IG post: Showing skin

I’m experimenting with something for the next week or so. I notice that I haven’t been posting to my blog as often as I should, but  I post what amounts to mini blog posts on Instagram regularly. I can’t seem to find a way to automate the transfer of those posts into WordPress, but for now I’d like to try simultaneously posting the more thoughtful posts here.

~~~

Original IG post text:

Side Plank #independencearmy – sorry for the amount of skin in this pic, didn’t have clients for my 6am so I did some flow of my own at home & these were the clothes I had on, couldn’t grab more without waking the rest of the family. Great way to start the day!

Adding:

First, let me say that I got nothing but positive encouragement from my followers on Instagram. Which is why I love IG, it’s such a positive place. Some of these friends I only know from Instagram! It’s like Twitter used to be.*sadface* My followers on IG are a) largely fitness buffs like myself, primarily interested in the poses and photography rather than oogling, and b) female. I have very few male followers and only allow those whom I trust to be professional.

But let me back up and provide context, in case you have been living in a hole each Spring when the blog posts about modesty re-circulate. The most popular post this year was this post from a woman asking other women to help her protect her marriage by not posting pictures of themselves baring skin.

I saw a lot of criticism of that post regarding the writer’s marriage, and I am going to completely disregard that as none of our business. I understand her intent, and as a highly conscientious person I seriously consider her legitimate feelings.

Once we know that someone is offended or bothered by something, we are responsible for what we do with that knowledge. To act upon our knowledge or ignore it is a choice.

Here is an example of what I mean.

At the beginning of this swimming season, I owned one swimsuit. A two-piece with full coverage of top and bottom that I wore before kids and through 2 pregnancies. I was planning on wearing it for another year when I participated in a discussion with very close friends about their comfort levels wearing bikinis at our neighborhood pool, some in regards to appropriate modesty front of the husbands. Because this is our first year to join the neighborhood pool and be around my friends’ husbands at a pool, I was not sure what to do. I had just purchased a second swimsuit so that I would be able to cycle between the two if one was in the wash. They were both two pieces! Both full coverage of chest and rear end, but definitely two pieces. Were they modest enough?

I choose to care about my friends’ comfort levels, so once they have shared their concerns, I am responsible for my choices in light of this knowledge.

What I am not responsible for is interpreting the reactions of those who have not shared their concerns with me.

Another example: My favorite tongue-in-cheek response to the modesty post this year was  this one: When Suits Become a Stumbling Block. The intent of that parody was to point out that it is nearly impossible for the person wearing the clothing to pinpoint whether certain clothing or behaviors would make someone else “think inappropriate thoughts”. And how ridiculous it would be to ask everyone else to stop doing anything that makes them attractive in any way.

While I am happy to honor the concerns of my friends who tell me what makes them uncomfortable, I am not responsible for determining all the nuances of every individual’s comfort level, as the satirical post illustrates.

So this is what I did: I went out and bought swim shorts for one suit and a tankini top for the other. It was the cheapest thing to do, and I hope it increased the modesty of them both. I did this because I love and respect my friends who were not OK with their husbands seeing women in a standard bikini. I still wear the non-tankini and non-shorts pieces in my backyard with the kids and my husband.

In light of such responsibility, which has it’s limitations within the knowledge we possess, one more thing I want to address about that modesty post (and comments that I occasionally get from other women/clients): it’s not ok to say that you would dress more scantily if only you looked a certain way.

I want to paste some excerpts of the comments I got on my IG post:

Don’t apologize! If I had your body I would walk around in my swimsuit. Everywhere.

Gorgeous bod!! If I looked like that, I would wear that little all of the time!!

I’d grocery shop in that if I looked like you!

If you re-read the modesty post, you will also find this line in her post:

If I was skinny with rock-hard abs and legs from here to Mexico, I’d want to take lots of pictures of myself. Mostly naked. I would want to post them with a nice filter on Instagram, and share them with whoever might see.

Here’s the catch, lady: you just told everyone else they shouldn’t. Which means you don’t get to, either

You couldn’t because of people like you, posting blog posts telling people who look a certain way that they aren’t allowed to wear certain things. Putting conscientious people like me, who genuinely respect your feelings and want to do the right thing, in a very odd place when it comes to clothing.

Which begs the question: are you asking other women to cover up out of genuine concern for modesty, or out of your own body image insecurity? I’m completely respectful of other women’s legitimate requests for modesty. I can and will dress according to specific requests, if needed. But I am not responsible for protecting you from your view of yourself, which is an impossible target for me to hit. I can’t see inside your brain.

My sweet Instagram followers are not judgemental or even critical. What makes me sad is that, at the core, the phrase, “If I looked like that…” expresses dissatisfaction with the speakers’ body. I get this from my clients a lot and I want you all to know that your bodies are strong and capable. We also know that the images we see in the media are not real. I want you to stop comparing yourselves and enjoy your physical bodies!

