Hello my favorite booknerds! As promised, more (better?) blogging from yours truly in 2018! So I want to talk to you about, well, let’s call it a current event, or better yet, a movement that is near and dear to me: body positivity. This isn’t a new movement, it’s been around since at least the 90’s, probably much longer under a different name, but it tends to ebb and flow with strength and becomes more of a “thing” when celebrities or brands come out and say something, or make an ad campaign that celebrates “real” bodies. Case in point: Tess Holiday’s rise to super model status and Dove’s recent ad campaign. In case you’re unfamiliar, body positivity, simply put, is: accepting the body you have as well as the changes in shape, size, and ability it may undergo due to nature, age, or your own choices throughout your life. Sounds nice, right? Loving the skin your in? So why is it so damn hard to love ourselves?
Everyone is different, but for me, one of the main reasons I have such a hard time looking at my body shape in the mirror and loving it is the things I’ve been told, and seen, my entire life. As a kid, I was always bigger, both in height and natural girth. This meant that my “friends” would be cruel, especially in those hormone riddled years when I wanted boys to like me. I wasn’t petite by any means, which my friends would tell me by passive aggressively making comments like: “Well, my doctor said I’m going to have the perfect mannequin body when I grow up!” I kid you not, one of my friends said this to me when I made the mistake in confiding in her about my size. Of course she was lying, but it didn’t matter. I wasn’t skinny, so I believed her when she said that, because she was, she was the expert on bodies at the tender age of 13. Then of course there’s all the popular media and magazines that say things like: “Drop 2 sizes in 10 days for that perfect beach body!” “Find out which celebrity has let themselves go!” “Banish cellulite and get more sex appeal with these easy steps.” Messages like that, for me, definitely had me looking at my curves and, frankly, hating them.
In the last twenty years or so, brands and other movements have been trying to change this. But a lot of brands who have appropriated this have missed the point of the movement entirely. The surface message is: you should feel good about your body. What they are really saying is: you can’t feel good in your body as it is, so let’s help you create a body you can love. Or they show only a small subset of people; like only lighter skinned models who are a “small” plus size—basically acceptable fat. Because there is, apparently, a line where you go from being allowed to love yourself and wear whatever you want without shame, to being fat. And body positivity isn’t just about physical appearance, either. It incorporates disabilities, sexual identities, race, and of course, people who are very large in size. If at any time someone tries to adopt the body positivity mantra but tells you that only these “plus sizes” and these skin tones are acceptable, then they are missing the point.
This isn’t the only misconception about being body positive. Some people believe that being body positive means you have to feel fabulous and sexy all the time, seriously. All. The. Time. That’s false, by the way. Body positive is just about divorcing how you look with your feelings of self-worth. You are not worth less or more because you look a certain way, and you are allowed to feel ugly, but you should always see your worth and want to take care of yourself—that’s being body positive. Believing that you aren't worth less because you don’t fit a certain size, and that your size or appearance or sexuality should have any bearing on your decision to treat others with respect. That's what it's about, people!
Body positivity is also not an excuse to “let yourself go” or be lazy, or to not take care of yourself. It’s just asking you to be okay with who you are, because if you hate yourself, you won’t take care of yourself, and you should want to take care of your body. That means that if you do see issues, but you’re okay with yourself as a person, you’ll be more open and willing to make healthy changes, whatever those may be. It’s also understanding that other people’s health is no one’s business but theirs. You do you, free of the constraints of an oppressive cultural standard of beauty.
For a long time, I thought body positivity meant that I did, indeed, need to find myself the sexiest thing to walk all day every day, and when I didn’t, that meant clearly I hated myself. I follow a lot of curvy body positive models on Instagram and I look at those images and think “Well, damn, I don’t feel that comfortable in my skin. I’m not body positive.” But I’m just looking at a still frame of their life, and I should never compare myself to them. I know nothing about their struggles, like they know nothing about mine. I’m still struggling with that, but I’m trying to take care of myself, to love my shape, and to not argue with my husband when he genuinely says he loves my big butt.
Shopping for pants will always be the bane of my existence mainly because girl sizes are so arbitrary when it comes to pants—this, I feel, is done on purpose because guys don’t have such silly issues when buying pants. Why girls should always run a gauntlet when trying to find the right sizes and pay more for bigger sizes, I’ll never know, but it’s unfair and, dare I say, sizeist (is that a thing?). But despite the emotional roller-coaster I experience when I go shopping or step on the scale, I can still be body positive and be okay with the person I am. And you can too! Let’s Make this 20GREATteen (see what I did there? 2018? Well, I thought it was clever) and be okay with the people we are and the space we inhabit. And know you aren’t alone! If you are looking for more information, these are two great places to start and know I am always here if you want to talk, just leave me a comment and we’ll get a dialogue going!
