Love Is Better Than Hate

I’m trying not to hate my body.

It is very, very hard.

I have spent as much of my life as I can remember hating my body, or liking my body but only conditionally.

I will like you, body, if you weigh the right number of pounds.

I will like you, body, if you run the correct number of miles this week.

If you run the right number of miles today without stopping to walk.

If you do one hundred and eight consecutive days of yoga and give me no trouble, body, I will love you.

If you eat only good food and no bad food.

But if you don’t, I hate you.

My body can’t win. It grew a human being — a perfect, amazing, beloved human being — and I still hated it. It propelled me up and down mountains. It’s taken me to glorious places, let me feel amazing, taught me so much. And yet I can’t remember a day of my life when I didn’t at least mildly dislike my body.

My body doesn’t care. This was pointed out to me yesterday — my body has zero fucks for whether I love it or not. It is ridiculously healthy and strong whether I love it or not. My heart beats and beats and beats and beats whether I feel tenderly toward it or not. My hair grows in gray regardless of how I feel about gray hair. My chin doubles when I smile regardless of whether I approve of doubled chins.

My body is my body, and it is doing a great job of being alive and being my body, and it doesn’t give a flying fuck whether I hate it.

I do, though. I want to stop hating my body, because hating my body hurts, and it makes it hard to receive love, and it makes it hard to be happy, and it makes it hard.

Self-hate makes daily life hard. Hate always makes things hard.

This is what hate does.

So I was running this morning — my first run this season because even though the weather has been good I haven’t been running, I’ve been walking instead. And the sun was positioned in a way that my shadow was in front of me for most of the run, and my shadow looked like this.

IMG_0132I looked at my shadow, and I thought about a conversation I’ve been having about hatred with someone who loves me. I thought about everything she’s told me about my body, and I tried to love my shadow. This exact shadow. This body, which doesn’t have any fucks to give about whether some fat it has conveniently stored around its waistline makes a smooth or bumpy line with the running pants I put on it.

I’ve spent a lot of my adult life trying to read the right things and speak the right ways and think about bodies in the best, healthiest possible way. I read the entire contents of Kate Harding’s old website, Shapely Prose — which is wonderful, actually. I read them and internalized as much as I could. I’ve bought books and looked at blogs and tried to think radically and reframe and ultimately, I guess, I have been waiting for all this reading and research to effect a change in my head that would make it possible for me to love my body, but it hasn’t happened, because the only way to love my body is to love it. Just — love it. Love it because it’s me. Love it because I’m alive. Love it because it’s amazing, actually, and because I choose to.

This is hard. It’s so hard.

I wrote a novel last year about a heroine who doesn’t love her body. Her name is May. She’s six feet tall, and she’s not rail thin, and she doesn’t like herself very much. The novel, Truly, is going to be released in August, and ARCs are available right now, but a lot of people read the novel on Wattpad as a serial last fall.

People kept asking me on Wattpad — asking in the comments, asking in private messages —

How fat is May?

I don’t understand, is she fat? Is she skinny but just thinks she’s fat?

She makes herself sound like a cow, but I can’t tell. Is she? It’s really bothering me.

It really bothered me, too. It bothered me because these questions meant that readers couldn’t decide how to feel about May until they knew just exactly how fat she was or wasn’t.

What did it mean, how she felt about herself? They couldn’t know until they knew how fat she was. Only knowing how fat she was would tell them if she deserved or didn’t deserve to feel bad about herself, and only knowing if she deserved it would tell them if they, the readers, should like her or not like her.

Of course, romance novel heroines are almost always thin. They are thin, they are beautiful, and we make sure the reader knows that they are thin and beautiful. We make sure the reader admires the fall of their hair and the perfection of their features, their high and round breasts, their flat stomachs, their perky asses.

We do this because it is easy. If the heroine is thin and beautiful, we don’t have to worry about whether she deserves love. She does. Obviously she does, because she is thin, and she is beautiful.

