Fat and Black in America: Epilogue

It wasn’t until I was 10 and my mother told me I needed a bra that I knew I was fat. To me it made no difference what my size was, I was bigger but that meant that I didn’t get picked on because I could just push kids down or sit on them. I didn’t know I was fat. But I did know that being fat was bad.

Puberty hit at 11. I was 157 at 13. I was 216 by 16. I was bulimic from 16-21, gorging and purging almost once a week. It was hard on my body, I wore down the enamel on my teeth and my gag reflex was so worn it was almost impossible to keep food down while eating, I still choke while eating. But I wanted to be beautiful or rather, I wanted to be anything but fat. 
According to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control in 2012, the majority of African America women are overweight or obese. Coming from a culture that values curvy bodies, rich calorie dense foods and spending your leisure time with others, not alone like at the gym, this comes as no surprise to me. Often times being the ideal black woman means being fat, but not too fat, big boobs but a tiny waist, a big ass but no cellulite. It’s a tightrope of unattainable ideals made all the more intense by the endless pictures of girls who seemingly have achieved it.

KING magazine is targeted to a black male audience

The study factors in much more than just poor diet and lack of exercise to blame. It found many factors contributing to why black women more than any other group are suffering from obesity like, psychological responses to racism and discrimination, living in neighborhoods that don’t have easy access to grocery stores and parks, eating food that is fast but not nutritious, and having children.

“Childbearing also proved a factor in weight gain. In a 2003 paper published in Nature, Palmer and her colleagues reported that African American women who have children young, are overweight at the time of pregnancy, or gain an excess amount of weight during pregnancy have a higher prevalence of obesity compared to white women.
And while they don’t have any results yet, the BWHS team is trying to learn if breast-feeding helps a woman “reset her metabolism” to decrease weight gain following pregnancy. The percentage of black infants who are breast-fed has shot up markedly in recent years, but it still lags compared to other groups. According to the CDC, 65 percent of black infants were breast-fed compared to 80 percent of Mexican American and 79 percent of white infants in 2005 and 2006. Palmer hopes her group’s research will encourage more black women to breast-feed and persuade policy makers to pass legislation facilitating breast-feeding in the workplace.”

Regardless of who is to blame, black women are dying and between the heart disease and the diabetes we should never feel pressured to be unhealthy because of the desire to be attractive. For weeks I have wanted to get myself back to the gym, eating healthy and lose the 50 pounds extra I’ve been carrying since I moved out of Texas. In the past week I have refocused my diet and pushed myself to go to the gym. It was hard, I was unmotivated and disheartened and every day I didn’t try was prof I didn’t have it in me. But one day at the g made it easier to go to 2 and when I got home the last thing I wanted to eat was fatty foods. I’m still struggling but I’m also still doing it. 
So once a week I will share a new recipe, exercise or fitness tip that is helping means I hope will help some of you. 

Banana Avocado Face Mask

If you know me, and I know you do, you know I love pampering myself. Long hot baths, sugar scrubs, exfoliates, shopping trips, vacations, I’m a creature of comfort what can I say? 
I am also broke. And its hard to keep up that lifestyle when you can’t afford the scrubs, lotions, and trips to the spa. But that doesn’t mean you have to go without! Just d.i.y. it baby! 
I had some old veggies in the kitchen and decided to make a mask with them before they went completely rotten. So I made a banana avocado face mask
Bananas are an anti-aging agent with vitamins A,B and E and the avocado has a ton of moisturizing properties good for dry skin! Plus this recipe is all natural so you know its good for your body! 
What you will need is:
  • 1/2 Banana
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 1 egg yolk  
Mash the banana and avocado together, add in the egg.

 Make it as creamy and smooth as you possibly can, use a strainer if you want. 

 Then apply to your whole face and neck as well. Now lay back and rest for 10 minutes, add a cucumber to those eyes too! Then wash it off with a warm washcloth. 

Now your skin feel silky smooth and nourished! Keep the leftovers and bake them into a cake or use them on your face the next day! 

