Change and a Haircut

Kiki's red hairNot to be too dramatic about it, but something significant happened after I got all of my hair cut off.

I changed the way I saw myself.

Okay, yeah, duh, of course I would. Having really short hair makes me look different than when I have semi-short hair that I can still pull back into a ponytail. It’s very different from the long hair I had years ago. But the difference I’m talking about goes deeper than just hair length.

The best way I can explain it is like this. I have two shelves that house some of my Cubs memorabilia. On one shelf is a picture of me taken with a friend and a player. Every time I look at that picture, I think to myself, “I’m not that person anymore.”

Of course not. That was two years ago. People change in two years. Hell, people can change in two days. But seeing myself in that picture with my old hairstyle, it’s a physical representation of how I have changed.

The person in that picture was kind of depressed, not very confident, constantly bombarded with negative thoughts. She was insecure, unsure, and feeling pretty weak.

I am not that person anymore.

Photo of a Bad Fan.

Okay, I can still be somewhat negative because I’m pessimistic by nature, but I’m not focusing that negativity on me. I’m using it more as a tool of realism instead. I’m more confident about who I am now, more willing not to feel bad about not living up to society’s ideals.

The girl in that picture gave a lot of lip service to an idea that she was a worthwhile human being just as she was and people needed to accept it because it was their hang-up, not hers, and she really wanted to believe that idea, but couldn’t quite make it.

I’m not that girl anymore. Now I believe what I say. I believe that idea.

Sometimes when I think of myself, see myself in my head, I picture myself with my old hairstyle and I have to correct myself. That girl I used to be didn’t disappear; she lingers. This me grew out of that me and I have no doubt that another version of me will grow out of the me I am now. I am an always evolving thing.

Obviously, the haircut didn’t start that.

It just reminds me of it.

Esteem Problems

esteem“I don’t have low self-esteem. I have low esteem for everyone else.”

If you are of the generation that was around for an MTV show called Daria and if you were one of those generation members that watched the cartoon, then that quote should sound familiar. It’s a quote that’s been stuck in my brain since I first heard it, so we’re talking a few years.

It stuck with me because it’s true. It is an accurate statement about myself.

Whenever I find myself feeling bad about myself, thinking I’m fat*/ugly/stupid/worthless/unsuccessful**, it’s not because I truly think I’m fat/ugly/stupid/worthless/unsuccessful. It’s because I’m thinking about other people thinking that I’m fat/ugly/stupid/worthless/unsuccessful.

Other people’s hang-ups bring me down. Thinking about what they’re thinking about me bruises my ego.

Of course, I don’t know for certain that everyone is thinking these bad things about me, but if I were to go by what I know about society, there’s a good chance I’m being dismissed as no good. It makes ME dismiss people as not worth my time pretty easily.

This sort of thing has plagued me for a pretty long while. Some days it weighs on my mind heavily, bottoming out my self-worth. Some days I can’t give a damn and don’t give anyone else’s firing synapses a second of my time. Either way, it’s impacted my behavior, my choices, and my own mind.

It’s a complicated sort of thing to deal with when you think you’re pretty great, at least there’s nothing seriously bad about yourself, and yet you know most people you encounter don’t agree. Like a black cloud on a sunny day, you keep your eye on it because you know that sucker is just gonna grow and downpour all over your laundry. It’s a confusing cognitive dissonance. How am I suppose to feel about myself when I have this consensus that’s so different from my own opinion?

Also how am I supposed to feel about other people? It’s really hard to like someone or even want to like someone or want to get to know someone that I’m sure has already judged me poorly because I don’t fit into society’s neat little box. I realize that it makes me the same kind of asshole that’s got me pissy in the first place. That little bit of reality isn’t lost on me.

I’ve lost out because of this way of thinking. I already know what the answer is so I don’t bother to ask the question.

However, I think there’s a change on the horizon.

