I’m turning 35 next week and it’s kinda alarming…

summer flowers

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Next week is my 35th birthday. Most of you out there might think, so what, it’s a birthday? But to me, it’s a BIRTHDAY, like, it’s THE birthday. The mental birthday, the one that sets off the alarm clock to warn me of the things I have yet to accomplish.

In reality, I know I have accomplished a lot, but somehow, when I look at my life, those things seem to matter less because I still don’t have things I want so desperately.

My list of accomplishments is long, in fact, I have it posted on the wall in my office to remind me of all the things I’ve managed in my (yes short) life. Education, awards, prizes, scholarships, good and important friends, love, marriage. These are the things I have wanted and worked hard to obtain and maintain. I am proud of these things.

The things I’m not proud of are dark circles under my eyes, debt, no identifiable career, no house of my (our) own, and no children. These things are the things that hurt me. These things are the things that I think about, a lot, because I also have depression and anxiety, and those bitches are tricky. They tell you lies about yourself all. day. long.

When I was younger, I used to think 35 was old. 35 year olds had their lives together. 35 year olds had houses, cars, jobs, babies, pets, clothes, fancy appliances. If only younger me knew that this is almost exclusively untrue.

This 35 year old feels inadequate on most days. I am a late bloomer. There, I said it. Sometimes, that doesn’t bother me. I’m often quite proud of it, actually. I decided to change careers, and went back to school as an adult for an extra 7 years. I know what I want to do with my life, I know where I should be. To be a writer, telling stories, is an important thing to be. I am that person. I just have to find someone to help me be that person. (So dear publishers, if you’re out there, shoot me a message!)

The house, the kids, the car, and everything else is out there, somewhere. I just have to reset my alarm clock, I suppose.

Or better yet, just throw it out.

For now, this Fat Woman Is.

~Whitney

We are what we consume…

feed me!As a body positive researcher, I gathered an impressive collection of marginalized people to follow on social media. Instagram became my heaven. Through doing this research and running TROU Lit. Mag. , I have surrounded myself with people who might be considered different.

A couple of curious things happened through the last three years of this kind of social media consumption. Viewing people who are different on a regular basis changed my views of what is considered “normal” and it changed my views of myself and my own body.

For those of you who follow body positive accounts, you won’t be surprised by this news, and in theory, I was not surprised either. But there was a moment, a special moment, where this theory clicked inside my mind and became reality.

I was doing my usual thing, scrolling through Instagram, checking out all the beautiful people who looked like me with rolls, puckers, stretch marks and sags, when suddenly an image of some very thin women appeared in my feed.

I must admit, at first, I was repulsed. And in this moment, something inside my mind shifted. (I know admitting I was repulsed sounds terrible, so please bear with me.)

When I was younger, I was repulsed by my own body. I did not fit in, literally and figuratively. I wanted to be thinner. I tried to be thinner. I felt awkward in my skin, awkward in social situation, and just generally bad about myself any time I had to buy new clothes.

Then one day, something shifted. It occurred to me that my body is as it is. All the effort I had made to change it, did nothing. I still looked the same.

This is one of the things that lead me to body positivity and I have really grown to love the community, the bravery, and beauty which is displayed by those who are outside the ideal beauty standards. I surrounded myself with inspiring bodies that looked like mine, were wonderful, like mine, were useful and full of value, like mine. I changed what I fed my mind and it mattered so, so much.

Then, the thin women crossed my view and I was shocked at their smallness. When in the past, I would have seen that as the standard, my own personal ideals changed because of what I was looking at. In the past, I would have compared myself to these women and how I would never look like them and feel ashamed and hopeless, now I looked at them and marveled at how I would never look like them and felt love for myself. And I also became conscious of my thought process and the quickness with which we judge others who don’t look like us. I had been repulsed by these women. In a world where they are the epitome of beauty, how did that happen? It made me think about how many times someone was repulsed by my body. It probably happens a lot, though I’m not totally sure.

