Body Mod Revolution 

My lovely friend Alyssa recently wrote a post about body mods and how they’re helping her take control over her body. Her post inspired this one.

I grew up thinking tattoos were worn by “bad” people. These people didn’t obey the law, they cursed, they were probably atheist. Good ladies also didn’t have tattoos. Outwardly I thought those people were outrageous. Inwardly, I envied them.

I wasn’t allowed any creativity with my body or features. I had lots of curls but my mother constantly shaved my head because my “hair was too much deal with”. Once I became old enough to say I didn’t want the haircuts, she’d take me to beauty salons to have my hair relaxed. I remember crying because those creams burned my scalp. I was told to suck it up because ‘beauty is pain’.
In the past year and a half I’ve stopped straightening my hair. I realized why I hated my curls and have learned to love them. I cut my hair on my own terms and dyed it purple.

I was always fat and told I should be skinny. I wasn’t allowed, and I’m still not, to feel comfortable in my skin. I am fat but don’t I know I’m beautiful? I’m not fat, just chubby, thick, curvy, voluptuous, full-figured. Anything but fat. But, I am fat and I own that.

I didn’t bother doing my hair or my make up when I was younger because I didn’t believe those thing were for me. Those things were for pretty girls. “Don’t you want to have a boyfriend?”. “No”, I said lying. “Any dude who wants to be with me will have to deal with me without all the prep”. I didn’t think I’d ever have a boyfriend since I was convinced I was uglier than sin.

At 17 I got my tongue pierced. Kids in school said I didn’t look like the type to have piercings other than my ears. I got made fun of and accused of being a “poser”. I was much too meek to have a tongue ring. What they didn’t know is that under the insecure little girl who thought she was ugly was a BAMF who didn’t give a fuck what they said. I’m currently stretching my earlobes.The next piercings I’d like are a vertical labret, tragus and daith.

At 19 I got my first tattoos. They’re tiny wrist tattoos and they’re pretty cliche; one’s the peace symbol and the other the equality symbol. I do plan on covering the equality symbol. I’ve grown past wanting equality. I demand justice.

I’m currently not able to afford tattoos so in the meantime I’ve come up with ideas and designs for them. I want the ink I get to have meaning to me.

Thanks to Alyssa and another friend, I’ve started embracing my Taíno heritage. I want to get the sun petroglyph because that’s one of the things I miss most about Puerto Rico. The sun just doesn’t feel the same in the States.

1de097b4e1351e5d191f0e3bee84c411

I want the Flor de Maga (Thespesia grandiflora) because it’s Puerto Rico’s official flower. I want them on the right side of my torso.
PR 2011 (262)
At right, the flor de maga in the garden of my grandma’s house.
I want sunflowers because they’re my favorite (obviously). They’re big and bright and provide edible seeds. I’m big and bright and hope my writing helps “plant” a more just world. Sappy? I’m aware. Meaningful to me? Yup. Those are going on the left side of my torso.

I want the words Paz and Justicia on each arm. I want them in Spanish. While Spanish is the conquistadors language, it is also the language I grew up speaking. It’s the one I’m handing down to my daughter. The Spanish I speak is peppered with indigenous and African influences. It’s the language el Yankí has had to learn how to speak. It’s the language that makes people upset they have to press 1 for English. Es complicado y es mio.

I want the feminist symbol either on my back or on my legs. Feminism has saved me time and again. I would not be who I am without it.

12540964_1002281993165079_1398024863526627514_n

I want my and my daughter’s birth flowers to form a heart-shaped wreath.

943912_1010141789045766_3683477824463255868_n

Lastly, I want the lyrics “my heart is broke but I have some glue“. Nirvana is one of my favorite bands and that particular line has always spoken to me. I have different problems but I have a way to solve them or cope.

