Meet Me Monday: Megan

I’ve been following Megan Wood (@princeportrait) on Instagram for a while, now. At first, I just followed her work because I thought her photography was just so beautiful. I like her dark and soulful vibe. It’s an incredible variation to most of the Instagram accounts I see which involve so much bright white with little pops of color. Don’t get me wrong, I love that too. But Prince Portrait really holds its own in contrast. Not only that but I love that there are so many different types of people represented. In a lot of boudoir photography, a thin blonde girl perched uncomfortably on some piece of furniture is what we imagine but Megan is breaking molds. One quick glance at her feed and you can tell that she’s here to share different stories.

It doesn’t take long, to see that Megan wants exactly what I want which is for people to be able to meet, know, and express themselves fully. Everyone has a different language that we use to tell our stories.  I use interviews and writing long essays. Megan uses what she describes as “intimate art for royal souls”. Yeah, she takes a lot of gorgeous photographs of people in their underwear. It’s hard work but someone has to do it! (No, seriously, it is actually really hard work and for real, someone has to do it.) I hope you hear the passion that she has for her work. It’s so contagious!

So, here you go. Let’s meet Megan!


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How do you want to introduce yourself to these readers?

Hello, beautiful humans! My name is Megan. I am a storyteller at heart, photographer by day, and binge-r of The Office by night.
I am a dog mom to my beautiful rescue boy, Lincoln, big sister to two hilarious siblings, and devoted daughter to the two most selfless people I’ve ever known. I was born and raised (for the most part) in Kansas City and though my mind, body, and soul ache for somewhere near the coast, KC is most definitely my favorite place to be in the midwest. There’s a creative culture here unlike any other I’ve ever experienced, and spending time with likeminded creatives always keeps me inspired. I have been a photographer of some sort for 10 years now. After shooting weddings and reaching the inevitable burnout, I founded my luxury boudoir studio, Prince Portrait (named after my childhood pup) on the belief that loving yourself, as you are right now, is what’s most important. We cannot improve, grow, or love others unless we celebrate ourselves in the present moment. Boudoir is so much more than sexy photos, it’s a self-love experience and a chance to document the most intimate parts of your body, mind, and soul. I freaking love what I do and I adore my clients for trusting me to tell their stories.

What gets you out of the bed in the morning?

Literally, my pup and music! I have Spotify or podcasts playing all day, every day. I probably wouldn’t function properly in the morning without coffee and a well-curated playlist. In less literal terms, I wake up each morning wondering who I can help that day. I am a giver and a supporter. I thrive when I’m helping others reach their goals, see their potential, or recognize that they’re already a badass. My clients, friends, and family all allow me to do that so there’s always a reason to wake up that’s not solely for me.

What word/ phrase resonates the most in your life?

“No half measures.” It means so much to me that it’s permanently inked on my wrist. It’s a constant reminder that I am all in, no matter what I’m striving for. For the Breaking Bad fans out there, they’ll know what it means. For everyone else, it simply means don’t start what you don’t want to finish. Don’t half-ass shit. Also, go watch Breaking Bad!

What does your ideal day look like?

Oh, so many options. I enjoy too many things! In a perfect world, I would spend most of my day outside; in or near the water is always preferable. I feel such a sense of calm when I write, read, or create outside of the box I call home. Animals have to be a part of it, Lincoln goes everywhere with me so I could never fully enjoy a day without him. A random drive, good book, music, fresh food, and laughter are all ingredients for an outstanding afternoon. Just the other day I realized that I don’t look at the stars nearly enough. I used to travel for work and fell in love with the night sky in the desert. Nothing is more humbling or inspiring than standing in the middle of nothing, gazing up at everything. So my perfect day would end somewhere that allows me to relax and stare at the sky.

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Megan–thank you so much for sharing a part of yourself with us!
Everyone else, if you have any questions for Megan, leave them here in the comments and I’ll make sure she sees them. Also, she’s got a ladies only, private FB group that is an awesome space for celebration, body positivity, and just generally chill hangs.

XOXO, Lib

I Don’t Think That Means What You Think it Means.

Last week I went a little overboard and bought all of the skin creams, face masks, foot masks, nail polish, and discount Valentine’s chocolate that Walgreens had to offer. Then, I went home and watched the better part of the entire season of Queer Eye on Netflix. And then, because I am a good Millennial (albeit an old one), I uploaded a photo of my haul onto Instagram. It didn’t take long for the comments to start rolling in congratulating me on my self-care day and how “oh my gosh, I really need to work on my self-care game as well.” Self-care. Self-care. Self-care. Self-care is the buzziest of Buzzwords these days and I’m starting to cringe every single time I hear it. Because self-care is not what we keep saying it is.

