3 Ways to Deal with the Fat & Body Shamers in Your Family Right Now!

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Most of you reading this right now have been body-shamed at some point in your life. It was likely a relative who first made you feel like shit about your body. The first person who body-shamed me was my father. At age 14, standing 5′-7″ tall and weighing 145 pounds, he thought I needed to go on a diet. And it hurt like hell.

I don’t think most of our family members intend to hurt us with their opinions, but it stings like a motherfucker anyway. And unless you have the unusually high self-esteem of say, Donald Trump, it’s likely to leave an impression on you. In my case, the impression was felt for the better part of 20 years.

Up until the last few years, any comments about my weight from my family cut me deeply. I didn’t understand why my body needed policing, regardless of whether it was thin or fat. I just wanted to be left alone — to just be in my body without having to account for my worth based on its size.

We wrongly believe that pointing out so-called imperfections and flaws in others will somehow distract from our own shortcomings. But that’s a lie. The only thing it does is magnify our assholeness.

Today, I am mostly free from the abuse of body-shaming from my family. But it took learning some lessons before I could stand up for myself and realize that I had a lot more control over the situation than I realized. Here are three ways that I’ve found helpful to get through the pain of body-shaming from relatives and friends:

1

I know it seems counter intuitive, but having compassion for your body-shamer is very healing. It’s not about you. It’s about them. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s the damn truth. After having observed the way my parents had fat-shamed me and others over the years, it occurred to me that they had their own set of insecurities which plagued them. Their insults were just a reflexive response to hating some part about themselves. We’ve all read stories about how a bully was once the object of a bullier. Well, same idea here.

We are exposed to so much pain and judgement in this world. None of us are free from it. We wrongly believe that pointing out so-called imperfections and flaws in others will somehow distract from our own shortcomings. But that’s a lie. The only thing it does is magnify our assholeness.  Yes, I just invented that word. You’re welcome.

When we realize that negative comments are really reflections of how others feel about themselves, it easier to forgive and let go. Don’t get me wrong. It takes a lot of practice. But it does work.

*Side note: they do still fat shame other people, but I call it out when they do it every time!

2

Please stop expecting other people to change. You can’t. You can only change yourself. Once I decided that I was done with dieting and that I was comfortable with the way I looked, the comments completely stopped. I literally stood with my head held high. I wore what wanted and ate whatever I wanted in front of whoever was there. I am still in awe of how powerful self-love is. When we stop giving away our power, life is so much better.

12-Step programs and therapy  were instrumental in helping me to get to this point. For so long I hoped my parents would change their tune and simply stop commenting on my body. But this misguided hope was the very definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Probably not gonna happen in this lifetime. So stop. Right now! Stop it!!!

Instead, I want you to focus on finding ways to love your body more. If you’re reading this, chances are you are on social media and have access to a myriad of resources that DO celebrate your body. Just search for hashtags like #iamenough#bodypositive, and #effyourbeautystandards,  to fill your feed with inspiring images. It really does work!

3Be willing to create boundaries. You have the right to choose not to be around people who make you feel bad about yourself. And you also don’t need to explain your decision. Self-care and self-preservation are your God(ess) given right. So claim it!

You can still love your family and choose not to be around them. They might not understand. They might get angry. But would you rather be angry, or let them be angry? I know what I would do. And if they do confront you about your absence, it’s okay to tell the truth. Again, they may not get it. In fact, they may get defensive (my family certainly does) Simply go back to tips #1 and #2: have compassion and don’t expect them to behave differently.

And then get the hell out! LOL

Look, I don’t have all the answers. All I can do is share what has worked for me. I hope these tips are useful and that you find more ways to release yourself from the grip of the body-shamers in your life. Until then, I wish you self-love and light!

xo

 

 

You are enough, You have enough, You do enough.

You are enough,you have enough,you do enough

I’ll keep this brief.

We are constantly told that we aren’t doing enough — that we should achieve more, want more, be more, get more. The truth is, you have everything you need. You are everything you need. You are doing your best right now.

So print this image out and put it where you can see it everyday as a reminder of your enoughness!

xo

 

 

I Hold My Stomach in Sometimes

Am I body love failure? No.

What I am is brainwashed from years of exposure to advertisements that promise a flat stomach in 10 days. It is so ingrained in my subconscious that I often hold my stomach in without realizing it.

