Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2017-03-27

Why Feud: Bette and Joan is One of the Most Fabulous Shows on TV Right Now

Ryan Murphy, the creator of Glee and American Horror Story, is back with a new series on FX. Feud: Bette and Joan follows the story of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford while they film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, a horror movie released in 1962. Starring Jessica Lange as Joan and Susan Sarandon as Bette, Feud confronts and explores ageism and sexism in a way I have never seen on TV before and I am LIVING for it. We can learn so much about the effects of body currency by watching this show.

Joan Crawford is obsessed with preventing aging in scene after scene. In the first episode her in-home aesthetician is hustling hard at softening and tightening the skin on her neck while telling Joan there’s nothing to be done about the neck, really. Joan is often staring in the mirror with disappointment, rushing out of the dailies for Baby Jane because she hates how the lighting reflects her visual age. Joan famously said, as is repeated in the show, that twin hazards of fame were alcoholism and loneliness and her alcoholism is very well featured on the show.

Bette Davis is not immune to the sexism and ageism in Hollywood, either. Much like Joan, acting roles were drying up for her because Hollywood studios weren’t producing movies for women their age. This is explained in back story how the two women who were famously feuding came to work on this film together. In the first episode Joan hunts through library books for a story that could be a script with a strong character for her.

OUTFITS. I’m getting so many ideas for my fatshion bucket list for vintage looks to recreate from this show. Especially that dressing gown Joan wears on the set of Baby Jane. This show is my gender.

Joan Crawford’s grief at the aging process is made so much worse by her investment in a system of body currency. This term was coined by Jes Baker of The Militant Baker, and it describes the value placed on certain bodies based on oppressions and privileges. In our society, body size, ability, age, gender presentation, race and a whole slew of other variables receive a certain value. This is why a lot of fat hatred is rooted in fear—if people give up their body currency they will lose some sort of access to privilege, or they are constantly in fear themselves of getting fat and losing their privilege. But we can choose whether we are invested in this system or not, relieving ourselves from that constant source of terror. It’s helpful to remember that the system of body currency is something we are taught to keep us supporting the billion dollar diet and cosmetic industries who exploit the fear they create.

Joan is in agony over her age and her shifting career. I absolutely love that this show is on TV because it shows so beautifully the true cost of investment in this system in the long run and especially later in life (hello, we are all getting older).

I’m obsessed with the set used for Joan Crawford’s house and love the sumptuous colors and saturated pastels and amazing wallpaper and draperies. This is the second aesthetician we see in her in home spa and I wonder if this is to indicate the first woman was fired because she said things Joan didn’t want to hear about the visual affects of aging?

I think a lot about the effects of sexism and ageism on the women I admire. This includes my beloved Grandmother and my idol Dolly Parton. Grandmother cared very deeply about her looks. She was pretty broke in the earlier part of her life, especially as a single mother in the sixties. In those times her beauty was great currency.

She eventually found success as a real estate agent in Beverly Hills, where it’s all image all the time. Aging was hard on her. So was trusting other women. Especially given how many women accused her of sleeping with their husbands before she remarried, simply because she was beautiful and single–“This is what it was like in the sixties, Dear,” as she would say.

I look at Dolly Parton and how she hides more and more of her body, especially her hands. You’ll never see her without something over them. I like to think of it as the “more is more” approach to accessorizing that I prefer, but I always wonder if it is to hide the effects of aging on her hands.

All of Hedda Hopper’s outfits in the show are more is more. I would be such a good mom to that feathery hat.

The men stirring the pot in the feud between Joan and Bette are relying on scarcity and body currency to create the tension between them. It works. Joan and Bette feel like they are fighting over the same few scraps: scripts featuring any roles for older women (few and far between), attention from men, money.

If Joan and Bette divested from body currency, they might be able to be bouyed by one another’s fabulousness. Whenever I’m around other babes who are babing to the max, I feel like more of a babe. I don’t feel overshadowed because I know there’s actually enough light to go around. But Joan and Bette certainly didn’t live like that.

I love that in the telling of the story for the TV show Ryan Murphy uses Olivia de Havilland and Joan Blondell, other actresses of their generation, in documentary interviews about the feud, creating a chorus of women who articulate the experience we see Bette and Joan going through. They talk about how there’s only one “it girl” at a time and how lonely it gets when the roles and attention dry up.

Because Joan Crawford is so invested in the system of body currency she is experiencing multiple, devastating losses. When you divest from the system of body currency, you do not lose when you age. You simply get older and enjoy life more, which ironically, has a pretty amazing effect on you at a cellular level. From what I have learned, the fountain of youth is to not give any fucks about aging.

Ryan Murphy is openly gay so it doesn’t surprise that there’s a great gay subplot.

