Monday, November 11, 2013

Church Just Got a Whole LOT Less Safe

For me, specifically.  There may be a whole lotta TMI on its way to you here, but it's relevant.  And quite frankly, in the spirit of being transparent because others benefit, I benefit from being open about it all on the internet because it reveals the malicious gossips to be the miserable toothless hags they really are. There's some controversial stuff in here, but none of it is sordid, and I won't allow the enemy to control the conversation uncontested, because from the reactions of some of my “friends” so far, he'd like nothing better than to turn this whole situation into some juicy piece of nastiness.

At this stage in the blog, if you're reading along in a timely fashion and not playing catch up years from now when bigwig REAL bloggers are following ME (ROFLMAO, as IF! But hey, a girl can DREAM), then the chances are pretty good that you know me in person, IRL, as they say.  So it probably won't come as news to YOU that I've lost a LOT of weight lately.  Like about 70 lbs since June 2012, which, if I count on my fingers, was about 16 months ago.  And go figure, I look different!  I'm not even terribly close to my goal, but I'm over halfway there, and while I'm happy with my progress, and it continues, I've kinda hit a plateau recently that has slowed things down enough to give me some time to evaluate “what’s next”.

“What’s next” could (and likely will) involve returning to a regular exercise program, I'm hoping my loving sweet hubby will want to use his gym membership more often if we're going together.  ;) But the current changes in my body have been pretty drastic in some areas (my waist!), and really NOT in others, where I'd hoped there might be changes in store… like my bust.  Overall, so far I've gone from a size 22-24 or 3X-4X to about a 14 below the waist.  HUGE difference there.  The difference in my bust has been almost ALL in my ribcage.  Which means my BRA size has gone from a 44H to a 38G.

So I'm feeling a little top-heavy, and I've lost touch with what I really look like.  I'm doing okay shopping for new clothes, there's a whole new selection of departments and stores that I can play in, and I'm getting pretty good at choosing the right sizes off the rack to at least be in the right neighborhood.  But I'm finding myself pulling on favorite tops out of my closet without a second thought and later on catching myself in the mirror and realizing that all that melted back and tummy fat are no longer available to fill out what now looks like a maternity top! 

And my daughter is getting married in August 2014!  Which is SUPER exciting, and we're really happy, but I'm having an issue picturing what I'm going to look like by then if the current trend continues… How does Dolly Parton pull off a Mother of the Bride look?  I really don't want to go there, she's a lovely person, but that's not a “look” that I'm comfortable with for me.  I don't especially want to look at her lovely wedding photos and see my daughter the Bride upstaged by my boobs.

So my husband and I started the conversation again about breast-reduction mammoplasty surgery.  It's been on and off the table for almost our entire relationship (14 years!), but there's always been obstacles that we couldn't overcome… my overall health, money for our portion of the surgery that wasn't covered at one time or another, my weight/BMI being too high, a 2 year waitlist in Canada (when we lived there), the list goes on and on.  Well, I consulted a surgeon here who seems to think I'd be an excellent candidate, and we submitted it to the insurance company and it got approved.  And very suddenly, we are dealing with a very different potential reality than we have been discussing in a “possibility” kind of way for years.  It's quite the adjustment.

Now if THAT part of the story is what you personally are getting hung up on, then you probably should just quit reading now, because it’s about to get FAR more controversial in here than plastic surgery.

So here's the real deal: my husband is THRILLED with the changes in my body.  He thought I was beautiful before, but NOW I am floating his boat in a very significant way.  He recently asked me to consider dying my hair red, and I started teasing him about his long standing out in the open “celebricrush” on Christina Hendricks, specifically on the appearance of her character “Joan” on Mad Men.  Let me tell you, it's both flattering and intimidating to realize that your spouse sees a significant resemblance to a celebrity like that.  There’s still PLENTY of room to shrink “into” her figure for me, about 4”-6” in any given direction if the internet is to be believed (and can I just say that it's a bit disconcerting to now possess the knowledge that there are people who obsess over the details of someone else's figure for no other reason than they are in the public eye in some capacity!? THAT part of this journey has led to some other observations about human nature… later) but still, it's there in the overall proportions, skin tone, general shape, and now the hair, which does apparently suit me, because a number of people were surprised and happy for me because now my “fiery redhead” outside “matches” my inside I guess.  Loads of compliments on the hair.  :D

So while he is absolutely supportive of the surgery we're considering, because he knows it will relieve a lot of pressure on my back and neck and shoulders, and he loves ALL of me no matter WHAT shape I have, if he's being completely truthful (which I give him much credit for) he will say that there's a part of him that will be sad to see these G's remodeled into D's, and then the thinks about that for a minute and realizes that THAT notion is ABSURD, because what guy (one who's a boob guy anyway) would be somehow DISAPPOINTED with D's anyway!?  #holyfirstworldproblemsdude. (In all seriousness, it's also MAJOR surgery that takes WEEKS to recover from and the potential complications are significant.)