Last month, during a week-long fit of esteem troubles, I was driving to one of my jobs when I had an epiphany, a thought so sudden I swear an actual beam of light came into my brain and chased all the dark thoughts right out.

It’s very easy for me to imagine folks judging me harshly. But it’s just as easy for them not to. It’s just as easy for them to take one look at me and think, “There is a cool cat and I’d like to know her.” And what kind of asshole am I not to even give them a chance? I should. Give them a chance, that is. Not be an asshole.

I like that way of thinking better. I’m kind of enjoying it.

I think I may have found a cure for my esteem problems.

*Fat meant as a bad thing. I am fat, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.

**Unsuccessful based on certain society standards such as being married, having kids, having a real job, having a college degree, that sort of thing. That normal road that we’re all expected to walk and considered losers if we don’t.

Fashion Advice From a Fat Girl

Kiki in red flannelYou may think that someone of my size couldn’t possibly know anything about fashion, let alone be in the position to give out advice, but let me assure you, I’m quite qualified.

Think about it.

I’m a person that society doesn’t want to even look at it. I’m not supposed to even leave the house and inflict my fat self upon them. But if I have to leave to do things, could I at least cover up in some sort of burka type ensemble so they can just see me as the shapeless blob we all know I am. (This is not a slight on those who wear burkas, by the way; just the only example of head-to-toe clothing I could think of at the moment.)

The fashion rules aren’t written for a person of my size.

But since the fashion “rules” are a made-up, bullshit concept to begin with, don’t you think you should be taking advice from someone who makes up her own? Damn skippy.

Lucky for you, I only have two rules to follow.

Rule #1-Dress for yourself

To head off any “buts” right at the beginning, I understand that sometimes you will want to dress for a partner or to attract the attention of a certain someone. Wearing your husband’s favorite outfit or wearing a shirt you look dynamite in to attract the attention of a cute girl is fine. So long as you are also dressing for yourself.

What I mean by that is wearing what you want to wear. That’s it. You feel more confident in clothes that you like, that you’re comfortable in, that you want to be sporting. And because you’re rocking out your way, you automatically look better than you would if you tried to wear stuff that society’s fashion rules tell you to wear.

Red BlackWhen I was in my early twenties, I wore purple lipstick, pro-wrestling t-shirts over prom dresses, combat boots, had my eyebrows pierced, and colored my hair all sorts of colors. People said I did it to get attention and didn’t believe me when I said that I didn’t. No doubt I attracted attention. When you look like that, people notice. But I looked that way because that’s the way I wanted to look. I thought I looked good like that. It was the look I wanted to rock.

The picture at the top of the post? That’s what I look like today, right now, as I’m typing (okay, not as I’m typing as it is obviously a bathroom selfie, but you get the point). I’m wearing a bright red and orange flannel over a black cami, dark wash bootcut jeans, and combat boots (I love combat boots; it is a pure love). Yesterday I wore a blue cableknit poncho over a white longsleeved t-shirt (both of which my youngest niece picked out for me for Christmas).

I will wear skinny jeans. I will wear boots with my denim pencil skirt and tights. I will wear a bright purple scarf with my olive shirt dress. I will wear red owl socks with my gray owl sweater over a blue buttoned down shirt.

I wear it because I like it and that’s what I want to wear that day. I dress for myself.

Rule #2- Wear clothes that fit

I cannot stress this rule enough because it’s very important.

I’m not just talking about clothes that are too tight either. Honestly, I don’t know how that’s comfortable for anyone when their t-shirts are constricting movement and their pants are cutting off their circulation. This isn’t just for the big folks either. Just because you’re skinny doesn’t mean you get a free pass to look like you’ve swaddled yourself in a boa constrictor going in for the kill.

Kiki DressOn the flip side, don’t wear clothes that are too big. I realize, particularly for big girls, people do this to hide their bodies because society has shamed them for their size. Well, let me put this in bold print and all caps: YOU ARE FOOLING NO ONE. You can throw a circus tent over an elephant, but baby, there’s still an elephant in that tent and everybody knows it.

