Warning this has nothing to do with writing.
This is an old pet peeve of mine and probably not the last time you will hear about it. Every so often I kind of have enough of the media and the skewed images it forces on us. I get easily up in arms and pull out the soap box.
So here it is. News flash!
I'm a big woman. That's right I'm fat. By today's standards I'm probably downright obese. How many of you right now are thinking, "Whoopie freaking doo! A fat chic on the rampage. What else is new?" Maybe this isn't some major revelation but it still needs being said. Here's another news flash:
Big women are just as beautiful and desirable as skinny women.
Let me repeat that. Big women are just as beautiful and desirable as skinny women. That's right, I said it,and I stand by it. Here's another shocker:
I'm a big woman in the United States and I DON'T have body image issues. While I could stand to lose a few pounds for health, I still feel beautiful, feminine, confident, and desirable. I may not be every man or woman's cup of tea, but you'd be surprised at the offers I get, even being married, and not just from the freaks. Some of these men and women are GORGEOUS! And just to put this in perspective when I say confident, I don't mean in a put on a girdle and fake it till you make it kind of way. I'm talking, I once had to take a life drawing class online. This is the nude model class. Guess what happens when you have to do that online? You draw yourself. I had the guts to take a mirror and draw myself nude, in all my round glory, and I wasn't afraid of the reaction. In fact I got nothing but good comments.
It shocks me a little sometimes when people expect me to be depressed or want to hide myself because I'm big. I look at them and wonder what planet they live on. The average size woman in the USA is about an 18. The average size woman in the world is a 14. While there may be some countries that worry more about obesity in general, the fact remains, fat people live there too. Big and small people live everywhere.
I wasn't always confident. In my youth I struggled a lot with body image. The messages all around me were telling me I was ugly because I was fat. My mother mad major issues with obesity so the messages I got from my family were the same. "Don't be like your mother." They said this out of love and as an adult I can respect that, but as a kid...yeah it messed me up a little. Messed my mom up too. I was the freak. The outcast. I really was depressed because I was starved for peer attention but didn't understand what I had done to send them all away. And through this my heart kept telling me there was nothing wrong with me. But the evidence was to the contrary right?
Here is a truth I learned in adulthood, after having children, bad relationships, and a lot of time down and out.
1. It takes all kinds. There is every size shape and color imaginable on this planet and all of them are beautiful. If you take the time to see it and not be afraid of going against what the media says you're supposed to like, you'll see it for yourself. Get rid of the size 0 model image in your head. Drop the idea that women need to have DD breasts or men need to have washboard stomachs and really *look* at the person next to you. There's beauty there.
2. Your body has a natural place it likes to be. If we stop dieting and take the time to eat right--I'm not saying go ultra mega vegan, but maybe cut out fast food when you can and make better choices when you cant, and eat fruit and vegetables--and stay active--again you don't need to run a triathlon, but go play with your kids, do things you love, take a walk--your body will naturally find where it likes to be and go there. For some of us it really will be a size 8, for others it might be a 28. I know people in my life who are legitimately 300lbs and perfectly healthy. No heart trouble, no diabetes, no joint complaints. And I know 100lbs people are very sickly.
3. The media will only show the minority, not the ideal. There are very few people who can fit Abercrombie clothes. They show us that because it's exotic. Those models aren't always healthy, or happy. They do not love their bodies unconditionally or even their souls and minds.
4. There is more to life than beauty. Yes I am beautiful in my way, but I'm also smart, kind, creative, and funny. I love these things about me. I'm not perfect. I have flaws like everyone else, but when I started to love myself for these other qualities instead of judging myself by someone else's standard of beauty I began to love the whole package and that's when others started to notice me. It wasn't my size or shape that attracted other people it was the confidence shining out from underneath that attracted them. If you hide yourself and sulk you can look like a million bucks and no one will pay you any mind. If you walk tall and smile and let your soul shine, then you can be fugly and you'll attract everyone around you.
Here's a good example of all my points. I am a huge fan of Les Toil. He does BBW pin up girls. Look at this woman. She has to be over 300 lbs easily. Look at how lovely she is? How alluring? How sensual? How confident? How many women of all shapes want to be her right now?
Size means diddly. Living your life and loving yourself unconditionally is much more important and will do wonders for every part of your life.
Just to be very clear. Unconditionally means you love yourself regardless of what others think of you. Not judging yourself by other people's standards. Forgiving yourself for your mistakes. Wanting good things for yourself. Taking chances to make those things happen. Standing up for what you believe in. Loving ALL your good qualities. Knowing that even when life throws you for a loop you are worth the work it takes to see the other side.
That is my wish, ladies and gentlemen. That each of you can learn to love yourself unconditionally and stop the media blind side telling who and what we should be. They're not in your mind, your heart, or your soul. Who the hell are they to judge you anyway?
Okay so are you all sick of hearing about it yet? Too bad! I'm just so excited, you're going to hear about it again. What the facebook group knows and the few who occasionally stop by the website know, but the GoodReads folks don't know yet, is that I am officially moving out of the indie market and into the mainstream. Frankly I'm still a little shocked, but a publisher actually wants my work...current and future work too if you can believe that. I've signed with J. Ellington Ashton Press. It's a little operation that's just beginning but these folks know good work. I feel like they want to take a chance on me, so I'm going to take a chance on them. I think this is going to be great. Sometimes you just know in your gut it's gonna be good.
