Policing policers by policing

As I’ve become more involved in activism, both as a participant and an observer, I’ve also become increasingly uncomfortable with the policing of each other that activists engage in. In my corner of the internet, body positive activism, I’m seeing more and more of the “10 Ways to Be an Ally” and “20 Ways We Do it Wrong” articles. I’m seeing a lot of women telling other women that they’re not allowed to talk about feeling fat if they’re not fat (by some nebulous standard that sounds a lot like the same one that goes with being skinny or healthy), or that they’re not being inclusive enough, or that they’re getting activism wrong. This worries me. In my current dissertationy frame of mind, it sounds like defensiveness, not inclusion.

I think it’s incredibly powerful to stand up and say, “No! I do not like how you talk to me. I do not like how you treat me. I do not accept this. I will not disappear.” I am so down with this. But constantly telling other people how they’re doing activism wrong, or doing advocacy wrong is so freaking counterproductive. It’s globalizing an individual experience, and turning it into a set of rules.

It’s like the difference between saying, “Do not ignore or marginalize me. I am here, and I want you to know how I feel.” and saying, “Do not ignore or marginalize me or anyone like me, ever, or you are a shit activist.” From a psychological point of view, the globalizing that goes with the “10 Things” lists seems like a defense. Don’t get near me. Don’t talk to me. Don’t engage with me. Don’t ever fuck up and say the wrong thing. Maybe if I write enough lists of things people shouldn’t do, I won’t ever get hurt.

Human relationships are a series of fuck ups. The taboos that allow us to marginalize and harm others are ways that we protect ourselves from our own capacity to do harm. So it seems like creating a whole new set of taboos, instead of just getting down and talking about the harm, is just more of the same shit.

The problem with this is we all fuck up. We all get hurt. We can’t renegotiate the social norms that hurt us without getting messy, fucking up, and letting other people get messy and fuck up. I like the articles that tell individual people’s stories and experiences, letting the reader relate to them as another human. I’m so sick of the ones that tell everyone how to act and how to not fuck up. This one got to me the other day so I ranted on Facebook:

http://www.bustle.com/articles/109422-17-shame-y-comments-plus-size-people-are-tired-of-hearing-from-other-plus-size-people

This article brings up ways that fat stigma is hard to shed, even for those of us who are part of the movement. However, I don’t love that it’s framed as a list of do-nots. We all struggle to accept ourselves as we are, and that means we are not perfect activists at all times. I don’t think I even want to be a perfect activist. I just want to grow in compassion and awareness of myself and others, as I continue to deconstruct the social norms that keep me from being fully at peace with myself. It’s up to each of us to speak our truths to each other and connect as humans. I don’t think the plethora of do-not lists bring us together. I think they freeze us up. I’d rather fall down and learn than stay frozen for fear of breaking a new rule.

Is the author trying to show ways in which we are all still struggling to undo the harm done to us by bullshit corporate/patriarchal norms? Or is she/he saying, “You’d better not do this…” If it had been written as interviews or a first person story, I would be so down with it. Yes! We all still judge ourselves and others in ways that are harsh and unfair. Let’s talk about it! But that’s not how it’s written. It’s written as a warning about how you, too, might be a secret douchebag. And that doesn’t make me want to talk, or share my experiences, or learn, or expand.

I think that’s what it comes down to. Do we want to expand or contract? Do we want to live fuller, more expansive lives (wherein we are likely to fuck up, fall down, get up, and make amends) or stick ourselves in a new little box with a new set of rules guaranteed to keep us from every connecting with another person? The box may seem like it will keep us safe, but we should know by now that it will not. This is often the major difference I see between second-wave feminists in the academy and third and fourth wave feminists online. We’re constantly negotiating boundaries and norms – second-wavers often (not always) see the rules as set. And you get called a gender traitor if you violate them (Hilary vs. Bernie, anyone?).’

This is not an argument that political correctness is evil and unfettered personal expression is good. What gets labeled political correctness is just new emerging norms that take marginalized people into consideration. Considering other people’s feelings and talking about them and taking personal responsibility when we hurt or get hurt is good.

