A Delicate Man

I have a folder in my email inbox called “Creeps on the Internet”. That’s where I stash emails and screenshots of private messages from strangers on the internet who want me to give them my full attention.
Maybe read the rest of this post with Criminal by Fiona Apple playing in the background because it feels so right.

I’ve been a bad, bad girl
I’ve been careless
With a delicate man
And it’s a sad, sad world
When a girl will break a boy
Just because she can.

When I first started XOXO, Lib I was so excited about finally having a space that was mine all mine on the internet where I can be who I want to be and say the things I want to say and be my free, true, and authentic self without reservation. And it’s become that place for me for sure. I’ve met so many cool people. I love the community that’s growing in the Facebook group and on Instagram. I love us. A lot.

And things are growing so rapidly and with such gusto–I’m so excited. I can actually see ways that dreams that I’ve had for this platform aren’t pipe dreams. I’m seeing it all come together and when I think about it, I get so excited. Right now, just telling you about it is feeding my spirit in a way that I haven’t felt in a few days.

With a growing platform and more and more readers, it’s natural to get a few creeps thrown in the mix. Especially when you’re talking about fattness, fat fetishism is so real my friends. I’m not mad that the fetish exists. I’m just mad that another person’s fetish turns into a non-consensual situation that I have to find a way to navigate.

I get an occasional dude in my Instagram Direct Messages saying, “Hi.” On my very best days I’m like, “what a lazy dude.” I mean, honestly, why don’t you just come right out and say, “I’d like to have a conversation with you but I’d also like you to do all the labor of starting it and carrying the weight of it all on your own.” Now, these aren’t so bad. Because as loaded as these messages are, they’re super easy to ignore. I just take a screenshot and then block these people and move on wth my day (after I get a collection of “hi” messages I like to post them in my stories to show off how repetitive and unoriginal men on the internet can be).

But then sometimes I get messages from other types of people who want to build a monument to me and hope that I’ll never change my body ever. A lot of times I try to just ignore these messages, too but sometime I just can’t. I gotta know what’s going on in this person’s head. And ten times out of ten, these people haven’t even looked at my profile or my blog or anything. They don’t know who I am at all even! After I reply, they try to strike up a conversation by asking what my name is or where I’m from. Both of those pieces of information are available on whatever platform they used to find me. Which means that they aren’t even remotely interested in me as a person–they’re interested in cruising through a body positive hashtag and then just messaging people indiscriminately. They’re not interested in me, they’re interested in my fattness. They’re not interested in me, they’re interested in what I can do for them. They either want naked pictures or my bank account information. Every. Single. Time.

Last week, a stranger in my Instagram DM’s kept asking me where I was from and I refused to answer him with anything other than, “that information is easily available in my Instagram bio, have you looked at it?” He kept saying, “Of course I looked at your bio I want to love you. So, where are you from?”

The problem, for me, isn’t that I’m frustrated that people are talking to me on the internet. I love talking to people on the internet. Making connections with new people on Instagram is not only one of my favorite joys but it’s also my business. It’s my job. And these people aren’t messaging me on my personal page on my personal time (that one is set to private). They’re messaging me on my business account. And time is money.

IMG_4022Last night, after getting an old fashioned email (yeah, we’re at a stage where email is old-fashioned) from a man named either Douglas or Steve (inconclusive) who wanted to tell me how much he likes/ supports/ is a fan of me and other people like me (note the lack of specifics), I couldn’t take it any more.

[Image description: screenshot of an email from an account belonging to a person called Douglas Winters. The email reads, “Hi. I am a fan and supporter of your blog.
Your blog for plus women is great and it is very nice.I am a fan and supporter of plus women.I have a big appreciation for big women.I am a fan of the plus industry too.I am a big supporter of size equality.Plus models and plus women’s are great.All women should embrace their body and not be concerned to feel that they have to be skinny to fit in with society.I love how plus models and plus women feel confident about them sleeves without having to be skinngy.I am a big fan of plus size women and plus models.I have always supported them too.Plus women and plus models are great.Is it okay to email you and hope it is okay.I am a fan of you and I would really like to keep in touch with you.I want to email you because I am a fan of you and I support plus women too.Hope to hear from you and have a nice day. 
Steve”]

I know as a one-off this email doesn’t seem like much. But imagine that this is the 4th one you’ve received that day and the dozenth you’ve received this week and it’s only frickin’ Tuesday. I sat on the couch with Ryan and I cried a lot. I mostly cried for all the people out there who have it worse than me. I cried for my whole life of being seen as my body before anything else. I cried for the world that gave men this power to (I’m going to quote my friend Courtney here), “just stomp around this planet thinking they can do and say and have whatever they want.” While women are forced into shoes that are created to make us literally tiptoe around the whole world. I cried for the way that these men are allowed to come into my home, into my place of business and ask for my attention for no reason other than the fact that they don’t hate that I’m fat.