But you can’t ignore the foundation the patriarchy laid for this feud and there was and still is an actual scarcity of roles for older women actresses. This is where Ryan Murphy is not only doing great social justice work by confronting sexism and ageism in his new series—he is actively interrupting the sexism and ageism by writing a great script for some phenomenal actresses to shine bright. The whole series is sumptuous in its great writing, gorgeous sixties sets, outrageously beautiful clothing and fabulous women actresses. There is even an openly gay character showing what it’s like for gay actors pre-Stonewall.

I lament there is a complete lack of roles for people of color in the series and I definitely think he can do better in that regard. He picks up where Mad Men left off in many ways with the opening credits an homage to the Mad Men opener, attention to vintage detail and casting Kiernan Shipka in the role of B.D. Sherry (Bette’s daughter), whose presence makes you feel like it’s just the next chapter of Sally Draper’s life. In some ways he is using the neural pathways folks already have for Mad Men and other heavy attention to detail vintage series but I wish that more directors working with historical content were willing to use racially revisionist casting reflecting current values the way we see with Hamilton.

So looks like it is a page ripped from Mad Men in the best ways. I miss that show!

Nonetheless, Ryan Murphy’s storytelling is fabulous. Even if you know most of the backstory for the show, the way he tells the story is the real delight. When you get to the end of Episode Four (which aired last night), just note the way he sets up the scene where Joan finds out about the Oscar nominations. It’s absolutely perfect.

Catch-up with Feud on demand as well as online with a cable subscriber login.

2016-12-01

In Response to the Unacceptable Fat Shaming on the Gilmore Girls Relaunch (No Spoilers)

I love Gilmore Girls. My social media followers know I’ve been talking about the impending Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life four episode revival on Netflix for months. I even went to one of the Luke’s diner pop-up events to get in on the fan frenzy!

I identify with all three generations of Gilmore Girls. Like me, Emily Gilmore derives such satisfaction from curating an amazing event. Rory’s place among the strong personality conflicts between Lorelei and Emily is very reminiscent of my family’s dynamic. But it’s Lorelei who I relate to most of all. Her vulnerability that she tries so hard to mask, her fierce (to a fault) independence, her compulsion to make everything as fun as possible. I adore her.

I have been savoring the show’s relaunch since Friday. I finally got to the “Summer” episode and was shocked when the episode opened with Rory and Lorelei fat shaming the people of Stars Hollow at the municipal pool. They sit on lounge chairs and critique fat bodies, including someone they call “Back Fat Pat.” I thought, Surely this is going to be redeemed by some kind of pie in the face embarrassment for the protagonists. The redemption never came.

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In fact, the fat shaming continued in another scene at the pool, this time with “Back Fat Pat” simply appearing in a speedo, his fat body framed in the shot headless–all we ever see of Pat is a fat body in tight swim trunks. He is simply a body for Lorelei and Rory to make fun of for not conforming to cultural body standards.

The Headless Fatty, a term coined by the fabulous Dr. Charlotte Cooper, is a trope that the news loves to use when talking about “obesity” that is incredibly harmful to fat people. It takes the humanity away and reduces them to a body that society labels imperfect. I have rarely seen this employed in a fictional context and was horrified to see the Gilmore Girls relaunch perpetuating it.

It hurt a lot to watch it happening on a show I love. Here’s the character I relate to most ruthlessly mocking fat bodies. It’s never okay to talk about someone else’s body–I like to say “My body is nobody’s business but my own, and neither is anyone else’s.”

bevinshameless2010suitPhoto by Sophie Spinelle of Shameless Photography.

Gilmore Girls has a real shot to be groundbreaking in terms of fat acceptance. Their show ran from 2000-2007 and featured a main character, Sookie, who was fat. Sure, she was the fat best friend, a role fat people have been occupying forever. But she was at least a fleshed out character, with a romantic life and normalized by the show. Melissa McCarthy, the actress who played Sookie, went on to become an incredibly successful movie actress and fashion designer. The series also included a body diverse cast of supporting characters, including Babette, Miss Patty and Taylor. None of these people has been punished or mocked for their size on the show.

In spite of launching the career of one of the most famous fat women in the world, the original series Gilmore Girls was not immune to casual fatphobia, homophobia and transphobia. Season Four was especially ripe with casual fatphobia.

In my house we use a casual call out system to keep ourselves from allowing fat shaming (or racism, slut shaming, ageism, etc…) to become normalized. I don’t ever want to be hypnotized into thinking that any of that stuff is okay or normal. When we see something, we call it out. “Casual fatphobia,” is all you need to say to remind yourself that all bodies are good bodies and what dominant paradigm the show you’re watching is perpetuating.