I'll be honest. I went straight to self publish and skipped all the usual agonizing steps trying to land a contract. Fear effects us all. Kind of funny that most of my heroines teach themselves to rise above their own fear in impossible situations. I never thought I was that good. I knew I was better than some that get published but more like high school essay good, nothing that would hold up to critical analysis in the mainstream. I put my books out on the self pub market more as an experiment than anything else. Then the weirdest thing happened. People liked it. Strangers. People I have no connection to what so ever were reading my words and liking it. Amazing.
I'm a bit of a chicken really. I don't think I would have submitted my work to JEA at all if it weren't for a friend insisting I talk to one of his friends. He wouldn't even tell me why I should talk to her or how he knew her, just that I needed to talk to this woman. One day he asked me if he should go get 'Catt'. I said I had no idea and laughed it off. Next thing I know I'm having a conversation with the CEO of this little publishing company. I never felt more like a writer in my life than at that moment. I'm asking intelligent questions and words like 'distribution' and 'royalties' are rolling off my tongue. Two months prior I'm not even sure I could have told you what a good or bad distribution was. That convo made me say, 'Why not?'.
Just to be clear I didn't get any special treatment. These people don't publish crap no matter how much they may like you personally. I had to go through the same submission process as everyone else. I had to sit for a few weeks wondering if I was good enough.
This was rougher on me than it normally would have been. Towards the end of my wait my husband ended up in the hospital. He does have heart problems to begin with but this visit was hard. They shipped him 2hrs away from me. I *shame faced* do not have a licence so I couldn't get to him. There were complications. The kids were acting out from the stress... Life was kicking my ass all over the place. There are no words for how stressed I was. I'm still feeling the after effects. I almost *almost!* went to my friend and said, 'Look if it's good news I really need some now, if it's not please wait until this is over.' I stopped myself but only barely. Then the night my husband finally came home, very late in the evening, the contract was waiting in my e-mail. I'm of the opinion they were watching my facebook and waiting to see what happened before sending it, which I greatly appreciate. Made for a very good ending to a long day.
Now I'm just so excited. My dreams are coming true. All the things I've worked so hard for are paying off. Life while you're writing your first manuscript is lonely. Everyone sort of brushes it off as a pipe dream until someone in the industry recognizes it. They might accept that you love to write, but you have no credibility. Being signed is huge! There are 100's of amazing writers in the self pub market that never get noticed, never make a dime. I suppose a lot them are like me and afraid to submit anything and others are getting lost in the hustle and bustle of the larger companies. Give an indie writer a chance. You might find a jewel in the rough.
You may have noticed, even when I don't, but there are pieces of me everywhere. I suppose that's the nature of life and the exchange of ideas that leads to language and communication. The very act of conveying a thought and seeing that thought filter through another soul leaves a piece of your energy on that person. Every thought and idea leaves its imprint not only on you but on everything around you. We leave pieces of ourselves with every step.
Where was I going with this? I did have a more mundane point. It's Beltane so my mind is on the ethereal. I've noticed that pieces of me end up all over my writing. One heroine is a singer. I've sung all my life, with bands, with choirs, with symphonies.... One is an artist. Another plays cello. I played cello as a kid, but broke my bowing arm and lost interest when I fell behind. One heroine is a pagan through and through, but another is a teacher raised in a bible thumping church. One of my favorites is demon possessed and diagnosed schizophrenic. A little known fact is my mother is schizophrenic. All them are real in that they are scared and often clueless of how to handle the huge revelations that come upon them. And all of them have attributes about them I wish I had.
Each of these characters is a piece of me. I didn't do that on purpose. I do spend a lot of time thinking about what would I do if these things happened to me. What kind of raw emotions translate through different personalities. While I have always loved fantasy and sci-fi, I've never been impressed with the fantastic.
If a bomb goes off, you're going to feel it. Even the most battle hardened hero or heroine in the world is going to feel that. The noise that leaves your skin tingling like miniature shock-waves the vibration of the earth, the bright lights even in day...the utter sense of wrongness a bomb creates. Ask any veteran. The fear never goes away, you just learn to ignore it. Most of our military heroes will tell you they were scared shitless and aren't sure how they did it. If a bomb goes off the hero/heroine is not going to just watch calmly and walk easily though the heat and flames into the sunset. They're going to have a ton of emotions and fears and random thoughts, and mostly "Oh shit!". Bill Cosby once said, "First you say it, then you do it." Very true I've found. I try very hard to make sure those bits are included. The scene is only half of it. I guess it's no wonder that my characters are all parts of me. They would have to be for me to understand them.
What does this mean of me? I'm not sure I could tell you. If you combined all my heroines you *might* have a small idea of who I am, but that picture will be skewed with who I want to be and who I don't want to be all mixed up. It wouldn't be a clear picture, but I'm not sure I could separate these characters from the true picture of me either. It's all a piece of modern art, evoking emotion without a clear reason why.
Susan is a plural writer and artist by day, a child and pet wrangler by night, and occasional crazy person on the weekends.