do not be harmful to others by your words and actions. Putting someone else down shouldn’t be the means of raising your own spirits or your personal thoughts and feelings regarding your own body-image. If you are unhappy with your appearance for any reason – if you think that excess weight or lack of weight is detracting from your beauty or, more importantly, from your health – do something to change it. But don’t wish that you were something other than what you are. It is, 99% of the time (unless you have unlimited monetary resources and no fear of knives, silicone/other foreign objects and lasers), wasted energy and without purpose. Whatever end of the spectrum you happen to find yourself on, be healthy and be happy. And be nice.

So no; I’m not all about that bass.. OR all about that treble.

I’m all about that bass and treble.

Aun Aqui

~ My Most Feminine Year Ever ~

FIRST OF ALL, 98% of you clickers will not read this post in its entirety (and that’s understandable — it’s uber lengthy). But if you take the time to read any bit of it, I would most like for you to see this: http://hairylegsclub.tumblr.com/. I just discovered this website today and it is completely fabulous — ladies (AND MEN) share stories of how they were able to move past society’s twisted standards regarding body hair and how they can now embrace their natural bodies. Many have suffered criticisms from family and friends, but they have stuck to their decisions and have found freedom in them. It is so, SO awesome. I really hope that you enjoy reading through the various posts. Now, back to business —

To those of you that know me, yes; please read the title to this post again.

Okay, excellent — now please read it just once more.

Thank you for indulging me. And yes, you read it correctly: October 2013 – October 2014 has been my most feminine year “of life” to-date.

“WELL IT’S ABOUT TIME!” I can hear you exclaiming. “Geez Rose, welcome to the 21st freaking century… blow dryers, make-up, tweezers, waxing, heels, pedicures, silky shirts and hazy perfumes — glad to see you’ve finally joined the club.”

…thank you. Now, let me clarify; 10/13 – 10/14 has been my most feminine year to-date; NOT my most dolled-up, flowery-smelling and synthetic year to-date. …do you feel me? Okay, I really did want to avoid another lengthy, ranty blog post, but I’ll concede. Let’s go.

What is femininity? My favorite entry on http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/feminine?s=t, for this word, is “womanish.” How fitting. For years, I pictured a feminine woman as you probably do: empowered (of course), super pretty, dolled-up, dressed nicely and looking picturesque with manicured nails and silky hair and a completely flawless face. Also, bright red lipstick. The feminine woman in my mind is definitely wearing bright red lipstick. It seriously looks awesome on ladies, doesn’t it? Adds that dramatic touch..

Anyways, this morning, when I got out of the shower and dressed myself and realized that, for the first time in a year, I didn’t see a fat and ugly girl-like human being gazing back at me from the mirror, the true meaning of femininity SUDDENLY hit me: being happy, and being a woman.

  • I have not shaved in the last 365 days.
  • I have not worn make-up in the last 365 days.
  • I have not plugged in a hair dryer, or a curling iron, or a straightening iron (OR ANY kind of iron), and neither have I smelled the chemical fumes of nail polish in the last 365 days.
  • I cut all of my hair off this summer.
  • I wore heels once, at the beginning of fall, and I absolutely hated it. Do you need a pair of heels? They’re pretty cute. They were like 50 bucks 2 years ago and you can have them for 5. I hate them. <<< kidding; I’m not really selling them. Might need them for a super important meeting sometime in the next 40 years — but thank you for your interest!

Now — you’re just COMPLETELY lost. “WHY did you start this post by saying you’re finally feminine? Clearly, nothing has changed.” Oh — but it has. I am happy with myself. Finally. I am a woman and I am happy.

When I began my experiment of living “naturally” and not shaving last October — well, I didn’t really realize that I had started anything. It was October — the weather had gotten a good deal cooler — and wearing dress pants 5 days out of the week (and then PJ bottoms during the other 2 days of the week) left me feeling pretty comfortable not shaving. Now, after 2 weeks of this not-shaving business, I realized — “what the heck? What on earth am I doing? What my legs are now growing is beyond stubble. This is scary. What’s the plan, Stan? This can’t go on forever. ….and this has got to be a record.”

I took no immediate action; I reeled in my self-horror, gave the matter some more thought and then added in a small dosage of reasoning the following morning:

“I really should shave, but it’s still so cold out — why bother to shave my legs at the crack of dawn each morning if I’m still destined to wear tall socks and leggings and dress pants for the next wee— month… months, anyways?”

So, I sort of resolved to (as horrible as this sounds) kinda not shave? during the rest of the winter. And no, I’m not an introverted, single woman with no man in her life; I shared my intention with my husband immediately and he totally dug it. “Do whatever you want, babe; I don’t care. I love you.” Simple as that.

So I did do whatever I wanted and enjoyed month after delicious month of fuzzy warmth and zero hassle. It was marvelous. Along came March and, after 6 months of my quiet rebellion, I am totally digging this no-shave thing. It has become a lifestyle; hairless skin is a thing of the past. “I ALWAYS HATED that next-day feeling anyways,” I thought to myself one day; the way you could brush one leg up against the other and almost believe that sandpaper was glued to each calf because of how TERRIBLE it felt. How awful that I put up with it for so long.

Merry as things were, I was, however, forced to ask myself — won’t this need to end sometime soon? It was a horrid thought — going and picking up a bottle of shaving cream and a package of cheap razors at Target that weekend — “goddddd, no!” But oh, there are pencil skirts to squeeze into and cut-off shorts to wear, and the world is not ready for this. Not yet. What to do, what to do?

