Dear Mr. President and the Rest of the World, Why Aren’t you Helping Find the Missing Nigerian Girls?

I want you to imagine 230 Nigerian high school girls studying in their classrooms, preparing for their final exams, excited about their futures because they have an education Imagine that one of them is your sister or your daughter or your niece. One night, while sleeping in her dorm, the military arrive telling the girls that danger is eminent and that they must follow at once. They follow willingly, believing the men in uniforms, because they are accustomed to living in a place where the terrorist group Boko Haram threaten their right to go to school.  Once loaded onto a truck, the men light the school on fire and holler praises to their God.  Your daughter, niece, and sister realize that the men are not who they say they are. They begin praying and begging for their lives

  Photo by James Marshall/Corbis

The men travel with your daughter into another country and force her to marry a strange man who buys her for $12, and will likely rape her and strip her of her innocence.  She is now a slave.  She cannot go home.  She is scared. She wants her family.  I want you to imagine that no one is really talking about it except the families of these girls in a small village most of us have never heard of.  Understand that it’s getting little news coverage and that the government isn’t doing nearly enough about it.  You realize you may never see your daughter, niece, sister again.  Just like that, she’s gone.

Now imagine that this happened in a first-world country like the U.S..  Do you feel any different? Are you as outraged?

I read an article that made an interesting comparison in the amount of news coverage between the South Korean ferry boat tragedy and these recent abductions in Nigeria. The author points out that the kidnappings took place two days before the ferry accident, yet the Korean story dominated the news for a week. Why?

 AP/South Korea Coast Guard via Yonhap

Well, South Korea is a first-world country with lots of media outlets.  We got to see the parents of the students in agony, jumping into the water to try and find the bodies of their children. It was heart-wrenching and awful.  But Nigeria is a third-world country that is unfamiliar to the west, and doesn’t get much news coverage. We don’t see the suffering parents of these girls who are undoubtedly grief-stricken and desperate.  And so it is difficult to wrap our hearts and minds around this story, to feel the same level of empathy and horror when details are slim and a few blurry photos are all we have to connect with.

But the pain is the same. The parents of the Nigerian girls love their children just as much as the South Korean parents do.  Their grief is the same. They bleed the same red blood, they cry the same salty tears, they wail the same haunting prayers.

AP Photo/ Gbemiga Olamikan

I have yet to read any stories that talk about what is being done on a global scale to bring these girls back. UNICEF and UNWomen need to be doing more to get the Nigerian government to intensify their search efforts.  Countries like the United States will happily stake their claim on Nigerian oil, but they have made no effort to help restore its real treasures — the stolen girls.  We have the most powerful military in the world and yet we only employ them in ways that benefit us.  Our priorities are all fucked up.  

I want President Obama to imagine that Sasha and Malia were among those girls.  I want him to be angry and do something about this NOW!

And I want you to be angry, and sign petitions, and educate people about what’s happening.  We cannot let this story get lost in the fray of other stories.  I see those girls in my dreams. They need all of us to help bring them back. Yes, they need YOU too!

I will not lose hope.  I will use my voice because those girls can’t.  I will make a ruckus because I am free to do so in my country.  I will plaster my social media outlets with this story and force you to pay attention because these girls matter.

Those 230 beautiful, innocent girls are our sisters, our daughters, our nieces. Please use your privilege and power for good and help bring them home.

In solidarity,
Pia

A Fucking Awesome Rant Is Not What This Is.

OK. I seriously need to commit waaayyyy more time to this.  Blogging, I mean. After a long day at work, what I often do is totally chill out.  A nice dinner with the hubby followed by watching TV or reading books together (or separately), stretching, more reading, and to bed. It’s a routine.  I’m used to it.  I like, it even.

The problem with this precious routine is that it gets in the way of this writing thing that I’m supposed to do. (Sigh).

How can a writer exist without writing?  It’s like a light bulb with no filament.   It don’t work.

So, a new habit is in much needed order.  And I’m gonna need your help.

I enjoy having some accountability in my life (in small doses or never), and I’ve come to the conclusion that writing requires a bit o that.  Right?

I am committing to one blog per week.  I know that may not seem like much to the blogger-extraordinaire who shits out four posts a week. But some of us are a bit, well, challenged (read lazy).

You should know that I’m probably going to write about lots of different shit.  You know, feminism, pussies, curly hair, misogyny, spirituality, my period, cultural appropriation, gluten free coconut donuts, my obsession with style, and how I manage to stay so fat and cute. #MyFatIsCute

Me want now.
A Vagina Apple. I’ve never had one.

