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THREE PRINTABLE SIGNS (+ TIPS) THAT WILL MAKE YOUR HOLIDAYS MORE ENJOYABLE


I'm headed to Minnesota today to meet the Midwestern branch of my partner's family tree, also known as: the side that I am about to charm the shit out of.

And while I'm excited to experience actual cold weather, stay in a rural house that doesn't have Wi-Fi (what!?!?), learn how Minneapolis likes to karaoke and listen to his grandfather tell the same joke seventeen times... I'm also weary of spending a holiday dinner with a group of people who may be unfamiliar with body autonomy or the concept of food neutrality.

I've been fortunate to have frequent get-togethers with my family here in Tucson, most of which are completely food neutral. But this experience is pretty uncommon and it's unfortunate rarity was quickly proven after I asked a few readers what sort of comments friends or family members have said to their face during past holiday meals.

The responses, while anticipated are still appalling:


  • "Do you really need all that?! Aren't you big enough?"
  • "You can't eat any more" 
  • “I really don’t see the point in (dessert) when we just had A good meal”
  • "Leave some for the rest of us"
  • "Shouldn't you be eating less?"
  • "At least make an effort to loose weight and stop stuffing yourself!" 
  • "I'd keep off the dessert, if I were you!"
  • "Don't you know how much fat and sugar that has?!"
  • " You ate that fast."
  • "Are you not doing the diet thing anymore?"
  • "That's your second plate" 
  • "Are you sure you need all that pie?"
  • "*Sigh* You’d be so pretty if you just lost some weight.”
  • "You should probably stick to salad and veggies."
  • "You're not going to eat all that salad dressing, are you?"
  • "Oh I think you have had enough." 
  • "Potatoes aren't a vegetable, you shouldn't have so many. You need to eat more vegetables." 
  • "You really ought to keep in mind how many carbs are on your plate."
  • "Do you think you should have that?"
  • "You're gonna get fatter eating that and then no man will want you."
  • "You have such a pretty face. Don't ruin your body more."


The list goes on and ON.

These sorts of comments (not to mention the unspoken judgmental stares or side-eye glances) are clearly customary for tons of people but they aren't the only thing that can make visiting home/people you haven't seen in a while/relatives difficult.

I have a few simple tips for you if you're feeling anxiety around this holiday season while preparing for a visit:

  1. Implement the "Rental Car Theory". My therapist often mentions how hard it can be to visit people you have a long (and often complicated) history with, regardless of how much internal work you've done. She suggests using the "a rental car" theory to claim some independence. Maybe you can rent a car in the literal sense so you have control over when and where you go but this concept can also translate into allowing yourself some time alone. This can be a room, a walk around the block or giving yourself permission to leave early.
  2. Create a support system.  Mentally plan a list of some people you can call, a designated person you can talk to while there or even bring a body positive book with you. Have an external way to ground yourself while in the midst of chaos.
  3. Prepare your boundaries and responses beforehand. Something I often hear from fat folx is that they struggle to vocalize their needs or advocate for themselves when they are under attack and this applies in all kinds of circumstances. This is completely understandable. It feels impossible to come up with an effective response when you're not only caught off guard, trying to subdue learned shame AND attempting to deal with the situation in the moment.


THAT LAST SUGGESTION, dear friends, is why I have created some handy-dandy signs for you to print out and take with you this holiday season. Not only do they offer some phrases that you can use verbally but you can ALSO skip the chat all together and simply flash the sign of your choosing instead.

Allow the offending person a moment to read it and then, of course, promptly resume your holiday enjoyment.

One of my favorite memes is a girl standing on an enormously high ladder with binoculars with a caption that reads: "Me looking for who the fuck asked you?" It is every feel I  have about food policing all in one image. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend peeking at it here.

Three printable signs to ensure ultimate holiday meal enjoyment: 




And of course, my personal favorite (made for those with extra food-policey relatives or for those who simply don't have time to beat around a goddamn bush):


There are additional black and white versions of each sign to download and print because color is expensive AF:

 You can download these versions here: 

Note: each of these signs were made to be printed out on a regular 8 1/2 x 11" sheet of paper but feel free to adjust as you see fit!

