Why Body Positivity Makes Me Uncomfortable

4 Reasons Why Body Positivity Makes Me Uncomfortable

Body positivity started as a reaction to fatphobic diet and weight loss industry. These days, on Instagram and online magazines, “body positive” is a celebration of self-love and fatness. That’s a good thing! I’m all for representation, respect, and self-love for people! But body positivity makes me uncomfortable. There are aspects to the movement, as it currently swings, that make me feel the same way I do from diet culture, fat shaming, and bigoted society: unworthy.

For a time on Instagram, I followed one of the largest body positivity accounts in an aim to expose myself to the movement. This was intended to challenge how I’ve been socialised to value thinness, whiteness, and privilege. But as time went on, and the more I saw the posts, the more uncomfortable I became. The pictures of these (cis) women didn’t bother me. Their bodies didn’t bother me. (Except for the #glitterstripes, which legitimately triggered self-harm urges because of how the lines reminded me of abstract or fresh scars.) But the captions did. The way they talked about their bodies, and other bodies, made me feel like shit about me and my body.

No matter how much the movement intends to be all-inclusive, its origins did not start as a revolution for total body acceptance for everybody. The current language and focuses are not all-inclusive. Fat acceptance is important, but it’s also important to notice where that acceptance is limited. There are four patterns to the current body positive movement that cause discomfort for me.

1. The focus on cis women.

As inclusive as body positivity tries to be, it’s still focused on cis women. The movement came out of fat acceptance for cis women, so of course the focus is still on that demographic. There are body positive cis men out there. Articles and websites exist for other genders. But the movement still focuses on fat cis women feeling positive about their bodies.

As a woman who is not cis, I feel very much excluded. The movement did not arise for my benefit or for my identity. (See also: feminism for white women, and womanism for black women.) The fat acceptance and origins for body positivity did not come from intersectional understanding and support for fat experiences for everyone. My fatness and fat experience are very, very different from those of a cis woman.

2. The equalisation of “fat” with “feminine.”

Goddess. Tiger stripes earned from carrying babies. Glitter on stretch marks. The strength of a body to breastfeed. Mother Nature. The symbols and language used to discuss fat cis women in the body positive movement all relate back to femininity. Body positivity is gendered, as it is a reaction to a gendered market of dieting culture. It feels difficult to separate #bodyposi from femininity. And as someone who oscillates between feminine, masculine, and neutrois, I can’t feel comfortable in a movement that genders its empowerment. I know it wasn’t intended to be a feminine-only revolution. But that’s how it is, for the most part. Diet culture and fat shaming are largely misogynistic structures, after all, and that’s what body positivity reacts to.

3. The misconception that eating disorders are only caused by diet industry.

Eating disorders are multifaceted mental illnesses that affect millions of people. Eating disorders are not caused by one singular aspect of society. Diet culture and misogyny play a huge role in eating disorders—especially for cis women. But eating disorders for cis men? Consider toxic masculinity. Eating disorders for transgender people? Consider their gender dysphoria. Because eating disorders are mental illnesses, more is at play than just food culture. Blanket statements about how dieting causes eating disorders, or diet culture causes eating disorders, are a disservice to people who have eating disorders.

My eating disorder doesn’t come from the market and industry telling me I need to be a thin woman. My eating disorder comes from cissexist society telling me that I need to be a woman. It also comes from my bipolar disorder. I can treat my eating disorder by acknowledging and treating my comorbid mental illness (bipolar) and my gender dysphoria. I can’t treat my eating disorder by embracing fat acceptance and body positivity for myself. Doing so would gloss over the incredibly huge struggles I have with my identity. My self-hatred, after all, doesn’t hinge on my fatness. It hinges on so many other factors.

