Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My butt: The beauty of the before and after

Goodness, there has been an awful lot of stripping down going on lately by mothers. From the Dutch model Lara Stone, who posed nude post-baby for System Magazine, to Kim Kardashian’s greased up Paper cover, there is definitely no longer a need to pay for a Playboy subscription.

The Daily Mail UK says Kardashian explains, “As a role model I'm not saying anyone else should do that, but for me it was an art project and it taught me to do what you want to do.”

You can’t argue that point; it is good to feel empowered enough to act on your own desires and to not be shamed by others’ morals.

I used to do just that.

Before: Back in my modeling days

Then I got older and--wiser? I hid my body away. I covered up. I got more conservative as befits a mother, or so I thought.

And I lost some of my sense of self. I lost some sense of myself as a beautiful, sexual woman. I lost connection to a certain part of myself.

I've watched with interest as celebrities and everyday women claim empowerment through posing nude; it's made me ponder my stance and realize where I stand.

This past week, I've seen the expected parodies and responses to Kim Kardashian's butt: Chelsea Handler has been doing her own selfie-versions as part of the conversation and there’s even a Princess Jasmine version of the butt shot.

This whole posing-in-the-nude-to-make-some-point just might be getting oversaturated.

Of course, maybe that could be part of some kind of solution to how women are portrayed in media. If we see everybody and their mother (literally) in the nude, maybe we’ll get to the point as a culture where we’ll say, who cares?

Maybe we’ll get to the point where nobody will say, “Oh! But you’re a mother! You shouldn’t pose nude!”

After: 23 years and three children later
Maybe we’ll get to the point where we really will get to see the diversity and beauty in all different shapes and sizes and ages of bodies.

Maybe we’ll get to the point where every nude image of a woman doesn’t have to be sexualized and presented for a male gaze, but can just be a photo of a female celebrating her body.

Maybe we’ll get to the point where what we choose to do or not do with our bodies will be our decisions to make alone and no one will judge us for those decisions.

And hey, maybe the fathers will get in on the act, too. And we can all live in a happy-ever-after world with lots of different naked people all getting along and loving each other regardless of how perfect (or not) our bodies are.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Mom Writers Stripping Down

I'm introducing a new feature on Stripping Down to help create a supportive writing community. I'll be including guest posts from other mom writers reflecting on their experiences of motherhood and writing. 

We all have experiences or jobs from our pasts that we view as negative. Instead of letting those things constantly hold us back in life, we can look them squarely in the face and learn from them.

Are you a writer mom? Would you like to share with other moms? Send me an email and maybe you'll be the next guest writer!

I hope you'll enjoy reading these posts on "Stripping Down" metaphorically and perhaps they'll shed some light on how to navigate the sometimes tricky path of motherhood and life as a writer.

Mom + Writer = Magic

by Marcie Perez

I have loved writing since I was ten years old. Writing was an outlet for me growing up. Both of my brothers were older—one was out of high school and one was almost out. My parents separated for a little bit and writing was something I always had, along with music. No matter what I was feeling, I wrote, even if only a line or two.

I remember wanting to be a songwriter and a singer before I started smoking and messed up my voice. I remember the first time I went to the Warner Brothers Store and begged my mom for a Tweety Bird notebook.

Marcie Perez

My mom told me she would get it for me another time. I came home and found it on my bed after I took a shower. The first thing I remember doing was watching MTV and a Britney Spears song came on; I started writing my own lyrics and short stories. I converted my songs into poems when I realized I would not be entering the music scene.

Earlier this year, after being unemployed for a year, I said to my husband, "I am sick and tired of not being able to find work. I am going to apply to an online college, so I can still look for work, be a mom and be the best wife I can be." Since I enrolled in college, I have been able to go full force with my writing. I write about love, feeling alone, and struggles with my weight (I had a weak immune system, so doctors always gave me steroids, which made me bigger).

My writing process varies: sometimes I just write it all out on paper and sort it out when I am done, other times I will write an idea down, do an outline, then take it step by step.

I write first on paper. I normally have a notebook dedicated just to writing. I sometimes get sidetracked and start drawing. Occasionally, my drawing leads to a story.

I try not to have any concerns. If I have a writer’s block, I put my pen and paper down and walk away. I do something like watch TV, go for a walk, or work out. The best medicine I have is to turn the music up and just dance.

What excites me about writing is that I love coming up with ideas. I have been through a lot and recently I have written a lot about my past and about how we can fix things today. I was in an abusive relationship and I finally broke out of it. After a year spent being single and finding myself, I was ready to date. I met my husband through an online dating service. Now that I have found my Prince Charming and am living my fairytale, I feel inspired to write about love.