I couldn’t help but notice that during their fat mocking, Lorelei and Rory are bundled up in caftans and dresses and not exposing their bodies in any way. The fact that they are doing their body shaming at a pool while totally covering up their own bodies is an interesting juxtaposition. I wonder if it is a commentary on Lorelei and Rory’s body images.

roryloreleiwalkThese aren’t the full caftans from the scene but a similar look.

I like to think about judgement as an exponential force–when you point a finger you have three pointing back at you. This is not just a metaphor. Try pointing your finger and notice where the rest of your fingers rest. I wonder if the styling choice to have them covered up while mocking people like Pat who don’t care about their body being exposed was something we could read into their characters? Were the Palladinos intentionally creating this situation as a commentary on Lorelei and Rory? If they did, they completely failed by not later addressing it.

For me this comes back down to body currency, a concept I learned from Jes Baker of The Militant Baker. Body currency is the idea that certain bodies have more value than others. Lorelei and Rory are mocking people based on their perceived lack of body currency by being fat. When you invest in body currency, the self-judgement (whether for that same thing or for other flaws) is exponentially higher. The choice to stay in judgement, stay invested in body currency, means that you’ll never be free. Everyone is at risk of losing their body currency–our bodies are always aging, becoming fat is always a risk. We are literally all only temporarily able-bodied. Giving up on judgement and disinvesting in body currency is a practice that makes your life so much easier to live.

I thought about Lorelei’s mother and Rory’s Grandmother, Emily who is so full of judgment and clearly so unhappy. Though Lorelei eschews everything her mother holds dear, she is perpetuating one of Emily’s worst character traits.

Rory and Lorelei are both impossibly skinny for how much junk food they eat. We all know folks who eat like that and don’t gain weight–a constant statistic that comes up the Health at Every Size Movement. Plenty of fat bodies are more healthy than the Loreleis and Rorys of the world.

Body positivity is having a heyday. Over half of all US women are size 16 and up, in the past two years we’ve had a plus size model on the cover of Sports Illustrated, a size 22 supermodel on the cover of People Magazine, and national ad campaigns that humanize fat people and recognize size diversity as simply a human characteristic.

In this climate of body positivity, the Palladinos choose to perpetuate disgust of fat bodies rather than create something else to show off Rory and Lorelei’s witty banter. A topic that doesn’t alienate half of their audience. They chose to put teens and pre teen audience members at further risk for disordered eating and fat teens at further suicide risk.

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In Drumpf’s America it is so vital that we engage critically with our news and our media. We cannot let these things hypnotize us and we cannot normalize discrimination. To be truly body positive is to work in solidarity with all bodies–ages, races, sexualities, gender expressions, religions, abilities. Thus, we must also resist normalizing racism, islamophobia, anti-semitism, misogyny, whorephobia, ageism, and all other forms of body shaming.Mocking fat bodies is not acceptable, it is not okay that this was happening on the Gilmore Girls relaunch.

These scenes have taken something I had a lot of joy about (they even played one of my favorite Dolly Parton songs over the credits for Episode One) and soured it for me. I still love it, I still cried through much of the last episode, but there’s a pall on a thing I used to love with full fledged enthusiasm.

I wonder if Melissa McCarthy said anything to the Palladinos after watching those scenes with Lorelei and Rory at the pool? I wonder if a body positive ally has brought this up with the Palladinos? I wonder if they would be willing to offer an apology and a promise to not perpetuate body fascism in further Gilmore Girls relaunches?

I believe all bodies are worthy of love exactly as they are. I’m so disappointed that a show that did so much for body diversity on TV does not feel the same way.

2016-08-24

I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times: General Life Update from Bevin’s HQ

Friends! I just got back from one of the most inspirational and fulfilling weeks of my life. Intentional community, dream trip, deep emotions, deep caring, connections, luxury bathtubs. It was such a surprise to me that the experience was so deep and so much of what I needed.

I was blogging through the process of my transition to LA from Brooklyn, but things got pretty derailed for me as I have been affected both by the de-stability of the transition and the effects of the mental illness and substance abuse of a close friend. Shit has been rough.

How blessed I feel to have had this experience. Intentional community is incredibly healing for me. Summer camp did that for me as a kid and a teen. The Femme Conference did that for me for awhile, so did performing with my drag king troupe in the early 2000s. Now I have this new experience to reflect on. I’m excited to dive in and tell you all about what I saw, heard, learned, felt and experienced. But first, I think I need to paint a picture of what’s been going on in my life for context.

Exciting Stuff for my Body Positive Art and Activism
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I’m presenting at the Fat Activism Conference in September! It’s an online conference happening September 23-25, 2016 that you can listen to by phone or computer from wherever you are, you’ll also receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen/read at your convenience. It is super financially and time accessible as far as conferences go. I recorded my speech Disinvesting from Body Currency and Building Activist Resilience in July and I can’t wait to hear what all these other influencers and thought leaders have to say. Big love to the Fat Activism Conference organizers for all their hard work putting it together! <3<3

I was featured in a Buzzfeed article about non-traditional beach wear. Lots of hot and stylish people give their ideas. Many lustworthy instagrams to follow are aggregated. Your girl represented for the fat, flamboyant, vintage collecting femmes.

