Body Acceptance

You learned to hate your body because you were taught.

A friend of mine posted this meme on Facebook, which says “Hating your body is a learned behavior.”

It triggers me. I imagine it triggers a lot of women. Because it’s true. We are raised up to hate our bodies, because it’s impossible to meet the exacting standards of many men.

We’ll never be tall enough or thin enough or have big enough breasts. If we have big breasts, then they won’t be perky enough. Our skin will be too blemished or too dark or too pale. Our legs will refuse to avoid rubbing against each other when we walk. Our hair will be too short or too long or the wrong color or texture. Our backsides will be too broad or too flat or too small or too big. We’ll wear too much makeup or not enough. And heaven forbid we wear glasses or braces or walk with a cane or refuse to wear high heels. We’ll have a double chin or a turkey neck as we get older. We have acne when we’re young and liver spots when we’re old. And we’re not supposed to have scars of any kind at all. We’re should be much more careful than that.

In general, you’ll probably show too much of your body, substandard as it is judged to be, or not enough of it. We should all have corrective surgery of some sort. And are you height/weight proportionate? (Read what I’ve previously written about that idiotic concept here.) What does that even mean? How can you know? Who decides? And what is it supposed to achieve?

And we women have bought into this for so long we even judge each other. We measure each other by that male yardstick. Admit it. We have laughed or pointed or criticized or bullied, too. We secretly or not so secretly hope we’re prettier and more acceptable than the woman standing next to us. Whether conscious of these things or not, we’re also guilty. There’s rarely a safe harbor for any of us, even amongst our own.

I hear women dissect themselves all the time. For example, I hate my double chin and am embarrassed by my perpetually swollen feet. I’m fat and have been for decades. I don’t like to look in the mirror. I have a red dot on my right eyelid and a weird blemish on my left cheek. My surgery scar makes my belly look strange.

Chop, chop, chop. I’ve turned myself into pieces and parts. It’s as if they’re all individually wrapped and up for sale. And most of them have been passed over, found wanting by others, and eventually thrown in the emotional dumpster by me. Not even fit for a food bank or a pot luck. Why am I a product?

I remember the first time anyone called me fat. I was 12 years old, and this label came from another 12-year-old girl. She said it like it was common knowledge. I remember being shocked. (That’s a credit to my mother.) And in retrospect, I know that I wasn’t fat at all. I have the pictures to prove it. Not that it should matter except with regard to health. But it made me worry and inspect myself, and I began to be increasingly self-critical over time.

The compliments I received from my family were all related to my smarts. No one ever told me I was pretty, and I went through life thinking I must look like a freak. I spent much of my youth hiding. And now I’m decades past believing any compliments I get regarding my appearance, even though I have no doubt many of them have been sincere. Too late. Way too late. And why is validation required in the first place?

I don’t expose my soft, flabby and scarred underbelly to you because I want your sympathy. I’m not fishing for compliments. And I certainly don’t need you to tell me what a toxic roller coaster I ride, and that I need to think otherwise.

No. I write this so that women and girls can see that they’re not alone in swallowing the poison they are fed every single day. I also write this so that the patriarchy can see just how much of a pervasive meat grinder they put women through. I write this so that we women can stop being complicit in each other’s corporeal rejection.

And men have the gall to say that we should have more self-esteem, as if we got here all by ourselves. Well, you know what? F*** you. You reap what you sow.

Read any good books lately? Try mine!


A New Ending to an Old Story

It took a turn I hadn’t anticipated.

When I was 15 years old and a sophomore in high school, I had a crush on a guy named Howard. We sat at the same table in English Literature class. We always had fun together. Even though we were just friends, I was grateful to have someone to romantically obsess over. It took my mind off my dysfunctional home life.

One time, as the teacher blathered on about some classical poet who interested me not at all, my thigh happened to accidentally touch his. It was like the best electric shock imaginable. My hormones were already off the charts at that age. But this was epic.

And the most amazing part was that he didn’t move his leg, so neither did I. We sat there through class that way, and I was swimming in a veritable sea of lust, thinking, “Omigod, He likes me back!”

