Posted by: CeCe | November 5, 2013

Some changes

So this is more of a PSA type thing, but I thought I’d let those of you who read this know a couple things I’ve got going on.  First, you may have noticed that the URL has changed.  That’s because I have decided to register this domain as my very own.  Yup, it’s mine, all mine!  So, although my blog is still powered by WordPress, it no longer says WordPress at the top; instead it’s just my blog’s name: A Seeker’s Musings.

There’s a reason for this.  I’m hoping to start making a little bit of money for my writing.  Not a lot since I post so sporadically, but a little bit is better than nothing, right?  Sure it is.

So now I’d like to ask all of you for a favor.  If you read my blog, and you enjoy a post, please feel free to hit that “share” button, and share it with your friends.  There’s nothing on here that I don’t want released to the public; if there was, this would be the last place I would put it!  So don’t feel like you have to protect my privacy in this case.  As long as you’re not posting my full name, address, telephone number, etc. along with it, it’s absolutely more than fine.

Because I’m making these changes, the more exposure I get, the better.  🙂

There may be some more changes coming, but we’ll get to those when and if they happen.

Finally, I’d like to take a moment and thank everyone who has continued to support me in my writing.  It really, truly means a lot.  I enjoy every single comment, every single “like”, and even every single instance of constructive criticism.  You, my friends, are all wonderful and very much appreciated.  Thanks as always for reading!

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Posted by: CeCe | November 4, 2013

On shaming and human worth

I wasn’t going to write this, because I feel that I’ve already more or less touched on it too many times before.  However, this is something that’s really been bothering me the last couple days, and I feel that I absolutely must express my thoughts before I burst.

It all started when a friend commented on someone’s post of a blog that was full of fat-shaming.  I won’t post it here, because I don’t want to direct any more traffic to their site, and to tell the truth, the post itself and the vast majority of the comments were so disgusting and cruel that I don’t want to subject anyone else to it.  I had to restrain myself from commenting and telling some of these people what I thought of them and their pettiness, and I’ve been stewing on it ever since, alternating between fits of anger and then inwardly berating myself for taking it so personally.  However, my issues with it weren’t how it made me personally feel, because truth be told I’ve heard it all.  I was bullied too much for my weight throughout elementary, middle, and part of high school for it to do more than make me shake my head sadly.  No, my thoughts went immediately to young women like my nieces, and my friends’ daughters, and what kind of human being (using the term loosely) would treat any person so cruelly.

The next thing that happened was witnessing someone making a horrible remark to someone whom I love dearly.  I won’t name that person here, nor how I know them, but if they read this, I’m sure they’ll know it’s about them.  The remark was about their weight, and it was needlessly cruel, and utterly pointless.

There were many ways I wanted to address both of these.  My first thought was to take the aforementioned blog, and rewrite it so that instead of being about fat women (and only fat women, obviously, because fat men are no problem /sarcasm), it was about too-thin women, or too-thin men.  It would be easy.  But then I thought, maybe people wouldn’t understand that it was satire, and maybe I just don’t have it in me to be so heartless, even when it’s satirical.  My second thought was to maybe go the educational route, and let people into an overweight person’s mind a bit, such as how weight for many people tends to be a vicious cycle.  This was jokingly addressed in Austin Powers, when the character Fat Bastard says, “I eat because I’m unhappy, and I’m unhappy because I eat.”  For many overweight people, this is how it is.  They’re doing well, eating well, exercising, losing weight, then some fool with a complex yells something horrible out their car window while they’re taking a walk, and they go take solace in food, and then before long, they weigh even more than they did when they began.

And speaking of yelling things out car windows, there was a guy on that blog that actually suggested exactly that.  Great idea, because apparently it’s a crime to be fat in public, even if you’re exercising.  Let’s just do that to everyone who doesn’t fit our particular idea of beauty.  See a too-skinny man?  Scream “beanpole” at him, tell him to eat more protein and lift weights, because obviously not fitting into society’s definition of beautiful makes one a failure as a human being.  Never mind the fact that you can’t tell anything about anyone’s lifestyle just by looking at them.  The only thing that you can tell is that they’re too fat, or too thin, or just right in the middle.  You don’t know how they eat, their medical history, whether or not they exercise, whether or not they used to be more overweight or used to weigh less or are struggling with an eating disorder or are just naturally thin.  So who made you the body-type police?

And never mind the fact that our worth is not determined in the least bit by whether or not we fit into the societal definition of “beautiful”.  Does being “beautiful” make you intelligent, compassionate, a good friend, a good mother or father, a good spouse or significant other, automatically successful, good at your job, a good person?  No.  But some people seem to act like it does.  These people act like everyone owes them, and the rest of the world, the ability to fit within a narrow definition of beauty.  But in fact, most of us do not fit into that, and most of us never will.

Okay, this post got away from me a little bit there.  Go figure.