How to implement these signs after printing them out:




  1. Adhere a Popsicle stick to the back with tape
  2. Tape a paint mixing stick to the back (duct tape recommended)
  3. It's apparent that Curious George just chopped off the end of a broom handle, so I guess that works too
  4. If you forget to prepare a handle, use something sticky at the dinner table and use a butter knife to hold it up. Bonus points if you just use a fork to stab the bottom twice so you can weave the prongs in and display it when needed.
  5. Print it on one half of a paper, fold it into a freestanding sign and place in front of your plate before the meal even begins
  6. Tape it to your head
  7. Just hold up the damn thing whenever needed


Whatever way you choose, I fully support you and your self-advocacy this holiday season!


And who cares if you love syrup on your spaghetti? All the more power to you, my friend.

Just remember these three important facts: this is your life, your body and your rules.

In courageous solidarity,

KRE SKINCARE AND FANCY FACE CREAMS

This post is brought to you by the letter L, excessive lathering, and Luminance Skincare's new KRE line!


My normal facial cleansing routine is pretty simple: grab the pack of grapefruit face wipes on my nightstand, select one sheet, rub it all over my face and then promptly fall asleep.

To call my system "rudimentary" is to give it more credit than it deserves.

So when Luminance Skincare emailed me asking if I wanted to try their new KRE line my answer was a fast and firm YES. I was beyond excited to have my first chance to live that luxurious beauty blogger life I keep reading about.

KRE Skincare is a organic, non-toxic, peptide rich line consisting of six products that just launched and I couldn't wait to get my hands on a high-end facial routine.


While the website promotes the line in part as an anti-aging solution, I definitely did not use it as such. First of all, I'm 31. Secondly, I believe that aging is a gift and isn't something that needs to be prevented. Instead, I used it as a chance to find out what a fancy facial routine feels like and for it's other prescribed purpose: to help with my breakouts... something that has become a constant in my life lately thanks to the unwelcome thing some call stress.

Of course, the second they arrived, my first order of business was to sniff each product because that's obviously what you do when presented with new beauty items. If I had to describe the scent I would say the creams and lotions have a subtle smell that reminds me of very lightly toasted pumpkin seeds.

Maybe I'm just confusing peptides and pepitas? Regardless, it is definitely lovely.


With all six products in hand I followed their step-by-step instructions:

  1. Pre-cleanse oils: I've never put oil on my face on purpose... ever. Turns out, it's really helpful.
  2. Lather: My favorite step. The longer you rub your hands together the foamier it becomes.
  3. Cleanse: Do I need to explain how to do this?
  4. Tone: Cucumber scented mist is the best! PRO BEAUTY TIP: close your eyes when you spray this; it makes for a much more enjoyable experience. I had to learn this the hard way.
  5. Apply serum: The perfect "lightly toasted pumpkin seed" smelling cream. A little goes a long way.
  6. Moisturize: YOU WILL NOT HAVE DRY SKIN AFTER THIS. THAT IS A PROMISE.
  7. Apply eye cream: This feels like the ultimate luxury. Who regularly uses eye cream? Probably tons of people, with the exception of me. Until now anyways. Bonus: the eye cream also smells like cucumbers which makes me feel like I just visited a spa.

How did I feel after all seven steps? 

Super soft, glowy and really, really... adult-ey? 

It kind of felt like the most grown-up thing I've ever done for myself which I suppose isn't a surprise since I still read picture books and choose my wardrobe by reaching for whatever is closest to me on the floor.

An unexpected result of having such a dewy face was that is also made me feel like just maybe Jessica Alba or Gwyneth Paltrow (or whoever else owns extravagant skin care lines and washes their face five times a day) would nod in my direction if they saw me on the street and give me a "I see you and your fancy skin" wink.

I can't wait for that day, but until then I'll definitely be using the KRE line while feeling like a glistening goddess that looks like she has her shit together.

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ETA: I received the BEST kind of email from KRE yesterday. I sent over the link to this post with a message that went something like this: " I wanted to mention that it was imperative to discuss the anti-aging factor because my message (and our community) is firmly rooted in the idea that all ages are perfect as they are. I will always believe that transparency is always the best policy."