It is easy, and it is sexist. This message, repeated in 99.9% of romance novels, is hateful toward women who aren’t thin and beautiful — and to women who have complicated feelings about their bodies even if they are thin and beautiful. Which is to say, it is hateful toward most of us.

We do this because if the heroine is thin and beautiful, she has no reason to hate herself.

We do this because if the heroine is thin and beautiful, it is easy to understand why the hero would be attracted to her.

We do this because we hate our bodies, and we don’t know how to stop.

Although, also, we aren’t supposed to talk about it. Or we’re only supposed to talk about it in particular, socially sanctioned ways. We’re supposed to talk about how we’ve recently figured out that iced tea is a fantastic appetite suppressant. Or how we’ve started doing Zumba class, and it’s so much fun, it hardly feels like exercise at all! Or we talk about how we run five times a week because it feels good and settles our heads, and that’s true, it does, it does, but we don’t talk about how if we don’t run five times a week, we hate ourselves.

Every year before the RT and RWA conventions, the romance community on Twitter spends weeks and weeks talking about clothes and shoes and bodies and alcohol. Usually, this conversation isn’t overtly hateful, but the subtext of this conversation is always hard for me to take.

I don’t know if I am thin enough to be liked.

I’m afraid I don’t have the right clothes or the correct shoes to make a good impression on people I care deeply about making a good impression on.

I don’t think I’m right.

I wish I were right.

I’m going to try so, so hard to make myself right for you guys before this conference.

Hardly anyone is saying what I wish everyone were saying.

You are already right.

Whatever you wear is fine.

We just want to see YOU.

We already like you.

It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t fucking matter, not even a little bit, not at all.

Wear the dress you like. Wear the shirt you like. Wear whatever you like, but feel good. Feel love. Feed yourself. JESUS, feed yourself.

That’s what I want to say, all the time, every year, every time I see these conversations about conferences and clothes and weight, every time someone is worrying about how many calories are in their yogurt, every time, and sometimes I do, and I get praised for having a great self-image, but really it’s just easier for me to love everyone else than it is for me to love myself.

It’s hard for me to love myself.

It’s hard for all the women I’ve ever known and some of the men, too, and I think it must actually be hard for everyone no matter how they look, how fat they are or how thin, how healthy they are or how sick, how dark their skin is or how light, how curly or straight their hair is, how good or bad their eyesight, how broad or narrow their hips, how round or flat their ass. No matter what, it’s hard.

Also, love doesn’t make it easy. Love feels good, and love is good, and love helps, but being loved by someone else doesn’t solve this problem, not all on its own. Love solves very little on its own. We have to work to solve our own problems. We have to love ourselves.

It’s hard

But it’s hard NOT to love myself, too. I have thirty-six years’ experience hating my body, and it is actually hard — it’s painful. It creates pain. It creates anxiety. It creates judgment. Hate is poisonous.

And so I’m trying this other hard thing, today. I’m trying to look at my shadow when I’m run and to be happy that I’m alive, and I’m running, I’m fucking running, and my body is healthy and happy to be moving, and the sun feels good on my skin, and the sky is blue, and my mind is sound.

I’m trying to feel all of that and let it be love.

I’m trying to love my body the way I love everyone else’s bodies, the way I love humanity, the way I love life and the world.

IMG_0116I’m trying to look at this picture of my face and not think it’s the wrong smile, the wrong angle, the wrong version of my face, the one I don’t like. I’m trying to remember, instead, that this is the face people see when I smile. People who love me. People who love to see me smile. This is my face. There’s nothing wrong with my face.

I’m trying to look at my face and love it back.

It’s hard. It’s so hard.

But it’s not harder than hate.

I’m hoping, over time, if I keep trying, it will become easy.