I have also written about the struggles and the great times I've had with my son, who is almost thirteen years old. I have known him since he was ten. He has been through so much bad stuff in his life, but it has led him to good through losing weight and getting good grades. He now loves to read and will take thirty books out of the library at a time. He loves to draw, listen to music and is always ready to try something once.

Growing up, I was always a go-getter, but reserved. The past few years I have felt like a new person. Being a mom is special. My son hates the word "step" and will tell everyone not to say it. My son has taught me to be a better person and always keeps me on my toes. We "as a family" are always ready to try everything—at least once.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

How comfortable are you in your body image?

I'm quoted in an article by Kayleen Schaefer for Yahoo Style, How Drastically Body Image Changes From Childhood to Adulthood.

The article comments on a short video called "Comfortable: 50 People 1 Question," produced by iNatureSkinCare. The video asks a simple question: “If you could change one thing about your body, what would it be?”

The adults give the expected answers about body parts thy aren't happy with, but the children? They were all either happy with their bodies or interested in adding something cool, like wings.

It raises important questions: When do we lose our sense of our bodies being perfect they way they are? What can we do to get back to an innocent and fun view of the possibilities of our lives and bodies.

Check out How Drastically Body Image Changes From Childhood to Adulthood.

And think about it for yourself, just how comfortable are you with your body?

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Stripper Mom Spreads a Message of Change

Here's an interview with me by Tony Sokol on Daily Offbeat.
"I really think my memoir can help other women to see the potential in facing their pasts and embracing who they are. Women need to embrace who they really are and stop judging themselves against others' expectations. I think I've barely begun reaching the women out there who can benefit from my memoir and my message. I am trying to do more speaking engagements because that's where I feel like change can really begin. The groups I have spoken for so far have given me a great response. Women have really connected to my story and my willingness to speak about it. I don't sugarcoat my past or act ashamed of my life either."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Robin Williams, My Depression and Stand-Up

Robin Williams' suicide has me very upset. I've always admired him tremendously. His energy, enthusiasm and wonder that exuded from his personality was a balm to my own depression.

I decided to try something new a few months ago. I decided to take a stand-up comedy class. It’s been a real challenge for me because of my depression, but I’ve been studying Williams’ old routines and marveling at his gift.

Someone so successful and who brought so much joy to people chooses suicide. I just feel so overwhelmingly sad.

I am not surprised, but angry, not at him, but at depression.

How can there be such a horrible illness that makes us want to end our lives? That makes us feel so overwhelmed that we just can’t live anymore?

I find myself in a haze. I find myself obsessing over his death.

When we connect to a celebrity in a strong way through their performances and interviews, we really do begin to feel like we know them. I feel like my crazy, goofy uncle died.

But I didn’t know him. But I keep wanting to be able to go back in time and be his friend and be there when the darkness got too deep. And I know that is just silly because he had friends and family and they loved him and he loved them, but still, tragedy happens.

That might be the hardest part—knowing that sometimes suicide happens and it’s horrible, but you can’t go back. You can’t change it.

Maybe that’s the real issue that’s rising for me now. I can’t go back in time. I can’t change anything. I can’t change my own past.

I can’t go back and make my mother well. I can’t go back and make better choices when I was younger. And I can’t seem to make my depression go away for good.

We just can’t.

I am clinging to my wonderful outer world—loving husband, three great kids, work I like, creative challenges—but my inner world goes back and forth between wanting to allow me to be great and wanting to destroy me.

I keep trying. I will keep trying.

I did my first open mike a few weeks ago; it was terrifying. The laughs I got felt good. Being onstage again felt good.

I understand why I’ve always needed to perform in some way, to have people look at me—because that’s when I can be someone else, that’s when I can break free of depression’s strangle on me. It’s all about looking out instead of in.

Tonight is our final class. And maybe I’ll try the open mike again. I need the escape. The release from the inner demons.

I want to be free to laugh. I want to bring joy to the world.

Robin Williams, thank you. You brought joy to me. I’m sorry the pain was too much. You will be missed.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Blister in the Sun

I'm happy to say I just finished grading my last batch of research papers. I have one class of final exams left to read, then I need to figure out final grades and then I am done for the semester.

I'm ready to move forward. Part of that may be stopping my dance videos. I think I've gotten a lot out of doing them: I practiced letting the need to be perfect go; I learned to trust myself; I had fun.

Now I'm ready to figure out the next step on my path of writing, dancing, performing fun!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

New York City Taping

Quick entry today and no time for my morning dance video.

I've got a car coming for me soon. I'm going to New York City to be a guest on a talk show.

My stomach is kind of not feeling so good.

Spring has sprung in our yard!
It's funny; I don't feel "nervous" about appearing except that I hope my message comes through clear and that I don't get thrown off by others. And doing something likes this forces me to look at what I really believe about tricky issues and try to articulate it well.

Not always so easy.

Wish me luck!