Hey there, booknerds! I have a surprise for you: a book tour! I am excited to be hosting today's tour stop for author and superhero, Michael Chrobak and his first book: "Foundations of Faith" in the Brother Thomas and the Guardians of Zion series. While this tour is going to specifically focus on the first book, I have read both out in the series and they are lovely Christian based Fantasy reads perfect for young adult readers who are in touch with, or want to be more in touch with, their faith. You can read my review for book one here and book two here if you want more information on these fun reads. But you can also check out the info below to read more about the book and the author. But that information, while vital, makes for a boring blog. So Michael wrote a guest post for you read as well! And as someone who loves animals and has rescued a few myself, Michael's story about naming pets was something I felt was perfect to share, especially as I plan a few more serious blog posts in the upcoming weeks.
Please enjoy, and be sure to check out "Foundations of Faith" and connect with the author, I can vouch for his kindness and extreme talent!
Book blurb: Thomas could think of a million places he'd rather be right now than on a Confirmation retreat. After all, his parents had forced him to attend. It's only Saturday morning and already he wants to leave. All that changes when Thomas is challenged by a dark presence that wants nothing more than to see his faith fail, a faith he didn't even know he had. As the darkness consumes him, Thomas' entire world breaks apart. Can Thomas find the strength to resist the darkness? Will he become the person Father Dominic believes he will be? Can he really accept the quest to find the Guardians of Zion or was that just a dream? If only he had superpowers. But then again, perhaps he does...
Goodreads Score: 4.13
Amazon Score: 4.5
Price: $13.99 in Paperback, Free through Kindle Unlimited
Bio: Michael Chrobak has been involved in working with Youth and Youth Ministry programs since he was a teen himself; a long, long time ago. He has held the position of Director of Religious Education and Youth Minister for St. Bonaventure’s Parish in Concord, CA, and also as Youth Minister for St. Michael’s Parish in Livermore, CA. He has survived raising four children of his own and now lives in Oakley, CA where he continues to stay involved in Youth Ministry through his blogs and books.
How to Connect:
Never Let a Five Year Old Name a Dog, By Michael Chrobak
When my youngest was five, we let her bring home a free puppy. On the car ride home, I asked her if she had picked out a name yet. She said she had. In my mind, I was picturing names that would fit this black and gold, Rottweiler mix pup. That’s when she announced her choice: Rainbow.
Wait, what? Rainbow? Did she realize this dog has absolutely zero of the colors that are in a rainbow?
That’s is when I discovered the danger of letting a child choose a dog’s name. Had this been any other animal—cat, goat, pig, donkey, monkey, chinchilla, bird—I would have let it slide. Just not a dog. Why not? Dog parks.
There are no cat parks, or pig parks, or bird parks. But there are dog parks. And, when you’re an owner of a dog, and you bring said animal to the park, you will use the animal’s name while you’re there. In fact, you’ll use it at an above-average rate. Usually not in a quiet, whispery voice either.
“Rainbow, don’t eat that.”
“Rainbow, come here.”
“It’s time to go home, Rainbow.”
I would be humiliated. Laughed at. Maybe not out loud, but definitely behind my back.
“You can put Rainbow on the dog license, and even on her tags, but we will are going to call her Bo.”
“Because I said so.”
Now, if you don’t yet understand the true importance of giving dogs proper, decent, NORMAL sounding names, consider this. A couple of weeks ago, I started looking for a pup to adopt. It’s been a few years since Rainbow passed and I’ve been missing having a dog around. We have a couple of cats, but, since I’m allergic, they are strictly outdoor cats. And they are, well, they’re cats. It’s not the same.
This time, rather than wait till I could find a box of ‘free pups’, I took an online quiz that matched me to the perfect breeds. Then, I got online to search for dogs to adopt, knowing just what I was looking for.
First, I removed dogs that were too small. Then I looked at length of fur, age, and, to be honest, overall ‘cuteness’. I winnowed the list from 3,700 down to about 25. The last factor was to find that ‘connection’ that an owner feels when they’ve met their new best friend. And though that’s hard to do online, anyone who has tried knows, at some point, you just know you’ve found your dog.
And I did find her. She was the perfect little mutt. All except for one thing.
Her name was Peanut Butter. No, she was not peanut-butter-colored.
Moving on. I find dog number two. His name?
Uhm…wut? He’s a Chihuahua mix. Not a fluff on the guy. This one was named by a drunk teenager, I just know it.
Dog number three? Cranberry.
Dog number four? Snufalufugus.
Number five? Chai Tea Latte.
No, I am not making this up. Someone actually named a dog Chai Tea Latte.
The search for the perfect dog is put on hold, because now I can’t stop until I find the dumbest dog name I can find. Here’s a list:
Can’t I just rename the dog after I get it home? Sure. And it doesn’t take that long, either. But, still, you have to understand…the dog will always know its name used to be Bubble Seashell. There is bound to be some long-term psychological damage.
For two or three years some owner called out, “Bubble Seashell? Where are you?” And the dog had to answer. It didn’t want to. (I mean, would you?) But it did. And every other dog in the neighborhood would pee on the carpet from laughing too hard. Yeah, there’s going to be some residual trauma.
So, for now, I’ll keep searching. Somewhere out there there’s a Max, or Champ, or maybe a Jake (minus the #2) that’s just perfect for me. Hopefully.
*Update: Michael has adopted 2 puppies! And they have normal names. Like Chaya and Copper.