It never occurred to me that that could be possible. No one in school had ever expressed the slightest interest in me. My self-esteem was so low that my main goal was just trying to get through the day without humiliation. On that day, though, nothing mattered but Howard’s thigh.

A week or so later, there was to be a high school dance. I’d never been to a dance. I’d never been to a football game. I didn’t want to go to these things all alone, and I had no one to go with.

I got to class early, and was talking to Howard and another boy who sat at our table, and the boy blurted out, “You should go to the dance with Howard!”

Silence. Utter silence. Maybe Howard had put him up to it. Maybe he wanted to go to the dance with me but was afraid to ask. But what if he didn’t? I certainly wasn’t going to stick my neck out and risk rejection. So I said, “Well, if Howard wants to go to the dance with me, all he has to do is ask.”

And the whole time, in my head, I’m shouting, “Ask! Ask!”

But again, dead silence. Awkward. I thought that maybe he wanted to ask me when no one else was around. Or maybe he didn’t like me after all. Or maybe he was just too shy. Should I ask him? I didn’t have the courage.

No need to keep you in suspense. Howard never asked, and I never went to a high school dance, ever, because he was at the head of a long line of people who never asked.

Howard and I remained friends for the rest of the year. We pretended that the situation had never come up. A lot went unsaid, it seems.

At the end of the year, he mentioned something about being best friends in my yearbook. I was just looking at it the other day. It made me smile.

But we didn’t stay in touch over that following summer, and the next year he didn’t come back to school. I never knew what happened to him. I always wondered.

I hadn’t thought about that in years. I have no idea why it popped into my head the other day. I had given myself closure by thinking that, yes, he did like me, but he was too shy to do anything about it. What a shame, I thought. What a waste. But life goes on.

But of course by now I was thinking about this in terms of a blog post, and I wondered about his side of the story. I thought it might be cool to seek him out on line and ask him. With time and distance and zero desire to pick up where we left off, maybe we both could provide some insight for each other. If he even remembered me, that is.

So I Googled him. Unfortunately, he has a fairly common name, so this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. Add to that the fact that his picture doesn’t appear in the yearbook for some reason, and to be perfectly honest I can’t remember what he looks like, and you can see what a challenge this could be. There were too many people with his name on Facebook.

Even so, I’m pretty sure I found him. A business license revealed a person who lives one town over from the high school, and he’s the right age. I looked on Facebook again for someone from that town, and there was the guy with the business in question, and yes, he mentioned my school in his profile. While his picture didn’t ring any bells at all, he would have been my type.

I sent him a message, but I get the impression he doesn’t Facebook much, so I’m not holding out much hope of an illuminating conversation. And yet I learned a lot from his Facebook page. It fills in much of the blanks in our story. It has taken a turn I hadn’t anticipated.

It seems that Howard likes men. Which means, most likely, that he did back then as well. But in the early 80’s, that’s not something that he would have put out there for general consumption, especially in the rural South. It’s not something that even occurred to me to think about, really. If you had asked me at the time, I wouldn’t have had a problem with anyone in the LGBTQ community. It just seemed as exotic and out of my realm as the Dalai Lama.

I have no idea if Howard was struggling with his sexuality when I knew him. I hope not. But clearly he had me in the friend zone. But that, in retrospect, was a precious gift.

I wonder what he thought of the thigh incident. Was he appalled? Completely turned off? Afraid to pull his leg away for fear of revealing himself? Or was he simply confused? I hate the idea that while I was swimming around in my sea of lust, he was bobbing in a pool of uncertainty or disgust. Wherever he might have been, mentally or emotionally, the touch I was giving was not the touch he was receiving.

I hope I wasn’t torturing him. That certainly wasn’t my intent. I am horrified to think that I was sexually harassing him without knowing it.

At least now I know why he never asked me to the dance. It wasn’t about me. But with hindsight, we could have gone as friends and had a great time.

At least now I have a few more answers. I’d love to renew my friendship with Howard. I’m sure we’d have a lot to catch up on. Either way, I will always wish him well and be grateful that he gave a lonely 15-year-old girl something to daydream about.


I wrote an actual book, and you can own it! How cool is that?

