Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mindy Kaling and the Elle cover and how I feel about that

I am a huge fan of Mindy Kaling. I enjoyed her on The Office but I love the hell out of her on The Mindy Project. And not just because she's hilarious, but because she's hilarious about real-life stuff but also because she's got some body image hang-ups that she handles with that aforementioned humour, but also honesty, which is just awesome.

One of my favourite lines: "I' am not overweight. I fluctuate between chubby and curvy."

(More here. LOVE.)

So Mindy Kaling is awesome. And she's one of four covers of the February issue of Elle, celebrating women in television. The other cover stars are Zoeey Deschanel (also love), Amy Poehler (much love) and Allison Williams (from Girls, which I've never seen, so not sure about love).

And cue controversy.

See, Mindy is the only non-white woman to get a cover (she's Indian-American). She is also the only cover in black and white. Oh, and the only cover that is a close-up on her face and not a full body shot.

Several media outlets that have weighed in on this: Jezebel; the Globe and Mail; the Huffington Post; the Washington Post; and others that you can Google at your leisure, should you choose. There's the charge of going black and white because Mindy is Indian but most focus on her not being shown full-body, like the others, because she's a self-admitted size 8 (the horrors!) and not teensy-weensy like the other cover models.

I've been thinking a lot about this. A LOT. Probably more than I should, because I don't read Elle and I have no plans of picking up a copy. I feel like I should be angry, like I should be decrying Mindy's unfair and unequal cover treatment.

The thing is, I'm not that angry and I don't feel like being up in arms about it.

See, Elle is a fashion magazine and the fashion industry is always going to put the size 0s first, no matter what. There have been baby steps (and I mean itty-bitty wee steps) towards putting women of various sizes in fashion spreads and on the cover, but that always feels more like an industry pat-on-the-back, "we've done our part for awhile now" move. Having Mindy Kaling as a cover star is another baby step for sure, but all steps in the direction of female diversity in magazines are good.

But really, I just love the fact that Mindy Kaling is on a magazine cover because she's awesome and should be celebrated. Really, I'd have preferred if she didn't have to share with three other women, but she really is in good company so I can't complain too much about that.

And by focusing on how much of her body is shown and how the cover is in black and white takes away from what she has accomplished and what she represents as a woman in Hollywood. She's a fabulous comedienne, she's a writer, she's created her own show, she's a published author and she consistently presents a body-proud image.

In fact, I may just have to buy her cover issue so I can read about her because, let's face it, I kind of want to be her.

Monday, January 13, 2014

And then I discovered yoga

I've wanted to try yoga for awhile now but I've always been intimidated by it. Everyone who did yoga seemed much thinner than me, much more fit and active and hip and trendy and I just wouldn't fit in. So then I thought I'd do the poses you can find online or through a book, which was okay, but so many online yoga workouts are for something else, like "Yoga poses to blast belly fat!" or "Yoga poses for a perky posterior!" or "Do yoga once a week to look like Jennifer Aniston!" and it just never worked.

Then one of my lovely sisters-in-law asked if I'd like to take beginner classes with her. And I said yes. And it is awesome.

Our first class was this past weekend and it was very much a beginner class. We spent the hour-plus doing the sun salutation, some balance work and stretching. That's it. But I felt so good after (SO GOOD) and we did the sun salutation enough that I remember it so I can do it at home. Win-win!

But the best part was actually being in the class, having the instructor to demonstrate the correct positioning for the poses, to adjust when we were slightly off, to count for us when it felt like we were holding the plank for the entire class. The solo workouts and books never helped me because I really did need the class setting to get me started.

It makes me wonder what took me so long to come around to the realization that yoga classes would be good for me. Perhaps it's because I needed the right yoga buddy. Or it needed to be the right time in my life, when I had the money and time to dedicate to lessons. Or I just needed to be at a place where I didn't care if I wasn't thin or fit or hip enough.

