Fairy Kei – Alternative Black Girl

First of all, I apologize profusely because it’s been ages since I last wrote a blog post. Needless to say, a lot has happened. Let me condense the last five months super quickly so I can get on with my topic for today:

Ahem.

Old best friend became new boyfriend. JET didn’t work out. New bf moved in. Newer better job. Better job was bad for my mental and physical health. So I got an even BETTER job as a “job coach” and will continue substitute teaching in the fall. (Oh, did I mention I’m a substitute teacher now?) I threw a book launch party in June for my fantasy novel, The Adventures and Shenanigans of Bastien Falco — that was FABULOUS. Sold like 30 books that month. Also, my birthday was July 5th and I’m 24 now. Yay.

Now. On to the topic at hand. See that dork with the purple hair in this post’s featured picture? That’s me.

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Yep. This is me. When you weren’t looking, I turned into a fairy.

Yes. I’ve done it. I’m a fairy. By that, I mean that I’ve recently gotten really into this style, this lovely slice of Japanese street fashion, called Fairy Kei. As soon as I saw this style, I fell in love immediately. My first thought was: MY PEOPLE! All these pastel rainbow dreamy fairies and unicorns roaming the Earth! I made it my mission to become one of them.

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fairy 1

I’m well aware that they’re Japanese, and that Fairy Kei is a Japanese street fashion thing, but stuff like that has never bothered me. I’ve always been an alternative black girl, searching for my own style. I spent my angsty teenage years dabbling in Goth, Scene, and Punk. I even tried Gothic Lolita, but that was simply to expensive. I never could have afforded it. I’d bought one dress from Hot Topic, and some cute black chokers, but that was just about it.

But then I got to college and realized that I actually look pretty cool in light colors and that wearing all that black wasn’t really flattering on me.

And then, just five months ago, I discovered Fairy Kei, and I realized that this was what I’ve been trying to be. I mean, who cares that I’d be the only black girl I know dressing this way? That had never stopped me before. I’d been teased so many times before, since junior high (when I loved wearing MCR and Green Day t-shirts), so I’ve become numb to it. Why should I feel bad about myself when people who wear nothing but t-shirts and jeans — BORING CLOTHES — all the time make fun of what I wear?

Summer of 2013 started my own personal era of fashion. Forever 21 was my best friend. Then, I went to Japan and lost my mind, shopping in Shibuya, Tokyo. I was drunk on compliments in both Japan and the U.S. But see, even though I was stylish back then, I was still sort of conventionally stylish. I wore bows and stuff and dressed up — I looked like a doll going to class — but it was nothing compared to trying to imitate Japanese street fashion.

Street. Fashion.

You know, like those Harajuku Girls that Gwen Stephani was so crazy about.

Gwen Stefani Visits MTV's ''TRL'' - December 10, 2004

Gwen Stephani and her Harajuku Girls

Except now, Harajuku has pushed street fashion to its limits. We’re talking going beyond Fairy Kei. The fashion style in the photo below, my friends, is called Decora:

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It’s a bit too much for me, but I can respect it.

But back to Fairy Kei.

My family and friends are pretty much used to me by now, dressing the way I do. No one bots an eye. I get compliments on how cute I am — even from strangers. Thankfully, I surround myself with loving and open-minded people, so I never really have to worry too much about feeling weird about the way I dress. Fairy Kei makes me feel girly. It makes me feel good.

However, some alternative black girls aren’t so lucky. It doesn’t matter if they’re Goth or Fairy Kei or anything in between (Pastel Goth is literally smack dab in the middle). They are dressing in a way that makes them happy, but for some reason, dressing “out of the norm” is not widely celebrated in the black community. To more fully understand what I mean, consider reading this article, The Issue with the Perceived “Whiteness” of Being an Alternative Black Girl.

When I go on YouTube and watch videos by Fairy Kei vloggers, they are almost exclusively white and Asian. And when I dared to post fairy videos of my own, I will admit that I felt a little self-conscious.

But I mean. Pastels look good with my skin tone, too.

And it helps, that, from what I’ve seen, the Fairy Kei community seems to be very inclusive and warm. It welcome fairies who are trans or gender-queer without question. There are plus-sized fairies running around.

And, of course, there are us, black fairies. ❤

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I don’t know who this girl is, but I seriously need to get on her level.

So, if you’re a secret (or not-so-secret) alternative black girl, wear whatever the hell you want to wear! If Fairy Kei looks appealing to you, I encourage you to try it out! There may be people out there who will call you names and make fun of you, but those idiots aren’t worth your time. Life it too short for boring clothes. And life it too short not too wear what you want to wear. (I mean, depending on where you work, you may not want to wear Decora/Fairy Kei/Goth/Lolita/Punk/Metal-type stuff to your job. But, you know. Compromise.)

So, long story short: If you want to do the thing, THEN DO THE THING! ❤ I promise you, it’ll feel great.

 

Also, if you’re interested in my super new YouTube channel (it’s really silly and dumb — don’t check it out), it’s called Star Blush Universe. As of today there are two really boring videos. You’re better off just scrolling through my tumblr.

Until next time~!