The reality is, there are some people like the modesty post blogger who are judging someone who is fit even more harshly than they would judge someone who is less fit. The same woman who applauded this awesome lady for wearing a two piece swimsuit might write that blog post asking that we not post pictures of ourselves at the pool because we’re not overweight.

As a conscientious fit person, I’m always open to constructive feedback. And I’m sure that I have body issues of my own. But please do not confuse insecurity with impropriety. Most of all, let’s examine our motives and stop the comparisons.

Where does a SAHM part-time worker fit?

image via memgenerator

When someone asks me “What do you do?”, it isn’t an easy answer. Do I answer, “I stay at home with my kids” or do I list off my various part-time jobs as a fitness instructor and blogger? Usually I do both. It’s such a weird place to be, a SAHM part time worker, right in the middle of both “mom” categories.

As someone whose significant other earns almost all of the income for our family, are my part time endeavors even significant enough to call “working”? Even combined, none of the jobs pay much. As someone who only works part time, I am definitely thankful for the flexible schedule that I get in exchange for the lower pay. I love that I can work a few days a week at 6am, part of one weekday, and then a few hours on the weekends doing things I love. It is all a huge blessing.

But there’s also the parenting part.

As a part-time worker, I don’t get the financial benefits or structure of full-time professional childcare I would have as a working mother. I know, because I’ve been a full time working mother. When I worked full time, we had a nanny who came during set hours. If I worked full time right now, the kids would most likely be in preschool. In both situations, they would benefit from the experience and training of a professional educator and childcare expert. Someone who would teach them to read before they even go to kindergarten, most likely. They would be taken care of during set hours, during which I would be free to do my work (unless they or the nanny were ill, of course — been there, done that!).

Instead of a professional educator and childcare expert, they have me. Well, part of me. Because I spend the majority of my “spare” hours in part time work, I am not using that time to scour Pinterest for worksheets, set educational goals, read about the developmental milestones they’re supposed to be hitting and target their activities accordingly, as most of my other mommy friends do. We have fun together, sure! We go somewhere almost every day, but it’s most often the pool, the museum, the zoo — somewhere that they can run freely and play, not learn specific things. The goal is to be physically tired so they’ll take a nap. My poor second child still doesn’t know any of her letters. Neither of them understand the days of the week. I think about what it takes to do all that, the extra hours that I can’t seem to pull from thin air, and I just want to take a nap too.

It’s only due to our food intolerances that I spend as much “homemaker” time as I do: making our own bug repellant, soaps, bread, and toothpaste. In fact, that’s probably how I am using the time that I should probably be teaching my kids valuable things like Scripture memory or full moon intention-setting. That illusive time goes to hand-making things to keep Little Sir from getting diarrhea due to stomach irritation. Driving to the chiropractor. I have to make a conscious choice every day not to feel bad about how much more I should be doing.

There’s the mommy guilt, but there’s also the career guilt.

As a part time worker, there are a ton of opportunities to take it a “little further”. Getting my RYT200 is one of those. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it, but I also know that it’s just not realistic right now. Taking that kind of time and financial resources away from our family while my children are this young is not something we are in a place to do at this time. But then another client or friend asks me to teach them what I know about yoga and I just want to do it SO BADLY!

If I am honest with myself, having one foot in the working world provides some welcome gratification in contrast to the endless energy suck that is my precious children. Not once will they say “thank you” to me (except when Daddy makes them!), but my clients and friends do say positive things about my part-time work. It takes a conscious act of the will every time to step back into those unappreciated Mommy shoes and away from the seemingly fulfilling fitness instructor/blogger shoes.

As I was writing the first draft of this post, my daughter came into the room three times asking for me to sing songs. It has taken me about 3 days to complete this post, due to interruptions of the same kind.

I know in my heart that these are the best kinds of interruptions. That singing all the songs is what life is made of, and not the Facebook-ing, the Pinterest-ing, the 6am classes, the handstand practice, the Sanskrit pronunciation.

My friend Janelle was speaking today of a kind of selfless support, of having a job that consists of supporting others: being the wind. I love that analogy. As a feminist, it’s important for me to remember that I can choose what work I do, and that one kind of work is not exclusive of another kind. I CAN be a SAHM and a part-time worker, and neither one is “not enough”. Both are exactly what works for me right now, regardless of how I answer the, “So, what do you do?” question.

Book review: Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

NOTE: I was given an advance copy of the book Hannah, Delivered (affiliate link) in exchange for my honest opinion. Review and opinions below are my own.

"There's three things to learn about labor. It's work. It hurts a lot. And you can do it." - Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