It’s taken me a while to like the body and features I was born with. My hairy body defies gender norms and conventional beauty standards.
My current and future body mods defy abusive exes, close minded family, and transmisogynistic beauty ideals.
The tattoos honoring Puerto Rico and my embracing my natural hair defy racist and Eurocentric beauty standards. My fat body is taking up space and I unashamedly call attention to it with body mods. I’m taking femininity and making it my own.
I’m slowly looking how I want to look, and that is a revelation and a revolution.

Body Mod Revolution 
{advertisement}

7 Better Ways to Prevent Eugenics than Banning Abortion

In response to the horrible bill banning abortion in the case of disability, I would like to propose 10 much more effective ways to combat eugenics. Ones which will actually help.

  1. Fight for Better Accessibility

One of the biggest barriers towards integration into society and thus the biggest source of “misery” is the lack of accessibility in our world. What is infuriating is that it doesn’t have to be that way. In a world where almost every person carries around a tiny computer more powerful than what was used to send man into space, the idea that we don’t have the ability to make this world easier to navigate for people who can’t see, or hear, or have mobility issues, is a little ridiculous.

Continue reading “7 Better Ways to Prevent Eugenics than Banning Abortion”

7 Better Ways to Prevent Eugenics than Banning Abortion

This is Not How to Do it

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a controversial abortion bill Thursday that, among other things, would ban the procedure if it is sought because the fetus was diagnosed with a disability or defect such as Down syndrome. – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/03/24/indiana-just-banned-abortion-if-the-fetus-has-down-syndrome/

Ok let’s get one thing straight. The solution to one group being oppressed is not to take away the rights of another group. You are not helping disabled people by taking away the rights of people with uteri. This is not a solution. 

All this bill will do is increase the number of people having unsafe medical procedures, and increase the amount of disabled children who end up in abusive homes. Forcing someone to have a child they don’t want doesn’t end ableism. The parents forced to care for a child they would have rather terminated are more likely to resent the child. Forcing people who are bigoted against a group to raise a member of that group may eventually lead that person to reevaluate their bigotry but at what cost? Children shouldn’t be forced to live with abuse just so someone can learn a lesson eventually.

With the high rates of murder of disabled children, a bill such as this is basically creating a situation where these events are even more likely.

Taking away a person’s bodily autonomy reinforces that that is an ok thing to do, and that idea is exceptionally dangerous to disabled people. We are already dealing with too many people who think we don’t have a right to control our own bodies. Parents who think it is ok to drastically alter their children’s bodies without consent, people who think it is ok to forced disabled people to have abortions against their consent, and the fact that disabled people have an 80% chance of being sexually assaulted (higher for female presenting disabled people). Even in less extreme circumstances, people who think it is OK to touch or force their help on people using assistive devices like wheelchairs or canes.

What’s more, there will be living breathing disabled people harmed by this bill. People with disabilities are more likely to be poor. They are more likely to be struggling. Bills that limit access to abortion have a disproportionately higher impact on people living in poverty. They can’t afford to fight legally for special exemptions. They can’t afford to go to another state to get access to the health services they mean. Moreover, the decision to terminate a disabled child, may be directly influenced by their own knowledge of their ability to care for one, whether it be because they lack the physical energy necessary in some cases, or because they lack the financial resources to be able to properly provide for them.

All this bill does is further restrict and take away the rights of women and people with uteri, and put more disabled people in harms way. Remember, a disabled woman is still a woman. If you take away her rights as a woman to defend her rights as a disabled person, she still ends up with a loss of rights.

This is Not How to Do it

Wandering Through the Desert

On my drive back home, I caught a CBC program with an author discussing her new collection of short stories, which included the church as a unifying theme. The conversation surrounded how when the author started going to church, there was a great deal of embarrassment. How she used to almost hide behind trees to make sure no one would see her. That brought the conversation to what she called “seekers”; the people who due to a loss of some kind, either a funeral, a job, a diagnosis, suddenly found themselves searching for comfort and meaning. She quoted another author who said: “I don’t believe in God but I miss him”.

While the radio conversation was infuriating in many ways, it made me think back to another conversation, one I had had with my father.

