Good Times/Bad Times: May 25 – 31

Today I have for you (channeling the chefs on “Chopped” which I just finished watching!) a little list of some of the good things and bad things that I read on the internet in the past week. Most of them are from other blogs, some from NOLA, some not. It’s just a hodge-podge of articles that I liked or …… didn’t, but all are decidedly shareable.

Good Times

Road trip! Follow Ian McNulty on a trip down the bayou to Terrebone Parish in Bayou Country journey offers glimpse of small-town life at the end of the line.

Local blogger Blathering shares her recent outing to City Park’s Botanical Gardens with a walk through Enrique Alferez’s sculptures in her weekly feature “Arty Tuesday”.

“Blackberries Everywhere” , via Bouillie blog, takes us along to pick wild blackberries in rural Louisiana and adds a bonus of a recipe for Blackberry Cornmeal Cake that sounds scrumptious. The photos of the finished cake made my mouth water and put it on my list of recipes to try this summer.

I’m always complaining to myself that I don’t have the kind of time I’d like to read. This is really not exactly true since I often  end up surfing the internet when my intention was to read my ebook.  I even tweeted about it. So I was happy to find this post, 7 tips to help you read more (& love it).

 Bad Times

Local political journalist John McGinnis died last Sunday at the age of 66. Robert Mann penned a wonderful memoir and tribute to Mr. McGinnis here,  a worthy read about an exceptional journalist.

#YesAllWomen was a hashtag on fire on Twitter this past week. It apparently first popped up Friday 5/23 in the aftermath of the Elliot Rodger shooting spree in California in response to his misogynist rants on YouTube. When social media takes up a cause like this, I find it much more interesting and enlightening to read personal blogs written by everyday people to get a feel for how the issue affects or is affecting everyday people. Here are a few blog posts I read this week that touched me (to tears in some cases) and/or just made me think in a different way, breaking open the festering sore of misogyny.

First, here’s a link to a Vanity Fair article that includes a graphic showing how the hashtag spread worldwide.

Brandi writes a very personal account of her experience of being bullied by a boy (and, yes, it was bullying)  at age 11. I really identified with this post because I experienced the same thing at the same age and I remember the humiliation I felt.

Roxane Gay’s post, In Relief of Silence and Burden, is a heartbreaker written in the unmistakably honest voice that is Roxane Gay. Reading this made my stomach hurt.

Walking While Fat and Female – Or Why I Don’t Care Not All Men Are Like That was an eye-opener. I guess I’m naive but it never occurred to me that adult men acted this way.

And, from the men:

My Girl’s a Vegetable: A Father’s Response To Isla Vista Shootings  in Luna Luna Magazine shares how a dad’s eyes were opened to the every day misogyny directed to women via his daughter’s experience while walking home from school.

Local Blogger Ian McGibboney writes “A Letter To All the Nice Guys”and makes some really good points.

And, finally, Emily Shire says “#YesAllWomen Has Jumped the Shark” and wonders if it’s being diluted by people tweeting about such things as “complaints about women being told to smile”. What do you think?

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New-To-Me Blog of the Week

To end on a lighter note, I want to share a blog each week (or so) that’s new to me and that I enjoyed reading  – you know, show a little link love.This week it’s  The Art of Simple, a blog that shares ways to live a simpler, more meaningful life as well as giving great organizational tips. Give it a click, I think you’ll like it!

 

 

 

 

 

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Susie Price: Cutting Through The Weird Food Codes

For something which everyone has to do in order to stay alive, eating is fraught with way too many social boundaries, judgements about weight and health, strange unspoken rules about what men and women are supposed to eat (or enjoy), and much more. It’s a mess, and everyone knows it, but nobody really talks about it like normal people. The obese get talked about a lot, as do those with eating disorders – not men, mind you, because nobody likes to acknowledge that men suffer from eating disorders as well – but everyone else ends up wandering the desert and speaking in strange codes. Time for some feminism, which seems to be alive and ready to do some kicking.

