Exotic

Exotic Exotic_sml1 introduced from another country :  not native to the place where found <exotic plants> 2 archaic :  foreignalien 3 :  strikingly, excitingly, or mysteriously different or unusual <exotic flavors> 4 :  of or relating to striptease <exotic dancing> ____________________________________________________________________________________ Red Ants aka Fire Ants are Exotic. I base this on the fact they are not indigenous to this nation, rather they were brought here by some genius farmers to kill a pest. Now they are here to stay. You cannot kill them easily; they have no natural enemies here. Thus, based on the above Fire Ants are Exotic.

Having read the above are you thinking to yourself, what in the hell is she talking about now? I don’t blame you; I have thinking about beauty lately. How we as a society define beauty, what is beautiful to our eye versus what we are taught about beauty. These are more often than not very different, whether we are discussing art, nature or the beauty of a person. What doesn’t fit into narrow definitions we find other terms to describe, Exotic is one of those terms. There are others of course; some are not as kind or puzzling.

There are many things we have splashed the label Exotic on, things like Cars:

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Or Flowers:

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And animals too:

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However, the thing that most intrigues me, is people. We name people who don’t look like us, who don’t fit into our box of standardized and normative ‘beauty’ as Exotic. We do this when we find ourselves unable to define their beauty or our attraction to their beauty.  The truth is, if those others who were not like us, those others who were from other lands, other cultures were not in their own right beautiful we would not now be talking about new labels of beauty or new definitions for who we are. Were it not for our attraction to the Exotic, we would not now be trying to stretch our understanding beyond the westernized symmetry of what makes a man or woman attractive to be more inclusive of all the other standards of beauty.

My best-loved mother of my heart said to me many years ago, I was exotic. She said this trying to be kind, trying to lift my heart as we talked early one morning over coffee. You see I didn’t understand why my adoptive mother rejected me so out of hand, why my cousins-sibling-sisters were so very standoffish, why I never really had girlfriends growing up. She said this trying to explain why I felt not just like a black sheep within my adoptive family, but within my peer group as well. She wasn’t trying to be cruel, instead she was trying to explain what she believed was a very real and simple concept.

Everything about me, my features, the tone of my skin, the deep color of my eyes, my natural hair color, my body shape, even my intellect; everything about me was slightly off and thus slightly off-putting. I didn’t fit within my adoptive family or later within my extended family, within my social peer group. I was Exotic I was different. People didn’t know quite what to make of me; they didn’t know how to label me. I could be almost anything, except what people were comfortable with, no one at the time considered this of course they simply knew I made them uncomfortable and acted accordingly.

I have over the years given a great deal of thought to this long ago conversation. I have realized many of my actions, everything from using ace bandages to strap my breasts closer to my chests, to trying to starve my body into submission, to coloring my hair blond and staying out of the sun to keep myself as pale as possible. Each of these were either conscious or sub-conscious acts to fit into a beauty standard defined by a society that had already labeled me ‘different’ or Exotic. My smaller rebellions, ear piercings and tattoo’s, these were me trying to exert power over my personal space and self, especially when I felt denied.

This brings me to our social standards of beauty and the exotic. America, the melting pot; isn’t that what we call ourselves? Over the centuries, our love of the exotic has resulted in a true blending of cultures and people. Our history of intermixing, whether with willing or unwilling partners, has resulted in a people who may wish to lay claim to purity of bloodlines dating back to the landing at Plymouth Rock, but how likely would most of them find more than one interesting skeleton in their closet should they choose to look. So what is beauty? Are we really so very narrow that we will allow the few to define a standard that adheres only to the European regularity, forgetting the beauty of all else. Surely, we have come further than this after so long.

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Our Body Our Self id

I have been thinking lately about how I see myself and it causes me some angst, this has been on my mind a weight on my heart even. I know, it shouldn’t I am a tough old broad, generally not given to inner flights of fancy or brooding about what cannot be changed. My fifty-fifth birthday has come and gone now, I am past middle age and heading towards, well something else entirely.

Why am I noodling this? What am I really talking about; I am talking about Me, Myself, I, Id, Ego; all the things that make me ME. More importantly, I am talking about what I see in the mirror of my mind versus how others judge me when they see me on the street or meet me for the first time. Perhaps even more hurtful it is how those close to me offer up their helpful suggestions and thoughts on my ‘health’ and appearance.

I wonder does it never cross their minds to ask, “How do you feel today?”