 

Adulting as an Adult in the Adult World

Woooah, it’s been a whopping three months or so since I posted in this dusty ol’ blog of mine. Let me tell you, though, that between November and now, my life has been figuratively going off the wheels on a crazy train.

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Random: I also like Bullet For My Valentine’s cover of the song…

So, listen up — if you’re a post-college twentysomething on the adulting struggle bus (or the adulting crazy train) and are about to spin out of control, trust me, you are not alone in this. Just when you think you’re getting your shit together, some evil villain with a ridiculous mustache sneaks in and blows up your train tracks with a few sticks of dynamite.

(Or, if you’re a George Saunders fan and have read “Winky,” someone is shitting in your oatmeal.)

It was in November that I began the long journey of preparing to teach English in Japan via the JET Program. I made it through the first screening quite easily and was scheduled for an interview in the first week of February. As qualified as I am for the position, I felt like I bombed the interview… Maybe that was my anxiety kicking in. Everyone assured me that I likely did just fine. But either way, the wait would be agonizing. I won’t know if I made it or not until April. (It’s the end of February, and this year’s a leap year. So I have to wait a whole extra day for March to come!)

But I still planned accordingly. My boyfriend (now my ex), and I have this cute house in a nice, quiet neighborhood with my two cats, and he was going to hold down the fort while I went away to Japan for a year. And then I would come back with lots of money and work as an ESL instructor. Not exactly my dream job, but it’s not too far away from my college studies, and it’s a stable career. It’s pretty much the natural progression after teaching for JET.

But just a couple days after my interview, shit really hit the fan. Two years’ worth of the non-communicative boyfriend’s simmering resentment had built up, and, long story short, we broke up. And though he had me believe that things were still fine and that he’d still support me me until I could stand on my own two feet, things apparently weren’t fine.

So then, here I am, working a part-time job in food service that pays peanuts, trying to schedule driving lessons and get my license as soon as possible, worrying over the fact that neither of my prescription meds are available in Japan, and then one morning I wake up to find that my emotionally abusive ex had taken to Facebook to slander my name and spread lies about me. And also tagged my family and friends.

Now that was a shit show.

I’m dealing with enough crap of my own without my personal business (and a smearing campaign against me) being put out on the web for the world to see. There is a reason why I don’t announce breakups over Facebook…

So then he decided he wanted to kick me out of the house, which meant I needed to find somewhere to live, and I also needed to find a better-paying job, AND I needed to find a reliable way to get to said job. And a roommate who doesn’t mind two cats.

But I decided I wanted to keep the house, which means speeding up my learning how to drive and applying to full-time jobs like crazy. In the past three days, I have applied to nine. And though I’ve never had to take the bus before (before moving to this house, living on and near campus meant I could pretty much walk anywhere I wanted), I started looking up bus routes and schedules.

I need time to save up money so that he can finally move out. And my cousin could move in with me after she’s saved up enough.

But see, there’s another problem. If I get to go to Japan, she wouldn’t be able to pay for the house by herself, and I wouldn’t have anyone who could watch my cats for me for a whole year.

And say I end up landing a job as a success coach on the university campus (which I SO hope to get) which would pay $3,000 a month. It wouldn’t look good for me to be there for only five to nine months until I have to up and leave for Japan.

This went from the perfect time to time to do JET! to the worst time ever to do JET.

I’ve done a lot of growing up these past few days, and I guess learning that sometimes your huge plans just don’t work out is a part of adulting.

Although I was careful not to go into much detail, this is probably the most personal post I’ve ever published on this blog. I want young adults struggling out there to know that where you are right now isn’t necessarily where you’re always going to be. Some days are more difficult than others, and some days I have to power through the anxiety and depression, but keeping a positive outlook in the back of your mind is way more important than you might think (believe me, as someone who takes meds for depression). We’re all still learning, and we’ve still got a ways to go.

I’d spent two years with someone who would tell me the opposite of what he felt and would place all the blame on me when things went wrong, taking none of the blame for the things he’d done wrong. (And my apologies were never good enough.) Someone who saw me as a mentally fragile child and treated me as such, even though I’m strong enough to handle many of the issues he’d withheld from me. (So imagine my shock when I saw he’d resorted to high school-level spitefulness on social media.) After I finished grad school, I’d worked on writing and marketing my novel while he worked to support us both, and that was where we both fucked up. My development into adulthood was stunted by this major mistake — one that we had both naively agreed to do — but I was 22 and he was 23, and we didn’t know any better. Now we do.

I’m 23 now. Just when I start to think I’m getting old, shit like this happens and I realize:

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So what have I learned? No matter how well you prepare for a huge plan in your life, something can always mess it up. And people don’t deserve to be in serious relationships — let alone live together — unless they have their shit together and are at least a little established. And joining the full-time adult world of 8am to 5pm means that I’ll need to survive on coffee (yuck) or energy drinks (also yuck). And romantic love is the messiest abstract thing in the world.

What Are You Thankful For?

There has been a lot going on in the news (and even more going on outside of news coverage). I have to say, on top of being mentally exhausted and emotionally drained from this seemingly endless string of unfortunate and tragic events (and stupid people screaming stupid, uninformed opinions about them), I’m feeling extra thankful this year. I am a relatively privileged individual, and I try my hardest never to forget that.

