Graduation

Three years later, I graduated. Here is video and text from my graduation speech.

 

 

In my first class of seminary, I stepped into a pulpit and introduced myself by quoting Jay Z: I’m like Che Guevara with bling on, I’m complex. In truth, at that moment my own complexity terrified me. Being everything that I am all at once seemed impossible. Since then I have changed and grown and come to see the fullness of myself: my seemingly  mismatched identities, my contradictions, my vast network of complexities as Divine. So. Allow me to reintroduce myself:

 

My name is KC. My hair is purple, my dress is rainbow colors, my earrings are big, my makeup took a long time. I’m a bad fat bitch, writer, podcaster, dancer, lover, free-range everything.

 

In a world of either/or I often say “yes.” I am about all multiple everything. I love multiple people in multiple categories in multiple ways. I love God in plural, even though I still couldn’t tell you what exactly God is.

 

I am impossible. I prefer it that way.

 

I am an unfinished story. I am weaving together threads I’ve been handed – threads I asked for and threads I never wanted. I am creation creating itself in collaboration with all other creating creations.

 

I am liminal. I am between. I am, I am, I am.

 

I love you.

 

I am and have been loved by other impossible people. Loved as loves, as confidants, as friends, as acquaintances, as a reader of works written by people I’ll never know. Their love makes me feel possible. I want to love in ways that make other people possible. To be a person in the world who makes even one person say yes to themselves.

 

I want you to say yes to yourself.
Breathe, say yes, and let go. We’ve got a future to build.

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Holy Silence

There is something very special about being able to be quiet with someone else. Settling in and being able to be just present to life with them. Not feeling like you have to fill all your time with chatter, not feeling like something is wrong if for a while you don’t talk.

I get it. In a society so heavy with admonishments to always be doing something – or, at very least, consuming something – it’s easy to become uncomfortable without constant stimulation. For most of us, being quiet with ourselves is a nigh on unaccomplishable feat, let alone attempting quiet with other people. If we’re not constantly interacting physically or verbally, how will we avoid being boring? How will we keep the other person from thinking we’re bored of them? Even many spaces where silence is valued are focused almost solely on being silent with yourself. While that sort of silence is also really valuable, comfortable silence between two people is a particularly beautiful thing.

There is a closeness in comfortable silence between people, a feeling of being linked together in a way that is both before and beyond words. This silence is holy. It is the experience of existing with another person and feeling connected to them on a level that is inaccessible with only words. Among the more obvious examples of this are the moments just before sleep and just upon waking up, laying in bed with a lover and dreamily sensing one another, seeing one another as whole, beautiful beings. However, I think it is foolish to suggest that people must share a bed or, really, even a sexual relationship in order to have this type of intimacy.

As a culture we’re very used to thinking of intimacy as the sole province of romantic – or at very least, sexual – relationships. By extension, even when we reorient ourselves to view intimacy of that nature as holy, we do not always extend that view to the multitude of ways in which people are non-romantically/sexually intimate with one another. This I believe is a serious mistake. Of course it is necessary and important for us to move toward affirming a wide variety of sexual and romantic relationships, and of course we should make note of the holiness of physical, sexual intimacy, but can we really say that this is enough? What of those who are never partnered and those who have no desire to be? How does this framing fit with those who have more than one partner? Further, what damage might we do if we proclaim the importance and holiness of romantic and sexual relationships without being sure to note the divinity of friendship and genuine human care.

When we are able to be silent together I think we are more readily able to feel the Divine in one another. I know that that is true for me. I have felt the Divine – the feeling I know that I can call God – in the sleepy lulls of late night conversations and in moments of tear-stained silence in cars, living rooms, and counseling offices alike. I’ve felt it as I tip-toed around my sleeping friends, and while laying on a hill in the sun listening to music together. These moments are intimate, and they are holy. I would do a disservice to them, myself, and the Divine if I were to say otherwise.

 

Confession

This feels like confession.

 

I don’t love my body.

 

Not always, at least. Not always and rarely for very long.

 

This feels like confession.

 

I, advocate of fat acceptance. I, badass fat chick. I, encouraging others to love themselves. I, loving those other selves in all their various shapes, sizes,  configurations.

 

I don’t love my body.

 

The particulars are unimportant. What I don’t love is unimportant.  I only needed to say it. To recognize that it is true.

 

I don’t love my body. But I could. I could try. I could start.

 

This feels like confession and if this is what confession feels like I am starting to understand the appeal. There’s something to be said for letting go of this. For not holding on to it or burying it. There’s something to be said for putting the stuff that most painfully gnaws at the corners of our minds out in to the world. At least out there you can look it in the face.