4. The policing, judgement, and values imposed on my body.

The pursuits of happiness, joy, or positivity currently invade society. If we’re unhappy, that’s seen as a problem. If we’re feeling kinda neutral or whatever, that’s seen as an opportunity to bring in positivity. Feelings are fleeting. They should be honoured as temporary experiences that deserve space and time to process. Feelings and emotions are not a state of mind—including positivity. It’s just another way of uplifting optimism and valuing that perspective more highly than everything else.

The title of the movement is “body positive”—it wants me to be positive about my body. But I can feel however I want about my body. I can hate it. I can want to change it. When I can look at myself in the mirror and think, “Eh, I don’t think I’m sexy,” I’m allowed to have that thought. I can also look at myself and feel completely apathetic about what I see.

Body positivity wants you to feel a certain way about your body, but only under the movement’s conditions. It cares more about where your positivity comes from. “Good” positivity comes from self-love and rejecting societal norms. “Bad” positivity comes from fitting in with society and being seen a certain way by others. But for trans folks who want to be seen as the gender they present? They’re trying to fit into a societal norm. (That societal norm is the whole concept of “gender”, by the way.) I want to lose weight. I want to look a certain way, too. Body positivity doesn’t allow me to want those things, let alone do them, unless they’re for the movement’s reasons.

Body positivity values people with a specific attitude on their corporeal self. But only when that attitude originates from the movement’s perspective of what is “good” or positive. That’s a little fucked up to me.

Do I fit in body positivity’s standards?

The fact that I don’t like my body, sometimes and in some places and on some days, does not mean that I’m a lesser human. If I’m negative about my body, am I a bad person to #bodyposi?

If I want to lose weight in order to have a certain lifestyle, does that mean I’m being fatphobic? I currently cannot exercise in a way that makes me happy, and it is directly because of my fatness. Simply put, my fatness hinders how positive I feel about my body. I will be hurting myself if I try to go jogging. My knees can’t carry the weight and impact. So am I bad for wanting to lose weight? Am I contributing to negative body and food culture by doing things to help me lose weight? Those things are also making me happy on their own, regardless of weight loss. If I wanted to place in competitions for marathons or sporting events, I’d have to change my body for that lifestyle goal. The consensus is that weight loss and lifestyle changes go hand in hand, with lifestyle changes coming first. But people will get into a hullaballoo if I say that I need to lose weight to take up a certain lifestyle.

They will also get concerned when I speak negatively about my body, like when I express thoughts that come from my gender dysphoria. Some days I don’t like my eyebrows and eyelashes. That has nothing to do with my fatness—but it has everything to do with gender dysphoria, gender expression, and one aspect of my body. I’ve recently started to watch and read trans activists as they go through transition and surgeries. They reach body peace by means of changing their body. The root of their self-hatred or discomfort does not come from fatness—it comes from dysphoria.

When it comes to being body positive, I don’t think I’ll ever get there. And I think that’s okay. It feels like a box I won’t be able to fit into. Body positivity feels like another standard I have to meet perfectly in order to be valuable. I don’t think I’ll ever love my body. I don’t think I’ll ever be happy with my existence. Instead, I choose to value certain aspects of and attitudes toward my body. I choose how to exercise, what to eat, and where I place worth. There’s no point forcing myself to ascribe to something that makes me so uncomfortable just by its name.

I am more than my body. But my body is mine, and nobody can decide what is best for it—including the body positive movement.

What is body positivity?

The links below, mostly opinion pieces, discuss the movement, its origins, how it is practiced, and the sham trend of policing bodies through body positivity.

The Body Positive – This website and organisation was founded in 1996 in the realm of eating disorder recovery. See their FAQ for more information on what “body positive” means to them and how they define it.

3 Reasons Why You Can’t Have Body Positivity Without Feminism (Melissa A. Fabello on Everyday Feminism, 2017) – This article discusses how body positivity is linked to feminism, women’s issues, patriarchy, socioeconomics, race, and politics.

Here’s Why the Definition of Body Positivity Isn’t Up for Debate (Kaila Prins on Everyday Feminism, 2017) – This article discusses the incorrect usage of the term for non-bodyposi aims.