The Tasteless Tale of the Innocent Sexpot

My least favorite movie on the face of the earth is the Fifth Element. And that’s disappointing to me, because the cinematography and the special effects were amazing. It depicts a fascinating future world, and I’m usually engrossed by that. But along with all the good things about this movie, it crams a cliché down your throat to such an extreme degree that it can’t be overlooked.

I recently watched this video on this very subject, and while it’s 18 minutes long, I highly recommend it. You’ll never see this cheap writer’s device the same way again. I’m talking about the trope which the video aptly calls “Born Sexy Yesterday”.

Basically, it’s the overused theme of a full grown woman with the mind and inexperience and innocence of a child. That is exactly why I hate the Fifth Element. It is the most extreme example of this trope that I’ve ever seen. She speaks a childish language, like Betty Boop on steroids. She strips naked in front of men, not realizing that she shouldn’t do so. She has to be taught the most basic life skills. And yet she can kick your butt.

Once you know how to spot it, you see this theme everywhere you look. A classic is Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch. What woman with sense God gave a goose is going to stand on a metro grate and let her skirt be blown up and have no idea the way that is impacting people around her?

Another one is I Dream of Jeannie. She can’t grasp the trouble she causes. And she absolutely adores her “master”, even though he spends the bulk of his time berating her. That’s another part of this cliché. The men involved are really nothing special. In fact, many of them are outright jerks. And yet these women adore them, mainly because they’re too stupid or sheltered to know better. Talk about every man’s fantasy.

I also have to grit my teeth during the scenes in Pulp Fiction where several of the women are as dumb as a box of rocks. One is madly in love with her criminal boyfriend, but nearly gets him killed when he has to retrieve his heirloom watch which she accidentally left behind when they’re running from killers. Another is a sexy cab driver who seems imbued with so much sexuality that she apparently can’t function on any other level. And then there’s “Honey Bunny”, who paints herself into a Mexican Standoff of epic proportions.

Oddly, the video I mentioned above does not cite any of these examples except the unavoidable Fifth Element. Probably because there are so many more to choose from. Tron: Legacy. Splash. My Stepmother is an Alien, Forbidden Planet, pretty much every Japanese Anime movie ever made, The Time Machine, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, Demolition, Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid.

This theme is all about power over helplessly innocent women. It allows average men, despite all their flaws, to be viewed as the most amazing, most adoration-worthy things on earth. It remove’s men’s fear of rejection. Men are the experts, the leaders, the wise ones. They are to be admired. Women are sexy yet mindless machines, innocent objects, and passive, unjudging, idiotic worshipers who need to be rescued and protected.

In the Me Too era, this concept is particularly hard to take. And that annoys me, because darn it, I’ve loved the Forbidden Planet and Pulp Fiction and Seven Year Itch and Planet of the Apes and… sigh. Writers, please come up with some new ideas, will you?


Read any good books lately? Try mine!

Sorry Robert

When I was 9 years old and living in Avon, Connecticut, there was this boy in the neighborhood named Robert Russo who was, frankly, the bane of my existence. He would tease me and pick on me incessantly. I tried to avoid him as much as I could.

One day I was playing in front of my house and he told me he loved me. I don’t think I’ve ever been so freaked out in my life. I mean, at the time, my own mother didn’t even say that to me. (Long story for another day.) I’m not sure anyone ever had.

So I reacted as any worldly 9 year old girl would. I crossed my arms and stomped my foot and shouted, “No you do NOT, Robert Russo! Boys don’t say that to girls they like. If you loved me, you’d say you hated me! You’re trying to trick me!”

And with that, I turned around and ran in the house. I could hear him desperately shouting after me, “Okay then! I hate you! I hate you!”

Oddly, I don’t recollect ever having seen him again. Surely I must have. But then we moved away not long after that, so who knows?

Looking back at that as an adult, I kind of feel sorry for the little guy. It must have taken some serious guts to say that to me. How was he to know that I felt so completely ugly and unlovable back then that there was no way I could believe him? (But then again, maybe he was trying to trick me. He was a little shit most of the time.)

Still, I wish I could go back and explain to him that it was not a rejection of him, but my complete and utter inability to deal with that particular emotion. Nowadays I know how rare and precious love is, and I’m not so eager to shoot it down in flames when it comes my way. Even if the feeling isn’t mutual, I can still appreciate it, and try to be kind to the giver.

