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Weekend Reads #56

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Photo by Jiroe on Unsplash

Yesterday I shared a post-workout selfie on Instagram Stories. I was wearing new Athleta leggings that I looove and with it, a cropped top also from Athleta (sold out). One that doesn't cover my belly, one that rides up on occasion. And I love it too. I felt fierce. I was so sick all week and sick that day as well, but I rallied and went to the gym knowing it would make me feel better. And it did. I propped up my phone on the side of the parking lot with my water bottle, used the self-timer, flexed and smiled. I didn't know what caption to add to it so I shared the number on the scale that morning: This is 191.2 pounds.

I shared it because it's important to see other bodies, know their weights, their bust size, their clothing size to help normalize what we see in the mirror every morning. Living in a bubble, we see the number on the scale or in our jeans and feel bad. And being 191.2 pounds isn't a bad thing, it's nothing to be ashamed about. To paraphrase Aaliyah, it ain't nothing but a number.

I received so many DMs in response to that image. And you know what the majority of them were? Congratulations for a weight loss. You've gotten so small! You look so thin! I knew you lost weight! You're an inspiration for me to get back on my diet! Getting slim, girlie! Wow, how much have you lost?

I don't blame those who sent such DMs. We've been raised to have our value associated with the number on the scale. We'll have our stomachs rumble in board meetings, feel faint on the subway, snap at loved ones because we're hungry, say no to happy hour with dear friends, go to bed starving and dream about food. We'll blow out our knees going beyond our capability to get a few hundred more calories burned at the gym.  We adopt bad habits for the goal of having someone say we look thin. We congratulate people on weight loss more than we do over job promotions, we compliment people on looking thin even if the weight loss is due to health problems, we tell people we're proud of them for losing weight more than for helping others.  

Well, I am proud. I am proud that a year and a half ago I took charge of my life. I quit the job that was stressing me out and began going to a gym. I began being more conscious of what I consume and why. I started sleeping more, drinking more water, and taking better care of my skin. Nowhere in there is a thing about my size or weight. To be honest, the thing I am most proud about is through this journey, being able to disconnect my self-worth from a number. And I'll continue sharing myself in my bra, in my swimsuits, in shorts, and in leggings and crop tops and share that number because numbers do not define us. We are beyond numbers. We are fucking fantastic.

Weekend Reads

While on this topic, my friend Sarah created a line of merchandise with the most amazing messages: Your body is not a problem to be solved.  My body is not a problem to be solved. I already ordered myself a t-shirt and stickers. I want to put the stickers everywhere as a reminder and motivational boost.  At her shop at Teepublic, click on the image you like and from there you can order a variety of products from t-shirts to coffee mugs.

Loved this piece from Elizabeth Fever. I think many can recall a time in life where they were criticized for what they wore and it wasn't about what they wore but how their body wore it.  And how that experience affected their style go forward. (Medium)

It's Pride Month, and this weekend is the Capital Pride Celebration in DC with a festival and parade today and concert tomorrow.  Every brand is out there selling their rainbow-colored wares, social media is full of happy people wearing rainbows and holding hands, but few realize that we celebrate Pride in the month of June because it's the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. (The Tempest)

“What if our most fundamental means of perceiving and classifying one another is illusory and can be swept away?”  A really great read on the struggles of rejecting the gender binary. (The New York Times)

Actor Ian McKellen teamed up with British charity LGBT Foundation and created Pride in Ageing, a program to support gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people over 50. (Gay Star News)

Not the best news for those planning to catch up on past seasons this summer. According to several experts, binge-watching can affect your cardiovascular system, your vision, your socialization, and your sleep patterns. (The Washington Post)

Two students invent a bacteria that eats plastic from the ocean and turns it into water. (Science and Space)

A walk down memory lane… the history of Sears department store with some phenomenal photos to go with it. (Popular Everything)

Are menopause and Alzheimer's connected? (Elemental by Medium)

For Your Entertainment

I'd like to see you not have this song in your head all week or catch yourself dancing to it.  Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels by Todrick Hall.  You may recognize him from American Idol (he was on Season 9), his YouTube videos that have gone viral, his work on RuPaul's Drag Race, or his performances on Broadway.  Know this song has been added to my workout playlist!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. You know why I am glad you posted that 191.2 post? Because people don’t know what 191.2 pounds (or 150 pounds, or 200, or 300 pounds) truly looks like. Way too many people think that anyone who weighs more than about 105 pounds will look like Jabba the Hutt. And that’s not true, obvy.

