Category Archives: beauty

The Why

I saw a lot of support for International Women’s Day yesterday, but there was also some really ugly closed minded responses (here’s to the “real women” that didn’t “strike” today). Did you know that *every* March 8th is Women’s Day? And November 19th is Men’s Day? And yes, this year Women’s Day held some extra weight. Because of the events of the past….6 months? (give or take) women are marching, speaking out, striking, 10 Actions in 100 Days.

tank-top-women-unite-solidarity-with-womens-struggles-all-over-the-world-d0012749454

I personally lean pro-life, but I’m standing up to make sure Roe V Wade isn’t overturned. I personally lean more hetero feminine female, but I’m standing up for people to have the right to be who they are. I personally am married to a man in a traditional marriage, but I’m standing up to make sure Same Sex Marriage is not overturned in any of the 50 states that it’s now legal in.

I have a mother, and a grandmother, and 2 daughters. I stand up for them. For me. For women that can’t. For my friends, and family, and all of the women in my life that I love. And for all the women before me, after me, and the women that inspire me.  It doesn’t cost you anything to be compassionate and supportive, but it means everything to the peoples that need it now, and in our future generations.

17159193_10209708875011183_5299054716672636708_o

Chronic illness doesn’t take a day off, chronic pain doesn’t take a day off, life doesn’t take a day off, but I did post a strike notice yesterday on my blog. No, I didn’t march on Washington or lay on my couch and check out for the day. But I spoke out and I supported the women that were doing the marching and the protesting. Because I have daughters. Because I know what it’s like to be a woman in this county, in this time period, in this world.

Why did we speak out on International Women’s Day this year especially?
Because being a woman means….

1. Carrying your keys between your fingers as a “weapon” when walking alone at night.
2. Turning your headphones off (or way, way down) to make sure you’re not being followed.
3. Mastering the “I’m walking quickly but not so quick you’ll know I’m afraid” when someone is behind you.
4. Calling friends when alone in a taxi/Uber/Lyft/walking from the Metro to your car in order to feel safe.
5. Texting your bestie/boyfriend/parents/brother your driver’s details “just in case”.
6. Messaging them when you get home to let them know you’re okay.
7. Sitting near other women on public transport to minimise the risk of being harassed.
8. Pretending to be on the phone in any number of situations to avoid harassment.
9. Giving men fake names/numbers rather than risking them lashing out at being told “no, thank you”.
10. Staying silent when being verbally harassed out of fear if you say something it’ll turn violent.
11. Keeping your drink covered with your hand/ getting your friend to watch it if you need to go to the bathroom/having to throw it out & get a new one if it was unattended at a bar so you don’t risk getting drugged.
12. Making sure someone always knows where you are if you’re going on a first date with a stranger.
13. Toning down statements with words like “just” and “sorry” to avoid being perceived as pushy or aggressive or bitchy.
14. Faking being happy even when you don’t feel like it to avoid being seen as a bitch.
15. Not being TOO perky so that people don’t think you’re stupid.
16. Pretending to be patient when you’re interrupted/talked over repeatedly by men.
17. Spending money each month on period products, which are still considered a “luxury” by men/governments.
18. Hiding said products up sleeves/in pockets when going to the bathroom in public places, because there’s still a stigma around periods.
19. Wearing makeup because you’re conditioned to believe your bare face isn’t good enough
or heck, just because you like it – and being told you’re fake/called false advertising.
20. Or not wearing makeup because you don’t want to & being told you look tired/sick/”you’d be so pretty with just a little make-up”.
21. Debating whether the tweet or Facebook status you’re about to post will result in being harassed,& having to make the decision about whether it’s worth it.
22. Answering/deflecting personal questions about your relationship status/fertility/home life from friends/coworkers, potential bosses, current bosses, or random strangers.
23. Dealing with birth control/side effects if you have sex with men & want to avoid getting pregnant because there’s still no male equivalent available.
24. Fighting with the knowledge that the government (dominated by men) has the power to legislate against your body, and standing up to make sure they don’t.
25. And, finally; dealing with people telling you your concerns aren’t valid, you should stop complaining because “women are equal”. (Also known as the “what rights DON’T women have?!” argument.)

Insanity; Xun Edition

Things heard in my house:

Me: “If I go missing, check the river because I’ve thrown myself off the bridge.”
(I routinely threaten to hide under my bed or throw myself off the bridge when I am overstimulated/stressed.)
Kid: “Which one?”
(To be fair, I do live on a peninsula with 2 bridges on 2 different rivers within driving distance.)
Me: “The closest one. I’m lazy.”