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I HATE these ads!!!

Today, as I walked back to my office from my lunch break, I caught a glimpse of myself in a storefront window and noticed the top roll of my stomach protruding under my t-shirt. Suddenly I stood up straighter and did my best to tuck in my tummy. In that moment I was aware of my embarrassment about my by body being so big and so exposed. And then I was embarrassed that I was embarrassed, because duh, I’m a body-positive activist!

I think about this shit all day — what Melinda Alexander calls “Getting Free.” So, when stuff like the tummy incident happens I feel like I’ve been set way back. It feels like being punched in the face after having trained in the ring for years.

The truth is, I have not come to terms with the size and shape of my stomach. It’s the biggest it’s ever been. For the most part, I almost always had a pretty small waist and stomach, giving me an hourglass figure that made my body acceptable by mainstream standards. But not anymore. It’s big enough that I just can’t hide it, or disguise it, or manipulate it. And though I’ve made peace with many of my body parts, this one is especially hard for me.

Pia model

This is me 3.5 years and 45 pounds ago.

Anyone feel me?

I know so many fat women who own their big bellies and wear clothes that accentuate them. I am not one of those women. Part of me wants to be at peace, and the other part of me just wants to have a small tummy again so I don’t have to overcome another hurdle.

The reason I share this with you is because I promised myself I would be honest and upfront about my own body image struggles. My friend Jen at Plus Size Birth just posted something I resonate with on this topic too.

Thank you for seeing me and accepting me the way I see and accept you.

Perhaps I need a pair of high waisted Spanx.

Or an affirmation…

Or to surround myself with images of large bellied women reveling in their gorgeous glory…

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Photo by Substantia Jones

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Photo by Substantia Jones

Or maybe some combination of all those ideas until I start feeling better.

xo

Tiny Houses, Turning 40, & Clearing the Clutter

When I first started writing this post, it was going to be called, “5 Soul Changing Events of 2014.” I started writing it, and it was basically a boring recap of what I’ve already written about this year. And it felt like a major cop-out given that I haven’t written a post in over a month. So, I changed my mind, which happens often, as you know.

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I’d rather tell you all about 2015, and what’s to come.

There are a few things that will happen in 2015 for sure. For one, I’ll be turning 40! And I can’t tell you how excited I am about it. My 30’s have been so full of growth and change, I can hardly recognize myself. Getting older has been a wonderful experience for me. I trust my instincts more and care less and less about what others think of me. Talk about a weight (pun intended) off my shoulders.  I’m quite certain that 40 promises to take that self-confidence and carefree attitude to the next level. YAY ME!!

forever 39

As I’ve reminisced over the events of the last year, I realize just how much I miss my creative self. Don’t get me wrong, writing is a wonderfully creative outlet, and I plan to continue doing it well into the future. What I haven’t spent much time doing is cultivating my crafty/DIY side. I have so many projects on my Pinterest boards that are just waiting to come to life. And so, while I don’t really like resolutions per se (they’re way to fraught with pressure and expectation), one of my goals in 2015 is to give myself time to get my hands dirty and start making things again.

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My other obsession has been tiny houses, a movement that has increased in popularity in the last few years. The idea being that you downsize your living quarters to the bare minimum, owning only what you really need and love. Some folks move into places as small as 150 square feet! That’s not something my hubby and I are prepared to do, but we agree it’s time to purge and let go of the stuff that’s bogging us down. Between the two of us, we have more collections than an antique shop. It’s embarrassing to admit, but we have a 5 bedroom house (3 bedrooms are tiny) and every inch is filled to the brim. It’s a bit fucking much. I look forward to being clutter free in 2015!

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And finally, I hope to rid myself of virtual clutter in 2015. I’m as addicted to social media as the next gal. And it has taken up so much of my brain space, leaving little room for my own thoughts and feelings to fully develop. I love the connectivity  aspect of social media, but I’m not that interested in watching the latest YouTube video of cats tucking in babies. Yeah, it’s cute. But really, I can’t. I’m done. One way I plan to cut the clutter is to unfollow a lot of Facebook “friends.” I want to know what my close friends and family are up to. I want to see pictures of their kids and their moments of joy. I want to scroll less and live more.

social media clutter

I feel really good about 2015. I anticipate lots of joy and adventure, allowing myself to really be free. My life is so good, and I never want to forget that.

