When I began to take photos of myself each morning (well, my husband does it, not me), I had decided that not only was it good for me, but that it’d be good for my daughter as well. As a six year old, who just loves princesses, it’s my duty as her mother to remind her as often as possible that skinny doesn’t automatically mean beautiful (you know, like the princesses). I want to be sure she realizes that beauty is more than just how you look, but also that beauty is what you make it to be. (Along with that, we talk about being smart, getting good grades, being nice to people, sharing, and all the other “good parent” topics.)
But as a woman who has had weight issues her entire life, even when I wasn’t *actually* overweight (I’d like to thank my dad for always reminding me I didn’t need that extra helping of food), I’m hyper conscious about my daughter feeling that way as well. My hope is that in 20 years, when she’s a grown woman, living her life, she will know and understand beauty, and feel comfortable being herself. I also hope that she’ll look back fondly on our relationship, and how I loved her, and how I loved myself.
That seems weird to say, but honestly, I don’t want her to write a post (or actually a book) like the one Kasey Edwards wrote titled “When Your Mother Says Your Fat.” I highly recommend you read it, as it will help to understand what I don’t want to do. I want to be nurturing, and help my daughter understand the importance of eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise. But my goal is to never make her feel bad, or ugly, or unimportant, or unloved because she’s not thin. I was going to make headway on this goal, by making sure she realized that even though, I’m big, I’m still beautiful (as she actually says to me often.)
Now, this morning, my daughter was having a play date with a couple friends at our house, and then heading to a birthday party in the afternoon. But for some reason she was throwing down some real attitude about everything. At one point while her friends were over, I asked them to stop running in the house before someone got hurt (you know… as you do as a parent). All the kids got a little grumpy about that and mine walked over to the front door and said, “I’m outta here!” We all just looked at her, because there’s a kid-proof doorknob it, and she can’t get out… I may have even smiled knowing she couldn’t go anywhere. But what came next from her, I simply couldn’t have prepared for.
“You’re not that skinny, you know!”
Her friend looked at me with huge, astonished eyes, then back at her.
“Wait, what did you say?” I asked, wanting to be clear of what I’d heard.
She gasped and immediately started bawling. She ran to her room yelling how sorry she was, and cried on her bed for a while. I didn’t actually know what to do. I was in shock.
Since this morning, she’s apologized several times, and she often tells me how beautiful I am (perhaps as much as I tell her). I’m not actually upset with her at all, I’m finding that I just keep questioning myself, my motives, and trying to figure out what she meant exactly.Did I do something that I didn’t realize, that made her say that (even when it seemed so random)? Does she see through me saying I feel pretty, knowing full well that I really don’t like the way I look? Does she think, that I think, that I’m skinny? Does she simply know that I worry too much about my weight, so she knew my weight was an easy target when she was angry?
I don’t really know the answer to any of these questions, I’m not totally sure I want to know the answer. But, what I do know is that the things I do, say, and feel… affect her as well. She picks up on things, and sees through me, and reads me. I’m pretty sure she knows if I’m bullshitting her. So I need to work harder on getting myself together, because she needs me to, hell I need me to.
It was just about a year ago, when I was lucky enough to visit South Africa for the third time. I went with a group of co-workers for an event called Mozcation, and spent the first week with them hanging out in Cape Town. We went on a tour of the cape, walked to the V&A Waterfront, took a boat to Robben Island, and rode the cableway to the top of Table Mountain. But one of the things I always enjoy most while traveling, is shopping at local markets.
On my last day in Cape Town, before I was headed to spend a week with my best friend, Melissa, and her family in Durban, a group of us went to Greenmarket Square in CT. I had been there before, and remembered buying quite a few necklaces and other jewelry on my previous trip. Now, in a perfect world I could shop for beautiful clothes, and not have to always focus on accessories while I travel. But, that’s usually not the case because it’s tough to find plus size clothes ANYWHERE.
However, on this excruciatingly hot day at Greenmarket Square, I ran into this gorgeous woman, selling hand-made dresses that I simply couldn’t pass up. Being a bit embarrassed about my size, I shyly asked her if she had any in extra large, and she started showing me these dresses that would actually fit. I’m pretty sure I was beaming, but when I asked about the price, I realized I didn’t have nearly enough cash to buy one. I told her I was sorry, and walked away. *sad face* I didn’t even have enough to bargain with her.
I found my way back to Erica and Geraldine, who had been haggling with a tea pot/cup vendor for at least a half and hour, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that dress. It was at that moment that I had the brilliant idea to have them come look at the dress with me, and asked if I could borrow money to buy it if they thought it was actually worth it.
My assumption was that they would also help me haggle a bit on the price (since they’d been giving this other vendor a hard time right before that ;). But no, they had the same response I had… BUY THE DRESS from this lovely woman!
Sadly, the dress didn’t actually fit all that well, it was too big if you can imagine. So it stayed in my closet for close to a year, because I had promptly forgotten about it after I got home from the trip. But as I’ve recently found my love for fashion, I pulled out and remembered the sweet lady, and haggling, and the wonderful trip with my coworkers, and my best friend. And decided to give it a whirl.