I’m pretty sure that was on Tuesday. because suddenly I was juggling 2 more specialists, and several more tests and goawayleavemethehellalone!!

I keep telling my doctors to give me my scripts, and go away and leave me and my organs alone, thankyouverymuch. BUT my primary care doc (pcm, or pcp….whichever you prefer. Invariably I go with pcm.) decided my liver function panel was wonky so she decided I need to rule out Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH) or Liver Cancer. Because one autoimmune (my thyroid) = another autoimmune. OR one cancer (my brain tumor) = another cancer. Oh fun. Let’s do this.

So she ordered an abdominal ultrasound, a thyroid ultrasound, cobalt and chromium levels drawn, and an ENT surgeon referral to get the cyst out of my left maxillary sinus. (Actually I asked for that. I’m assuming it might be nice to breathe.)

Metabolic panel….check
Liver function panel….check
Yearly pap and all that fun stuff….check
Abdominal ultrasound ordered and completed….check

Oh! Wait I have those results now!

20160909_145117_001

HA HA!! Wow….do you mean that it’s entirely possibly that when I was sick as hell for 3 months, it affected my innards and maybe now I’m working my way back? Because I was coughing up green $hit for almost 4 months and now I’m not?

Side note: my aorta and IVC are not unremarkable! I’m beauty-ful. #everyBODYisbeautiful
Also…they can’t see my left kidney because I have a big ol’ hunka hunka metal in the way.

Back to the list:
Cobalt/Chromium levels drawn and sent to Bethesda…check (this outta be fun)
ENT Surgeon referral acquired and appointment made with her on Monday….check
Thyroid ultrasound appointment made for Tuesday….check

And finally, neurologist appointment made for follow-up and EEG results, October 4.

So, other than trying to die by cracker yesterday (this dysphasia courtesy of where my tumor sits….I’m over it), it would appear that besides a hopefully quick and fairly easy endoscopic surgery to get the cyst out of my maxillary sinus, not much is going to change.

Works for me. Back to playing in my make-up.

20160909_135738

Pluses and Minuses

I was reading through my homepage today, which includes news stories and of course some celebrity gossip, and there was an article about weight gains and losses of celebrities. Some for movie roles, some because something had changed in that particular person’s life, or simply because [insert celebrity] had started working with a nutritionist and/or trainer. I’m scrolling through the story and thinking “I know a little more about gaining and losing weight these days. I have a story too.”

If you met me today, you’d never guess that I have lost 50 pounds. That’s the thing I’ve noticed. If you meet someone at a particular weight or size, often people don’t think that person has ever been a different size. Especially if they’re not a very big person. So to meet me now you’d never guess that I’ve lost and gained roughly 60 pounds in one direction or another. I’ve been all the way down to about 93 pounds and all the way up to almost 160 pounds. (And yes, I recognize that the average American woman weighs about that, and I know that most people avoid specific numbers when asked about their weight because no matter what the number is you’ll be judged for it. But in the interest of sharing my story I’m including a few numbers.) (Oh, and for reference I’m 5’4″.)

Those numbers are weights I have been at as an adult, and yes, they signify the extremes of one end or the other for me. I haven’t been under 100 pounds since my early 20’s and I was that thin because I was going through a tough time and I’m one of those women that doesn’t eat when stress/major life changes/something big hits.

IMG_20141013_175918488

1995, at my thinnest

I met my husband and made my way through my 20’s, got married and we decided to have one more child. Settling down, pregnancy, and some medical issues later I reached my highest weight. And then I got told I had a birth defect that would eventually result in me needing a hip replacement at an early age. As in the doctors were hoping I’d make it to 40 before needing surgery. I lost 50 pounds, but I still only made it to 34 before I ran out of time and it was hip surgery or losing the ability to walk.

66351_1532793632331_1742523_n

2003, at my heaviest weight (size 14/16)

1914266_1197642773769_1779863_n

2007, right before my hip surgery (size 2)

When I say that I lost 50 pounds, I think it’s important to emphasize that I didn’t go on any crazy fad diets or take diet pills. I lost the weight the old fashioned way, the hard way. I learned how to cook differently. I cut out soda, fast food, and junk food. I counted calories and I worked out every day. I started out not being able to walk more than about 1/2 mile and worked my way up to being able to bike 12 miles or walk 4 miles in 45 minutes. I learned how to take care of myself, how to cook differently, and how to make healthier choices. The side benefit to all of this was that my kids were just old enough to see the changes, and now a decade later, they know how to make healthier choices for themselves.