Wishing you and yours the happiest of new year celebrations. May your 2015 be full of hope and possibility!

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xo

I’m Fucking Overwhelmed

 

I know I’m not alone in this.  I have so much going on in my life right now, and at times it feels completely unmanageable.  I have a full time job which is extremely stressful;  I have a marriage that requires time and commitment; I’m an activist, blogger, model and writer too.  Many of the things that are happening are wonderful, and my hard work is paying off in all sorts of amazing ways.  But I feel the need to slow down and say “no” more often.  
  
Many of you know I have fibromyalgia, which is a chronic illness I’m learning more about since my diagnosis last year.  For me that means I can’t do everything I want, because my body simply won’t let me.  

It’s very frustrating, but at the same time it feels good to slow down and make time to take care of myself. My doctor told me, “you need to really pamper yourself.”  I don’t think any medical professional has ever said that to me.  But it was just what I needed to hear. 

I know intellectually that getting massages regularly, and going to bed early are not only good for my body, but also for my mental health.  But strangely enough, I find relaxing really hard to do.  Even when I’m not technically working, I’m on social media late at night, or doing chores, or running errands, or thinking about what’s next. I’m always running!

It’s rare that I’m still.

What does all this mean, anyway?  

I think it means that I have to trust the Universe/God/Goddess/Higher Power to guide me during this tough adjustment period.  I’m a spiritual person who has lost her way a bit.  I’m a tough broad, but I’m not impermeable.  I’m human and I have limits.  

As a feminist I often feel like I have to do more just to prove that I’m down with the cause — that I’m always hustling.  But an exhausted Pia cannot be of service, she cannot give her best if she is not caring for herself first.  It feels selfish to say no and to take a nap instead, even if that’s what I really need.  

So, if you see less of me on social media, it’s not because I’ve abandoned this important piece of my life, it’s because I need a break from time to time. I’m still here. I’m just taking extra special care of myself.

In solidarity,
Pia

Why Social Media Feels Like Degrassi Jr. High

Sometimes Social Media feels like high school, or worse yet, middle school.  It’s like Degrassi Junior High with memes. Do you ever get that feeling that somehow we are all fighting for a second chance at first place? Or at least to not be the Facebook version of the dweeb from Mrs. Kraft’s 6th period History class — which I actually was by the way — so that maybe, just maybe, you can experience a sliver of the popularity you missed out on as a teenager?




I’ve had that feeling.  And I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I fell into the dangerous trap of relying on comments and emoticons to determine my mood and perceived popularity. It’s that moment I Instagram a perfectly crafted selfie and then dive into a hash-tag orgy with attendees like #fatshion #happy #lovinglife #myfatiscute #honorcurves #effyourbeautystandards #plusmodel #plusblogger #youdontknowaboutthislife #onmywaytothetop #naturalbeauty#checkmeoutnowimafunksoulsista  #godisblessingme #fuckyes #thisliferighthere, and so on.

The anticipation of what may or may not arrive post-post, is what I call “The Twitch.”  It lasts approximately 7 minutes, which is how long I wait before I let myself see who enjoyed my post (ok, it’s more like 4 minutes). 

When it’s good, it’s really good.  I’ve beat my record.  56 likes in under an hour. 17+ comments.  4 shares.  Fuck yeah. 

Other days, not so much. 2 likes, and one is from my mom.  Fuck.

As a writer, my biggest vulnerability is that I rely on you to approve, validate and praise my work.  It’s like being in the teen movie Clueless and I’m a dorky Britney Murphy. I await the virtual high I might get as a result of my writing efforts…Was my comment witty? Was it inspiring?  How many people liked it? Did anyone comment? Any new followers? Who shared it? Has it been 4 minutes yet?  Nope.  It’s been 37 seconds. 


The roller coaster of emotions is violent and thrilling.  It’s a high.  Dare I say, an addiction.  

I found myself worn out a few weeks ago, overwhelmed at work and, trying to keep up with my blogging, modeling, and various other projects.  The stress caused me to have a fibromyalgia flare up that forced me to slow down.  I decided to lay low, realizing I was under too much stress and that something had to change.  I got to talk to my boss about my illness and get the support I needed at the office.  But I also knew I needed a break from social media.  I always think I’m going to miss out on something HUGE if I look away for a second. But that rarely happens.  Actually, it has never happened.  