When I started university, it was with the certainty of one whose faith had never been seriously challenged. I had questioned a lot in high school and as a child, but always relating to specifics and details. Even when the specifics of my faith modified and changed, they always existed within the Catholic framework. I was Polish Catholic. That was who I was.

At first, the biggest barrier to church was the fact that most of them in Ottawa seemed to have their masses early in the morning, or required bussing some distance. I finally settled for a church that was on campus and across the street from my residence. I went with my roommate who was also Catholic.

Continue reading “Wandering Through the Desert”

Wandering Through the Desert

What is Anti-Eugenics in Practice?

I’ve previously written about the difference between eugenics and pro-choice, and how the thought process that goes into the decision to abort a disabled fetus is both a symptom and a perpetuation of systemic ableism.

What does it mean in practice to oppose eugenics, however? If aborting a fetus on the basis of disability is harmful, how do we address that? Do we make it illegal? Do we restrict a person’s ability to make that decision by eliminating the ability to know in advance whether a child has a disability or not?

How can you oppose eugenics and still remain pro-choice. Isn’t it wrong to shame people who get abortions for the reasons they get abortions?

Let me make it clear. The right to bodily autonomy is such that any restriction, even for the best of intentions, is a violation of bodily autonomy. Regardless why someone is getting an abortion, the ability to do so safely and without barrier is essential. All people should have the right to access an abortion without shaming. Continue reading “What is Anti-Eugenics in Practice?”

What is Anti-Eugenics in Practice?

Fashion is Not For Me

My mom used to take me shopping for clothes. It was always a weird experience for me because on the one hand, it was time I got to spend with my mother, but I always knew that I would hate myself and my body by the end of it.

Although now I know that my perception of my body was flawed and that I wasn’t as overweight or fat as I thought I was, at the time I was convinced that I was, and it didn’t help that I was hearing the same message around me.

My mom’s favourite place to shop for clothes was Winners, so that is where we would go. They had a lot of nice things, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that the clothing I thought was cool, or interesting, or what I wanted to wear, were the ones that either didn’t come in my size, or I was told looked bad on me.

I kept being steered towards baggier and looser fitting shirts and clothing. It got to the point where I believed that if a shirt at any point dared show that I had a roll on my body, or showed that my belly was rounded, that that meant it didn’t fit.

As a result much of my clothing tended towards greys, blacks, and neutrals. My mother in particular favored me in creams, beiges, and white, whereas I always felt washed out in those colours. Because I was convinced that I was fat, I avoided pink out of fear of hearing comparisons to pigs. I avoided skirts and dresses, convinced that I could not look good in them. In the summer I wore jeans, terrified that in shorts people could see that my long legs were actually lumpy. I pulled at my sweaters and shirts constantly, hoping that if I stretched just enough, I could hide any pudge from showing.

Continue reading “Fashion is Not For Me”

Fashion is Not For Me

Sharing Some Art

Evenings are often when I do my painting. Alyssa goes to bed, and I’m usually in my office, my two dogs either at my feet or curled up with my wife. At some point I will get the urge to art and out come my brushes and acrylics.

I go through these waves of inspiration and nothing. When the inspiration is going it’s like I cannot keep up with the ideas flooding my way. But sometimes, those ideas stop. Or they don’t but my ability to execute them does.

Since I’ve been riding the wave of inspiration lately I thought I would share a few of my recent, (and since this is a new site a few of my past) works as well.

Black women with spectacular ocean coloured afro and a jellyfish tattoo
 
Red silhouette of aeriyal dances twirling fire coloured silk.
Medusa with a butterfly tattoo
 
Panting of white yellow eyes woman with red hair and horns
Painting of Fergusson protest with banner Stolen Lives
Purple silhouette over fiery background
Owl that looks like it is made of mountains

Sharing Some Art

Hi! We’re Out of This World!