When I got an email from a publisher with the subject line “Midwife Fiction”, you know that I was in! I am a bit of a natural birth junkie. I just love to hear how women learn to trust their bodies and how they discover their strength through childbirth. I actually visited my midwife just last week for my annual checkup and fell in love again with the entire practice. The old Victorian house, the cloth robe and cover, the corner of the exam room filled with toys for the kids, the comfy chairs I sat in while we chatted, with the sunlight streaming in the huge windows…So far removed from what I’ve heard about OB/GYN offices. I just love sharing the stories of my first natural birth and my second natural birth.

The mind-body connection espoused by midwifery is not so far removed from what we practice in yoga. The book that I was given a chance to read definitely delivered (if you will excuse the pun) on that reality. The book is called Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew (affiliate link) and it is about a young woman on her journey to become a midwife. She has built a safe, secure life for herself working in an administrative position at a hospital and one evening is called to assist in a birth. She accidentally ends up catching the baby and BAM! catches the midwifery bug. She will have to leave everything she knows: her job, her relationship, her state, and her security to train as a midwife, only to return to practice in a town where midwifery is only barely legal. Is that how this really happens? BAM!, just like that? To a woman who has never been a mother herself? I am not sure. I didn’t know much about birth, myself, until I read the book Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy (affiliate link) almost 10 years ago. Shortly after, I also read Taking Charge Of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler (affiliate link). To say those two books shook up my idea of what my body was capable of and how our society has treated women would be an understatement. Some of these same injustices, mistrust, and misinformation are touched on in Hannah, Delivered. It is plausible that activism is a response to correct a wrong. But more importantly, Hannah’s journey to midwifery is a journey that has a goal of creating what is right: assisting women in the positive aspects of birth and allowing them to be free. The book is about how Hannah delivers herself from her old ideas of what she “should” be or isn’t, and allows herself to be born into what she is meant to be. She struggles with her place in the world as well as her own spirituality and the spirituality of her parents. It’s definitely not a Christian book, as the main character remains agnostic throughout the book. But I did not feel uncomfortable with it as a Christian, either. The Christ-followers in the book were presented in a positive and loving way.

The characters in the book were believable and I found myself caring what happened to them. There was enough of a twist for me to wonder what was going to happen, but enough of a reassurance that I didn’t feel the need to skip to the end to keep from getting anxious (not that I ever do that…) . I also found the end satisfying, unlike some of our recent Book Club books. I would happily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good fiction, whether or not you are a natural birth junkie.

Hannah, Delivered by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

So if you’re getting ready to build your summer book list, add Hannah, Delivered — and let me know what you think!

Contentment vs Lack of Ambition

We’re reading Sheryl Sandberg’s inspiring book Lean In for book club this month. I know, I’m late to the party since I’ve actually already heard her speak at BlogHer 2013 in July. But I wanted to wait to read the whole book until I had the opportunity to discuss it with some really smart and thoughtful ladies in my neighborhood while drinking wine. I have found this book to be extremely balanced, and not at all about how we all need to be CEO’s or how women need to kick men’s butts in the workplace.

I particularly loved how she highlights that not all of us who are not CEO’s or even full time employees at the moment have made that choice due to lack of ambition. Sometimes it is because the way we are living our life right now is just right for us at this moment. This is a yoga principle as well — being content with where you are right now and accepting both your limitations and your current accomplishments.

"Many people are not interested in acquiring power, not because they lack ambition, but because they are living their lives as they desire." - Sheryl Sandberg

Jesus is a Feminist: you don’t have to Lean In, but don’t bow out

Jesus is a Feminist | ConscientiousConfusion.com

Although I haven’t read her book yet (it’s on our book club list and I’m waiting for the rest of the group!), I enjoyed hearing Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook and author of Lean In, speak at BlogHer this year in Chicago. While she was speaking, I was watching the chatter on Twitter and I noticed a disturbing response from the “Christian” bloggers that I follow. It actually disturbed me so much that I feel like I need to respond with this post. I saw several women who either skipped the keynote altogether because “I’m not a feminist” or attended but were tweeting things that implied that this ridiculous talk about feminism did not apply to them. What bothered me the most about this viewpoint is that it is completely wrong for someone who says they follow the Jesus described in the Bible. You don’t have to “lean in” if you don’t want to, but if you say you follow Jesus, I have news for you: Jesus is a feminist.

First, let’s be clear on what a feminist is. Here’s the definition from Merriam-Webster:

fem·i·nism: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

If you believe that men and women are equal, you are a feminist.

Let me put it another way.