I’ve said before that it’s much more important to cultivate “intelligence, wisdom, patience, open-mindedness, compassion, empathy, kindness, generosity, creativity, humor, and love for yourself, others, and the Earth (and, if applicable, God)”, rather than to try to fit someone else’s definition of beauty.  I would also add loyalty and honesty to the list.  Here is the thing: A person’s worth is not determined by how physically attractive they are to others.  Let me say that again:  A person’s worth is not determined by how physically attractive they are to others.  

If you’re not attracted to people who are overweight, fine, don’t be attracted to them.  If you aren’t attracted to people who are thin, then don’t be attracted to them.  Either way, that’s no reason to shame someone into being what you think they ought to be.  Their right to exist is not dependent on whether or not you find them sexually desirable.  They don’t owe it to you to fit into what you believe they should be.  I’ve said it before: The world does not revolve around you.

As for everyone else, don’t be ashamed of who or what you are.  Your worth is not determined by how “beautiful” you are, but by the person that you are.  It’s through cultivating the qualities I outlined above that a person becomes truly beautiful, and unlike youthful beauty which is so impermanent, those qualities will last forever, and those are the things that people will remember about you.

You are so much more valuable and precious than you may realize.  Be kind to yourself.

Please feel free to share your thoughts in a comment; what is beauty to you?  Do you think there are other important characteristics that a person should possess that I didn’t mention?  Thanks for reading!

Posted by: CeCe | October 24, 2013

Beautiful

When I was growing up, I knew that my mom did not think of herself as beautiful, and it wasn’t so much what she said, but what she did.  Since my mom did not work outside the home, I spent all day with her until I started kindergarten, so I had plenty of time to observe her habits.  What I saw was that she rarely ate:  Breakfast was Dexatrim and black coffee; lunch was a Kudos bar.

She would smile for pictures, but she didn’t like for them to be taken, and she didn’t want to see them when they were developed (ah, the days before digital cameras!).  She would lament how she used to be so much smaller, before she had us kids; she had been a size 8/10, which in the 50s was quite small.

At a size 18/20, my mom felt huge, and still had a sense of shame due to having suffered terrible acne when she was a teenager.  And yet, I see pictures of how she looked in high school, and I don’t see a young girl with acne.  I see a beautiful smile.  I see my mother, younger than I ever knew her.

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After my mom had passed away, we were going through pictures of her to choose the best ones to include in a PowerPoint presentation at her memorial, and something struck all of us: Our mother was beautiful.  So beautiful.  She had this infectious smile, sparkling blue eyes, dark hair, and a petite frame.  I never saw her as someone whose acne scars, which I never noticed anyway, marred her beauty in any way, nor did I ever see her as someone who desperately needed to get back her pre-baby body.  My mother was softness and femininity; she was elegance and grace; she was beauty personified.

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I’ve realized that as amazing as my mom was, she really communicated to me a horrible way of viewing myself.  From her, I’ve inherited a reluctance to have pictures taken of me.  I have also inherited a critical eye towards pictures of myself; I see every flaw, every wrinkle, every stray ounce of fat, and every blemish, and I cringe.  I try not to, but I do.  I learned it from her.

Ever since she died, I’ve been thinking about what I want to communicate to my own kids, should I ever have them, about myself.  I have decided that I’ll never let the word “diet” pass my lips.  I will never take diet pills, nor will I ever discuss that idea with them.  If they want to take a picture of me, I’ll smile and let them.  I will never, ever let them hear me say anything negative about myself.  I don’t want to pass on that negativity to them, and I don’t want my self-image issues to become theirs.  I want them to love themselves, and I want them to understand that even if they don’t fit into society’s idea of beautiful, it won’t diminish their own beauty in any way.

I have come to realize that those who love us never see our flaws in our pictures.  What they see is the face and the smile that they love, just like when I see pictures of my mom, I don’t see her “flawed” body or her “acne scars”; I see her style, her humor, her charm, and most of all, her love.  Her beauty always came through.  I just wish that she could have seen it.

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Posted by: CeCe | October 15, 2013

Battered believers

A friend of mine on Facebook posted the photo below, and I was going to write my response on it, but then I thought that it would come across as preachy, and I don’t want to be preachy.  So instead, I decided to post my response here in my own venue, so that people could choose to read it or not.

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I think there’s a lot of truth to this; some (or perhaps many) Christians do seem to view their faith like this. In those cases, I would say their faith is poisonous. Fortunately, I don’t view my faith this way at all.

Instead of seeing myself as “nothing” without God, I see myself as being made in God’s image, and as being beloved by God.

Instead of seeing doubt as an obstacle to my faith, I see it as an opportunity for growth.

Instead of seeing myself as “undeserving” of God’s grace and love, I see that we all are worthy, regardless of who or what we are, and regardless of what we’ve done.  When John 3:16 says that “God so loved the world”, I don’t believe that means that God only loved “some” of the world, or only a select few.  I see that as meaning that God really loves all of us.