When you were little, did your parents ever tell you that you should have known better? Well, it turns out, most of the time,  you couldn’t have. A lot of the stuff we learn to do as adults — empathize, abstract, predict — kids can’t do that stuff. Their brains grow those capacities in the teen years. So we learn to feel retroactive shame for being human kids, instead of being gradually introduced to concepts that will one day make sense to us. That’s what some of this stuff feels like to me. I hate seeing the BOPO movement eat itself, but I’m afraid of the direction it’s headed in. So many other beautiful movements have dissolved into infighting and chaos. Can we find another way? Can we inquire instead of judge?

As a culture, we are just starting to deconstruct a whole lot of harmful nonsense around gender, bodies, and race. THIS IS MESSY. If it’s not messy, we’re not actually doing it. Can I tell you how many times I’ve tripped over my own privilege as a teacher? So. Many. Times. Face-planting is part of the job. All I can do is try to make amends and do better next time. I can’t avoid the next landmine because I don’t know where it is. But it’s still my responsibility to clean up the mess when I do something unintentionally insensitive.

What if we lived in a culture where we took responsibility for speaking our own hurt and anger and drawing our own boundaries? What if we were allies to those who need help without becoming caricatures of the very ideas that we’re trying to change? What if we just rolled up our sleeves and talked and listened and yelled and cried and hugged? What if we got messy instead of militaristic? Messy is scary, but that’s where the growth is.

Instead of saying, “You’re not inclusive enough!” What about saying, “I feel invisible when you ignore my body type/color/gender expression, and it hurts.” And what if I said, “Holy crap, I’m so sorry! What can I do to help?”

Feeding the Trolls: Part One

I’m starting to get my act together around my dissertation, which is on how people express aggression online, and how the online environment facilitates reinforcement or change of social norms. While I have a very specific sample in mind, I recently stumbled on another idea through getting caught up in a YouTube flame-war.

A few days ago I watched this video on YouTube of Mary Lambert, a gay and body acceptance activist and pop artist/spoken word poet. It’s a really raw, powerful statement about the dual forces of self-love and internalized hate. I was moved, but then I read this comment:

feedingtrolls1

I saw red, and in retaliation openly engaged in the kind of aggression that I usually avoid or observe at a distance:

feedingtrolls2Mr. TheThird trolled me back (aggressively). Note his use of the words gluttony, shameful and violent imagery:

feedingtrolls3I was not the first person to get riled up by Mr. TheThird’s comment, apparently this thread had been going on for a while:

feedingtrolls5And then Mr. TheThird posted a long missive, not long after my comment:

feedingtrolls4Wow. I found his use of words like foul, vile, insidious, morally corrupt, medically aberrant more than a little off-putting and creepy. Disturbed and a bit scared, I took a step back to think about how we seem to keep our aggression in this endless loop on the internet.

Perhaps Mr. TheThird is projecting his unconscious fears of losing control on the woman who is singing about self-esteem-while-fat. When I react, I am in turn projecting my own anger at the forces that have led me to empathize with Ms. Lambert back onto him; rinse, repeat. We are locked in this dance of aggression where there is no understanding or compassion, just lots of anger, disdain, rationalization, and condescension. What might it take to change this pattern?

So, as an experiment, I came back, apologized for my ire, and instead explained my feelings and asked him some genuine questions.

feedingtrolls6He never responded, which is not surprising given the research I’ve read on cyberbullying.

However, the experience made me think about my upcoming dissertation in a different way. Perhaps I was choosing to observe instead of participate in the online communities I am studying as a way to distance from my own discomfort. The inadvertent effect of engaging in this interaction was gaining insight into 1) what motivated me to react online, 2) The effects and repercussions of my engagement, and 3) various ways in which I can try to change the dynamic.

As a way to investigate these ideas further, I’m going to observe online conversations around body image and fat-acceptance, and also engage in them when moved to do so. I will document my experiment on this blog, analyzing the different expressions of aggression using George Vaillant’s interpretation of the Differential Identification of Defenses from The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Here’s a quick run-down from Vaillant’s book, The Wisdom of the Ego (1993 pp. 36-37)):

  1. Psychotic Defenses: Delusional projection, Denial, Distortion
  2. Immature Defenses: Projection, Fantasy, Hypochondriasis, Passive aggression, Acting out, Dissociation
  3. Neurotic (intermediate) Defenses: Displacement, Isolation/Intellectualization, Repression, Reaction formation
  4. Mature Defenses: Altruism, Sublimation, Suppression, Anticipation, Humor

So, trying this out, let me take a look at the interaction between Mr. TheThird, me, and some of the other participants.