I sat there racking my brain trying to figure out how in the hell I can take my power back in situations like these and I came up with an idea. If these people are going to come into my space, into my business and demand my time, I’m going to charge them the same rate–no, higher than I charge everyone else who wants my business on my work time.

So I wrote Douglas/ Steve back and I told him that he’s speaking to me on my business account and I’m sure that he can appreciate that time is money when I’m on the clock. And if he’s looking for my time, it’s going to cost him. So I linked my PayPal account and told him my rates. I’m in charge of this interaction. If he pays me, I’ll tell him about why interactions like these are unwelcome and make me feel unsafe but I don’t have the energy to do the work for all of these men for free.

So here we are. I’ve saved that email into my notes app on my phone and I’ll, from here on out, just copy and paste it to every single man on the internet who wants my time and attention for free.

I haven’t really re-read this post or edited it. I’m just free-writing so I can sort out my thoughts. This isn’t the best/ most eloquent thing I’ve ever written, I just needed to get it out of me so that this bad, objectified feeling doesn’t live inside of me.

Thank you for listening.
I know there are a lot of points of nuance that I haven’t covered. If you’re interested in a conversation about this topic, don’t worry, I probably won’t charge you for it. *wink*

XOXO, Lib

And as always, if you feel the need to come in here and #notallmen me, please know that you’re a part of the problem. Men who know that they aren’t guilty of the behavior that I’m describing and are confident in themselves don’t need my validation which is what this all comes down to, honestly. 

Meet Me Monday: Cammie

Cammie Rumback is one of those people that you feel really, really lucky to know. I’m finding it difficult to even introduce her here because there’s so much to say. Except, like, the essence of Cammie is something you can’t really describe. You have to just sit with her and soak it in and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Cammie has taught me a lot about the way that I communicate with others–and not because she’s ever come at me like an expert. Just from witnessing the way that she interacts with the world around her and how it responds to her. She’s also inspired a brand new painting style from me–which has, in turn, become my best selling artwork. I feel like maybe I should pay her some kind of finders fee for that.
Continue reading “Meet Me Monday: Cammie”

Meet Me Monday: Abby

I’m going to be honest with you. I don’t know how I met Abby. I think maybe she’s a friend of a friend of a friend? I truly have no idea. All I know is that I’ve been following her online for a long time… years? Wow. Anyway, her presence on my Internet is one of my most favorite parts of self-care. She’s wickedly funny and beautiful and loves the things that she loves with her whole entire being (currently nursing an obsession with Jeni’s ice cream that’s not making me even a little bit jealous) and I resonate with that kind of heart.
Also, she has this really great podcast called Made with Melanin that she hosts with her friend Michael.
So, meet Abby and fall in love:

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How would you introduce yourself to these readers?
Hey! I’m Abby. I love reading YA fiction, baking, occasionally knitting, and FOOD. I love making people happy, whether that’s feeding them, making them laugh or just listening to them if they need to talk. I just love people. I’m also a hopeless romantic and enjoy Jane Austen movies more than reading Jane Austen. If given the opportunity I will ALWAYS stay home rather than go out. In my spare time I enjoy overthinking things constantly. 🙂
What parts of your life are you finding most rewarding lately?
I started a podcast (with the rest of the people my age) with a good friend who lives in New York and it is making me so happy right now. It doesn’t have anything to do with my job and I get to talk about something I love to do, which is baking! If you want to listen find us on any podcast app under “Made with Melanin.” We go off on tangents a LOT, so I apologize in advance.
What word/phrase resonates the most in your life?
You are exactly where you’re supposed to be right now. I overanalyze the shit out of everything. I am a future thinker and an over planner, which drives everyone around me insane. I just want to know if it’s going to work and all the possibilities it could or could NOT work. Suddenly I’m down a rabbit hole of “how did my life get to this point?!” and I’m crying and a mess. I have to remind myself that life is all about the process. Where ever I am in the process of my life is where I’m supposed to be. Even if I feel like I am failing, even if it’s not where I WANT to be, this is where I’m at RIGHT NOW. But I don’t have to stay here. I’ll be somewhere else tomorrow or the next day. But just live NOW. I need to tattoo this on my face.
What does your ideal day look like?
My ideal day would be with a friend where we can enjoy each other’s company but we’re also cool with being quiet for long stretches of time – basically an introvert’s dream. Maybe a coffee shop, followed by a book store where we figure out what each others favorite books are, followed by good food and then a long chat outside on a sunny but cool day? AND THEN MAYBE MORE COFFEE?! I’m actually gently crying right now omg this sounds so great.
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I kid you not, Abby. I pray to God in Heaven that one day I’ll get to join you on that ideal day because that, too, is my absolutely ideal day!
Okay friends, if you want more Abby in your life, follow her on Instagram and subscribe to her podcast (don’t forget to rate and review!)

