Reinventing Elle: Thirty and a Third

So last Sunday was the 3 month anniversary of my 30th birthday. (Don’t judge me.)  It also happened to be the day that I cut all of my hair off.  The previous Friday, at Neo-Soul Night at the Carter Barron Amphitheater, I had a discussion with my girls and decided to do the “Big Chop”.  I did it for a number of reasons.  The main reason why is because I wanted to change something about myself.  And yes, cutting my hair is drastic and irreplaceable, but it’ll grow back.  This coming from the same person who always felt like I had to have hair and that I would never look good being the size I am with short hair.  And living in DC, the fear of people thinking that I was something I wasn’t was real.  I wasn’t too concerned with what my friends thought.  I was concerned about what my family and my co-workers would think, moreso the latter since I saw them 5 days a week.  I walked into work Monday with my head so I wouldn’t have to make eye contact with anyone.  But something inside me said, “Hold your head up.  Be confident in yourself.”  I immediately snapped my head up with confidence and poise and haven’t put it down yet.

After 2 years, I finally saw my physician again this past week.  I always pride myself on going to the doctor and dentist on schedule each year.  When I found out I was losing my job last summer, I called my doctor to make an appointment before my insurance was up.  Unfortunately, the first available appointment was about 3 weeks after my job ended.  One of my first thoughts when I got hired at my new gig was, “YES!!! I have medical insurance again!”  (Don’t ask why it’s taken me 5 months to get to her.)  She told me something that I’ve known to be true but haven’t taken to seriously-I need to lose weight.  And even though I’ve only gained 4 pounds in 2 years, my health is a concern.  I have prehypertension.  So yes, while I hem and haw and work out and eat right for about a week before I go back to my old ways, that’s not an option anymore.  I need to get serious about my health. So I will find different ways to work and get exercise during the week.  I’m happy to report I walked a lot this weekend. 

There comes a time in our lives when we realize we have to re-invent ourselves.  Whether it’s to look better, to be healthier, or to do something new, we may to do something we’ve never done before to get the things that we need and/or want.  What do I want?  To be healthy and happy and enjoy life.  And it’s time to start taking things seriously, especially my health.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

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Some of the Big Changes and Decisions Faced After Childbirth

Today, we have guest blogger Katie Moore lending a post to SGITC.  As someone who has 2 cousins that are expecting and comes from a family where someone has given birth each year, child-rearing and preparation is very important to me.  And I hope it’s important to you.  Even though you may not be planning to have children anytime soon, the below is pertinent and includes information of which we all should be aware. 

Preparing for the birth of your child is such an exciting time, and new mothers are often nervous about the changes their life is about to undergo.  It’s true that there will be sacrifices, but they are balanced out with an incredible amount of joy.  Here are some tips to help you prepare for what truly is a magical and wonderful time in your life.

Your Sleep Schedule is Optional
If you are nearing your due date, then you are probably already encountering some sleepless nights.  Friends and family are probably encouraging you to sleep whenever you can, even if that does mean indulging in an afternoon nap.  This is excellent advice that will serve you well now and in the early weeks of your child’s life.  Don’t get hung up on your exact sleeping schedule, especially if you are plagued with insomnia.  Sleep when you can.  Once your baby is safely home, you will learn how to nap when he or she is napping, allowing you to wake up for those nightly feedings.

You Still Need a Support Group, But it May Change
You probably have a network of friends and family you can call on when you’re struggling with something.  This is important, and after your baby arrives it will be even more important.  However, don’t be surprised if it starts to shift.  You will find yourself calling on your friends who are already moms more often, because they can relate to what you are going through and offer great advice.  You do not have to ignore the childless friends, nor should you.  However, rest assured that it’s normal, natural and okay for your support group and circle of friends to start gradually changing.  If you have childless friends you are particularly close to, then you might want to make an effort to stay in contact with them and get together on occasion.

You Will Be Faced with Big Decisions
From circumcision and baptism through to teaching your child how to drive and beyond, you will have to make some big decisions as a parent.  One of the earliest ones regards immunizations.  The MMR vaccine in particular was once thought to cause autism, but you can rest easy knowing that these vaccines are completely safe.  The CDC has done extensive studies on the safety of vaccines and they have found them to be safe and necessary to prevent your child from contracting some serious and potentially deadly diseases.  