I mean, yeah, I’m a female, and I’m black, and I was born to a lower-middle-class family, so I’m far from the most privileged, but I honestly can’t complain. I never had to go hungry, ever. I always had a loving, supportive family and a roof over my head. My parents couldn’t pay for my college education, but I finished undergrad and grad — the former as magna cum laude, the latter with a 3.7 GPA. And I was always nourished. I’ve got my health.

Reading about Syria, Iraq, ISIS, terrorists, racism, Islamophia, or police brutality just hurts my heart. Being a U.S. citizen living on the mainland in a city too small to be targeted for attacks is something that crosses my mind often. I mean, yes, the U.S. makes me sick sometimes, but I’m safe (for the most part. Let us not forget the police impunity and trigger-happy bigots around here). I was in the 4th grade when 9/11 happened. I was terrified. And that attack happened miles and miles away, and no one I knew was hurt or killed.

But imagine attacks like that happening every week. What if car bombs and landmines were a daily worry? ISIS isn’t sending us photos of drowned refugee toddlers, saying “See this? This is what happens when you leave us.”

Guys, this is looking a lot like a remake of WWII and Cold War American culture. Many people don’t even seem to realize we’re being spoon fed fear-mongering propaganda. I’m still waiting for the 2015 edition of Duck and Cover. The only difference is that we welcomed Jews running from Hitler, but we won’t welcome Syrian refugees.

But Jasmine, what about sleeper cells? Terrorists disguise themselves as refugees! Muslims hate America!

Um. It’s waaaaaay easier for a terrorist to sneak into a country than for a terrorist to disguise himself as a refugee. Our screening process is pretty damn rigorous. And even if one happens to sneak by, there are tens of thousands of terrified, hungry, starving refugees running away from the same thing we’re trying to destroy: ISIS. 

And anyway, America is pretty good at breeding it’s own terrorists:

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The mass murderer behind the 2012 Dark Knight theater shooting.

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The 2012 Sandy Hook shooter.

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The KKK. ‘Nuff said.

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“All terrorists are Muslim!” Ok.

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This guy, the Virginia Tech shooter, was from South Korea. Does this mean we should ban South Koreans from coming to the States? (No. In case you were wondering, the answer is no.)

I could go on.

But Jasmine, you act like such a bleeding heart, but you probably wouldn’t take a refugee into your own home.

Yes. Yes I would, actually. And if I had the money (I’m talking $30k to spare), I’d support a family via this sponsoring program.

So, while you’re having your lovely feast this Thursday, be sure to really think about what all you have (and what some of you are trying to keep from others).

The holidays are about love and happiness and support. It’s time with your friends and family. It’s a time of giving. And that’s the only way we’re going to fight this vicious cycle of terror and hate. ISIS wants us to hate the refugees and turn them away. When that happens, some of the rejected refugees develop hatred for Westerners and turn to ISIS, where even more hatred is bred.

So give! To refugees, to the homeless, to the veterans, to rescued animals. As cliched as it may sound, love really is the only way we can win.

Happy Thanksgiving! 😀

“Pray for Paris and…”

Yes. But I’m sure by now you’ve all heard “but not only for Paris.”

I’m pretty sure the attacks in Beirut wouldn’t have even made global news had it not been for the Paris attacks, which then prompted people to say, Hey, this other thing that’s just as important also happened in Lebanon. Why is that?

Is it because the world in general thinks European lives matter more than Middle Eastern lives?

But stuff like that happens all the time over there, so it’s not news.

Actually, “stuff like that” doesn’t happen in Lebanon all the time:

“The implication, numerous Lebanese commentators complained, was that Arab lives mattered less. Either that, or that their country — relatively calm despite the war next door — was perceived as a place where carnage is the norm, an undifferentiated corner of a basket-case region. …. A reminder of the muddled perceptions came last week, when Jeb Bush, the Republican presidential candidate, declared that ‘if you’re a Christian, increasingly in Lebanon, or Iraq or Syria, you’re gonna be beheaded.’ That was news to Lebanon’s Christians, who hold significant political power.” (Source: Beirut Feels Forgotten)

Why did Facebook not activate their safety check for people whose loved ones were in Beirut at the time of the suicide bombings? Facebook later saved face by saying the high social activity surrounding the Paris attacks prompted them to activate safety check:

“As for Facebook, it declared that the high level of social media activity around the Paris attacks had inspired the company to activate Safety Check for the first time for an emergency other than a natural disaster, and that a policy of when to do so was still developing.
“‘There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris,’ wrote Alex Schultz, the company’s vice president for growth, adding that Safety Check is less useful in continuing wars and epidemics because, without a clear end point, ‘it’s impossible to know when someone is truly “safe.”‘” (Beirut Feels Forgotten)

(Some people also complained that Facebook only offered a profile pic filter of the French flag, but that’s not as a big a deal, in my opinion. Just make your own filter, or do what I did and make your profile pic the image of the Lebanese flag.)

So, if we follow this logic, then the Beirut bombings was barely a news blip in the media. Indeed, many people had no idea it had even occurred until after the Paris bombings.