Weighting to Be Seen: Being Fat, Black, and Invisible in Body Positivity (Sonya Renee on Everyday Feminism, 2015) – This article discusses blackness and body positivity in media attention of the movement.

15 Definitions of Body Positivity Straight From Influencers & Activists (Bustle, 2016) – The title says it all! Quotes from notable activists and influential people in the movement, and how they define the movement.

Is the Body-Positivity Movement Going Too Far? (Amber Petty on Greatist, 2018) – This article discusses some of the extremes, a few of which I mentioned, that exist in the body positive space.

Body Positivity Is a Scam (Amanda Mull on Racked, 2018) – This article overviews how capitalism hijacks “body positivity” for their means, such as Dove’s advertising campaigns, and ignores core issues of widespread body negativity for women, fat people, black people, and trans people.

5 Ways to Practice Nonsexual Consent

How To Practice Nonsexual Consent In All Relationships

At its core, consent is asking for permission knowing full well that the recipient is not obligated to fulfill your wishes. Consent is a hot topic for sex, and for good reason. Sex is multiple people engaging in activities that rely on bodily autonomy and personal space. Nonsexual consent is just as important as sexual consent. After all, consent doesn’t begin with sexual activities and physical intimacy.

Consent begins when parents tell their toddler to hug a relative. It begins when children are told to hold hands with their classmates in school. It begins before puberty. Consent exists outside of sex. It exists for non-sexual, asexual, and celibate people.

Here are 5 ways that you can practice show consideration for your peers, family, friends, and strangers with nonsexual consent.

Nonsexual consent is when you ask for permission when you want to…
Hug, shake hands with, or high five someone of any age

You should get consent before touching someone. Hugging, shaking hands, and high fiving are mostly touching hands. But it’s still important to respect someone’s boundaries. This includes with children! Children have bodily autonomy as well. They should never be forced to hug or high five if they don’t want to.

Cook or provide food for someone

Offering a meal to someone can be a nice gesture. However, there is also a lot of risk when eating food you haven’t prepared. Asking to cook or buy a meal for someone respects their dietary needs, such as allergies, intolerances, preferences, and eating disorders. Even hunger should be respected. Don’t make someone eat if they don’t want to!

Receive emotional labour from someone

If you’re unsure what “emotional labour” means, then here’s a quick read on it! This one is especially important in the social media world. Users can post their opinions and thoughts, and read strangers’ comments and opinions in return. But if someone needs to invest their time, energy, and emotions into a conversation, respect them and gain consent.

Consider it when you…

  • Want to rant or vent to a friend.
  • Discuss personal problems for advice or help with someone.
  • Ask for educational explanations.
Privately message or friend request someone on a social network

Digital boundaries are still boundaries. Imagine entering someone’s private messages as the same as knocking on their digital door. Nobody is obligated to reply to you or connect with you on social media. If you want to engage with them, ask first.

Talk about personal, serious, or heavy topics

This nonsexual consent piggybacks off of the emotional labour one. There are topics that are meant for smalltalk, like the weather and how someone’s weekend was. And then there are topics that can get heated or emotionally heavy. These topics include religion, politics, mental health, trauma, and other private or personal details.


You don’t need to have an eloquent, highly formal method of asking someone to do any of these things. “Can I ______?” is an easy format. In spoken English, we can portray a question through vocal inflection at the end of a word or statement–when I hug my friends, I outstretch my arms and say “Hug?” (or raise my eyebrows), and this is still consent.

Over time, you build your consensual relationship and interactions with people. As you get to know someone and their boundaries, or as your relationship grows and boundaries change, you increase your awareness of what they consent to.

Here’s a real life example.

I love to hug people. It’s an intimate action that, for me, shows that I care. I also love to make friends, and I’m very upfront about when I want to have a friendship with a new person. So when I meet someone new, I tell them I’m interested in being friends with them. I also ask, “Are you a hugger? Can we hug?”