About Ruthie Knox

Ruthie Knox writes witty, sexy romance novels for grownups. Read more >
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32 Responses to Love Is Better Than Hate

  1. I had this exact same struggle with myself for my entire life. Still do, sometimes. But somewhere in my 30s, I pushed myself through the revelation you describe. I would never say or even think to another woman the things I said and thought about my body. I would never be so mean to another human being as I was to myself. I think it was reading Anne Lamott’s books that tipped me over the edge. She writes about trying to love her body and how hard it is, but how she tries to be gentle with herself, the same way she would with a person who was wounded. And it helps. I slip all the time, of course, but mostly, after forty-two years, I remember to be at least as kind to myself as I would be to a complete stranger.

    I had to start with little things. The first time I tried to stand naked in front of a full-length mirror and find one single part of my body that I like, it took me a long time. I was determined to be honest, not just to say I liked something that I really didn’t. And eventually I decided that I really, genuinely liked the curve from my waist to my hip. Not my hips themselves. Lord, no, those were awful. but those three inches or so where the curve just began…that I liked. How long it’s taken me to expand those three inches to cover the rest of my body is, well…long. But I do indeed like almost all of me now. There are struggles still (why is there an extra pad of fat covering my tailbone, like a pillow? Do we really fall on our asses so much that this was evolutionarily necessary? Really?) but I’m better at it.

    I imagine getting old and part of the appeal is that I think I will give even fewer shits about my body, the older I get. When I’m old and running marathons or even just around the block, no matter how molasses slow I go–and the racewalkers totally pass me by–I picture myself smiling. I’m thinking, “Hot damn, look at me go.” :)

    • Delphine Dryden says:

      Oh, yes! And why is that so hard?

      Gosh, I cracked my tailbone once (they assumed…I was pregnant at the time so they couldn’t x-ray it, but apparently the treatment is the same whether your coccyx is cracked or bruised, you get the round pillow and a lot of rest and walking like the Little Mermaid for several weeks). So I actually appreciate that little fat-pad every time I look back there. It could’ve only been worse if I hadn’t had that built-in pillow.

    • Delphine Dryden says:

      Well dangit, it ate my blockquote. I was quoting, “be at least as kind to myself as I would be to a complete stranger.” YES to that.

      • It’s a rule that works for me. I worked with and helped take care of my dad when he was terminally ill and it used to make me absolutely CRAZY that he was nicer sometimes to the busboys at his favorite restaurants (helping them plan their taxi cab empires back in the Dominican Republic, actually) that he was to me when I took out his trash and got the dry cleaning and grocery shopped. It’s easy to forget to be kind to the people you take for granted, I think. Esp. when that person is yourself.

  2. Delphine Dryden says:

    *all the hugs* I love that picture of your face, hon. I actually like it better than your promo shots (which I also like) because to me, it looks more like the you I know and love to talk to and spend time with. But I know that isn’t the point, at all. And I admire your bravery in posting it, I admire that so much. Because it really is hard, and it so often seems like the default response to that difficulty is a voice in the back of the head whispering, “Well, but it wouldn’t be hard to love yourself if you looked thinner/taller/shorter/curvier/other/better, would it? Accomplish that first, then we’ll see how you really feel.”

    Sometimes, no amount of self-talk and positive mental attitude voodoo can counteract what society embeds in us so deeply, so early on. That whispery little voice is such a persistent fucker and it’s usually better at debate than we are.

    If I were being all formal I’d say you’re attempting to change your cognitive behavior, but really to me it seems like what you’re doing is changing your philosophy about how you’re gonna feel, and that can be a great way to counter that stupid, debating head-voice because it changes the terms of the debate. That voice begins from the position that loving your body is something you have to earn, and enumerates all the ways in which you might not be earning it. If you start from a place where you’re only thinking, “This thing feels good, this thing works well, these are good experiences I’m creating with this body, I like these things and find joy in them, and that feeling is love,” there’s just not a lot of room for argument there.

    (A note about the conference thing, though: I like to play dress-up and don’t often get to, so I just really love the opportunity to wear the pretty shoes, and the cute dresses, and whatnot. Not worn to impress anybody, so much, but to share with people who will appreciate them? Because that’s a thing I enjoy that I don’t get much of in my daily life. I can see how that whole conversation might be a source of body-image-stress for some, but it’s definitely a source of delight and joyous anticipation for others. Especially the shoe part).