My friend Jes Baker reposted an article of mine on her incredibly influential body positive blog The Militant Baker. She’s been doing some amazing writing herself and amplifying other body positive thought leaders you’ll be interested in. My post she reposted is 5 Simple Things You Can Do to Start Feeling Okay About Your Body Today.

I also must take this opportunity to plug Dollypalooza in NYC Sept 3rd and LA on October 29th! Come out and party for a cause!

Self Care

I believe self care stretches time (thanks to Kelli Jean Drinkwater’s therapist for that nugget) and in times of rough stuff I have been centering my life around that. In terms of time management I try to pick one modality and wrap my schedule around that per week. I just kind of assess what my greatest needs are and go from there.

4684915640_cddd098660_zDear Goddess: Please give unto me a trip to Sydney to visit my soul sister Kelli Jean. Love, Bevin. Photo from NOLOSE in 2010.

I have mentioned for years that I’m in a 12 step program for family and friends of alcoholics and it has been one of the best choices I have ever made for my well-being. Since shit has been going down with my friend, I’ve been going to meetings about 3 days a week. It’s kind of easy to center life around meetings because they are scheduled. Unlike working out at the gym or “whenever” self care, you make a commitment to get to that 10AM Tuesday morning meeting.

I have had a hard time working out because of my heat sickness and the 100 degree hot like the surface of the sun weather in LA (like that time I passed out at the Getty after doing aqua jog) so instead lately I’m doing light stretching, dancing, and taking sunset walks with my partner Dara and our magical dog Macy.

I believe food is foundational and for awhile I was doing a lot of emotional eating. Eating from a place of “I know I gotta eat and it will gladden my taste buds to have this food that doesn’t serve my chronic digestive disorder so I’m going to do it anyway.” I jumped in on another whole foods summer reset cleanse with my body positive health coach Heartbeets Holistic Health. It’s a keep you hella full and take you by the hand and teach you how to prepare and eat anti-inflammatory foods program. Very veggie focused with access to meat if it’s your thing. Tons of recipes. Tons of self care modalities like dry brushing and detox baths.

Once you do Vic’s cleanse one time subsequent cleanses are gratis. I find when I’m doing a lot of traveling it is soooo helpful for me to focus on whole foods anti-inflammatory eating at home. It’s centering and also keeps the travel food from totally fucking up my life while I’m out of town and don’t have as much control over my food. So during the cleanse I was centering my life around cooking, grocery shopping and nourishing me and Dara.

I was shocked at how much better my capacity for dealing with life’s shit storms got when I was doing this cleansing. My moods stabilized and I was better able to be present with Big Feelings. Like, literally improved my relationship because when I’m in a better space emotionally so is Dara (#Empath4Empath is a tightrope sometimes). By Day 5 I could feel that initial impulse to freak out about something but I didn’t actually freak out. I was like seeing my Big Feelings from a calm and centered space and didn’t need to let it melt me down. What a gift I gave myself by focusing on healing my gut.

10176302283_70a9713433_oThank you forever Vic. I love you. (Vic’s in the center, we’re surrounded by Randee and Leo.)

Spirituality

I moved to LA to deepen my spiritual gifts and have continued to open myself up to new thoughts and ideas and create new spiritual practices. Given all of the tremendous devastation going on in the world at large right now, listening to NPR makes it hard to resist bawling your eyes out or settle into a default mode of rage. I know rage doesn’t serve me. So I like to employ prayer, gratitude and meditation to help elevate the world. At least it’s a thing I can do. I believe in good vibes. I believe do gooders in the world make the world a better place just by believing in hope. I’ll revisit that idea in a later post.

But let’s just say right now faith is kind of all I have in a lot of arenas of my life. I find it strengthens me when I can lean into it. It’s kind of like when you work out and build your core muscles your back pain gets better? Working out my faith really helps me stand tall in the face of an oppressive world that doesn’t value all human lives equally.

$$$ Hustle $$$

Capitalism is real and your girl has to pay those student loans and health insurance premiums, rent and vet bills. Moving to LA we knew that we had a finite amount of savings to live off of, we knew that I was working to retire from the practice of law and that we’re both building up small businesses. (Dara has a consulting business focusing on educational leadership.)

I believe being transparent about money is a form of classist resilience. They don’t want us to talk about money because keeping us in shame about how we are surviving because shame keeps us complacent. Right now I have about $1,500 in my bank account. Dara just got a check so we know how we pay October’s rent. But last week we didn’t know.