Have you attended a school, college, trade school, or certificate program? Do you teach others in any capacity: have you trained a coworker at school, taught a workshop, led a Sunday school class or Young Life meeting? Ever spoken in front of an audience that included men? Do you own a car, a house, do you have a birth certificate, a driver’s license, a passport, a library card, a credit card? When the U.S. census comes around, do you count yourself as an individual human being, or do you skip yourself and only count the males in your household? In your day to day life, do you speak to males in public and expect them to speak back to you? The postman, the clerk at the store, your neighbor, the dads in your children’s class at school, your childrens’ teachers and principals?

If you said “yes” to any of these things, you are behaving as a feminist, and are relying on feminist tenets in your everyday life. You have an expectation that you will be (and you have been) allowed the same freedoms that a man has, in these particular areas.

You also have much more freedom than a woman would have had in Palestine during the time that Jesus was on the earth. It was a rough time to be a Jewish woman. Although Jewish Greek and Roman women had some degree of power and freedom [3], in reaction and opposition to these foreign societies, strict rabbinical law in Palestine during the time of Jesus took the opposite viewpoint and forbade all such liberty for women[4]. When Jesus came onto the scene, He* challenged all of those norms.

An observant Jewish woman in Palestine during this time would have been barred by strict rabbinical law to be taught to read or to study the Torah. In the stricter households, she might even have been confined to her home. When she was allowed out of the house, it would be to worship in the synagogue, but even then she was separated from men. Men were educated in literacy and in religion, but women were not. If you were a very religious Jewish man of the time, you would not speak directly to a woman in public. Not even your own wife, daughter, or mother [1]. She was both too inferior and too lavicious, merely by merit of her existence [4]. That pretty much leaves out owning any kind of business or working full time. Maybe you don’t want to own a business, but what about being legally recognized as a person? Nope. In the Old Testament, women were not counted when there was a census. During the time of Christ, the testimony of a woman was not acceptable evidence in court [1]. Josephus documents that women were actually deemed inferior by law [2].

In contrast, every reference in the Bible to the larger group of followers of Jesus (outside the immediate disciple group) specified that both men AND women followed Him.

The fact that the overwhelmingly negative attitude toward women in Palestine did not come through the primitive Christian communal lens by itself underscores the clearly great religious importance Jesus attached to his positive attitude–his feminist attitude–toward women: feminism, that is, personalism extended to women, is a constitutive part of the Gospel, the Good News, of Jesus.”

Jesus Was A Feminist, thesis by Leonard Swidler, 1971

It’s interesting to note that Jesus frequently taught outdoors and in public places, rather than in the synagogue, which would have been the norm for a Jew trying to drum up a new movement. Why wouldn’t He be in the religious forum of the culture — a synagogue? Because if He were to teach in a synagogue, women would not be able to hear Him. Outdoors, anyone could attend, and did [4].

Jesus not only spoke to women, but He had a theological conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). He listened to her points and gave her thoughtful answers. Again, something that a religious leader of the time would never have done, in public or even, most likely, in private.

Multiple times when Jesus healed a woman, He touched her, which was scandalous (Mark 1:29-31, Matthew 8:14-15). He directly addressed the “female issue” of a woman with uterine bleeding by healing her without fear or shaming. He not only healed her but commended her faith in coming to Him with the problem (Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48). Possibly most scandalous was His reaction to The Woman Caught In Adultery, who is only known in the bible in relation to her sin, not by her actual name — a commentary on how the writers of the gospel themselves felt about women. The religious leaders of the time used the woman only as an object to catch Jesus in political and religious trap, but Jesus saw her as a person just like any other person, and treated her as such (John 8:3-11). He stood up for a woman’s equality (feminism) by reminding the male religious leaders that sin is not inherently male or female, and neither is forgiveness and grace.

A key component of the gospel of Jesus was that He not only took on the sins of the world and died, but was resurrected, conquering the human fate of death and ascending victorious. Obviously, it is of crucial importance to His message that there is valid proof of His life after the crucifixion. So to whom did He choose to show Himself first after leaving His tomb? Three women (Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-11, John 20:11-18). Women whose testimony the modern society would not have recognized in court. If He wanted to make a big splash immediately, what He should have done is shown himself to a four Jewish men, the amount needed to legally corroborate any story. But instead, He cared enough about the women who stood by Him in His final hours to go them first, to comfort them in their grieving. I just love that gesture, because it proves that He cared about their feelings above any need to prove Himself (He has plenty of time to show Himself to groups of men later). Every action He took through His ministry recorded in the Bible proved to be a conscious choice to be inclusive and foster equality in gender as well as societal position and ethnicity.