I couldn’t just back down and relinquish the sense of control and comfort that I had secured over my body, so I continued not-shaving and also continued wearing dress pants to work — for the whole spring and summer. It was a little warm to be wearing pants – especially come July and August – but it was, in my estimation, a cheap trade for the comfort of living happily in my own body. In my personal life, I even began to venture showing my legs – my hairy, cavewoman legs – out in public.

It started out slow; I’d drive up to the local park on the weekends, wearing a baggy t-shirt and some gray athletic shorts, and as I walked laps around the lake, ear buds blaring out the chatter around me, I could feel my cheeks redden as I passed other people. “Oh god, I bet they’re freaking traumatized by what they’re seeing right now. They probably think I’m crazy.. literally, they MUST think I’m crazy. Only a psychopath living in the 21st century would go out like this; unshaven and uncivilized go hand in hand, don’t they? A police car could pull up any second. I am not kidding — it really could. How will I prove that I’m SANE? Oh.my.goodness. Why didn’t I just wear pants.”

It was pretty rough, and in the summer, when my weekly Target run (not a literal run — my shopping trip at Target) came around, I would hastily pull on a pair jeans while in the bathroom before running downstairs to meet my husband. Without fail, he would always say something.

Usually: “Why on earth are you wearing pants? It’s 98/99/107 degrees out there, Rose.. you’re going to be miserable. Go change.”

“I don’t WANT to, Chris — I’m FINE.”

“No you’re not, you’re being stupid about your legs. Why do you even care what people think? You know I think you’re gorgeous.” Awwwwww.

46% of the time, I’d let him talk me into changing; I would bare my legs to the world, feeling nauseated and hyper self-aware during our entire outing, but, over time, it stopped.

It actually, literally stopped being such a big deal. The pointed reductions in my discomfort came along slowly at first; I would walk into Nordstrom on a Sunday afternoon and browse the clearance racks, laughing and pointing items out to Chris, and would only remember that I had worn shorts out when a female would walk by and, seemingly, “notice.”

“Oh yeah —- I forgot about that. Should I say sorry?.. NO! Heck no. Get over it, lady. Go shave your legs; I’m sure that 1/87th of an inch has grown since you did so this morning and you obviously can’t have that.” [Rude, huh? I didn’t REALLY think that. But it’s fun to read and to think that i could be so spunky.]

And now, a full year later, I can happily say that walking around in my natural body doesn’t bother me at all. I feel liberated to have gotten over all of the negativity — the negativity that lived inside of my mind as well as all of the negativity and ignorance surrounding me. I feel very proud to have accepted my body so fully, where others cannot seem to stand the thought of even the hint of a hair growing near their ankles. It makes me sad to know that other women feel so ashamed of their bodies and feel the need to “correct” what is not wrong with themselves. Don’t get me wrong here: preference is one thing, but abhorrence is another. I’m certain that there are women out there who shave daily/weekly simply because they just prefer being hairless, and that is totally understandable; smooth legs look and feel great. I am A-OK with that. But I refuse to allow a pretentious and prying society govern how I live my life OR treat my body. The idea is absurd, and you would probably agree that it is, too, but how often do we conform to society’s standards regarding personal matters without even realizing we’re doing so? It’s startling.

What was it that The Spice Girls always said — my beloved Spice Girls.. was it ‘girl power’? YES. #Girlpower. I like that. They shaved their legs, I’m sure, but still; I’m positive that they’d say “GIRL POWER, LET YOUR FREAK FLAG FLY!” to any girl who told them that she was sick and tired of bending to the stupidstupidstupid will of society. Girl.Power.

My biggest personal breakthrough was glancing into the mirror this morning and realizing that hairy legs and underarms no longer repulse me; last year, they did. It was just something that I put up with and tried to ignore because I realized, factually and rationally speaking, that I was just “conditioned” to see body hair — on a female — that way. Isn’t that so freaking sad? Little girls are brought up to believe that, at age 12, something “wrong and awful” starts happening to their legs and underarms and that, in order to be pretty and acceptable and date-able, they have to spend every day of the rest of their lives “fixing” it. Terrifying. Sometimes, I hate the world.

It is, in fact, the most natural thing in the world for a woman to look this way, and every trace of shame is long behind me. I am happy with myself; I have never looked and felt more like myself, and i have also, admittedly, never been so at peace with my whole self: mind, body, and spirit. Losing 18 pounds and 3 pant sizes in the last year has certainly helped things also; sigh, I miss having nightly brownie sundae parties with Chris.

Now — will I ever shave my legs again? Yeah, probably.. honestly, I’ll probably end my little strike this spring, considering the fact that I received a promotion at work recently and can’t be the training specialist who paces around the office looking like a jungle native. I just can’t. Again, the world isn’t ready for that yet.

But when I do finally “give in” and run the sharp and ominous blade back down my delicate skin, it won’t really be the end of a strike; the one-year project has already culminated. Now, I’m no longer experimenting. I’m just enjoying being a woman — being feminine: empowered and respected, free and weightless, happy and natural. How does that sound?

#noshackles

#loveyourbody

^gag, right? I went a little too far with the hashtags. But you know what I’m saying.

And OH, GOODY! It’s No Shave November! I’m already participating.

Aun Aqui