Clothing should fit. Even if you’re just doing a t-shirt and jeans, they should FIT.

The ass of your jeans shouldn’t be sagging, they shouldn’t be dragging the ground, you shouldn’t be hiking them up all the time. They shouldn’t be so tight that you can’t sit down without unbuttoning them, that every ounce of fat from below the waist is spilling out over the top because it has no place else to go. You shouldn’t be in danger of your skirt falling down or hiking up.

Your shirt shouldn’t be so tight that it’s a twenty minute wrestling match to get it on and then you spend the rest of the day pulling it down. It shouldn’t be so big that a family of four could camp in it either.

Think skim. Your clothing should skim your body. Loose enough to be comfortable, but tight enough so you don’t look like a slob. Even if you’re slumming it in a ratty t-shirt and jeans that have more holes than a prairie dog village and stains from unidentified sources on them, you automatically look less like a lazy, dirty grub if they fit.

Denim Pencil SkirtSo if you weight 300 pounds and want to rock a belly shirt, by all means, do so, just make sure that shirt is the right size. Jeans, too. A good bra is also a must, but that’s another post (it’s a Holy Grail quest, fellas). All about the booty shorts? Terrific. Make sure that those booty shorts aren’t so tight that they’re squeezing the booty out of the top.

Remember the rules.

And don’t let anyone shame you for what you wear.

Those folks should be ashamed for being such assholes in the first place.

Rebuilding My Wardrobe

Wardrobe

Not having a steady income flow means that I’ve learned to be very cheap in order to get the bills paid. This means that the things I want are no longer options and many things I need are relegated to want status because I can find a way to live without them.

This is why I went for several years without buying new clothes. Oh, I’d buy a new shirt or a pair of jeans if I absolutely needed to, but clothes became a “want” item and I couldn’t afford to want anything. As such, my look and my style suffered. I’ve posted before about my fat girl style and let me tell you, I’m not much into fashion, but it’s a real drag when I can’t keep up with my own style the way I want to.

However, lately, the income has picked up and gotten steady and I’ve been able to capitalize on it. In other words, I’m buying new clothes.

And it’s a glorious feeling!

I’m finally able to do some of the trends that I’ve be admiring: skinny jeans tucked into boots, cute cardigans and scarves, bright colors, things that actually fit. I’ve felt so dumpy in my old stuff. I’ve got sweaters that are a decade old and are, unfortunately, showing it. I got tired of always wearing t-shirts and jeans that were patched within an inch of their lives. Like I’ve said, I’m no fashionista, but dammit, I like to look good. This is my fat body and my fat body deserves to look its best. I know other folks would rather I dress this bad bitch in a muumuu and never leave my house, but that’s not going to happen. (Unless I can find one of those fabulous 1970’s Hawaii Five-0 muumuus, but I’ll still be leaving my house to show that bad boy off.) I’m enjoying this whole experience of getting new clothes and rocking them hardcore.

But this little bit of extra money coming in doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned my cheap ways. I’m still only buying clearance or sale stuff, still waiting for days when I can take an extra 25 or 30 or 40% off. I’m still trying to stretch my dollar to the limit, getting the most I can for what I pay. And there are still things I’d love to buy, but that price has to come down more first.

I’ve waited for so long to be able to get to this point in which I could buy new clothes that I’m worried that I’m overdoing it, that all of this spending, even if I’m not spending that much at a stretch, will come back to bite me in the ass. That’s the trouble with being money-less for so long. Having money doesn’t eliminate the worry of going back to not having money.

But in the meantime, while I work to make sure I’m not money-less again, I’m bound and determined to look good doing it.

I Cut My Hair

Kiki Okay!I didn’t cut it myself, of course. I went to my stylist. I’m not completely crazy.

But I did feel a bit daring.

The last time I got my hair cut before this time, in the shab style I’d been rocking and loving for the most part, I didn’t have the top layers cut short enough. I spent most of the time with my hair pulled back into a pony tail.