Why do Arab lives seem to matter less? Even if you do make the assumption that “stuff like that happens over there all the time,” why does that make it any less horrific? In actuality, it should be more horrific. Innocent lives were lost in both Paris and Beirut. Both were tragic events. But the world is only saying Pray for Paris. (To sugarcoat it, it’s like saying Rue’s death in the Hunger Games movie was less tragic because she was played by a black actress… which ties into the whole notion that Black lives matter less, but that’s a whole other topic for another time…)

Everywhere I go, I see the French flag now. Driving around downtown, I saw it waving on a billboard with its accompanied hashtag.

Look, send your love and thoughts to France. But also Lebanon. And Syria. And Kenya (which suffered a similar terrorist attack from al-Shabaab, but no one seemed to notice). And everyone.

Just.

Everyone.

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Be safe. Be kind.

Peace.

Winter is coming.

Help.

Please.

Winter is nigh, and I live in NW Ohio. Help me, gods, can I survive another winter here?

I’m extremely sensitive to the cold. Anything much lower than 75 degrees is chilly to me, even though I’m a NW Ohioan born and raised. And my grown ass still lives here.

It’s times like this that make me wish I lived somewhere nice and warm and sunny all year round.

But…. The bugs… Like. Gigantic spiders and beetles and flying roaches. NO THANK YOU. Plus, all that sun would make me dark as hell. I never burn or anything. I just…. darken. Very quickly. And I rather like my skin tone the way it is. Some people can pull off the dark chocolate, but I don’t think I’m one of those people. >.>

Also! Sorry I skipped last Monday. Seasonal allergies took me out. I was out of commission. All because the seasons are changing… for the worst.

Winter.

Dear god why.

… But, while I huddle up with blankets, I can sleep and rest assured, knowing that cane spiders are faaaar faaaar away….

Adulting: How I Am Failing At It

The question of maturity was never a real problem for me. When I was a kid, I was always called mature for my age, and I took pride in that. Being thought of as “immature” became kind of a big fear of mine.

And then I finished graduate school.

After college, people usually find a sucky job and pay sucky bills and have sucky responsibilities. So, I wasn’t too thrilled. I mean, I was looking forward to graduating — graduating is always exciting. Plus, grad school tore my soul a new one.

Yeeep. Pretty much. I questioned every single day that I was in grad school. But now that I'm in the "real world," I question every day that I'm not in school.

Yeeep. Pretty much. I questioned every single day that I was in grad school. But now that I’m in the “real world,” I question every day that I’m not in school.

But living in the real world? My impression was (and still is) — work to pay bills until you die.

That is no way to live. That’s not living at all. I’d rather jump off a building. So naturally, I started to freak out.

My boyfriend thought it would be a good idea for me to follow my dreams and write, while he works to support us. I mean, he’s a nurse (an RN) and has two jobs — one at a hospital and one at a nursing home. Sounds good on paper. But now that it’s actually been playing out for some four months, it’s… not… all it’s cracked up to be.

I mean, it great for my literary career! Two books coming out soon, one actually under my pen name, from a publishing company!! Really excited. I haven’t spent this much time on writing and editing since… ever. School had always been in the way. Now I can write and edit and publish without restrictions. I can do NaNoWriMo guilt-free!

Well, when I say “guilt-free,” I mean, I won’t feel guilty for working on short stories or my novel when I should be writing papers (oops).

But. There’s some guilt there. My boyfriend is working his ass off, not even getting full checks yet, so we’ve been struggling a little. And he’s always exhausted and sometimes stressed. So… I worry. A lot.

But every time I’d ask him if he needed me to work to help lessen the financial strain, he’d say it would be fine and that we should stick to our plan…

So fast-forward. Last night, I asked him if I act my age. He says I act like “a teenager whose soul hasn’t yet been crushed by adult responsibilities,” “immature in a good way,” “child-like rather than childish.”

He also said he now knows our plan is kind of a bad idea, but me working out in the real world would cause me to be miserable all the time. (He’s known that for a while.) And then he’d have to come home to me being miserable all the time.

I told him that yes, that may be true, but it’s not fair to him. And then he said that I can’t help my mental illness. Which is true, I can’t, but using it as a crutch makes me cringe. Have my depression and anxiety rendered me so mentally and emotionally fragile that I can’t function in a normal workplace?

Yeah, I’d be miserable, but, given my depression, I used to be miserable all the time, so that wouldn’t be anything new. The problem here is, now my emotions affect someone else. And after working 8-, 12-, or 16-hour shifts he’d come home to the mopey, depressive wreck that would be me. There would be no happiness in that relationship.

I realize this blog post is very personal. And a huge downer. Originally, I was going to write about Skyping with my host family. But, I really needed to write about this. I’m feeling some type of way, and I really don’t know what to do.

I’m not going to lie. Part of me misses my cushy campus jobs and my graduate stipend because it would be nice to have money of my own while working at a job that doesn’t make me hate life.

I worked retail once, two summers ago. It’s very… It doesn’t make a difference in anyone’s life. No one really wants to be there. It’s not creative. It doesn’t challenge my brain in any way.

Retail is pretty much purgatory. And I’m sure food service is much the same (except worse because I’m extremely squeamish).

So.

Yeah.

I don’t know if I feel better at all after writing this.

See you next Monday.

Are We Omnivores?