    • What a great post, and DD, your response–I love you guys.
      OMG, RT and the shoes! Some people like to dress up, which is wonderful, if I had a nicer figure, I probably would too–and some of us go into complete (probably imaginary) peer-pressure anxiety-attack mode, assuming that if I wear my Converse around all week (because I’m old and foot-arthritic because I’ve shown my body hate by keeping it full of low-quality food for years) in an attempt to look funky, people will see right through me…
      And it’s for hundreds of WOMEN WHO NORMALLY GO TO WORK IN THEIR PAJAMAS!
      Who probably don’t pay the slightest attention to anyone else’s shoes, unless they are also a shoe-person, and then they’re only noticing the fancy ones!
      At which point I must hide in a corner with a bag of fun-sized Snicker bars, so that I can continue to hate myself, and…
      And write about thin, perfect women falling in love with men who have muscles like granite and .2% body fat.

      • Whereas me, I’ve been guilt-ridden since reading the initial post, because I am a shoe-person and never considered that my love of shoes was indirectly causing bad/inadequacy feelings to others. It’s not body image or competitiveness, it’s just…the shoes! I do look at the fancy ones, and the ones that look super cute yet comfy…but I also seriously appreciate some Chucks. I too have arthritis, so I really can’t wear the fancy ones all the time. That’s part of why I get so excited about all that when conferences are coming up! A few days in a row, a very few times a year, is the perfect occasion because it’s self-limiting. Same things applies to “clothes with defined waistbands,” for the most part.

        Some of my heroes and heroines are fit/lean, some not, some unspecified, but they are all able to wear pants/clothes with fitted waists without worrying that the pressure on their lumbar spine will suddenly make one leg go numb. I also have yet to write one who’s got issues with foods like lactose or gluten intolerance. We all have our fantasy versions of how people ought to be able to live their lives, I guess.

  3. willaful says:

    I will comment more later, but I just have to point you to this article:

    • Wow! What a great post. Also, I’d never heard of this book until my 14 y.o. daughter ordered it last week. I’m really encouraged that she’s reading a romance that has such a strong message of a boy liking a girl for who she is and not what she looks like. Thanks for pointing us to this link! I’m forwarding it to my daughter. :)

  4. Preach it, sister. As I enter my, ahem, middle years, I find myself obsessing more over how I look than how I should keep my body healthy as I age. So dumb. And I’ve felt the same about the comments on social media prior to RWA and RT – I’ve fallen victim to it myself but I find it so weird. Why do we even care, especially in a setting of supportive, awesome women? Does anyone really give two shits about my footwear except for my feet, cursing me or thanking me depending on what I cover them with?

    What I notice about your picture? You’re smiling and you look happy. How could a person not smile back?

  5. TrishJ says:

    OMG Ruthie!! Just last night I was taking selfies . I must have taken 20 before I gave up. My nose was too big, my wrinkles showed, I looked old. But this is ME!! I tell my grandkids that God doesn’t make mistakes and they are just exactly who they are supposed to be, why can’t I listen to myself!!! Great blog today!!

  6. I love May. I love her struggle with her self image, how that book is about her deciding she deserves to be loved.

    I guess we all need to decide that. Again and again. That’s the real hard part. I can think/feel in one moment that it’s all good, it’s all love, but then I have to do so in the next moment and the next.

    It’s always a choice.

  7. Serena Bell says:

    Love this post, and you, so much. And I think you’re beautiful in all the pictures. And in real life, in all the clothes.