The majority of the time, this is met with an enthusiastic, “Yeah, sure!” and we hug. But there are instances where they say, “Oh, I’m sorry, no.” My reaction? “That’s okay! I totally understand.”

When you practice consent outside of sexual activities, you deepen your respect for people’s bodily autonomy. You also learn that consent is nuanced and part of daily life! There’s nothing complicated about consent unless communication is complicated.

Consent means respecting boundaries. Those boundaries are not always physical or bodily, too. Respect people’s time, privacy, and autonomy.

Thoughts On Feeling Inadequate

I intended to post this on Friday (the 7th), but in a stroke of cosmic irony, my inadequacy peaked that night. Writing this after the fact is… more powerful.

I hit a low point when it came to feeling valid as a human being. As in, I didn’t feel like I deserved to be alive. (Don’t worry, nothing happened aside from a crying session.) I felt inadequate in every aspect of my life: physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, romantically, sexually… The list goes on, but it was generally in that order.

There are so many ways to feel like you’re not good enough.

I shrunk one of my favourite shirts in the dryer, because my memory wasn’t good enough to remember it was in the wash; because my attention wasn’t good enough to look out for it when I changed the load over from the washer to the dryer; because my body wasn’t good enough to fit into a smaller size.

I had been feeling like crap for the entire day, but when it was 10:00pm and I was folding laundry, and there was one of my favourite shirts I’ve had for half a year… The domino toppled and so did all of the pent-up inadequacies I had lined up. It was one thing after another, a catalogue of how I wasn’t good enough at anything.

That was a few days ago, and I still haven’t picked up the dominoes and put them in a box. I haven’t lined up the things I’m good at. I haven’t lined up the reasons why I’m good enough. I haven’t had a chance to reflect on why I’m okay as a human being, and why I don’t have to be The Best to exist.

I’m going to play the mental illness card again: my PTSD makes me extra hard on myself. I’m significantly reduced compared to the “normal” or neurotypical standards. I feel like less of a person because of things that happened to me that I, for some reason, can’t let go of. How is it that things beyond my control come back to haunt me? Why does my brain hold on to things that hurt it? What do I need to do to make myself good enough to see that I’m good enough?

The standard to which I hold myself is unattainable. I can never reach it. Yet my mind and self-perception constantly reflect back to those standards, to the aspects that will make me worthy.

It’s times like these that I transcend my body in the worst possible way. Dissociation acts as my safety blanket, but it’s the same as starving yourself in order to avoid food poisoning. Haven’t we all learned that “abstinence-only” tactics aren’t the same as being informed about hazards? Living is a risk and dissociating is my way of avoiding risk. Dissociating is the closest I can get to separating from life without committing suicide.

It has been a significant amount of time since I said aloud, “I want to die,” and meant it. I hold back tears now as I look back at myself curled on the bed, weeping around the words. I see myself holding the worn out domino pieces I played with before therapy, before getting help, before putting effort into my well-being, before my diagnosis that explains so much of myself—before valuing myself even a marginal amount.

I’m better now, in the relative sense. It’s not like I’ve put away all the dominoes, but they’re no longer strewn, encircled, around me and keeping me hostage. They’re shoved to the side and I can see past them a little bit. But they’re still there. They’re still within grasp. I still want to set them up again and watch myself topple, because lining up these pieces and seeing how far the line goes seems to be the only thing I’m consistently good enough at doing.

Questioning

Two tree trunks with spray-painted question marks and a text overlay reading Questioning

Lately, I’ve been in that hellish stage of questioning.

Again.

I was here at age 13 and here I am again, and it sucks.

I’m still not comfortable enough to do a broad “coming out” or “here’s what I’ve been questioning” post, but I’m putting this up for a very specific reason.

