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My Body, My Home

International Women’s Day came and went, and with it, Kim Kardashian’s nude selfie and a collection of celebrities who either loved it or hated it. I have my own personal feelings (mostly dislike) toward pseudo-celebrities and their need to remain relevant, but in this case, I had to side with Kim K. She wrote an open letter, told everyone to mind their business, and defended herself by pointing out how empowering it is to love your body.

In my time with roller derby, I’ve noticed there are all types of bodies. The thing is, you don’t really see it after a while. Regardless of your size or shape, its the skills that make you a great player. A gal might look like she would be a good jammer, but naturally, she’s just better at blocking. You really can’t judge because there is no “derby body”, anyone can play (but you do get some awesomely thunderous thighs, tho.)

It took me a year to stop hating myself and my body. It was a process of eating heathlier, losing weight and accepting myself as I am, not as I thought other people would want. I never actually reached my goal weight of 110 lbs because I woke up one day, looked in the mirror and said “you don’t look so bad”, which is a compliment in my book. That’s all I needed to stop worrying about what I looked like in shorts, or thinking that everyone was talking about my celluite.

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My body is all mine, all of it, my possession. So when someone like Kim K. posts a nude selfie and defends it by saying “its my body, and I do what I want with it”, I can’t be mad at her. There are so many female celebrities with nude photos out there in internet world that they did not intend for all to see. What other way of empowering yourself than by posting one yourself because it is your body. I agree that it is a bad example for young fans, but the internet is bad for young fans. I think the person to blame there are the parents, but that’s a whole different post.

The thing is, we, as women, are constantly judged by the way we act, dress, live, etc. From adolescence, we are self conscious of ourselves and, for many of us, we never really get over it. Women need to stand up for each other and say, “Hey, if you think you look good and you want to post that nude photo of yourself, go for it. I wouldn’t, but that’s not my body, its yours.” Do what you feel, when you feel…as long as you don’t hurt any body else. ;P

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Cry on the Inside like a Winner

I would have never used the word “strong” or “feminist” to describe myself in the past. I depended on people I loved to make me feel happy, give me a reason to be alive, and to push me through things I wasn’t sure I could do. I was warned, a few weeks before starting derby, that feminism will take over once I get into the community. I didn’t believe it because how can a bunch of girls in fishnets and short shorts (sometimes tutus) be feminists?

A few days ago, I had cramps. Really bad cramps that made me weak in the legs and unable to walk without excruciating pain. I rested on the bed and my husband approached and patted my back. When I turned over, he seemed surprised and said “oh, I thought you were crying”. I thought for a moment and said “I want to play derby. I can’t cry.”

Derby has taught me that no matter what ways my mind tries to psyche me out, I can do anything. At practice, when we think they are telling us to do the impossible and yet we manage to do it with little injuries, the coaches say “see, you didn’t die”. This is my mantra now.

I can’t do it. Oh, but just try. O-m-g I just did it. See, you did it and didn’t die.20160212_172628-1

As a woman, we are constantly told we aren’t strong enough for anything tough. Sure, we can play sports but not something as dangerous as football, and even if we could, they’d “be easy on us”. Girls get pummeled in derby, its, essentially, the entire point of the sport. Then, we go home and take care of our husbands, wives, human children, and/or dog/cat children. We work our various jobs, go to college, make things with our hands, and just be awesome on a daily basis. While guys just play sports and depend on us to make everything easy.

And that’s when the feminism kicks in. Look at my busy life while I still have time to put 8 wheels on my feet and jump over piles of bodies just to score some points. I have skills that I cultivated just through sheer determination and practice. In the words of my husband after I complained of post-practice pain combined with cramps: I am a warrior. And being a woman made me that way.

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Teach Me How to Derby

The past few months, but especially the last two, I have been reinventing what it means to be Christine. For several years since my bipolar diagnosis, I’ve let my mental illness be that thing. Why didn’t you come to my party? Cause I’m bipolar.

This year marked the first time I claimed a New Year’s Resolution: To stop making excuses, make friends, and be nice. For someone like me, these things are harder than losing weight or giving up alcohol. And last year, I could do nothing but complain about how no one liked me or wanted to be my friend like a spoiled rich kid who pays people to hang out with him (sorry John DuPont). This year, I would be better and be someone who I don’t hate on a regular basis. But really honestly, stop using my mental health issues as a crutch.

