Life Changing Words, Indeed.

A week or so before BlogHer, I received the following email:

Dear Y:
As you may or may not know, we accepted community submissions of *other* attendees’ work for the BlogHer ’08 Community Keynote. I am pleased to inform you that the committee has chosen one of your posts to be presented in the Letter To My Body category:

I was stunned.
When I first read about the Community Keynote, I briefly considered submitting a post if only because I wanted to be a part of what was sure to be an incredible event. But the more I considered, the less enthusiastic I became about submitting a post. Too many talented writers out there for me to think that they would even consider something I wrote as worthy to be read.
Also? I cry when I get nervous, so I was like “do I really want to cry in front of a 1,000 people?”
The answer was no, I did not. So, I didn’t submit. But! HA! Someone submitted on my behalf and HA HA! THEY CHOSE IT!
When I saw the post that was chosen, I was terrified. I knew that it would be impossible for me to get through the post without crying. And seriously, no one needs to see My Ugly Cry.
It’s uglier than Oprah’s, y’all.
I wanted to say “thanks, but I lovingly and politely decline.” But, I do not like to hurt peoples feelings, so I decided to put my fears aside, step outside of my comfort zone and just do it.
And I did it.

Listening to myself read those words inspired me to want to change. I don’t want to be that person anymore. I don’t want to shed tears about my weight ever again. I want to be the best example for my children, not just in word, but in deed.
I realize this is old news, but I’m so grateful for the experience. And I finally feel ready to share it here with all of you, even if it is 8 years after the fact. Thank you for making me feel safe enough to post something so personal (and terrifying.)

82 thoughts on “Life Changing Words, Indeed.

  1. lani

    This made me cry when I read it the first time, but here I sit, crying again, watching you read it out loud. How brave of you. And just so you know. You’re beautiful. And also? You’re daughter is so lucky to have a Mom like you who is going to teach her to love her body. To love who she is. Hugs.

  2. jenny

    What an amazing and powerful speach/post. That must have been a hard thing to put yourself out there like that. I am the mother of 2 girls and I find myself in your same “shoes” – thanks for the wake up call. Makes me think of a quote: “Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows will fall behind you” -unknown
    Best of luck, Jen

  3. Suebob

    That night will be one of my favorite memories, forever. And your reading was so great. I put it up on my blog a couple weeks ago just because I couldn’t get it out of my head. Thanks again for being brave enough to get up and read it.

  4. Jenn

    I have been a long time reader of yours, gosh at least five years. Often you write my feelings and thoughts perfectly. It’s so nice to know some one else has them.
    You have such a talent for words and writing. You are a wonderful example for our daughters.

  5. chrissylas

    I remember reading that post and thinking how powerful it was. (true story)
    It’s still powerful and I am so proud of you for doing something like that. Y, you are amazing.

  6. Black Hockey Jesus

    I’ve been mulling over a Jenna post that addresses some of these issues, but I don’t know where to begin. It’s shocking for a lot of men how resistant their wives are to an expression of genuine love for their bodies. It’s like my sincere love for her body cannot penetrate all the forces that create her self image.
    I’ll tell you what’s like. Her sense of self is a lot like watching her walk into the road and being run over by a car while I scream “Watch out for that car! You’re beautiful!”

  7. mothergoosemouse

    I’m so glad you accepted the invitation to read – I believe your words have had an impact far beyond what you ever imagined when you wrote them. Thanks for being so courageous.

  8. Jenn

    You made me cry my ugly cry watching this. You are so beautiful and so courageous, Y, and I imagine those are two of the many things your daughter loves and admires about you (another one being your lipstick, of course!). You are raising a vibrant and strong little girl and I so admire your commitment to your children and family. There are little girls in my preschool who see their moms obsessing over their bodies, their hair, their clothes … making themselves throw up to be thin, dieting, etc … and guess what those little girls play? They pretend to throw up (or sometimes force themselves to, after lunch, can you imagine such a thing at the age of four?), they stare into the mirror looking for pretend flaws, and they use harsh words that they don’t even understand to describe themselves. They judge one another. At the age of four. It’s horrifying. All I can think is that the change NEEDS to start with each one of us and I’m moved beyond words to see the change you are making for your daughter. It makes a difference. You are an amazing role model in many, many ways.