Don’t let this be you


So, I took about a week off from Facebook, Instagram and blogging.  And while it was tough the first day — it felt like withdrawal — after that I felt quite free.  I was no longer hostage to insanely long hash tags and scary selfies.  My mind quieted down.  I picked up the book on my nightstand in the evenings and read for hours.  I had not realized just how much time I was spending trying to stay relevant in social media.  As much as I wanted to stay away another week, I couldn’t.  I had an editorial spread in volup2 magazine come out, and I wanted to share it, which is one reason social media can be so great.  I’m pretty much back to my old ways, crafting witty emails and posting awesome photos of cute fat girls on my page.  But I’m slightly less neurotic about the whole thing, and that feels good.


Taking a break showed me that life does go on without me.  I learned that I like having time for my hobbies, like crafting and creating collages on Polyvore.  I realized that I don’t need to over-post either (showing restraint can be a good thing).  I also discovered that I’m not alone. There are other people who have experienced the same addictive feelings I have, and we agree it’s a tricky business.  Finding the right balance is what I’m always seeking in life, and this experiment was no different.


At the end of the day, this is isn’t junior high.  This is life, swirling around me with enough stress of its own.  My love affair with social media is really more of a crush now.  I’ll always flirt with it, but I won’t commit.  I’ll need to use it to promote my work and see the beautiful photos of my nieces and nephew growing up across the continent.  But I’ll rely on myself and my spirituality a lot more to lift me up and keep me going.  To the best of my ability, that is.

ciao for niao,
pia

Why I’m OK at 200+ Pounds

I wondered whether or not I wanted to tell the world (or at least the people who read my blog) how much I weigh.  I’ve ranted on and on about tossing your scales and that the number doesn’t define you in any relevant way.  But in truth, there is a part of me that feels exposed and vulnerable at the thought of highlighting it for public consumption.  I have no idea whether people will be inspired, appalled or just not give a rat’s ass.  I’ve started this journey, and I keep moving forward in hopes of encouraging other folks to be at peace with their bodies.  I post photos and encouraging quotes on my FB page, and get lots of LIKES and lovely comments.  But I can’t talk the talk and not walk the walk.  



You’ve seen me in a bathing suit and cheered me on when I posted a blog on why I love my thighs.  So why is it so scary that I should tell you that I weigh over 200 pounds? Perhaps it’s because it is a further act of defiance that will set me free.  And to be set free from something  that you have known intimately for years (even if it’s painful) can be scary shit because it’s uncharted territory. It’s like being in an abusive relationship where you convince yourself that you don’t deserve better.  Who would you be outside the realm of that familiar, yet hurtfuul relationship?  Same idea.

So declaring my number to the world is a way for me to be an activist in the struggle toward size acceptance.  I must do my part if what I want is a broader cultural definition of beauty.  I cannot sit on the sidelines and whine about why I detest advertisements for cellulite cream and anti-aging potions without actually backing it up with some kind of action.


I think the other reason I want to share it is that there are so many of you whose daily moods are based on what the number on the scale reads.  And I get it, because I’ve been there too.  If the number was low, that meant I was a good girl, and worthy of love and success.  If the number was high (in my distorted opinion) then I was useless, lazy, fat and ugly.  It was a terrible way to live. In fact, it wasn’t living at all.  Being a slave to that number kept me from living the life of my dreams. I missed out on so many incredible experiences that I can never get back.  


Do I have regret?  Yes and no.  

I wish today’s Pia could go back and tell Pia of 20 years ago that she was amazing, lovely, smart and perfectly imperfect. But then I realize that this journey is mine, and the painful experiences I’ve had around my self-image are part of what make me who I am today: A mostly confident, kind, compassionate, attractive and intelligent woman, who wants to help others transform their self-hatred into self-acceptance and eventually love.  


If you’re feeling brave, or just want to shout from the rooftops how much you weigh, join the movement by leaving a comment here and/or on my Facebook page for the world to see.  Help break down the myths around traditional beauty standards and say ‘fuck you’ to the media for feeding us bullshit.  Claim your space in this world and take no prisoners!

Ciao for Niao,
Pia

www.curvysexychic.com
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