Tag Archive: body love


barbie tiny waistA couple of months ago I did an interview with a German television station as a part of my pole dancing studio to support Lulu Browne, a plus size pole dancer who rose to fame after her appearance on America’s Got Talent.  The interviewer asked me if I thought I would have the strength and courage to put myself out there if I were in Lulu’s shoes (weight-wise).  Though I told the interviewer that I could only hope so, looking back, I realized that I knew my real answer was very different.

Like so many other men and women in this crazy, media-hyped, perfect-body driven world, I suffered (and still do suffer) from serious self-doubt about my body. In a family of dancers, bodybuilders, and gym teachers, I was the brainy, but chubby couch potato.  I was not graceful or lithe or flexible or beautiful.  I had zits and wore stretch pants and no bra whenever I could get away with it.  Things have changed a lot since then—I’ve lost weight and gained muscle mass, my face has cleared up somewhat, and I’ve ditched the stretch pants for fitted shirts (although I still ditch the bra probably too often…).  And even though I’m closer than I ever was to our culture’s idea of the “perfect body”, I still have moments of self-loathing and frustration, when my thighs jiggle too much, or my stomach bunches up when I sit.

That’s why I have complicated feelings about this article from Bitch Media (wow is it hard to make that sentence sound serious…) about I am Ugly mirrorself-image and weight.

Author Tasha Fierce writes: I’m sure we all know a fat girl who feels like crap about her size until she receives some positive sexual attention from someone. Unfortunately, healthy self-esteem is not built on the slippery slope that is random affection from potential partners. If you only feel good about yourself when you’re with a partner to validate your attractiveness, once that partner has moved on (and they most certainly will when they figure out your feelings about yourself are inextricably tied to them), you’re back in the same, leaky, no-self-esteem boat.

She makes a strong point: Feeling good about yourself starts with feeling good about yourself, it doesn’t start when someone else starts feeling good about you. Your self-image should never be built on the approval of another person, no matter how important that person is in your life.

However, the reality may not be so simple.   I have done the work, internally, to get myself to a much more stable place with embracing my body.  I purposefully do one activity naked every day to feel more comfortable in my skin (plus, clothes suck!).  I look at myself in the mirror and find things I like.  But some days it’s still a struggle.  And moreover, I don’t think I could have ever gotten over that initial hump of disapproval without the help of my first boyfriend, who decided I was sexy enough to desire. His approval gave me the power to love myself, even after he was gone.

body_is campaignMy journey has shown me how unfair it is to expect people to self-motivate that journey toward acceptance from the very beginning. It is really hard living in a world where everyone and everything in media, society, culture, even family, is telling you to look a certain way, and you DON’T. The tiniest bit of sexual interest from someone else can “flip that switch” inside that gives you the power to start approving of yourself.

It also reinforces the things you already know about yourself when you lose sight of them.  My girlfriend kisses my back and says she loves the graceful arch it carries.  She nods approvingly and notes that my legs have strength and definition to them.  And she loves my butt (!!), which has always been my greatest insecurity.

Case in point, yes, acceptance of your body should come from within, but there’s a place for others—to push us, to light a fire, to remind us— to bring us closer to that inner sense of balance and bodily love.

 

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Thank goodness for you wonderful people.  I am crazy busy because of Transgender Day of Remembrance (which I will write about shortly, because it’s super important), and thankfully someone stepped up to the plate with a blog entry for today.  Thanks again!

——-

Shibari Brain

Check out Geeky Kink's website!

For those of you not in-the-know, two weekends ago was The Geeky Kink Event- a smorgasbord of crazy, kinky workshops, games, geeky/nerdy comedy, burlesque shows, and play spaces.  Held out in the middle of nowhere, New Jersey (seriously, who calls a town Piscataway?), kinksters took over the entire Radisson hotel to inflict their madness.

There was Shibari Hangman, a tentacle chair, a Dr. Who Tardis with rings for rope bondage, Strip Twister, bacon brownies, and gratuitous amounts of cowbell.

As a not-so-kinky, not-so-geeky person, I will admit to feeling a little out of the loop during some of the events: I understood none of the references to Kingdom Hearts or Battlestar Gallactica and I was too timid to play in any of the dungeon spaces with random strangers.  But there were a number of things I realized during the weekend that are valuable to anyone, and make going to an event like this worthwhile, even if you have no desire to be tied up and flogged with a fire whip.

1. Radical body love.

People at Geeky Kink often made it a mission to walk around in as little clothing as possible.  Curvy women wore bellytops and short body loveskirts without worrying if the cellulite in their legs and belly would show.    There were men running topless and women who stripped down for demos in front of people they had never met before.  There were a lot of “non-classic” body shapes there- extremely thin, wiry men and fat busty women, but no one seemed to hesitate for a moment showing off exactly who they were.  And I’ll admit, it caught on.  I’m pretty happy with the way my body looks, and I do have a more classically-pretty figure, but even I can get anxious about certain areas when I’ve had too many cookies or haven’t exercised in a week.  But there was no anxiety at this event.  When the people at Shibari Hangman voted to have me suspended, I had to discard my corset and my skirt and stand in front of a 30 person audience in just my underwear while a rigger wrapped rope around my chest, legs and feet.

And you know what?  It was FINE.

I think everyone can learn from this kind of attitude.  No matter what kind of body you have, someone will love it and find it sexy.  And EVERYONE should be able to accept it.

2. Radical gender acceptance/ gender play

When the people at Geeky Kink were wearing clothes, they were rarely normal street clothes, and quite often did not match the gender you would associate with the person wearing them.  There were guys in high heels and beautiful Japanese gowns, girls rocking suits and ties, cross-dressers, transgendered people, the genderqueer, and every shade of gender in between.

Even when women dressed “feminine,” they did so in extreme, non-traditional ways.  There was renaissance garb, tight Victorian corsets, and Catholic school girl skirts.  All of these styles were worn as a way to play with the rigid expectations of our society about how men and women are “supposed” to dress.

It was pretty damn empowering.  Consider a 2,000 strong contingent of men and women saying “Fuck Gender Expectations.  I can dress slutty, and screw whether people think I’m respectable.  I can dress feminine, and screw whether people think I’m man enough.  I can wear (or not wear) whatever makes me feel good about myself and other people can just get over it.”

I LOVE THAT.

Geeky Kink is one of the few spaces where gender non-conformity is not just accepted, but embraced, glorified, and normatized.  It’s stranger to con attendees if you AREN’T rocking a crazy costume, dreads, or some curious mix-mash of unrelated clothing.  These things become normal only for a weekend, but it is the most all-encompassing, truly accepting

There are tons of other great things about the convention- like learning how to do fire-cupping and taking pictures with a life-size Tardis (no, unfortunately, it’s not bigger on the inside…but it does have rings for rope bondage!), and eating amazing made-to-order omelets at the hotel next door for breakfast, but I really just loved the freedom everyone had to be exactly what they wanted to be.  It’s pretty awesome, and awfully hard to come back home from.  I wish every place were as crazy accepting and unique as Geeky Kink.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in going next year.

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