I’ve written about the fluidity of identity, in a way, when I discussed fluidity in sexuality. I intend to write a follow-up post to that one where I discuss gender identity. But I’ve always been a firm believer of supporting changes in the way people label themselves. There are some parts of your identity that can’t change, like your skin colour and ethnic heritage. There are others, however, that can only change or come about when you find out they exist, like gender, sexuality, romantic attraction, and religious beliefs—and you’re allowed to change your mind based on how much you learn about them.

So I’m posting this to say that I’m wondering if I need to change my mind, too. I’m unsure of the labels I once used. I’m unsure of the identity I once claimed. I’m being intentionally vague here, because I’m not entirely comfortable (let alone certain) of all of this and what labels are accurate. It doesn’t matter which ones I’m specifically questioning. What matters is that I’m back in this space and filled with uncertainty. Part of me is scared—as is normal when something changes—and that part right now is big.

When you question your identity, it often has a domino effect: it can change your relationships, your expression, and your interactions with society. You may have thought you were cisgender, but then you start to question that… and your life changes. There can be small changes or big changes, but it’s not going to be the same after you realise whether or not you are what you thought you were.

Thoughts On Being Transgender

A pink balloon attached to the string by a white chair in a grey setting.

I’ve hesitated posting this, because it’s part of my identity that I’m still… coming to terms with. The whole reality of gender identity and gender expression and biological sex—it’s a mess in my head, but there are a few things I’m certain of: I’m bigender. I’m gender non-conforming. I’m queer. I’m still questioning. And I’m just as transgender as the Trans Poster Child who plays with “opposite-gender” toys and transitions with surgeries and full social transitioning.

I’m keeping my breasts and my given name and my female sex reproduction organs.

And that doesn’t make me less transgender than someone who would have sex reassignment surgery or another type of surgery to alter their body.

I do not have to hate my body to be transgender.

I do not have to feel like I was born in the wrong body to be transgender.

I do not have to identify with the opposite gender on a polarised scale to be transgender. I do not have to go from female to male, or male to female, and then stay that way to be transgender. I am not zero or one. I can be infinite, but I’ll choose the numbers that fit best.

I do not have to be out of the closet or ashamed of being in the closet or proud of being out of the closet.

I am trans, I am trans, I am trans. I am gender non-conforming and I identify with multiple gender roles constructed by society—sometimes multiple, sometimes only one, sometimes none.

I am transgender and I exist within the changing social constructions of gender.

Gender is not an inherent part of existence. We make it. We shape it. We create it the same way we create our identities. We express ourselves in certain ways. We express gender in certain ways. It is a category that societies use.

You are not born with a gender. You grow into one. You learn and you create your identity. You make it the same way you make a sandwich. You choose what to include, what to exclude, and some people will tell you what to put on it and what not to put on it.

Be peanut butter. Be jelly. Be Swiss and ham and pickles on rye. Be your own mixture of tastes and flavours and appearance. Be different today and tomorrow and next year. Be your childhood favourite whenever you want. Be Cheese Whiz and smooth peanut butter on crustless white bread, because it feels good that day, and forget anyone who tells you it’s weird or gross. Be my aunt’s Nutella and mayonnaise. Be a sandwich with lettuce or napa cabbage instead of bread. Be a tortilla wrap.

I am transgender. I don’t have to have pronouns “opposite” to my sex characteristics to be transgender. I do not have to physically transition to be transgender. I do not have to change my name to be transgender. I do not have to be anything except a gender I was not given at birth to be transgender.

I am transgender and that still exists in the gender binary spectrum created by social norms. And I am unsure how to reconcile that, or if I even need to. I am hoping I can embrace the social construction of gender while still urging it to expand and be more than what it currently is. Maybe one day, the notion of “gender” will evolve to a point where “transgender” is a different identity to what it is today. Maybe “girl” and “boy” and “queer” will mean different things, too.

I am bigender and my pronouns are “he/him/his” and “she/her/her” and I am happy with whatever you choose to refer to me, whenever you do it, as long as you understand that my gender is not my body. You don’t have to know if someone is transgender. You just have to know that gender is not genitals.