Seven months into our move to LA the hustle is real. I’ve lived before not knowing when next month’s rent is going to come and having to have faith it will—it never feels great. Here’s a list of how I’m gathering my acorns:

Desiree Alliance: I am so fortunate to work with an incredibly bad ass activist, Cris Sardina, who runs Desiree Alliance, a sex worker’s rights non-profit. Things got really busy before our biannual conference in July in New Orleans. We bring together activists working for decriminalization, direct service providers, professionals, academics, current and former sex workers and allies for five days of programming. We had some extraordinary keynote speakers, like Miss Major who is one of our surviving elders from Stonewall. She’s a trans woman of color dedicated to supporting trans women of color in the prison system through her non-profit TGI Justice (trans women of color are disproportionately incarcerated due to transmysoginy, racism and classism). Miss Major is a source of strength and resilience inspiration and just such a sweetheart. There is a movie about her that is winning awards all over the documentary circuit called Major! and you should prioritize seeing it. Her story is important and so inspirational.

I don’t make a ton of money as the finance officer of Desiree Alliance but it is meaningful work I feel honored to do. I’m looking forward to writing more grants with Cris to set up a sex worker activist mentoring program.

crisbevindararueMe, Cris, Dara and her baby granddaughter Rue, named for Rue McClanahan from Golden Girls.

Social Media Party Monitor for The Militant Baker: My friend Jes Baker is what I would call a “more famous body positive activist than me” and has hundreds of thousands of followers. That’s a lot of folks who comment and interact with her on social media and since her work challenges the concept of body currency the trolls who have nothing better to do than hate on awesome fat women uplifting people come out from under their bridges to say shitty things. I feel like a guardian who gets to make it easier for Jes to do her great work in the world. Read her book Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls (I’m quoted in it!!!). 

Dara wondered how I do it without having it affect me since I do the same kind of activism. I don’t know, it’s just easier for me partially because I get paid and partially because it is not directed at me and I know it makes Jes’ capacity greater. One of my life dharmas is to support activist resilience and somehow the purpose makes it easier for me read and delightfully block shit. And one day I’ll be influential enough to hire my own body positive activist friend to do that work for me! It’s great to have a job that is literally in line with your activism, however small it is.

jesbakerbevinchangetheworldHelping Jes change the world is an honor.

Law: I’m still maintaining an office in NYC so that I can practice real estate closings and estate planning for returning clients and friends in NYC. Most of my work is remote anyway and I have a great closing attorney who works with me when I can’t get to NYC for a closing. I just binge watched a ton of Continuing Legal Education classes in June and it was kind of fun learning about cannabis law, a very fascinating area I have no desire to practice in (still working on retiring from practice not starting something new) but as a media maker it’s helpful to have a fuller understanding of the evolving legal climate around cannabis.

The class about substance abuse for lawyers was fascinating, it taught me about how the qualities that makes one an effective attorney lends itself to suicide (the third leading cause of death among lawyers) and really highlighted for me why I am retiring.

Bevin’s Tea: I am still working on my Marie Forleo’s B-School course work and developing my business. I went to the World Tea Expo and cannot wait to have capacity to video blog about all the great teas I learned about. It’s both fun to be working towards a business I am extremely passionate about and frustrating about how long it takes to start something with no capital.

I have been learning so much both in practice and in B-School about creating a product-based business. Supporting artists and activists who maybe don’t have time or money to go get energy healing to take the fifteen minutes to prepare and consume a cup of reiki-infused tea is definitely part of my dharma. Thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered tea, it really helps a lot to learn the business by doing and I love the feedback. Can’t wait for you to see the product packaging I’m developing with my graphic designer!

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I also had no idea how much work it takes to start a new business and am taking each failure, mistake and triumph as necessary stepping stones to becoming the wildly successful energy healing mogul I know I can be. Also I want a line of clothing on QVC someday. As Dolly Parton says, Dream More!

Blog: My blog is a source of trickling income. I get gift cards for Amazon.com. When readers click links and buy literally anything on the site I get a commission. That helps me buy stuff for the house.

I get cash money from Bandelettes, the single sexiest form of chub rub prevention on the market (I used to spend all my commission on fatkinis but lately it’s gotta pay the bills).

The blog leads to the occasional speaking gig or sponsored blog post. If you want to reach a bunch of awesome people about your product or service, hit me up queerfatfemme at gmail.com. A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has pre-ordered tea through my blog or used the Amazon referral link. Seriously helping right now.

everybodyeverybootyMe in my EveryBody tank and Dara in her Everybooty tee-shirt. East Coast West Coast queer lifestyles. Gym vs pride party.