Another decision you will face even before having the baby is whether you will invest in cord blood banking and save your child’s cord blood.  The stem cells found in this blood could potentially be used in medical treatments in the future; so many people opt to make the investment.

You will also need to decide if you will breastfeed or formula feed.  Countless studies support the fact that breast milk is superior to formula.  It is great for the babies, and it’s free. If you have concerns about your ability to breastfeed, talk to the lactation specialists at the hospital. They can address any of your specific concerns.  Even if you only breastfeed for the first few weeks, your baby will still benefit greatly.  However, if breastfeeding does not work out for you, don’t be too hard on yourself.   Your baby will thrive on formula, also.  The important thing is that you love your child and protect him or her.

There is no doubt that your life will soon change.  It can seem overwhelming at times, but the changes will lead you to an incredible joy that nothing can replace.  Be prepared to change your schedule, and don’t be surprised if your circle of friends slowly shifts.  This is also a good time to research some of those big decisions you will have to make, so you will know what to say when asked about circumcision, breastfeeding, cord-blood, vaccines and other important decisions.

Katie Moore has written and submitted this article. Katie is an active blogger who discusses the topics of, motherhood, children, fitness, health and all other things Mommy. She enjoys writing, blogging, and meeting new people! To connect with Katie contact her via her blog, Moore From Katie or her twitter, @moorekm26.

 

Weight and Dating- Part 4

Southern Mom is in town visiting, so I’ve been playing hostess/tourist.  While I have a few moments, I’ll continue posting in my “Weight and Dating” series.  Today we hear from Ms. Jenn and Dez.

Ms. Jenn is a 28 year old woman who is born, raised, and currently living in Washington, DC.

I’ve been in a relationship for the past 6 years, and I am a size 18.

I would like to start by saying I’m honored to render my opinions on this topic. It’s the story of my frigging life. I absolutely, positively, 100% find plus size men attractive. My first crush was Ice Cube in “Boyz in the Hood”, and we all know he was rocking a lil baby fat in ‘91. In fact it is my preference to date bigger men…could this be because I’m a bigger gal? I’ve often asked myself this, and I’ve decided that my weight has nothing to do with it. Aesthetically, I enjoy the look of a bigger man’s body, the softness of his belly, and the way his clothes fit him as opposed to just hanging on a thin frame. Again these are just my opinions not the gospel!

So since I feel this way about big men it’s obvious that I will date them. The man I’ve been dating for the past 6 years is plus sized, and I love all 280 lbs. of him! I love the way he looks in and out of his clothes and find that he pays attention to that and shows off for me!

So would I encourage him to loose weight? Only if I was ASKED to solicit my opinion! When my mate got into a car accident 2 years ago, he sustained a knee injury that kept him off work and on the couch for 6 months. Needless to say…he picked up about 25 lbs. Now I didn’t mind it a bit, but he complained about the extra pounds and said it was affecting his asthma. He asked me if I would jog with him and change the cooking until he came off the weight. I did, and within weeks of doing that and him going back to work, the pounds were gone, and I was back to the regular program. I’m just saying its not about weight…its about being comfortable and confident with yourself and going for what you really like instead of being bothered with other folks’ shallow bull. Live life on your own terms and embrace all of yourself.

Dez is a 32 year old newly engaged man hailing from Hilton Head, SC that currently lives in Atlanta, GA.

My response to this subject is that we are living in a superficial world where everyone thinks that you need to be a certain size in order to be found attractive. Females have it extra hard because of the things that we see on television and in the movies, but for me my fiancé is not a size 6 but she has the perfect body for me. I consider my fiancé a curvy female and that is my preference. Living in Atlanta, I definitely see all kinds of shapes and sizes and a lot of females that live here actually work out non-stop. My fiancé works out in order to maintain her figure. I honestly feel that if a person wants to get in shape it should be for the right reasons, such as living a longer life, living healthier, and eating better. Getting in shape shouldn’t come as a result of trying to find someone to date.