When Your Vagina is Sick

Georgia O’ Keeffe – “Flower of Life II”

I’ve got 99 problems and they all deal with my vagina.
I’ve got to keep her happy all the time, wear the right clothes, buy the right undies, use the right soap, or no soap at all, drink so much water, drink enough cranberry juice, eat yogurt, maintain my PH balance, not wear thongs, pantyhose, leggings, jeggings, or anything else that might restrict her access to air. Not wear underwear while sleeping. Use the right lubricant, or the right condoms. Masturbate with the right vibrator made out of the right materials. My pussy is a demanding cunt. 
But eventually no matter how long I maintain this dance I always… ALWAYS get a yeast infection. 
My gynecologist sneers at me with her arrogant med school educated face and says to me “Are you taking showers? Remember to always wipe front to back!”. I want to hop up in her face and ask her if she thinks I just got this thing yesterday. 
“Yes bitch, thank you! I was using used toilet paper, I found on the ground up until today, I’ll rectify that immediately!” 
Georgia O’Keeffe – “Bella Donna”
But the fact is, that most women get or have gotten some sort of vaginal infection. Our pussies are delicate, porous membranes enveloped between juicy thighs and dammit it gets hot in there sometime! What are we supposed to do? Sit on fans all day? 
That would probably be pretty awesome. Unless you suffer from vaginal dryness. In that case nevermind. 
A vaginal infection is defined by WebMD as: ” a medical term used to describe various conditions that cause infection or inflammation of the vagina. Vulvovaginitis refers to inflammation of both the vagina and vulva (the external female genitals). These conditions can result from a vaginal infection caused by organisms such as bacteria, yeast, or viruses, as well as by irritations from chemicals in creams, sprays, or even clothing that is in contact with this area. In some cases, vaginitis results from organisms that are passed between sexual partners.”
Which basically means you can get it from anything, infections, virus, sex, antibiotics, clothing, the wrong soap or products being used on it. All beavers have certain levels of bacteria and maintaining those levels are fucking tricky and can be completely thrown off by anything. My mom used to make me drink cranberry juice all the time, when she’d wash my nasty drawers in high school, because it was supposed to maintain a healthy clam. 
Okay so we’ve established you are not gross, dirty, nasty, or a bad person because you occasionally or regularly (I get them around my period) because getting them is completely normal.
If you get them so much that you are uncomfortable all the time, it hurts to have sex, it hurts to pee, you have a noticeable smell (and everyone else notices your smell) and you are being affected everyday of your life. In that case you NEED TO SEE A DOCTOR. Girl don’t fuck with your love taco okay??? Get that baby some help!
Georgia O’Keeffe – “Inside Red Canna” 

How do you know you have some sort of infection?
  • Do you notice a thick, white or yellow discharge coming from your vagina? Does it look like cottage cheese?
  • Is your poonannie itchy? Like really itchy, and red or inflammed?
  • Are you experiencing pain? A problem peeing or you feel like there is something stuck up inside of your uretha? Preventing you from peeing?
  • Is it uncomfortable when you have sex? 
If its a yes to all of these, you may have an infection. BUT, sometimes you are infected and you have none of these symptoms (like wtf?? right??) in that case, I don’t know how’d you know, but you should take care of it anyway. 
So there are many types of infections but the most common are: yeast infections, bacterial infections, Trichomoniasis (an STD), Chlamydia, viral infections, and non infectious. For the sake of time we will focus on yeast infections.
Yeast infections are caused by a type of fungus that lives in your coochie, your mouth, and your guts, of both men and women. When the fungus gets out of control you have a yeast infection.
Somethings that could increase the chance of these bastards taking over your downtown, is antibiotic treatmeants, pregancy, diabetes, taking birth control pills, thyroid issues, cortoisteroid treatment, or a disorder that affects your immune system.
They can be treated easily with over-the-counter medications like:
or Monistat
That are available at most grocery stores and pharmacies. They come in creams or weird egg suppository things that make me think I’m hatching an egg in reverse.
Now here’s where things get stupid. I’ve heard this a million times. Here’s what WebMD has to say about how to prevent yeast infections, with my own hilarious thoughts.
To prevent yeast infections, you should: 

  •  Wear loose clothing made from natural fibers (cotton, linen, silk). Um like 90% of the clothes sold in America is some plastic cotton/polyester fabric so I don’t know if thats possible. Plus I live in leggings and tights, aint giving that up.
  • Avoid wearing tight pants. See above. What are we hippies?
  • Don’t douche. (Douching can kill bacteria that control fungus.) Okay done.
  • Limit the use of feminine deodorant. Limit the use of deodorant tampons or pads to the times when you need them. You got it.
  • Change out of wet clothing, especially bathing suits, as soon as you can. Who doesn’t do this? Are people really just lounging around in sticky swimsuits all day? 
  • Avoid frequent hot tub baths. Okay if I had a hot tub I’d be in that asshole all day.
  • Wash underwear in hot water. 99% of my clothes are black, do you know what hot water does to black clothes? Do you know how expensive hot water is?
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Don’t tell me what to do.
  • Eat yogurt. Who are you Jamie Lee Curtis?
  • If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar level as close to normal as possible. Like duh. 
Georgia O’Keeffe – “Light of Iris”