A couple of weeks ago I realized that this was stupid. My hair was already somewhat short and yet I had it back in a pony tail all the time. If I was going to do that, I should  just cut it all off and call it good. It’d be the same thing.

Only it wasn’t exactly the same thing.

I’ve posted before about my hair and the hang-ups I have with. In short, I was afraid cutting my hair off in a pixie style would obliterate what little femininity that I think I project. A short cut on me would just add to my already somewhat intimidating demeanor.

Shorter short: I thought it’d make me less desirable, if that were even possible.

I thought, almost in jest, that I’d do the short cut when I was 40. Something to look forward to. Another way to shake-up a milestone birthday and make it fun. After all, by then who would care how short my hair was? When you’re 40 and a woman, you might as well be dead, at least that’s what I gather from society.

But a couple of weeks ago, I thought, why wait? Let’s just do it now and see what happens. Femininity be damned. I have boobs. That should be enough for people to know that I’m a girl, even though my youngest niece put my fears into words by saying that if I got my hair cut short, I’d look like a boy (she wasn’t convinced the boobs would be enough; honestly, neither was I).

You see, I’ve been in desperate need of a shake-up. I haven’t been feeling too peppy lately. In fact, I’ve been feeling downright blah, if you want to know the truth. Something had to give, something had to change. There’s very little in my life that I have the power to change right now. Too much of the changes I need require resources I just don’t have right now. But a revamp of my appearance. That I could afford.

I admit, I was more nervous the night before my hair appointment than I was the night before I had major surgery. I was more concerned with the negative outcomes of a haircut than I was the negative outcomes of a surgery, and considering those negative outcomes included death, I think that illustrates quite well just how vain I can be.

But it was more than just vanity. It was the excitement, the anticipation of doing something new, something different, of making a change. Things have been stuck in such a rut in my life that the idea of doing something as small as changing my hair style proved to be a huge mood booster.Kiki Okay Again!

It also ended up being quite the look booster, too. Turns out, the youngest niece doesn’t think I look like a boy (neither do I). She does, though, think I look like a completely different person.

I wouldn’t go that far, but I do think it turned out pretty well.

Don’t you?

 

Sew Dressy

kikitshirtdressMy apologies for the poor-quality selfie. I took this picture in my middle niece’s bedroom and I’m too lazy to try to stage a proper one.

Behold my latest creation! It’s my t-shirt dress.

My roommate buys enough clothes at Old Navy to keep that place in business. She ordered some t-shirts last year, but decided she didn’t like the way they fit or the fabric. So, she gave them to me. Since she’s a couple of sizes bigger than I am, she thought that maybe I might like them to sleep in or something. I do like sleeping in one of them, for sure, very comfy. Great on hot nights when I don’t want to wear pants. But when I tried them on for the first time, I thought, “As big as this is, if I added a little more fabric to the bottom, I could call it a dress.”

So, I did.

I cut off about seven inches of the bottom of the gray t-shirt and sewed it onto the bottom of the navy blue t-shirt. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do and I’m sure if I tried it again, I’d probably figure out a better way to make it come together. But for a first attempt, it wasn’t bad. I’m not thrilled with the stitching, though. I’ll probably redo it at some point just for my own satisfaction. It holds just fine and nobody else would notice it unless they were a seamstress inspector looking to make my life hard. But it would make me feel better if I did it up a little better.

Also, the dress ended up being a little bigger than I’d normally get and even with the belt, it’s not as structured as I’d like it to be, BUT! It’s actually quite comfy and makes for a nice, lightweight dress on a hot day that doesn’t look shabby or lazy. Also, beggars can’t be choosers. It’s a two-sizes too big t-shirt, for crying out loud. I can only do so much with my limited skills.

In the end, I’m pretty pleased with the effort.

The Benefits and Disadvantages of Cottage Cheese

Kiki's butt“I’d never date a girl with cottage cheese thighs.”