OMG how many people have told me I “should just get a job” when I have a lot of them and am working towards being a full time body positive artist/activist/healer. But… I am getting a job, in addition to all the other jobs I have. I had to write my first resume focused on body positive activism! There’s a new body positive gym opening up 6 minutes from my house in Northeast LA. EveryBody is revolutionary, I’m honored to be part of the team.

It’s my deep pleasure to announce that I got a job as a fitness instructor doing body positive, accessible movement classes. I don’t think I would have ever thought in my whole life I would move to LA and become a fat femme Richard Simmons without the diet talk, but I’m really cute at it. I had done two different drag acts where we did fitness routines and those were for revolution not movement motivation but I’m stoked to get to be doing it for cash. I’ll give you more info when I have it.

Friends who visit LA–keep me updated because part of the class will involve interviews with artists and activists. Imagine a drag queen special guest star in a fitness class? I can’t wait to blow your mind. It’s like the next step to my body positive dance parties is to facilitate a dance party as part of moving and loving our bodies and healing collectively.

TRAVEL

I love to travel and have had some great opportunities this summer. I went to New Orleans for the Desiree Alliance conference and my friend Dana just happened to be staying at the same hotel after a bachelorette party. There’s nothing better than being at work at a conference dealing with the complaints of the AV guy and have a hot butch friend wearing a Dolly Parton tee shirt interrupt to hand you the best fried chicken in the world. I ate that fried chicken later on naked in my hotel room and it was the best moment.

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I went to Columbus a couple of weeks ago to visit my close friends Christie and Becky and their daughters/my nieces Etta and Joey. Our friends Erica and Amy joined us from Philly with their kids August and Ani. Yes, I have lesbian friends whose baby’s nickname is Ani and I think that’s a #lesbianlevelup. It’s such a gift to be close to children and get to be part of their growing up. My heart swelled with pride when Etta and Joey were on a meditation pillow showing me how they find “Inner peeeeessss.” I love those kids so much.

Next week I head to NYC for Dollypalooza for my first time back since we left in late December. My heart is happy and also breaks a little because I know I won’t get to see nearly everyone I want to while I’m in town.

Last week I was overseas and I have an epic series of blog posts about that a comin’.

auntbevinettaandjoeyMy goal is to always have it be THE MOST FUN EVER when Aunt Bevin comes to town. I taught them how to hop train cars using this long cart at Target.

BEVIN <3 DARA

Dara and I never formally lived together before we moved to LA. Shit has been rough for us externally but we continue to find one another as a source of strength. Every time we hit a rough patch, we get through it and things get even stronger between us. We’ve talked about marriage obviously (and the legal protection offered would be really cool) but we’re waiting until we have the cash to have the blow out epic wedding of our dreams to pursue the level up. Queers have been finding creative ways of honoring our love connections for years outside of marriage and I am having a great time creating family culture and ritual with her based around our super woo spirituality and her Jewish cultural heritage.

bevindarathemedressI don’t support colonial imperialism but I do love red white and blue. How lucky that Dara loves theme dress as much as me?

Our house is cute as fuck and I’m learning how to let go of my perfectionism about it. House projects are constantly mounting and my Mariah Carey closet is still not finished. I was making myself suffer mentally and emotionally because I had this idea that everything “should” be done by now. I know now I had expectations that weren’t aligned with reality and given lack of cash, time and capacity we can’t have everything done yet. Houses are a lot of work, it’s like having another pet but way more demanding. I’m relying now on the power of six months and sitting in gratitude for what is done. We have a fridge (that wasn’t always true). I have my dream kitchen faucet we paid for through a rent reduction when the last one burst.

Now I just let it go, trust the universe and sing that song I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times

My goodness it feels good to be back to real talk on the blog. More soon. Sending love out to all who need it.

2015-07-08

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.

bevindarapridePhoto by Tinker Coalescing.

What Dara says is in alignment with what Health Coach Isabel Foxen Duke says about the diet-binge cycle. Hating your body creates the desire to emotionally eat which is a feedback loop that causes more body hatred. When you get neutral about your food it helps you detach from emotional eating as well.

Some background of Dara’s choice to go for a low-sugar anti-cancer diet. We believe pretty strongly that her breast cancer was the result of high stress. Prior to doing the Anti-Candida Murder plan I read the book The Candida Cure, which talks about how when your body is stressed out, your blood sugar spikes–just as though you ate a donut. Lots of studies show lots of things about preventing cancer reoccurrence but for sure creating a less stressful lifestyle comes up a lot. Lots of studies talk about how cancer feeds off sugar. So, we believe stress becomes sugar and sugar feeds cancer. (Dara did a video blog about this theory when she announced she was stepping back from the global initiative she started and self-funded.)

The eating plan she follows is based on Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Cancer diet, if you’re interested in reading more. Lots of green veggies, plant-based whole foods, a little bit of meat (that’s not in the Kris Carr plan, but you do what you do), whole grains, yadda yadda yadda.