Mary Lambert, the artist on which whose YouTube page this conversation resides, could be said to be utilizing sublimation, a mature defense, to deal with her negative feelings about her body, or trauma she has survived that was directed at her body (Ms. Lambert has been open about being the victim of childhood sexual abuse). Sublimation is the ability to direct the residual trauma towards a constructive activity such as songwriting and poetry. Further, her public role-modeling of self-love and survival might be considered altruism, the ability to identify with and alleviate the pain of others, which also may aid in her own healing.

Mr. TheThird’s comments seems to fit into aspects of projection, such as splitting (splitting negative from positive impulses) and demonstrating a superiority complex (obscuring feelings of inferiority), all of which are characterized as immature defenses. While I can only speculate about his psyche based on the language he uses, the voracity of his wording suggests that he is projecting an aspect of his personality that he as “split” off from his core personality, such as desire, craving, or low self-control. His later, lengthy post displays some of the same traits, but also utilizes intellectualization as a way to justify his verbal attacks. Reaction formation could also be demonstrated by his desire to appear rational and scientific in a discussion where he also uses terminology that clearly demonstrates strong negative emotions.

My initial posting could qualify as displacement (neurotic) or perhaps acting out (immature) as I was well aware of my angry feelings, but chose to inflict them impulsively and without forethought. My personal history with my body image is painful, and while I’ve become very accepting of myself and others, my ego is still vulnerable when it comes to aggressive criticism. I personalized Mr. TheThird’s comment and responded as if it was directed specifically at me (and perhaps also as a projection of my own vulnerability onto other participants, who I felt the impulse to defend).  When he responded with more violent language, I became frightened and considered withdrawal, a neurotic defense I’ve used frequently to avoid painful memories, impulses, and feelings. I think this default defense is also the reason behind my initial choice to observe online aggression rather than engage with the participants more directly.

When I took ownership of my feelings and asked genuine questions about Mr. TheThird’s motivation, I was perhaps engaging in courage and self-regulation (mature defenses); I opened myself up to dialogue with an aggressive person, and made some rules for myself around how much time I would spend online in order to project my psyche.

While Mr. TheThird has not yet chosen to respond, so perhaps he has chosen withdrawal, a neurotic defense more mature than his initial behavior.

It has also been interesting to look at the comments of others, which range from mollifying both groups, to enraged all caps cursing, to a lot of arguing of various facts. Intellectualization seems to be the default stance in these arguments, which frequently devolves into passive aggression, acting out, and distortion. I consciously choose not to debate the facts around obesity and health as I think it really amounts to arguing about the validity of a stereotype, which is by its nature persecutory. There is a ton of medical information that both validates and refutes the dangers and perimeters of obesity, but this has nothing to do with our individual lives, choices, and feelings. It seems like trying to justify or rationalize our positive and negative feelings about ourselves and others using cherry-picked science only gets us so far. What I’m really interested in is the larger patterns that emerge in these mini-explosions of aggression. What is their anatomy? Is there a common pattern? Are there different kinds? Do they evolve, or just die down and re-emerge elsewhere?  I’ll be looking at these questions as I observe and participate in other discussions around body acceptance. Stay tuned!

Healing the Maiden

This isn’t going to be an epically long post, but I do want to expand on it later (I’m procrastinating on a paper for school. Yippee!)

John Legend just reduced me to a puddle of tears:

You may have to click through to YouTube to watch it. Watch it, and then come back and read the rest. You may need a tissue.

Having been steeped in feminist culture for the last couple years, I’m sure there will be a “Who are you to tell us what we need, you person with a penis?” kind of backlash. Don’t really care.

What this video meant to me, and why it made me cry, was because I have a four year old daughter who is so confident, extroverted, and full of spunk, it’s almost impossible for me to imagine her feeling the same kind of insecurity, unworthiness, and self-hatred that I did around my body (and as a women that means my innate value) until my early thirties. I can’t imagine her trying to starve herself into invisibility. I can’t imagine her wanting to hide her body, or plotting to have plastic surgery to change it, or having relationships with abusive, controlling people who make her feel bad about herself. I can come up with lots of reasons why this won’t happen to her, (although all those things happened to me) but I’m wrong.