Wondering what there response would be I braced myself, though unnecessarily. This came back as their reply: "I wanted to ask you if you had any suggestions for us in our brand messaging for KRE? We used the term anti-aging because it was that one word to communicate a message about powerful ingredients, but Kim (our founder) doesn't like the term. He's 60 and we agree, it's not about changing an appearance, but helping your skin be healthy as possible, so that people can be comfortable in their own skin. We'd totally love any suggestions on this."

SO AWESOME. If you have any suggestions for them, leave them below! Let's get anti-aging out of all marketing... one company at a time!


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I offer one or two sponsored posts each month. If you’d like 250k-ish monthly readers to get to read all about you or yr stuff (= the kinda stuff that all of us in TMB community will find useful + rad), send me an email at themilitantbaker (at) gmail (dot) com and we'll make it happen! Readers, thank you so much for supporting companies that support The Militant Baker:) I love you all.

WHY THE WORLD NEEDS MORE UNFLATTERING PICTURES


I'm unsure what I love most about this picture.

Maybe I love it because I'm not smiling and that's a rare thing to capture in a photo. It could be because there are magnificent rolls and stretchmarks that are unapologetically visible. It's possible that I love it because it speaks to the sentiment that "I'm fatter in real life" which makes me grin. Or, perhaps it has to do with the fact that my hair looks fucking phenomenal. More than likely, it's a combination of all of the above.

Regardless, I adore this image and I'm thrilled that I can view it through such a loving lens.

In all honesty, this is exactly the kind of picture I would have immediately deleted when I first started blogging, but things have changed in the last five years. I was unaware that my partner snapped it during one of our porch hangouts and when he showed it to me... I was stunned at how beautiful I found both myself and the image. Instead of being repulsed by my authentic body, I was entranced. This was an unexpectedly  pivotal moment for me.

It's striking in it's black and white contrast, sure. But I also loved how few boxes it checked when it comes to what we collectively imagine when we talk about "flattering" photos.

Sonya Renee Taylor, who founded The Body Is Not an Apology (seriously visit this site if you haven't already and buy her goddamn book too!) has been posting "unflattering pictures" for years and now hundreds of people have joined in on this "Bad" Picture Monday challenge.

Her reasoning behind this concept is simple: "Shame is ugly. YOU ARE GORGEOUS."

The "Bad" Picture Monday site explains:

As you read this, 300,000 people on-line are untagging, deleting, burying deep in the recesses of the junk folder, pictures they consider “bad”. Social Networking has created a digital army of perfect smiles and brilliantly coiffed heads who all believe the only pictures that should be seen are the ones where we look “good”.  “Bad” Picture Monday reminds us that there is no “bad” way to inhabit a body
GUYS. I am a huge proponent of selfies

I encourage everyone to take them, post them, share them and repeat this process until the end of time. Many skeptics ask if this suggestion is actually perpetuating negative body image; causing obsession with likes and perfection instead of focusing on day to day empowerment.

Erin Tatum who wrote "Selfies and Misogyny: The Importance of Selfies as Self-Love" says:


-----
"Unsurprisingly, there’s no shortage of outcries from those who believe that selfies are emblematic of our collective cultural decay in a world oversaturated by social media. After all, they argue, does the world really need to see 10 photos of you posing in the mirror of a public bathroom? [...]
However, it’s not a coincidence that many of the unsavory personality traits associated with a selfie obsession – being superficial, vain, lazy, or desperate – are also commonly used as misogynistic insults against young girls.
You may think selfies are silly, but they actually reveal a lot about society’s continued tempestuous relationship with feminism."
----
(I'll add: and with marginalized bodies as a whole)

So does selfie culture inherently harm us? Not necessarily.

The danger doesn't lie in the act of posting images of ourselves, but it can morph into something negative... it all depends on HOW we share them.

The harmful part of selfie culture can come from sharing pictures of ourselves that we alter before posting. I'm not talkin' about lighting or clarity, but of running them through Facetune or another app that distorts our appearance in a way that attempts to align us with our cultural standard of "beauty". Sharing those photos- the ones that aren't REALLY us? It's then that the likes and hearts reinforce that we aren't enough just as we are. That's a really shitty experience. Don't do that to yourself, okay?

