Yeah, I’m Skinny and Yeah, I Have Feelings, OK?

skinny-2

By Lindsay Patton-Carson

This past summer, I got too thin.

I suffer from chronic migraines that can be as little as tense neck and head pain for one day or as big as throwing up an entire day or suffering from pounding pain for a week straight. It wasn’t always like this. I used to suffer from migraines sporadically. Maybe one every couple of months. Over the past year, I have been in some sort of pain weekly, many times daily.

It got to the point where it interfered with the things I love. Just a couple months after completing my first marathon, I could not run without triggering a headache. My work, which is a great source of pride  and fulfillment for me, became, well, work.

Bad Meds

For months, I took on the role of lab rat. I was desperate to try anything to get rid of my pain. In May, after being put on a couple different prescriptions, I saw a neurologist about the pain, despite seeing two different doctors to try to help me. In my mind I thought, ‘Neurologists are like migraine experts. This will be a good thing.’

This doctor put me on Topamax, a prescription I’ve heard good things about from friends and family members that also suffer from migraines. I thought if it’s worked so well for them, it might work for me.

One of the side effects for Topamax is weight loss. Since I was already at 114 pounds, I figured I couldn’t lose that much anyway, so I went for it. I didn’t understand that this drug takes away a person’s appetite and in the beginning, leaves them nauseous daily.

Every day, I had the feeling that I had to throw up, but nothing ever came up. I accumulated ginger ale around my desk at work because I needed to calm my stomach somehow. I told myself to just stick it out, that it would get better. That this is a good drug and it would help me.

After a while, I started to notice that I was getting smaller. I looked on the scale and I was 111 pounds. OK, nothing to worry about. I’ve been this size before.

A couple weeks later, it was 110. OK, I just need to try to eat more.

Then, 109.

When it got to 108, I knew I had to do something. I stopped working out completely because I was afraid to lose more weight. The last time I saw those numbers on the scale, I was 16 years old and not yet fully developed.

I was starting to get worried that people would notice. And they did. Some approached me out of concern, thinking I might be harming myself, it was that noticeable. If people were mentioning things to me and voicing concern, I could only imagine what was being said behind my back. In order to squash any potential rumors, I decided I’d be upfront about my struggle, letting people know that I’m working toward getting better.

Skinny Girl Problems

I’ve always felt uncomfortable about saying “I am skinny.” It’s the truth, it is what I am, but even though I know I’m small, I feel guilty around people who are bigger than me; like I am the one perpetuating the size-two culture we live in.

I feel bad because I have never really struggled with my weight. At 5’4″, I’ve fluctuated between 113 and 120 pounds for a good part of my adult life. I have never dieted. I have never said no to food because I was worried about calories. I know it’s a luxury not many people have.

But since I am the size-two culture, I’ve never been able to completely understand how messed up body image is in this country. I do know the culture is messed up, but since I’m right in the middle of the ‘problem,’ per se, I can’t fully understand how someone outside of that tiny bubble might feel.

And because of this, there is some sort of war against thin women. While other women get to embrace their curves, those that are my size must hold responsibility for what Hollywood and the media set as their standards. And once I started struggling with being too thin, I saw exactly how screwed up our culture can be.

I can give you some of my fat

I don’t expect people to understand what it’s like to be too thin. It’s not something that happens in our day-to-day lives. People struggle to lose weight. They don’t struggle to gain weight. So when I thought I was taking control with telling people about my struggle, it turned out that I just gave them a passive aggressive route as a way of responding.

“Wow. Must be nice to have that problem.”

“I wish I had that problem.”

“Which medication are you on? Maybe I should get my hands on that!”

And the most annoying, “I can give you some of my fat.”

Not only is that statement insensitive to what I’m going through, it is downright impossible. You cannot just give me your fat.

So in doing what I thought would be opening up a healthy conversation and understanding, it just turned out to be more stress on myself. Wow. Who am I to complain about this ‘problem?’ I should be happy I can no longer fit into my size-two pants, that my hard-earned muscles have shrunk, that I just feel weak all the time. I am the size of Kate Bosworth! I should be happy! I should shut up with my complaints because there are overweight people in this world.

And I get it, overweight people do get looks. They get nasty comments. To be concise, they get treated like shit. And trust me, I am not the problem. I want people to feel good, to be healthy, to be confident in their bodies, regardless of size. At 108 pounds, I felt weak, I felt unhealthy, I felt incapable. The healthiest I ever felt, in fact, was a year ago when I was 10 pounds heavier. I was strong, I was capable and I was confident. I was proud of my body and what it could do and I also liked the way I looked.

