Sexy Feminism Excerpt: Lessons Learned from Dieting

To celebrate the publication of our book, Sexy Feminism, we’ll be sharing some short excerpts of it with you, the readers who helped make this book possible! 

My dieting history is totally cliché and utterly unfeminist. I was a teenage dancer-cum-anorexic. I tried half a dozen fad diets and as many cleanses, and I regularly embarked on extreme workout regimens to prep for things like the beginning of a school year or a wedding. I actually can’t remember a time after adolescence when I wasn’t on some form of diet or weight-loss mission. I know; this all sucks for my feminist cred. So I was shocked when the one event in my life that I expected would throw my body image into disarray turned out to be the thing that made me chill out and stop dieting altogether. I got pregnant, gained forty pounds, and stopped obsessing.

To be truthful, it took some time and serious hard work to get my mental health in check. When I first stopped fitting in my regular clothes, I freaked out. I knew that was coming, but it happened at around four months, when I didn’t really have a baby bump yet; I was just a little bigger everywhere. I remember envying women clearly in their third trimesters—it’s impossible not to look adorable with a baby bump, no matter what you wear. I wanted that key accessory instead of just bigger thighs and boobs. When my bump finally came, I embraced it. I wore form-fitting dresses, leggings with slender tunics, and bikinis. I felt beautiful, mostly because I was so proud of the little life, now clearly showcased, causing all these changes. And dieting? Obviously: no. Not just because it’s unhealthy to restrict your food intake too much while pregnant (deadly, even), but also because I wanted to eat better than I ever had before—healthy, wholesome, delicious food—and as much of it as I needed.

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EAT, People (Not a Zombie Blog)

This is a guest post from the awesomely talented and funny and feminist Katie Goodman. Check out her comedy and other stuff here.
I’ve never written about this before, but when I was in high school and college I had a mild eating disorder. Nothing extreme, but a basic binge/purge cycle, although the purge was through excessive exercise. I would have been bulimic except that I couldn’t make myself throw up. And I tried. Believe me. Thank you, strong Russian stomach. But it was fairly pervasive and took up a ton of my attention and energy.  I’m writing about this now because as an adult I have no obsession with food and body image whatsoever and as a feminist I think we really need to see this oppressive, anti-woman dilemma for what it is: um, an oppressive anti-woman dilemma.
It’s the holidays and invariable friends have started to bemoan – along with the anxiety about the anticipated home-for-the-holidays political fights and child-rearing-criticism to come –the expected weight gain. Here’s what I know. And I had to learn it, so I am writing this because I hope it helps others. Eating and being healthy and fit are completely natural. Babies know it and if we don’t screw up our kids too much, they know it. Beauty magazines don’t. Your best friend probably doesn’t. And your parents are your parents, so whatever you learned there, therapy was invented to undo.  (Across the board probably.) But this is about eating.

Links for Sexy Feminists: Mankind vs. Humankind, OTC birth control, and more …

Yeah, it’s important not to use “mankind” to refer to all humans: Even the scholars say so, io9 tells us. Seriously, it’s not that hard to make your language gender-inclusive, and it seems “silly” only when you’re one of the “man”s already included.

And yeah, we’re not about to suddenly call the internet a bastion of “niceness” either: We’re backing Jezebel on this one: Trolls live on.

OB-GYNs say the pill should be over-the-counter: We guess we’ll take the convenience factor even if it means we’d have to pay for it again. Especially after the fiasco our pharmacy experience was today. Self breaks down why OTC birth control would rule.

Another lady in charge of something major: The nation’s largest bank gets a new CFO, HuffPo reports.

Lincoln tries to remake First Lady Mary Todd: It doesn’t quite work though, says The New Yorker.


Links for Sexy Feminists: Geek girls, healthy cities, and more …

An interesting take on the ever-ongoing ladies-in-tech debate: “The Myth of the Fake Geek Girl” on io9.com explains why ladies still have a hard time in hacker subculture (and, tangentially, why that Facebook movie was so sexist). If you’ve ever hung out at a web developers’ party (and we have, for significant-other reasons), you know what a rare creature we still are at these things.

In the exhausting rape news of the week: Jezebel reports on police’s massive bungling of a rape case in Saratoga Springs, NY — despite it being one of those straightforward, classic rape cases that idiot politicians seem to prefer (woman attacked violently by stranger … you know, “rape rape”), police still didn’t think it was important enough to alert the public or try to apprehend the guy.

Self names healthiest U.S. cities for women: Congrats, ladies of San Jose, CA!

More on Petraeus-induced sexism: Amy Davidson at The New Yorker looks at the difference between the Petraeus-affair scandal and Ike’s dalliances, and raises another question, at least for us: With men always sending shirtless, and other-garment-less, photos of themselves around the interwebs, why is it that the women in these affairs get the slut-shaming? Just asking.

Single motherhood in Syria: With men disappearing in Syria, The New York Times‘ Nicholas Kristof looks at the women and children they leave behind.


Links for Sexy Feminists: New HIV drug, Condi for VP, and more …

Turning Blog Posts Into Published Essays: SexyFeminist.com’s Jennifer Armstrong will join BlogHer’s Rita Arens and essayist Susan Goldberg to talk writing at BlogHer’s conference next month in New York. Our talk is at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 3 — for more details on how to join us, click here.

Dating sites encourage men to be interesting, women to be doormats: Jezebel investigates how little has changed.

New drug could prevent 90% of HIV infections: But, of course, it’s not that simple, The Atlantic reports.

Rock goddess Stevie Nicks to reunite with Fleetwood Mac: Her old band will tour together (minus Christine McVie) next year, says the LA Times.

Condi Rice could be Romney’s VP: Or so say the latest rumors, as dissected by Salon.com.

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Guest Post: Why Feminists Need to Keep Talking About the Pill

Writer Rachel Friedman (The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost) worries that we’re using the pill for purposes that go beyond birth control — and mean too much dependence on hormone-based drugs. We here at SexyFeminist are, of course, all for birth control because of its liberating effect it has on women’s lives, but we also think it’s always worth asking whether you’re on the right medication — or whether you need medication at all. (Intrauterine devices are so totally in now!) We urge you to hear her out.


The birth control pill used to have a very specific, very important goal: preventing pregnancy. The pill helped liberate our mothers.  It ushered in an era in which contraception was separate from the act of intercourse and almost single-handedly reconstructed the doctor/patient relationship.  With the advent of the pill, scores of empowered female patients arrived at their doctor’s office demanding the prescription they needed.

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