  9. Eileen

    Wow, I know how hard it is to step out of our comfort zones, but I am so glad you did. This was amazing and inspiring. I have 3 teen girls, who I hope to impart this wisdom on, as I struggle with my own journey. Thank you.

  10. Tx Poppet

    So beautiful. As the daughter of an anorexic who grew up in a home with 3 anorexic/bulemic sisters, all four of whom have been hospitalized due to this illness, the topic of body image is a loaded one for me. My 14 yr old daughter is being carefully shielded and watched like a hawk for any sign that she might fall prey. It certainly doesn’t help that I’m at 230# myself. I never write about body image issues on my blog. I simply don’t have the courage. I hope your journey keeps going and that you inspire yourself as much as you inspire me.

  11. patois

    Can I add to the chorus of your admirers by saying, “You are just plum awesome!” (I don’t know why I went kinda Southern there. Must have been the time spent in high school in Virginia. ‘Nite, y’all.)

  12. Helloheather

    Hi, Y. I’ve read your blog for such a long time. I’ve commented here and there, but not with any regularity. But here I am, wanting to tell you that that post resonated with me when you first posted it. And it’s resonating even more strongly now, seeing you read it yourself. Thank you. Thank you for having the guts to get up there and read. Thank you for writing down your thoughts and sending them out into the world. Thank you for being so open, and honest about the things inside you. It matters. It makes a difference. It has made a difference to me.
    It even inspired me to blog about you blogging. 🙂
    P.S. I love that shirt you’re wearing in the video. Where’d you get it?

  13. Kelly

    A huge thanks for sharing something so personal with the rest of us. As someone who’s struggled with weight and body image issues for as long as I can remember, I was truly moved by your words and saw so much of my own experience reflected in them. I admire your strength and determination and hope that one day when I’m a mother I’ll have the courage to confront my issues head on, too. Very touching post.

  14. Teresa

    You’ve expressed perfectly what so many of us have felt and were afraid to admit. Thank you so very much.

  15. AA

    Love you. Love your blog. I thought you looked great reading that. You know, I never think of my friends as fat and I realize that many of them are overweight if I think about it. And I am not, at 5’10” and 138 pounds– yet I want to lose wieght (because I have gained some) I look at my body right now and hate many parts of it. Why are we so hard on ourselves, even when others aren’t and when we are not hard on others either?

  16. ali

    i’m so glad someone submitted it for you. it was an amazing post, and you read it with nothing but grace!

  17. Paula

    I was so inspired and moved by this that I put it on my MySpace and posted a link for all on my favorite message board to access. I LOVED this and am SO glad I got to experience you reading it. Thank you.

  18. Wendy

    Oh man, I wanted to hear it and for some reason I can’t get it to play with sound. I’ve already tried twice! I’ll try again later, I guess

  19. Michele

    Y, you are so strong. Your story and strength brought tears to my ears. I think of you often lately because I recently had 1/2 my thyroid removed and now may need to loose whats left and I am terrified. You exude so much courage in your writing. Thanks for passing your strength to all of us, to me. God knows I need it =)

  20. Willow

    I discovered your blog not long ago. I read all your archives and remember this original post. At the time, it struck a deep chord with me and I determined to try and think similar thoughts. Sadly, it didn’t take long for me to ‘slip’.
    Just this morning I got a wedding invitation from a lovely cousin who I last saw 6 years and 60lbs ago. I had two choices, lose 60lbs in six weeks or – more realistically – decline. I decided on the second choice.
    I listened to you read those words and realised I had a third choice. I phoned her ten minutes ago to tell her I will be posting an acceptance tomorrow.
    Thank you.