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Self-care is not the act of slathering your face in expensive clay. It’s not making sure that you’re using the right serums in the right order at the end of the day. And most importantly, it’s not the kind of thing you should feel guilty about if you’re not doing it right. Guilt has no room in self-care. Guilt is the opposite of self-care.

Capitalism has this way of infiltrating every single movement towards human betterment and making us think that we need to buy things in order to take part. That’s not true at all. No. It’s infiltrating the Bopo community right now… kind of. Brands are coming out with clothes that claim to fit a size 24 (which in reality fits more like an 18) and they’re patting themselves on the back for how great they are. But even if their sizing was accurate, I still can’t wear any of it. And I’m not the biggest person I know by any means. But regardless, in the same way that Self-Care isn’t about laser hair treatments, Body Positivity isn’t about making overalls for fat people. Yeah, it’s part of it. It can help some people get what they are wanting out of life. But that’s not all it’s about.

Self care is about taking care of yourself. Self care is and should be accessable to everyone regardless of their body or ability or financial status. Self care is free and important and oftentimes difficult work. It’s not always relaxing and bubble baths and french terry bath robes. A lot of times it’s doing, today, that from which Future You will benefit.  And maybe a small part of that involves expensive beauty products for you but self care is something so much more.

Self-care is making sure you’re hydrated and ending toxic relationships. It’s not skipping a shower when you really should take one. It’s letting that call go to voice mail. It’s trusting other people to be in charge of their own emotions and taking that burden off of yourself. It’s about not avoiding the mail box because you’re afraid of what’s inside of it. It’s about taking the medications that have been prescribed to you. It’s about busting yourself out of destructive funks and preventing destructive funks. It’s about washing the windows to let some more light in. It’s about taking out the garbage because that smell is coming from somewhere. Sometimes it’s about locking yourself in the bathroom with a magazine and an expensive clay mask–but the self care isn’t in the mask, it’s in the taking the time to listen to what you need. And if what you need in that moment is stillness, you’re choosing stillness. That is the self-care part of doing a face mask.

I was recently asked in an interview what my favorite “self-care routines” are. And, look, don’t get me wrong. I actually love hearing about people’s morning and night beauty routines. I can talk about this stuff all day long–that’s why I listen to the Forever 35 podcast. But I was uncomfortable with this question. So rather than focusing on the products that I use during my routine, I talked more about how it’s the routine itself that serves me. I don’t get sleepy and ready for a well-rested bed time because I use this brand of makeup remover or this particular gel-based moisturizer rather than an oil-based one. I get ready for a well-rested bed time because I’ve trained my body to use this time to go into shut down mode. These products aren’t magic, I’m magic. I create my own magic. The routine is the self-care.

Sometimes when I feel myself getting irritable and unable to bust out of a particular mood, I have some fall-back plans in place. I watch my favorite YouTubers, I listen to old episodes of my favorite podcasts, I tell my friends that I’m having a rough day and could use a check in every few hours. I try to eat something healthy or I eat something decidedly unhealthy depending on what my intuition tells me I should reach for. I put out a call on Facebook for everyone to tell me what their favorite cheer-up song is. That’s always fun.


I wanted to post this piece about twelve hours ago and it was really stressing me out that it wasn’t happening. But it felt pretty false to write a post about self-care while I was feeling rushed and unhappy so I gave myself space and took the time I needed. I walked the dog. I watched this video on YouTube about four times (Ryan showed it to me last night and it’s been stuck in my head ever since). I ate a salad and I might even make a smoothie for an afternoon snack.

Anyway, friends. I hope you’re able to come up with some self-care techniques to keep in your back pocket. Maybe keep a literal list in your phone. Number one on that list: hydrate. It’s amazing what chugging a glass of water will do for you. Or, do what I do, and keep this tab open on your phone at all times. Any time I feel like crap, I pull it out and it really, really does help me.

I love you. Take care of yourself, please.

XOXO, Lib

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

On Fatness and Acceptability

Boy, you never know what’s going to lay you so low.

So it’s been a productive morning and I reward myself by vegging out and watching IG stories for a a few minutes. And that’s when I see the image of a really fat person and the words, “I’m in love with the shape of you” emblazoned over the photo. And I think to myself, “What? Who is this? What fatphobic stranger on the internet have I been following without realizing it this whole time?!” But I saw this wasn’t a stranger. This was posted by a long-time family friend. So I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. I’m wondering to myself, “wait–maybe this isn’t a fatphobic post but just something else that I’m not understanding yet?”