Why is it females who are considered plus size are insecure about their appearance? I know plenty of females who are larger than their other halves, but also they are all African American as opposed to other races. African American men tend to like females that have a little size to them. In my book, I feel as long as you are happy with the way you look and you are healthy, a woman should not have to alter her looks in order to find someone to date or to be accepted into society.

Thanks to Jenn and Dez for their participation.  We’re almost done with our series, then I’ll be sharing my personal thoughts.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Weight and Dating- Part 3

As promised, today we hear from Ms. Toni and Bishop Williams (clearly not his real name). 

And for those of you wondering, yes, I have my own thoughts, which I will share with you at the conclusion of this series.  🙂

Ms. Toni is a single, 38 year old woman originally from Saginaw, MI that now resides in Beltsville, MD.

I am a plus size woman. In other terms I am overweight. Obese to be factual, but I don’t have any weight related medical issues (Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol etc). I like who I am and although there are a few things I’d like to change, for the most part, I enjoy my body. When I see another overweight/ obese person (depending on how he is shaped), yes, I find some of them very attractive. If asked if you are attracted to overweight/plus size people, a lot of people shirk at the idea. That’s why I believe they came up with alternative names for larger people– Plush, Thick, Soft, Big Boned. They use these terms in order to not just say the harsh reality. “I’m attracted to heavier people.” Some will even say they prefer a fit, slimmer person, but when no one is looking they are really undercover “chubby chasers” – winking at and admiring the large confident person walking by. I also believe that this question is equivalent to asking if you like sugar cookies or chocolate chip; everyone has their preference, and you can’t get mad at their answer.

Because of my size, I like to look at a man and feel like we would have a great wrestling match in the bedroom, without any worry of me squishing him. I also enjoy the feeling when I snuggle up with a big man. Having a live Teddy Bear works for my smile! I do need to clarify- I enjoy dating plus size, confident men who have pride in themselves. A well groomed, nice smelling big boy with confidence in his walk will have me walking over smiling, asking “How you doin’?!” *Wendy Williams voice* So not only have I dated plus size men in the past, I prefer it.  I’m a Big and Tall men’s store stalker. But again, it all depends on how his body is shaped.

 Because I don’t want to incur any weight related health issues I try to stay semi-active. Not necessarily a gym rat but I’ll take a good walk, climb stairs, and dance around to cut out the huffing and puffing during normal movement. Would I push my health ideals of what he needs to do on him?  No.  I would let him know what I am doing and ask him to join me. The choice is entirely his. But, if I see some weight related issues going on (sleep apnea, heavy breathing, irregular sweating, etc.) I’d suggest for him to seek a doctor’s opinion/care. If I notice that he grossly eats, I’d encourage him to make a few changes to his diet along with me and again, it’s his choice.

 So to sum this up, I love a plus size man. As long as he is well groomed, confident, shaped well, and based on how he views and takes care of his health.

Bishop Williams is a single, 29 year old man that currently lives in his hometown of Houston, TX.

This question for me is not a yes or no answer.  With that being said, my answer is, “It depends.”  I can’t say that I am not or never have been attracted to some overweight women, but when it comes to dating, I do prefer a smaller woman.  That is not to say I would not ever date an overweight woman, but she’d just have to get my attention in another way first.  I like pretty women, first and foremost, so if I meet an overweight woman with a pretty face, she has a chance.  Now let me clarify that a pretty face is just a start.  If she has the right attitude and a nice personality among other things that I look for, then we can talk.  Now in order for us to get serious, with all things being equal, I’d have to see a concerted effort on her part to live healthy (eating, drinking, exercising and sleeping), which will ultimately bring her down to her optimum weight.  The primary reason that overall health and appearance are a big deal to me in terms of a mate is because they are a big deal to me personally.  I would not ask a mate to do anything that I wouldn’t do or am already doing.  I personally think overall health is important from a physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional standpoint.  The physical, in my opinion, somewhat serves as a window for one to see what may be going on inside and/or behind the scenes.  And yes, if I did meet an overweight woman whom I clicked with, I would do my part to encourage her to live healthy, but only if she made it up in her mind that that is what she wants to do. 

