This holiday season, it is very easy to get caught up in the materiality of all the shopping centers and online bargains and forget about the point of the holiday: giving. As a Christmas celebrator, recently I have been struggling with what to give my sister, what to get my patents, younger cousins and family and also what to get my friends. I am definitively not the most well-endowed with funds this year, but I do want to show the people I love that I care. So for all of you readers that are struggling along with me, I have thought of one wonderful, priceless and irreplaceable gift to give. Time.
I am a freak of nature: I am an American woman who actually feels satisfied with her body. And its not like I’ve really “worked” on having positive body-image either. I have always felt more-or-less satisfied with my body. In fact, I am so incredibly not-concerned with my body, that I typically don’t think about it at all! But recently I HAVE started thinking about the phenomenon of my positive body-image. Mainly I’ve been thinking: “ How the fuck did that happen?”
So how did I get to be this way? When I stop to think about it, there were about three major factors that played into my ability to “naturally” learn to love my body, all involving messages I received in my childhood and early adulthood.
Content note: discussion and graphic description of a rape
He goes by the name Mateo now, but his full name is Matthew Maldonado. He is a MMA fighter and last year he spent ten months in jail because he and another man allegedly raped their inebriated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) teammate in a parking garage after offering her a ride home. They left her unconscious on the cement ground in the middle of a Washington DC winter. The account was caught on a security camera and the endeavor shook the entire BJJ community. Continue reading
There are many types of relationships that people build and experience throughout their lives. Friends, family, pets, locations, pictures…and bras. Just as dogs are a man’s best friends, bras could be said to be a woman’s closest companion. And I don’t only mean that literally. Now I can’t speak for all women, but I feel confident saying that I love my bra. It’s going on 13 years, and since my first training bra to my newly fitted Vera Wang, my bra has given me a sense of security and sexiness throughout.
History has seen the many transformations of the bra. It is clear that its many changes are a result of not only increased diversity of materials and changes in fashion, but also because of the shift in how the female body is viewed and the power women have gained in society. The bra is the descendent of the corset, though images have been found as early as the 3rd century of women playing sports with bound breasts. The corset entered into society in the 17th century and continued, bindingly, up until World War I when the need for steel brought the end of the corset. Up until the 1930s, a rough version of the bra was circulated, but there was no sizing. Then in 1928 a couple, Mr. William and Mrs. Ida Rosenthal, invented the familiar system of bra measurement, which included the circumference of the waist along with a cup size. The National Geographic video clip below gives a concise history of the bra and how the Camp measurement of bra sizes was created. It’s quite an interesting little clip…I am only being a little bit sarcastic. You won’t believe what cups are actually measuring.
The funny part of the history of bras doesn’t arise until the 1970s with an alternative inventor for the bra by the name of Otto Titzling. Humorist Wallace Reyborn wrote a book, Bust-up: the Uplifting Story of Otto Titzling to introduce the urban legend that Otto was the real inventor of the bra. In fact, the name is a pun: Otto Titzling = “a-two tit-sling”. In the book, it describes Otto’s journey to invent the bra and the stealing of the idea by his nemesis Phillip de Brassiere or “fill up the brassiere”. In the 1980s movie Beaches, Bette Midler gives a hilarious rendition of this tragic tale.
Despite how bras may be represented now in society, I know I am grateful for the number of occasions from which my bra has saved me from either embarrassment or the inability to do an activity. For instance when the strap to the halter of my senior year prom dress snapped mid dance and the stick on bra I was wearing saved me from flashing the school. Do you have a bra story? Do you love or hate your bra?
Content Note: this post is about personal experiences of self-harm and suicidal thoughts & urges, including detailed descriptions. Style independently similar to “Please Don’t Call Me Ma’am.”
Please don’t make that gesture.
You know, the exaggerated one where you pretend you’re cutting your wrists.* At best, it’s tasteless. At worst, it’s hella triggering.
Let me tell you about my personal relationship to self-harm and suicidal thoughts so you can understand where I’m coming from.
- typical Lenten for-swearing and goals
Next week is Lent, a very important Christian holiday that begins on Ash Wednesday and continues until Holy Thursday or the day before Easter. Traditionally, in western denominations of Christianity, it is viewed as a period of time during which Christians pray and do penance, in order to cleanse themselves and feel closer to God. Additionally, the crucial aspect of selflessness is involved, in which Christians practice almsgiving or other acts of community service in order to help others. While there is a lot more to Lent religiously, spiritually and culturally, I have come to understand Lent as a time of meditation, reflection and empowerment.
