Clarity and Direction

About a month ago I found myself asking what my end game was. I’m an activist, sure. But so what? What does that mean for me? I felt like I needed a clearer picture in my head of what I really wanted. I took time to meditate on this question and the answers really gave me clarity and direction. Here is the list I came up with:

1. I want everyone to know that their bodies are worthy of respect, love, affection and nourishment.

2. I want to teach parents about the effects of body shaming on kids and give them tools for raising body positive children!

3. I want to expose the motivations of the diet industry & the tools they use to rob us of our self esteem so they can sell it back to us for a profit.

4.I want to lead by example! I will wear what I want, eat what I want, rest when I need and NEVER APOLOGIZE for being me. I will be fat and awesome at the same time.

5. I want to respect other people’s decisions regarding their body as I expect them to respect mine (underpants rule!).

6. I want to be transparent with my struggles to love my body because I know others have the same struggles. We can help each other through!

7. I want to do all of the above from a place of compassion, patience, understanding and love (and forgive myself when I fall short of this goal).

After writing this list I realized how much it really means to me! I want to do more than blog and use my outside voice on social media. I want to share it with you to remind me to be transparent and accountable. I want these things to continue to be my foundation, motivation and compass.

When I thought about HOW I might accomplish this I realized that I had been unknowingly developing the tools I need for the past year! Hooping has been so essential to the process of healing my relationship to my body! It has taught me that I am beautiful, graceful, capable and confident! It transcends size, age, gender, race, ability and religion! What a beautiful and fun way to open doors to this conversation! I feel like God has been guiding me down this path for this very reason.

Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook or follow my business page know that I have been working furiously to get my business off the ground. This list was the spark behind it all! I taught my first class in May, I hoop fairied a day away at the Central Alberta Children’s Festival, and I even managed to sell a few hoops! I even started a GoFundMe page to help me earn my way to becoming a Punk Rock Hoops certified teacher! I really believe that this can open to door to reintroducing people to their bodies in a positive way.

Over the next little while I will be developing workshops with various focuses like body positivity, Health at Every Size, Mental Health Awareness and Anti-Bullying. I am building lesson plans and learning lots about making hoops! I want to eventually develop a line of plus size flow wear because it is so difficult to find and I want everyone to extra lovely in their hoops! I have so much to learn!

So far this journey has taught me how supported I am by the wonderful people around me. It has helped me deepen my gratitude and connection to my friends and family. I am so excited to continue to grow!

Right now all proceeds from my hoops and class fees go towards my teacher training tuition and travel costs. If you feel called to support me or want to see what all this hooping thing is all about I’ll be over here in my hoop!

-Amy out

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Hooping Hotties & Healed Hearts

My nearest and dearest all know that a couple weekends ago I had the absolute pleasure of attending Hottie Hoop Camp in Surfside, TX. It had an unexpectedly strong impact on me so I’ve decided to take a brief detour from my usual fat activist ranting to share my experience with you.

I started hoop dancing almost exactly a year ago (happy hoop-iversary to me!). It has helped me redefine my relationship with my body because it’s movement that brings me joy instead of shame. To my delight, my pursuit of body positivity and hooping intersected perfectly when I stumbled upon Hottie Hoop Camp online. I thought it would be great to learn some new moves in a safe, body positive space so I decided to take a risk and sign up. I got so much more than I bargained for.

HHC was like a spa for my soul. Never in my life have I experienced such pure and unconditional acceptance. It was a safe space to be or do anything with an army of Hotties at my back. If I needed to rest (something I am accustomed to apologizing for) then I could rest! If I wanted to sing at the top of my lungs I would have ladies joining in! If I wanted to strip to my skivvies and play the ukulele with my feet I could do it and be celebrated (next year maybe??)! I could be as silly, creative and vulnerable as I wanted and receive nothing but love and acceptance in return. Just knowing that this acceptance exists (even though it’s a thousand miles away) heals my heart and gives me strength.

Time for the heavy:

I really believe that God brought me to HHC. As many of you know, I was raised in a Christian home. Faith and religion were at the center of how I was raised and who I believe myself to be. During my teenage years I started feeling disconnected from my church and from God. For the last 10 years I had been successfully burying the hurt and feelings of complete disconnection, failure and of being a disappointment to my family. About 2 weeks before camp I noticed these feelings start to bubble to the surface. For some unknown reason, I could no longer ignore them. My heart was heavy with hurt. I was questioning beliefs that are at the very core of who I am and it terrified me.

I carried my questions and my doubt with me to Houston hoping that I wouldn’t be too glum to enjoy myself. I went to the classes and hung out with some truly awesome ladies but inside I was struggling. The turning point came on day two. I had spent the day taking my fire hooping safety training and the time for my virgin burn was fast approaching. The extraordinary Rowen TwoSisters sat us all down before hand and told us to write down what we desired in life and what we wanted to let go of. She said that fire has the power to help us send out spiritual smoke signals to whatever deity we believe in. I felt a bit silly doing it but I knew that I needed answers.