Meet Me Monday: Makeda

I don’t know when I first encountered Makeda but I’m so glad our paths have crossed on the internet. Her Instagram feed is a good place to go to when I need color and… I’m gonna say… sugar? But not, like, a delicate darling kind of sweet. More like a raw sugar. I think after you meet her a little bit, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Makeda believes in snail mail and glitter and saying what she means and I think, by now, you know that’s all I ever want.
If you finish this and you’re like, “No! Don’t go! I need more of Makeda’s voice!” Here’s a link to an interview she did late last year where she talks more about Keda’s Poetry Service and other very, very, very dope shit.

So meet Makeda:


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How do you want to introduce yourself to these readers?

Hey darlings! My name is Makeda Loney and I’m a copywriter by trade, poet by internal force. My mind is an eclectic sea of interests from photography to glitter to airplanes, but writing will always be my lighthouse. It keeps me steady, it translates the darkness inside of me, it carries me home. I’m a lover of everything bright and friendly, and I try to omit that same energy. I’m really trying to dive deeper within myself every day, allowing myself to lean into all the passions that I had as a child, because life is far too short to not focus on the things you love.

What gets you out of the bed in the morning?

Some days it’s necessity. I know I need to get up, go to work, make that cash. Most days it’s desire. At work I know that I’ll laugh with my co workers despite the stress that may come. I know that each day I work hard I’ll get better at my craft. I know that there’s going to be a learning experience whether I like it or not. Life is such a toss up, but I’ve been granted one more day, why the hell not just go out and live it? Let’s be very real, I only think like that right now, now that my clouds have parted and the sunshine feels like it’s coming down again. For a greater part of the winter I didn’t feel that at all. I lived life like I said earlier, out of necessity, but it’s okay if you can’t. Living and breathing count all the same some days.

What word/ phrase resonates the most in your life?

Resilience. It’s a word that comes up in therapy a lot. It’s a word that I never really understood the definition of until very recently. It’s the definition of every point in my life that has been a high for me. The ability to crash and bounce back is one that I never think of but I appreciate.

Another that I have is galaxy. They’re so vast and all encompassing and distant. They glitter from a distance, they glow. I feel like this is this is how I’ve lived most of my life. Although as much as I love being vibrant and loud and out there, I also enjoy sitting in the background going about my own business. Everyone is their own galaxy in their own way.

What does your ideal day look like?

My ideal day looks like an adventure brewing up. I wake up (on time), I shower, I do my makeup if I’m feeling it. I feel confident in what I’m wearing, I feel confident about the day ahead of me, I’m feeling excited. If I’m going to work I like to be busy, but with moments to take pause at the same time. If I’m not at work I love my friends and spending time with them. Building a tribe is extremely important to me no matter where I go. My ideal day is filled with laughter, filled with comfort, filled with the feeling of home no matter if I’m in my apartment or not. It ends feeling fulfilled, feeling warm, and wrapped up in a blanket like a god damn burrito. I still chuckle myself to sleep over stupid things that happened earlier. I’m excited for tomorrow.

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Okay, friends. Sadly, that’s all for this interview.

Let me know if you have any questions for Makeda and I’ll make sure to pass them along. And go follow her on Instagram–it’s a delightful addition to whatever you’re currently scrolling through.

XOXO, Lib

 

Meet Me Mondays

Overwhelmingly, the thing that people keep asking me about in regards to my blog is if I’m ever going to bring back Feminist Fridays. My answer, for the longest time, was something between a very polite, “Oh, I’m not sure…” and Michael Scott realizing that Toby is back at work in Scranton. It’s not that I didn’t love doing Feminist Fridays–I really, really did. But it took a lot more labor than I ever expected and it only took a few months for me to feel completely burned out from it. I also feel like Feminist Fridays has served its purpose around here. At least, the way that I was using the interviews to, essentially, show that “feminist” is not a dirty word and there are so many facets to it.

But I hear you. You were loving the interviews and the reliability and learning about new, ordinary, super cool women on the regular. That’s what I like, too! So that’s why I’m introducing a new series called Meet Me Mondays.

Meet Me Mondays was inspired by this book [affiliate] that my brother-in-law gave to me for Christmas. This book is incredible and I whole heartedly recommend picking it up for yourself. The thing that I first loved about this book was that every woman who was interviewed was asked the exact same questions. I think that was a brilliant choice by the authors. When you ask everyone the exact same questions, you’re focusing more on her humanity than on her accomplishments or things that have happened to her outside of her control. Whether the person is a best selling author or an actress or an activist or a mom or a teacher or a meter-maid–they’re all on the same playing field. I’m not directing the conversation in any way–the person we’re talking to is the one in charge. And I love that. There’s no preconceived notions or right answers. There’s just, whatever you want to talk about. Wherever you want to go.

I already have a few cool women lined up for interviews and I’m psyched for you all to meet them! If you want to be interviewed, hit me up! Or if you know of someone that you think more people should know, let me know! This isn’t about celebrating women for the cool things they’re doing–it’s about celebrating women for being women and showing the world that there’s so much treasure in ordinary people.

Anyway, I hope you’re as excited as I am. I am v excited, after all.

XOXO, Lib