Now, with the change in what I fed my mind I have come to accept myself more. Thin does not automatically equal beautiful, just as fat does not automatically equal ugly. I have made an attempt to practice acceptance, for anyone who is not like me. It is not easy. It takes retraining to remove judgmental thoughts from your mind’s vocabulary. I think I have made strides in at least making course corrections when I judge someone. I stop to consider why they look that way, and what is it that is making me have a knee jerk response. Then I attempt to formulate alternative ideas and thoughts I can have about them. Most of the time, I find something attractive in that person.

So, for the last thought of this blog, I encourage you to go out there and check out two different types of social media feeds. The first, is someone who looks like you, because representation matters. The second, is someone who doesn’t look like you, because representation matters, and expanding our world view matters.

Thanks for reading.

Whitney

One Year After Graduation

Hello again. It’s been awhile. I’ve decided that since it’s been a year since I graduated, (thanks to this lovely project) and that I’m still paying to keep up this site up and running, that I would like to start blogging here. My research will still be here, along with the poetry, in case you feel like check it out. I hope you will. Otherwise, please enjoy my thoughts on the world. If you have thoughts on my thoughts, I’d be interested in reading them. Share away!

Here’s to the future.

Whitney

Thank You!

This marks the end of the comment collecting period for my research. I thank all of you who participated in my research.

The blog remains open to those of you who have yet to find it or are returning for another visit. You are still welcome to comment and join the conversation, however, your comments will not be included as part of my project.

There will be more to come for this blog. I plan to continue posting poetry in the future. I hope you’ll come and check it out. These new poems will most likely appear in the summer of 2017.

 

Welcome!

Thank you for your interest in this creative research project. This project is concerned with exploring the body positive movement through the medium of poetry. You are invited to comment with any thoughts, feelings, experiences, or connections you may have when reading the poetry. Please take your time and feel free to visit again. I hope you will find connections to a community of other people interested in body positivity here.

To comment, simply click on the title of a post, or click on “leave a comment” at the top left, or scroll to the bottom of this page. You will be asked to give your name and email address when leaving a comment. I do not see the email addresses provided and you may use a false name if you wish.  If you share any of these posts, please credit the author.

DISCLAIMER: Your participation is completely voluntary and you may stop participating at any time. If you choose to proceed, your comments and any identifying information you provide will be publicly available. Your comments may be used in a research report analyzing the reactions of viewers to the creative work you are about to read. Comments used in the research analysis paper will be made anonymous, removing any identifying information of the participants who have chosen to comment, however, your comments and any information you provide will still be visible on the blog. There is a potential you may feel vulnerable or bullied by other participants on this blog. You might also feel a connection to others, and experience a love for your body you might not have felt before.

The information for this research project will be archived on this blog and stored for an indefinite period of time to be available after the project is completed. This research will be presented in a written report to the project supervisor and examining committee at York University. The completed research may be made available through this blog website.

Research ethics approval has been obtained for this project through the Human Participants Research Subcommittee from the Office of Research Ethics at 309 York Lanes York University 4700 Keele Street, Toronto ON, Canada M3J 1P3, 416-736-5914.

Should you have any questions, please direct them to the primary investigator and creator of this project Whitney Sweet MA Candidate in the Joint Communications and Culture Program York University. Email: wsweet26@my.yorku.ca; Address: Victor Philip Dahdeleh Building (DB) 3033, York University or the project supervisor. Professor. Darcey Callison Email: callison@yorku.ca; Address: 317 Accolade East, York University; Telephone (416) 736-2100 x 22463. You may also contact the Graduate Office: Prof. Steve Bailey Program Director, Graduate Program in Communication & Culture 3012 Victor Philip Dahdaleh Building (DB) (formerly TEL Building) York University 4700 Keele Street Toronto Ontario Canada, M3J 1P3 Telephone: 416-736-5978 Email: bailey@yorku.ca

Comments made on this blog will be taken as agreement and understanding of this disclaimer.

Poetry Audio

For those of you who require or wish to hear the audio versions of these poems, you’ve come to the right place.

Eat a Salad, Bitch

Guilty

Lock Pickers Union

Oprah Eats Bread- A Prayer

Snack Time

Space

Stretch Marks