Can it be that even those closest to me have decided I made a personal choice and it was to be fat? Do the people who claim they love me honestly think (this is a stretch, the thinking part) this is the look I chose? That I enjoy being laughed at on the street, dismissed as lazy and worse stupid. Do those who profess their care for me truly believe I don’t see myself, know my ass enters the room approximately thirty-two seconds after my boobs? Do they think this doesn’t bother me?

Of course it does you bunch of insensitive social incompetents!

There was a time in my life I wanted to be a Ballerina, I wanted to float across the floor in beautiful flowing costumes en pointe’ making art with my body. Then my body betrayed me, my ballet teacher smacked my breasts emerging like angry beehives from my chest and explained in her thick Russian accent, “No prima ballerina has breasts like a peasant!”

Ten years of grinding practice only to be told my peasant breasts were not the stuff of ballerinas. Nevertheless, I continued to dance, because I loved it. I also took gymnastics, rode horses, skied, ran, played soccer and did many other things all because I loved them. After all, with prima ballerina off the table everything else was on! There were times I brutalized my body, it didn’t matter I just kept going. I tore my knees up; I would walk again long before they healed properly.

I learned many forms of dance from ballet to belly; dance was my favorite form of expression and art. Dance was my heart.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

100 pounds.

That is how much I gained in the first two years after I was shot. Sometimes I lose some of it. Then I have another setback, another surgery or another round of partial paralysis. The reality is I don’t think I will ever lose it, not ever. Before I was shot I had already gained weight, I was in a miserable marriage and I was unhappy, I wasn’t fat but I was no longer thin and perfect either.

I wonder I look at those words and I wonder no longer thin and perfect. What does that mean, perfect in what respect and perfect according to what measurement. Who or what am I measuring myself against?

Now at fifty-five I use wonderful words to describe myself, words like Zaftig, which is one of my favorites. I laugh along with others at the shallowness of a society that would dare to judge me on my dress size without taking the time to value my intellect, my capabilities or my accomplishments. The reality is their judgment hurts. My own judgment hurts truthfully I am diminished by both.

Don’t you want to lose weight?

I am asked this question quite frequently. The answer is always the same, of course I do you nitwits. I also want to live without pain, wake up every morning leap out of bed without any numb spots anywhere on my body. Given a choice, I will take pain free over thin any day of the week. I won’t achieve that one in my lifetime either.

Would I like to lose weight?

Certainly, I would love to lose weight. I would love to shop in stores that didn’t specialize for ‘fat girls’. I would love to go to the gym and not feel ashamed; in fact, I would love to not be afraid to go to the gym.

I would like to go to the gym and take a yoga class where not everyone looked like they just stepped off the pages of Cosmopolitan. Why isn’t there ever a beginner’s class for fat people?

I would like to go to the gym and not feel like an alien, not be stared at as if I belonged somewhere else, anywhere else but there.

I would like for people to see me and not judge me. I would like to look in the mirror and not judge myself.

Why in the hell do gyms have so many damned mirrors anyway?

Kirstie Alley before and after at least she still looks like a woman

I would like to not be asked by those who profess to love me why I don’t lose weight. I would love, just once for someone, anyone who loves me to ask me how I feel today.

I have read so many great blogs recently on the subject of our bodies and social judgment; one stands out in part because as a woman it hit home I hope you will go read Sweet Mother http://sweetmotherlover.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/dear-fat-dudes/

I previously wrote this, a lighter look at the subject. https://valentinelogar.com/category/personal-notes/

The truth  is, this might just be my reality. I can eat the best I can. I can walk on the days I am not hurting so badly it is all I can do to crawl out of bed. I can try to overcome my fear of the gym, but I suspect that one is harder than anyone can imagine. My truth is, I live within the body I have and it doesn’t love me. I don’t fit the world and I don’t have the fight left to force the issue. We are so shallow we are willing to diminish anyone that doesn’t fit our narrow vision of beauty forgetting there is a whole person inside the body we judge not good enough. So today I will cheer for those women like Jennifer Livingston who was brave enough to address the man who berated her for her ‘choice’ to be obese. I wish more of us were willing to stand up to those who are so socially inept, cruel and frankly stupid.

Zaftig in a Mirror

Fears & Tears

My 2 Fears

I have been holding this in, trying hard not to spew venom over my sisters on the fat side of the scale. Yes, I said it…..FAT. Let’s all be honest, for just a brief moment, we are out here in the world, our scales register above thin and perfect, our BMI well it is imperfect also. We shop where we can, if it isn’t in stores designed specifically for us where all sizes start at 14 and head up from there it is in designated parts of the store, usually tucked away where others can’t see the fat girls shop. Some stores, such as Neiman Marcus, don’t sell plus sizes in their stores, not even in the Outlets but they will take our money on-line; I guess they don’t want their more rotund clients wandering the aisles and scaring other customers with their succulence.