I don’t see myself as a terrible person at all, nor do I believe that a person has to believe in God to be good.  When I fall short of what I believe God wants for me, which I do pretty often (not going to lie), I don’t beat myself up over it, I simply own up to my mistakes and promise myself and God that I’ll do better the next time around.  I take my mistakes as an opportunity for growth, not as a sign that I’m this awful person that deserves to be tortured for eternity in hell.  And speaking of hell…

I don’t believe that God punishes us through events in our life, nor do I believe in an eternal hell.  When bad things have happened to me (which they have, over and over again), I use them as an opportunity to learn and to grow as a person, to develop my empathy and compassion, and to learn to be humble, thankful, and kind.

I believe that one can learn from listening to those who don’t believe, because there’s no better way to see ourselves clearly than through the eyes of those on the outside looking in.  I enjoy conversing with atheists, and I’ve learned a lot from them.  I also believe that when we cloister ourselves away from the world for fear of fully examining our faith, it does more harm than good.

The only two in here that I agree with are that nothing and no one is better than God, and that God knows best. But those alone don’t necessarily mean that it’s an abusive relationship, unless God demands that one believe those things, and I don’t believe that He does. The way I see it, those are a consequence of believing in and loving God.  Believing in and loving God are not a consequence of being forced to believe that nothing and nobody is better than God, or that God’s knowledge is supreme; if it was, I would see that as abusive.

These are some of the things that I believe God would say:
“I love you, utterly and completely.”
“You are a wondrous creation.”
“I knew you in your mother’s womb, and I loved you then.”
“You’re imperfect and wonderful.”
“The best of you is a reflection of me.”
“Yes, you messed up, but that doesn’t change how much I love you.”
“You are beautiful to me.”
“Nothing you can do will lessen my love for you.”
“You are worthy.”

For all the Christians out there, how do you view your faith in God?  Would you say that it’s healthy and loving?  Do you think that others who are on the outside would see it as healthy?  Please feel free to answer in a comment, all are welcome!

Posted by: CeCe | October 9, 2013

Proudly bearing scars

Every so often, I see this Dove commercial come on, where it talks about women trying this miracle deodorant and suddenly realizing that it’s made their underarms smooth and perfect, so they trade their t-shirts for tank tops.  Every time I see that commercial, I seriously want to throw something at the TV.  Why?  Well…

For well over a decade now, at least since I was 12 or 13, I’ve had this odd skin condition for which I had no name until a few years ago, which causes some parts of my skin to break out in boils.  The most typical areas for break-outs have been my underarms (hence my anger at Dove, those jerks) and the insides of my thighs, which makes walking very interesting sometimes.  The condition is known as hidradenitis suppurativa (yes, it’s a mouthful).  Why they can’t just call it “super ugly and painful skin condition” I don’t know, but that’s what it is called.  Those who have the condition usually just call it HS for short.

This condition is definitely as painful as it sounds.  The boils can be anywhere from the size of a pea to the size of a baseball or larger, and they generally appear on the inner thighs, buttocks, under breasts, in the groin, and/or in the underarm region.  Fortunately I have yet to have any as large as a baseball, but mine are usually about the size of a quarter, which is bad enough.  They often leave scars, and people in the latter stages of the condition, which I’m lucky enough to not be in yet, are usually completely disabled.  Being overweight makes it worse, but does not cause it.  Unfortunately, with weight, it’s a vicious cycle, because sweating makes those who suffer from the condition break out even worse, and of course exercise is necessary to lose weight.

HS is also not caused by bad hygiene; it’s genetic.

There is no cure.

There are some medications that can help, but their effectiveness varies from person to person.  Many who have the condition wind up having skin grafts to get rid of the scars and the tracts that form between abscesses, but unfortunately, this is extremely expensive, and won’t necessarily cure the condition.

There is no funding for the research into this condition, because so few are afflicted with it.  Current estimates are that between 0.2% and 4% of the United States population suffer from it.  About 70% of those afflicted are women, but obviously that means men can get it too.

So why am I writing about all this?

Because I’m not ashamed of my scars.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that I’m going to wear tank tops in public any time soon, but it also doesn’t mean that I’m going to hide myself away in silence and in shame for having a skin condition over which I have no control.  I did not ask for this.  I simply inherited it, along with my green eyes, my crooked teeth, and my honey-colored hair.

I also would like to spread awareness of a condition that is painful and incurable, in the hopes that maybe eventually there will be a cure, or there will be some research into prevention, or something.  As it stands now, the condition is often misdiagnosed as cysts or acne, rather than what it actually is, because many doctors are simply not aware of it.  Perhaps if they were aware, they wouldn’t misdiagnose patients who have it.