~~~

I could go on and on with examples. If you are a reader, I encourage you to read the sources referenced at the bottom of this post — the fourth one, in particular, goes through the four gospels one at a time, citing every example of women and how Jesus treated and reacted to them.

Let me get back to my point. My hope is that women (bloggers or not) who call themselves followers of a faith originated by Jesus will stop bowing out of the feminism discussions by giving their faith as an excuse. Most likely, you are a feminist aside from your faith, even though you weren’t aware. But if you say that you follow Jesus, your faith should reinforce your feminism. I have not addressed the issues brought up later in the New Testament by Paul regarding the leadership of women in the church, but I think that Carolyn does an excellent job of analyzing the dangers of women letting submission be the guise under which we allow harassment in the church. Let’s be more aware of how we are treating women and men as a result of Jesus’ example. Let’s read the books and blog posts about feminism and join in the discussion. Let’s let this radical idea of equality permeate the way we treat our friends, how we judge (or choose not to judge) other women, how we make our political decisions, how we spend our money, and how we choose to consume media and entertainment. Everything we are doing impacts other women, and let’s all start being a little more conscientious. Dare I say… just like Jesus.

 

Sources:

1. Jesus Was A Feminist, thesis by Leonard Swidler, Professor of Catholic Thought & Interreligious Dialogue, Religion Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Article first appeared in Catholic World, January 1971.

2. Josephus, Contra Apion II, 201. Trans. by H. St. J. Thackeray, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966), p. 373

3. “Rufina and Her Sisters: Jewish women in the Diaspora”, by Ross S. Kraemer. Reprinted on My Jewish Learning from Jewish Women in Historical Perspective, edited by Judith Baskin, 1991, with permission of the Wayne State University Press. c. 1991 by Wayne State University Press.

4. Women and Ministry in the New Testament, by Elisabeth M. Tetlow, Paulist Press, 1980. reprinted on WomenPriests.org

 

* I am capitalizing this pronoun out of respect, because this is my blog and I can.

All the Drama: on the Internets and IRL Episode #4

All The Drama On The Internets

I have not posted this week yet because there has been so much drama and sadness, and then a little anger thrown into the mix, both on the internets and in real life. As you know, I am typically a very peaceful person so it has all been inside my head. I’m going to give you a bulleted list of things that are currently bringing me down so that I can clear my head and focus on hope.

Petty Nutrition Mis-information

#KFCKidsMeals. I am going to start with the most petty drama on the Internets and I am going to make this one quick. KFC paid for a bunch of bloggers to come out and try their new kids meals and tweet about it. They decreased the overall calorie count of the kids meals to 210, and that was a main talking point. Nevermind that the meals are still nutritionally vacant, fried, and full of PHO’s, artificial colors, and nothing resembling a real chicken. Some people got mad that bloggers would even pretend these meals were good for people. Other people defended the bloggers. Arguments ensued.
Hope: Let’s all just agree that if you are convinced by the hashtag #KFCKidsMeals that fried meat-composite is a good nutritional choice for your kids, you are gathering your information from the wrong sources, my friend.

Blows to Feminism

Steubenville. Specifically, the reaction of the city and the media to the verdict. Instead of confirming that justice had been served in the conviction of two young football players who raped a 16 year old girl and posted photos of the rape on social media, or at the very least remaining neutral, I was horrified and depressed that the reaction seemed to be sympathy for the men. It was all, “Oh, they were such good football players and now their careers are ruined! What a shame!”. There was also a huge backlash on Twitter blaming the victim of the rape. What a shame?!! Shame on HER?! Are you kidding me? What a shame that our country has so little value for that 16 year old girl and such an apparently low value for women’s sexuality in general. What a shame that women are still seen to be at fault for sexual attacks. Shame on us for raising boys that still believe that women are objects to be used and tossed away. They had an awful lot of confidence to post those pictures and it not even occur to them that anyone would have a problem with it.
Hope: I was encouraged by this post from A Holy Experience about 25 Things Our Sons Need To Know About Manhood. Oh look, I have a son that I will be raising to fight against this kind of treatment of women.