Dessert Is Not a Moral Issue

Of all the weird food codes, “guilty pleasure” is most insidious. If, like most people, we occasionally enjoy something kind of sweet and not really diet-squad approved, it’s okay to talk about it in public so long as we call it our guilty pleasure. Even yogurt which tastes like it once wandered past lemon cheesecake is marketed as something we ought to feel guilty about enjoying, so the idea of enjoying an actual slice of lemon cheesecake is only acceptable if we claim to feel a little naughty about even having a bite. Suddenly, food becomes a moral issue, something to feel guilty about even if it’s “part of a balanced breakfast”, or lunch, or dinner. It’s easy to say that it’s just a figure of speech, but when we’re talking feminism and the whole messed-up culture surrounding how women are allowed to eat, everything we say on a regular basis tends to run deep. Thankfully, a lot of feminists are now taking a stand against the idea of food-related guilt: “I don’t have guilty pleasures because I shouldn’t feel guilty about my food,” wrote a Guerilla Feminism contributor, which is about as no-nonsense as this kind of thing ought to be.

Our Eating Habits, Ourselves

Quick question: if you’re told about a lazy, self-indulgent, unemployed woman, what does she look like in your mind’s eye? Probably not thin, though maybe not obese – most likely somewhere in between, and definitely overweight. We’re subliminally told time and time again that fat people are slobs, thin people are vain and probably have eating disorders (but are definitely the right candidate for the job), and that there isn’t really a weight or way of eating that doesn’t come with supposed personality traits attached. People suffering from eating disorders are, unfairly, hit particularly hard, with the assumption that they’ve brought their disorder on themselves through vanity or just perfectionism. “An eating disorder is characterized by an extreme disruption in regular eating habits, whether it is eating too little or eating too much,” according to an expert at Psychguides.com, but popular culture would rush to reassure us that what eating disorders are really characterized by are personal failings. However, we all ended up getting painted with the same brush, just in different colors.

Food Doesn’t Need To Be Justified

Ordering dessert – or even just a fatty, delicious steak – in a restaurant can be a fraught moment. Regarding ordering cake when your friends are abstaining, The Story of Telling writes that a “great waiter knows that an emotional decision is being made. He understands that he’s not just there to scribble down an order—he’s there to support the dessert orderer’s choice.” That choice is often justified by ‘well, I’ve eaten well all day’, or ‘I had a salad for lunch’, because society is convinced that we should be held accountable for every small indulgence we grant ourselves. It’s become such a common tactic that it’s now used to advertise cinnamon buns and cakes – something which bemuses even those involved in the diet industry, one of whom wrote that “there’s nothing inherently evil about this or any dessert. Though I would imagine that promises of burning the calories later are more likely lead to weight gain than simply making sure that you eat dessert in moderation.”

This, of course, is the paradoxical heart of nutrition double-talk – not only does it make us feel worse, but it also makes it difficult to have a healthy relationship towards food, and therefore difficult to eat well. It’s a vicious cycle, and one we could all do with getting off.

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NolaFemmes reader Susie Price is now a travel writer, but before she took to sitting at her desk musing on the places she’s visited, she spent a good deal of her life working in the leisure industry in different roles. Now she combines random scribbling with motherhood and is pretty happy with her lot.

Guest Poster Dawn Allison

I read the following essay on Dawn Allison’s blog, Dawn Breaks, and I thought, “I have to share this with my NOLAFemmes readers!” It is such a beautiful and powerful essay on body image and how, with experience and (dare I say it) age, we tend to make peace with our self image and embrace just how amazing our bodies really are.

Dawn’s great-grandfather was a Louisiana native and relatives from both paternal and maternal sides of her family were transplants to New Orleans.  Her father introduced her to the city when she was 15 years old and she’s had an ongoing love affair with the city for 32 years now.