So however you  manage to do all those things at all times, good for you, and for the rest of us keep, those things in mind but when you do get an infection, don’t freak. You’re okay and you’re gonna be okay. 

If you want more information check out WebMD page on it or go see your OBGYN. 
And remember: If you smell something, Do something! 

My friend has depression…

Over the course of 10 years since my diagnosis of bipolar disorder and manic depression, I have had many friends come in and out of my life. Many of them were exposed to my depression and the symptoms that it has. Some of theme helped me and supported me, some of them withdrew from me, but most of all of them wanted to help me in some way. It can be hard to know how to help a friend during these times, they can seem irrational, hopeless and stubborn, you may run out of things to say and feel awkward. But just being there for your friend is actually a huge help. So whether you have a friend, a relative, or a significant other here are ways you can help them.

 Depression is a serious condition. Don’t underestimate the seriousness of depression. Depression drains a person’s energy, optimism, and motivation. Your depressed loved one can’t just “snap out of it” by sheer force of will.
· The symptoms of depression aren’t personal. Depression makes it difficult for a person to connect on a deep emotional level with anyone, even the people he or she loves most. In addition, depressed people often say hurtful things and lash out in anger. Remember that this is the depression talking, not your loved one, so try not to take it personally.
· Hiding the problem won’t make it go away. Don’t be an enabler. It doesn’t help anyone involved if you are making excuses, covering up the problem, or lying for a friend or family member who is depressed. In fact, this may keep the depressed person from seeking treatment.
· You can’t “fix” someone else’s depression. Don’t try to rescue your loved one from depression. It’s not up to you to fix the problem, nor can you. You’re not to blame for your loved one’s depression or responsible for his or her happiness (or lack thereof). Ultimately, recovery is in the hands of the depressed person.
Signs that your friend or family member may be depressed
· He or she doesn’t seem to care about anything anymore.
· He or she is uncharacteristically sad, irritable, short-tempered, critical, or moody.
· He or she has lost interest in work, sex, hobbies, and other pleasurable activities.
· He or she talks about feeling “helpless” or “hopeless.”
· He or she expresses a bleak or negative outlook on life.
· He or she frequently complains of aches and pains such as headaches, stomach problems, and back pain.
· He or she complains of feeling tired and drained all the time.
· He or she has withdrawn from friends, family, and other social activities.
· He or she is either sleeping less than usual or oversleeping.
· He or she is eating either more or less than usual, and has recently gained or lost weight.
· He or she has become indecisive, forgetful, disorganized, and “out of it.”
· He or she is drinking more or abusing drugs, including prescription sleeping pills and painkillers.
How to talk to a loved one about depression
Sometimes it is hard to know what to say when speaking to a loved one about depression. You might fear that if you bring up your worries he or she will get angry, feel insulted, or ignore your concerns. You may be unsure what questions to ask or how to be supportive.
If you don’t know where to start, the following suggestions may help. But remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice. Encourage the depressed person to talk about his or her feelings, and be willing to listen without judgment. And don’t expect a single conversation to be the end of it. Depressed people tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves. You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen over and over again. Be gentle, yet persistent.
Ways to start the conversation:
· I have been feeling concerned about you lately.
· Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.
· I wanted to check in with you because you have seemed pretty down lately.
Questions you can ask:
· When did you begin feeling like this?
· Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?
· How can I best support you right now?
· Do you ever feel so bad that you don’t want to be anymore?
· Have you thought about getting help?
Remember, being supportive involves offering encouragement and hope. Very often, this is a matter of talking to the person in language that he or she will understand and respond to while in a depressed mind frame.
What you can say that helps:
· You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.
· You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.
· I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.
· When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold of for just one more day, hour, minute — whatever you can manage.
· You are important to me. Your life is important to me.
· Tell me what I can do now to help you.
Avoid saying:
· It’s all in your head.
· We all go through times like this.
· Look on the bright side.
· You have so much to live for why do you want to die?
· I can’t do anything about your situation.
· Just snap out of it.
· What’s wrong with you?
· Shouldn’t you be better by now.