Back in my early twenties, a friend of mine said this during a conversation. I can’t remember the exact conversation, only that this sentence was said in the presence of me, a girl with cottage cheese thighs.

My first thought was, “This guy has no idea the prevalence of cottage cheese thighs.” Because seriously, if this is your criteria for dating a woman then let me inform you that something like 80% of women have cellulite and even skinny women can get it. So, just try to hang in there as bet you can, fellas.

My second thought was, “Did I inadvertently send him a signal that I was interested in him and he had to be sure to shut me down before I became overt with my attraction and embarrassed him because nothing is worse than attracting the amorous attentions of a fat girl?” Because, though I didn’t have any interest in him, I’ve been known to unintentionally “flirt” with people.

My final thought was, “Well, if he thinks that, then that must be what they all think.”

That’s the thing. It’s very easy to take the opinion of one person that you know and consider it a validation of the consensus, particularly when that consensus only acknowledges something when it’s the butt of a joke, object of ridicule, or target of shaming. And since I’ve had this dairy condition on my lower appendages since the latter years of puberty, well, I’m just unloveable, now aren’t I? Thanks for the confirmation, friend!

I still think about that cottage cheese comment all these years later. It’s both a burden and a blessing. On the one hand, it’s a quick answer about any sort of appearance questions I might have about myself.

Should I wear this shirt? Is it flattering? Should I get my hair cut like this? Will I be attractive if I do? Should I wear the red lipstick or the nude?

Then a voice reminds me that I have cottage cheese thighs and I’m like, “Hot damn! It doesn’t matter because I’m hideous by default. No pressure! What do I WANT to do? Red lipstick it is!”

Other times, I wonder if I should wear something like shorts or a shorter skirt or dress and that voice reminds me about my cottage cheese thighs and then I have to debate on if I want to deal with the venom that may be slung my way because I’ve got dimples on the wrong body parts. Do I have the fortitude to deal with the looks, snickering, and/or nasty comments if I go out in public?

And then I put on Capri pants because I just don’t feel like dealing with my cottage cheese thighs that day.

I can’t deny that their existence does make my life easier sometimes. People can just look at me and my dairy laden legs and go, “Oh no. I want nothing to do with that.” They don’t bother getting to know me. They don’t even have to ask my name. They don’t waste their time.

More importantly, they don’t waste mine.

Cottage cheese can be pretty tasty for those who enjoy it.

I’m At That Age

That Certain Age

I’m at that age…

-where I don’t have time for unpleasant people. You’re a raging asshole with bigoted tendencies. I do not wish to associate with you or your kind. Same goes for the drama mongers, the politically ignorant, the sports jerks that take the fun out of the game, and most adults that post cryptic messages on Facebook.

-where I’m intolerant. I prefer to live and let live, but when you come at me with your “how can you be tolerant of my intolerance” bullshit, then darling, I have no trouble showing you exactly how intolerant I can be. Yes, dear, I am intolerant of you and your trollish, asshole behavior and I’ll say so. So tolerate THAT.

-where I’m unapologetic. Not going to apologize for being fat, being a woman, being bisexual, being a Cubs fan, listening to any and all kinds of music, not watching movies, not being religious, not believing in your God, being intolerant to your bullshit, not putting up with your ignorant ass, caring about what I care about, being a writer, etc.

-where I will sing and dance in the grocery store if one of my jams from “the nineteens” (as my nieces would say) comes on.

-where I’ll wear whatever the hell I want to you and you all just need to cope as best you can.

-where I don’t know who most of these new bands and singers are and I have to ask my nieces.

-where I’m tired of hearing about what you eat, how often you exercise, how great your husband/wife/kids are, etc. because you act like if you don’t mention it five times a day I won’t know how much better you are than me.

-where I don’t give a shit if you’re better than me. There’s no prize for being the loudest braying jackass.