As I stood in front of all my Hotties with a freshly lit hoop, nervous to perform for the first time ever, I looked up to the sky and said, “God, are you really out there?” I took a deep breath and then started to dance. I cannot find the words to describe the joy and lightness I felt within that hoop. I felt released, peaceful, confident, capable, beautiful, loved, accepted and a little bit dizzy. In what felt like no time at all, my burn was over. I hung up my hoop and walked straight over to Rowan and bawled my eyes out on her shoulder. I had the glimmer of a new understanding in my heart.

Maybe God really is out there and I just forgot how to listen. Maybe my relationship with God doesn’t need to be the same as my parents relationship with God. Maybe I can let go of all the hurt and anger from my past and finally forgive. Maybe the most important thing for me to do right now is to drop all of my past assumptions and just listen.

Needless to say, I’m going back next year. I’m practically packed already. I cannot wait to go back and hug my Hotties and see what other revelations I can squeeze out of that magical place. It’s a bit of an expense but I consider it to be an investment in my soul. I’m toying with the idea of creating a GoFundMe profile when the time draws nearer to help offset the cost. I can hardly wait!

For now, I want to say thank you to Rowan, Blythe, Alejandra, the class instructors, the beautiful and talented kitchen staff and all my Hooping Hotties. I love you. Thank you for everything!

-Amy out

3 Things I want my Friends and Family to Know About Body Love

Aside

Recently an article has been floating around the interwebz called ‘6 Things I Don’t Understand About the Fat Acceptance Movement’. Most of the Fat Activist bloggers I follow had some amazing responses that say it all. I felt like I didn’t really need to respond because who could ever top The Militant Baker?? But I am slowly coming to the realization that this ‘lack of understanding’ is something that needs to be addressed with my family and friends (who are pretty much my only readers). So here it is. This is 3 things I want you to understand about Body Love. This is where I am at and what is in my heart.

1. I value my health very much, thank you!

I am learning about something called Health at Every Size (HAES). There is a book by Dr. Linda Bacon called Health At Every Size that focuses on being healthy as opposed to being skinny and presents research to show that fat and healthy are not mutually exclusive. Dr. Bacon has a Masters Degree in Psychotherapy with a specialty in eating disorders and body image, a Masters Degree in Exercise Science specializing in metabolism and a Doctorate in Physiology with a focus on nutrition and weight regulation. She has dedicated her life to understanding why we struggle so much with weight regulation when it’s supposed to be as simple as diet and exercise.

“Every discipline I studied revealed the same disconnect: The science of weight regulation directly contradicts cultural assumptions as well as those promoted by ‘experts’.” -Dr. Linda Bacon

This book is teaching me about the amazing things my body goes through to regulate my weight. It’s teaching me about how all my crazy diets and unhealthy habits have hurt my body’s ability to regulate itself. I’m learning about how to reconnect with my body so that it can do the job it was created to do. I am learning that everyone’s body has it’s own natural set point weight wise and not all set points result in a size 2. I am learning that you cannot know a persons habits or lifestyle by their weight alone.

I am very much focused on learning to be healthy but I no longer believe that healthy and skinny are synonymous. Watch this video to learn about why I think it’s ok to be fat.

2. I need your support!

Learning to love myself is hard. We live in a society that has turned weight into a moral issue. Foods have come to be known as ‘guilt free’ or ‘sinfully delicious’. Fat people are judged as being lazy and gluttonous at a single glance. Not a day goes by that I am not bombarded with diet ads and images of ‘ideal beauty’ that tell me that this is what beauty is supposed to look like and that I will never look that way. I am fighting an uphill battle and I cannot do it alone. These are the things that I need from you that will help me learn to love myself.

  • My health is my concern. Please know that while comments of concern may be well meaning, they are unfounded and they trigger old feelings of shame that I am working to overcome.
  • While I am happy that you are enjoying success from your new diet, I have a hard time hearing about it. The diet mentality is something that I am working very hard to overcome and often diet talk can trigger feelings of shame. Please know that I am not judging your choice to diet or lose weight, I just need extra support while I work on changing my thought habits.
  • No more negative body talk! If you are unhappy with the way your thighs rub together or with the number of chins you have in the pic you were tagged in, I don’t want to hear about it. Negativity feeds off negativity and I am trying to starve mine out. I don’t need you to feed it for me.
  • I would be over the freaking moon if any of you were to read the book (or at least research Health at Every Size) so that I can discuss it with you.

3. Why should you care? Body love affects us all!

For me, learning about body love has included learning about fat acceptance but that is not the case for everyone. Sadly, I don’t believe I’ve ever met a person (male, female, short, tall, skinny or fat) who could truly say that they loved their body. Body love isn’t just for ‘fat chicks with self esteem issues’, it addresses a problem that has real and measurable effects not just on individuals but on society as a whole.

When you learn to love and accept yourself the world opens up for you in ways you never imagined. You stop holding yourself back from doing the things that you have always wanted to do but felt unworthy of or uncomfortable doing. Instead of trying to shrink and disappear you grow and flourish. You learn to let go of the judgements you have towards other people and by extension give them permission to love themselves. The ideas and principles I am learning about are all things that I would wish for you in your lives as well as my own. So give yourself permission to start loving your body, I’ll be here to help you!

As always, thank you for reading. I want to especially thank my family and friends for being so loving and supportive. You are all the coolest of the cool cats.