But there IS other option and it can be life changing: when we share unedited, authentic and "real" photos of ourselves we are not only publicly saying "THIS IS ME WORLD, WHATCHA GONNA DO ABOUT IT?!?!" but additionally, any support that is given online reaffirms that our bodies are definitely okay the way they are. At the very least- we don't die of anticipated shame when sharing a body that we don't see praised in the media. That's a great experience in and of itself as well.

Of course, I'd love for our need of validation to disappear completely. But we're not there yet, and I'm okay with taking baby steps as we figure out social media and it's power.

It's important to remember that there is an even bigger outcome that comes from selfie culture: we are flooding the internet with our diversity. Companies are no longer the only ones dictating the bodies we see; we play a part in that narrative too. We are leading the body image conversation more than ever before. YAY, US!


BUT I ALSO WANT US TO TAKE IT ONE STEP FURTHER

I want more "unflattering" photos; not just unedited images. I want to see more I wanted to delete this SO HARD but I didn't and shared it instead photos. I want to see pictures that take a moment to contemplate before sharing... and then to see them posted anyways.

There is a surprising amount of empowerment and freedom in this. Erin continues:

----

"The real anxiety with girls and selfies is that selfies might provide girls with the means to create their own positive image of themselves, thereby severely diluting the impact of outside opinion. 

If your confidence comes from within, you can’t be controlled as easily."

---

I've made a point to try and share "trash-bin worthy" photos of myself since I began blogging. Posting double chins while jumping, cellulite highlighted on my legs, close-ups of my sideburns (courtesy of PCOS), nearly naked photo shoots captured by other photographers and other images that I've had to take a deep breath before hitting publish. Honesty was important to me, sure, but... it was more selfish than that. It was a visual way to personally shove shame aside and watch myself survive millions of people seeing my body as it is every day.

It's amazing how much braver you become with every "post" button you hit. I'm finding that with each step that I take outside my comfort zone, the bolder I become.

Which brings me back to the picture at the top of this post.

I present to you: my stomach covered in visible stretch marks. Rolls that form under a tight bra. My face without the "smile" that we often demand of women. My lack of "good-naturedness" that is expected from fat folx to compensate for our body size.

It's me, in a serious and candid moment. Here I am, just as I am. Offering this publicly and without an apology.

And now? Now it's your turn, my friend.


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ETA: Remember that the concept of flattering is a social construct- a term used to personally assess how closely we (or someone else) can match our cultural beauty standards. Those beauty standards by the way? Also a fabricated social construct. In short: fuck. Flattering.


MEDZONE GIVEAWAY!


I've been working with MedZone for over two years now and there's a damn good reason: everything they have sent me is fucking. Awesome. Everything they send over... works. I have no qualms about saying that I love them with both my heart and soul.

In case you're unfamiliar, MedZone is a company that started out creating products specifically designed for athletes but has now branched out and offers them to everyone; they even started specifically catering to the plus community with their killer anti-chub rub stick. I happened to bring a travel sized version of it with me to a fashion show in Portland a few months ago thank god I did! It ended up being passed around to all the models right before the show and which caused numerous sighs of relief.

A few months ago my pal Joe (I feel like we're friends at this point) shipped several PainZone bottles my way and they're already half empty. There are all the technical product specifics you should know like: 

  • There are tons of topical pain relivers on the market but PainZone is different with 3 Active Ingredients instead of 1 or 2 used by most competitors 
  • You can use it for back pain, sore muscles, arthritis symptoms…even on the bottom of your feet after a long day on the runway (Several plus models use it often for this)
  • There is no water in the formula 
  • It has previously been used by professional and collegiate athletes and
  • Every product is made in the USA and come with a 100% No Risk Guarantee  

But here's why I love it: not only does the product work almost immediately (and smells like spearmint!) but the bottles have a plastic roller-ball applicator that makes for a REALLY good massage. I've been known to sprawl out on my bed and ask my partner roller "that mint stuff" over my back or shoulders... it feels so amazing I often make inappropriate noises while he's applying it so I would recommend that you're careful about using it in public. 