The question isn’t, “How can I prevent this?”, it’s “How can I prepare her for this?” and “How can I help her get stronger when it happens?” How do I help her strengthen her inner voice, instead of swapping it for the judgement of others? How do I help her remember (or maybe even never forget) that she is always loved, always accepted, and always valued by the people who truly love her, by the part of herself that is connected to God, and by whatever force in the Universe brought her soul into being? My body may have built her body, but her soul is sacred, unique, and absolutely without flaw, regardless of what ANYONE (including me) might make her feel.

It took me a long time to learn who to let into my emotional inner sanctum and who to keep out. I wish I could somehow teach her those lessons without having to watch her go through the pain of internalizing the messages peers and society will give her about how she is not enough, or too much, or most likely both at the same time. This video made me realize that I can’t, and that’s heartbreaking. But I can be there for her when she goes through those moments. Even if she’s 15 and she hates me just for breathing the same air as her, I will be there. When she falls in love with a boy or girl who makes her feel bad about herself, I will be there (possibly with a baseball bat). When she screws up, or makes someone else feel bad because she’s in pain, or hurts my feelings, I will be there.

I will have to let her feel pain, because that is the only way she will grow to not question her worth. But it will be hard, because I love her more than life, and I want her to see how every cell in her body is a miracle, every time she looks in the mirror.

 

Kellogg’s Anti-Fat-Shaming Ad: Progressive or Creepy?


Okay, so many thoughts and feelings about this. I was just talking to a psychology professor at a faculty event today about how the diet industry teaches women that they don’t have the ability to listen to their own bodies when it comes to food; we are bombarded with the message that we need to be regulated and monitored by a (highly profitable) diet industry to be “healthy”. We also talked about how fat shaming is still rampant in the media, so for my own physical and mental health I just avoid media that is going to make me feel shitty about myself, or that misrepresents body diversity as abnormality.

Then rewind a couple more days, when I was buying bras at Lane Bryant. I ended up talking to two sales women for about twenty minutes about how most of the fashion industry makes ladies like us (size 16 – the supposed average size of the American woman) feel like bloated freaks, which means that THEY DON’T GET OUR MONEY. This seems kind of short-sighted, no?

Advertisers might be able to sell stuff based on fear, sex, desire, etc, but shame doesn’t really make me want to spend time around that brand.  So these lovely ladies and I were talking about how nice it is to have a couple of stores like Lane Bryant and Torrid that sell stuff that shows off our curves, rather than camouflages them, in an environment that is non-judgy and fun. It was a very Girl Power Solidarity kind of conversation, and it kind of made my day.

Then I watched this ad. So many thoughts.

The good:

  • Advertisers seem to be waking up to their epic stupidity when it comes to body shaming, whether fat or thin. Fat (or short, tall, or pregnant, or petite) women have just as much money as medium height skinny women. Want to make money? Celebrate body diversity.
  • The demographics of women in the ad are pretty broad racially and physically, though the age range seems pretty limited.
  • Talking about fat-shaming openly is a GOOD THING. The more we are aware of how self-destructive it is, the less of it we’ll pass on to our children as either an acceptable way to abuse themselves or others. Shaming ourselves or others’ bodies is crap. It’s an epidemic of crap, but it can change. So thanks, Kellogg, for outing it.

Not so good:

  • Fat shaming is not going to go away by saying “shhhh!” It’s going to go away when we start talking about it and acknowledging that it’s destructive and looking at the underlying assumptions about femininity that cause it.
  • I’m not sure how happy I am that this serious issue is being used as a selling point for a cereal. It remains to be seen how committed the company is to this as an issue, rather than a marketing point.
  • From Kellogg’s fightfattalk.com site “We believe that fat talk is a barrier to managing our weight and, when so many women are doing it, we’re all further from reaching our goals.” Um, how about we just talk about how we abuse ourselves and how that is holistically a bad thing, rather than how it keeps us from getting skinnier, kay?
  • I have a hard time believing this was a “real” ad – the women have particularly flawless makeup and look amazing on film, and there are a lot of pops of Kellogg red lipstick. In the end, it just feels very slick and manipulative.

What do you think? Is it a good sign that companies are starting to cater to more diverse women, or is it just creepy that they’re using dismorphia as a selling point?

Losing My Religion

I’ve belonged to a certain church my whole life without realizing it. It is the Church of Female Inadequacy. I’m quitting.

Some people grow up in strict, dogmatic, oppressive religions that make them feel sinful and toxic about themselves. Some eventually realize that they no longer accept the contradictions and rules that they were raised with and leave the church, or look for a more accepting community.