    1. I am 105 pounds. I agree that seeing the number was useful for me. The only height & weight combos I know are my own (105, 5’2″), my favorite NHL player according to the official stat sheet that might or might not reflect reality (218, 6’2″), Sweet Valley High teenagers Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield (115, 5’6″), and somebody I dated for a few months in 2013 (235, 6’0″). Estimating anybody else’s weight involves a useless extrapolation from this weird group of data points.
      I will say that I believe any particular weight “truly looks like” a lot of different things. So many factors: height, gender, age, body composition, health, bone structure, bust size, disabilities, even things like flexing, lighting, and camera angle.

      1. OMG I too distinctly remember the Sweet Valley Twins’ height and weight! And it was something that I was obsessed with; if I was 3″ shorter I should never weigh more than that. But it’s true that weight is affected by so many different factors!

  2. It took me until Monday to get through it all! First thank you for the “Menopause and Alzheimer’s” article. I’m one year post radical hysterectomy and I’m now looking into all the things! It might be time to ask lots more questions.

    Also, the photo of you looking fierce post workout. It’s a testimony to society and the out of whack standards that are ingrained into women. We have come so far, but we have so damn far still to go.

    Loved your pride festivities in the Insta! I’m actually a tad jealous that my son will be in NYC during the World Pride festivities (for theatre camp). The kids are already planning how to take over!

    Keep doing you!

  3. It seems a bit strange to me that you would write a post about how your loyal readers were commenting on your weight when you posted a photo with the caption “This is 191″. Seems to me like you baited the responses you got. If you wanted to underscore the importance of health and body positivity, you could have said something like This is healthy” or “This is powerful” or “This is strength”, but you chose to label the picture with a number. Did you bait on purpose to make a point?

  4. Alison, I love reading your posts about your health goals and body progress. They are so inspiring. Thanks so much!

  5. Allie, I saw the IG photo, and you did look amazing, but not because of your size. You were oozing confidence and strength, and that was what made you beautiful. I saw a woman at home in her body, and we don’t get to see that nearly enough. Brava, and keep up the good work.

  6. bio identical estrogen, can be a life saver, staving off brain fog, insomnia, mood swings, etc in menopause. If one is low risk for breast cancer, long term HRT might be be a good choice. Good resources for learning more about this are Drs Joyce Kakkis, Diana Schwarzbein.

    We live so much longer and participate in the world to a greater degree these days than the previous 2 generations, I believe new strategies to treat our issues are necessary.

    1. Thank you for sharing this Vicki! My mom was on HRT for 25 years and it kept her strong and vital… and then she got breast cancer and they made her get off it and take estrogen blockers. It drastically affected her to be taken off, it really was a visual of how estrogen affects the body and mind.

  7. Huge thanks for the article on the link between ALZ and menopause (Elemental by Medium). I am aghast.

    1. The link between hysterectomies and Alzheimer’s hit me hard. I’m definitely looking into the Women’s Brain Initiative!

  8. You are the best! Can’t summarize so much in words…but you are a true inspiration and have the greatest ability to connect. Have a wonderful summer.

  9. Another “influencer” I follow posted a throwback photo (people missed the hashtag) and people were obsessed with how thin she had gotten, when the opposite is true since it was a throw back. She had posted the picture because it was talking about when she had ppd. It was seriously disturbing. Like weight was the primary focus at all when she was talking about mental health. Really makes me rethink what I think when I see photos, and certainly what I choose to comment!

    1. Rebecca, you have hit on what I came here to say – not all weight loss is reason for compliments and celebration. Many years ago I saw a relative that I had not seen for a few years and they had lost a good amount of weight and were frankly looking great and I commented on it to them. They smiled and thanked me. Later I learned that this person had been battling cancer that they found out was terminal right around this time. Since then, I am careful to not make these kinds of comments, even with the best of intentions. No one knows what is going on behind the scenes.

    2. I remember a friend sharing a before and after, the before she was much thinner but the caption was about how she is in recovery from an eating disorder and the “after” shows a woman who is happy and healthy. So many comments were about how good she looked in the “before” she was horrified and deleted the photo. It too made me rethink about what I see in photos, and how looks can be deceiving and require context or at least reading of the caption!

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