But the fact that it gave him pause gave ME pause, and I decided to take some time to really think it all through and get all the facts.  And in my quest to get all the facts, I started looking online for pictures of women who more closely resemble what I think I look like.  And a LOT of those pictures are either totally unrelatable because they're fashion models that have been photoshopped to death, or kinda porny and made me uncomfortable.  And then I stumbled onto some curvy girls in boudoir photography and realized I was missing that specific keyword “boudoir”.  Which is French for “dressing room” and implies a state of undress in a somewhat (usually) classy way.  But finally I was seeing images of women that kinda looked like what I see in the mirror (if I turn just so and stick my chin out and suck my now seriously flabby tummy in or something like that).  And then I realized that I had already purchased a Groupon for a portrait session to celebrate my official crossing into One-derland (a number on the scale that starts with 1).  Further investigation into THAT revealed that the photographer involved THERE specifically was a man, and even if I EVER decided to pursue boudoir photography on my own, I wouldn't want a man other than my husband to be there.  Much less to be the one examining all my photos afterwards… you get the idea.

So it quickly became time to float this past my hubby, because Lo and Behold, there was ANOTHER Groupon being offered by a lingerie boutique that specialized in women of all shapes and sizes, for boudoir photography!  And it was different from the rest of them because a) their website had pictures of girls who look more like me than the rest of them did, and b) the Groupon price included everything, hair, makeup, a wardrobe selection from the store's inventory, retouched images, prints, a DVD of all the finished work, and c) it was all women, turns out, it was all women WHO LOOK LIKE ME.  I talked to them on the phone and got a really GREAT gut-check.  They do pictures of everyone and anyone and encourage all women to “celebrate your body” but these particular women understood on a personal level how fragile us “big girls” are.  Because we don't have enough positive, empowering role models.  Because thin is in and the “thigh gap” is the rage.

At any rate, I had NO IDEA what to expect when I broached the subject with him, but he was THRILLED.  Sure, there's an aspect to his “thrilled” that was the titillating nature of the whole thing, but I got to watch the coolest process take place all over his face as he thought about it… and what he said when he was done thinking about it will sit with me forever.  The biggest reason he was ALL CAPS THRILLED is because he was so excited that I would FINALLY GET TO SEE WHAT HE SEES when he looks at me. 

That maybe, through this, that I would BELIEVE him when he tells me that I'm beautiful.

So, still gravely unpersuaded, I did some MORE online research, this time, specifically about that particular enterprise.  And let me just say that the human nature thing is COMPOUNDED by the anonymity of the INTERNET.  Wow.  So I went from nervous to REALLY reconsidering the whole thing.  So one day, I decided I was just going to go down there and meet them and see what there is to see and take this up with the Lord some more with more information.

And THAT sealed the deal.  Because the woman who owns that place is a warm, loving, welcoming, married, understanding, generous CHRISTIAN woman.  We had CHURCH in the lingerie store with me ugly crying all over her about not seeing a pretty picture of myself since our wedding photos in 2001, and that was at 40 lbs less than I am now, 13 years ago and seriously ¼ of the stretchmarks and ugly foldy flabby belly bits and the double chin and the backfat and rosacea and 5 cup sizes… SOBBING UGLY CRYING WAS GOING ON.

And then I got MAD.  At myself, for buying into the drug of what society thinks and at society for drugging me into thinking that I wasn't good enough.  And we started talking about THAT too, and specifically about feeling insecure talking about this stuff IN CHURCH.  And about how passionate I am about making sure young people (especially girls) are equipped with more information about sex than they are provided in church… because basically the message they get in church is “save yourselves for marriage” and “porn/masturbation/impure thoughts are all BAD” and at school the message is “these are the mechanics for everything, and there's no judgment on anything” which effectively leaves them with experimentation as a replacement for EDUCATION and then there's unnecessary DRAMA.  Or, if they actually MANAGE to navigate this minefield with some degree of success and DO enter marriage without a lot of banged up baggage from messing it up, they're often WOEFULLY UNDERPREPARED for what the heck to DO with each other once “they have a license for THAT”.  So then we had some CHURCH on THAT.

Well, two HOURS later, we'd each made a new friend, and the photoshoot was BOOKED.  And I mentioned in a totally off-hand, seriously cavalier way (that I have MASTERED when I'm actually pretty serious but prepared to laugh it off) that I was going to be looking for part-time work as of Nov 1st.  And her mouth dropped OPEN, because she's been looking for someone to work mornings!  (Those of you who know me well are now snickering because you know how I feel about mornings.) To which I replied: “Define “mornings” please.” And she pshawed me and said “We don’t even open until 11, but we can talk more about that later after the shoot.” ;)

My hubby and I were celebrating the 14th anniversary of our 1st date on Oct 26th, so we booked a hotel room in town for that night and the photo shoot was the next day.  And it was SHOCKINGLY AWESOME.  The other girls there doing my hair and makeup and sharing the photography duties were really nice and made me so comfortable! I realized about halfway through that I felt so at home there that it was weird that I didn't feel weird sitting in my cheetah bra and undies getting my hair and makeup fixed for the next set and chatting about life.