Whether it's all or some or none of those reasons, the stars have aligned and I'm on the yoga bandwagon and I like it.

Monday, January 6, 2014

My 2014 reading list

I'm seriously excited to get back into books. I read quite a bit in 2013 but I don't feel like I read enough, at least not enough new books (I reread some favourites). Getting books for Christmas always makes it easier to kick off a new year with good reads, so that's what I did. I'm starting with The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper. I've read three of his other books and all have creeped me out but good, and so far The Demonologist is good and creepy.

The other books I'm looking forward to reading this year:

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
The Antagonists by Lynn Coady
Ablutions by Patrick DeWitt
The Apartment by Greg Baxter
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison
S. by JJ Abrams & Doug Dorst
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak
The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

The first four on the list I already own, so that's another good start. And then I have to go book shopping, which is even better!

Ah, reading. I've missed you.

(I'm also going to blog about these books, because I've missed that too.)

Happy New Year!

Well, hello there. It's been awhile, eh? It's high time I dust this thing off and start blogging regularly again.

It's also an exciting time for me to blog again because I DON'T have any major life events to contend with, so I can actually focus on myself! Huzzah!

But 2013 was still a great year, what with that wedding and all. And I can say that the Beau and I were successfully married. I'm now a Mrs! It was, simply, the best day of my life.

Dad walking me down the aisle

With my family

With my NEW family

Outside the church
The holidays were their regular whirlwind of family, food and fun. But now it's done and 2014 is here and I've decided this is the year of me. The year I'm going to focus on what I want, on doing what I want to do, on putting my needs first.

This in itself will be a challenge, as I've always focused on what others want (and I don't say this in a I'm-a-martyr kind of way; more in a I'm-not-confident-enough-to-put-my-needs-first kind of way) so I've decided it's time to get better at saying and doing what I want, because the world will not end if I pick what movie we're going to watch or decide what we're having for dinner.

That said, my goals for this year are about excess, rather than cutting back. For example:

1. Eat more foods that make me feel good about myself. So more fruit and vegetables; more lean meat and steak; more smoothies, especially with spinach.

2. Run more, because it makes me feel good. I would like to get a 5K under my belt this year (I do have something else planned, but more on that shortly) but the way I feel physically and mentally when I run is more important than finishing a bunch of races. Though that would be cool too.

3. Knit more, and be more creative overall. Crafting for the wedding took up much of my creativeness last year and it was enjoyable, but now I'm looking forward to making things for the fun of it or for friends and family or even for myself (GASP!) because I want to. So I will.

4. Read more. I tend to go through phases when I can't seem to read enough but then suddenly books are dull and all I want to do are crossword puzzles and play on Twitter. This year, I've started off strong with The Demonologist and I've got quite the list for the rest of the year. And I want to start writing about what I read, too, so that will happen here.

5. Do more yoga. And by "more", I mean "any". I've signed up for four weeks of beginner classes with my sister-in-law so that's pretty exciting. They start next Saturday and I'm looking forward to being bendier.

6. Complete a triathlon. Wait, what? Yup, triathlon. It's just a wee one (375m swim, 12km bike, 3km run) so I'm confident it's something I can not only complete but enjoy doing. It's in July so I've got lots of time to train. Here's hoping Toronto thaws soon because it's hard to run on ice.

7. Be nicer to myself. This is going to be the hardest one on the list but it's something I need to do. I need to be kinder to myself, to tell myself good things, to think good things, to believe in good things. I've been seeing a counselor to help me with this; two sessions so far, with another scheduled for next week. It's been good so far and I'm hoping for more good to come out of it. It might seem weird to be seeing someone to work on self-confidence but it's something I've needed for awhile and I'm glad I'm doing it.

There are things I'm not going to worry about this year, too.

Firstly, my weight. It's something I'm always going to be aware of, for sure, but I'm not going to be obsessed with the number or with what I think I should weigh. Because if I eat right and train regularly for my triathlon, plus just run more, I'll see positive changes in my body, all without worrying about the number on the scale.

