the body and the wedding

Right now, I’m planning a wedding, and it’s super exciting but also rife with weird moments. Like, did you know it’s basically impossible to get a tailored, masculine-looking suit as a fat woman? Did you know that essentially every wedding planning site and book suggests a weight loss or training plan, especially for the bride? Did you know that traditions are so full of heteronormativity and fatphobia that it’s impossible to avoid, even when you think you’ve found someone understanding? I didn’t know before, but now I sure do.

I’m so excited to have a wedding with my wife. Yes, we are already married. When the US election went the way it did last year, we immediately decided to just go ahead and get legally married. We’d been engaged for 8 months by then anyway, so it wasn’t a sudden thing. Still, the election, plus me really needing better health insurance thanks to my injury, plus us really needing legal rights to each other for family reasons were factors in making us just go for the courthouse wedding. And it was lovely. My parents were there and my brother Skyped in. We wore matching bright orange converse and, as true lesbians, our dog was part of the ceremony. Here we are exchanging rings:

laura puts wedding ring on ilana while casey watches

So cute, so in love!

Still we really wanted to have a bigger wedding. Having friends and family affirm our marriage is really important to me because we need and want the support of our community as we grow our relationship. So we’re planning a wedding for next year.

Now, I love planning events. It such a satisfying thing to me to coordinate a bunch of things and have them all come together. But I’ve never planned anything as elaborate, as steeped in expectation, and as high-pressure as a wedding. This is the ultimate challenge.

Having a queer wedding is freeing in many ways because there’s not a lot of a tradition to uphold. Still, it’s frustrating when doing research to only see straight, white (mostly thin) couples in the stock photos. Queer websites often cater to gay men or femme lesbians who they assume are taking on the traditional role of planning a wedding. In our case, we’re both pretty androgynous to masc, and neither of us is interested in a fancy, large wedding. We just want people there to lend their support and love to what we think is a beautiful and lasting companionship.

We’re making it work in our own way, putting our priorities ahead of others’ expectations, and knowing at the end of the day what matters is our love.

 

Advertisements

the body and my queerness

This is a big topic and I’m sure I’ll write about it many times over the tenure of this blog. Right now I want to start with the basics. I identify as a lesbian and I identify as GNC (gender non-conforming). Sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same thing, but I think I should talk about both in this post because both have influenced how I feel about my body.

My sexual orientation has a more subtle influence on how I perceive my body. These days, I am constantly wondering if I look “lesbian” enough. When I was growing up, I wanted to look straight because I was afraid of being gay. I wasn’t sure of my sexuality. I thought I was straight, but I also wished that I “could be” gay because I had a crush on my best (female) friend and I wanted to tell her, but I knew I was straight so the crush didn’t mean anything. It was complicated. Looking back, it’s fairly obvious that I was a terrified, closeted queer kid, but in the moment it was just scary to not know what I wanted and how to show that with my body.

At the same time I was wishing I was gay, I was trying my best to lean into what I thought of as straight femininity. I hated shaving my legs and sucked at putting on make-up and felt so uncomfortable in dresses, but I really tried. I thought I was just terrible at being a girl. And in a way I was, because I was pretending to be a certain type of girl that I wasn’t.

My ideal gender presentation is basically the style of a ten-year-old boy. It’s funny, but it’s also really true. If I could wear little button ups and straight leg khakis and hoodies and t-shirts with dinosaurs on them every day I would. I want to dress and be perceived as somewhere in between feminine and masculine, but definitely more towards the masc side.

There’s the rub, though. I have a very curvy, feminine body. I have big hips that no amount of low-slung straight-leg pant can hide. I have a curvy tummy and hold my fat like a woman holds her fat. I have a round, soft face. No matter what button ups and binders I try, people are going to instantly see “woman.” Which in itself wouldn’t bother me that much, but add on to that the extra layer of difficulty of finding gender-neutral or masc leaning clothes that fit a fat woman-shaped person, and it leads to many tears (at least in my case). I have a vision for how I want to dress my body, and it seems like so few people in the world are providing it.

Still, now that I know what I want, I don’t have to feel as awkward in my body when I walk down the street. Clothes I want are hard to find, but not impossible. I no longer just hide in hoodies and big jeans. I no longer hide behind my long hair. I’m starting to claim my identity and settle into my most comfortable style.

the body and the beginning

Welcome to my first blog entry! I’m not sure exactly how I want to start this, so I’m just going to jump in.

I’m starting this blog because I have a lot of thoughts all pushing around in my head for attention, and I’ve found writing them down has been helpful in the past. I’m starting it because I want to learn about myself and the ways how I think and feel about my body affect my life. I’m starting it because I’m tired of feeling turned around and confused in my own head. I’m starting it because I hope I can build a community that supports me as I explore my experience.

My plan is to have this be a multi-faceted blog. Topics I want to include are:

  • fat acceptance, body positivity, Health At Every Size (HAES), and my body
  • my health, exercise, foods, meds, and my body
  • queerness, gender, my gender expression, and my body
  • photos of me, the way I am, in my body right now
  • anything and everything about what I’m thinking about my body

You can see why I called this blog “The Body.” Recently, I’ve begun to think about my body constantly. In October 2016, I was hit by a car while riding my bike. I got incredibly lucky in that my injuries were limited, mainly to my left knee. It still wasn’t great: I tore my MCL fully, tore my PCL partially, tore my meniscus partially, and had fractures in my fibula and femur. Basically, it was out of commission. I was fortunate enough to be able to avoid surgery, but otherwise I am on the long journey to regaining a fully functioning body part.

Before the accident, I biked to work every day, ran about once a week, and worked out another two or three days. I’ve completed four Tough Mudders, run two 5ks, and lifted weights heavier than my body. But my reality now is much different. Part of what I’m exploring here is how to come to terms with having to redefine the movement that is possible in my life, right now. I’m tired of saying to myself: “When my knee is better, I’ll be able to do that.” What about right now?

Another thing I’m really interested in exploring is how I take care of my body. Since my injury, I haven’t wanted to think about my body, or think about caring for it, or think about the long term. Part of that is movement, another part of that is what I eat and why. Another part is how I care for my mental health. I want to figure out how I can better commit myself to taking care of myself, rather than waiting until “I’m better.” What about right now?

I’m a huge proponent of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), because it literally saved my life. One of the first things you learn in DBT is to reduce your vulnerability to out-of-control emotions by using your “PLEASE skills.” PLEASE stands for

  • treat Physical iLlness
  • balance Eating
  • avoid mood Altering drugs
  • balance Sleep
  • get Exercise

Okay, so it’s a bit of a stretch in terms of an acronym, but you get the point. These are incredibly important for life. I think this is where my main focus should be for now, since I could improve on so many.

Anyway, you see where I’m starting now. From a place of a lot of thoughts but not yet a ton of action. From a place of wanting to think about my body and behaviors in a new way. I hope you’ll join me on this journey.