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So I look all over the photo for some other clue to the punchline but there isn’t one. I took a screenshot, obviously, to show to a friend to ask if there’s something I’m missing here. But there isn’t. I’m not going to post that photo here, today, though, because the subject of that photo doesn’t deserve to have her life on display for the gawking of the internet–regardless of what this person who posted it to begin with believes. But I can describe it to you. It’s a photo taken in what appears to be some kind of a waiting room. This person is just minding her own business, sitting in a chair, looking at her phone. Not the most flattering position that anyone is ever in if I do say so myself.  Waiting for whatever it is she showed up for that day. Living her life in a normal way like everyone does. Minding her own business.

I’m not going to pretend like I am proud of the way that I responded or the messages that I sent. Lots of F words, mostly. I mean, I wish/ hope this person has someone in their life to explain just the level of horrendousness that he committed, today. And I hope that he’s able to hear it, too. But I’m not going to count on it. Some days I’m the person to reach out and teach a lesson. But not today. I’m not the one–even if he would have been able to hear it from me (which I’m sure that he would not).

The subject’s very fat body is not that different from my own very fat body. For the most part, in my life I have not had to encounter that much direct bullying about what I look like. I’ve worked very, very hard to make that the case, actually. All through school, I made a habit of befriending my bullies. They would call me names–the usuals: land whale, Libby Porker (a riff on my maiden name) was a popular one, Free Willy came out around that time so people loved to shout that at me.
Every time someone said something horrible to me, I’d feign the sweetest look on my face, pretend that I truly didn’t hear him and ask him to repeat what he’d said since I’m sure that it was so thoughtful and important. They never repeated it because I’d brought them face to face with thinking twice before they said something hurtful. It was a pretty clever move if I do say so.

Obliterate the sour with sweetness–this was my strategy. And it worked–but it only worked in that eventually they stopped. It didn’t work to teach them about themselves. It didn’t really work for me because I still, always and forever knew that I was an Other among them. They stopped bullying me but they never actually cared about me. I was never really welcome. And it put all the work on my shoulders. They didn’t have to actually learn how to treat people–it was my job to teach them how to behave around me. It was the price I was willing to pay for admission to a seemingly unbothered life. It was either that or getting beat up and mocked openly like so many others–so I think even now I probably would have chosen to pay my debt in emotional labor.

I did all I could to be acceptable and loved. In the 8th grade I read a book about a girl with an eating disorder and went home and tried for weeks to make myself throw up after dinner but I just couldn’t do it. When I was 17, my best friend sat me down on a lawn to tell me that she was bulimic and wanted help. I only felt jealousy–something for which I still feel ashamed.

So, because I’ve worked so hard to have a personality that hopefully makes up for the sin of being a fat person, I do forget sometimes that I’m not inherently welcome in this life. I’m never unaware of my size. It’s never not at the forefront of my mind but sometimes I am able to convince myself that maybe I’ve done the impossible and tricked other people into forgetting about it.

In the 9th grade, the older boy that I had a crush on asked me to dance with him at Homecoming and I felt like the most acceptable, normal girl in the room. Even though he molested me after driving me home–telling me that I was so lucky that anyone would want anything from me, I still can’t help but remember the dreamy way that dance made me feel. Because even at 33 years old and a lifetime of self-awareness and love under my belt, there’s still a tiny sliver of me that felt flattered that he picked me at all.

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Fat jokes on TV or the internet don’t bother me. I’ve been blocking them out my whole life. They’re not funny–don’t get me wrong. They’re offensive to me but, like, on a comedic plane–because they’re not clever. If you’ve been hearing fat jokes since you were in kindergarten, someone comparing Chris Christie to a “beached whale” is not funny. You’ve heard this joke forty billion times. It’s not funny because it’s tired. There are so many horrible things about Chris Christie but his waistline is not one of them.

But when people I know, people I love, people that I’ve allowed into the same room as my soft, forgiving, unguarded body laugh at these jokes–that’s when I’m reminded.

When my friend comments that the waitress is cute enough but she only needs one chin–not two, that’s when I’m reminded.

When people that I have lived life with at some point or another laugh at or point out their disgust at the shape of someone else’s body–for a joke on Instagram, that’s when I’m reminded.

That I don’t belong here. That my body is not my own–it exists for someone else to either laugh at or fetishize. That I have done enough to keep them from saying anything directly to me, about me, but that they still don’t believe that my life matters in the grand scheme of this world. That me and people like me are disposable. That we are walking jokes. That we don’t have real lives. That, we cease to exist when you can’t see us anymore and we’re not real. I’m tired of fighting to be seen as a person.

You’d never admit that this is true because you don’t want to face the facts about the kind of person you are but when you laugh at our bodies, you are hating our humanity. This is who you are and I won’t let you get away with not facing that.