Alyssa and Ania Splain You A Thing is our blog where we discuss social justice, disability, poverty, feminism, gender identity, history, medical marijuana, and geography and how they relate to politics, talk about fish (yes really), and a whole host of other fun and interesting things.

Not just that but Ania and Alyssa are good people in their own rights. If you want to learn more about us specifically, feel free to check out our “Who Are We” page.

Alternately, here are a few highlights that should give you some idea of who we are as writers:

Ania Bula: 

Book: Young, Sick, and Invisible: A Skeptic’s Journey with Chronic illness (May, 2016 Release Date)

Top Blog Posts:

Alyssa Gonzalez: 

Top Blog Posts:

You should also check out her pages, where Alyssa collects similarly-themed posts:

  • Animal Form and Function: Eight sets of images, videos, and anecdotes Alyssa uses as instructional aids during a lab course she teaches every winter.  She takes this time to introduce her students to the weird and wonderful animals that populate each group they encounter during the course.
  • Apocalypse of the Week: Various groups, religious and otherwise, around the world have quarter-baked ideas about how the world will end, and they are usually pricelessly funny.  Alyssa lampoons twelve of them in this series.
  • Shifty Lines: Many world conflicts are at least partially caused by post-colonial borders failing to reflect the on-the-ground reality of which people see themselves as a distinct group from which other people, with their own national identity.  This series explores various world conflicts through this lens, and imagines what the world might look like if a serious effort were made to solve them with this in mind.
  • Quotidian Science: Alyssa occasionally writes about science in a way that tries to bring the specialist’s thinking to people outside of specialized fields.  Whether it’s evolutionary biology, aquarium keeping, pest control, or non-Euclidian geometry, those posts are here.

The Fur Babies Say Hello!

Grey schnoodle holding pink octapus
This is Tsuki. She is our older schnoodle at 11 years old. She has some anxiety issues, but she is a cuddle bug and sweetie.
Little Chihuahua puppy
This is little CJ. She has a big job ahead of her. One day she is going to be Ania’s service dog and help her know when she needs to take her meds, or take a nap, and sometimes it’s her job to help her mommy feel better. She’s still a baby right now, so for now, we’ll just focus on the naps.
Black and White Kitty
This is Agora. She knows she is fabulous. She keeps the dogs in line, but is always down for a snuggle and some nice head scratches.

Watson, our little black kitty has declined having her picture taken at this time. She wants to be purrfect.

The fish and turtles promised to appear later.

Hi! We’re Out of This World!

An open letter to a doctor.

TW: fatshaming, eating disorders, talk of suicidal ideation, self harm,

This is really a specific letter to a specific doctor but can apply to any doctor out there.

Hello “Dr.”
(I put that in quotes because the validity of you being able to practice medicine is under question.)

You probably don’t remember me, but I remember you. I remember every single word of that visit. Every unwanted touch as well. I was just another fat person coming in with stomach issues. My painfully filled out history forms meant nothing to you. Even though every single check box and line of writing physically hurt me to do. I did it anyway. I like to be thorough. I have a complicated medical history and a lot of issues. I was doing my job.

You however didn’t do yours. Your nurse just looked at me a fat person with a cane, hobbling slowly back to the room. Such a pity being so fat. Oh your blood pressure is high the nurse said. Yes I have anxiety and I am here alone, of course it’s going to be high. They just look at me and know already my blood pressure is high because I am fat and eat badly. Obviously.

Then you walked in after sitting for another 10-15 minutes. After all the previous waiting for my 3:00 appointment and it’s now 3:30 and you waltz in. You the doctor tell me that the test I just had done, an esophagram showed nothing and I certainly don’t have a hiatial hernia. You asked about my cane and I saw you flip through my history sheets, you asked about my knee surgery of which I had to repeat I have had two already.

You then had the gall to ask me “Have you thought about diet and exercise?”. Excuse-what-me? “Are you fucking kidding me?” is what I am screaming in my head. I also mention my medications (weight gain side effects), How I hadn’t been cleared for anything but my at home PT isometrics and stuff. I told you about having PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). None of this matters. You give me a pamphlet about healthy eating and exercise.