 

Thoughts On Zombies

Moody photograph of tombstones at dusk.

It has come to my attention recently that I have another fear. I’m not very original in my fears, but hey, whatever—I’m not a special snowflake.

I’m scared of

  • Being in deep bodies of natural water, like oceans and lakes—I can’t go swimming in them, but I can be in boats on top of them.
  • The dark—when it’s a dark that produces shadows.
  • Tornadoes—they’re just… so quick to form, do so much damage, and screw off within 20 minutes. The ultimate fuckboy of natural disasters.
  • Decomposition—this is the one I found out about this month.

I have always had an aversion to zombies. A few years ago when I first watched ParaNorman, an excellent stop-motion animated PG film, I needed a few minutes to get used to the zombies. Whenever I saw my brother playing Call of Duty with zombies, I avoided looking at the screen. The Walking Dead? I will never, ever watch it in any capacity. Horror movies are always a no-go, but zombie horror movies—even horror-comedy ones!—are always a never-go. I can’t play zombie-themed video games, no matter how good they are.

I’m okay with vampires and ghosts—I actually enjoy them very much—so I knew the “undead” weren’t really the issue. It was the body horror and gore of zombies that unsettled me, but why? Why the bodily aspect?

Because body decomposition freaks me out.

I was recently thinking about mortality and death, as one does when they have severe depression and they’ve recently visited their brother’s grave. And I kept thinking: I’m okay with people dying. Death itself doesn’t bother me so much. It’s natural. It’s what happens. But why can’t I handle zombies?

I started delving a bit more once I realised what made me the most sad about my brother’s death and my pet rabbit’s eventual death in the future. The fact that their corporeal selves won’t simply disappear.

A corpse doesn’t float off into the afterlife. It doesn’t turn into pyreflies like it does in Final Fantasy. It takes its time. The finalisation of death takes time, and it’s just so gross. So, so gross and depressing.

I don’t want to rhapsodise about the body (oh goodness, did I just make a subconscious allusion to a poet I hate?) or go on a tangent about mortality. I’m just getting into the freaky Halloween spirit by reminding everyone about the rot of life. How life takes its time in dying, because the body has had so much time to live.

I suppose it’s a balance. We take an average of 9 months to grow. It’s only fair that nature can reclaim us in some span of time.

Thoughts On Aging

A macro photograph of a colourful cake with a number three candle.

Yesterday was my birthday. It was a relatively nice day—don’t have huge complaints or worries about it.

But it was an obvious reminder of 1) my mortality; and 2) aging.

The concept of time is very obtuse to me. I don’t quite understand it. This is how I feel about birthdays.

Age is a nebulous thing to me. I often forget how old I am not because I think I’m older or younger than I am—it’s just difficult for me to believe my age is some way to explain my growth or experience.

Because your age doesn’t define the experiences you have.

Where I live, it’s illegal to buy alcohol under the age of 19; it is illegal to drive under the age of 16; and yet these are not definitive of people’s experiences. Kids under 19 drink, and kids under 16 have had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a car.

I guess it’s just really hard for me to understand how so many actions can be defined or justified by our orbit around a giant ball of blazing gas. That’s the real gist of this post. I don’t get it. I don’t understand how age denotes maturity, experience, or qualification.

Like, yeah, of course I’m not going to say that 10-year-olds are mature, experience, and qualified enough to drive a car. When it’s in the younger years, the pre-pubescent years, the years where you need to buy new shoes because your feet keep growing—that’s different.

But now, post-pubescent and reaching a point of—dare I say it—stasis and decay… My age really shouldn’t matter too much. How old someone is doesn’t say how smart they are, how much they know about something, how experienced they are with it. Hell, I started working with HTML and CSS when I was 13, but I’m not going to tout 7+ years of experience—because no employer would look at my age and believe me. They wouldn’t believe I would’ve been self-teaching in different skills throughout my teenage years. Because, for some reason, your teenage years get discredited. What you do in your teens somehow doesn’t have the same impact as what you did after you turned 18 or after you started post-secondary school.