24 Hours

My 24 Hourglass

Now that is out of the way, I am Zaftig (I love that word, don’t you). Have been for years and have a sneaking suspicion it isn’t going to change perceptively without surgical intervention which I am not at this time considering. If my doctor says I must consider intervention for my health, I would do so but he has not and thus I accept my hourglass figure being more a 24 hour than a single hour. The popularity of my abundant assets went out of style more than a century ago, along with corsets and bustles. It isn’t, mind you that I am in love with the view in my mirror, I have simply made peace with the idea there are battles I am not going to win, one of them is the one with my waistline. Frankly, my ego could not withstand the struggle along with all the other things I regularly fail at accomplishing.

After Surgery and One Year Maybe

One Year After Surgery Computer Generated

I know that I am Zaftig, Well-Padded, Succulent, or hell just plain fat, I am betting if you are you know you are too. With this knowledge in mind and knowing you are out there why oh why, pray tell me this do you insist on dressing in clothing that was never intended to contain your more ample curves? Why, please help me understand when there are plenty of wonderful options in your size do you insist your size is still in single digits or worse comes with JR in from of the single digit. Help me understand; is it self-delusion on your part? Do you believe the labels on those packages that say you will shrink two dress sizes by wearing those magic Lycra All-In-One

We all want to see this in the mirror. The perfect hourglass.

panties that tuck you in from stem to stern; you didn’t check your mirror before you left the house did you? Or, do you simply have a magic mirror, one of those fun house mirrors that distorts reality and lies to you all at once. If you have one of these, may I borrow it please, my ego could use a boost.

I am not trying to be a hater; really, I don’t want to take a rubber mallet to your fragile ego. I know how hard it is to find clothes that fit and make you feel good. It is possible though to find clothing that fits and doesn’t make you appear as if you are wearing either a potato sack or a sausage casing, these are not the only two options. I will be honest with you my rotund sisters, when I see you in the mall; I feel your pain, until I notice what you have chosen to wear in public. I know how hard it is to find clothing that makes you feel beautiful and feminine. But, really, does a dress two sizes too small and so short you are unable to bend over for fear of showing every bit of your so not sexy underwear; is this really making you feel desirable? Do you honestly believe what is exquisite on an infant; you know those adorable and kissable little

www.flickriver.com

Fat Baby Thighs are kissable

rolls of fat around their thighs is also attractive on a grown woman? You could not be more wrong, I promise you those rolls of fat on your thighs is anything but attractive especially framed by a mini-dress and high-heels, it is this sight that makes me want to shake you till your teeth rattle and you cellulite realigns.

Believe me when I tell you us succulent, bigger girls are still beautiful and still have wonderful gifts to offer the world. We are not defined by society that tries to shame us into boxes with labels that are hurtful and ugly. This doesn’t mean though that we should simply ignore all decorum, throw all good taste to the wind and not use good sense and our mirrors. We should at all times, celebrate who we are, just as we are right now. But ladies, mirrors please.

Faces of Beauty

I find I needed to return to the issues surrounding women and our fascination with beauty, more importantly society’s fascination with it. This is particularly important to me, as a woman in my 50’s, not even my early 50’s but hitting the very center of the mark this year. I look at our world, the young women who represent ‘beauty’ in the media and realize it is a rare thing indeed for one of them to be a natural beauty, to not have had some part of themselves changed in some way shape or form. By the time they hit thirty they are already chasing ‘wrinkles’ and in fear of aging.

What? Really? It just makes me want to shake them by their shoulders till their brains rattle, but then I think to myself, it is very likely their brains are already rattled and my intervention would do little to no good.

There was a time we venerated beauty in its natural state, with a fair degree of variety and acceptance there were differences among us. Every nose wasn’t perfectly straight and narrow, every face wasn’t perfectly symmetrical; indeed part of what defined beauty was its uniqueness. This is not to say they weren’t helped along by great lighting, perfectly applied make-up and of course, tight foundation pieces, they were nonetheless beautiful.

       

 Gina Lollabrigida (sodahead image)

 Barbara Stanwyck (sodahead image)  Lauren Becall     (sodahead image)

 Betty Grable       (sodahead image)

Something has been so firmly entrenched in our psyche over the last few decades we believe the hype, we believe we can stop time, stop gravity and if we don’t do so we will be somehow “less”. Now we have so corrupted our standard, so devalued women in their natural beauty many of us will do anything to stave off aging and pursue a version of perfection that leaves us disfigured forever.