Pycon. As a woman who worked in IT and programming throughout my corporate career, I was often the only woman in my department. I went to conferences in my early 20’s. I feel that, as a woman, I have the right to raise a complaint when I am sexually harassed (and I am…we all are, constantly). But the thing that depresses me is that Adria was fired from HER job for raising a complaint. Not just the man who made the remark, but the woman who was insulted was fired. What is this, 1960? The last time I worked in corporate America I had to sit through 2 days of sexual harassment training videos and exercises. Everyone did. Those videos told us that it was OK to report sexual harassment. I think we all know that we can be fired for what we blog, but Adria’s company knew she blogged at But You’re A Girl before they hired her. I feel like this case just exemplifies how women are really treated in the workplace. We want to think we are equals, but then something like this happens and I have to think that maybe we’re just wishfully thinking.
Hope: Sometimes when I get discouraged about women in the workplace, I read tweets from my friend Blessing @ThinkFeminist on Twitter. She is a huge encouragement! And there’s also the #workingmomchat at 7pm CST on Twitter.

My own perception of safety

In the last few weeks there have been 3 aggravated sexual assaults on women in our neighborhood. Not the kind that comes from domestic violence, but unexpected attacks from a single rapist (same perpetrator of all three, confirmed with DNA evidence) who had apparently been closely watching the women’s patterns and following them to find them alone. Two of these women also go to my church. One I knew personally. I am not full of fear because I still have a trust in God that whatever He allows for me is His plan. But I am discouraged because this seems to bear out the kind of feeling I got from the news stories regarding women. I know that in the Congo and in Uganda, rape is the #1 tool of violence. Are we heading in that direction here, even in Dallas?
Hope: Our pastor wrote a blog post addressing fear. Some of my friends organized a prayer walk in the neighborhood where all three rapes occurred.

