Just. Don’t.

Every weekend – it seems – there’s a different school in my area having prom. This means my Facebook feed is filled with beautiful photos of kids dressed their best for a night of magic. And without fail – every weekend – I see random comments snarking on wardrobe choices. Thankfully, these were all friends-of-friends, but STILL. These were all adults disparaging the outfits of teenagers.

“What a lovely photo. And all of the girls in this photo are dressed classy unlike others I’ve seen.

Oh really? You’ve seen pictures of teenage girls dressed for prom and you actually allowed yourself to assign a level of “class” to them based on their dress? REALLY? What – exactly – is a non-classy dress? I’m dying to know what a teenager has to be wearing for her most special night to make you think, Uggg. So classless.

“Who is the girl in the white?” “That’s so-in-so’s girlfriend, she’s from a different school I don’t know her.” “Uggg. I just can’t believe the parents don’t mind their daughters wearing those midriff-baring dresses. It’s so slutty.”

Good for you, lady. Good for you for seeing a photo of a lovely girl in a dress that shows LESS SKIN THAN HER BATHING SUIT and you commenting on her characters negatively because of that. I’m super-proud of your boldness and your willingness to stand up for purity everywhere…I hope that message gets back to the parents.

“Is there no dress code for Proms anymore? I can’t believe how many two piece dresses with slits to the thighs I’ve seen! It’s so sad!”

Yes. That’s what’s sad. Not the unfair and unrealistic beauty standards our media places on our girls…Not the double standards we raise our girls with defining “slutty” verses “studly” with their male counterparts…and DEFINITELY not strange women feeling like they are doing the right thing by criticizing the appearances of young women. Nope. None of those things are sad. Only the lack of a dresscode at prom.

Listen, I get it. I’ve seen girls wearing shorts that are basically underwear and my instinctive thought is often: Oh, NO! That’s not appropriate! But that’s our reaction based on these bizarre and unrealistic definitions of class and beauty that media and society have defined for us. SQUASH THOSE INSTINCTS. Don’t add power to those perceptions by actually TYPING THEM OUT ON FACEBOOK. Instead, think about what the world would be like if we would quit judging young girls based on the clothes they wear. If we would quick shaming girls for their wardrobe choices. Instead, what if we taught girls the value of loving the body they were given and the thrill of dressing it in a way that makes them happy. Do you know how often I like what I’m wearing? ALMOST NEVER. If a young girl leaves the house feeling good about herself and loving her body? She is 100 steps ahead of me…no matter what she is wearing.

We need to be examples and we can’t let these comments be heard or read by the girls who know us. We must celebrate self-love and worry about a girl more if she seems sad than if she’s underdressed. And let’s watch it with the double-standards. We need to guide our girls to love themselves as a full package and as a real human body and we can’t do that if they hear or see us snarky on “classy” levels in their peers. Let’s just refrain from critiquing any clothing a young woman wears unless she comes to us and says: Tell me the truth, what do you think?

And while we’re at it…let’s not snark on people’s appearance at all. Let’s not make comments about whether someone should be wearing a white triathlon suit, let’s not comment on someone’s weight gain, let’s not discuss someone’s fashion choices. Let’s make appearance something we NEVER DISCUSS because even though the person you’re discussing may never know, the person you’re saying it to will. I am scared to wear a bikini because I’ve heard too many women make derogatory comments about overweight women in bikinis. So your words might not have made it to the person you were mocking, but they made it to me, and now I can’t try on a bikini without hearing your voice in my head.

All of your words have power…but especially words discussing another’s appearance. Those words have terrible ripple effects. Women are raised with unrealistic expectations. We live in a society where half of my Facebook feed is ads for anti-wrinkle cream and now the wrinkles I never noticed yell at me every day and say: YOU ARE OLD. Your comment about how anyone who wore “THIS ITEM FROM THE 90s” should call you about wrinkle cream makes me embarrassed now whenever I smile in a picture.

Comments on beauty and fashion and appearance echo in the ears of the insecure for years after they’ve been spoken.

Keep them to yourself.

On Greetings

I like seeing people I know out in the wild. This is a 100% change in my persona in the last decade. Before Dad died, and I was mildly agoraphobic and strongly crippled with social anxieties; so I would run in the opposite direction if I recognized someone at Target. I remember seeing a parent of a classmate of E’s somewhere once, and I literally left the store without getting what I needed because it was too small to hide in and I needed to get out before she saw me.