EDITS AND CORRECTIONS: In my haste to choose images for this blog, I neglected to notice that the “Top 10 Sources of Veggie Protein” has some grossly manipulated numbers there.
I was also given a lot of flack about the teeth charts being incorrect, though no one has thus so far told me why they are wrong. So..
I’ve been told that B12 is sourced from bacteria and algae. The more you know! 😀
And finally, it’s been said that eggs aren’t really all that bad for you. My sources for that are probably out-dated. But I mean, the egg and dairy industries have their fingers in many pies — and a shit ton of money — so I remain slightly skeptical of egg and dairy studies. That said, even if eggs aren’t terrible for you, they’re still a product of animal cruelty. Yeah I said it. 
Finally — Yes, I’m still a vegetarian, but I’m slowly making my way down the path to veganism. Wish me luck~!

Really.

What the hell are humans supposed to eat?

I’ve been asking myself this for quite a while. I mean, I grew up eating meat and drinking milk. I developed a deep love for macaroni and cheese. Bacon was my shit. (Ew. It really grosses me out to think about that now.)

Then, when I was rather young, about 12, I decided to cut out pork. I literally just cut it from my diet forever. That was the first step.

Around 19 or 20, I cut back a lot on the red meats and pretty much became a flexitarian (“A semi-vegetarian or flexitarian diet is one that is plant-based with the occasional inclusion of meat products.”)

And finally. In May of 2014, at the age of 21, I gave up meat completely.

It was Mother’s Day, and we all went out to eat at Olive Garden, and I had the Tour of Italy dish. I asked for no meat in the lasagna (I’d pretty much cut out beef by then), but the chicken parmesan was okay (I still ate chicken occasionally).

But then… I couldn’t get over the fact that I was eating a corpse. I was eating a corpse. I’m not a cheetah or a wolf — humans aren’t carnivores. Why the hell do we eat dead animals? Because we need protein? Um… check this out:

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So that begs the question: Why are people still propagating the myth that you need meat for protein. Or that little Timmy is a growing boy and an athlete and needs to eat that steak?

But here is a far more intriguing question. What are humans really supposed to eat? Carnivores eat meat like nobody’s business but never get high cholesterol. Ever. But humans? High cholesterol is definitely an issue. Animal proteins and hormones in meat also do not belong in the human body. They cause all sorts of trouble.

So then. What can our teeth tell us?

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Nothing, really. Nothing we didn’t already know. What these pictures neglect to tell you is that herbivore and frugivore are not mutally exclusive; neither are omnivore and frugivore: “A frugivore /fruːdʒʉvɔr/ is a fruit eater. It can be any type of herbivore or omnivore where fruit is a preferred food type. Because approximately 20 percent of all mammalian herbivores also eat fruit, frugivory is considered to be common among mammals.” And well, humans did come from fruit-loving ape ancestors.

So. Are we omnivores? We sure as hell don’t need meat or animal products for protein.

But we do need vitamin B12, which can only be found naturally in meat, eggs, and dairy. “Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak.” So, it’s not inconceivable that early humans were meant to be flexitarian omnivorous frugivores.

But that doesn’t mean that we, as modern humans, need to continue to eat this way. Meat, eggs, and dairy all cause a lot of problems in the human body that the mainstream propaganda likes to keep hidden. First of all, eggs contain an insane amount of cholesterol. Eating more than two or three eggs a week is enough to put you at risk for diseases and serious health issues in the future. And dairy — this is funny. Humans are the only animals that consume milk into adulthood. We’re also the only animals that drink another animal’s milk. How bizarre is that? Cow milk is perfectly designed for calves. Are we baby cows?

This hilarious commercial can STEER you in the right direction. (Hahahaha! … I’ll see myself out.)

But seriously, we can fortify our foods with B12 now. Countless cereals, drinks, plant-based milks, and vegan products are fortified with B12.

If you need any more convincing, have no fear! I’ve collected some literature for you:

  1. Four Reasons You Need to Stop Eating Eggs
  2. One minute and 30 seconds into this video, you find out that the federal government has deemed it illegal to label eggs as “healthy” or “nutritious” … because that would be lying.
  3. WebMD concludes that you don’t have to drink milk to be healthy.
  4. NutritionMD’s 8 reasons to eliminate dairy from your diet.

So! There you have it, my friends. Make of this information what you will. I’m just the messenger~

Until next Monday!

Dear Fat, Skinny, Fit, Healthy, and Chubby People…

I know I’m writing this a little late, but the Internet recently went a little mad over Youtube personality Nicole Arbour’s video Dear Fat People.

I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while, and now I have the perfect excuse. Hopefully I can pull this off with more finesse.

I have some pretty strong feelings about this fat vs. skinny nonsense. I’m not talking about fitness yet — I’ll get to that later. Right now, I’m talking about the fat people who body shame skinny people, and the skinny people who body shame fat people, and the ridiculous obsession with being skinny.

Okay, look.