Thanks to Ms. Toni and Bishop Williams!  (Did ya’ll see how short his response was?!?! Kidding!)  Be sure to comment folks.  I know you ALL have an opinion.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Weight and Dating- Part 2

Today, we hear from Chardonnay and Chalant!

Chardonnay is a 30 year old married woman currently living in Mystic, CT and hails from Atlanta, GA.

Do I think men who are overweight are attractive?  I personally think it’s how you carry yourself and dress for your body type.   I’ve seen some big girls/guys STAY fly/fresh and that IS attractive to me.  I’ve also seen big girls/guys look bigger and frumpier because they don’t dress right for their body type.  I mean you can’t help what genes you got–some people are just naturally big and that’s okay.  There is somebody out there that loves and is attracted to that–like me.  There are also people who are attracted to slim folks and some people that are attracted to personality types or skin complexions and others that are attracted to pretty faces or long hair–everyone has different tastes.  That’s why we don’t all look the same. I just think bigger people get the short end because the media has focused on thin being BEST when it’s just different.

Yes (I would date an overweight man), but initially the fictitious man I thought I wanted was what society has raised us as women to want–prince charming–tall dark and handsome.  None of Disney’s princes were chubby–and all the princesses had 17 inch waists!  Is that real? No, but the same way romantic comedies aren’t real and women expect relationships to be like them (I digress).  I had no control over what attracted me–my significant other is big and has always been “not skinny”, but he still charmed me, and I fell for him.  He is confident and handsome and I love the extra meat on his bones ;). *This is after I dated a few prince charming body types and found them to be boring and at times self absorbed.  

I would encourage him/her to be his/her best self, not to necessarily lose weight.  If your vitals are good, health is good, you are eating right and exercising as you should–as anyone should–and indulge occasionally then cool.  But yes I would encourage exercise if the doctor said so (i.e. lose weight).  But I’ve also encouraged my size 2 best friend to exercise because she doesn’t.  Heart health is what’s important.  If you are “large and in charge” despite your healthy eating and exercising then cool, but if you are big or even obese because you hit up McDonald’s daily and watch reality tv for hours on end then don’t get an attitude–because you aren’t being your best self.  And that’s an injustice to nobody but you baby.

I think an important question to add is, “Are you or have you ever been overweight?”  That gives you perspective for how folks answer these questions.  I was a little more insensitive to this 10 years ago because I have never gone through those feelings–but now that I’m married to a man that has–he has really opened my eyes to how one thinks and feels and is ridiculed and constantly judged from cohorts to parents to coaches to workplace discrimination….

Chalant is a 33 year old single man originally from Brooklyn that currently splits his time between Laurel, MD and Newport News, VA.

Sorry, but I don’t find them (overweight women) attractive. I may think that she looks beautiful, appealing, or lovely, but I never have the thought to myself “I think that she is sexy” or “I want to have sex with her.”  I know that this next comment won’t make things much better, but I feel the same way about White Women of all sizes. I can look at white women and think to myself, “I think she is killing that dress and those shoes” but won’t think to myself, “I can date her.”

I don’t think that I would (date a plus-size woman). I am at the stage in my life, where I want a wife, a mate, something more than a chill girlfriend. I realize that I am limiting my list of single good Black women, but again that why it is called a preference.  Also, I always think about the future. Am I going to find her attractive in a couple of months? What are some potential health problems? If we had sex, will it get lost? I know those questions seem wrong on all aspects, but those are just some of the things that go in my mind.

However, I don’t know if this is the underlying problem. I believe that the majority of the single, available, dating population within the DMV is very “PRETENTIOUS”. People want to date someone that is better looking than their “ex” or has a better occupation/making comparable money to what they are making. When single people are having conversations with their friends concerning “a person of interest”, some of the 1st questions that tend to arise are “What does she do?”, “Where does she work?”, “How does she look?”

When those responses aren’t satisfying to their “so-called” friends, interests tends to die down, because the word “settling” gets thrown into the conversation. I’m not a saint. I fit that mold a lot.