I hate liminal stages in life. Between infancy and childhood. Between childhood and teen. Between teen and young adult. Between young adult and adult. Between adult and elder.

I’m between young adult and adult, and I don’t like it, and there isn’t much I can do about the people who judge me based on 1) how old I am; or 2) how old I look.

Anyway, happy birthday to me. Another package of seasons in my life have passed by.

Mental Illness and Writing

Mental illness and writing do not go hand-in-hand.

But then again, mental illness doesn’t particularly go hand-in-hand with anything productive.

It hits hard against writing and creative work, however. There are so many thoughts and so much subjectivity that it’s hard to separate from your mental illness. There is also so much production necessary in creative work. And when you’re in bed, depressed, or having a panic attack from your PTSD, it’s nearly impossible to receive anything, let alone produce anything.

A quick list of the things I suffer from:

  • PTSD (as described by my recent counsellor)
  • Depression (as described by my doctor and my previous therapists)
  • Disordered eating (as discovered by lots of googling and common sense)
  • Body and gender dysphoria

So life is difficult. Everything is difficult. Words are difficult and washing my face is difficult. And yes, I say suffer, because fuck do I suffer.

As writers, we’ve heard of and experienced writing burnout. We hustle so hard until we reach a certain point and need to stop. We know there’s something wrong, and we know that continuing at our current pace will spell certain disasters for us.

Having mental illness means I have a reduced capacity for tasks, whether they’re mundane or creative or whatever. Not every day is the same, of course—some days, my mental illness sits and doesn’t bother me. Other days, though, I lie in bed without the energy or desire to brush my teeth, wash my face, or eat something.

When I’m being told constantly that “writers write” and I need to “write every day” and I don’t have the capacity for it? I kinda feel like shit. I already feel guilty for not being able to do things “normally.” Hygiene and eating are such simple tasks, but they can become difficult when my mental illness flares up. Adding writing to that? Adding any kind of creative art to the list of things I need to do? I can’t handle it.

If you have a mental disorder or suffer from a chronic illness, you don’t need to write every day. You don’t need to hustle until you burn out from writing. You can be slow and write small amounts. 5K days aren’t always feasible. Write 100 words if you can. Hug yourself for not writing today if you can’t.

I know I can’t write every day, because 1) I’m a busy student; and 2) I have mental illness and need to prioritise other tasks than writing.

5 Very Specific Pet Peeves

Like every other human on the planet, I get annoyed. And I get annoyed quite often. I have a short fuse. A temper, if you will. And some things are like a million matches set on that short fuse.

Waking up to someone’s voice

You could be my best friend, my partner, my family, a stranger—and I will still be bitter for the entire damn day if I have to wake up because I overheard your voice. Not because you were talking trying that ito wake me up. No, no—if I wake up because you’re talking and ignoring or forgetting that I’m asleep, so you’re talking normal volume, having a conversation or whatever… Congratulations: I hate you for an indeterminate amount of time.

Websites that don’t let me view the desktop version while I’m on mobile

Listen, I know that having your website be responsive for multiple devices is a great thing to do. But if it impedes on my ability to access certain parts of your website, or if the layout is so drastically different that I’m not sure if I’m on the legitimate website, then we have a problem. (I’m looking at you, Google Drive: I don’t want to nor do I have the storage space to download your fucking app.) Some websites have a whole different subdomain for mobile, and some have their sites be responsive. And honestly, most of the time I’ll stop what I’m doing and set it aside until I’m on a desktop.

When people disrespect the fact that I often get sensory overload

Sensory overload for me makes me irritable, confused, and unable to focus—in that order. So I’m going to start off being grumpy and annoyed until I remember, “Hey, Coryl? You have PTSD. Right now, your senses are overloaded. Put on some earplugs or headphones.” I resort to listening to music with headphones, unless I’m trying to sleep, and I get so pissed off when people—especially strangers—want me to take them out so they can say something. True, you don’t know when it’s okay to bother me, but I’d think my body language of completely ignoring my surroundings would be enough to say “Ignore me in return.” I’m not hard to read, after all; my face is quite expressive.