Living with a Mental Disorder

From the film ‘Girl, Interrupted’

When I was 13 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was hospitalized and medically treated in a children’s ward, for three months. Since 13 I have had six suicide attempts and three additional hospitalizations. My condition has been improving, marginally since 21 despite not being medicated, but over Christmas break I had a sort of relapse. I was not suicidal but rather listless, depressed, and I refused to eat or get out of bed. My family was so concerned for me that they called a mental health center who came out and saw me immediately. I was put into outpatient therapy and am currently getting back onto a medication treatment.
There were days when I couldn’t eat.
There were weeks when all I did was sleep.
There were months when I would harm myself and cry myself to sleep.
It was terrible. Terrible for my family, terrible for my friends, and terrible for my significant others who wanted to help, didn’t know how, but were caught up in the windstorm of my emotions.
I failed many classes, lost a couple of jobs, and ruined several relationships because of this. I am filled with regret mostly because I don’t even have a clear reason for these things except for the fact that I was sick and unable to make clear decisions.
Since January I have decided to make my life the best that it possibly can be and I wanted to share some of my methods of living with a mental disorder.

“Sorrowing Old Man (At Eternity’s Gate)” – Vincent Van Gough
  • Admit it to yourself. Understand that you have a mental disorder, you are not a bad person, you have a condition that affects your emotions and brain chemistry. These things need to be treated, like any other health issue, and if you don’t treat it it may continue to worsen. Saying that, having a mental disorder is no excuse for being destructive you are responsible for the management of your condition. A person with a disease cannot expose themselves to other irresponsibly, right? 
  • Seek help. Inpatient treatment is admitting yourself to a hospital if you feel like you are a danger to yourself or others and/or if you cannot continue to function. You will have access to doctors who will asses your condition and put you on the proper path to wellness. If you are suicidal or homicidal I would recommend this option. Outpatient treatment are options like therapy, group therapy, and counseling, this may be once a month, once a week, or several times a week. If you don’t feel like you need extensive care you should seek outpatient care. Having a professional help you sort out your issues and ways of dealing with them, is the best way to come to terms with your disorder.
  • Let go of your old life. The way you used to do things is not working, let it go. The way you approached your health, your relationships, your career, your daily life is over and you need to accept the change. You may discover that the things in your life are contributing to your condition and they need to be changed or abandoned. I have panic attacks triggered by a fear of failure or looking stupid, and I have to start learning how to let go of that fear to live a full life. 
  • Research your diagnosis. This is your life, your health and you need to take responsibility for it. Look up what your diagnosis means, what is this disorder what are common symptoms and treatments for it. What are the effects of the medicine that you were given and what is the rate of success. Is cognitive therapy available for it and are you able to start enacting some personal therapy of your own to help you deal with the disorder. 
Designs from a candy store in Barcelona called “Happy Pills”
  • Take the time. Tell people that you are making moves to get well and have patience with yourself. You are not going to get well over night and you need the time, the space and the understanding to get well. If you are living in a toxic environment that is counterproductive to your health, you have to address this. You can’t get well on the inside if the outside is also a mess. Taking the time and making the steps to get well may require you to make changes to your environment. Evaluate the people around you and if they are not encouraging you to get well, then you need to move away from them and take care of yourself. 
  • Try some physical therapy. I used to hate when people told me to try exercising. I was like “are you calling me fat?!” but it really does work. Exercise regulates our bodies(to help you sleep), releases dopamine (the feel good chemical), and gives you an excuse to focus on something else in your life. There is scientific evidence that having a healthy body can help us mentally as well, sharpening focus, reasoning, and stress levels. Exercise is sometimes the last thing I want to do but I do it now because its a habit for me. It’s me time. 
Hopefully these things have helped you. I can’t tell you that I have completely recovered, it is a daily struggle to stay well and reach happiness. My goal in all of this is to live a peaceful life and come to an acceptance of myself. I am on the road right now, there are good days and bad but I am making the decision to keep trying. I hope you keep trying too. 
Here are some resources:
http://www.befrienders.org/ – International
http://www.thetrevorproject.org/ – for Gay, Lesbian, Trans, Bisexual teens in the US

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