So hell yeah, this shit is great. I even gave a bottle to my grandma because I love her and I'm offering this rad giveaway because I love YOU, obviously.



Giveaways happen when someone contacts me and says: I wanna buy a specific spot on your blog so I can give free awesome shit to your readers. To which I say:  Does it involve baking commercial cakes in a residential kitchen, opening mail or fixing flat tires? (I hate ALL of those things) and when they come back and say NO, actually it's really awesome you and your readers will definitely like it!, chances are I'll investigate and then say... OKAY! Let's do this.


This then means that I'm renting out some real estate, they're getting exposure, and you're getting presents year round. Which is amazing for everyone and I'm glad I'm doing more of these. Things to know: depending on who it is, they might letcha follow their social media accounts to have extra entry options. But no matter what, I always ask that there is a chance for everyone to enter at least once without having to "like" or "follow" anything. If you want to be an overachiever beyond that, it's up to you. Like and follow away!


AND, of course, if you think giveaways are bullshit, you're allowed to skip everything all together
and just come back for my next post which will likely be about why unflattering photos are the most important kinds to post. You're a grown ass adult and you get to make your own decisions, mmkay?


If you're totally into MedZone products and want to win a gift basket from them (which includes their products for pain, chafing, blisters and burns) + $100 AMAZON GIFT CARD (what?!? Amazon gift cards are totally my love language!) all you need to do is submit your email address (don't forget to catch the additional entry options too) and cross your fingers! Ten of you will also win a PainZone gift bag (with both a full size and travel size bottle) which means that we will have ELEVEN WINNERS. The odds are damn good here, folks!

The fine print that's actually just normal sized print but still important: MedZone can only ship to the US currently. I'm sorry international pals! They will start shipping internationally soon and maybe we can do another giveaway then... but for now this giveaway is US only. *Sob* 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sending you winning vibes! You got this!

COVER REVEAL: LANDWHALE


(Photo by the phenomenal Jessy Parr)


 🐳PRE-ORDER HERE! 🐳

It's happening.  It's real.  It's FINALLY HERE:

"LANDWHALE: On Turning Insults Into Nicknames, Why Body Image Is Hard, and How Diets Can Kiss My Ass"

Landwhale (a memoir!) officially has a super snazzy cover, 256 pages, a pre-order option and a place on anyone's bookshelf who wants another book to add to their collection of rad words printed on paper.

This second book (which feels quite different to me in comparison to Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls) is best summarized by the quote I used in place of a dedication:


"We have tried to prove to the thin world that we are worthy for far too long.
If you are going to be brave, be brave for the fat people."

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About the book (from the professionals):

"Building on the manifesta power of Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls, this memoir goes deeply into Jes's inner life, from growing up a fat girl to dating while fat. With material that will have readers laughing and crying along with Jes's experience, this new book is a natural fit with her irreverent, open-book style. 


A deeply personal take, Landwhale is a glimpse at life as a fat woman today, but it's also a reflection of the unforgiving ways our culture still treats fatness, all with Jes's biting voice as the guide."

About the book (from me):

I wrote Landwhale from scratch; digging deep and purposefully covering topics in ways I haven't before.

I wrote about PCOS, feeling like a hobbit, 
fat sex, new realizations about my childhood that came only through writing, Harry Potter roller coasters, honest thoughts about online hatred and why skimming emails will only leave you with mortifying regret. 

I included experiences of traveling internationally while fat, Justin Warner's indefinitely open invitation to join us in a threesome, the effects of online heroism and the complicated feels that comes from having three vaginas which will make sense once you read it. I promise. 

I talk about the pros and cons of being fat, the complicated conversation around weight loss surgery AND as a bonus, I answer the Internet's most pressing question of all time: "Have you ever thought about dieting?" 

Really though, all you need to know is that it's raw, honest, vulnerable, and if I'm lucky- occasionally hilarious.

This book may have required three therapy sessions a week while writing it but it was 100% worth it. Plus, this is the COVER OF MY DREAMS, so that is hella rewarding in and of itself, right?!?


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Wanna read it? Well, it is available May 8th, but in the mean time, you can pre-order it from your preferred site! You know, so you don’t forget.

