Remember: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and REBEL!

A couple of weeks ago, a friend posted a challenge to boycott buying all new clothing for a year in the name of the climate crisis. My friend is part of an international movement called Extinction Rebellion. They are artists and activists and parents and regular people who are taking on the climate crisis from the level of culture.

I am taking the challenge! (for the most part… I still want to be able to buy activist t-shirts that support local artists and groups and candidates I support).

According to an article in The Guardian, this effort is about reducing consumption overall. The fashion industry (along with advertising) is an enormous promoter of our culture of waste and over consumption:

  • the industry is set to grow by 63% by 2030;
  • 100 bn items are produced each year, “far more than we need”;
  • fashion is a contributor to about 10% of carbon emissions;
  • it is one of the biggest polluters, responsible for the release of a huge amount of microfibres and plastics into the ocean.”

And, there’s a lot that could be said about the fashion industry’s exploitation of women and children as workers.

But there’s another angle to this that I want to shine a spotlight on: the role of compulsory fashion consumption in body shaming and the development of poor body image and self-esteem. Our clothing becomes a source of comparison for all children very early. I’m inspired by the story of a middle school teacher who wore the same dress for 100 days. Part of her motivation was to demonstrate what could be done with the energy we might otherwise be spending each morning deciding what to wear.

Climate and environmental warriors have been promoting alternatives to “fast fashion” for years. If you’d like to support a Texas-based organization doing great work, AND have a FUN, creative night out (in Austin), check out Texas Campaign for the Environment‘s Trash Makeover! It’s always for much fun, and supports a fantastic group doing the hard work on cleaning up our state. Check out this cool video!


Because WE are the weight watchers…

Gotta agree whole heartedly with this op ed from The New York Times, Our Kids do Not Need a Weight Watchers App. 

And this wonderful piece, Weight Watchers is harming kids for money by the amazing Regan Chastain. Get this:

“Their most recent, and possibly most horrific, attempt at a money grab is to launch this app aimed at kids ages 8-17. The app starts with a seven-day free trial, but for kids to continue with their personalized coach, the monthly subscription fee starts at $69 a month. (The adult version of Weight Watchers online with coaching is $54.95/month)

Emphasis added. This really gets to the heart of it, doesn’t it?

Chastain sites some more scary stats:

  • 95% of those with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25 (SAMHSA)
  • 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming overweight. This concern endures through life. (Smolak, 2011)
  • Among high-school students, 44% of females and 15% of males attempted to lose weight. (Serdula et al., 1993)
  • 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders. (Shisslak & Crago, 1995)
  • Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors (ex, skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, purging) (Neumark-Sztainer, 2005)
  • In a decade we saw a 119% increase in eating disorder hospitalizations in kids UNDER TWELVE.

Now, I doubt that most kids who end up subscribing to this app are paying for it themselves. We as the loving adults in children’s lives are implicated in this disease. This app plays to the fears of moms and other adult women that their children might be or become “over” weight, which carries so much more meaning than just having a fuller figure. Do we fear they will be unloved, bullied, unsuccessful, unhappy? Just what WOULD we pay to prevent these outcomes? $69 per month doesn’t sounds so bad.

Or, perhaps even worse, do we fear what it says about us? That we produced or raised a child that is lazy, unhealthy, sloppy, doesn’t care, isn’t good enough—that we somehow failed?

Wow. What a weighty burden for those children to carry!

And they do. Because we do.

I would guess that most people in our culture carry a lot of subconscious assumptions about body size and shape. We apply them to ourselves, and to others. It is PERVASIVE, and often wrapped in a veneer of concern for health (which is challenged rather persuasively by DeAun Nelson, ND in her podcast, Do No Harm). And, as I’m learning, fat phobia and fat oppression are intimately entwined in our other major systems of domination and oppression—and not just sexism/gender oppression, but also racism. There is a LOT to unpack.