    Re: May. My book club read Bet Me, and they had EXACTLY the same problem with Min. They demanded to know whether she was really fat or whether she was just fussing over a little plumpness, in which case (they more or less said), she clearly was being stupid and should shut up. They were reading Bet Me because I made them, and I was making them because I wanted them to like romance, so I heard, in their questions a certain critique of the book–that the writer–and implicitly all romance writers and maybe readers, too–were beating up on Min for being not perfect. I got defensive on behalf of romance instead of hearing in their questions what you called out, an assumption that if Min is thin she is OK and if she is fat she is not and that she only has a right to feel OK if she is thin and a right to feel not OK if she is fat. So I really appreciate being made to look at this from another angle. I might even have to write email to my book club telling them to read this post.

    My weight has only varied within twenty pounds or so my whole life, but pretty much no matter how much I weigh, I am never happy, and more to the point, I never feel like the rest of the world is going to approve. If I am on the thin side of my range I feel scrawny, and if I am on the plumper side of my range I feel fat. But if I am in between I feel constant pressure to maintain without screwing up–to exercise and eat right and be heavy enough for bone density health and light enough for heart health and to make sure my husband still wants me (even though he has never once made a derogatory comment about my body in twenty years of being together). And that’s without taking into account all the little BITS–the saggy parts under my arms and the unwanted facial and body hair, the back fat that my bra digs into, the awful parts of my feet that only professional pedicuring will cure, etc.

    And of course, even writing about the bits feels wrong, because if I wrote a romance heroine that way a savvy critique partner or a cautious industry pro would make me take that stuff out–just to be safe, because you wouldn’t want a reader to hate that heroine for being gross. Or, you know, say, human.

    But of course part of what makes that description so unpalatable is my relationship with it. If I told you that lately I’m a little curvier, that my feet are calloused and strong from lots of walking and dancing, that I sometimes forget to paint my toenails or pluck that stray chin hair because I’m so busy writing lovely books that I’m proud of, then you’d hear me differently, right? I’m gonna try it. Thanks, Ruthie & AJ.

    • Ack. It’s so fucked up, how we view ourselves. For me, marathon training has helped distance me from a lot of the negativity (although I certainly do not think it’s a terrific fitness plan for everyone), in that it’s changed my body self-image orientation from “fat vs skinny” to one of “training vs not training.” I mostly do not look at my body and think, “Ew, you’re fat and smooshy and don’t fit in your pants” or “Job well done, because your thighs are tight and your clothes are loose on your hips.” What I think is: “You’re softer and rounder because this is the off-season and when you start training again, you’ll be harder and more muscular.” There are pluses and minuses (“Whee! I stopped running so I have boobs!” or “Yay! You can bounce a frigging quarter off my quads…”), but in general, I find that it helps me to think in terms of strength instead of beauty.

      It’s still hard. And I’m still frequently judging myself, so…not a strategy I think should be applied across the board. I’m more comfortable recommending kindness and compassion, as if we are wounded, in that scenario. But it has definitely helped me find a way through some of the societal bullshit about whether or not my ass fits in those jeans…

  8. Ana says:

    I love you smiling picture. Like Del, I like them much more than your professional shots. Like Vanessa said, who wouldn’t smile back?
    I used to be very self-conscious about how I smiled. First a giant overbite, then years of braces, then a smile that shows too much gumline. Eventually I gave up trying to smile the right smile and just beamed how I wanted to.
    A few years later I was at home and my mom kept trying to give my now-husband one of my grad pics. He took one under duress and when I asked him why he didn’t want it, he mentioned how I didn’t look like me, that it was fake smile. It was a wonderful confirmation. I love my too gummy smile, because it is my smile. But I have to admit to struggling with those rolls of fat too, with the shadow that isn’t smooth and to remember to love the rest of me too.

  9. Maria Teresa Romano says:

    So beautiful, honest & painful, and so much to unpack, especially since I have been struggling with this in my writing and in me forever. And it was practically just yesterday that I understood every woman feels this way. Every woman has a running list of her flaws, alphabetically and in order of importance.
    I have been fat most of my life, although there are times when the world defined me as “curvy” and others when I was fat enough to be invisible. And, I always believed that my body was the worst body, the ugliest, the most unlovable and unfuckable.
    I don’t really know what’s changed in the last few months, but somewhere the flip got switched. And I just said screw it. This body is the only body I will have this go-around.I will wear what I want; I will dare to feel sexy again.
    And I writing about fat heroines and imperfect heroes, and it’s therapeutic because if I can find love for them, I can find it for myself.
    Also, I am saying this while struggling not to change my Twitter avator, which actually looks like me right now. So, work in progress.