     
 

 Lisa Rinna          (Sodahead image)

 Priscila Presely   (Sodahead image)  Jenna Jameson (BestandWorst Image)

 Dontella Versace      (zinbio Image)

We come to a time when even young women willingly inject a homogenized form of Botulism into their faces, that’s right a lab created version of the Black Death, into their faces in the hope of staving off the natural progression of age. What is wrong with society that we have gone to such lengths to convince an entire gender they are simply not good enough as they are and by doing so not only stripped them of their confidence but created a billion dollar industry.

Consider, though created in labs this is in fact what we inject into our bodies in pursuit of youth and beauty.

 
Five days after sustaining a compound fracture of his right arm, this 14-year-old boy noticed that he had blurred vision. Four days later, he could not swallow, move his lips, or protrude his tongue. Other findings inc)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Botulism1and2.JPG

Honestly, give me a bit of growing old gracefully and with a small bit of panache. Maybe even a little vinegar and vim. Let me please, just be able to squeeze my jiggly parts into some spandex and even if I have to lower the number of inches on my heels, let me still be able to put my feet into them and sashay for special occasions please. Let me not be so afraid to age I inject poisons into my proof of a life lived, freezing my face forever into a portrait straight out of Madam Tussauds Wax Museum.

In fact, let me emulate a true woman and lady:

   

 Betty White, 1955 (Sodahead Image)

 Betty White, 2010 (Wikipedia Image)

Let me count my wrinkles with relish, enjoying that I earned them! I did stupid things before I knew they were stupid, playing in the sun, riding my bike down steep hills and building sand castles on beaches so I could watch the rolling waves wash them away. I traveled, often getting lost in strange cities only to find the greatest bistros and bars. I drank Mescal straight from the bottle on star lit pyramids in Mexico, even eating the worm once. I have a antique sea chest filled with photo albums of nearly 40 years of life lived, life that is etched into memory and will someday be etched into my face and other body parts. A body that has already certainly felt the affects of gravity much to my constant dismay.

I ask only that I age gracefully in heart and spirit, retaining some humor please. Maybe also this, when I am finally tired.

Front Porch Ideas (Image)

Womanhood in the 21st Century

Women around the World (Image)

The Art of being a Woman

I wonder what makes us women. Is it what we show on the outside? Breasts, hips, nipped in waists or something else entirely. Is it our wombs, our ability to bear children? Then are

Jane Mansfield (google image)

those of us who have never borne a child whether by choice or otherwise; are we somehow something less? At just one day short of 16 I lost my ability to bear children, no it wasn’t an accident or a choice, but that is a story for a different day. For years, I believed I was less than other women, somehow not worthy. Certainly, my own siblings have told me “I wouldn’t understand certain things because I am not a mother”.

Is it Motherhood?

But wait, I am a mother I helped raise two sons, didn’t I? Another woman can claim them; nevertheless, my compassion opened my home and heart. They are in part mine, children of my heart. It doesn’t count, I am told. I think that it might, in the scheme of things it counts toward being uniquely me, that empathy. I think that the opening of my heart and home to them and that they still hold my heart captive, I think it might count toward my distinctive womanhood.

Plank Walking or Sitting the Fence

Women on the Brink (postershop)

Being a woman, still pondering the definitions. I am strong and resilient in both body and soul. Is this a feature of my gender, I wonder? I was able to survive both physical and emotional hardships where others of either gender might not have. Could my ability to survive and even thrive against extreme odds be my gender or is it just my personal resilience? I have concluded that it is simply me. When I consider the attributes that make me who I am none of them seem to be gender specific; Humor, intelligence, compassion, strength of character, morals, ethics and competitiveness. These don’t seem to be gender specific just my personal nature.

So this leaves me wondering still about the uniqueness of being a woman. It cannot be

Women4truth image

physical attributes alone that make us women. It cannot be our ability to give birth as the sole defining attribute; I have parented without giving birth and am also an adopted child.

For me being a woman is a journey of self-discovery. If I stumbled along the way, it is because I have allowed others to classify me in a manner that does not fit who I am as a person or as a woman. As I get older, I gain more clarity that the labels society uses to define us are more for their comfort than for ours. I don’t buy the labels anymore though I acknowledge them. In the past, I bought them even pinned them to my coat, they hurt me more often than not.