As I’ve turned more attention to this issue through my work with Embody Love Movement, I’ve had to confront many of my own ugly unconscious ideas about weight and health. It’s going to be a journey for me, but the first step is catch the thoughts as they arise, question them, and perhaps most importantly, challenge my own rationalizations. I’ll continue to share resources here. Comment or contact me to get involved in this work locally through San Antonio’s own “chapter” of Embody Love Movement.

Please don’t mistake puberty for a health or weight PROBLEM

The statistics about pre-teens and body image are staggering, really:

“According to a 2016 study in the Journal of Pediatrics, over half of 9-14-year-old girls desire a thinner body shape. This matters because body image plays a key role in the development of healthy habits. Girls who have a poor body image, for instance, are less likely to eat a nutritious diet or exercise and are more likely to experience problems with their emotional health. They are at higher risk for dieting, eating disorders, accelerated growth, internalizing unrealistic media images, and engaging in risky behaviors like drugs and alcohol.”

This quote is pulled from an article, “Your adolescent daughter doesn’t have a weight problem. She’s going through puberty” by family nutrition expert Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen.

It really makes me sad to think of girls spending any time or energy at all worrying about their weight or shape as something that determines their value as human beings. But, they are responding to very real pressures and strong messages, both implicit and explicit, coming from the media, their families and friends. We are all part of this seemingly perpetual cycle of self-denigration and shame, and we gotta start being a part of the remedy as well.

What could you be doing to make this change? Be a part of the Embody Love Movement revolution! Check out what we’re up to in San Antonio.


From the (he)Art of a young woman

About once a month I teach a free yoga class for the instructors and staff of a local arts organization called Say Sí. Say Sí’s mission:

SAY Sí ignites the creative power of young people as forces of positive change. We value artists, empower marginalized communities and advance culture.

Every year they do an exhibit of their seniors’ work, and put those works up for sale. I often purchase works from this annual show. The money goes to the students who are now off to college or art school, or adventuring into adulthood with other endeavors.

This year, I was struck by the work of Lee Ortiz. Lee is a mixed media artist born in Harlingen and moved to San Antonio to pursue art further within North East School of the Arts and SAY Sí. As she says in her bio, her “work expands on feelings, ideas, and troubles that she feels are not addressed enough in our daily lives, tackling topics such as eating disorders, self image, mental illness, fatphobia, friendships, relationships, family and how to deal with these issues in a social and political way.”

This tender heart is doing all she can to fight the hurtful messages — both implicit and explicit — about what it means to have a certain kind of body… what it MEANS about our value as a human being. She screams in her work: I am not gross! 

Let’s support this powerful young artist as she launches herself out into the world. She is a brave fighter! Lee will be attending Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design as an Illustration major, and I’m sure buying her work will help her a lot. If you are interested in purchasing anything, let me know. I can buy it and ship it to you. We can venmo. 

I am not gross (above) $150

They’re not Gross $150

Things I see online (Skip Dinner) $150

The Calorie Count Grows $200 (SOLD)

You can find Lee for further questions and commissions through these: Instagram: @eeelbee Email: Artstation:


What could we have done instead?

Ladies, what else could we have done with all the mental energy we’ve spent:

Counting calories? Counting carbs? Reading labels?

Craving and denying a simple pleasure?

Hating ourselves for giving in to a simple pleasure?

Dissecting ourselves into body parts we hate?

“Hating” other women?

Staring sideways in the mirror and hating what we see?

Staring at our own (and each others’) faces too closely, examining every detail of an eyebrow, a lip line, the size of our pores, and feeling somehow that those things actually MEANT something about our SELVES?

It’s complicated, I know. And I’m not blaming us, or each other, or even “society.”

I’m not blaming, but I AM going to try to do something about it.

MBS Yoga, with the support of Trinity Healing Foundation, are working to expand women’s and girls’ horizons, to pay more attention to how they FEEL than how they LOOK, and to value themselves for all they can DO and BE.

Learn about the transformative Embody Love Movement workshops we are offering at our information session Sunday, August 4, 5 pm at MBS Yoga.