Anyway, here are Dara’s words about getting to food neutrality.

IMG957531Dara doing paddleboard yoga during our trip to Key West.

When Bevin first asked me to stop talking outloud about my uphill battle with cutting sugar from my diet (a step that research suggests prevents cancer recurrence), I had mixed reactions. I mean, cancer is a whole different thing than body positivity, right? Surely, the same rules of food neutrality don’t apply to me?

Because I love my partner deeply, and so respect the work she does in the world to help everyone love and value their bodies, I decided to give it a try. (I mean, I could always use the Cancer Card to say, “Baby, this just isn’t working for me” and know I would get a free pass.) Instead, I decided to give it a shot… and in doing so, I had a surprising and powerful realization: IT ACTUALLY GOT EASIER TO SAY NO TO SUGAR!

I don’t know how it happened to be honest, but I think it got easier to say no to sweets because instead of badgering myself (outloud often) about whether or not I should eat something, and what it would mean about me, and my lack of discipline, or my willingness to commit to staying alive… instead of having this agonizing back and forth, I instead just said a simple ‘no thank you.’ And that was that.

What would normally take up at least 10 minutes of space in my brain, and cause unknown quantities of anxiety and self-flagellation pretty much just went POOF! Gone. Buh-Bye!

It made me realize just how much my anxiety about what I was eating was wrapped up in my head. How much of a victim I was to my own insecurities and doubts. Making the decision to be neutral about food put me back in control, and enabled my rational brain to take the lead, while my negative internal chatter was forced to sit quietly in the back of the room.

Now, I’m not saying it’s easy to turn down cookie-cake or a jelly-filled donut when offered – and I’m not even saying that I do turn it down all the time. But I will say that it no longer consumes my thinking like it once did. And I no longer feel guilt or shame about my decisions. I feel stronger, more in control… and (as a result of the fact that I now eat less sugar) can say that I have a better chance of living the rest of my life cancer-free.

IMG_7020At the Dyke March in 2014, just about a month after her last chemo treatment.

I am grateful to Bevin for helping me better understand the idea of body currency and food neutrality. As a fat ally, I have for sure sought to prioritize ways of being that enable all bodies to been loved exactly as they are. But this side benefit of being able to apply the concepts to my own health, to be able to live a longer, happier life? That one I didn’t see coming.

It’s true what Dara said, if she needed to keep externally processing about food to support her anti-cancer goals we would have come up with another solution, another way to talk about food that isn’t laden with shame and guilt. We work together to mutually support our goals. I’m really grateful that I had a way in which I needed her to work as a thin ally to me and it ended up enhancing her goals!

You can read more about Dara’s cancer journey on her cancer Tumblr page as well as read my posts about going through chemo and her diagnosis process.

2015-06-25

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!!!”

If you want to watch a hilarious send up of this phenomenon check out this Amy Schumer skit. Where everything they eat is the bad thing, not killing a gerbil for fun.

551535_10153123306043749_7782605515862982091_nFood can be so confusing! Who knows what is a “good” food or a “bad” food–the media is always changing their mind!

Listen, I get it. We live in a fatphobic society where all bodies are vilified. Either you’re fat or you COULD get fat. Living in fear of being fat in a fatphobic society brings out the worst in people. Food is super threatening and triggering of all of those perpetuated fears. We have this contradictory culture in America where we hate on fat bodies yet have all this food that is normalized in the American diet that actually can cause weight gain. Where commercials on TV cycle between McDonalds and Coca-Cola and Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. What a mind fuck.

Words are SO powerful. When you speak something again and again to yourself or out loud, you are creating truth. I learned early on in my journey to love myself that language was one of the first things to change in order to shift your consciousness. When people shit talk food and bodies, it erodes self-confidence, body love and food enjoyment.

I think the best thing we can do, as fat folks and folks working in solidarity with us, is to refuse to participate in the system of body currency perpetuated by society. A system of body currency, where certain bodies are privileged over other bodies, creates competition, body hatred, feelings of never being enough, endless fear about body change. Body currency doesn’t just affect fat folks, it affects folks with any non-normative body–people of color, older people (we are literally all aging), disabled folks (we are literally all only temporarily able bodied), trans* folks, etc… I learned about body currency from the brilliant Jes Baker of The Militant Baker. Her analysis of why people hate Tess (Munster) Holliday and other fat happy people is totally spot on.

551438_10153458325913223_472698898048493744_nCelebrating a wedding with fancy friends with all different genders and bodies! Photo by Emily Huber of Seeing Through the Hands massage, a favorite body positive massage therapist here in Brooklyn.