 

You can look it in the face and you can say no to it.

 

You can say “I see you. I see you and you will not win.”

 

I see you. You will not win.

 

What Diets Taught Me

[TW: Eating Disorders, Diets, Body Hate]

I think I was 9 when I went on a diet for the first time. If I’m honest, I don’t think I can remember a time before I knew I was fat and that fat was one of the worst things you could be. I can remember the DJs on the radio station my Mom listened to in the car hawking diet pills, and my Mom eventually buying some of them. I remember that in my mind, being allowed to eat full fat pudding and drink juice or regular soda meant that you were somehow better. I think I still know what all the artificial sweeteners popular before about 2008 taste like. I remember South Beach and Atkins and several instances of Weight Watchers. Slim Fast and Smart Ones and that Curves diet with the really gross protein shakes and something called ShapeUp. All of those before I even got out of High School. I remember presents offered if I could “just lose 10-20 lbs” and dance costumes “earned” by means of countless sit-ups. I remember the first time I tried to make myself throw up, and the last. And the time when I involuntarily vomited on a salad because I hadn’t eaten in a couple of days but had taken adderall.

This is not a means of placing blame. This is not to garner sympathy. I grew up in a culture that did this. Does this.

I want to tell you what I learned.

I learned that my body was not to be trusted. In fact, bodies in general were suspect. Dieting culture requires that you become as divorced from your body as possible. Over years of life you’re told from all angles all of the ways in which you and people with bodies like yours are wrong. A carefully crafted series of images is pumped through all the media you ever touch, it tells you that to be beautiful – to be loved, to be special, to matter as a woman – you must aim for a literally impossible version of beauty. Except, you don’t know that. Or at least I didn’t. And neither did anyone else in my life, as far as I was aware. Even once you know, it’s hard to see those images repeatedly and not internalize that construct of beauty. If it’s gotten to your family as well – and it probably has – there’s nowhere to find any real push back against those messages. Even if your family tells you you’re beautiful, you still hear their complaints about their own bodies, bodies that may well look an awful lot like yours. You learn to think of your body as the enemy.

Entire industries ride on this reality. Billions of dollars of of our economy live in the diet industry alone, not to mention all the myriad other bullshit we’re sold by means of self-hatred.

Even with years of concerted effort I can’t get that messaging all the way out of my head. That’s real for a vast majority of the people I’ve ever spoken to who ever went on a diet or “struggled with their weight”. Even if you’re trying really hard, the message that whoever you are is the wrong person to be stays stuck in your head. And I fear things are only getting worse for fat kids. At least when I was a child one of the FLOTUS’s main priorities wasn’t fighting against the existence of kids who looked like me. I only had to handle that from every kid and most adults I ever met.

Not only was my body not to be trusted, my mind wasn’t to be considered trustworthy either.  You’re told that since your body is in whatever way non-ideal that means that it is OUT OF CONTROL and you – the assumed controller, a thing somehow separate from your body – are insufficiently skilled in keeping that bullshit in check. Not only is your body wrong, but your body is wrong and *it is your fault*. So you listen to someone else. You eat what they say, when they say. Then you fail – honestly, when there’s so much money to be made by encouraging a state of perpetual self hatred is it a surprise that diets don’t work? – and that too is your fault. Everything about you is untrustworthy. This is how you wind up a 16 year old who asks her boyfriend to ration cheese cubes to her. This is how you wind up 18 and sure that it’s easier to not fuck up if you just avoid eating at all.

I suppose you could argue that not everyone who diets develops an eating disorder. I disagree, but I won’t push back on that here. What I know is that dieting in particular – and the entire culture that surrounds it – broke my relationship with my body from a very young age, and that I am not alone in that experience. Regardless of what else may be true about diets, they teach us to treat our bodies as objects to fight and to view our natural inclination towards food as a source of pleasure as well as a source of nourishment as sinful. Years of thinking of ourselves and our desires as bad, sinful, can only serve to divorce us from ourselves, to keep us away from the truth about our own value. Whatever other problems I have with dieting – and there are many – this will always be key: Attempting to hate your body into submission can only ever result in hating yourself.

Sometimes on good days I meditate when I eat. I consider my food as I eat it, paying attention to what I see and feel and taste, feeling myself swallow. I think about the food turning itself into energy with which I get to move, talk, think, dance, pet cats, and write, and I am thankful and in awe. Diets taught me a lot of things, but today I’m unlearning them.