Within two months, I’ve gone to two concerts, did the 5K at Disney in January, and joined a roller derby league which I am absolutely excited about. Sure, I hurt and wish that I wasn’t such a weakling in comparison to these girls who have rock hard quads and nice butts. But now when people say “Roller derby? Isn’t that like really dangerous?” I say, “Yeah, it’s pretty much the most awesome thing you could ever do.”

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Under my pinky…small but painful!

I may not be able to stay upright all the time, I may have bruised my palm from falling in only the 2nd day of practice (who bruises their palm?), and I may look nothing like the veterans that skate around on banked tracks and slick floors like they’ve been doing this since birth…but, I became my own hero the day I showed up to practice and put every ounce of effort I had into doing this.

A few days ago, depression was trying to push its way back into the forefront of my brain. It makes you yell at your wonderful and supportive husband and tells you that you have no business even trying anything new cause you’re just mediocre. So I put on my skates and gear, and let derby hip check those thoughts right out.

 

Post Graduate Job Frustration

Searching for a job is probably one of the most stressful parts of graduating from college. You’ve completed all your classes, put yourself in debt, followed your (or your parent’s) dreams and now its time to get a big kid job. But no one tells you how hard it is to become an adult. And once you get into your big girl pants, you can’t help but feel as if you’re just dogpaddling in a mudslide.

The biggest problem is that the career you studied for usually wants you to already know what your doing before they hire you. Experience: the necessary evil of all jobs. If you don’t have experience you won’t get hired; if you don’t get hired, you can’t get experience. The best way to bypass this catch-22 is by doing an internship while taking classes. However, if you are a working adult it can be difficult to fit in an unpaid internship with a job that pays the bills.

The issue should be addressed in college, but the problem is, it isn’t. There is so much emphasis placed on completing your degree, but not necessarily on getting a job in your industry. This is why people who go to career colleges make it there alot faster than people with a Master’s degree in English. Advisors in school need to ask the right questions: do you know what kind of experience you need for what you want to do? Do you see yourself in this career for more than 10 years? If you rack up debts, can this career help you pay it off?

Essentially, is it worth it?

But advisors aren’t the only ones to blame. Parents push their kids to pursue college and take out loans even when they don’t want to go. In the end, they drop out, still stuck with debt, and still not sure what they want to do with their lives. It’s something that a person has to figure out for themselves. Though it seems like a great idea to go from high school to college, it might be best to just take a break and evaluate.

Director Kevin Smith as a Writer’s Role Model

My recent infatuation with the career and life of director and writer Kevin Smith began after I saw the 2014 horror/thriller, Tusk. The film, starring Justin Long and Michael Parks, is more of what I would consider a genre blending comedy horror. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

I always wait past the end credits to see any special inclusions directors like to sneak in. The end credits of Tusk included a recording of a SModcast in which the idea for the film was introduced. This started me on a journey into the writing and personality of Kevin Smith.

Prior to my obsession, I had seen most of his movies and never really considered the writing. However, Tusk and SModcast came into my life when I had begun looking at writing as a real career and a real passion for me. Kevin Smith’s films haven’t won Oscars and his writing isn’t as appreciated as it really should be, and he knows it. In fact, he makes fun of himself often on his podcast, SModcast, and the thing I admire the most, is that he never apologizes for his movies or his opinions.

I find people who own their writing, and what they say with it, very impressive. Writing is very personal – I equate it to slicing your wrists open and putting it on paper – and screenwriting is extremely difficult to keep entertaining script after script. Somehow, Smith has been able to do this repeatedly, regardless of the box office returns. This is why I think of him as my writing role model, someone who has inspired me to pursue my dream despite feeling like its “too hard”.

Now, I know a good amount of people think he’s a cool dude, who smokes weed all day and doesn’t really care what you think, but I actually don’t believe that. In fact, I think he does care, a great amount. Anyone who puts that much effort into a script must care for their work and that is what a true writer must do.

