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

2013-06-18

Plus Size Pageant Documentary–There She Is and some questions for my readership about being fat and expressing gender

I was asked by the filmmakers of a new documentary released yesterday to watch a sneak preview. I was cuddled up in a cabin in the woods with a bunch of my queer besties and it seemed like the perfect activity for a rainy day. Now that it’s released world-wide for free on the internet, I want to share it with my readership.

From the press kit: “There She Is follows two plus size pageant queens as they prepare for an upcoming pageant. They discuss their lives as plus size women, including how they feel when others’ perceptions of their appearance clash with their own. The film challenges the viewer to examine his/her own definition of beauty and the ways in which it affects our everyday lives.”

It’s very fat acceptance 101 but also very human. It’s full of pretty dresses and watching girls do make-up (one of my favorite things to watch).

I have some thoughts about the film, so read on for my feelings or you can watch the movie and then read what I have to say. I’d love to hear your reactions, too.

Planning the next trip to the house.
I accidentally bought an evangelical christian guide to retreat planning when at the used book sale.

Here is the full film (about 20 minutes long)–the link to the website is here.

Or just watch the trailer:

I feel strongly that pageants can be a great thing for people. I think beauty, make-up, hair and clothes are art forms that are derided by mainstream culture as “frivolous” but can be very empowering. I think aesthetic arts are actually really helpful ways of reclaiming your body from what society expects from you. This is assuming that one understands that make-up/hair/etc are optional parts of aesthetic life and not compulsory. So I went into this documentary on the side of the contestants because I know beauty pageants are actually really fun hobbies/pursuits for folks.

I competed for the title of Miss LEZ and talk more about my pageant thoughts in this post.

A couple of things struck me about this movie. The first was that the blonde subject spoke about not wanting to run out to the grocery store without doing her hair, make-up and wearing cute clothes because she felt an unspoken expectation not to appear like a “fat slob.” I actually struggle with this myself. I challenge myself all the time to appear outside (and sometimes in photos on this blog) without wearing make-up. Sometimes I just physically don’t feel comfortable not wearing make-up and I am not sure if that’s because I just like to present a version of myself that is more in line with my vision or if it because I feel pressure to make myself more palatable for the outside world as a fat, queer person. I think it’s likely a bit of both, though I do work really hard to not let other people’s perceptions of me affect what and how I do things. I also never truly feel “in my gender” if I’m not wearing false eyelashes, red lipstick and some killer outfit.

I also was curious about the subject who talked about her weight loss at the end. It was actually kind of a bummer because as a fat loving person who is self loving I secretly want a fat acceptance narrative to not involve weight loss goals, but at the same time it’s unrealistic to expect fat people to not participate in ways of bodily self-determination. I rarely pursue weight loss goals myself but certainly make choices with regards to food and exercise that sometimes have a by product of weight loss.

I was curious and confused about the brunette’s reaction to her weight loss. In some ways I felt like her engagement was a byproduct of it from a man who wouldn’t otherwise accept her. (I.e. “It’s okay if you’re fat as long as you’re trying to lose weight.”) But I had a hard time understanding whether I was perceiving that correctly.

Cuddle pile.
Cuddled up watching the documentary.

For me, I try to make weight loss value-neutral and not focus on the scale about success. I focus on how my body is feeling. I don’t think losing weight will change who I am inside and suddenly make myself love me more. I’ve known enough formerly fat but still self-loathing people to know that’s not a narrative that works, you have to love yourself from the inside first regardless of how big your body is. As a body liberation activist, I also work really hard to not mind other people’s weight loss positively or negatively. I won’t judge them for it and I won’t celebrate it. I want to know if the person is feeling good in their body.

I’m wondering from readers what they feel like about wearing make-up, whether they find it compulsory, if they feel comfortable in public spaces or specifically queer spaces without it (if they are a make-up identified person)?

In what ways do you feel “in your gender,” and how does that present? How does that differ from day to day, moment to moment?

How do you respond to weight loss in your life? Are there ways that you make it value-neutral?

