the bod.

At the tail end of Spain I’m the heaviest I’ve been in over a year. I’ve always been a proponent of trying new foods and living for the moment. So because of my yolo diet I’ve gained about 10 lbs. And you know what? I’m not that mad about it.

At home I probably would’ve tried to hide it, but here I don’t mind, and nobody else seems to either. I’ve gained what I like to call, my Spanish curves. And who doesn’t love a solid woman.

But you know what the worst part is? I worry a little bit about the reaction I’ll get from people when I go back home… I’m worried that I’ll slowly lose my new-found security once I return to California. The land of the skinny and pretty, and everyone is obsessed with being young. I guess I’d prefer to be a little more toned, but since living in Spain for the first time in my life….

I don’t feel like I need to be smaller.

I mean, how can you resist!?

You’re in Rome, and there’s pasta, I mean, how can you resist!?

And when you live in a society where thin and waif-like are considered beautiful, I’d say that’s a pretty big feat.

I’m home now, adding, deleting, editing this post that I began writing months ago in my old home in Garrucha. And as I’m writing it, as much as I’d love to say that I’m not influenced by the media’s standards anymore, I am. I can already feel the influence of being home in Southern California pulling, nagging at me, ‘be skinnier, exercise more, etc etc’… And to be honest it’s a struggle to maintain my mental ground. But I’m trying because I know it’s for my best my mental health, and I’m aware.

I’ve lived in a foreign country, traveled new lands, and seen places so beautiful that I’ve actually been rendered speechless, and I’m really proud of these things because I’ve learned so much in the process. Because of my capable healthy body I have been able to live this out. Because of my haggard, sometimes dirty, and tan-lined feet I was able to do these things. I used to think my feet were, ya know whatever. Nothing to be proud of, but now I think they’re sort of beautiful, they’ve did me well and they’ve walked a lot of places, which I think is really cool. I actually like my sandal tan lines, because each time I notice them I’m reminded of my last trip, to Madrid where they started showing, before I moved home. I went solo (My second solo trip! Yes, go me!) and I couldn’t have been happier or more at peace in my life than those last 5 days. I met wonderful people who made me laugh and shared my curiosity for the world, and I feel in love with a beautiful city that was full of life. One day I spent so long in the Prado museum that my feet couldn’t take it anymore, I had to go sit outside and give them a break. But they took me there, and I’m glad for it.

I’ve been enjoying life these past 8 months living life in a beautiful setting. My eyes have never felt more open, more aware of what a lush, boundless place our Earth is, and full of endless curiosities waiting to be discovered.

IMG_1060

So, thank you body, for being the vehicle to do things I’ve only ever imagined.

I noticed that when I started embracing my grown self it helped that I was removed from the whole skinny-is-better thing. When you’re away from the overt media stimulation it suddenly becomes easy to forget about size and focus on things that really matter. Like maybe just going for a run for the endorphins it gives you. Sheesh, what a novel idea! When you don’t have super models parading down a runway on TV in their underwear, or tabloids with unrealistic ideals of what the female body should look like plastered on magazine covers, it helps.

It helps a lot.

watching the sunrise in Alicante, laughing our butts off :)

watching the sunrise in Alicante, laughing our butts off over who knows what 🙂

Living in a small town with two insanely intelligent roommates also helped a lot, and was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I’ve never had such interesting conversations on such a regular basis.

Who knew thinking was so entertaining!?

We’re each very different people, but we had a few key things in common. Respect for one another, and a killer sense of humor.

My one roommate in particular and I have had some really great conversations about women, human rights, sexuality, and what it means to be a women and equal and liberated in today’s world. With her wealth of knowledge about feminism, and my attitude toward sexual and female liberation comes these really thought-provoking conversations about progressive gender norms, the lines that are drawn for us, and even the lines we draw for ourselves.

IMG_1967

It’s funny how much we’re all afraid of change. I was scared before my move abroad that Spain would change me. I’d grown to like who I was and was proud of what I’d accomplished in life.

College was a long road for me, I’ve always loved to learn, but school has never been my strong suit. I stuck with it because I knew how important it was, and I knew I couldn’t quit if I wanted to live with myself. Eventually I graduated with a degree in a major that I’m passionate about. Afterwards I went on to corporate life and did well, granted I didn’t love working behind a desk, but I felt valued, enjoyed working hard and the rewarding feeling it gave me, and even grew to love the comfortable  that my 9 to 5 routine provided. I suddenly realized that I could do this, I could do the adult thing. I could take care of myself, have the nice, normal amenities everyone else has and be totally independent. I felt was keeping up with everyone, I had the life thing down and it felt very satisfying. I was really happy. For a girl my age I honestly felt like I had it all.

But there was always that one thing inside me that desired an alternative path… Cue Spain.

IMG_3308

When I arrived in Garrucha, I was terrified. I had just given up everything I had worked so hard for to feel like a scared little fish out of water in my new surroundings. I was really depressed for my first two weeks, I remember thinking, “so this is how people go crazy.” I suddenly had empathy for people who went nuts. I felt I could relate to Amanda Bynes and Britney Spears’ mental breakdowns. Wtf!

sometimes

My point is that living in Spain really put things in perspective for me. I learned that looking the part doesn’t make you happy, having more of anything doesn’t make you happy. Having a bigger wardrobe, a boyfriend, better make-up, prettier hair, or being skinnier will not make you happy. I’ve lived this out. I know this for certain.

I was the fattest and happiest in my middle-of-nowhere-town than I had ever been in my entire life.

I made less money, had fewer friends, less clothes, less shoes, got less haircuts, sure as hell didn’t get my nails done, and rarely bought things I didn’t need. Besides eating out. Something I could only enjoy in the fleeting moment. I couldn’t bring that home, but I felt that was something I could afford.

What that gave me was moments of happiness, trying new foods, enjoying conversation with friends, a reason to explore new places in town, things that add to my personal well-being.

Anyways, living in Garrucha was the best thing that ever happened to me. And that may sound dramatic but I mean it whole-heartedly. Because of Garrucha and everything that came along with it I’ve never felt more comfortable in my own skin. I grew to love myself makeup free. I don’t blow dry my hair with percision anymore. Nowadays I even embrace my natural waves. And I used to wish to God I had long straight hair, now I actually like my weird, medium length curls.

I also used to wear makeup every single day because I felt like I had to compete with everyone else.

(Oh and how perfect that I quoted this in my last post, “Girls are raised to see themselves as competitors, not for jobs or accomplishments…” -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie…. I’m aware this is not true for everyone, but I would say its a standard cultural norm in the United States.)

I used to feel pressure to be pretty and skinny because I thought that’s how you get a boyfriend which is how you get proposed to so you can get married and that’s obviously the goal here because that’s what everyone else seems to think is the key to happiness! And now I know, that’s not true!

It feels so liberating!

20140513-092146.jpg

Sure, I liked who I was before. But now when I look back, I’m like, thank goodness I DID change! Not that I was incredibly stupid or a bad person before, or that I’m sooo amazing now either. But wow, what a difference a year in Spain makes. A little change can do you good!!

I don’t want to be what everyone thinks I should be. I want to be who I want to be. Because that’s more important than anything… And in my opinion, a few curves is a sign of a life well lived.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s