Focusing on the hate of hate crimes

This year, social media and the news has exploded with racially motivated crimes, riots, and general hate around the United States. Much of the focus of these crimes have been about the races, sexual orientation, or beliefs of the people involved in the crimes, especially after the rash of police shootings that occurred earlier this year. Hate crimes seem to have risen in these recent years, even provoking folks to demand the Confederate Flag be taken down, despite its historical significance.

It feels like either people have a selective memory or they just want to imagine that hate and racism were never this bad in the 80s and 90s. Unfortunately, there are those minorities that have experienced real hate within their daily life and they can never forget, but they do become numb to the hate they see on television.

As a mixed race child, I dealt with prejudice throughout grade school. I grew up in a Mexican household and related mostly to those with my same background, despite my caramel color skin (which was darker than most Mexicans I met at the time). I tried my best to fit in with the Hispanics in my class, but most judged me before getting to know me. I was subjected to racial slurs, pet names like ‘negrita’, and being outcasted altogether. It was painful and, for years, I was ashamed of my skin color.

Despite the mention of my race, it really wasn’t the slurs that bothered me. It was the unprovoked hate they had for me before they knew me. Similar to the way the victims in Charleston were judged by another human as being unworthy to live the rest of their lives. But, regardless of race, hate is the true problem here in America.

It would be a great change to see the news broadcasted without mentioning races and leaving photos off of the screen. Ambiguity would show us the incredible amount of crime between human beings. As humans, we have so much in common but hate causes us to focus on the one item that makes us different. But as Americans, that one difference should be the thing that brings us together, not tear us apart.

Celebrating Father’s Day without a father

Father’s day was always a confusing holiday for me.

I grew up without knowing my biological father and even the forced Father’s day projects in grade school didn’t make me want to know him either. It’s quite possible that he later became a better father to another child or maybe he was a good father before me. The point is, he has been nothing but an absent father to me and never deserved any of the construction paper ties made by my tiny child hands. Instead, those ties went to a more deserved man: my grandfather.

My grandfather was always a funny man to me but also strict enough to feel he knew best. I never questioned his decisions, I always tried to speak to him with respect, and, even after his death, I always asked for his approval. He was a genuine father, a present father, and that’s what every child needs.

Recalling those grade school days, I remember being teased that my grandfather wasn’t my “real” father. Despite their hurtful jabs, I knew my classmates would never understand the naturally occuring connection we had that usually comes from a biological father-daughter relationship. And honestly, I was okay with that. I know that if my real father had re-entered my life, the father-like position my grandfather held in my life would not have changed because he just simply meant more to me.

So happy Father’s day to every father, whether he’s a caring father figure, a biological father, or even a father to an animal child, every present father deserves to celebrate the day. Construction ties and all.

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Why I Decided to Be a Fat Bride

Recently, I looked back on the photos taken at my wedding last October. My cheeks are plump and round, my eyes are pinched half moons, and I look genuinely happy. It’s been 7 months since I wore my laced, long sleeve dress, and I realized that I had become exactly what I was scared of becoming months before my wedding day had even arrived: I was a fat bride.

Engaged women are always bombarded with Facebook posts, Pinterest repins, and Tumblr reblogs featuring waify, lilaced-crowned brides under weeping willow branches and twinkling Christmas icicles. Basically, women are pressured to believe the ideal marriage spawns only from socially approved ideal weddings.

I fell into that system of brainwashing, and since our engagement lasted 2 years, I had 730 days of constant social media constructed wants. I found myself on a low carb/low taste/low food diet and worked out consistently for about a month. I lost nothing but gained about a year’s worth of stress in just 25 days. Eventually,  the month of the wedding arrived and I found myself with a wedding dress two sizes larger than I hoped to be on my big day.

Truthfully, I allowed myself to become a “fat” bride because I needed to be able to remember myself. I had always struggled with my weight and trying to lose more than 50lbs in 2 years was no different, so I destressed and decided to be myself on my wedding day.  Seven months later, the warm happiness coming from my photos is more satisfying than the idea of being a “model” bride. I was Christine getting married, not Bride #300,000,001 getting married.image

In  the end, the only person concerned with my weight loss was me. And I was just as happy being “fat” as I would have been being “thinner”, maybe even happier because I wouldn’t be starving.  A wedding day is the day where you should look your best but still be you and, unfortunately, too many brides fall prey to the social media gods and look their best as someone else.