2012-12-19

How to Stuff a Femme’s Stocking

I only intend the title of this post to be a slight double entendre. It’s not Gay Sex Week, so this post is mostly just about last-minute shopping for Femmes who have a stocking you’re either creating or participating in. I was inspired by a conversation this weekend with a friend who is stuffing a Femme stocking for the first time (first time seriously dating a Femme who celebrates Christmas/Gaywitchmas). I was spilling my guts about what it is delightful to find in that stocking and I thought it would be helpful to share with you, dear readers. And if you’re the person who wants to receive these treats, Femme or otherwise, you could always print this out and leave it lying around.

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Important and perpetual disclaimer–I subscribed to the umbrella term for self-identified Femmes. All Femmes are different and there are a million ways to be a Femme and receive gifts as Femmes. So look through this list and see what strikes your fancy about the Femme in your life. Pay attention to what they like and you won’t go very wrong.

Okay, so I think a stocking should be delightful and diverse. A hearty mix of useful, whimsical, practical and shiny things.

Make-up

I have always loved treats from Sephora. You can usually get them from the end caps near the check-out line. They have lots of great things.*

A favorite of mine is the Philosophy lip gloss. (That link is to a set but I know they sell loosies at Sephora for about $6/$8.) It tastes amazing and it’s extremely shiny. Probably if you’re kissing the Femme you’re stocking stuffing, you might want to purchase a flavor that works for you. Other flavored lip glosses work well, too, but I am a devout believer in the Philosophy ones.

Nail polish is always a winner, and totally something you can grab at the drug store when you’re scrambling last-minute. The Femme folks I know who use nail polish tend to have quite a stash and it’s always fun to add to it. You can get the NYC brand nail polishes at Target for like $3. Glitter polish is always a charmer and I would be impressed if someone dropped the $9 for an OPI Shatter. Or if you know the Femme is hella into nail art, get her a nail art set! SHANY Nail Art Set is $25.

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A cute compact mirror is also a rad neutral stocking stuffer. If you don’t know what a compact mirror is, they look like this. Sephora has them. Get the Femme a design that seems to speak to their personality. All of the compacts I’ve ever had came as gifts and I really appreciate them.

Any other tiny sample of something fabulous and chichi is nice, too. I got a great sample of mascara once from my ex-GF that I loved (also from Sephora).

Fun Jewelry

Maybe the Femme in your life is a big fan of glamping and partying in the woods. Put in the stocking some glow in the dark earrings or a battery operated light-up necklace! Both bring the party to where you are.

A cute pair of earrings or a big bracelet (make sure it will fit their arm) also make a great stocking stuffer!

Bath Products and Pampering

LUSH is where I send anyone to get things for me and I know they won’t go wrong. All of their products are handmade, not tested on animals, natural, and they smell phenomenal.

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If the Femme is a bath taker (and you’ll probably know if they are or not) Bath bombs are amazing. I’ve gotten them with glitter, confetti, fragrance, soap flowers in them. You just pop them in the bath tub and they do their magic fizzy thing and create an incredible experience. The Sex Bomb is my favorite.

(I generally steer clear of those bath sets from the drug store. Most of those products aren’t great for the skin and could be toxic to the delicate flora of the vagina if this Femme has one of those. Just some Femme real talk for you.)

Massage bars (from LUSH or elsewhere) are great! They melt right on the skin since they’re mostly cocoa butter or something similar to that.

Massage oils are also rad! My mom just gave me a couple of bottles of arnica massage oil she got when she was in Spain last Spring and it’s actually really great. I mean, it’s nice to have someone to give you a massage, but even for the Femme without that, I used it on my heel when I hurt it during a work-out, since arnica helps sore muscles. But any massage oil with some good essential oils would be rad. Mall staple The Body Shop has some, too.

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I made this ornament myself in honor of my friends’ first Christmakkuh together.

Practical Gifts

I highly suggest you tread lightly in this arena. Part of stuffing a stocking is not filling it with useless junk that your recipient is never going to use. So I know a bunch of folks who all agreed that some practical stuff is really helpful. My friend’s mom always gives her a pack of razors, deodorant, other drugstore type purchases which would save her money over the year.