Thanks to Chardonnay and Chalant!  Next time, we hear from Ms. Toni and Bishop Williams.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Weight and Dating- Part 1

As promised, I reached out to my inner circle for some commentary on weight and dating.  Over the next few days, I’ll share their responses, one male and one female per post.  I asked everyone the same 3 questions- 1. Do you think men/women who are overweight are attractive? 2. Would you (or have you) date a plus-sized man/woman? and 3. If so, would you encourage him/her to lose weight?  It was interesting to read people’s responses.  Today, we have Mitch Rapp and Southern Cousin. (Names have been changed to protect identity….DUH!)

Mitch Rapp is a single 28 year old man from Milwaukee, WI currently living in Atlanta.

The answer is no…and yes.

No because I know myself, and as I have grown and matured I am attracted to a certain “type”.   When I look back over exes and those I’ve dealt with, they all, for the most part fit in a certain “range” from looks to size.  Now they are indeed diverse, but nowhere in there have I dated or dealt with a plus sized (Monique) woman.   The reason behind it is both superficial and fundamental… superficial in the way that I’m not INITIALLY attracted to plus sized women.  I never have been, it could be some deep seated mainstream brainwashing etc, but I don’t think that’s it…cause I LOVE natural hair women, all skin tones, etc etc.  I think it has to do with my own interests… I’m not a fitness NUT but I enjoy working out and doing things outdoors that require a decent level of fitness.  I’ve never dated a workout queen, and don’t need to, but I couldn’t see myself with someone who didn’t enjoy those things sometimes.
Now, I am 28 years old… and to ME the sexiest thing a woman can be, is confident, intelligent, and a pleasure to be around.  All things obviously a plus sized woman can be.
Now, I am not a jerk like the guy in her article who brushed her off and didn’t even wanna speak, but in that environment I most likely will target my “range” of women.  If I dated a plus sized woman it would probably be more of a situation where we were friends and became more, because regardless of what anyone says to the contrary, initial “attraction” for men is 99% physical (absolutely carnal), not contingent on what you do, where you work, your education level… carnal.  From there we sift through the BS… but an initial attraction (like in that lounge setting) is carnal, don’t let any man tell you different.

Do I find plus sized women attractive?  Absolutely.  But (admittedly) it’s different and usually slower… I cannot say with a straight face I have ever looked at a woman Monique’s size and been physically attracted to her.   I may have thought she had a beautiful face/smile carries her weight well, etc, but never have I been ,“Ooooh… she’s sexy.”  So again, the attraction would be on things that happened more over time vs. that initial attraction.  (Truth is, it’s the same thing with any woman I date now, cause I am no longer dating strictly for “fun”.)
Would I encourage a plus sized woman I date to lose weight… that’s kind of where I have an issue with SOME plus sized women… I’d want a woman who WANTS to lose weight on her own and asks me for help.  If I have to say, “Come on you need to hit the gym” and she doesn’t want to… it would never work.  Which is more a reflection on the personality traits vs her size.
I definitely think I can and possibly will end up with a thick woman (not fit, but not obese) cause in the end, I’m more concerned with can you be a good mom, do we get along, can I marry you, than I am how fit they are now… cause truth is, I think after 90% of women have babies it’s a wrap anyways.  So I’d rather be with someone I enjoy being around/mesh with than someone who’s “in shape”.

Southern Cousin is a 34 year old married woman from Hilton Head, SC currently living in Pompano Beach, FL.

Some. Some men and/or women can be plus-size and really take care of themselves – e.g. bathe, dress well, coordinate, carry themselves well. They’re confident in who they are and it shows in the way they carry themselves. There are others who are overweight and are embarrassed, which translates into their either wearing very frumpy clothes, recoiling in the corner, or smelling sour in the rolls of their fat. There are yet OTHER overweight people (that I see daily) who are embarrassed that they are unable to get the weight off, so they mask how they feel about themselves in tattoos, slutty clothes, thus subjecting other people to have to blatantly look at their insecurity issues. Therefore, the former of the three are the only overweight people who I would find attractive.