Robert Russo probably doesn’t even remember me. I almost hope he doesn’t. I hope I didn’t crush him like a bug. But oh, I remember him.

Young Love

Licking My Wounds

Recently I met the cousin of a friend, and he’s amazing. We seemed to have a lot in common. Our politics are in line, and that’s really important to me. He’s around my age. He has an energy that he puts out that makes me feel really comfortable. Even better, he doesn’t live that far from me, and he’s also good looking, which never hurts.

After talking to him a few times, I decided I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by. Even though it’s against my Southern upbringing, I decided to stick my neck out from my safe little shell and make the first move. I texted him and said I really enjoyed talking to him. Would he like to meet for dinner tomorrow?

He responded that he had something doing tomorrow, but maybe we could do so on another day. I thought, “Okay, that’s understandable. It was short notice.”  “Another day” certainly sounded encouraging. I knew we’d be crossing paths briefly the next day, so I thought we could make plans then. I found myself happily humming in anticipation the whole next morning.

When he showed up, I couldn’t wipe the stupid grin off my face. Until I realized that he wasn’t reciprocating. In fact, he was formal, tense, and left so quickly you’d think his butt was on fire. Message received.

Okay, so apparently he’s just not into me. It happens. In fact it has been happening a lot to me in the past year. God, it hurts like hell, but unfortunately I’m starting to get used to it. I’m starting to expect it. Frankly, I’m sick of it.

But why the mixed signals? That is monumentally effed up, if you ask me. He could have easily said, “Thanks so much. I am flattered, but I have a girlfriend.” I wouldn’t have known the difference, and my ego would have remained intact. Would that have been so hard?

Then I heard the rest of the story from my friend. He’s in the middle of a divorce, and apparently his wife did something pretty awful. He’s probably a bit gun shy.

That makes sense. I’ve never been known for my stellar timing. But the sad thing is that even if he did feel the connection that I did, now he won’t ever get in touch when he’s reached the point where he’s ready, because I’m sure he’ll think that after blowing me off, that bridge has been burned.

Part of me thinks that I dodged a bullet. I am a little too emotionally fragile myself these days to be someone’s transitional woman. But part of me wishes that I could say to him, “You have no idea, yet, how messed up the dating world is for our age group, and just how many crazies are out there. Eventually you’ll find out. When you do, I hope you’ll try with me again. If I’m still available, you might just discover that I am worth the effort. Because I thought you were.”

But there’s always a chance that my first assumption was the right one. He wasn’t interested. No doubt his wife was thinner, prettier. He hasn’t been in the 50-something dating world long enough to lower his standards to a real person. Yet. I guess I’ll never know.

It is a good lesson to be reminded that not everyone has the same priorities or agenda that I do. I tend to forget that sometimes, to my everlasting regret. But meanwhile, I freakin’ give up. No more first moves for me. Waaaaay too painful. Honestly, I don’t know how men do it.


On Babies and Bathwater

 So, I joined an internet dating website. Yeah, it’s come to that. And at first, man, what a rush! About 60 guys viewed my profile the first day!

But then the only ones that contacted me were calling themselves “TurboTube4U” or “SexMachine1964”. Or they were located in Timbuktu with improbable male model photographs straight out of  I’ll pass.

And then there were a few who I politely declined because you know, you can kind of tell… and one replied, “You’re obviously flat chested and not into real men.” Another said I had generalized anxiety disorder that interfered with normal socialization because I wouldn’t hop into bed with him based on one on-line conversation.

Hooo. Dodged a few bullets with those two.

Needless to say, by now, I was kind of over the whole internet dating thing.

Then I got contacted by a guy who was kind, attractive, and actually knew how to spell, and we chatted for about a week for hours on end. We had a lot in common. Our politics, our interests, our goals, even our crazy work schedules seemed to line up. We began to finish each other’s sentences. He seemed to know what I was thinking. One night we were talking about our religious philosophies, and right in the middle of that he changed the subject and said, “You know, you shouldn’t be self-conscious about your body. You are totally my type.”