Checking out of a system of body currency means assigning no hierarchical value to your body and no hierarchical value to other bodies. It means you love your body AND you leave lots of space for loving all the other kinds of bodies out there.

So you’re sitting around the lunch room at work, out to dinner with friends, at a BBQ at your parents’ house and suddenly everyone is talking about their food being SO BAD, or “I was SO GOOD, I only had three pieces of turkey bacon.” I mean. How alienating. All these people are doing is making food the enemy and turning the top soil of body hatred.

Body hatred for the fat people around them who just sit silently and assume everyone in the room is judging their bodies. Body hatred for the little kids around them are absorbing all of that food shame and body hatred like SPONGES. Body hatred for the people around them who are just trying to enjoy their burgers and don’t want to think about anything but their food enjoyment.

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

10277472_10153405563288749_6914403281423525504_nMe and one of my favorite fat folks with whom to enjoy food, Devon Devine of the SF party Hard French.

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

Here are some scripts that I employ:

“Hey, I try to be neutral about food because I think all bodies are good bodies.”

“Hey I’m worried about commenting about the value of food and body insecurity in front of these little ears nearby. I’d love to help them love bodies of all sizes so they don’t end up with food or body issues.”

“Cultivating a culture of food enjoyment is really important to me. I would love to enjoy this delicious food instead of assigning value to it!”

1798876_10153291498942464_5151942065411462089_nJack Dawson wearing a gorgeous outfit. I freaking love the pop of color on the sunglasses and the tie pattern over the shirt and the pocket square. Killing it.

My friend Jack Dawson sent a dispatch from their fatphobic corporate office life that I LOVE. “My female coworkers regularly express their appreciation for me because ‘Jack is SO nice, Jack never judges what I eat, even when I’m sooo unhealthy!’ Pretty much every day at lunch time I find myself saying some version of ‘I actually think that everyone is the boss of their own body and I support people in making whatever choices they want with their bodies, so it’s great that you’re eating what feels good for you today!’ In response to some kind of ‘Don’t judge me!’ or ‘I’m so bad!’ comment from coworkers.”

Being an ally to fat folks is especially important when you are a person of thin privilege. People get especially fatphobic around folks who they don’t perceive as marginalized in that way. My bestie Rachael calls it being a secret agent on behalf of fat folks, so when people hear you speaking truth to the all bodies are worthy of love exactly as they are party line, they are taken by surprise and also sinks in a little better.

10421425_10102336927006350_7030431944225492207_nThis photo was of the time I introduced my friend Leo to Jack Dawson, who we started calling “New Leo” because they both resemble a young Leonardo DiCaprio and also Leo moved away. Photo by my health coach Vic.

If you want to go a little deeper than these scripts, try to create a lifestyle where you are actually neutral about food! I find this a wonderful daily challenge as a person who is fat and proud, who knows what kinds of food I am sensitive to and the effect they have on my body. (I have a chronic digestive disease that is wildly affected by the food I eat.) In my internal monologue, I could say, “I’m being so bad I’m eating this gluteny piece of wedding cake!” But instead I just think to myself, “I am making a choice about participating in the food-centered nature of this celebration and I accept the physical consequences that will surely develop tomorrow. I’ll take a probiotic about it and I will make different choices tomorrow.” Sometimes replacing an internal monologue with something very long that actually explains your feelings and what is happening in a neutral way is really effective in changing the way you think.

I work with my partner on this all the time, too. She is on a super low sugar anti-cancer diet after her experience with breast cancer. (We intend her to be “one and done” with cancer, so we’re employing lots of holistic ways in which we can keep her cancer free.) I cook 90% of her food so I work hard to make sure she eats in alignment with her body and her spiritual guidance around her body.

Dara is an external processor so listening to her process externally about her food choices gives me the opportunity to support her with reframing her language to be food neutral. It’s also helpful, too, that as a Body Liberation coach I can coach her into how she talks about food so it isn’t loaded with shame when she wants to have some sugar or whatever. Life is for living and life is for pleasure–everything in balance.

It’s important to me, as a fat person who is dating a person with thin privilege, that she knows her privilege and works with me 100% of the time on team Stepping out of Body Currency. (Which she does, Dara is amazing.) I’ve dated fat and thin people who were not 100% body positive and it was really shitty. It’s not about her eating sugar or not, I don’t care if she does, it’s just about how you use language to express your feelings about food and whether that language is perpetuating body currency.

10996651_10153116129793749_5950987657574205891_nI love Dara a lot, she is super supportive and open to new ways of speaking and being in the world. I feel so grateful to have such a wonderful partner in adventure.

In the words of Nicki Minaj “Life is a journey, I just want to enjoy the ride.” I can’t enjoy my food around folks who are shit talking food. So I do my best to create environments where food enjoyment is valued and food is value-neutral. I invite you to join me, life is much more fun this way!!

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