But now? Now I tend to enthusiastically greet someone when I see them in unexpected places. A friend of mine walked into a restaurant I was eating at to pick up her carry-out order and I ran up and hugged her before she left. I ran into an old friend at Target 2 weeks ago and I literally said, “I was feeling really crappy because my allergies are killing me and I’m grumpy and then I saw you and I love life again!”

However, I’m a little enthusiastic, most of the times.

It’s a whole different kind of awkwardness, I’ll admit. And some people freeze a little and my manic/hyper enthusiasm, but it doesn’t faze me because I know how weird I come across sometimes. The thing is, I just find this is such a better form of awkward than running and hiding. Kinda like how I’m constantly determined to use people’s names when I see them. No matter how little I know you, I try my best to use your name when I see you as it helps me relax a little. Sometimes I’ll dodge down an aisle in Target to check Facebook to make sure I’ve got your name right, and many times I should do that as I get names wrong, but for the most part? I’m a name-user. I find it helps me feel comfortable socially.

Well…all of this is to say that I received the KINDEST message on Facebook recently. You see, a friend of mine runs in the part of town I run in. I don’t know if he’s training for a 100-miler right now, but he has in the past and with as often as I see him out on my runs, he’s gotta be training for something big. Anyway…every time I see him I enthusiastically greet him by name and last week he sent me this message, “Kim, every time we pass each other running, you are always smiling. Your smiling is contagious to others. Thanks.”

I MEAN!

It made my year. I already try not to feel awkward about how hyper I get when I see people I know in public, but that message really helped remind me on that great see-saw of social awkwardness, this is the better side to lean on…the overly-enthusiastic-greeting side. The runs-away-and-hides side was no less awkward, to be honest. But at least this side can have a positive ripple effect whereas nothing positive comes from me running away and hiding.

So I’ll keep excitedly approaching friends out in the wild. I’ll manically ramble on about something completely bizarre. Like that time I ran into a classroom parent from one of my kid’s classes at an art collective and proceeded to lament about how I wish I hadn’t worn the shirt that showed my boob sweat so clearly and that I should pack that shirt away in the summer time. YES. I AM THAT WEIRDO. But I’ll keep doing it because I truly believe that, in the big picture of life, the awkwardness that stems from these encounters pales in comparison to the joy I can potentially spread by simply being happy to see a friend.

The Downside Of Commenting On Weightloss

I’ve long said that I have this weird debate that happens inside of my head when I notice someone has lost weight. On one hand, I don’t like commenting on it because it implies the person looks better and 100% of the time I think they’re as beautiful without the weight as they are with it. On the other hand, if they’re working hard to lose the weight, then they may appreciate me recognizing it.

I usually don’t say anything, honestly. If I know they’ve been running a lot I find a relatable compliment to recognize THAT hard work, like “You’ve gotten so fast!” or “You’re not even huffing and puffing!” So that I notice their efforts without accidentally implying their previous body was less attractive.

This week two things happened and I realized why I’ll probably never offer unsolicited comments on someone’s weight loss (specifically) again. First? Someone on twitter mentioned that when her depression was the worst, she wouldn’t eat and people always complimented her weightloss and it felt weird because it was almost like they were happy she was depressed. Since I stress-eat I had never thought of that, so I considered that I shouldn’t mention someone’s weightloss unless I know it’s part of a healthy journey and not a side-effect of something difficult.

The second thing is that I was talking to my friend about weight gain and how these bodies we’re working to get lean again (we both are working towards the same race in the Fall) don’t bother us really as they are. But the weight gain has still depressed us and it hit me: I’m hung up on it because people comment on my weight when I’ve lost it, so I assume everyone notices when I’ve gained it and that they just aren’t saying anything.

I mean, we tell ourselves People aren’t as hard on us as we are on ourselves but what if people commented on my weight loss when I was training? This was my last “Race Day Body” – my 110K body in January 2016. As I was training I had tons of people compliment my weight loss and I loved it because I was working hard and it meant it was showing. And that body served me well on that race day and it was much easier to run with than this body now. That body weight – 133lbs – is my general race-day target whenever I’m training for something big because it’s easier on my legs and it’s a lighter body to run in.