Getting better

As for me today, I’m getting better. I went off my medication and switched over to one that fits my needs. I’m back up to 115 pounds, my healthy and happy weight, and I’m focusing on regaining my strength, falling back in love with running and becoming an overall healthier me. Most importantly, my migraines are fewer because I’ve learned to listen to my body better.

So I ask you, before you judge someone for their size, before you think, ‘Just eat less’ or ‘Just eat more,’ it might not be as easy as that for them. In fact, they could be struggling with something more.

Don’t tell me to smile

smiling faces

By Tara Cavanaugh

Let me first say that I have a serious-looking face. In photos where I’m not smiling, people ask me what’s wrong. In my passport photo, for which I was instructed not to smile, I look like a terrorist.

I’ll also say that I’m expressive, the kind of person who talks with her hands, and my moods are easily read on my face.

All that being said: Do not tell me to smile.

I hear it often. Brushing past a colleague in the hall: Smile! Rushing out the door late to an appointment: Smile!

There’s a whole bunch of reasons I hate being told to Smile. One, it assumes I’m going to be happy all the time. Two, it assumes that even if I’m feeling something slightly negative, I better not show it. Three, it’s a judgment that says: if you’re feeling something negative, well it can’t be that bad, so get over it.

Of course I won’t be happy all the time. And it’s my own face, dammit. So who is this stranger to judge whether or not I should be feeling something negative?

I’d much prefer for someone to say, “Hey, you OK?” When that happens, I usually snap out of whatever thing I’m scrutinizing in my head and I go, “Oh golly gee willikers, I’m great!” or something to that effect. Because whatever frown I’m wearing is probably due to the fact that I just realized I’m wearing my underwear backwards and they’re riding up. Continue reading

My Love Letter to Tina and Amy

By Lindsay Ray

Taylor Swift may not have had a lot of love for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler recently, but that’s OK, I have more than enough. It’s easy to sum up why I adore these two so very much: they’re smart, they’re funny, and they support other women.

The first two parts of my list go hand-in-hand. They write funny jokes and they have the hutzpah to pull them off. I’m not saying all the jokes are a win, but they’re going to make you laugh, they’re not mean-spirited, and sometimes they’re going to make you think. If you don’t believe me (and if you do but just need an extra dose of Tina ‘n Amy), just watch the above. Continue reading

My Feminist Hero: Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn

By Emma Kat Richardson

My feminist hero isn’t really a hero. At least not in casual popular estimation. Many would likely call her a villain; “adultress,” “slut,” and “bitch” are equally oft-used labels. Nor is she feminist, simply by virtue of having missed the first wave by more than 300 years. But she has, in time, come to stand as a figurehead of not only historical importance, but the more modern concept of feminine empowerment as well. Continue reading

Dear media, and everyone: Rape is bad. Even when promising young football players do it.

So yesterday was a shitty day for the media.

A CNN anchor and reporter lamented the loss of potential of the two convicted rapists in the Stuebenville rape case. FOX and CNN managed to leak the first name of the victim in their footage.

If you don’t remember, the boys were sentenced yesterday because they repeatedly raped a 16-year-old girl at a party and then left a trail of evidence in the form of tweets, texts, Instagram photos and a 12-minute YouTube video.

I just had to add that in, in case you forgot, because apparently some of the talking heads on TV just couldn’t fucking remember.

Let’s go to Lester Holt: “In many ways, tonight stands as a cautionary tale to a generation that has come of age in the era of social networking.” (Not against rapists, or rape)

And Candy Crowley: I cannot imagine, watching (the boys’ sentencing) on the feed, how emotional that must have been in the courtroom” (for the convicted rapists and their families)

And Poppy Harlow: “It was incredibly difficult even for an outsider like me to watch what happened as these two young men had such promising futures – star football players, very good students –– we literally watched as they believe their lives fell apart.”

This is on top of media coverage that has already given a hearty dose of speculation in this case, despite the widely shared evidence. USA Today did a nice job of explaining just how much the victim had changed her story and how drunkity drunk she was.

This media bullshit illuminates two glaring problems that just won’t go away:

1) The belief that a woman can “ask for it”
She was drunk, so she clearly asked for it. She blacked out, so she asked for it. What was she wearing? Must have been slutty: she asked for it. Girls, don’t look hot, ever! And especially not while drinking! It’s probably a good idea to cover yourself completely and never go out of the house so you can totally avoid being a walking target. Women do that in some countries, you know. They are covered head to toe (in this snazzy thing called a “burqa”) and they never leave the house unattended. Good idea!