Walmart is moving across the street

I know, it is petty of me to even write about Walmart in the context of rape and discrimination. Don’t worry, friends on Facebook have pointed out that they don’t agree with my outrage. But let me ‘splain. To me, this is a moral issue. Sure, I am concerned about our property values. Yes, I am concerned about the crime rate in our neighborhood. I am annoyed that Walmart didn’t have to ask anyone before deciding to build a 90,000 square foot store less than a 1,000 feet from my door. The traffic is going to be killer. But in the larger picture, to me Walmart is symbolic of things that corporate America is doing wrong which I refuse to support with my consumer dollars. I wish that no one supported Walmart for this reason. The culture of “cheap” that Walmart has created into a religion exploits workers in their U.S. stores and in the manufacturing plants that it supports overseas (since at least 60% of Walmart’s products are imported from China and other overseas locations). Child labor, injustice, discrimination, profitting from the poverty of the underprivileged and less educated… I could rant on and on about this, but instead I have created a Pinterest board on My Problems With Walmart. Check it out. Let me know if you have additional articles to Pin.
Bottom line, this is probably about my own weakness. I am afraid that if they build that giant store within walking distance of my house, I am going to be tired and hungry one day and I am going to cave in and go to Walmart. Then I will feel guilty for days for supporting Walmart. I don’t want that temptation.
Hope: If you do live near me, please sign our petition. We need the 2,000 signatures by April 4. Honestly, it might do nothing at all, but it’s our only shot.

~~~
Thanks for letting me get all this off my chest! Supportive and encouraging comments welcome. Flaming comments, probably going to be deleted.

Me vs. Skinny Jeans

It has come the time in my life where I must buy new clothes. Two babies in two years, and then the scourge of the tiny holes in my shirts have winnowed my winter wardrobe down to nothing. I went out to a few stores the other day in search of clothing for the kids for our family pictures this weekend and noticed a disturbing trend when it comes to jeans and pants in my size.

Skinny jeans. Everywhere.

In fact, I was informed by my Twitter friends (who know these things) that skinny jeans are the ONLY jeans out there this season. Cargo-type pants are not even available anymore. I know, because I looked.

Since I started teaching and practicing Lagree Fitness Pilates, I have changed shape once again. From maternity, to post-maternity, to maternity again, to Pilates… I am proud to say that, yes, I have worked very hard to get my glutes and thighs crazy strong and toned. You would think that I would be excited to show them off. You would think that, but you would be wrong.

I do not like to use profanity on this blog, but I can’t think of a better way to say this: I do not really want people looking at my ass. Skinny jeans make me feel like everyone is looking at my ass.

Is it just me, or do skinny jeans really seem to leave your rear end nowhere to hide? Maybe it’s just my perception that boot cut jeans were a little less “out there”. And I really loved cargo pants.

Sure, my husband loves the skinny jeans look. And that is an appropriate way for him to feel about my body. There is an attitude out there that “you can look but not touch, and if you’re going to leer that is your problem”. I have to disagree with that. I feel that I have some degree of control in the way that I dress which confers upon me a certain amount of responsibility for how people look at me.

It’s true that in one aspect, wearing skinny jeans does promote my Pilates practice by exhibiting the results of the work I have done, but in other ways it can really bother another woman who struggles with body image issues. As the advertisements say: results may not be typical. I can guarantee you that there is another part of her body that comes out ahead of mine. We are all born with our own bodies and they just don’t look alike. We are all beautiful, we shouldn’t look the same. Skinny jeans make me feel like I am promoting comparison.

And don’t even get me started on how I spent most of the 5th grade coveting those jeans that closed at the bottom with a zipper. If I was wearing this trend in the 80’s, I am more than a little reluctant to repeat these fashion mistakes when I am nearly 35. Should a woman of my age even be wearing the same thing she wore at 10 years old? I think not, my friends.

Because I never have a 100% solid opinion on anything, I can also counter everything I’ve said in this post by mentioning that I’ve seen some of my friends do a great job of wearing skinny jeans in a manner that does not scream “look at me” or draws unnecessary attention to their assets. I know it can be done.

To those friends, I say: please comment on this post and tell me where you got those jeans and what you looked for when you were shopping. Please. 

In the meantime, I will be lurking here in the corner, in my cargo pants from 2008, bemoaning my lack of choice in pants and trying to reconcile my inevitable participation in this trend.

BlogHer 2012: Part 1 of recap

Another BlogHer has come and gone: amazing, overwhelming, encouraging, and EXHAUSTING. Every year is a slightly different experience, and this year was my first without being pregnant or bringing a baby. As a result, I stayed up waaaay too late dancing and eating and talking (ok, and drinking…) with women I only see “in real life” every 1-2 years, and some I had actually never met before, except on Twitter.

While I was in New York City, I also took the time to take a Megaformer Pilates class (the kind I teach in Plano) at the SLT NYC studio. Because a 50 minute hardcore strength and cardio workout is definitely what you need after you’ve eaten crap for 24 hours and drunk sodas to stay awake (I don’t normally drink soda at all).

>Unlike last year, I did remember to take actual pictures this year. Not many, because all I had was my iPhone, but I think they are representative.

First, one of the things I was so excited about: President Obama addressing the BlogHer attendees on Thursday afternoon.

Sure, what he said was pretty campaign-y but if you look beyond that, I think what is obvious is that he (and presumably more and more politicians) acknowledged the power of our voices as bloggers. What we say matters in the larger sphere, even when we’re “just” blogging about our families or our individual efforts towards sustainable living.
Takeaway: Those in power are taking notice of what we do as women and bloggers, and that is encouraging.

Thursday night there was a party for “green” bloggers hosted by Stonyfield and Healthy Child, Healthy World>.

Following that party, we had the opportunity to view a wonderfully educational film, Toxic Baby, produced and written by Penelope Jagessar Chaffer. It contains a lot of great information on the toxins that surround us in our everyday lives and how they affect our bodies.

I enjoyed the movie and a wonderful discussion afterward between Penelope, Gigi Lee Chang, CEO of Healthy Child, Healthy World, Dr. Shanna Swan, Vice-Chair for Research, Department of Preventative Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Dominique Browning, co-founder of Moms Clean Air Force.

Takeaway: A reminder from the ladies that we have to combine our personal purchasing (or NOT purchasing power) with legislative action to speed the process of making the world a safer place for our children. “Safe until proven dangerous” is not the right approach to take when introducing new chemicals.

Wow, this post is long and I haven’t even gotten to the parties or the sessions. I’m exhausted already. How about Part 2 another day?

7 Quick Takes Friday #40

— 1 —

We are on the verge of potty training with Little Sir. We are going to try to start this weekend, hopefully with help from Daddy. If you are a praying person, PRAY FOR US. And/or send wine. Thank you.

— 2 —

I am sure everyone and their mother, literally, has heard about the Time Magazine cover story. I don’t mind the breastfeeding mother on the cover, although does remind me of my breastfeeding failures. I am not super enthusiastic about how the story appears to promote the mommy wars. I didn’t read the story but some bloggers have said it doesn’t actually claim anyone is right or anyone is wrong. I will have to take their word for that.

Mostly, I realize that Time did this whole thing to create controversy and sell magazines. I kind of refuse to care about the whole thing just on the basis that I don’t want that tactic to work on me.

— 3—

Another news story that is getting far less play in the feminist arena than it should is the instance of big companies targeting “brogrammers”, or male-only programmers, in the industry. Being a lightweight programmer myself, and female, I am really annoyed to hear about how Klout ran recruiting campaigns with the slogan “Want to bro down and crush some code? Klout is hiring.” I am seriously offended by the insinuation that there are no viable female programmers. Why aren’t we more upset about this?! Because there aren’t that many female programmers. Kind of makes me wish I was still programming. It also reinforces my dislike of Klout and how much, er…clout they have in the blogging and social media world, of which I am forced to be a part.

— 4 —

You guys should all watch Sherlock on PBS. It’s totally awesome.

— 5 —

My friend Stephanie from Good Girl Gone Green has the most amazing raw lemon pie recipe, I made it this week. Apparently the secret to raw vegan stuff made with nuts instead of flour is to soak the nuts first. I had no idea!

— 6 —

I have pulled up the peas in my garden and planted kale. Which is also dying. I am the most awesome gardener. To be fair, they traveled all the way from East Texas in a bag and then sat in a bucket of water for 24 hours before they were planted. STILL.

— 7 —

It is currently raining here and our chickens got caught in the rain. Can chickens catch a cold? They were too dumb to go back into their coop. Poor chickens, brains the size of peas.