This is my body now. I took this my first run at the YMCA last week and was trying to practice some self care because I was proud of myself. And I still am. I’ve been on track with eating and running for two weeks now and I can feel it all starting to feel right again. I did a hill workout this week. I ran 3 back-to-back double-digit days. I am feeling optimistic that training is ramping up and all is well. I’m feeling leaner already. But this body is very hard to run in. It was 159lbs the day I started back training, and I haven’t stepped on the scale since. I don’t really want to because I am having such a hard time with the weight I’ve gained, I don’t want to give those numbers more power.

But it’s hard not to remember all of the people who complimented the weight loss before, and to think: So they probably notice they gain, too. Right? And then I get depressed. And it’s dumb and illogical and I’m in a good place talking myself back from that self-criticism, but it’s there.

So I think I’ll focus on different ways to compliment people if I notice they’ve lost weight. If I know they’ve been working out or running maybe we’ll focus on that. If I don’t, then maybe I’ll try to think of some other way to compliment their hard work if they’ve been trying to get healthy – but if I don’t know anything at all? If I’m not close enough to them to know if this is a journey the’ve been on? I’m not going to offer my comments because it’s none of my business, really.

But most of all? I’m going to tell my friends they’re beautiful more often for no reason. Because I am surrounded by beautiful women in my work life, my family life, and in my friend circle. I mean – BEAUTIFUL – women full of life and love and kindness and joy and I want to make sure if I’m handing out compliments, they’ll stand the test of time no matter how much this beautiful person weighs.

The Two Sides Of Trusting The Internet To Recommend Things

Often times the internet and my friends within, recommend something and I have to check it out. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it, and weirdly in the last two weeks I had shocking results from two big things being discussed in my circle of exposure: The Great British Bake Off and S-Town. I’m going to talk about the baking show first and then I’m going to try to talk about S-Town in as VAGUE of a manner as possible. BUT! If you want to stay 100% unaware, you might want to skip that section. There are a few key elements I have to discuss although I won’t discuss the who or the when, you will be spoiled a little if you read my thoughts on the podcast.

The Great British Bake Off

There are two things lately that have really helped stifle my anxiety. 1) I’ve gotten back into running (34 miles in 3 days!) and 2) THIS DAMN BAKING SHOW. I’m so sad there are only 3 seasons on Netflix because listening to British people talk and then watching footage of hands kneading dough and piping icing are two of the most SOOTHING DAMN THINGS ON THIS PLANET.

First off: I do not watch Food Television. Never. Ever. It’s just not something I’ve ever enjoyed because I don’t like cooking so I don’t find it interesting. But GBBO was recommended by so many different people and I was so bored one day I thought: Well, let’s just give it ONE CHANCE. (FYI: While the show is called The Great British Bake Off on the BBC, Netflix calls it The Great British Baking Show.)

The first thing I fell in love with are the hosts/comic relief: Mel Giedroyc & Sue Perkins. I guess they’ve worked together for decades and I love them. They have great chemistry together and they seem 100% invested in the lives of the contestants. If a baker is having a breakdown, they really sincerely seem to care. I’ve also read articles that indicate they threatened to walk off the first season when they felt like producers were starting to try to force unrelated drama into situations. This is one of the things I love about the show, they don’t seem to be trying to capitalize on the pain of the contestants. If someone screws up it’s pointed out gently and then we all move on.

Legend also indicates that if a contestant is having a REALLY BAD breakdown, those two will stand in front of the cameras and use foul language so they can’t use the footage.

But besides Mel & Sue (who I think are leaving the show but it won’t matter because I think we’re several years behind on Netflix) the contestants are relatable (they have real jobs during the week and film this on the weekend) and the judges are harsh, but in the nicest way possible. I just adore it. I’ve been watching it before bed every night and it truly helps me wind down with the accents and the piping icing, and the kneading of the dough. I ADORE IT. Netflix has three season on it, but the best I can tell they’re actually seasons 4,5 and 6. Also, it seems the BBC version has a lot more extras than we get, like cooking lessons and historical deep dives.

Either way – it is LOVELY. Try it!

S-Town

UGG. The podcast everyone in the world loves and I hated. Truly. Now, I’m not going to spoil things completely but my comments WILL SPOIL THINGS FOR YOU. I will be as vague as possible but some stuff I just have to come out and mention even without names/details. I really hope my distaste does not offend anyone who loved it. I hate to yuck the yums or poop on the joy of others. Please know that 100% of my hatred of this podcast can be connected to very personal connections to the story that maybe you don’t have. So I’m not saying EVERYONE should hate it, but there was no way around me hating it…with my personal history and my well-documented reaction to some elements used in this show.