As a Capricorn I appreciate a dose of practical in the context of something larger (as long as there’s still plenty of whimsy involved). If you snoop in this Femme’s medicine chest or bathroom and find out the exact moisturizer they use (I’m talking exact, take a photo of the bottle and compare at the drug store) or the exact lotion, that could be rad. Why stuff a stocking with “filler” when it can be rad and useful?

Sexy Gifts

Are you doing it with this Femme? Do you have an open sexual kind of friend relationship? Lots of sexy stocking stuffers available to you!

Panties! A lacy thing is really nice to find in the stocking. One year a partner bought me lingerie that was too small but we ended up using it for ripping off. But do try to get the sizing right. A quick peek in a lingerie drawer can answer all the questions you might have.

Cute small sex accessories! Swing by your local small feminist sex toy store, like Self Serve Toys in Albuquerque, NM and ask them for stocking stuffer ideas! A magic bullet vibrator or a butt plug might make it a really happy holiday for both of you.

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My friend Leo took off her bowtie at a Christmakkuh party this weekend and several Femmes made audible noises. It was like watching Magic Mike in person, only Leo had no idea. This is why it is good to learn how to come correct and tie a bow tie proper!

Kitchen Stuff

If the Femme you’re shopping for is kitchen-identified, a couple of clever kitchen accessories are a greast way to go. I love this owl kitchen timer from my friend Mackenzi’s store in Queens. And this Vespa Pizza Cutter!

Big Fillers

If the Femme in your life is a crafter, you could stuff the stocking with fabric samples, like big swatches of tulle or even a poofy crinoline skirt. For those of you who don’t speak Femme, this is a crinoline skirt.

Photo by Randi
Photo by Randi. This is me and Victoria, showing our pal Clare where baby tutus come from.

You can get tulle at a fabric store. I have a stockpile of it for various craft needs at my home. Also, as a knitter, I love yarn but you should be sure you’re getting the right kind of yarn (something soft and natural fibery is a good choice) and stop by your local yarn shop or craft store to get it.

Also, body glitter or a big pile of craft glitter is never a bad idea, either.

And for whimsy, why not a coloring book with a set of crayons? Last year my BFF Brian and his BF Arnulfo got me the Cunt coloring book. It was hours of fun!

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Arnie colored that himself.

Feet Warmers

Socks (like these moustache socks!) and slippers are classic stocking stuffers! You can easily grab slippers at a small local gift shop or Target. Another great idea is a pair of tights! Tights are vaguely sized and at Target there are only like 3 sizes and you can probably guess which size the Femme falls in. I find the 1X/2X Target tights fit my 5’7″ 24W bottoms well.

I also love Avenue tights and personally don’t feel I can ever have enough textured tights in my life. But this is another lesson in paying attention which is the kind of thing that makes one a great date or good at courtship. Does the Femme wear tights in the first place? What kind do they usually wear?

And if you’re in a situation where you’re providing the stocking, you can get them at lots of places, like Target, any drug store, etc… I suggest pinning a brooch or a letter to the stocking for a personalized touch!

*My ex fiance hit the jackpot in my stocking the last Christmas we spent together when he just showed up at Sephora and said “I need stocking stuffers” and the shop girls really helped him out and everything he bought me was a winner. That was the last time I got a stocking but this year I got the cutest stocking-style Femme care package that really made me feel all glowy inside.

2010-01-17

The Winter Blah Blah Blahs

I have alluded subtly before that I suffer from the Seasonal Affective Disorder. It fucking sucks. I am a very logical person* and there are so many real things in life that bum me out, so it is made ever so worse to feel so very all alone, anxious and sad just because of my body’s reaction to the time of year.

Never one to suffer in silence or suffer without trying to do something about it, I have sought out a few remedies, both from my vast experience dealing with significantly terrible life altering changes and from my friends. Below I share them with you, cherished reader.

Most of these tips are good to use whenever life is getting you down, for many other reasons than just lack of light. They are also super low cost/free.