You tell me you couldn’t even do a surgery on me cause it’s very invasive and “people with your such high BMI have high morbidity rates.” You literally told me a surgery would probably kill me cause I am fat. Oh BTW, I now know that most of those surgeries are done laparoscopically.

Then you ask me to lie down so you can look at my stomach. Why? I am not sure why. Actually but I am already on the verge of crying, (I have PTSD as well) so someone just said do something you do it or bad things happen. That is the mode I was in. I learned to never go to an appointment alone again that day. I can NEVER GO ALONE. I lied down on the fucking table thing.You don’t tell me anything about what you are going to do you just do it. You have fucking terrible bedside manner I note later after I am done screaming inside my head. My history says I have mental health issues, if you had cared to read it.

Lifting up my shirt, pulling down my skirt poking at me in places I didn’t even fucking agree to in the first place. I am frozen. That is what happens. Freeze mode with PTSD flashbacks. You comment more about my weight, pull my skirt back up and my shirt down. Which I could have fucking done myself thank you very much. You just send me on my way. I practically run out the door as fast as a person can with a cane and tears in their eyes. I slam all the doors on the way out both opening and closing them. I don’t check out with your receptionist.

I am done. I get to my car in the handicapped parking spot. I am bawling so hard I can’t even speak as I am trying to call my therapist. She talks to me for over half an hour while I am still in my car in the parking lot. Crying, hiccuping, gasping for air, wanting nothing more than to just be dead. But no she calms me down enough that I am able to drive. She gives me a mission to go to Barnes & Noble so I can “do something nice for myself”. Tells me it’s not my fault, that I am right to be angry and sad.

I go to B&N I assumedly buy a book because that always makes me feel better. I can’t even remember the drive home other than pulling over at least once to clean my glasses because crying that hard and much is a messy business.

I find out the next day getting a call from my GP’s (General Practitioner) office. They are letting me know the results for my esophagram have come in and it’s very important I see “Dr.” Fuckface who I was talking about above. I try to as calmly as possible tell him I am not mad at him but that I already saw that “Dr.” and then went on to explain the fat shaming and awful, horrendous time I just had with him yesterday. To the guys credit he was furiously typing the entire time I was speaking. He also said he was sorry and that it was uncalled for and he would get a note back to my GP asap.

I did get to talk to a triage nurse who works with my GP and she spent over 30 minutes on the phone with me outlining a bunch of stuff to do and try. It turns out I do have a fairly large sliding hiatial hernia, and I also have a large amount of esophageal damage. I am being treated well with my GP and tips from one of the best nurses ever. I haven’t been sick in almost two months. Which is actually a record for me going back years. That is how long I had been dealing with almost daily vomiting. I even went off all my psych meds for a year because I thought “too many meds” were making me get sick all the time.

I actually felt really great that year off those psych meds. My GP even noted how well I was doing that year, while we were trying to deal with all this other stuff. However I am back on an anti-depressant, something for anxiety and my Prazosin. Thank you “Dr.” FF. I am now so depressed because of your fat shaming bullshit, that I not only am struggling back with my ED being active (very active), but also dealing with suicidal ideation. My depression is one of the lowest it has been in years. I have been wanting to as well as actually self harming.

If you are a doctor know that the fat person you think is so lazy and awful also has feelings. We might have so much going on that every day is a struggle to survive. You do not get to kill me. As hard as it is I have to keep living and exist just to piss you fuckers off. You don’t know my story and maybe you should. Maybe you should have done your job “Dr.” maybe you could have actually read my history or even talked to my GP after the assessment. You flat out lied about my test results, you did things without my express permission, you shamed me into near oblivion.

This letter is me crawling out and trying to feel the sun once more. It’s so bright and painful but I am tired of darkness. For now I need to scream if be for someone to hear me. This is my screaming.

I have feelings and they do matter.
I matter.

An open letter to a doctor.