  21. Liz

    This is soooooooo moving, and I’m so glad you shared it!!! You are freakin beautiful. I am even more of a big ol’ sappy fangirl now. We need to meet up next time you’re in NY for sure!
    Liz, friend of Liz 😉

  22. Kimberly

    You are an amazing person for standing up there and letting your soul shine to all of those people. You words are so raw and I can relate, more then I’d like to admit most days.
    Thank you for sharing this with us.

  23. elizabethsheryl

    They have said it all above, but thank you for being so brave and honest and putting it out there. So many people are experiencing the same things. You are awesome.

  24. Toni

    You are amazing. And just as important, we must teach our sons to interact with girls/women based on the content of their characters not the content of their bras, their dress size, or the length of their hair.

  25. Amanda

    You have the biggest heart Y. I knew you for a long time via flickr before I even knew you were a popular blogger, and that says a LOT about your character. You just are who you are, genuine and precious and lovely.
    I smooch you.

  26. heartfull

    I knew I shouldn’t watch that at work! Now I’m sniveling with tears running down my cheeks and someone is probably about to walk in wondering where the spreadsheet is.
    That was beautiful – even more so than when I read it the first time.

  27. Julie

    Ok, after your more than eloquent article over at Shutter Sisters I’m dying for the ISO/Aperture article. I understand both but I don’t always get them right in certain settings. I’ve tried using my histogram when shooting. I long for the day I can look at light and say Oh…..200 @ 4.0! Let’s start there. After shooting a couple shots I can get it close to right but it always takes, say 2-8 shots before I’m there.
    Ok, help.

  28. Karen

    Y- I have to say your word made me think long and hard.Thank you I am so glad you got up there and read your blog. Job well done.

  29. Karen

    Y- I have to say your word made me think long and hard.Thank you I am so glad you got up there and read your blog. Job well done.

  30. Angela

    Y- Thank you. Thank you so much for putting into words all of my feelings. I never had a weight problem until I was prego with my DS. I never gave my body much thought until then. He’s now nearly 20 months old, and I still have a weight problem. Your words made me look at myself and the example I have been setting for my 12 yo DD. I too have missed out on things because I didn’t look “good enough” to participate. I haven’t been watching my words in front of her. I most certainly haven’t been watching my actions. I think you have just inspired me to be a better wife, a better mother, and a better person.
    Thank you.

  31. Kristina Carrell

    Y, that was so moving and touching and you have put into words what most all of us women feel. My daughter is only 8 and remarks all the time about how fat she is. At only 8!!!!! She is teeny. I mean real petite and the little princess can eat anything she likes and does most times. Yet she complains and she says she can’t stand fat. This is the image our society now gives women. That if you’re the average size then you’re not worth anything. Well BS. I use to buy into that and starve myself sometimes, workout too much…’s all BS. I think the way you are is perfect in God’s eyes. And Y you’re beautiful. I’ve met you in person. You are absolutely stunning. Your laughter is infectious, your smile brightens up a room, and your sense of adventure is wonderful. I love ya just the way you are.
    God Bless,
    Kristi 🙂

  32. Stefanie

    I was there and you totally made me cry. It was a beautiful and moving post and your bravery got you a standing ovation girl! The sad thing is a lot of us struggle with this issue. We could weigh 105 pounds and still feel fat. It’s a problem that needs to be solved. For all of our kids! thanks for talking about it.

  33. Andrea

    I am a long time lurker and I just felt the need to say, Bravo! I too am a woman who has struggled with her body image, even when I was not fat but thought I was. I am ending the first trimester of my first pregnancy and this past weekend my Mom asked me what I wanted most for my unborn child. After love and happiness I said, Confidence. If I have a daughter I never want her to feel the way I have felt my entire life, the way you so eloquently wrote and spoke about. Thank you for sharing that with us. It means so much to know I am not alone.

  34. Kellee

    I’ve not been following your blog for long enough to have caught that the first time around, but after seeing this video I can certainly understand why that post was chosen. Thank you for being brave and putting it out there. It was extremely moving. You are beautiful. 🙂

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