If you would like more information, please feel free to check out some of this literature, just for the love of all that is holy, do not Google for images unless you want to be scarred for life.  You’ve been warned!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidradenitis_suppurativa
http://www.hs-usa.org/hidradenitis_suppurativa.htm
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/hidradenitissuppurativa.html

Posted by: CeCe | October 1, 2013

For the men

I’ve written about sexual assault several times on here, I know, and there are probably some who are tired of hearing about it.  That’s fine.  However, I’m hoping that this one will be a little bit different.  See, I only recently began to identify as a feminist, and as I’ve started studying more into it and reading more feminist literature (mostly online), I’ve been seeing a trend: More and more feminists are trying to use gender-inclusive language when speaking about sexual assault, except in cases where they’re specifically talking about what women experience, in spaces created for women.  Because of this, I’ve started to realize that I’m guilty of placing too much emphasis on what women have experienced as far as sexual assault and harassment, and not enough on the troubles of men.

Over the last 24 hours, I asked a question of my friends on Facebook, first to women, then to the men.  The question was, “Have you ever been sexually assaulted or harassed?”  The response from the female side was staggering and heart-breaking (but also amazing, because there was so much strength and courage displayed!), there were so many of them.  But one of the things that I noticed was that the female thread had a lot of hugs and love going around, while on the male thread… not so much.  I realize that men have trouble expressing themselves, because they’re often so afraid of appearing “weak” or “feminine”.  I wish it wasn’t this way, but it is.  I wish I could see men reaching out to each other in love and compassion and saying, “Hey, you’re alright, you’re strong, you’re courageous, and you’re worth so much more than you realize.”  But unfortunately, although perhaps many men do think that about each other, and many women think that about the men they know too, it’s just not possible with society the way it is for men to actually say this aloud to the other men they know.

The other thing that I noticed was that while for the most part the women didn’t hesitate to answer the question, from the men, I received much fewer responses.  Now I don’t know whether it’s because I, a woman, was asking the question, or whether the men who have been harassed or assaulted are loathe to admit it, but I do think that this says something about society in general, even if it is too small of a sample size to be worth very much in the way of statistics.  I’m not a statistician though, and I think that often what we see out of our friends does say something about society at large.  The men I’m friends with are fairly representative of society; they’re of varying ages and backgrounds, come from different parts of the world, have different hobbies and careers, and some are single while some are married, with or without children.  And yet, out of the men I’m friends with on Facebook, nearly all of them had this one thing in common when it came to the question: Silence.

The truth is, in society, there is still this idea that a man who has been assaulted or harassed is somehow less than.  He’s somehow not whole, not a “real man”.  And I think that this explains the silence completely.  I don’t think it’s a matter of trust, because I’m sure that most of my male friends know that they can trust me to not make fun of them, and they can trust me to treat them with compassion, and assure them that what has happened to them was not their fault, and that they’re still “real” men, whatever that entails.  I don’t think they’re afraid of me.  Or at least I hope not.  But if they are, that’s not their fault.  How can they ever be sure?  Most men are brought up to believe that showing most kinds of emotion (except for anger and, on occasion, sexual interest) are “weak” and “feminine”, and admitting to anything that society views as shameful in their past is absolutely verboten.

And so, they hold their silence.  And hold it.  And hold it.  And bottle it up inside, put it in a steel box with an impossibly complicated locking mechanism, inside a room behind a ten-inch thick steel door.  Why?  Because that’s what “manly men” do.

I have to tell you, guys, I think this is really sad.  In many ways, it’s liberating to be a woman, because if we break down and cry with our girlfriends, if we reach out and hug each other, comfort each other, lean on each other, it’s okay.  But for men to do that?  Oh no!

So what’s the answer?  I don’t know.  But I do think that it’s time for you guys to break your silence.  Not necessarily to me, but to someone.  Speak up.  If you’ve ever been victimized, say so, and if someone tells you that makes you less of a man, or tells you that you must have liked it, or tells you that you deserved it, or tells you that your feelings are unwarranted, you tell them this: “You.  Are.  Part.  Of.  The.  Problem.”  Because they are.

The truth is, as individuals, we do create our own reality, and if we’re ever going to facilitate change, we’ve got to be willing to put ourselves out there.  If you are ever going to facilitate change, you have got to be willing to put yourself out there.  You owe it to yourself.  You owe it to your sons.  And know this: I’m behind you every step of the way, and not only that, but most other women will be behind you too.  As for the ones who aren’t?  They’re part of the problem.

Break your silence.  Because  you know what?  You are alright.  You are brave.  You are strong and courageous.  And you’re worth so much more than you realize.

Also, here are some resources for male victims of sexual assault and harassment:
http://www.malesurvivor.org/
(US only) 1-800-656-HOPE
https://1in6.org/
http://www.pandys.org/malesurvivors.html
http://www.aftersilence.org/male-survivors.php
http://www.rainn.org/get-information/types-of-sexual-assault/male-sexual-assault

Posted by: CeCe | August 28, 2013

Holding on to the last

In a little over an hour from the time I’m beginning to type these words, it will officially be my mom’s birthday.  She would have been 75 this year.  I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately, and how it’s so interesting that at this point, my grief isn’t nearly as raw as it was when she first passed away over four years ago.  It still hurts, but not like it did.  I’ve also been thinking about an encounter I had a few years ago when I was working retail, which is related to my thoughts tonight.