Once upon a time there was a girl who loved too much.
Too much to be “normal,” that is. As a child, she made “little while friends” on vacation and floated between cliques, welcome in all but never really one of them. Sometimes she was part of a group of three or four girls, but she never had a “best” friend – or if she did, it didn’t matter if the best friend had another friend who was best to them. When she was friends with someone, though, she meant it, and was generous and helpful and loyal. And she was all right by herself, sneaking off at recess with a library book to see her friends within the pages.
The girl who loved too much grew up, and started noticing boys. One day the boy she liked called her, asked her to work on a project for the school play with him. He was older, and had a girlfriend, but it was nice just to talk to him and create something together. It was enough, to just feel the warmth and happiness that came from love. She almost wanted to keep him at a distance, so that nothing would happen to the love.
The boy graduated; the girl’s parents moved away. In the new city was a new boy, who played the upright bass with his arms wrapped around it like a lover. She was jealous of that bass. What a silly feeling, jealousy! As though arms could be used to hold only one thing; as if he were supposed to stop making that wonderful music just because she was there now. Eventually, he did wrap his arms around her, and the warmth returned, and this time she didn’t have to hold him at a distance. They explored each other’s bodies together, silently, and for the first time there was a bit of pain, but still the feeling of love, and it was wonderful.
The boy graduated, went to college, got a new college girlfriend. The girl who loved too much was sad that he couldn’t just tell the new girlfriend about her, so they could keep having sex on his visits home. She wouldn’t have minded sharing him. But she knew that you just couldn’t ask about these things.
Hello, my loves!
Happy National Coming Out Day!
As someone who has had the enormous privilege of being out as bisexual and queer for the entirety of my adult life, I am spending today basking in gratitude for the support, acceptance and celebration I have received from all of my family and friends.
I am also wishing happiness, comfort and support to anyone who is struggling right now with whether or how or how much to come out to the people in their lives, with whatever aspect of their identities they feel they have to hide. It’s such a hard and lonely place to be.
It is in support of those who still have to hide that I am announcing and celebrating my sexuality on this National Coming Out Day. No-one who knows me will be shocked or surprised; I am not revealing any secrets. But I am increasing my visibility as a functional, happy, successful bisexual woman. I am increasing my visibility as a bisexual feminist activist, with a place in the LGBTQ community. And visibility – visibility is important.
Trigger Warning: descriptions of verbal, mental, and emotional abuse.
This is a guest post by Laura Brangan.
I recently listened to a story that discussed turning points in our lives. These moments that tear people’s lives in half, leaving them with separate lives before and after a distinct occurrence. I found the same to be true of my own story. My marriage exposed me to verbal, mental, and emotional abuse. This was an experience I never thought possible, one that forever changed me. I want to share this not as an accusation of my ex-husband, but in hopes that women who are in similar relationships can see there is hope.
There are many forms of abuse in relationships. I was well educated about physical abuse. I knew what it looked like and knew that I would never be the victim of abuse. However, my first marriage taught me that abuse is not always obvious to the victim, nor those closest to her/him. It begins with love, dreams and promises of a happy life together. Slowly this changed, and after giving in to a series of outbursts, I found myself in a position that I had never dreamed of.
Today’s post is a guest post by Beth H.
Not too long ago, I was spite reading a pro-life thread on Facebook about abortion. That’s not what this post is about. In that thread, the original poster made a comment about how “women who don’t want children should just get their tubes tied so they’re less likely to get abortions.”
HOLD UP THERE, LADY. I’m here to tell you that we WISH it was that easy.
In spite of years of work and progress regarding women’s rights and abilities to make choices about their own bodies, there’s still an inordinate amount of social pressure for women to make the choice to have children, a pressure that exists in nowhere near the same magnitude for men. Women are supposed to be caring, giving, selfless, and nurturing, and the backlash against women who don’t exhibit these traits is immense. Women are harassed about when they’ll be getting married and procreating, because if they don’t do it soon enough their biological clocks might tick out, as if the worst thing that could happen to a woman is childlessness. Unfortunately, since doctors are people too, it’s all too common for them to perpetuate these beliefs, and given their position of power over women’s reproductive decisions, they can make it very, very difficult on women who go against the standard-woman script.