Oh my God. I was in love. I mean, if the man had asked me to sign over the pink slip on my car at that moment, I probably would have. (But then, no one would want my car.) For the next few days I was walking around humming The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music.

So finally, we agreed to meet at a public park. No pressure. Just walk around the lake and talk. And it was a fantastic date. We talked for hours. We shared the skeletons in each other’s closets, and we still liked each other. We laughed. And the chemistry, oh, yeah, that was there.

I remember thinking, “Omigod, I might actually get laid before Christmas! Yay!!!!!”

So things were going well. I began to think that maybe my search was over and I could get off that horrible website.

Then, I went to see his condo. And it was gorgeous. He had remodeled it himself and decorated it himself, and it had a spectacular view. It was amazing.

And then he went into the bathroom. And that’s when everything changed. Because when he came back out, he noticed that the coffee table had been moved. He spent several minutes trying to make sure that the legs went back into the pre-established dents in the carpet.

And while he did that, I looked at the place with fresh eyes. It was spotless. All the window blinds were at the exact same level. All the towels were folded identically. Everything was arranged by size. Probably alphabetized, too.

I said, “I don’t think you’d like my house.” And it’s true. It’s not like I have moldy ham sandwiches under the bed or anything, but there are one or two dust bunnies under there. And I’m not a hoarder, but there’s clutter. And I have dogs, so I’ve long since given up on making the bed.

We looked at each other, and you could see the romantic bubble bursting behind both of our eyes. I knew I wouldn’t ever be able to function under all his self-imposed rules and impossible expectations, and he would never be able to comfortably climb into my bed without wrapping himself in plastic from head to toe. Somehow, this particular topic hadn’t come up during our halcyon days.

But oddly enough, I wasn’t sad. I know my mind takes these romantic flights of fancy and they rarely survive the cold light of day. I let him break it to me gently. And I responded, “I completely understand and agree. But I also wanted to tell you I’m glad you came into my life. I think you’re great, and fun to be around, and I hope we can still be friends.

See, I’ve never been one to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and here was this truly wonderful guy that I enjoyed being around, and both our profiles say we were both also looking for friends. He always said he wanted to get out more. I had images of bringing him to my storytelling group, even being his wing man to help him find that special someone. Doing the occasional lunch. Trading pithy banter via text.

So I also said to him, “If you still want to take that drawbridge tour, I’d be happy to see you.”

He thanked me for “being so mature about it.” He said, “maybe some other time.” And I haven’t heard from him since.

The romance bubble burst, as they often do. But what made me sad, what brought a few tears to my eyes, is that after all the things we did have in common he still didn’t find me friend-worthy. So I went from thinking that I could be falling in love to actually feeling sorry for the guy, because I have to say I’m an amazing friend to have.

I can see his condo from my drawbridge. I see the glow of his television. I see him on the dating website, searching… searching… and it just makes me sad, you know? Because real connections are hard to come by in this world, and they shouldn’t be discarded just because they didn’t take the form you originally hoped for.

Gifts are gifts. They come in all shapes and sizes. And I hope I never stop feeling that way, because I really like that about myself.


How Do Men Do It?

At the risk of setting the women’s movement back 50 years, I have to say there are certain characteristics that are more traditionally male that I’d much rather not take on. Having recently thrown my hat into the dating ring, I’ve been trying to make the first move a lot more than I ever had to in my younger days. This goes against all my instincts. I’m so far out of my comfort zone that I can’t even see it from here. But my current philosophy is nothing ventured, nothing gained, and therefore I’ve been putting myself out there. Or at least I’ve been trying. So far all this has gotten me is a boatload of rejection.

Men may not like rejection, but they’re more used to it. Life is really a numbers game, and they have been made to understand this since early childhood. I, on the other hand, have had the luxury of sitting back and letting relationships come to me up to this point. And I had no idea what a luxury that was. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and it’s giving me blisters.

There is other man stuff I would never be able to incorporate into my character. I am totally cool with asking directions. I can’t imagine my default position being that I should act as though I know what I’m talking about even when I’m not sure. That would close me off from all the many fonts of information that come in the form of friends, family, and coworkers. I’d feel completely isolated if my only brain trust were my own brain, as formidable as it may be.