And so, it is with substantial curly hair, a mega-watt smile and sorta side-eye, that I ask you to check me. If you are one of the five people who read my blog, and don’t see a witty post in more than seven days, then I authorize you to message me and say, “Get yo shit together, gurl!”  And I will not cut you. That is my solemn promise.

I won’t really cut you. I just liked this meme.

I’m done.  I told you this was not going to be fucking awesome.

Ciao for niao,
Pia

8 Reasons I Loved The Body Love Conference

This first weekend of April I was in Tucson, presenting at the first ever annual Body Love Conference, conceived by Jes Baker of The Militant Baker, and executed by dozens of dedicated volunteers and enthusiastic speakers. For those of you who don’t know about this epic event, it was a one-day conference featuring some of the biggest names in body positive movement. I am still reeling from the ridiculous amount of positivity, strength and sisterhood that took place in such a short time span.



There are 8 reasons why I loved the Body Love Conference:

1.  It reinforced what I already knew — that I have a gift for connecting with people through my unique humor and honesty. My talk was entitled “Expanding Definitions of Beauty: Redefining the Thin White Ideal.” While I was giving my presentation I felt the audience’s energy, their spirits enthusiastic and thirsty for inspiration. Having women come up to me after my presentation and throughout the day, telling me that I impacted them deeply with my talk, was the best gift I could have asked for. When we are in alignment with the Universe and do what we are called to do, it isn’t work, it’s magic! You can view my rousing presentation here.

My presentation with some wonderful women present

2.  It was the biggest display of mutual respect, uplifting messages and sense of connection with women that I have ever felt. Four hundred people (mostly women and a few men) came from as far as Vienna, Austria to participate in what was an epic event.The loads of volunteers that worked to make this event happen were an integral part of what made the conference such a positive environment. They seriously kicked ass!


 With my new pal Michelle 
  
              With the awesome volunteers
3.  I got to meet fellow body loving activists in person who I only previously knew through social media. I can’t tell you how surreal it is to embrace women I only ever communicated with on Instagram and Facebook. Finally we were face to face, and we didn’t need emoticons to express ourselves. Our smiles were real, and the powerful high-fives echoed in the halls.
Blogger Jamie West and I
4.  I got to meet and hug the incomparable Jes Baker. This was one of those moments I will never forget.  In my head, Jes had a sweet, not quite high-pitched voice. So when she embraced me enthusiastically and kissed me on the cheek, and said “Yes. This is so gooood,” in the sexiest Kathleen Turner voice ever, I kinda lost it. I could feel strength come through her words, and was willing to do whatever she asked of me.  It was that powerful. Seriously. I wish you’d been there.

Jes and I. Aren’t we cute?

5.  I witnessed the powerful story of Tess Munster during her very moving keynote address. The plus size model raised the roof as she recounted her volatile upbringing in Mississippi with vulnerability and humor.  She paid homage to her mother — her biggest role model — who Skyped in to to hear her daughter speak.  She made us all cry and cheer and believe that anything is possible! I was already a big fan of Tess, but to hear her story of survival and overcoming great odds really made me fall in love with her. She is a true asset to the body positive movement.
Tess doin’ her thing 

6.  There was a nice representation of women of color presenters, speaking on various topics. The conversation around body image has largely been led by White cisgender women.  So it was a very pleasant surprise to be in good company with Sonya Renee Taylor and Kymberly Nichole among others. I was able to attend both their sessions and was psyched at the turnout for each.  They were able to bring their unique activism to the changing landscape of the body positivity movement. I hope next year’s conference will include more women of color, including Latinas and Asians.

From left to right: Sonya Renee, Kymberly Nichole, Me

7.  I was introduced to Tucson, a city that surprised me with it’s cultural diversity, community oriented population and delicious food. Everywhere I went, folks were friendly and laid back.  I even got to enjoy drinks and super yummy pork tacos at the famous Hotel Congress, with its rustic interior and old-timey charm.  I hope to get back there again before too long.

The bar at the Hotel Congress

8. I was so lucky to have met the other amazing women who presented at the conference. We shared our stories with one another, without judgment or fear. There was an instant bond among us despite the fact that we’d only spent two days together. But it was real. We exchanged ideas and hugs in equal measure, so happy to be a part of the grassroots movement we’ve all helped to cultivate.

Photographer Liora K. introducing me to Photographer Jade Beall


I am forever grateful to Jes Baker for bringing together women of different ages, races, abilities, genders, occupations and walks of life, who shared a common goal: to love and accept themselves fully. The bonding that took place last weekend was easy and fluid. The genuine smiles on the faces of the attendees were an invitation to chat and connect. Every single person I met had a unique story, a perspective to share or advice to offer. Be sure to check out the full list of speakers and their contact info here.

My biggest take away can best be summed up in the photo below.

YES WE ARE.

In solidarity,
Pia