2) The belief that football = GOD
Football is a game. A GAME. Like badminton, or Monopoly. In the game of football, a funny-shaped object gets moved from one end of a long field to another in a slow and violent fashion. And unlike badminton, or Monopoly, entire careers and towns and even an industry are built around the game of football. What the newscasters are lamenting is the fact that these boys, now labeled convicted rapists, won’t becomes titans of an industry built around a silly game.

The best take I’ve read on it yet? From Slate: “A system that takes rapists out of the running for certain opportunities…is a system that is WORKING. After the Penn State scandal, you’d think people would understand the importance of keeping sexual predators out of positions of power.”

My Feminist Hero: Buffy Summers

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

By Lindsay Patton-Carson

Since I was a youngster, I’ve always been drawn to strong, independent female characters. It started with She-Ra, Princess of Power and the eclectic Jem, and then led into Punky Brewster and Kristy from The Babysitters Club.

Once I reached adolescence, I needed someone who wasn’t a cartoon or eight years old to look up to, someone who could guide me through this confusing and awkward time.

Buffy Summers, welcome to my life

My brother was the person who introduced me to my first taste of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Of course I’d heard of the film, but I was too young (I was nearing my eighth birthday when it came out) to let the film’s campiness and overall cheese turn me off from the television show.

I remember him watching the show, me walking in and saying mockingly, “Why are you watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer?” Then, I sat down and was immediately pulled in. I even remember the episode. It was “When She Was Bad” and I in front of my eyes I saw this assertive, commandeering woman. She had this confidence, yet all these repressed emotions she couldn’t show because she had the daunting task of saving the world. Every. Day.

How Buffy saved my adolescence Continue reading

Lena Dunham is selling her book for at least $1 million blergrumbleUGGGHHHHH

YOU GUYS. Lena Dunham is writing a book.

In case you don’t know, Ms. Dunham is the 26-year-old star and writer and director of a show called “Girls,” which is a melodramedey all about herself. And when she’s not busy reenacting her life (often naked) on camera, she is now writing a book of autobiographical essays that looks like an advice book but “isn’t an advice book,” which must be hipster code because I don’t know what the hell that means. Other than the book will include actual pages of her food diary and she muses about things like shopping and death. Mm-hmm.

“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told,” Delusional Dunham says about writing her book, “especially if that person is a woman.”

Ahem. Narcissism and feminism are VERY DIFFERENT THINGS. Continue reading

The best responses to Todd Akin’s ‘legitimate rape’ bullshit

Don’t you just love when politicians say they “misspoke”? Like, wouldn’t it be better just to say they had a stroke or were drinking?

For example, take this “misspoken” gem: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down,” said current rep in the U.S. Effing House of Representatives Todd Akin as he tried to defend his stance on abortion to a TV station. If I were his PR rep I’d blame the booze.

Akin’s suffered a lot of political setbacks in his Senate race since then––namely huge financial setbacks as GOP funders run away screaming, but dude’s digging in his heels, refusing to quit and instead offering some lame apology to the people (but none to Science, Biology, or FACTS).

Here are some of the best, definitely not misspoken responses since then:

President Obama: “Rape is rape. The idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me… We shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, the majority of whom are men, making healthcare decisions on behalf of women.” (Washington Post)

Wall Street Journal Editorial: “Mr. Akin has sunk his own ship.” (WSJ.com)

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.: “As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin’s comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong. There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking. Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin’s statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri.” (ABC)

A DOCTOR: “A further problem with proclamations like Akin’s, though, is what they sound like to women who have been raped. If you believe what he does, then anyone who did get pregnant wasn’t ‘legitimately’ raped. Moreover, it belies a willful ignorance of science. Rape has occurred in history time and time again. Women get pregnant from it. This is known. There is no debate to be had. (CNN)

Katie J.M. Baker: “For decades, conservatives have claimed that women can’t get pregnant from ‘legitimate’ rape thanks to their wise, all-knowing uteri, psychic ‘juices’ and Spidey Sense-like ‘secretions.’ (Hmm, if legislators can applaud our vaginas for being so omniscient, how come they can’t let us control them?)” (Jezebel’s “Official Guide to Legitimate Rape”)

“Akin” himself: “I am an evil, fucked-up man who should never have been elected to the United States Congress, and anyone who would vote for me is probably a pretty big fucking dumbshit, too.” (The Onion)

–TC