In the first place, body shaming is not a helpful thing. It doesn’t get anyone anywhere, and it doesn’t motivate anyone to be healthy. Stop telling skinny girls to eat a sandwich, and stop calling fat girls whales. All right? I used to be unhealthy and fat. Then, I starved myself, and I became unhealthy and skinny. At one point in junior high, I was eating 800 calories a day. I went from double-digit pants sizes to a size 8, and I was ecstatic. But all my friends and family were worried about my health. When I was a freshman in high school at a 4th of July picnic with my friends, they kept an eye on me and pretty much hassled me about not eating any food. At one point, my mom wouldn’t let me leave her sight after eating because she thought I might be bulimic.

If I didn’t have people like that who cared about me, I might be dead right now. Eating 800 calories a day is not okay.

I wasn’t even eating healthy things, either. I didn’t look at vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, or anything like that. When I looked at the nutrition facts, my eyes went straight to calories. As long as it was delicious and I didn’t go over 800, I was happy. That is a shitty way to live.

Starving yourself is not glorious. It will not make you happy. Eat. EAT! Your body needs nutrients!!

Back then, I was obsessed with being skinny, not healthy. If I were motivated to be healthy instead, things would have gone a lot more smoothly for me. It wasn’t until I was 18, a freshman in college, that I began working out and eating right. When you treat your body well, you feel good. I love the way my body feels after a good work out. I’ve cut a lot of junk from my diet, and I’m very keen on fruits and veggies. When I was younger, I was all meat and potatoes, but now? I’m disappointed if I’m eating a meal that does not involve vegetables or fruits in some way (unless it’s pizza. I fucking love pizza. I would eat cheese pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if it wouldn’t kill me). I’m also a vegetarian now. I’ve been so for over a year and don’t plan on ever going back to meat. While I highly recommend it, you don’t necessarily have to cut out all meat to be healthy.

And contrary to popular belief, it is possible to eat well without having to purchase $6 salads. If you do a bit of research, eating well doesn’t have to empty your pockets.

I dance ballroom. I got to Planet Fitness. I buy most of my food from the organic aisle. I FEEL GOOD. And you know what? I look good, too. When I say that, I don’t mean “I look skinny” — I mean I look HEALTHY. I gained a little muscle. My skin, hair, and teeth are all healthy.

Healthy comes in many shapes and sizes. And don’t trust the Body Mass Index (BMI). It doesn’t account for “muscle mass, bone density, overall body composition, and racial and sex differences.”

Right now, I’m about a size 4 or a 6, depending on the clothes and the store because women’s sizes are stupid, but my ass is kind of big. It’s gotten a lot smaller since I started dancing, but it’s not as small as I would like. Sometimes it makes me sad. Sometimes my stomach isn’t as flat as I would want it to be, and I feel fat. But you know what? I get over it pretty quickly, because I’m a god damn dancer. I’m a lean mean dancing machine. My legs are amazing. I even obtained some upper body strength — something I never thought I’d achieve because I used to be such a weakling. (Seriously. I could only lift 40 pounds at one point.) And I’m healthy. I find clothes that look good on me and call it a day.

Whether you’re chubby, skinny, fat, toned, or what-have-you, your body is a well-tuned machine. And you only get one. Be good to it, and it will be good to you.

Do something active that you enjoy. This is for everyone. Moving around is good for the soul. (Real talk: I have depression. And while I have meds for it, I also know that getting up and being active also helps. Sometimes I need a kick in the pants to get up and go, but when I do, I feel worlds better.) Build some muscle, get your blood flowing, do some stretches, lose some fat, build your endurance, or some combination of the above. Try something new! Sports, dance, martial arts, yoga, hitting the gym, Zumba, working out to Youtube videos in the comfort of your own home…. Join a fencing club! If you’re having fun, you’re more likely to stick with it.

Sedentary lifestyles aren’t good for anyone, whether you’re skinny, fat, or anywhere in between. The human body wasn’t made to sit around. Even if you’re watching T.V., do some squats or something during commercials.

And don’t exclude mental wellness! 🙂 What you think about yourself and the way you look at things makes all the difference. First of all, no matter what you look like, don’t ever let anyone make you feel “less than” based purely on your body shape. If you start exercising to lose weight so boys will think you’re pretty, chances are, that motivation is not going to last. Things like that also often lead to unhelpful methods like yo-yo dieting.

BUT.

If you exercise because you fucking want to. Because you want to feel good. Because you want to be healthy. Then it’s more likely to work out. For some people, it makes them feel more confident. I can attest to that. I feel worlds more confident than when I was younger.

Now, at some point, I need to talk about the “thigh gap” phenomenon — might as well insert it here.

Ahem.

WHO. THE FUCK. CARES. whether you have one or not? Girls who are naturally skinny with wide hip bones will have a thigh gap. It’s normal for them. Some skinny girls don’t have one. Not all fit girls have one, either. It is not a deciding factor of beauty. Shaming girls because they do or don’t have one is pretty stupid. And if you don’t have one naturally, you won’t ever have one — not while you’re healthy — and it can only be achieved by starving yourself. And then you’ll be malnourished, and your muscle will waste away.

Also, guys don’t care about thigh gaps — they really don’t. You have one? Cool. You don’t? Cool. Seriously, that is the last thing on any guy’s mind.

No. No. No. NO. NO. NO. NO! See this picture? It’s shaming. This is called shaming.