Secondly, I'm going to make a HUGE effort to not worry about the size tags on my clothes. This is going to be a big challenge, but something that I need to do for myself. If what I wear fits me well and looks good on m (and if no one else knows what size I wear), then who cares?! Right? Right.

And third, I'm going to stop stressing about how clean and organized my house is. It's a work in progress and likely will be for years and that's okay. As long as I work to keep it as neat as I can (as we can, as the hubby always helps), that is all that is needed.

It's going to be a good year, I can feel it. And with the house bought and the wedding over, it's going to be a year full of small, exciting, wonderful things and I can't wait!

Friday, October 11, 2013

After the wedding, the marriage

When I was 19, I worked at a self-serve gas station, spending 8-hours shifts solo tucked away in the convenience store part of the station. On slow days, I would read the magazines on offer and, after exhausting the selection of tabloids, would flip through the bridal magazines. In one of these magazines I found the wedding dress of my dreams and very carefully used an X-acto knife to cut out the page. I hung on to that page for years and it might still be kicking around at my mom's house. While I still think the dress is beautiful, it looks nothing like the dress I chose for my upcoming wedding.

Even though I picked out that dress 14 years ago, I never had any other wedding fantasies or daydreams. I never picked out colours or planned the kind of fairy-tale setting I wanted to celebrate my nuptials. I also went through a phase where I wasn't going to get married, but that quickly passed. Despite this, I was teased a bit by good friends when, upon receiving my engagement ring, I quickly set out to plan my wedding.

The thing is, it wasn't some vision I was setting out to fulfill. Rather, because I wasn't allowed to elope, and because I'm a planner, I immediately began putting together the non-eloping wedding that would satisfy us as a couple and allow us to celebrate with friends and family.

Even now, four weeks away from my wedding, I'm more excited about the days that will come after November 9. Our wedding day will be wonderful and magical and beautiful and perfect and it will be a fantastic celebration, but I'm most excited about the marriage that I'm getting out of it. I'll be honest, it's the marriage that I want the most.

We bought our wedding bands last weekend and, while wearing his, the Beau casually said, "I can't wait to wear this everyday." Of course I almost lost it. But this also helped emphasize the importance of the life we are building together and the days and months and years we will spend and husband and wife. And it's just going to mean so much to be that wife, to be part of the marriage, to experience every day something that we'll grow and build and work on and cultivate into something even more beautiful than the day before.

I'm still ecstatic for the wedding day that we have planned and for all the work we and our wedding party and family have put into making it so special and unforgettable. And the wedding will, of course, serve as a wonderful starting point for the marriage that comes after.

I am a little scared that I'll suck at being a wife, but I think that just comes with the territory of embarking on a new thing. (Though we've been living together for almost four years so really I've been a wife that long; on November 9 it will become official.) But I'm not scared of the commitment or of the work or anything else that a marriage will throw my way. Bring it. It's what I want most of all.

Monday, September 23, 2013

My body's nobody's body but mine

Yesterday, I attended a bridal shower for my cousin's lovely bride-to-be and while chatting with my aunts the conversation naturally turned to my upcoming nuptials. One aunt commented on how my mom had said she had lost 17 pounds and then asked how Mom had done it. I said Mom was just being more aware of what she was eating and then cracked a joke about how Mom was more concerned with losing weight before my wedding than I was.

But the thing is, it's not really a joke. I'm not stressed or panicked about losing weight for the wedding.

I had a dress fitting a few weeks ago and that was a little stressing but I wasn't wearing the proper undergarments and the bridal shop didn't have bras that went beyond a D-cup (and I'm beyond a D-cup...sigh), so while the dress fit it didn't look perfect, you know? But I'm going back on Wednesday, armed with all my undergarments, and I'm convinced it will look perfect. And I haven't lost any weight since buying the dress.