I’m also not particularly competitive. I’m happy when others win. I’m surprised when others resent it when I win.

Despite the fact that I deal with discrimination everywhere from the workplace to the used car lot, I have to say I’m really glad I’m not a man. It’s just not in me.

'You two need to get over yourselves and just ask for directions.'

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d utter: I just put a profile on one of those computer dating websites. Yep. It’s come to that.

And so it begins. For the first hour or so, it was kind of exciting. About 30 men read my profile. But then none of them contacted me, and I suddenly realized I had just been rejected 30 times. Ouch.

Then I became aware that I was doing the exact same thing at a dizzying pace. I was looking at tons of profiles, and skipping over most of them based on arbitrary things. Conservative. Uneducated. Thinks books are “Okay, I guess.” Looking for someone athletic. (Pity.) Smokes. (ABSOLUTELY NOT.) Scary, scary serial killer looking photograph. (I can’t help it. I have to trust my instincts.) Still has kids living at home. (Run!!!!)

Then came a deluge of men wanting to chat. Cool! But they were in other parts of the country. Why on earth would you want to talk to me? Ohhhhhhh. I get it. You want to “talk” to me. No thanks. I’m not going to take some hard-earned business away from a phone sex operator. Or here’s an idea. Go talk to your wife. I’m sure she’s right in the next room.

And I came across some crazy, crazy profiles that made me wonder what kind of men are walking the streets of this town. One said, “Any woman I’m interested in has to keep herself clean and smell nice.” It sort of reminded me of the serial killer in Silence of the Lambs. “It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.”

Another listed a bunch of attributes and then said, “If you don’t have ALL these qualities, then you’re wasting my time. And I don’t take kindly to having my time wasted. But I really am a nice guy!” Oh yeah, I’m sure women are beating down his door!

But the most painful moments are when I read a profile of someone I think has potential, and I reach out to that person and he ignores me. I know if he’d just give me a chance, he’d see how great I am. But he can’t get past my body type or some random thing I say in my profile to see that. I feel like a poorly advertised product on some dusty shelf. “Buy me! I’m good! Really. You’d like me.”

I don’t know if I have the strength for this.



I used to like to say that I couldn’t get through the day without at least one good flirtation. I’ve had to scale that back considerably in the past year, because now that I’ve moved to Seattle without knowing a soul, the vast majority of my human contact is with coworkers. Flirting with coworkers is a bear trap I absolutely refuse to step into.

But slowly, agonizingly slowly, I’m starting to meet people outside of the workplace. So the other day, I blew the dust off my flirty self and let her come out to play. What a rush. I was actually much more bold than I’ve ever been before. Making up for lost time? Dealing from a deck of frustration and boredom and loneliness? Nothing ventured, nothing gained? Probably some combination of all of the above.

Actually, ever since my recent epiphany about loneliness (which was yesterday’s blog entry), I haven’t really been feeling lonely at all. Maybe that has liberated me to flirt with impunity. If you don’t feel lonely when you flirt, you won’t be inhibited by fears of rejection. The flirt becomes the thing, rather than the other person’s reaction to that flirt. You can’t really go down in flames if you’re not that heavily invested.

So I just had fun being slightly wicked and playful. And I suspect the recipient of my attention was more than a little experienced with flirtation as well, because his response left me rather uncertain as to his thoughts on the subject. Positive, I think, but I’m  not at all sure. That kind of makes it fun, too, because it means I might, or might not, have something to look forward to.

That makes me smile.

[Image credit:]
[Image credit:]

Keep Reaching Out

So says a dear friend that I’ve known for 25 years. He’s now a continent away, and knows I’m struggling with loneliness in this new city of mine. He always gives wise, yet understated, advice.

Yes. Keep reaching out. Even when you’ve caught your hand in a bear trap of rejection in the past. Even when it seems easier to leave your arms at your sides.

Keep reaching out or you’ll never grasp hold of anything new. Expecting others to make the first move is akin to expecting them to read your mind. How can someone else know what you want or need?

Keep reaching out, or you will bump into things as you move forward. Explore. Investigate. Search. Discover. Bring newness into your life.

Most of all, don’t give up.

[Image credit:]
[Image credit:]