is such a lovely word.

It conjures up images of luscious fruit and round, pearlescent tones

That sit like strawberries and yogurt on your tongue.

Why is it we love it so much in things

Like vases and nectarines

When we hate it so much in ourselves?


is lovely, feminine, maternal

When we tune out the noise enough to let ourselves see it.


This post is part of Madeline Bea’s Sunday Creative Project.

* A note to my readers: I finally figured out how to get full rss feeds working on my site. If you would like to switch from excerpts to full feeds, just set up a new subscription by clicking here: Then you can delete the old subscription.

you capture – shapes

For this challenge, I had the idea to go and take lovely, flattering pictures of women of all shapes and sizes to show beauty comes from within, not from squeezing into size 00 jeans and filling out a 32D bra. It was to be a beautiful f— you to corporations pushing on us an industry standard “ideal” that does not reflect reality and only makes us feel bad about ourselves so we buy more products. It was to show that all bodies can be beautiful: round cut or pear shaped, athletic, lanky or motherly, there is beauty in every shape, if only we look for it. And refuse to allow our minds to be boxed in by corporate dictates.

So I set out to take such pictures. I started with my beautiful friend, who is expecting. And, oh my, she’s just gorgeous and glowing!

youcapture_shapes6aThen I started approaching women of all kinds, targeting every shape and size I could find, with only a mind for possible compositions and workable lighting. But my job quickly became more and more difficult.
youcapture_shapes3The rounder a woman was, the less likely it was that I could get her to volunteer for a photo. If she was older than 25 or 30, then it got even more difficult. One woman, who had some facial scarring I hadn’t noticed until after I approached her, positively shooed me off. I began to suspect that the less comfortable a woman was with her body image for not fitting in the “norm”, the less willing she would be to let me photograph her.

youcapture_shapes4I began to fret, wondering if I should just scrap the idea altogether and just go with pictures of circular and rectangular shapes and whatnot in still life form. But then I got mad. No! I would not cave in. This is exactly my point!

All shapes and ages are beautiful, each in their own way. Beauty comes not in shapes but in how we carry ourselves and from loving our own bodies. A woman could have the “ideal body”, but if she hunches over and shrinks back, you’d never notice it. When a woman is truly comfortable in her own skin and carries herself like she means it, then others will find her attractive. And having the “ideal” body doesn’t ensure you love your body and are comfortable in it. That is just a lie we tell ourselves when we want to lose those extra pounds. Perhaps if it comes fairly naturally to you, it might. But if you have to fight for it tooth and nail, and every day you’re weighing this and scrutinizing that, you might easily hate your body, no matter how well you look doing it.

(You might think I’m being hippy-dippy, oh, everyone is beautiful…and I’m not. In all honesty, not everyone is a beautiful person. But I’ve thought a lot about this and I do truly believe beauty can be found in a variety of different shapes, of which the “ideal” is only one. Yes, health might be a factor…but I’ve seen healthy, round people and nonhealthy skinny people and every version in between. While there is a correlation between health and weight, they are not one and the same. Shape aside, the key issue is whether you’re eating and moving in ways that are healthy – mentally, physically, and emotionally – for your body and its peccadilloes. Because physical health is only one dimension. Mental and emotional health are equally important. But physical health is just happens to be the one that’s easier for others to see.)

youcapture_shapes1So I reiterate: all shapes are beautiful. Skinny, square, or short, luxuriously curvy or lanky and lean. All shapes are beautiful.
If only we can allow ourselves to believe it too.

Ok, I’ll get down off my soapbox now.

For more shapes (and perhaps less soapbox!), head over to Beth’s site, I Should Be Folding Laundry, and join in this week’s You Capture challenge!


Got Milk (Suggestions)?

When it comes to the essential vitamins and nutrients, the one I always seem to have trouble including in my diet is calcium. Does anyone have any suggestions for low fat, low calorie options to get my daily double dose?

Mot dairy options I find (like cheese and ice cream–so yummy, yet so bad for you) are not worth the caloric content since this is supposed to be a daily part of my diet. I’ve picked up yogurt and those 100-calorie pudding snacks. But there’s only so much you can eat before you get pudding-ed out. Plus I need two servings a day. Two of those and I’ve consumed 1/4 of my daily calorie/fat allowance, which frankly, I’d rather be spending on something else more filling.

I’ve started drinking a glass of nonfat milk, but I don’t particularly enjoy it. Are there any options for dressing up milk (besides Nesquick or Hershey’s)? I’m also taking calcium supplements but I don’t really trust them as much as real food. I’m always afraid my body won’t absorb the nutrients as well as with real produce, which comes with it’s own natural carriers and absorbers.

Does anybody have anything they think I should try?

Life After Fire

She eyes me as I take another bite of pastry.

“All the women on her dad’s side of the family have big hips,” she says with a conspiratorial nod to our guests, who smile politely, though somewhat uncomfortably.

“That’s a true story,” I say, laughing it off a bit.

She pats her thighs. “But she gets the big thighs from me.” She laughs. Our guests smile nervously, flitting glances over at me, trying to gauge how I react.

“I guess I’m screwed on both sides,” I laugh. And the guests relax, relieved by the easy banter. Meanwhile, I think, Thanks Mom.

In less than a minute we have slipped into our old routine of half-joke/half-warning and feigned nonchalance. It fits like a favorite old pair of slippers. I know why she does it. She watches my weight like an eagle-hawk ready to shred any excess pound because she worries about my health. She has diabetes and doesn’t want me to go the way of needles and insulin like she has. And I appreciate that about her, even if I don’t appreciate the verbal harping.