To make a short story, long… Here’s my gorgeous South African, hand-made dress, on cold and rainy Seattle day, almost a year later. The umbrella is my daughter’s, the gloves from Portland, and the beads are also from South Africa. :)
To top off the day, when I got home from work I made curry for dinner from a packet of spices I’d bought at a grocery store in Durban. I’d show you a photo of it, but the entire family had seconds. WIN!
PS. Before I close out my memories of that amazing trip, I wanted to show off a few of my favorite moments.
Thanks for the lovely memories, South Africa, and for proving to me that I *can* find fashion just about anywhere! I can’t wait to see you again soon.
One day, after having been through chemo for eight months, I was driving through the mountains with my family. As I was taking in all the greenery (after four years living in Seattle, I still can’t get over how green it is all year long), and thinking back to how I got to that exact spot, I thought about writing a book. I mentioned it to my husband, he thought it was a great idea. He was quite encouraging in fact, but I couldn’t get myself to take the first step. My thought process always went back to something along the lines of, “Who would want to read my story of dealing with Cancer and chemo… except maybe my family?” I just couldn’t shake the thought that my story wasn’t all that unique.
Yep. I thought my story of getting Colon Cancer at age 37 wasn’t unique… Or that after 8 months of chemo, one day I just couldn’t get out of bed. Or that it took me two months to return to work, after that fateful day. Or that someone I had always looked up to told me (just a few weeks before that day I couldn’t get out of bed), that I was bad at my job. Or that soon after I got so sick, a past co-worker passed away from Colon Cancer.
Obviously there are a million reasons why my situation was unique. But that’s not the point, really. The point was that I was afraid. I was afraid no one would want to read it. I was afraid to share my voice, and show my vulnerability. I was afraid that that person was right, and that I was bad at my job. Maybe I was just an imposter, making all this shit up. Hell, maybe she was right! I mean, I’m not really a marketer… I just play one on the internet, right? Perhaps they’ve all figured me out!
So, I didn’t do it.
After I got intensely sick (and when I say sick I mean I was in a deep depression, but that scares people too much… so I say I was sick), I began posting pictures of myself on Facebook and Twitter, because I was excited to show off the one positive effect of my “sickness”, my weight loss. But as quickly as I started to do that, I felt the wrath of myself. I was being too showy, people didn’t want to see a super fat lady just get less fat (but still fat). People also don’t want to see an almost 40 year old, acting like she has some fashion sense. That’s what you do when you’re young, and thin… right?
So, I stopped posting the photos.
Have you ever noticed an over-weight person call themself a foodie, and think “Obviously.” Or how about when a “plus sized” woman talks about how she eats when she’s stressed… “Oh reaaalllyyyy.” That’s how I felt people thought about me (Ok, I’m sure some did, but those people suck.) I was always afraid to talk about food, because I was big, and self-conscious.
So, I tried not to talk about food.
I could go on, and write about all the things I wanted to do, but didn’t because I was afraid for this reason or that. But the truth is, I’m tired of being scared to show people who I am.
So, I’ve decided not to worry about all that crap… and just be me. It shouldn’t be so hard, right?
Recently, I’ve found that all the stomach issues and pain I’ve been dealing with for years (before, and much worse after my cancer surgery), can be calmed by being super careful of what I eat. I’d already gone vegetarian (mostly, now and then I have fish or sometimes chicken, but don’t tell Erica, she’ll yell at me. ;) Along with this change of diet, I’ve found my love for cooking. In the past, I was too scared to try new things, or I’d worry that my food wouldn’t taste good. But I feel like I’ve found my voice. I’ve become that chick that posts instagram photos of her food. :)
You know what I’ve also found my love of? FASHION. Screw this “40 year old fat women shouldn’t be showing off” idea. I recently signed up for Gwynnie Bee (that’s a referral link, not an affiliate link), which is like Netflix for plus sized clothes. RIGHT?! I love the idea of having “new” clothes all the time, and not having a closet fill up of stuff I only wear a couple times. So far I’ve received three items, and they’ve been great. I’ve posted a few pics on Twitter and Facebook, with great responses. I’ve enlisted my husband to take photos each day (or most days), not just to show of me, but to show that “older” and “plus size” women can be proud and be themselves.
Those are my “I’m going to kick your ass” and “I really *am* nice” looks. ;)
So, I’m just going to go ahead and be me now. It’s time to be less afraid, and just be myself.
Earlier today a friend asked me if I had a cover letter she could use as a template for a job she was applying for. Well the last time I wrote a cover letter was in April 2009 when I applied for an SEO Consulting position at SEOmoz. I hopped into my email and quickly found the letter and resume I had sent to apply for the job. In the end, I did get the job (my role changed though in January 2010 to Community Manager).
While I’m positive that my cover letter and resume alone were not the reasons I ended up getting the job, it seems that you never get a peek into what “got you in the door” to begin with. So with a little prodding from Cyrus Shepard and in the spirit of TAGFEE, I thought I’d publish my original cover letter and resume that helped me to get my original job at SEOmoz back in 2009.Read More