I have dated a plus-sized man. I had already fallen for him prior to meeting him, but honestly, if I had seen him in public, I never would have talked to him. He was sweet and smart, but he was overweight and angry that he was unable to be as thin as he was before. The weight had snuck up on him and he didn’t really know what to do about it, so he didn’t carry himself well (falling into the last two aforementioned descriptors). He was even more annoyed because here was his girlfriend, thin and active, but here was he, overweight and ordering another pizza. Lots of times in public, many people looked at us like, how did he get her?! And he was visibly annoyed by that. Even my friends made fun of him (not to his face) because they told me that I could do so much better. I don’t know if it was the social pressures or what – but the more we went out and the more intimate we got, the more unattractive he became to me.

I didn’t encourage him outright to lose weight or exercise, but I would invite him to do so. When we went out to eat, I would watch how much of what I ate and hoped he would follow suit. Sometimes he would, sometimes he wouldn’t, but I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I would invite him to exercise with me – again, sometimes he would and sometimes he wouldn’t. But I didn’t make it a big deal. Yes, we eventually broke up, but not ONLY because of his weight, but I do think that it did play a bit of a factor in our relationship. He felt ridiculed a lot and it was hard for him to be intimate a great deal because of his weight. He didn’t want to go to a lot of places in public because of what people said about our being a couple and that started to eat at the relationship.

As an aside: Not eating right and not exercising is not healthy, period. You could be Angelina Jolie thin or Gabouray Sidebe heavy and still be “fat” in both instances. Healthy is more attractive than anything else and that is the bottom line.

Thanks to Mitch and Southern Cousin for their responses.  Feel to share your thoughts, whether you agree or don’t agree.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

* The article Mitch is referring to is a blog piece written by Brittney Cooper.  Click “article” to read her commentary.

The Whole Weight Thing

This past Friday, I was a guest commentator on “The Daily Drum”, which airs Monday through Friday on WHUR 96.3 in DC.  The topic was plus-size women and dating and whether a woman’s waistline was directly related to her dating life.  This show was directly related to a post written by “Crunk Feminist Collective” blogger Brittney Cooper.  I may share the link of the show with you all in the near future, but for now, I want to take this post in a different direction.

While the host, Harold Fisher, was pretty adamant about where he wanted his show to go (and kept his questions in alignment with that), there were a number of places this conversation could have gone.  For example, rather than JUST talking about plus-size women, we could have (and should have) discussed plus-size men.  Just as there are men that will not date overweight women, there are just as many women that will not date overweight men. 

It seems recently with posts from Jozen Cummings at “Until I Get Married“, Brittney Cooper at the “Crunk Feminist Collective“, and Alice Randall at the “New York Times“, there seems to be this influx of Black women and weight issues.  I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone of when before it was Black women being single. 

So, as I’m known to do sometimes, I’m going to take this a step further.  I’ve decided to interview 10 people, 5 men and 5 women, married, single, childless, parents, to find out their ideal body type in the opposite sex.  Since it’s going to take me a while to reach out to the people I want to interview, it may be a few weeks before I can post all of their thoughts.  I don’t know if it’s because it’s summertime or maybe the world needs another way to pick on Black women (oops, did I say that???), but maybe’s it’s something that needs to be discussed. 

If you’re interested in being interviewed, feel free to e-mail me at evolvingelle@gmail.com.  I can tell you I already have 2 men and 3 women, so slots are filling up quickly. 🙂  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

P.S. I realized I didn’t give that much commentary.  In case you missed me on the show, no, I don’t think a woman’s (or man’s) waistline is directly correlated with her dating life.  First, as my auntie Casey used to say, “There’s a taste for every shape.”  Sure, we have “types” that are aesthically pleasing to us and that are going to grab our attention.  A man wants a woman who’s confident, sure of herself, and enjoys life.  But if a woman is unhappy at 250 pounds, unless she makes changes on the inside, too, she’s going to be unhappy at 150 pounds.  Same for a man.  Oh, and my type?  I need a man with some meat on his bones-but not so much meat that he has issues breathing or walking or doing simple day-to-day things without taking a break every 5 minutes.