But 20 pounds lighter and in a healthy weight I haven’t seen since high school, I am still the fat girl. Still the one who must watch her poundage and battle the bulge. While I was losing the weight, part of me was looking to prove to her I could. Nearly a year since I lost the weight, part of me still hopes to prove to her I did, and could keep it off. And yet, no matter how skinny I get or for how long, I will always be the one who has big hips and big thighs and have to weigh each bite she eats.

And in less than a minute, I am struck by how, after everything happens and the dust settles, old patterns rise again like they’ve never left. After trauma, after marriage, after weight-loss, after fire, the life before returns and things are as they always have been. Some things in life will never change, no matter what you try to prove.

10 Habits of Highly Effective Fat People

And I say this as one who has looked in the mirror and saw someone roughly approaching the circumference of Chicago staring back at her.

1. Offer to split a meal with your friend—and sneakily take the bigger portion for yourself.
2. Schedule in exercise, buy cute exercise clothes and an expensive gym membership—and then don’t go (see Tuesday’s post).
3. Have a salad and water for dinner—and brownies and ice cream straight out of the container for dessert.
4. Buy loads of healthy veggies for yourself and Cheetos, frozen pizza, and hamburgers “for the husband and kids”–even though you’re single and childless.
5. Diligently measure out the appropriate serving size of the dinner ingredients—then effectively double it when you discover you’re still hungry afterwards.
6. Buy skinny jeans to motivate yourself—then throw them out 6 months later when you have to make room for your fat jeans.
7. Drink a margarita instead of dinner—and then during the 4th one down the line, tell yourself calories don’t matter if you’re drunk. Because by then, you’re incapable of counting them even if you wanted to.
8. Send hate at all the skinny bitches you see—and then congratulate yourself for at least being thinner than that one woman over there.
9. Congratulate yourself when you still fit in your jeans—and cut the seams to make more room when you don’t.
10. Only allow pictures of yourself from the neck up. This allows for easy photo manipulation to paste your head on supermodel’s bodies and saves you the trouble of burning everything else.

Top 10 Reasons Not to Exercise

(Or excuses I give myself.)

1. Bad weather. In places like Minnesota, this probably involves snow. In California, this means rain. Or rain’s younger sister, drizzle. It also includes: fog, hail, anything below 55ºF and winds above 15 mph.

2. Good weather. Because clearly the better reaction is to celebrate by trying that new ice cream parlour and plopping down on the beach with a smoothie and a good book.

3. No time. Between work, school, chores, eating, drinking, socializing, watching favorite shows on TV, reading books, scoping the net, sleeping, petting the kitty/puppy (and no that is no a euphemism–unless for you, it is), taking care of the kids, and um….washing one’s hair–who has the time to exercise?

4. Too tired. After doing all of the above, who has the energy?

5. Sick or injured. Obviously you can’t bring your germs into a gym, now can you? That would be rude, selfish and gross. And of course, how can I go for a walk when I’ve stubbed my toe?

6. I’ll do it later. This is not so much an excuse as procrastination–until you’ve procrastinated so long it is now midnight and you can’t do it until the next day. So you promise yourself you’ll exercise tomorrow–and repeat.

7. I’ve already done it. I walked from my car to my office and back again. Surely that’s enough for one day, right? In fact, I even took the stairs (because the elevator was broken) so that justifies having dessert!

8. I exercised yesterday so I can take today off. Wouldn’t want to overdo it now. I might hurt something.

9. I forgot! Truly I meant to, but I got wrapped up and before I knew it my exercise hour was over.

10. I’m too lazy. I’ve run out of excuses but still can’t get my ass off the couch.

Honorable Mentions:
I’m too fat and therefore must stuff my face in a vat of ice cream (for bad mirror days).

I’m thin enough and therefore don’t really need to exercise (for good mirror days).

Don’t Give Me No Stinkin’ Cheese

Why is it that when you go to a restaurant, it is now nigh impossible to get an average, run-of-the-mill, plain old salad? It’s like how a plain old cup o’ joe has now become a mocha cappa-frappaccino latte, all soy, hold the whip. It used to be you could always count on there being the staple garden salad. But now it seems the best you can do is maybe a caesar salad, dressing on the side. Everything else is slathered with eggs, chicken, tofu, shrimp or fish, dried fruit, nuts and cheese. Nuts and cheese! On everything! With who-knows-what-kind-of-caloric-content dressing. Why do restaurants feel the need to truss up salads like Little Miss Sunshine contestants?

I mean seriously, who really voluntarily chooses to eat a salad as the main course when there are all manner of amiable delights elsewhere on the menu? Nobody. That’s right. Nobody. We only eat salads as a vague attempt at healthy eating. Or to make it look to our dinner companions as though we are trim consumers, when really we go home and nosh ice cream straight from the carton. And wonder how the entire carton of Oreos or bag of Doritos disappeared in one sitting.

But the more restaurants insist upon adding feta, bacon bits and croutons to their salads, the less we can delude ourselves that we’re making the smart eating choice. (Or worse, stinky cheese like bleu and gorgonzola. My apologies to the ‘zola fans…but bleah. I’ll take goat cheese any day of the week, but you won’t catch me within a mile of moldy cheese.) Check out the menu at Quizno’s and you’ll quickly discover some of the salads are heavier in calories and fat than the sandwiches. If that’s the case, give me the fucking sandwich.

It shouldn’t be so hard to find the healthy choices on a menu. And I reserve my right to eat a salad without any stinky cheese.

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