Tip One: When you feel like things are out of control, figure out what you can control and control the hell out of it.

A friend of mine told me this about two years ago and it works wonders when I am feeling anxious or worried, both of my own creation and because of external madness. Small ways I take control are to stop what I am doing and think about micro steps where I can get something small done immediately. “What do I have control over right this second? What can I do to exercise control?” Seeing progress, even a little bit, is really helpful.

Another way to establish control is on my environment. I am not a born-organized person. In fact, I am a bit of a “clean slob” (things are always clean, but I tend toward clutter strewn about). I am an avid follower of FLYLady, who teaches you how to get organized in baby steps–for free**. In just three days, 15 minutes at a time, I transformed my really messy and cluttered desk into a clean workspace.

I then proceeded to write a really amazing piece of art I had been procrastinating writing down for almost a decade.

When I am feeling ever so sad and I can’t motivate myself, I think in terms of just a few minutes, just fifteen minutes, whatever I can do to get something done. It really does make me feel better.

Tip Two: Live your life according to the quotes on your tea bags.

I got this tip from World Famous *BOB*. She was having a tough time and decided to do this for one week. Such small but magical quotes as:

“On with the dance, let joy be unconfined” -Mark Twain

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” Cesare Pavese

And “A romance without friendship is like a mansion built upon the sand.” *BOB* credits this for asking out her current beau again. I’m happy to say they are still going strong.

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*BOB* enjoys a cupcake on the chaise at Re/Dress NYC.

There’s something to the generally benevolent and uplifting sentiments on the sides of those tea boxes and the little tags hanging out of coffee cups. They are meant to help you feel better about the world, and help you connect a little bit more with the world around you.

In my entire Lesbian Tea Basket I couldn’t find a single quote on a tea bag. I should stop buying my tea from Trader Joe’s.

Tip Three: Come up with a cutesy way to describe how you’re feeling.

Previously in this blog I presented Glenn Marla’s definition of Tragic versus Depressed. I have decided to call my Seasonal Depression the Winter Blah Blah Blahs. It’s just far more adorable and easier to combat when the scary monster is something you can change your relationship to by renaming it.

Glenn & Me at Heavy
Me and Glenn Marla at his performance series Heavy on Thursday night. He is wearing a glittery ascot. I am wearing a Looks Good From the Front hairpiece.

Tip Four: Get light anywhere you can.

What I did was to amp up the volume on my nail color. My day to day color is Fuschia. I think I made a big leap the time I decided to go for fuschia at the nail salon about two and a half years ago. I kept noticing that every time I looked at my nails I smiled. So I committed to it. I like the Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear-fuchsia Power.

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It really doesn’t matter if your manicure is perfect or messy, the joy is all yours. That’s my niece Etta Pearl grabbing my finger when she was 30 days old. She’s almost one now!

Given my Winter Blah Blah Blahs, I decided to amp it up a little bit. I went to the nail salon for my $7 manicure and got day glo pink. It is insanely bright, and definitely doing its part to impart a little more light on the world.

Get creative and find something that you can make a little bit brighter!

Tip Five: Asking for help.

Asking for help is a skill. Vulnerability is a sign of strength. I’ve talked about this before. I asked for help and got a lot of really useful tips from my friends. A reminder from Golda at Body Love Wellness to take a walk everyday when the sun is at its highest. I try to walk 30 minutes a day, and instead of doing it at night with Macy I am doing my best to get out there at noon. It has made a huge difference. So has taking more Vitamin D and an emergen-c in the morning. My butch ironworker roommate is loaning me a UV lamp to bask under for additional help.

Its been about two weeks since I started getting really bluesy and I am feeling much much better. It takes a lot of diligence on my part, which sort of sucks, but anything worth doing is worth working for.

Happiness is always worth working for.
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*And a Capricorn with a Virgo Rising, if that kind of thing matters to you, which it does to me.
**I know a lot of queers who follow FLYLady and it really applies to all lifestyles, though at first glance it seems just for ladies with kids.

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