“Except for you, Libby. You’re an exception. We love you.” Well, look, I’ve done a lot of fucking work on your behalf to make people like you not hate people like me. But I haven’t even done a good enough job because the only fat person you don’t hate is me. And that’s not good enough. I can’t do it because it’s not my job. It was never my job–it was a coping mechanism leftover from grade school that, at thirty three years old, I’m still relying on. And I’m done.

I’m done being palatable. I’m done being sweet and kind and understanding and the right kind of fat person for you to feel comfortable around. I don’t have to carry this anymore. From now on, understanding that humans are humans is your own responsibility and there’s a lot of work that goes into that.
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Thank you.
XOXO, Lib

All the art in this piece is by Kristy Miliken, from this article.

 

Love the One You’re With

A few years ago I introduced a friend of mine to a larger group of friends. She could have just said, “Nice to meet you all” and left it at that but the first thing she said to the group was, “Libby helped me to love my body and I’m forever thankful for that.” I was brought to tears immediately. Not just because that was such a touching and disarming thing to hear–something I’d love to be remembered for. But because sometimes (and at that moment in particular), I am just not loving this body of mine. But I want to–so I work hard at it.

If there’s anything in this life that’s worth having, it’s worth working for. You’re never just going to wake up one day having dismantled all that your upbringing, culture, and expectations have constructed around you. I don’t care who you are–what your gender is, what your age is, what your body looks like, you have been told that some aspect of you is not good enough. It’s as inevitable as death and taxes. Some of you have had it whispered to you in a sliver of doubt in your mind–some of you have faced humiliation, discrimination and even violence because of it. But no one escapes it. Would you believe it if I told you that social media has been one of the key ingredients in building my confidence?

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Body-love starts with body-acceptance and body-acceptance starts at normalizing normal bodies. Now, body positivity is very trendy right now and on one very, very large hand that’s awesome. But on another hand, when important things become very popular, they can become diluted. Lots of brands are out there advertising diversity and body love while still showing images of all the same types of people. And the reason that this doesn’t help is because it just creates a new normal–a new ideal. Just a different thing to strive for. But I don’t want a new normal. I want what exists right now to be normal.

Look, I’m not going to change the media and the way that they keep giving us new ideals to strive for. But I can change the media that I consume. So rather than waiting for Glamour to serve me up images of the types of people that I know and love, I’m going to seek them out for my own self and flood my own media channels with what I’m looking for. It’s 2017. You’re in control of a lot more than you ever were before.

I want to be more loving and accepting of my own body and I want to be more loving and accepting of other peoples’ bodies. So I flood my social media channels with images of people who look like me and people who do not at all look like (or maybe even live like, or think like) me and this has made such a huge difference in how I see myself and how I love others well, too. The following is a list of people that I follow to one degree or another. These are Instagram accounts but don’t forget to find these people on YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr, etc to make sure that you don’t leave a gap. I hope you have so much fun finding new accounts to follow, finding new voices and perspectives to hear from, and finding new ways to see yourself as honorable.


Women who look like me (at least in one way or another):
@fatgirlflow (I especially like watching Corissa on YouTube because she often films videos with messy hair and a makeup free face and that makes me feel so much more acceptable in my greasy hair and pimply face), @meghantonjes, @hellabellafabulous, @allisonkimmey, @margotmeanie, @tessholiday

WOC Instagrammers:
@lizzobeeating, @douxsarah (plus-size, hijab fashion? I’m so here for this.), @ihartericka

Trans Instagrammers:
@shadeyshay, @ryancassata, @janetmock

Disabled Instagrammers:
@sitting_pretty, @rvbyallegra, @curvesbecomeher

Male Instagrammers:
@fatboyflow (yeah, so Nate is married to @fatgirlflow and they’re both broadening my horizons and cracking me up), @mattjosephdiaz, @titusssawthis

Etc. Body Positive Instagram Accounts:
@bodyposipanda, @bebody_positive, @cheyennegil, @themilitantbaker, @slaygirlsociety, @nolatrees, @donthatetheshake and a gazillion more who are ready and waiting to serve you up some sweet, sweet body normalization.

Are there any accounts that you’d like to add to this list? What about categories? Is there anything you’d like to see but are having trouble finding? I’ll look for it!

I think you’re great.
XOXO, Lib.

The Divorce and Remarriage: Mind Body and Soul

Hi. I wanted to tell you about something that’s been brewing in my heart-place lately.

Recently I was privvy to a conversation between Glennon Doyle Melton and Elizabeth Gilbert. If you’re thrilled by just the idea of these two in one space—let me link you to the Big Magic Podcast wherein they both talk about creativity and making space for the process.

There’s a point where Glennon talks about a revelation that she had which resonated so much with me that I immediately emailed my thoughts and ideas to myself so that I could write them to you semi coherently.
Continue reading “The Divorce and Remarriage: Mind Body and Soul”