I’ve written about my epiphany on one of my other blogs, so I won’t recall it here, but in some ways gaining a connection to God was losing the religion of hyper rationalism and the assumption that experiencing the mystical meant accepting all the most strange, dogmatic, and often brutal aspects of organized religion. So in a sense, gaining God meant discarding the religion of Atheism, which can be pretty dogmatic and elitist.

This is a bloated way of segueing into my topic de jour: radical self-acceptance. I grew up in the 70s and 80s on the heels of the feminist movement. I knew that as a woman I could go to school and study what ever I wanted to. I could be an astronaut or a lawyer. I could be smart, political, well-read, and intellectual. What I couldn’t be was fat or ugly. I got this message EVERYWHERE–I grew up in Southern California. ‘Nuff said.

So while I didn’t grow up in the gilded cage of the Victorian girl, or the stunted expectations of women of my mother’s generation before the sexual revolution, I still occupied a tiny, painful, and ever shrinking cage. As my adolescent body grew and filled out, the bars got tighter and more painful. (The medical industry’s definition of a healthy weight also shrunk.) I absorbed the idea that my mind and my abilities were valuable, but my body was subject to valid and indisputable criticism by others. Any others. If anyone had a problem with how I looked, I was in trouble. I was defective.

I was a healthy, smart, talented teen. I wasn’t particularly fat or thin. I believed  I was grotesquely fat, and I fantasized about getting liposuction on my thighs and plastic surgery to make my neck thinner. I hated myself for eating and enjoying my food. I constantly badmouthed myself, and lived in constant fear of anyone else noticing my “flaws.” I hated my body.

I eventually “took control” by going on more and more extreme diets, until I was eating 800 calories a day or less. Weight Watchers had told me that I needed to weigh between 98 and 113 pounds, and I couldn’t make my body that thin, so I just ate less and less. By the time I got down to 117 lbs, I was getting dizzy and seeing spots. A few friends and teachers were concerned about my weight loss, but I mostly got positive feedback on how I looked. I went to the doctor without any idea that my lack of food intake was causing the problem.  At the doctor, after screening me for drugs, I was sent to a nutritionist who asked me about my food intake. She told me I had no fat left on my body. “But what about my thighs? Weight Watchers says I should weigh no more than 113 lbs.” The nutritionist told me I needed to start eating sandwiches for lunch instead of a lone apple after my diet shake breakfast.

Eventually, I came to terms with the fact that I had been flirting with anorexia, and that if I had continued to lose weight I would have died. So I gained weight. And more weight. Every time I had to go up a size, I hated myself more. I hated looking in the mirror (although not any more than when I was underweight). In the opera industry, my voice teachers felt free to tell me when they thought I needed to lose weight. I started to fight back. I eventually decided (after a crapload of therapy) that the nasty, self-annihilating little voice in my head who told me I was repugnantly obese was full of shit. So I left the little cage behind, and found a bigger one. A cage where it was okay to be “overweight”. Where I could accept that my fat put me at risk for myriad health problems (according to the lowest common denominator of the medical and diet industries) and  if I was smart, eclectic, confident, and accomplished enough I could still be loved and admired. I guess I traded orthodoxy for reform.

Today I’m a bigger girl. I love food, I love to cook, and I limit my sugar intake to fight the weight I started to put on when I turned 40. I run, do yoga, walk, and belly dance. I feel pretty comfortable in my skin, as long as I stay in about a 20 lb range. I’m married, have a fantastic daughter, am happy, and accomplished. It’s a comfortable, livable cage. I don’t watch commercials or read women’s magazines (besides the occasional Oprah). I’m in a profession that does not subject me constant physical scrutiny as opera did. I’ve found some balance between compensating for my inadequacies and rejecting social norms. Still, if my jeans get tight, or I’m having a bad day, or someone takes an unflattering picture of me, all that shit from my adolescence comes right back up, and I feel once again like miserable, dimorphic teenager.

What if this whole religion of self-denial, self-hatred, and voluntary discrimination was total and utter bullshit? What if it was predicated on a biased and corrupt social system that spawned a medical industry that makes billions of dollars on teaching women we’re innately flawed?

Hi, I just finished reading The Beauty Myth, and I am well and truly pissed off.