The idea of being “fat” depends on who is saying the word, and those people probably wouldn’t be invited to your wedding in the first place so why change?  Being authentic will only contribute to the happiest day of your life. My advice for any engaged, non-slender individuals: Imagine 50 years from now, do you want to see yourself in your wedding, or someone else’s idea of you?

 

Super Hero Hype

This past Sunday, David Ayer, director of the upcoming 2016 film Suicide Squad, tweeted a photo of the cast of misfits known as the Suicide Squad including Harley Quinn, Killer Croc and Deadshot. The film has slightly over a year before it’s released and a trailer hasn’t even been made yet however, with the release of this photo and the prior photos of Jared Leto transforming into the iconic character, The Joker, for the same film, it is clear that we are being hyped.

I used to enjoy the hype, the marketing, the press. In fact, I have always maintained that guerilla marketing is the most entertaining marketing and can be even more exciting than the actual film. It’s not always the film’s fault, the marketing team that creates the campaign is just far too talented for their own good. So when a film like Blair Witch or Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters gets the advertising but doesn’t deliver in the box office, the hype machine can force people to question if they like the film or the advertising.

It is great when it works (See The Dark Knight or Gone Girl), but for the great mass of film lovers, its hard to tell if it is going to be beneficial at all to one’s psyche to see the marketing. It’s similar to a friend recommending a film: they tell you it’s the best movie they’ve EVER seen, you have to watch it, if you don’t, you’re missing out. Then, you see the movie and it was good, but not the best movie EVER. So the next film your friend recommends, you take it with a grain of salt. Sure, if you are a casual film goer, it’s not a deal breaker to be disappointed but if you’re a “filmie”, it can ruin the fun.

I will be in the theater for both Batman vs. Superman and Suicide Squad (BvS is set to release a few months ahead of its counterpart Suicide Squad) but I will hopefully be there with little to no knowledge of the plot. Just so that I can have that moment when a film is brand new and nothing has tainted my love for it.

Gendered Toys & Forced Norms

There’s been a big argument recently against the common practice of gendering toys and books in order to appeal to a particular audience. For years, I never really paid very much attention to the argument. Honestly, if you don’t like something just stay away from it and do what you need to and be happy. However, I read an article on the Huffington Post about gendered books that really got me thinking of my own childhood.

I like girly things. I wear dresses, heels, I love makeup and I know how to sew. But I also like comic books, video games, baseball and boxing. Just those sentences show what I was taught as a child in terms of gender norms. It shouldn’t make someone feel different just because they like certain activities that aren’t considered “usual” for their gender. Things like comic books and video games appeal to certain people who have a certain cerebral perforrmance, not because they have certain sexual organs. And the same thing goes for dresses, heels and makeup.

In the article, written by Caroline Bologna, they point out some of the harmful gender stereotypes listed on the front of books called The Big Book of Girl Stuff and The Big Book of Boy Stuff. While the boy book implies boys need to know how to build rockets and what books to read, the girl book gives advice on how to start babysitting and how to give the perfect compliment. Another major issue is that the boy book says “how do I tell a girl I like her” and vice versa on the girl book.

Nobody is claiming that its not ok to include these things in the books, but the issue here is that a whole subsection of children are being alienated. I know there are those out there who believe that we are far too sensitive toward gays, transgendered individuals and gender queers, to which I affirm and understand. However, we should be sensitive to them because that’s what they deserve after years of having to remain in the closet. To hand a child a book that includes “how to tell someone I like them” will not at all make them say “Someone? That means I can like someone of my own gender! Suddenly, I’m gay!” Nope. Just like wearing heels doesn’t make a man want to be with another man or how playing sports doesn’t make a woman a lesbian. Unfortuately, that is not at all the way love works and kids are much smarter than we may think. By including the OPTION, we are opening the doors to children who will be proud of who they are and more accepting to people who like different things from them. The gendering of toys and books does not need to happen anymore because we should be able to be whatever definition of our genders that we want it to be.