What happened was, a customer came in on a Sunday afternoon when it was fairly slow, so I was able to concentrate on her alone.  We got to chatting, and she told me that she was hoping to use a gift card her mom had given her for her birthday, and that her mom had passed away a few months before.  I had just lost my own mom a little over a year before that, which I related to her, and so we began bonding over this horrible experience.  Eventually, she had picked out a few items, and as I was ringing her in, she asked me if she could make a strange request.  I said of course she could, and she asked me if she could hold on to the gift card.

This is something I understood very well, as I’ll relate soon, and so of course I said yes.  I brought her bag around to her once I was done, and gave her the gift card back.  She put it back in its envelope, caressed it, and put it back in her purse.  I could see that she was on the verge of tears, and to be honest, so was I.  We wound up chatting after that for close to 45 minutes, sharing stories of our moms, and bonding over our common sorrow.  As we continued sharing, I realized that we were both crying openly, but they weren’t tears of pain, they were tears of release.  I felt as though a weight was being lifted off my shoulders.

Before she left, she asked if she could give me a hug, and I said of course.  We hugged for a long time, still crying, and after a couple minutes, we released each other.  She thanked me profusely, and vowed to come back and ask for me especially.  I quit not long after that, so I never saw her again, but I think of her often, and I hope that she’s managing.

When she asked me if she could keep the gift card, it got me thinking about a gift my own mother had given me not long before she died.  Like me, my mom had issues getting things in the mail, so I didn’t get my birthday presents until nearly 6 months after my birthday.  Just thinking about it makes me laugh, I’m so much like her.  One of the items amongst the presents was a bottle of perfume with a citrus scent.  Although I like it, I rarely use it, because if I use it all, I’ll have to throw the bottle away, and I don’t want to have to do that.  Why?  Because my mom will never be able to give me another.

I find myself thinking about all the “lasts” with her: The last hug, the last kiss, the last “I love you”, the last phone conversation, the last movie we ever watched together (Nanny McPhee), the last Mariners game we watched together (they lost against the Orioles, 7-1), the last song we ever listened to together (“Praise You in the Storm”, by Casting Crowns)… but these are just memories, they’re nothing concrete.  When I hold that bottle of perfume in my hand, it’s like I’m holding all those memories in one place that I can touch.  The memories are bittersweet, but I’m so glad I have them.

So… I understand why the customer wanted to hold on to the gift card, just like I hold on to the bottle of perfume.  We’re both holding on to the last.  Someday I’ll be able to let it go… but not yet.

 

Posted by: CeCe | August 27, 2013

But she’s fat!

I’m going to paint a hypothetical scenario to which I’m sure some of my friends can relate.  A woman wakes up in the morning, gets on the scale and realizes that she’s reached a milestone in her weight loss efforts: She’s officially lost 40 pounds!  She still has another 40-50 to go before she reaches her goal, but this accomplishment puts a bounce in her step and a smile on her face.  She has the day off, so she decides to go shopping before running some errands.  While she’s out, she sees this adorable yellow dress that she just knows will look good on her, so she tries it on and she likes what she sees, so she buys it.  She decides that she’s going to wear it today as she’s finishing the rest of her errands.  After finishing her errands, she’s still feeling great, and she’s even gotten a few compliments on her dress, and a few smiles from men, so she decides it’s a good day to go for a short walk.  She’s walking down the street, still feeling really great about herself and her purchase, when suddenly she’s startled by someone shouting something from their car.  Her smile fades.  Her steps falter.  The words shouted at her?  “Lose some weight, fatty!”  Her eyes fill with tears.  She wonders if anyone else heard it.  She goes home, and even though this hasn’t undone all of her hard work these last few months, it has discouraged her.  She tries not to let it bother her, but it does.  Oh, it does.

These things happen a lot more often than one would like to think.

For example, a few weeks ago, a friend of mine who is curvy shared a story in which a man shouted “cow” at her while she was riding her bike on the waterfront.  Ever since then, I’ve been thinking about that a lot, and decided that it was time to write a post regarding this phenomenon.  I’ve written before about how there are things that will only ever happen to someone when they are overweight, and this is one of them.  Even when we’re outside or in a gym exercising, people are judging us.  Assuming things about us.  We dare to be “fat” in public (oh the horror, the horror!), and this is the treatment we get, even when we actually are taking control of our life and attempting to eat healthy and exercise.

The same sort of thing happened to me one night when I was out on my usual nightly 3 mile walk.  I was about to head up the last hill, the biggest one of my walk, when someone drove by and yelled “Loser!” at me.  At this point, I had already lost close to 50 pounds.  I had been walking 3 miles a night for several weeks, and was doing cardio, Pilates, and weight training during the week.  Yet this person, for whatever reason, decided that I would make an excellent target.  Wait, “for whatever reason”?  No, I know exactly why.  I was bullied too much in elementary and middle school to not know.