The book was written in 1992, and the social phenomena it documents and interprets were what I grew up during my childhood and teenage years. Until recently, I was woefully ignorant of the history of feminism. For the past year I’ve been glutting myself on the more populist feminist literature, while studying sociology for my PhD. These books are not what my school would consider “source material” but they reflect what was going on at the time they were written. And where The Feminine Mystique taught me what my mother’s generation faced, The Beauty Myth describes my life and inner world in technicolor. Most importantly, it puts my experience in historical context of earlier practices that advocated various forms of self-inflicted or condoned violence against women. Read it.

I grew up down the street from a vibrant, brilliant woman who was a kindergarten teacher. She was large, and her weight made it hard for her to work because of the strain on her knees. She eventually enrolled in a medical weight loss program. It was an all liquid, incredibly low calorie diet. She lost weight, hair, and her teeth started to come loose. But it was medical, so it must be healthy and ethical, right? Losing her hair and teeth was better than being fat, right? The book says that the Beauty Myth requires that women “live hungry, die young, and leave a pretty corpse”. This certainly seemed to be the goal of this medically-supervised weight loss program. When my ex-boyfriend’s mother was dying of cancer, radiation caused her to lose most of her body fat.  Ruth had beautiful skin and a good wig. Her friends told her she looked more beautiful than she ever had before. Thin does not invariably equal healthy. I promise.

When I was a young woman and someone told me I was too fat, or I needed to watch my weight or face dire social (not health) consequences,  (This happened many times. Can I tell you what I would do if someone said that to my daughter? Hell. Would. Rain. Down.)  I would fight back. I would say that I was fine the way I was. But I eventually internalized every message and every paranoid fantasy that I was being  fairly and impartially judged by the world at large as flawed and unworthy.  I would fail in my profession, and never by loved by a worthy and worthwhile man. I was and would be an outcast.

My story is not unique. A girl who bullied me in elementary school died of anorexia at 23. A friend’s student died from gastric bypass. I have a friend who is a high school counselor who watches girls slowly kill themselves with eating disorders.

Let me break it down for you. The diet industry makes money by teaching women that they are mentally defective, which in turn makes them physically defective. This is not science, this is a sales strategy. The health industry uses science that is sometimes credible, sometimes biased, and sometimes false. We are not educated on how to evaluate the credibility of a scientific claim. What type of methodology was used? What were the variables? Have the conclusions been tested? What have subsequent studies shown?

The food industry sells diet products riddled with chemicals and additives that are far worse for our bodies than fresh food cooked in organic butter.

The cosmetic and beauty industries also play on our collective insecurities, most of which they created. Don’t even get me started on the ethics of advertisers using psychological research to manipulate people with no ethical safeguards. I’ll save that post for another day.

So, I’ve decided to leave the Church of Female Inadequacy. I will love my body, love eating, love moving, and love being me. I will not compensate for the things I was taught were ugly or shameful about myself. I will not teach my daughter to accept the subjective judgements of others as her mirror. I will love my fat, my curves, my big round butt, my strong calves, my baby stretch marks, and my frown and smile lines.

The scariest part is thinking about letting go of my cage. I’m really comfortable in my cage. In my cage, bigger jeans=BAD! same jeans=okay, smaller jeans=Awesome! Cutting sugar out of my diet is a way to stay in my cage. It’s not a bad thing; sugar is pretty clearly at best extraneous and at worst toxic for our bodies in large amounts. But I refrain partly because I fear getting too big for my cage. And when I get too big (i.e. bigger jeans), all the old fears come back. I’m not loveable, not valued, not worthy.

I’m going to work really, really hard on learning to listen to my body instead of the dogma I absorbed in my early life. I believe my body wants me to be healthy. I don’t exercise just to control my weight; I exercise because it makes me feel fantastic. Because running through the nature paths in my neighborhood and counting frogs and rabbits and deer makes me feel delight and lights up my daughter’s face when I come back and give her my critter count. Because shaking my butt and belly to music with a bunch of other beautiful, juicy women is joyful and liberating. Because walking outside and looking up into the huge Texas sky makes me feel loved by God. Also, my back hurts less.

I’m going to work on making decisions for my body and soul, instead of to keep the demons at bay. The demons are made of nothing but the collective weight of a culture that can’t stop oppressing itself.

Join me! Leave the Church. Choose a different spiritual path that honors and upholds everything that makes us women, at every age. And let me know how it goes.