I don't even know when I stopped worrying about that. It might have been when more important things - seating charts and making favours and meeting with our officiant and planning the ceremony and finalizing the reception set-up - came up. It might have been when the Beau had chest pains and was later diagnosed with periocarditis and body image was the last thing on my mind. It might have been when I started spending more time on xoJane, an any-body-positive (among other things) website. It may have even been when I did some shopping and found a bunch of things that fit at a size I could handle.

Or it may have just been that I'm really getting tired of hating on myself. Like, just fed up and done with it. Because, honestly, it takes a hell of a lot of energy to be constantly down and degrading towards myself and there are so many more things in life that are much more deserving of that energy.

Also, acceptance, which is hella major too. Being on Weight Watchers let me prove to myself that I can lose weight, but I have to track everything I eat, measure all my portions, plan ahead as necessary and get on a scale each week to make sure I'm doing it all properly. This did help make me more aware of what I put in my body, which is a good awareness to have, but the little things started to weigh on me and really sucked the fun out of living (at least for me; I don't want to take away from the success that others have had with the program).

So I know I can lose weight and I know I can gain it all back and now I know that this body, the one I'm currently in, the one I'll be getting married in, that the way this body is now could be the way my body just is. This me is the me, where I'm happiest, at least physically. And by accepting this physical happiness maybe I can move to mental and emotional happiness with myself.

Of course, I'm not about to eat pizza and chocolate cake for every meal. I'm still going to run (currently nursing a sore calf - boo!) and do strength training (three sets of 10 FULL push-ups are now a regular thing for me - hurrah!) and be aware of what I'm eating. It's not dieting or trying to lose weight; rather, it's doing the things for my body that will help my body do things for me. Eating well and being active will give me the energy I need to run 5K and plan a wedding and help keep the house tidy and go out for friends' birthdays and dance at my wedding and chase after my nephews and all the other things that make life good. And my good life will include wine and too many fun-sized chocolate bars and pizza and chocolate cake because these things make me happy.

Now this isn't just some epiphany that will last forever. Body acceptance and body love will still take work, every single day. But it's about starting with good thoughts ("I look good in this dress") rather than bad ("This dress makes me look fat. I can't ever wear it again.") and embodying those good thoughts, acting like I look good (but not being arrogant because that sucks) and believing that I deserve to feel good about myself. And that leads to happiness and, really, isn't being happy what it's all about?

Monday, August 26, 2013

About that wedding...

Holy snowcakes, the wedding is fast approaching.

I don't have my countdown calendar in front of me (it's proudly displayed at home) but I think we're down to 75 days, or thereabouts. And it's pretty exciting.

I booked my final vendor on Friday and it FELT SO GOOD! It was a salon for hair and makeup services and, let me tell you, it was getting a bit stressful - though a lot of that was self-induced stress because I was lazy about researching a vendor. But it all came together and hair and makeup will only take two hours for the nine women being dolled up.

So what does that leave, you may ask?


Favours. Seating chart. Place cards (will likely be attached to the favours). Table numbers. Hair and makeup trial. Dress alterations. Picking cocktail reception and dinner music. Visiting the church (because we haven't actually been there yet). Rehearsal dinner plans. Cupcake tasting. Finalizing the menu. Engagement photo shoot (maybe...likely...hopefully). Bachelor and bachelorette parties. Bridal shower. Finalizing the floor plan for the reception. Picking someone to do a reading. Finalizing the day-of schedule.

But everything is in progress and, dare I say it, right on schedule. Overall, this wedding has been pretty easy to pull together. Sure, I've had my meltdowns, because of centrepieces and over the invitations, but it's all been minor issues that were easily fixed.

I gotta say, I'm feeling pretty good about the whole shebang.

Oh, I should also share some pictures of my wedding stuff, like the flowers and my shoes and the guestbook and my veil, because it's all awesome.