She’s the mother of 4 and grandmother of two.  Dawn was a contributer to “Louisiana In Words” which was published in 2007. She describes that experience as “incredibly humbling because there were so many “real” writers who contributed”. Hey, Dawn, I’ve got news for you. You’re a “real” writer too.
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Letter To My Body

This is different… a bit weird, really. But I’ve written a letter to my body after reading Kate’s who was inspired by Andrea whom she found at Plus Size Models Unite. As awkward as it is, it really is a wonderful idea.

Dear Physique,

I’ve been so hard on you. You didn’t do one thing to deserve all of those hateful, negative feelings I had toward you. I apologize for that.

In the beginning, you and I were fine. We spent so much time outside doing fun things. I was so excited to take you places—sometimes I would forget to dress you but a neighbor lady would call to let my mother know that I was playing outside in my birthday suit. I was only two years old so I hope you understand.

You did great things before I learned about fear. When my uncle wanted to show me off to his new bride, he took me to the golf course and asked me to do back-hand-springs. I asked him how many. “As many as you want,” he said. You flipped on command. I stopped when I felt dizzy. My uncle smiled and said, “I counted 14.” I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate you letting me do those cool tricks when I was 8 years old.

The day I fell out of a tree and broke your arm was the day I quit being fearless. My world became a more cautious place at age ten. At age 12, it became a very self-conscious place. I put limitations on you. I didn’t even like looking at you.

I know you overheard so much of what was said about you…about your size, your weight, your shape. You would have preferred that my mind hadn’t bought into all of that but like a wimp, I did. You never wanted to do anything wimpy. That was all me.

I tried to force change on you. I looked at glossy magazines covers and wished your bones poked out like the beautiful, hungry models. I did exercises I learned in a book titled “Thin Thighs in Thirty Days” hoping you would cooperate.

But you didn’t want to be thin. You wanted to be strong.

I finally understood that around the time I turned twenty-five. I’m sorry it took me so long. I quit wishing your legs would grow longer and thinner because for whatever reason, God designed you to be strong. I let that settled into my soul one day and realized that you could carry people out of burning buildings if necessary. It made me feel like I had purpose. It made me smile.

Thank you for being so fertile and carrying all those babies. I don’t fully understand why you had to suffer Hyperemesis Gravidarum and take me along for that ungodly ride…but you survived it. We both did. Charlotte Bronte did not. As difficult as it was growing babies, you birthed them like an athlete. If birthing babies was an Olympic Event, you would definitely have qualified. You produced plenty of milk to nurture babies. I never once woke in the night to prepare a bottle, thanks to you. You allowed me to snuggle and feed and sleep, all at the same time. For nine years total. My kids benefited from your goodness.

I wish I had been as good to you as you were to me. The body-image thing haunted me for far too many years and you took the punishment for it. The year I turned 40, my mind finally saw things your way. Something about my granddaughter coming into the world reversed all of that negativity. One day she caught a glimpse of my behind and said, “I see your hiney. It’s beautiful!” And that was all it took.

In a world filled with heartache and stress where people eat Lexapro, Zoloft, and Prozac like candy, you’ve allowed me to thrive on nothing but chocolate and a great endorphin rush to help combat the blues. You’ve allowed me keep doing cartwheels after ACL Reconstruction on both knees, not to mention the Lumbar Discectomy and Laminectomy. If I had been successful at making your thighs thinner, you wouldn’t have bounced back from these things like you did because studies show that strong quads give us more God-given pain relief. You must have known I’d need it someday.

It amazes me that you still want to run and play and ride mountain bikes after all of that. You keep things interesting. I really do love you. You’ve been so very good to me.

I finally learned to listen to you and discovered that you prefer a workout called Leg Hell over the Thinner Thighs thing. You crave intensity no matter what your size. Today I am sore from the work-out you did yesterday. As we speak, you are repairing all those micro-tears in the muscle fibers. I made sure to feed you plenty of good food to help the process because if I’m lucky, I’ve still got half a lifetime with you.

Thank you for putting up with me.