Definitions?

Being a woman, I am uniquely myself. There are times I am considered controversial by

Just Me, Really

others; I can live with this. There are times I am considered outspoken; I can live with this as well. I am loyal to those I care for. Cautious about whom I trust. I admit to rarely giving people a second chance, something I should work on in the future. Being a woman, I think that we are simply individuals born with gender specification. Nothing special until we create for ourselves that which makes us unique.

What Price Beauty

What is the function beauty in our day-to-day life?

This is a very personal question that each of us must answer. What is the function of beauty in our society, how does it facilitate our advancement and success. What does it draw from and to us in life? If we are beautiful, can we skate across the pond without the ice cracking beneath us? If others believe we are beautiful do we get a pass on all that is ugly in life, able to blithely walk through dark forests without the wolf crossing our path, or must we be convinced of our own beauty for this to be true?

What price beauty? What are we willing to pay, to sacrifice to prevent the mirror from shattering?

Are the questions above the right questions at all? There are many definitions of beauty, over the years these definitions have changed in our minds eye, however the ‘correct’ definition is given to us by Merriam-Webster, below; how we then interpret the qualities are an entirely different standard all together.

1 : the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit : loveliness 2 : a beautiful person or thing; especially : a beautiful woman 3 : a particularly graceful, ornamental, or excellent quality 4 : a brilliant, extreme, or egregious example or instance <that mistake was a beauty (Merriam Webster , 2011)

The question of beauty, what it means particularly to us as women is one that someday must be answered. One day we might say to much or to little is the price already paid by our young girls, our daughters even our mothers. Nevertheless each of us must say something so we might move through the world with some confidence, dignity and comfort in our skin. Those sly comments we hear beginning at a young age if we are imperfect in any way, if we are short or chubby; if we are clumsy or we are late to bloom, those terrible asides all serve to shake us to the core. Worse those terrible commentaries of our shortcomings, our flaws compared to cousin Jane or the neighbor next door come from those who should be our greatest cheerleader, our booster the one person in our lives that

google image

should see no blemish in us, ever. We are brought low, dropped to our knees in fact, by what can only be their clear vision of our lack of beauty. This then is our fate, how the mirror will forever reflect us; unlovely no matter what we do to change our external self the voices in our head will forever yammer on;

‘You have such a pretty face if only you would lose a few pounds’.

‘Cousin Jane has such nice skin, with her peaches and cream complexion maybe you should stay out of the sun so you don’t turn so brown’.

‘I don’t know where you get those thick ankles they must come from your father’s side of the family you look like a peasant woman’.

‘I am sure you will grow out of the baby fat stage eventually, though most of your friends are already much thinner than you. Maybe we should put you on a diet’.

‘We will just have to make the most of what you do have, after all you are smart. Lots of girls find husbands even though they aren’t great beauties like your cousin’.

There are so many other examples, so many mirror-shattering statements our mothers and grandmothers, aunts and even fathers say to their daughters. By the time a she is a teenager her self-image can be destroyed, possibly for life. How a young girl and later the woman she becomes acts on these soul shattering characterizations of who she is will define her for years to come, the consequences could be life altering.

What price beauty?

What do we pay for the soul shattered and ego battered women of the most recent

google image

generations? Maybe a better question is this, what have they paid for what has been done to them by their families, by well-meaning friends and not so well meaning peers, by society and the media. What debt is owed for Toddlers in Tiara’s and beauty queens unable to form coherent sentences or identify the current President of the United States? How do we repatriate into normal society? How do we begin to convince these women whose mirrors tell them daily their value is less, far less based on the extra five pounds they carry or their lack of perfectly symmetrical features, that in fact they have a value beyond their surface.

What price beauty when taken against the value of a woman’s soul?

What price beauty when compared to a lifetime of diminished opportunity and self-inflicted battery.

What do you see when you look at me? Do you judge me by the circumference of my hips? Do you evaluate my intellect by what you guess is my dress size? Do you speculate I am  lazy and without self-control? Do you presume to know me before we have been

image 4photosnet

introduced, before you know my story. What price beauty and the judgment of a society that has failed so far to find value beyond the surface of a woman.

What is the function of beauty? It opens doors for women everywhere. The price we pay in not meeting the standard is diminished opportunity for love, for work, for friendship even. Perhaps we can be the fat friend, the ugly friend; you know the one every clique wants and needs but we will never fit and never be fully part of anything because we don’t believe in our own value, our mirror was shattered long ago.

What price, the price of our soul the only true value we had we paid thousands of time over.

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