(Side Note: While searching for images for this, I stumbled upon Thinspo. Oh my god…. That is seriously the scariest shit. If I had seen those images when I was between the ages of 12 and 17? Damn. I would have spiraled down a really, really dark path. Type “thigh gap thinspo” into Google images to see what I mean. Those people are seriously disturbed.)

And, here’s where my unpopular opinion comes in.

I don’t think the fat acceptance movement is wholly a good thing. Loving ourselves is a start, yes. But we already have the media saying, “Skinny is Pretty,” which is not a good thing. From that sprouted the attitude of, “Well why do I have to be skinny to be pretty? Fat’s pretty, too!” And so now we’re back at the beginning of this post.

“Fat girls are pretty. Fuck skinny bitches” versus “Skinny is the beauty standard. Therefore fat = ugly.”

Both sides seriously need to stop that. Like, right now. “Fat acceptance” should be “self-acceptance.” I know that’s what some people mean when they say it, but the phrase “fat-acceptance” insinuates that we should just overlook the health issues that come with it. I feel that for some people, it means to be complicit to the possible harm you’re doing to your body. But look at the plus-sized girl on the cover of Women’s Running magazine. That’s what I would call “self-acceptance.”

Little known fact, some of the same health issues an anorexic body suffers also apply to obese bodies, such as heart problems. We shouldn’t be encouraging people to be skinny or fat. We should be encouraging them to be healthy.

Yes, healthy is pretty, but healthy also keeps your body functioning the way it should.

P.S.

I’m not saying anything new or revolutionary. I just felt like contributing my opinion to the conversation. Anyway, you can’t judge someone’s health by simply looking at them (again, look at the running girl), but you know your own habits. That’s why you should be healthy for you. At the same time, saying, “HEY YOU. BE HEALTHY” alone isn’t going to help. It mostly depends on you. It’s a struggle. But you can do it. You’re worth it. You’re worthy of living an awesome life. But I know it’s hard sometimes.
Especially if you have an eating disorder. You are not alone. I had an eating disorder… If you do, please get help. Whether it’s binging, purging, starving — please. get. help. If you need, call these hotlines.

It took me eleven years to get where I am now, to love and accept myself, and to treat my body the way it deserves to be treated.

You are strong. You can do the thing. ❤

About Sarah Chrisman’s Victorian Life: A Black Girl’s Perspective

There’s been a lot of buzz lately concerning Sarah Chrisman’s article “I love the Victorian era. So I decided to live in it.”

Some people love it and think it’s charming and fun. Other people are completely peeved  at her for only living the “easy” aspects of Victorian life, leaving out the sexism, racism, classism, consumption, and the general smog and filth. What would happen if she someday needs surgery? What does she do when her period comes? Does she vote???

I agree with both sides. If she and her husband have the money and the means, then let them do it. It makes them happy, it’s not hurting anyone, and it’s kind of cool — even if it is glorified cosplay.

“Black Masquerade Queen Renaissance Victorian Costume.” Okay, yeah. Because those eras are totally the same thing. Not different at all.

I started to wonder what it would be like if I did the same thing. Wouldn’t it be so cool? If I had unlimited funds and means, what era would I bring forth to the present? It wouldn’t necessarily have to be the Victorian era. I could do my own thing. The Renaissance was cool and all, but somehow, I don’t think that would be very possible. Also, I’m black, so having that super ghostly pale skin they so coveted would be a super no-go. And check out these beauty tips from the times:

“Women during the Renaissance Period had an interesting way of applying cosmetics, because they always seemed to have their faces “caked” on with make-up. White lead face paint was very popular among the Renaissance women, because they used it to paint their faces, neck, and cleavage. The lead was mixed with vinegar to conjure up a paste called ceruse. The only downfall was that the white lead made their hair fall out, which explains why Renaissance women had high foreheads and receding hairlines. Even though wide foreheads and receding hairlines may seem weird nowadays, it was considered fashionable during the Renaissance Period. Their eyebrows were usually shaved and replaced with fake ones made of mouse skin anyways. For lips, their form of lipstick was made of cochineal and beeswax. Also for their lips and even for their cheeks, women would wear rouge which was a red powder made of mercury sulphide. To accentuate the eyes, they would use iridescent eye shadow made of a ground mother of pearls.” Source: https://womenhygiene.wordpress.com/the-scoop-all-you-need-to-know-about-the-cleanliness-of-women/

Plus, you know, bloodletting, washing my face with urine, and shitting in wooden boxes don’t exactly appeal to me.

Tudor house toilets…. To make matters worse, these things were rarely emptied and rarely cleaned. Ugh.

Sooooo… Let’s skip ahead. Like, way ahead. What about the ’20s? ’60s?

Well, the ’20s was definitely booming. Blacks and whites could sometimes be seen at the same night clubs. Some Hollywood actors came out as gay. Harlem was jumpin’. But, I can’t really get behind the Prohibition. (I like my wine, damn it.) And even though women could vote, it was mostly only white women who could vote freely in 1920. Until the 1960s, black women faced disenfranchisement and high hurdles to get to the ballot, especially in the South.

All right! So what about the ’60s?

Well, it was definitely a time of change. Free love and protests were ubiquitous, and the Civil Rights movement was in full swing….. But I love ’60s fashion. And oh. My. God. I fucking love Twiggy.