  10. NOJuju says:

    Damn it Ruthie, your post just made me cry. I am skinnier than most people I know, but I still HATE my body (so much), hate my lumpy shadow, hate at least 90% of the photographic versions of my face. The one version of my face that I like is almost never the one that the camera can find. This morning I weighed myself and am at my all-time highest weight ever. I wanted to slice slabs of fat off of my torso, even though that is horrible and unfair and revolting and I would NEVER want anyone else to feel that way. I never look at other people and think there is something wrong with them. Only with me. I want to try to love it all too, but yes. It is really, really hard. This seems something critically important to figure out how to do.

  11. Edie Danford says:

    Thanks for these words and thoughts, Ruthie. And commenters, too. Hard to know how to translate my feelings into words. But I have lots and lots of feelings about this. And I know that some time–probably many times–in the future, thinking about this post will buoy me when I feel like sinking.

  12. Fabulous post Ruthie! I’ve been struggling so hard with this. I lost 50 pounds last year, but I’m still plus-sized. I’m working out and eating “right,” but the weight has stopped coming off and I’m having to accept that perhaps I need other goals than just a number on the scale–that this IS my body, and you are right, I should love right now, not keep hoping for the day when it more aligns with what I think it should be. This was a brilliant post and one I really needed to see. Thank you.

    • NOJuju says:

      What a phenomenal accomplishment you have already made though. 50lb! That is so, so hard to do. I hope you are incredibly proud of yourself, not for being 50lb lighter or whatever, but for being someone who could work that hard. I’m in awe.

  13. Andrea T says:

    I turn 36 tomorrow and now my gift to myself is to work hard to love my body. Thank you for your inspiring words.

    Also, I am 5’11 and though I’m now average, I have always had to work hard to maintain weight and now I’m even more excited to dig into my arc of Truly.

  14. Goddamn, I love you, woman. Thank you for writing this article. Thank you for saying so eloquently the exact things running through my mind, and most every woman’s mind, on a daily, hourly, minute-by-fucking-exhausting-minute basis. You are truly one of my heroes. I look up to you, like whoa, in all aspects: as a writer, as a friend, as a woman, as a human. If I let myself truly respond to this in a relatable sense, I’d probably end up with a comment novella. So instead, I’m simply reiterating how much I love you. I love you.

  15. Jane O'Reilly says:

    It’s a funny thing, self loathing. So time consuming, so exhausting, so distracting. My parents gave me a lot of grief about my appearance as a child. My hair wasn’t right. I was too tall, too heavy, too pale. I can still remember my mother taking me aside as a teenager and telling me I was size fourteen, I would always be a fourteen, I just had a big build and there was nothing I could do about it. I dieted, drowned my 5’7 8 stone frame in the too big clothes she told me I needed, in jeans that were baggy everywhere and couldn’t work out why I felt so hideously unattractive, so ashamed. By my late teens I was a mess. I genuinely thought I was too unattractive to ever get married or have children. It ate away at me, a toxic mix of self-hatred and confusion that turned me into a horrible, navel gazing bore. I turned something of a corner when I left home and went to university. Away from the weight of all the constant, subtle criticism, I began to realise that maybe not all of it was right. I made a decision at that point that I wouldn’t allow myself to ever feel that misery again, that I wouldn’t allow my appearance to be so all defining, so controlling. That I wouldn’t allow myself to have those negative feelings any more. I really believe that this is a choice that we can make, to stop looking in and start looking out. A body doesn’t have to be perfect, it only has to be good enough. You don’t need anything more.

  16. Sarina Bowen says:

    Wow! You put this so well. I’m so impressed.