Look, I realize that being fat is not considered attractive by most people.  I get it.  But that does not give a person any right at all to make judgments about people who are overweight, to yell things at them while they’re out running errands, taking walks, riding their bike, or whatever else.  Even if they’re stuffing their face in a fast food restaurant, it is none of anyone’s business.  It is not up to you or anyone else to police a person’s weight, to judge what they eat, or to make guesses about their lifestyle.  You don’t have to consider them attractive, that’s fine.  But they do not need your permission to exist.  The world does not revolve around you.

Now, people in the anti-fat brigade may want to say that it’s not about appearances, even though they find it disgusting when someone is overweight, but about health.  Well, if this sounds like you, there are a couple things you need to remember.

First, if an overweight person has health insurance, which you would never know unless you asked them or you happened to work in a clinic when they came in for an appointment, they are often charged extra for being overweight.  What this means is that they are often shamed out of having insurance, or quite simply can’t afford it.  To this you may say, “Well, they deserve it for being fat!”  Do people who are underweight have to pay the same premiums?  No… yet they may have lifestyles that are unhealthy as well.  Does being thin automatically mean that you’re healthy?  No, it does not.

In that same vein, second, being overweight does not necessarily mean that a person is unhealthy.  Study after study after study on weight has shown that an overweight person who eats healthy and exercises is at as much risk for diabetes type 2 and hypertension as a “normal”-weight person who does the same; that is to say that they are at very little risk*.  Meanwhile, if a “normal”-weight person eats nothing but junk food and never exercises, they are at just as much risk for diabetes type 2 and hypertension as any overweight person who does the same.  What this seems to demonstrate is that the weight is less important than the lifestyle.  We could all probably stand to eat healthier and exercise more.  Just because you’re thin doesn’t mean you’re exempt.

Third, in many cases, being overweight is blamed for all sorts of conditions that may or may not have anything to do with one’s weight.  For example, I have a skin disease called hidradenitis suppurativa.  Being overweight does exacerbate it, but unfortunately, so does exercise (and stress, and a lot of other things).  So it’s a catch 22, and you would never know I had the disease unless I happened to reveal the areas where I have it.  Some doctors, however, would simply blame it on my weight, rather than acknowledging that there are other factors, like HS running in my family, even amongst relatives who are not overweight.  I’ve known women who have had bladder issues, where their bladder leaks on occasion when they cough, sneeze, or laugh, and this is also blamed on their weight, even though they had the condition even when they were thin.

Finally, it is not up to you to police anyone’s weight.  Their weight is between them and their doctor(s).  Period.

So what’s my point?  My point is, if you’re one of those people who goes around yelling things at people who are overweight or who judges them, stop it.  You’re not helping.  Bullying people actually makes things worse.  The best thing you can do if you see an overweight person exercising is silently cheer them on.  If you see an overweight person eating fast food, it’s none of your business, especially if you’re eating the same foods, because for all you know, this is their first time eating fast food in months, or even years.  If you don’t know their usual routine, don’t assume or pretend you do.

Should people who are overweight try to lose weight?  Sure, just because it opens up new possibilities for having fun, and it does help with confidence.  However, people shouldn’t have to lose weight just to exist without being bullied.

*Final note.  I am aware that there was a study performed in Sweden that basically showed the opposite of the studies I cited.  However, it was a much smaller sampling, of men only, in one town, and they were probably all Swedish.  So it really proves nothing, and I don’t understand why anyone would cite it.

Posted by: CeCe | August 3, 2013

Christianity is a verb

Warning to my atheist friends: This is a religious themed post.  Please proceed with this in mind, if you choose to proceed.

I’ve been thinking lately about my identification as a Christian and all that it entails.  I’ve said many times that I don’t feel as though I’m living up to the name, but I use the excuse that there are so many things I’m just unable to do at this point in my life.  But that’s all it really is, an excuse.

I think about Jesus, about how He went out into the world, with no money to feed the poor, no extra food to give, yet brought hope to all who knew Him.  I think about how dusty His feet must have been, how tired He must have gotten, how at night there must have been many times where He used His own hands as a pillow and the star-studded night sky for a blanket.

Then I think about Jesus’ life, as recorded by those who wrote the gospels.  I think about how Jesus didn’t just have the title of “Christ”; He lived as one who had been anointed.  He went out and healed those who were hurting; He loved those who were hated; He blessed those whom society had cursed and considered to be worthless.  He drew in those whom society would much rather have forgotten.  He put Himself out there; made Himself visible.  And according to the Bible, many people flocked to Him as a result of this.  He didn’t just teach in the Temple, no.  He taught at the foot of a mountain, in gardens, near lakes, and in the countryside, to anyone who would listen.

To me, this is both inspiring and humbling.  I feel as though I’ve been given so much more than He ever was, in many ways.  I live in a time where many things that would have killed me then, no longer even exist.  I live in a time where we have modern conveniences, like this computer that I’m at this moment typing on, and the electricity that powers it.  I’m sitting in a comfortable house, with a fan keeping me cool, a blanket on my feet, listening to a Vivaldi concerto, with one of my beautiful cats laying contentedly beside me.  If I need to travel long distances, I don’t have to walk.  I know with almost total certainty that most food I consume is safe, and it won’t make me sick or kill me.  I know that the water I drink is clean, and at any time, I can go and wash my hair with amazing scented shampoo, and soap that also smells wonderful.  I have much more than one cloak, and one dusty pair of sandals.