And check out this article about health, happiness, and well-being in the ’60s!

But on a more serious note:

  1. Flying was dangerous, insanely expensive, smoky, and boozy. (Plus, planes wouldn’t have TVs or music. BOOORING.)
  2. Blacks had shorter lifespans than whites.
  3. Black Americans were also far less likely to finish high school, let alone go to college.
  4. Blacks were twice as likely to be unemployed as whites.
  5. We were pretty much still treated like second-class citizens.

But, flying is no longer as hazardous to one’s health as it was in the Golden Age of flying. And if you ask me, and many other African-Americans, we pretty much are still treated like second-class citizens in some aspects of society. If you’ve been following the Black Lives Matter movement, you’d know that a lot of issues we’re facing are setting us back fifty years. Is it 2015 or 1964? Sometimes I can’t tell.

Suddenly I didn’t feel so giddy about the idea of living in a past era anymore. My boyfriend pretty much said it in a nutshell: “Going back in time would only be fun for whites, because they’re the only ones who’s always had it good.”

Alas…

My boyfriend said even if we romanticized the past eras, we’d end up living like middle-class whites of the times, and somehow that seems wrong. It really is sad that the only era I could think to travel to would be the 1960s, because we have to fight for civil rights again. I could buy a house that was build in 1962, have all my clothes made to match fashions of the era, listen to the music and go swing dancing (I do those anyway). But somehow, picking up a Black Lives Matter sign and marching, all while pretending to live like it’s the ’60s would seriously just fuck with my brain. I guess time travel to the past just wasn’t meant for us. Maybe I’m giving this too much thought.

But there’s always tomorrow. I’ve got my smart phone and my Wii U, my ballet flats and leggings. No one’s ever stopped me from voting, and my masters degree sits over my fireplace. Looking forward, I feel optimistic.

And Sarah Chrisman, have fun. ❤

(But seriously, that 60s fashion tho:)

603 601 602 604605 606607 608 609

THE TIME IS NOW

I posted this in my writing blog, but you know what? I’m going to post it here, too, because it’s damn important.

A number of good and/or popular books have gone on to achieve success after a number of rejections from publishers and agents, such as Lord of the Flies, Harry Potter, Gone with the Wind, Carrie, Little Women, Animal Farm, and Dune. 

I’m not comparing my work to those brilliant novels, nor am I saying I’m as good as any of the authors who wrote them.

However, it does offer a glimmer of hope.

I’ve written some terrible things — and after they were rejected, I’d eventually look at them and think, Lol, yeah, they were right. This is complete shit.

But, not this. Not The Adventures and Shenanigans of Bastien Falco. I know this book needs to be in people’s homes and read. This manuscript needs to see the light of day, and after over two years, I’m not giving up on it. I’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into this baby, and I edited the hell out of it. It’s been both praised and torn apart by beta readers and creative writing workshops.

I spent countless hours just world-building and filling my notebook up with notes.

These characters are very dear to me, and I’m not giving up on them. I have a host of unfinished works or works that I never really spent much time on, but whenever I thought about giving up on this novel, I had friends who urged me to keep going. I mean, honest friends. (Believe me, if my writer friends think something is shitty, they will say so. That’s why we’re all good writers.)

So, after so many rejections, I began to wonder. Is it me? Do my queries suck? Does my novel suck? Is this just not the type of fantasy that agents are looking for? Is the fantasy market just that over saturated?

Countless Google searches never fully answered my questions. I revised my queries I don’t know how many times. I stayed up late researching the agents I was querying to, to see what they liked.

But no more.

I’m going to do this myself. So, I looked into Smashwords and CreateSpace. I looked into where to send my novel to get it reviewed. And, I asked an artist friend if she would want to draw the cover art for me. In the past, she charged $30 for each picture. Below are her stunning interpretations of a few of my female characters:

Princess Ayla The Adventures and Shenanigans of Bastien Falco Princess Ayla

Anna the Assassin, and Thief, from The Adventures and Shenanigans of Bastien Falco Anna

Winter Zu from The Adventures and Shenanigans of Bastien Falco Winter

Gorgeous, right? (Check out her work on DeviantArt. Username is JoyeCh0.)

However, most artists charge more for works that contain more than one character, and for works that receive revenue. Understandably so!! So, I asked her how much, and she said for all four of my main characters, it would come up to about $120.

That’s so reasonable, I could cry.

But… I’m also dirt poor. (Seriously, my house is falling apart.)

And I’m a recent graduate with a shitty job situation. Yay.

I’m really struggling and grasping at straws here, guys. I’m also looking to raise $100 for promo costs.

I mean, the internet is a vast place. If I could get one dollar from 220 people, I would be so super set.

I started with friends and family first. I asked my parents also to help me reach out to others. So far, I’ve raised $45.

I’M SO CLOSE I CAN ALMOST TASTE IT.

taste

Look, this is painful, guys. I hate asking for money. But if I don’t get this work out there, I’m going to lose my mind.

Much to my chagrin, I created a GoFundMe, which can be found here.

Any dollar helps, really.

And, I’m giving donors free copies of the book as a thank-you and as proof of what exactly their money has done to.

Thank you in advance. ❤