An Open Letter To Oprah About Crop Tops And Body Positivity

An Open Letter to Oprah about Crop Tops and Body Positivity

This is a letter I wrote to Oprah Magazine in response to a call for reader input in the August 2015 issue. It is in response to the totally banal and fatphobic response to a reader question in O Magazine that folks should wear crop tops “If (and only if) they have flat stomachs.” I generally skim or skip the style and beauty content in O Magazine every month because it’s written towards folks who are seeking a more neutral style than I am looking for. But given the deep internet controversy I thought this was a great time to offer Oprah some unsolicited advice about how she could be doing better.

Since posts are better with photos of lots of folks with different bodies, I have asked my friends to be part of a crop top army, their photos and links are throughout this post.

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How Getting Neutral About Food Helped Dara Drop Sugar

How Getting Neutral About Food Helped Dara Drop Sugar

When I posted my thoughts about being a good ally to fat folks by getting neutral about food, Dara and I have had a lot of conversations about it, including a pretty startling revelation that I wasn't aware of. It turns out that Dara, working to get neutral about her food self-talk in order to be a better ally to me as a fat person, was able to transition to a low-sugar anti-cancer lifestyle a lot easier with food neutrality than if she had kept up agonizing about food being "bad" or "good." Her words on this are below.

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Be A Great Ally To Fat Folks By Getting Neutral About Food

Be a Great Ally to Fat Folks by Getting Neutral about Food

Nothing bums me out faster when I'm about to eat some food than someone commenting about food. Like this, "Oh I'm being SO BAD! I NEVER eat cupcakes!" Or "I really SHOULDN'T EAT THIS!" Or "I wish I could eat THAT but it would make me SO FAT!" Or "You're lucky you can eat whatever you WANT I will blow up like a BALOON!!!"

So what do you do when you're surrounded by the I'M SO BADs of the world?

When I'm in situations like that with people judging food I have a variety of responses. I'm pretty secure in my body and have a pretty deep analysis of the fatphobia in our culture so I'm pretty resilient to the commentary. I'm also a fat person whose reputation and activism often precedes her so I feel pretty confident piping up with something educational in the moment.

Here are some scripts that I employ...

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On Activism, Capacity And Seeing Yourself As “Enough”

On Activism, Capacity and Seeing Yourself as “Enough”

Activist movements, as in almost all things, can suck you dry—there is always more to be done, more people to reach out to, more actions to plan, more art to make, more reaching out. But at a certain point you have to be able to say, this is my limit. But we’re not socialized in a way to know what our limits are, to think thoughtfully about our capacity, and how to use self care in order to build our capacity. We're not socialized to be able to say, "Enough, I can't do this any longer." I've seen it wear down on people until disease forces them to make big life changes.

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The Power Of Authenticity: Bruce Jenner, Kanye West And My Lesbian Sorority Ice Cream Wrestling Party

The Power of Authenticity: Bruce Jenner, Kanye West and My Lesbian Sorority Ice Cream Wrestling Party

My favorite takeaway was the authenticity quote by Kanye West. He had told Kim Kardashian West, his wife and Bruce Jenner's step-daughter, this anecdote.

Look, I can be married to the most beautiful woman in the world, and I am. I can have the most beautiful little daughter in the world, and I have that. But I’m nothing if I can’t be me. If I can’t be true to myself, they don’t mean anything.

Kanye is exactly right. When you aren’t authentic to yourself, it is nearly impossible to enjoy your life. I spent a long time being depressed, suicidal, self-hating and body hating. It robbed me of the pleasures of the everyday. Making choices and taking risks to be my authentic self has saved my life.

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I’m Back On Facebook After They De-Activated My Account Asking For My Government ID

I’m Back on Facebook after they De-Activated My Account Asking for my Government ID

I wanted to tie up the loose ends about this because I don't like leaving a story hanging and also I want folks who are not using their government name on Facebook to know my story and get prepared.

I thought long and hard about whether or not to engage with Facebook ever again. On principle, I don't like that they require legal names or name authentication like this. But I have several friends who pointed out I've worked hard to get where I am and the body liberation work I do is best served by connecting with folks who I already know.

What I ended up submitting to Facebook on Monday night was a picture of my Driver's License, which has my government name, birthdate and photo like Facebook asked for. I submitted two supporting documents showing my name as Bevin Branlandingham.

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We Need To Be Talking About Lyme Disease In The Queer Community

We Need to Be Talking About Lyme Disease in the Queer Community

Ever since Leslie Feinberg died from Lyme Disease, I've known we need to talk more about Lyme Disease in the queer community. I didn't know how to have that conversation, so I just started to bone up and educate myself.

I watched the documentary Under Our Skin, free streaming on You Tube, which according to folks I know with Lyme, it is an accurate portrayal of what it's like to seek treatment for Lyme Disease and it is shitty. It's the kind of helpless I feel when I see really big world problems that need solutions. But I know what I do have control over and that's learning more about it, asking questions and opening conversations.

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Facebook De-Activated My Account Demanding A Government ID

Facebook De-Activated My Account Demanding a Government ID

After the day's events, I went to Facebook, thinking I could maybe talk to some friends who have been on lengthy dog diagnostic journeys. Or talk to some of my working class femme friends about being self-employed. Like so many times I've gone to Facebook, a nice aggregate of people I actually know in real life, I went to my phone browser and popped it in. I was greeted with a login screen, which is odd because I generally stay logged in to Facebook.

Once I logged in, Facebook asked me for my driver's license. Until I provide them some kind of identity verification from their list, I am locked out of Facebook. Not only am I locked out, but my friends report that they cannot find me, cannot message me and cannot see my profile. Facebook has made it so I no longer exist on their system.

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Lung Leavin’ Day: A Really Powerful Fear Releasing Ritual

Lung Leavin’ Day: A Really Powerful Fear Releasing Ritual

When Heather Von St. James was diagnosed with mesothelioma, as a new mom, she was full of fear. In her own words:

I was only given 15 months to live, and had to undergo a life changing procedure. On February 2nd I had my lung removed, which my sister declared LungLeavin' Day. We celebrate it every year by writing our biggest fears on a plate, and smashing them into a fire. LungLeavin' Day grows bigger every year.

I know first hand how powerful it is to have a project to pour your fears and intention into in the wake of life altering change... When my partner Dara was going through chemo for breast cancer, her chemo karaoke video production and her cancer vlog were incredible for her to orient herself towards looking for the positive. It also gave her something to focus on in the meanwhile to get to the next moment.

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My Fun Story About The Recreational Cannabis Store In Seattle

My Fun Story About the Recreational Cannabis Store in Seattle

The last day of our visit I really wanted to go do something in nature. Seattle has these pretty spectacular views of mountains (almost 360 degrees) and gorgeous parks and evergreen trees and I knew going back to Brooklyn meant WINTER in full effect. Nature chills me out and helps me reboot. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas and it wasn't just gloomy and no views that day, but raining. No one else was game for nature so I said, "Let's do something really Seattle-y." We decided to go to the flagship REI store to look around and to stop at the recreational marijuana store because I had never been to a store to purchase cannabis before and I thought it might make a fun story. Like "Hey friends, guess what I did in Seattle??"

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