And yet… I feel as though I’m not doing enough.  Okay, I have no money to give.  I have no extra food.  I’m not the Son of God and I can’t heal people with the touch of my hand, or with a word.  But I know somehow that I’m capable of doing more than I am.  Am I reaching out in compassion and love to everyone?  Do I treat everyone with kindness?  Do I pray for the peace and well-being of every person alive, and do I attempt to give both to as many as I can?

I believe that for a long time, I’ve treated “Christian” as an adjective, as though it’s something that I “am”, like I’m female, Caucasian, 32 years old, and a slightly left-leaning feminist.  But the term “Christian” is so much more than that, or at least it should be.  We are supposed to be Christ to the world.  Am I?  Are you?

I think that too many times we insulate ourselves from the rest of the world.  We closet ourselves within our hymns, our prayers, our Bible studies, and our churches.  Our faith then becomes merely another description of what we “are”, rather than an expression of how we live, and how we interact with the world.  We need to stop treating “Christian” like an adjective.  need to stop treating “Christian” as an adjective.  It’s a verb, and we all need to start living it.  I need to stop merely believing it, and start living and breathing Christian.  How about you?

Posted by: CeCe | July 21, 2013

Rant on

Okay, just a couple warnings: First, I haven’t written a blog for a couple weeks, so I may be a little rusty.  Second, this is a rant.  It may make a few people angry, and that’s fine, you have a right to be angry.  I’m angry too, and frustrated, and sad.  Why?  Because I’ve been seeing so much utter crap in my Facebook news feed, and I think it’s past time for me to say something, because some of this utter crap has been coming from people whom I love and respect very much, and I haven’t said anything to most of them, because I don’t want to offend them.  I try very hard not to offend people (though somehow I wind up doing so anyway)… but this time, I’m done trying, because this is something that is important to me.

Ever since the verdict of the George Zimmerman trial (which is only peripheral to this rant), there have been a lot of people posting things that they believe are related to the issue.  For example, I’ve seen Roderick Scott, the 42 year old black man who was acquitted in the shooting death of Christopher Cervini, a 17 year old white boy in my feed several times now.  There have been attempts to draw a parallel between this and the Zimmerman/Martin case, since the shooter and victim were of different races, with the comment that there were no “riots” when this happened.

Sigh.  Okay, first of all, the last time there was a major riot having to do with a trial was after the cops who beat Rodney King were found not guilty.  That was in 1992.  That means that this was twenty-one years ago.  Let me say this again: That was twenty-one years ago!  There have not been any riots in this case.  There have been nation-wide protests, yes, but they’ve been mostly peaceful.  And guess what.  They have every right to protest.  Yes, there were a few broken windows in Seattle, about two dozen people arrested in Los Angeles and Oakland, and a report about a grandmother being punched by a protester in Houston (and, by the way, I watched the video; she was not punched at all, nor was the car blocked in any way until she rolled down her window and started saying something to the protesters, at which time the car was swarmed.  Which brings up the question, what did she say to them?), and that’s it.  There haven’t been any riots.  At all.  It’s all been remarkably peaceful, all things considered, despite some journalists attempting to tie all reports of violence to Trayvon Martin rallies, like the violence in Chicago (which has been on the rise for years now and has nothing to do with this case).

Now, back to the whole Roderick Scott thing.  There are several differences in the case.  Let’s examine them step by step:
1.  Roderick Scott was arrested right away and charged with murder.  Sanford police waited 45 days before bringing charges against Zimmerman.
2.  Cervini, Scott’s victim, was with two others, and they were breaking into cars.  Martin was not doing anything illegal at the time of the shooting (except when he allegedly attacked Zimmerman), and he was alone.
3.  Martin was shot at about 7:15 in the evening.  Cervini was shot at about 3:30 in the morning.
4.  Martin was on his way to his father’s girlfriend’s house, where he was staying.  Cervini was out breaking into cars.
5.  Scott warned the boys that he had a gun and the cops had been called.  There is no indication that Martin knew Zimmerman had a gun until he was shot.
6.  Scott warned Cervini to stand still and stop charging him, or he would shoot.  There is no indication that Zimmerman warned Martin in the same way.
7.  During the course of the case, absolutely nothing was said about Cervini’s past.  Had he been a juvenile delinquent before the morning he was shot?  We don’t know, because nothing was said.  His texts were not entered into evidence.  His school record was not brought up.  Meanwhile, Zimmerman’s defense attempted to paint Martin as a thug.
8.  George Zimmerman had a violent criminal record; he had been found guilty of assault, domestic violence, and resisting arrest, while Scott had no record.
9.  Cervini’s accomplice(s) had criminal records.  Martin had no accomplices and no criminal record (though he had reportedly been suspended from school a couple times.  But then, so was I, and for one of the same reasons [skipping school], and I could very easily have been suspended for smoking on campus, being caught with a baggie that was suspected to contain traces of marijuana, and defacing school property, much like Martin).
10.  Cervini was tested for drugs and alcohol, and popped positive for alcohol and amphetamines.  Martin had THC in his system, but that does not mean that he had recently used.  Cervini’s two accomplices admitted that the three of them had been drinking heavily, and Cervini was well over the legal limit.

