Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Behind the Scenes With BoPo Babes: Dudzilla

Welcome to my new blog series! I will be going behind the selfie sticks, tripods, and self timers with some of my favorite body positive babes. I suspect if they're not your favorites yet, they will be soon!

Joining us today we have Rachel aka @dudzilla. With 3,000 posts on Instagram and as many followers, she is a fierce force online. Personally, Rachel and I have been following each other for about four years and I consider her a friend. She is an X-file loving tattooed goddess with two adorable cats, but who is she behind the Starbucks straw?

Rachel does not advertise herself as a body positive account, but sometimes those are the people that I find most inspiring. Her’s is a personal account found popularity, in my opinion because of her wonderful transparency. She shares poetry, fashion, and stories from her everyday life. By day she works in management for a luxury furniture company. She's lovingly described herself as the "resident weird girl" at her work which seems to just mean that she's wearing purple lipstick and tulle sometimes.

As a child and into her teenage years, Rachel was bullied. "My step mom has a lot of body image issues and took those out on me since I was about five. I was also bullied a lot as a kid/teenager, in school. I was lucky enough to meet friends, around 8th grade, who were built similarly to me. That helped me to not feel so isolated and to shake off/invalidate any of the mean comments." She said now, hateful comments online don't really affect her. "I don’t get a lot of it (hate), but when I do, I either just delete the comments or laugh at them. After being bullied as a kid, I kind of lost the ability to let people I don’t know/care about hurt my feelings." I asked her if she ever received any negativity offline. "I carry myself pretty confidently, so most people aren’t comfortable coming up to me, much less insulting me."
She told me that back in the big days of tumblr, there were a few fat positive pages that she followed and eventually submitted to. “My self love journey started by exposing myself to people who looked like me and were happy and thriving. I later found out that a big piece of that was called body positivity.” Now, that she's involved in the Instagram community a few of her bopo inspirations in no particular order (just going through her following list…) include @rahaharawr, @jedetestetori, @thechristinecho, @girthakitt, @tonsablush, @fatshionqueen, @thunderthighssavelives, and @plussize_me. The relationships she's built, especially with fellow women (of all sizes), is what keeps her coming back to IG day after day.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Dear Oklahoma,

An open letter to the state I left behind and an ode to my new one.

Hey y'all,

It's been six months in Minnesota now. I've cried in my car when I slid on the ice too many times to count. I heard people say it was "not a bad" winter while my toes were numb. I clung to my fleece lined leggings like they were a holy artifact. I learned that there's no such things as too many layers. I began to see the beauty in the whiteness, the calm. I found comfort and warmth in my man's arms. I cried a lot. I slept and I lied about how I was doing constantly. I sat at home by myself every day pretending to be super busy when Myke came home. I missed you more than I could put into words.

I miss you, Oklahoma. I miss the comfortable feeling of knowing where everything is. I miss knowing pretty much how every day is going to go. I miss being near to people I love. I miss long dinners full of deep talks. I miss being able to plan months in advance and still finding new places to explore in this state I think I know everything about. I miss Ross Dress for Less and all the local pizza places. I miss drinks after work with friends, real true friends that my work brought me. I miss shopping with my mom. I miss pancake and movie night with my wifey. I miss dinners with my best little man and his incredible mom. I miss the sunsets. I miss looking at the stars on our 20 acres with my dad. I miss Norman and the dinosaurs and my favorite librarian. I miss appetizers and dessert followed by a photo shoot with the smartest prettiest twins I know. I miss our sushi place, our Chinese place, our Indian place, our gas station with the Icees.

A day came and I couldn't wallow any more. I felt guilty for putting the entire financial burden on Myke for five months. He never complained, he never pressured me, he just loved me. He introduced me to so many magical places and people. He said "You can show your friends when they come." He was (is) patient and kind.

I was mad at myself for not handling the move better. But that's not how all this works. Your heart can know 100% that you did the right thing and you still  have to mourn that loss. The loss of home, of familiarity. I knew and I still know that coming to Minnesota was the best thing for me, for Myke, and for us.

"You’ll feel so homesick that you’ll want to die, and there’s nothing you can do about it apart from endure it. But you will, and it won’t kill you. And one day, the sun will come out you might not even notice straight away—it’ll be that faint. And then you’ll catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past. Someone who’s only yours. And you’ll realize that this is where your life is.” - Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

There's this spot on the highway when I'm driving into town where there's nothing but sky and road then all of a sudden you can see the St Louis river and Lake Superior and all three bridges. In the morning there's fog over the water and in the evening, there's lights all the way down the hill. Every time I hit that break in the drive, it takes me breath away. There's no picture I've been able to capture that matches this moment. There's no way to describe it right. The first time I saw it, when we were returning the moving truck, I cried. This place, my new home is so beautiful.

Outside of my front door, across the street there's steps leading up the hill to a church. One day I heard laughter and loud scraping noises. When I looked out the window there was a group of young boys shoveling and salting the steps. Their cheeks were flushed and their eyes bright. One threw a snowball at a tree and we both watched as it broke into a million fluffy pieces. There was a snowman they had built next to the sidewalk.

After work the other day I went down to the beach by myself. I sat at the edge of the shore and began sifting through the rocks to find beach glass. I listened to the seagulls cawing, the waves crashing onto the shore. I felt the sun on my face. The sun is different here. It's gentler. I've been outside more than ever, but no sunburns. I found some good chunks of white and green glass. I watched tiny spiders and lady bugs scurry from underneath the rocks. I saw families hunting for agates and glass like me.

I've hiked Gooseberry Falls. I've peddle boated across a lake (not the lake). I've climbed to the top of a lighthouse, despite my anxiety about heights and shoddy staircases. I've exhausted my body to see beautiful sites. I have spent more time around Lake Superior than any other body of water in my memory. I have seen three types of weather in one day. I watched a porcupine dance and met more animals than my heart can bear. I rode a train with live music and got my palm read. I made friends that I will never see again, but I know them.

Three of our friends came to visit after I had secured two part time jobs and worked my way out of my depression. They didn't plan it as such, but the world has a way of working out like that. With texting, Voxer, Skype, and the internet in general I still feel like my tribe is right here with me. I just don't know how to describe that place on the highway when the sky breaks and there's water and people and life. I can't seem to get the words right. I just want them to be here, to experience this with me. I want to laugh as we grow to understand this place together. It's so different from anything I've ever known.

"Homesickness is like most sicknesses. It will pass." - Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

I don't think I'll ever truly stop missing you, Oklahoma, but I am starting to feel at home here. My heart is overflowing with the unsalted water of gitchigumi. My soul was taken over by the sound of Superior Siren mixing with the wind from the open train car while the city was encased in a foggy night. My mind was blown by the freak Aurora Borealis sighting on the sandy beach of Park Point. My stomach is totally fiending for the olive cream cheese burgers at all the local bars. My ears are accustomed to the conversations between the ships and the lift bridge. I am becoming a part of Duluth with my Oklahoma roots.

Until Next Time,
post signature