The Unhealthiest Part About Obesity Isn’t the Fat — It’s the Stigma

I’m a chubby girl — my latest BMI reading put me at 28.6 — who has fought her chubbiness for most of her life. But last year I did something I never thought I’d do: I gave up trying to lose weight.

I floundered for a while, going on occasional “cleanses” to get my body “back on track.” But eventually that fizzled out too, and instead I joined a yoga studio. I was going through one of the most anxious parts of my life, and I thought yoga might help. With time, yoga did improve my anxiety, and it opened me up to other forms of exercise like hiking and dancing. I was arguably the healthiest and most content I’d ever been. I still wasn’t thin, but for the first time, I realized maybe I didn’t have to be.

Read the rest on SheKnows

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“She is undeniably a funny lady, and her humor translates beautifully — even more powerfully, I’d argue — to the page. Her jokes have more time to build, her punchlines land harder. She’s created an entirely hilarious read that will delight her current fans by giving them a pitcher-sized serving of her normally shot-sized jokes (she is clearly better at booze analogies than I am) and entice new readers who have enjoyed recent books by other humor heavy-hitters (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling — you know the drill).”

I wrote a book review for SheKnows:

Mamrie Hart’s new memoir is a hilarious lesson in radical self-acceptance

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I had the pleasure of interviewing David Oyelowo for SheKnows. He spoke about his responsibility as a role model and representative:

“I don’t have the luxury of willy-nilly doing whatever I feel I want to do in the heat of the moment. I know that what I do has ramifications… political, social, cultural, for my kids [and] for the world I live in.”

Read more: David Oyelowo has advice for people who want to make real change (EXCLUSIVE)

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A few years before I moved out of my mother’s house, hummingbirds started nesting in the roof. One, above the front door. Another in the backyard just above the kitchen window. I don’t have a single memory of what they looked like. I didn’t stop to really look. But my mother loved them, and she regularly called us over to peek. “Oh, look! The babies have hatched!” she’d say. “Come look at the baby hummingbirds!”

When my mother was dying, I kept thinking: I want a tattoo. I want a tattoo to remind me of you. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted until I thought of this memory, my mother leaning toward her window, trying to share a small moment of joy with us.

One day, in the care facility, I told her I was thinking about getting a tattoo. A hummingbird. I didn’t tell her why. She paused a second before saying, “A small one.”

It’s not a small one. But I do think she’d like it. I can hear her in my head, saying it. “Oh Colleen,” she’d say. “It’s beautiful.” As, to her, so many small things were.

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Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I rushed to the library to pick up this book after reading How Finding A Fat YA Heroine Changed My Life on BuzzFeed. 

Here’s the thing: I’m not fat. But I’m not thin. I am short and I have a lot of boobs and a lot of hips, and sometimes (e.g. now) my body just likes to chill with an extra 20-30 lbs on it. I do not shop in plus-sized stores, but I almost can. I am not the kind of fat that gets you real discrimination. I’ve only suffered through a handful of nasty remarks about my weight, and I don’t think it’s ever kept me from getting a job or a promotion. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a position where I thought someone would be embarrassed to be seen with me. I am an outlier in yoga class, but I am not a distraction. Those things are real for actual fat people, who can’t qualify it with “but not that kind of fat.” 

One of the real stand-out parts of this book for me was not just that Eleanor is fat but not demonized by the author – a seriously common trope that Kaye Toal so beautifully unpacks in her essay –  it’s that Eleanor’s weight is also not ignored, and the social impact of her weight is not ignored. Park is sometimes embarrassed by her, for her weight and her sense of style (did I mention that there is an underlying theme of poverty and abuse? Yeah, that matters, too) and sometimes her bright red, unstyled hair. But he likes her anyway, and he can’t deny it. He is not a bully, but he is not a saint. The struggle with his feelings is about genuinely and truly liking her, but being afraid of the social impact that will have for him. 

And I think that is so smart, so on-point. Many smart people are past the “fat is bad” stage, but too many of us went for the polar opposite and have tried to pretend that fat doesn’t matter. “Don’t care what other people think! They’re idiots!” And it’s true, but those idiots can make your life hell, they can limit your income, they can make it hard and expensive to find clothes that flatter your body, they can make it hard to let another person love you. That’s what I found so perfect about this book. The social currency of being fat is not invisible, even when somebody loves you. But you can get past it and it’s worth it. I don’t know if there’s a better message out there.