These days I’ve gained a few pounds back, but I still weigh less than I did when I got married. I’m always seeing articles criticizing celebrities and public figures for every single pound they gain or lose. There is always some new fad diet or scary hard workout idea. I campaign quite a bit for loving oneself and focusing on being healthy. No more photoshopping or berating someone for having a body. People come in all shapes and sizes. I see women killing themselves trying to be “thin enough” or meet some ridiculous ideal and it scares me because I don’t ever want my daughters to base their worth on their weight.

I share my story because I think it’s important for women to realize that just because someone is a certain size now doesn’t mean she might not have more in common with you than you think. I have been as small as a size 2 and as big as a size 14/16 and every size in between. Just because I’m not as big as I once was doesn’t mean I don’t understand what it’s like to fight with your weight. It’s hard enough just being a woman in today’s society. I hope that we can drop some preconceived ideas and support each other!

❤ ~ Xun

Because Who Is Perfect?

The Dove real beauty campaign. Total beauty. Run way models. Magazines and catalogs. Fashion ads. Photoshop. And the media’s more recent spearing of the ideals that the fashion industry is shoving down our throats.

Everywhere women look they see images of what they’re “supposed” to look like. And how to get rid of wrinkles, defeat cellulite, lose weight, wear the right make up, wear the right clothes. You’re not thin enough. You’re not young enough. It’s no wonder that eating disorders are on the rise and Americans spend 50 BILLION dollars on diet crap and self-help everythings.

It’s shocking to realize that because of Barbie, all of the oh-so-attractive kids on all the Disney shows, and the fashion industry going after young girls (thongs for 7 year olds, anybody?? courtesy of Ambercrombie) that girls as young as first grade are worried about gaining weight. By 6th grade, these same girls are on a diet. I don’t know about you, but NOT in my house would I ever allow that to happen. I have dedicated my life to raising my kids and doing whatever it took to give them the tools they need as they grow up, and that means telling my girls over and over and over that they are beautiful, no make up or designer clothes required, just they way they are.

I read a lot of articles shaming the fashion industry, the make up companies, and the clothes manufacturers for what they present to women. Nobody actually looks like that….

The models don’t even look like that. And yes, we’ve seen some corporations fight back. The Dove Real Beauty campaign has done a lot to fight back against unreachable ideals for women. The Fourth Trimester Project is another great campaign. And most recently I fell in love with the Pro Infirmis project.  Because women don’t look like this….

Nobody does. It’s not possible. But because of these unrealistic images that girls are assaulted with on a  daily basis, the incidence of eating disorders has doubled in the US in the last 30 years. Girls as young as 7 are developing distorted body image ideals and eating disorders. It’s estimated that 4-5% of Americans will develop an eating disorder and 4 in every 1,000 die from it. These girls are literally starving themselves to death trying to be thin enough, pretty enough. 
But there are people fighting back. News outlets, corporations, and individual women.

Love yourself. Accept your own natural beauty. There’s no way you’d ever allow someone else to talk to you the way you talk to yourself! I know this from personal experience. Why is it that I can see a picture of my friend, my daughter, my mother, my sisters and all I see are their beautiful eyes? Or how smart, funny, strong, or kind they are. But when I see a picture of myself, all I see is a frozen mirror that I can pick apart. Those laugh lines around my eyes? Oh-em-gee I look old. Those scars? I don’t see the story, just the ugly line.

And I should. I should see that those lines around my eyes mean I have laughed. I should see that that scar above my lip is part of my story. And that 6 inch scar on my left hip that I’m always covering up? That’s my miracle. Because of that surgery I can still walk. I’m going to choose to be grateful for it instead of thinking it’s an ugly thing that needs to be covered up.

I took part in the #barefacedbeauty bit because I think it’s important for my friends, my daughters, my sisters to see someone baring themselves and being vulnerable to see beyond the make up we hide behind so that they can see their own beauty. I uploaded a picture of myself on social media with no make up on, not even lip gloss, and I hope to inspire the women in my life to do the same.

No make up, freshly washed face.
After doing my hair and make up for the day.

Ladies, LOVE yourself. I see my best friends and all I see are amazing, strong women. Those scars on her belly? She survived cancer and I think they’re beautiful. Those stretch marks? She had healthy twin boys. Those are her stripes and she earned them! I see pictures of my daughters and they are amazing. Photos of my sisters and my friends mean that they have laughed, cried, loved, been loved, and done a hell of a lot more than just survive.

And who gets to tell you you’re not perfect anyway??