And the pictures turned out great.  They're a little more glam than I'm used to seeing on my face, and they've been tweaked a tiny bit here and there, but I've seen the originals and the tweaks side by side, and it's really nothing significant.  I'm still coming to terms with relating the girl in the pics to the girl in my skin, and there were SOME pics that were just plain awful because that's bound to happen occasionally, but it's been a good process.  Chris was there for the whole thing, and he was also really comfortable.  It's just a great place, and our heads were in the right space, and our motivations were on the same page, and I haven't lost a moment's sleep over it.

It has just occurred to me that I haven't shared the NAME of this great company that I now work for, if you're in the area, stop in, if you're not, check us out online:

Beauty N Kurves Lingerie Boutique and Photography Studio

What has been VERY interesting through this entire process has been other people's reactions to the whole idea.  I hadn't given enough credit to a couple of significant people in my life for being open-minded enough to be accepting. I'm guilty of having a conversation in my head with them before having the actual conversation with them, and I was all worked up over nothing.

Oddly enough, virtual strangers that I talked to about this (generally people involved in my preparation for the big event, like a clerk in Nordstrom's lingerie department and a gal at a spa, and a Nars girl at the mall) were all REALLY EXCITED for me and full of “You GO girl!” positive reinforcement and wanted to be helpful and do whatever it took to help me keep my nerve up while I got through the last weeks before the shoot.

I'm learning that there are some relationships that were headed in a death-spiral direction before all this for a reason and this has helped to crystallize some of that.  There are just some natural consequences of being a judgmental and manipulative bitch in one's relationships, and I'm DONE with more than one.  One of them doesn't even know about the shoot at all, she's just all weirded out because I now work in a “store DOWNTOWN that sells racy underwear and takes DIRTY PICTURES.”  Honestly, I'm not sure if that one is more scandalized by her opinion of the pictures on the website or of the shop's location in Queen Anne, which is apparently the Gateway Neighborhood to the fifth circle of Godlessness.  But she's one of the worst gossips at our church, and it wouldn't be the first time I'd heard my personal business back through her via someone else, so I figured I might as well blog about it, and let the gossips do their thing, because they will anyway.

Here's my bottom line:  God created my body, and He gave it to me to steward.  God created sex, and He created marriage so we could enjoy sex with our bodies without the consequence of sin.  My husband and I participated in an intimate experience that had service people attached to it.  To me, there's no sin in this experience.  The other people in the room were no more invited into my marriage bed than a counselor or a doctor or a therapist would be.  There are two images from this session that are being released, one on the company website which has been cropped so tight that the only people who might recognize me are people who have seen me undressed anyway, and the other is being posted here, has not been retouched, is one of my favorites from the entire shoot, and I’m revealing less than the average bathing suit.  And I've still got dancer's legs for days.  I'd honestly lost sight of that until I saw this picture.

I'm FED UP with the enemy getting all the input into our minds about sex!  He didn't create it.  But it MUST BE an incredibly powerful tool for building God's kingdom through our marriage relationships and their stability for the enemy to spend so much concentrated time and energy trying to fuck it up.  So I am TAKING IT BACK WHERE IT BELONGS.  And I imagine that whoever wrote the Song of Songs was probably tempted to be embarrassed by its being shared with other people due to its incredibly intimate nature, and I'm not pretending that my photo shoot is in any way equivalent to Scripture, but we have GOT to lift the taboo on talking about sex in church.  The only way out of darkness is INTO THE LIGHT.  Sin and sickness and sordid secrets grow in the dark, but they lose all power to harm us when we pull them out into the light.  That's where healing happens.

The jury is still out on the boob job. ;)  I’m probably going to wait now that we're so close to the end of the year and we've just been informed that our insurance plan will be changing Jan 1 regardless due to the Affordable Care Act.  I'm not going to rush to surgery just because I may have to go through another approval process, IF I decide to go through with it right now.  It's major surgery.  And the potential for complications isn't minor, and the effect that any complications might have on my ability to participate in the wedding in August are pretty significant.  So it's a lot to chew on.  But I have more info now than I did before.  I just had NO IDEA how MUCH info I was going to have, and on how many fronts.


  1. That is one FABULOUS picture! I agree that the red hair was a good move. :) Also,it's unfortunate when people make church a less than safe place to be. I really only confide fully in the pastors, since they're legally bound to keep things confidential. You just never know otherwise, and I've been burned a time or two by "friends."

  2. Oh my gosh, what a great picture! I loved this post - you echoed many of the same things I struggle with - body image issues, breast reduction surgery dilemma, recent weight loss and the struggles that come with it, even though it's a good thing. Don't ever think you are alone in these things. And now I know I'm not alone in them, either!

    1. Awesome! I'm so glad that my story helped someone, that was the whole point of taking the risk and putting it out there in the first place, because we are NOT alone! Hang in there sister!