    The past two years I’ve really struggled with turning forty. Weirdly, it’s made it easier to look at myself in the mirror. Because I’ve had to make peace with the idea that this doesn’t go on forever. There are days when I’m still inclined to think “hag!” to my reflection. But on the days when I’m feeling more forgiving, I’m possibly easier on myself than ever before.

    The thing about this battle with ourselves is that it’s not the same from year to year. Not only do we have to stay strong against that internal enemy, but we have to adapt to her changing forces.

    But I think you can win. :)

  17. Regina Wade says:

    Wow Ruthie. I got a little teary-eyed. I’m 56 years old have have NEVER remembered a time in my life where I liked or was satisfied with my body, or my face, or maybe this week it’s my hair. I am married to a man that loves me for me, all of the various forms of me I’ve tortured my body into trying to make it into something I’ll like. The sad part is I think there is something wrong with him for feeling that way. How can he so totally love something I can barely stand to look at in the mirror, me.

  18. Angie Hocking says:

    Well that was fucking honest. Not that I’d expect to read anything other than something honest written by you, Ruthie. Having a little one after the ripe old age of 40 helps me immensely with my various body image issues, because little ones not only don’t judge, but love you more than anything in this world. Oddly enough, in every OTHER way, I’m feeling better than ever about myself the older I get. Go figure. Looking forward to reading Truly and really looking forward to seeing your most excellent face in person one of these days.

  19. Pat Fordyce says:

    Beautifully said, honest and so needed. Thank you Ruthie!

  20. Kate D. says:

    Ruthie, we’ve never met, but I feel like I know you because we’ve lived sort of oddly parallel Midwestern lives and are very near the same age. But mostly I feel like I know you because I’ve read all your books, and your books, along with those written by the other Wonkomance authors, have had a hugely positive effect on my life. It has been really transformative to me to read romance novels about diverse and relatable people of varying body types who have complicated, sometimes messy, but also amazing emotional and sexual relationships. I have to tell you that these books–your books–have dramatically changed the way I feel about my body and my sex life for the better. These people and these worlds you’ve created–that have come out of your fantastic brain in your amazing body–have convinced me that my body is pretty great, even though it’s not necessarily the body I would have chosen for myself. I so hope that you will come to accept the gift that you have so generously given your readers. You more than deserve it.

  21. Sunny says:

    Your post made me sad, mad and completely outraged because I know it to be true. It made me think also about the importance of normalizing diverse experiences. Stories give people the opportunity to walk in another person’s shoes, a chance to expand their perspectives. Seeking outside experiences takes intention – most people expect that their everyday normal is the norm.

    Funny you should mention the RT experience. Since this was my first RT, I had no idea about the amount of energy some people spent thinking about what to wear. Admittedly, I did some time thinking about my clothing, but really, I was more concerned about stylish, comfortable shoes! However, I have never felt more myself, at-ease, in my zone, than I did at the convention. Maybe it was the atmosphere of being with people who genuinely shared a passion for books. Everytime I stood in line (which was a lot), I talked to everyone around me – no inhibitions, no guards. I didn’t feel judged, but rather included. It was exhilarating. Thank you for being part of that, Ruthie!

  22. Pingback: Links: 06/06/14 — The Radish.

  23. Jackie Horne says:


    I like to think about WHY women are encouraged to be so self-critical about their bodies, and use that knowledge as a way to interrupt the self-destructive messages about my body. Women are encouraged to be the OBJECTS of the male gaze, to compete with other women for said gaze and attention. Only if your body is perfect will you win this competition. Just say no to the patriarchal assumptions behind the insistence on body perfection.

    And then, of course, capitalism also reaps the benefits of women’s bodily insecurities–when, thinking we have to buy more in order to look better than ourselves, better than other women, we spend more to buy more expensive clothing, more makeup, more hair products, more more more.

    Whenever you start to feel bad about your body, turn that self-hating feeling into positive anger against the true villains. Kick that patriarchal capitalist crap to the curb.