Comments on what I eat or don’t eat

It’s not your fucking place if you aren’t my nutritionist or doctor. That’s it.

(The long version of this is my body dysmorphia and how it links back to my eating habits and disorder.)

The demand to justify things like feelings, opinions, etc. on non-important topics

If I don’t like something, I’m not going to go into detail about why I don’t like it if it’s something like a movie. I’m also not going to try to justify why someone makes me feel uncomfortable—because that’s 100% subjective. It really is.

Do you have any super specific pet peeves? Let’s be salty and particular together.

Thoughts On Meat

My dad and his five sisters grew up on a farm. They had a few horses, cows, chickens, and a number of other foul.

One anecdote my grandma likes to tell me is of a pet goose one of my aunts—my dad’s sisters—had. The goose was good for a while, but started to get real mean. My aunt came in one night in October and said to my grandpa, “I want to get rid of the goose.” They had goose for Thanksgiving.

It’s a type of black humour that I don’t agree with: eating your pet, in a sense. True, they had a small farm, but the goose started out as a sort of pet. I’m exposed to jokes about eating your pet. I have a rabbit. It seems that every damn middle-aged man who discovers I have a pet rabbit asks some question about what kind of stew I’ll make, how much meat is on him, how scrawny he is and how he won’t amount to a good soup. Fuck off. Just fuck off.

I’m not opposed to eating meat. It’s hard to oppose eating meat when your relatives raised and slaughtered livestock. Meat-eating is normalised in my family. One of my aunts recently remarried and moved to Florida, where she is starting her own little farm. My dad has thought about raising chickens in his backyard because the price of chicken is increasing.

I think it takes a certain kind of person to be a farmer. I couldn’t be a farmer. I like the distance I have from livestock. I can’t handle giblets very well, let alone skinning and dressing an animal. I probably couldn’t do it with fish either. But I’m still going to eat meat, because… well, it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to justify why I eat what I eat, because what I eat doesn’t require a bibliography to count as acceptable. My food is not your problem. My food is not your concern.

Part of why I’m okay eating meat comes from the fact that my dad, my aunts, and my grandparents were okay producing that meat. On my mother’s side, her aunts and uncles were farmers too. I am not far distanced from the realities of taking care of and eating animal products.

One time in a class, the professor asked if anyone knew how to milk a cow. I was the only one to raise a hand. I think the majority of people in urban places are used to an urban life. I know how to milk a cow and I know how to churn butter. There’s a fad mentality about “knowing where your food comes from”—and I do. I know what I’m eating when I eat eggs, butter, milk, steak, chicken breast. I know I’m eating something that was living. Same with plants. They were once living, but with a different source of energy and a different type of life. I get grossed out by giblets, but I also get grossed out by the slimy inner seeds of tomatoes.

The entire universe works on a life-death cycle. I will die and provide sustenance for some other life form. I want to be cremated, so my carbon ashes will fertilise something. Even if only worms eat me, at least I’ll be returned to the cycle. Everyone is part of a greater cycle, so it’s up to you—the luxury of humans, actually—to decide where you fit in that cycle. Where in that food chain you’ll sit.

It’s like in The Lion King, when Simba asks Mufasa about eating antelope. Mufasa tells him, “When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass; and so, we are all connected in the great circle of life.”

You could be the antelope or you could be the lion. Or you could be both.

(I am aware of the large-scale effects of meat eating and production; I am one person who does not eat a lot of meat and tries to contribute less to that unfortunate reality. Don’t jump down my throat about how I’m contributing to the atrocities of capitalist livestock consumption, because I’ll be dead in 50 years and I buy and consume less than 1kg of meat each month.)

Thoughts On Meat