Do you see now, how different these two cases are?  The only similarities are that the shooter and victim were of different races, and the victim was an unarmed teenager.  However, one of Cervini’s accomplices had been arrested once for holding a knife against the throat of a ten year old, and was in fact on probation at the time of the shooting (and had been on probation at least once before).  Now don’t get me wrong, it is still sad that Christopher Cervini was killed, and I feel terrible for his family.  However, if he had not been out drinking and breaking into cars at 3 in the morning, he would still be alive.  Zimmerman said that Martin was “walking slowly” and “acting high”, which made him a suspect.  Being high is certainly a crime, but the only person Martin was harming was himself.  Walking slowly is not a crime.  Maybe he was walking slowly because he had smoked a blunt and he didn’t want to go home reeking of marijuana.  Stupid, yes.  Illegal, yes.  But a crime worthy of being shot and killed?  No.  If it was, then there are a whole lot of people that didn’t deserve to see their 18th birthday, myself included.

Now let’s talk about another case that I’ve seen in my feed, the one involving 13 month old Antonio West who was shot and killed by a 17 year old and a 15 year old during an attempted robbery.  There’s no denying that this was a horrific crime, and the two boys in question absolutely deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law (which won’t involve the death penalty, because the state in which this took place does not allow juveniles to be sentenced to death).  But here’s the biggest difference in this case: The police department worked hard to find out who the suspects were, and arrested them within days.   In this case, justice has been served.  What is there to protest?

Another case that’s been brought up is the one in which a black woman, Mona Nelson, was accused (and convicted) of kidnapping and murdering 12 year old Jonathan Foster.  Horrific crime, most definitely.  Why didn’t we hear about it?  Why wasn’t it national news?  Probably because these things happen all over the country, on an almost daily basis.  It was a terrible, terrible crime, absolutely heart-breaking.  But.  She was convicted.  What is there to protest?  She was guilty, she was found guilty, and she was sentenced.  The case of 20 year old Megan Williams, a black woman, who was tortured and sexually assaulted over the course of a week by three white men and three white women wasn’t national news either, even though the perpetrators allegedly told Megan that it was happening because she was black, they targeted her because she was black, and they allegedly repeatedly called her a “ni**er”.  And for the record, there were no “riots” over that case, either.

Now, to bring me to my point.  We need to remember that it wasn’t so long ago that black people accused of a crime against a white person wouldn’t have even made it to trial; they would have been lynched.  White people accused of a crime against a black person also wouldn’t have made it to trial (or would have been found not guilty, no matter what they had done), but for a very different reason.  There was a serious disparity in how white people were treated by the legal system, versus how black people were treated.  And this was so recent that many African-Americans alive today are only one or two generations removed from it.  And you wonder why they get up in arms about things that remind them of those times?  As a white woman, I can honestly say that none of my ancestors in recent history were slaves.  Some of them owned slaves, much to my shame, but they were not slaves themselves.  None of my ancestors were sent to schools with sub-par curricula, old textbooks, and buildings that were falling apart because of the color of their skin.  None of my ancestors were ever told that they couldn’t eat at a restaurant, use a bathroom, or drink from a water fountain because of the color of their skin.  So I have no idea what it’s like growing up black in the United States or anywhere else, and if your skin is white, neither do you.

And I believe the latter is an important point to make, not because I want to guilt anyone for things that they personally had nothing to do with, but because white people need to understand this.  Nothing has ever been denied us because of the color of our skin.  We’ve never been denied justice because of the color of our skin.  We’ve never had our children killed because of the color of their skin, and had the perpetrators go free because of the color of their skin.  And don’t even think of bringing up OJ, because we all know he was guilty as sin, and the only reason he was set free was because he was rich enough to afford an excellent defense attorney, not because he is black.  So yes, many African-Americans are still bitter over past injustices, and I can’t blame them.  I would be too.  And it would be very hard for me to not see the Zimmerman trial as a brutal reminder of more horrible times, even though race probably had nothing to do with it, and even though it’s entirely possible that Zimmerman really did believe he was acting in self-defense.

Granted, I do believe we’ve come a long way, because now when black people are accused of crimes against those of other races, they actually do stand trial, and so do white people.  But it wasn’t that long ago that the opposite was true.  Remember that.

Final note: This may wind up being part one of many, because I keep seeing more things like this in my news feed, and I think they’re important to address, but this post is already long enough.

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