3.12.2014

Why the "F" word isn't so dirty

For most of my life, I've been the "F" word.

It was something that my own mother fostered in me, something that developed after years of being told by numerous outlets that I wasn't good enough, something that was encouraged through friendships with women, something that was imprinted on me the moment I became a mother.

You see, I've always treated it like a dirty word, actually, a lot of people do - unjustly so. It was something I would say in a whisper, a label I playfully beat-around-the-bush about, something I mumbled under my breath to ensure the only people who picked up on it, were also members of the club.

But now, a little over a month shy of turning 29, a husband, two children and a career later, I'm no longer ashamed to admit what I am. I no longer stumble over my words when trying to describe that I'm an "F" word without saying the actual word. In fact, it's something I encourage everyone to get comfortable with. I mean really, comfortable with. Really soak it up, let it sink in and embrace it.

You see, friends, I'm a feminist. (Ha! What "F" word did you think I was talking about!?)

I've alluded to it plenty in this blog. I've hinted at my feminist leniences and prattled on about my woman-power ways. But there have been few times I've really proudly proclaimed that I am a feminist and not only is it OK, it's a wonderful, beautiful, passionate thing to be.

Truthfully, it's taken me a long time to get here and to really be proud of it. Between all the woman-shaming and radicals out there, feminists can get a bad name. Ultimately it comes down to human nature. There have gotta be a few people out there pushing the buttons, raising their voices and causing a stir. So while the Gertrude Stein's and "woMYN" pushers aren't the kinds of girl power pills I wanna swallow, it doesn't make those individuals any less important or me any less a feminist.

I've taken women's studies classes, I read a lot of books written by feminists, however, they've always been shielded by something else, something safer. I think I first started wrapping my brain around the whole idea after reading Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate My Daughter. After gulping down literally every drop of that book I was excited, rushed to run out and tell everyone what I'd learned. And what I'd learned, friends, is that as a society, we're not really setting up our girls to be everything they can be.

It was easy to present the information I learned from that book. You see, I wasn't being a pushy feminist, I was just being a concerned mother raising a young girl. Slowly, I began to seek out more information, this time not just to understand what was being done to my daughter, but what HAD been done to me as a young child.

And folks, I'm not here to play the blame game. I don't know nearly enough to say it was the media's contorted ideas of beauty, the ads I saw in the magazine of twiggy, leggy ladies or the pretty-in-pink toy aisles I strolled through.

Maybe years of playing with Barbie's too tiny waist warped my mind into thinking I wasn't good enough unless I, too, was skinny. Or maybe, maybe I would have done that to myself regardless of what the media was saying. Maybe, it started in my head all along.

I do know this. I've spent more than 20 years hating my body. Thats more than two decades of loathing my thick thighs, abhorring my bountiful bust, longing for lanky limbs and failing at every crash diet under the sun because clearly I'm not worth a damn unless I'm pretty.

But that's where the problem lies, folks. I am pretty. I don't know when I warped my brain into thinking I was only attractive or worthwhile if I weighed at least 30 pounds less, but somewhere along the way, that became my definition of beauty. And that's just not healthy - mentally or physically. The truth is, even at my smallest, lowest weight, I've never dropped below a size 9 (and that was at 15 pounds UNDER my the lowest recommended weight for my height). I've got wide hips, a boy-shaped torso and a ginormous chest. I'm never going to be a small girl, but that's OK, because I don't have to be a size 4 to be pretty.

But here's where I really, REALLY realized something.

It's not easy to be a chunky girl this day and age. But you know what, it's not easy to be a skinny girl either. At least when you're a thick gal, you almost get to be a member of a club. Sure, you might not want to belong to it, but there's a solidarity in having a little meat on your bones. We say clever things to each other like "real men like curves, only dogs go for bones," and then giggle about it because after years of being told we should be ashamed of our figures, we're fighting back.

The problem, though, with that way of thinking, is that we're not fighting back fairly. We're just pointing a finger in a different direction. Skinny women are gorgeous creatures. Thick women are beautiful. Women with curves for days are attractive and that woman with the small breasts, tiny waists and lengthy legs is pretty too.

I'm not trying to go all kumbaya on you, but as a group, we women need fewer "witty" quips and a lot more solidarity. There doesn't need to be an "us" and "them" mentality. We're all women. And regardless if you've got a 20-inch waist or 47-inch hips, we've all got the same damn parts. We've all got vaginas. We've all got breasts. We've all got ovaries. And a lot of times, we can be insufferable, raging bitches to each other.

Diving into the world of feminism, the photoshop police and raising little women has taught me a lot, but mostly, it's taught me this; We all really are on the same team. Sure, a skinny girl might never feel my pain when trying on a dress that just doesn't have enough room in the bust for my twins. But you know what? I may never understand what it's like to look in the mirror and not feel womanly. I've heard so many of my skinnier friends longing for bigger boobs or a few curves to make them feel "feminine." It's something I'll never understand. But just because some girl out there can eat 40 cheeseburgers and not gain a pound, meanwhile I LOOK at a burger and gain weight doesn't mean we're not suffering just the same.

I'm waving my white flag. I've certainly been guilty of "skinny-shaming" or this-and-that shaming because I allowed the extra weight on my body to bear extraweight in my opinion. But guess what? It doesn't work that way, at least, it shouldn't.

So what does my feminist proclamation mean? Does it change something?

Not exactly. I'm still going to be the Chubby Vegan Mom. I'm just not going to allow myself to be ashamed anymore. And I'm not going to do the shaming myself, either. To me, being a feminist means loving all my sisters out there, not just the ones going through the same things I am.

One day, we're going to not just accept each other for our differences, but love the hell out of each other in spite of em.

"When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist - and only 42% of British women - I used to think, ‘What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of 'liberation for women' is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? 'Vogue' by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?"
 -Caitlin Moran
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2 comments:

  1. I love Caitlin Moran. This is so true. And it's really eye-opening when you realize how much women are holding women back!

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  2. There really is some kind of terrible stigma around being a feminist. Anytime you use the word it seems like people expect you to be a man-hater or to stop shaving your armpits. Drives me crazy

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