10 YEARS OF SELF-PORTRAITS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO LOVE YOUR BODY NOW


While searching for some old college essays a while ago, I stumbled upon a forgotten Photobucket album that held 48 pages of memories from the last 10 years. I was thrilled to find this photographic treasure chest and eagerly clicked through them, reliving every moment that I had captured. It's so strange, the things that old photos can evoke. 

I could somehow remember the smell of my dorm room, the dust in the abandoned apartments upstairs, that specific monsoon season, those nights smoking cloves in a hoodie, that visit to a park in Baltimore, those tears on top of a parking garage, that drive to nowhere, those feelings of hopelessness, that moment of ecstatic joy, that museum trip with the Renoir exhibit, that afternoon spent listening to Jenny Watson and drinking Highlife in the backyard, that week spent on the circus train, and that cup of espresso in Venice. 

The evolution of me becoming who I am today; my many faces and multiple facets. It all came back to me with such force, it nearly knocked the breath out of me. It was unexpectedly powerful. 



I then noticed how beautiful I was in all these old pictures, and immediately connected this with how much thinner I used to be. I wasn't skinny, but I was not fat in the way that I remembered, and this shocked my nervous system in a way I can't explain.

I became hyper aware of how I felt sitting in my current body, and how I didn't see it reflected in any of the photos on my screen. I was instantly attacked by the cruel teachings of society that I've internalized my entire life.

So I wasn't as fat as I remembered back then. Why did I remember always feeling like I was twice the size that I was? How was my body dysmorphia so extreme that I felt like I was an embarrassment to those around me? Why did I hate myself so much? How could I not see?

The spiraling continued.

Maybe I'm even more of a failure now than I was then and maybe I should lose weight to become like Old Me again. Maybe I would meet more people if I looked like Old Me. Maybe I would succeed more if I looked like Old Me. Maybe I would be happier if I looked like Old Me. Maybe Old Me was better.

And then I caught myself.













I realized that Old Me hated everything about herself. I can see the beauty so clearly now, but she had no idea. She loathed every piece of her body and wished she could trade it in for anything else. Anything. Her self-esteem was nonexistent, though she pretended this wasn't the case. Old Me wanted to die instead of live in that body and I wish I could have hugged her and told her how exquisite she was.

And then I started to sob.

I sobbed for the girl that was so beautiful on the inside and the outside but couldn't see it. I sobbed for the girl who spent years missing out on magical parts of life because her perspective was poisoned. I sobbed for the girl that repeatedly punished herself for not being good enough. And I sobbed for every other person out there who believes the same lies that she did. I sobbed because these lies destroy lives.

And then my answer came. Retrieving the body of Old Me wouldn't change a thing. I'm fatter than I have ever been and somehow I happier than I have ever been. I have a career and mission in life. I have more fulfilling friendships. I am solid in my beliefs. I believe in myself and my purpose. I have learned how to heal. I have people who love me, a partner who adores me, a lover who worships me, and goals that I'm achieving.

I am the happiest I have ever been and this simply proves that happiness is not a size

Happiness is a state of being. Happiness is about finding what you love about yourself and sharing it. Happiness is about taking what you hate about yourself and learning to love it. Happiness is an internal sanctuary where you are enough just as you are, right now.







There is a comic by Toothpaste for Dinner that has a drawing of a fat man saying "I hate myself." The next frame is him as a skinny man saying "Nope, that wasn't it." Every time I read it I smile at the profound truth. It's far more difficult to treat our mind and bodies well until we learn to accept them. Nothing good comes out of finding the flaws and harboring resentment towards ourselves. 

Years ago I was more "conventionally stunning" and hated everything about my body; hurting it repeatedly on purpose. I am unconventionally beautiful now and I find myself with more good days than bad. My life is no where near perfect, but I'm learning to love myself. Just the way I am. Right now. And I am happy.

And isn't that what it's all about?


(Note: This is an updated post from 7/13 before the diluted Body Positive movement became mainstream in 2015. I left the term "body love" in the title per the original post but it's important to know that I am speaking of the concept of body liberation. You can read more about this here!)
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