-where I’m still going to dress up for Halloween and silently wish I could still go trick-or-treating while I pass out candy.

-where I’m not going to settle.

-where I’m going to point when “new” things have really been around for a while.

-where I’m going to refer to people as “young folk”.

-where I’m going to keep dreaming, reaching, striving, and hoping for something better.

Because, you see, I’m at that age where I’m realizing that the years are piling up behind me, leaving fewer in front of me. The less time I spend messing with the petty and shoveling the bullshit, the more time I can spend enjoying my days.

Sorry if that ruins yours.

I Don’t Owe You An Explanation for Being Fat

Kiki in blackI’m fat. This is apparent. Laws knows that I’m not trying to hide it and I don’t think I could if I wanted to as that sort of cover-up would no doubt make me look larger.

But I don’t have to explain my fatness to you. I don’t have to defend it. I don’t have to justify it. I don’t have to apologize for it. It is what it is and if you have a problem with my appearance, then YOU HAVE THE PROBLEM.

I don’t have to assure you that I’m doing healthy things with my life despite my weight. I don’t have to apologize for leaving the house not weighing 120 pounds. I don’t have to argue that I have just as much right to exist as you do because my pants size is bigger than yours.

Let me say it again.

YOU HAVE THE PROBLEM.

My fat is my own. I’m the one that deals with it on a daily basis. I dress it. I touch it. I move it. I wash it. And you know what? I don’t have nearly as big of a problem with it as you do.

Because you think I should be ashamed. You think I should be apologetic. You think I should change.

Don’t tell me I should lose weight for my health because we both know you don’t really think that. You don’t give one shit about my health. You want to me to lose weight so I’ll fit into the socially acceptable appearance box. You want me to lose weight so you’ll be more comfortable in my presence, sitting next to me, talking to me, walking past me, walking around me.

Me losing weight in this context has nothing to do with me and everything to do with YOU.

So when I don’t lose weight, when I insist on existing in my fat state, it offends YOU. Because you’ve made MY weight about YOU.

YOU HAVE THE PROBLEM.

I don’t.

So please understand when I exist against your wishes, without apology or justification.

Because this is your hang-up, scooter, not mine.

Sew, For My Next Trick…

I turned a pair of jeans into a skirt.

Inspiration skirtI got the idea from an episode of Emergency! because the 70’s call to me like that. One of the actresses was wearing a jean skirt like that and I thought, “Hey! What a great idea!”

And then I didn’t do anything about it for a while because I wasn’t sure I was capable of turning a pair of jeans into a skirt with my self-taught hand-sewing skills. When I get ideas for projects, be they sewing or writing, I have to meditate on them a while to see if I can get them to work out. Boosted by my work on turning t-shirts into bags (I’ve got five of them now), I thought with a little research it might be possible.

I did some Googling on the subject of turning a pair of jeans into a skirt, looking to the wisdom of those that had walked this path before me and got the general idea of what I needed to do to make this work.

Then I talked myself into committing to this project.

It’s not like turning the t-shirts I was never going to wear again into bags; I only have so many pairs of jeans and really can’t afford to waste a pair, even if I hate them. Society demands that I keep my ass covered. So I had to be sure that I could make this work.

Kiki's skirtI’m happy I talked myself into it.

I used a pair of my fat-girl jeans (they’ve got a bit of spandex in them) that lost their shape after wearing them a few times. The legs were too big and rather unflattering. But, that excess material proved to be perfect for the skirt transformation. I used one kerchief for the front panel, cutting it and sewing it together so it would fit just right. I thought that would be the hardest part, but it turned out to be pretty easy.

In most of the skirts I’ve seen, there’s also a back panel, usually smaller, but since the legs of these jeans were so big, I didn’t need to put one in. Just sewed it up the back and added some slits to the side to show a little leg.

It took me several hours over four days to get the whole thing done.

It’s another ego boost to my sewing skills. And another lesson that I am quite capable of getting shit done if I put some time, effort, and patience into the pot.