~~~

Well that’s all for this week, be sure to visit Conversion Diary for links to more 7 Quick Takes Fridays.

7 Quick Takes Friday #38

— 1 —

You might have seen me mention on my Facebook page that Ashleigh found me a bread machine for $5 last weekend from a garage sale. I have made 2 loaves of bread already this week! It’s totally amazing. The first was a small loaf using the recipe in the book that came with the machine. I did not take a picture of it, and I ate it all within 48 hours (Christian helped).

The second loaf I made from Ashleigh’s recipe:

First large loaf of bread!

This was a larger loaf and the bread is almost exactly like store-bought. I had a sandwich made from it today!

— 2 —

In other making-my-own-food news, some kind of animal has gained access to our back yard despite our 6 foot wooden fence enclosing the entire yard. When I went to check the plants after this week’s storms, all of the sproutlings previously in this picture were gone completely. Even some of the larger plants looked like this:

Something is clearly EATING the plants in my #garden!!! Help!! #dfw @adellstevens

I actually suspect our very own cat, who likes to roam a bit outside when the kids are out there playing. She enjoys eating green things and then barfing them up in unexpected places in the house. But, she is also very fat and sedentary. I can’t see her climbing up into the raised bed just to chew on green things when she is typically perfectly content chewing on grass, which is more on her level.

What is eating my plants?!! I will kill it!!

— 3—

If you are going to BlogHer 2012, I am SUPER EXCITED that my friend Jill from BabyRabies and Gina, TheFeministBreeder whom I cyber stalk will be leading a panel called “Pro Tips: Branding and Blogging Professionally”. See all the Room Of Your Own topics here. I hope that I get to mic-wrangle at this session!

— 4 —

I am also excited (although not AS excited) about the session called “Celebrate Your Small Blog”. I went to one similarly named at BlogHer 2010 and it was very encouraging. As wonderful as I truly believe my readers are, you guys are a small bunch compared to what most bloggers can report. I am very thankful for each and every one of you!

— 5 —

We are now on track to get two chickens and a chicken coup from some friends of my parents a week from Saturday! Little Sir is going to be so excited when he sees the chickens. We have talked about the chickens we are going to get a lot in the last few weeks. He just loves farm animals. I am excited to have fresh eggs from our back yard! Not as excited about chicken poop, but it kind of just comes with the territory.

— 6 —

The Schwann’s man just knocked on my door and I didn’t answer it. I am out of grocery money AGAIN. I always feel bad telling him “no” because he doesn’t take it well. He isn’t mean, he just seems so genuinely crushed.

— 7 —

I have heard that it is going to get up into the 90’s later next week. I guess that means we missed our window for camping AGAIN. Our children are not going to know anything about camping until we drag them on trips as teenagers and they complain the whole time. Or was that just me as a teenager?!

~~~

Well that’s all for this week, be sure to visit Conversion Diary for links to more 7 Quick Takes Fridays.