The show starts as an investigation into a crime brought to the attention of a journalist by a unique character in Woodstock, Alabama. And what starts as an intriguing “Who Done It” mixed with a little bit of “sideshow display” type treatment of Alabama…quickly changes course when a character dies (the journalist mentions a death as a spoiler early on) in a way I found upsetting and then we deep-dive into this person’s life for the rest of the season. I felt like the death was exploited and the deep dive was done with no permission whatsoever. I kept listening through the season for what I was hoping would be some sort of recording of consent for this creepy dig into this person’s life, and when the season ended and I never got that? I felt terrible. Like I had been a part in some sort of perverted peeping Tom behavior.

It didn’t help that many of these elements hit close to home: Characters who felt out of place in Alabama. Mental Health. Racism and Homophobia. There were very few moments in the show where some raw spot on my heart and mind was not being picked at to make bleed. It almost felt like someone sat down and said, “How can we build a story that will upset Zoot the most?” And then went at it from there.

I felt dirty and ashamed for listening. I felt like I owed an apology to so many people involved for listening to this perversion of their lives. And yes, we’re all adults and many agreed to be part of this, but did they really know what they were getting into? Do we ever? Just because someone gave permission to be part of something, does not mean they want to be part of what that becomes and I didn’t like the idea of these real people being treated like fictional characters in a overly dramatized fiction.

But – like I said – it picked at several raw spots in my heart so not everyone is going to react as violently as I did.

SO! What have you been enjoying/hating lately?

Updates.

  • We found a house! Donnie and I had been coming from different places in the search for years. I had a lower price I was aiming for (really wanting a 15-year loan) and he had locations he was aiming for where that price was hard to reach so we were struggling with the dilemma between a 30-year mortgage and his ideal location. But we found a house so outdated that it falls under my budget in his location! Of course, the inspection could thwart us significantly, but we’re bracing ourselves for some of it. We’d be a hop, skip, and a jump away from the trails we love in a 1-story rancher that is less than 1600 sq ft. EEK! Contract is signed, now we just have to deal with the inspections.
  • Nikki got in the magnet program she applied for. I might have updated that already but I haven’t really been sleeping and my brain is foggy so I want to make sure you all know! She’s in and we know a few others who will be in too so we’re super excited!
  • I posted a picture on instagram a few weeks ago of a gift with no card I received that I COULD NOT MAKE ANY SENSE OF. I blasted it on social media and NO ONE said ANYTHING. Until last night and y’all? This is not even a story I can do justice in written form. One of my oldest and dearest friends sent it to me but the text conversation we had last night as she was trying to discretely see if I had gotten it, and then alarmed I didn’t understand the gift because SHE HAD EMAILED ME ABOUT DINOSAURS AND I DID NOT EVEN REMEMBER REPLYING. And if that’s not even funny enough, that I answered an email about dinosaurs and have NO recollection of it, it turns out she was trying to gift me something of significance from a story I told here. She was trying to send me hints like the “title” of the gift in an email and I was SO DAMN CONFUSED STILL but we were both cracking up. AND THEN, when she tried to pull up the source blog post to send it to me to say, “NOW DO YOU GET IT?” she realized: OH. She got it wrong. The story was about SPIDER PLANTS not AIR PLANTS. SO WE BOTH ARE IDIOTS and it makes that little dinosaur SO MUCH more significant now. THE MYSTERY HAS BEEN SOLVED!
  • I’m back to running. Slowly but surely. I have a stage race in a few weeks and I’m definitely not going to be “prepared” for it in the typical sense – but I should survive. It’s good to be back running, it’s hard with the extra weight but I’m confident that will melt away slowly as long as I eat smart. Big race is labor day weekend. I just need to be down to race-day-weight by then!

Truth Time: I was going to just end this here but that feels weird. I’ve had a bit of a personal crisis this week. Too personal to talk about here but it involved a lot of sleepless introspection and that’s honestly never good. I’ve made bad decisions that I disguised-to-myself as good decisions (it’s easy to do if you compartmentalize like I do to cope with anxiety) and I’m having to face that and it’s hard not to be really angry with myself. I tend to always assume I’m the worst person in the room in any situation anyway – and facing honest errors in judgement just magnifies that. So I’m going to spend some quiet time coloring and reflecting and hopefully I’ll come out on the other side a little wiser and less prone to bad decision making. I’ll keep you posted.

Today’s Mantra: Be as kind to yourself as you are to your loved ones.