Cinderella shoes: Why I, in my oversized body, said FUCK IT to the world

I’m a big woman. Not fat, not wobbly (which would be an entirely different sin of its own).

Just big.

I’m nearly six feet tall. I’m broad-shouldered, big-boned, and long-limbed.

There was absolutely no point in my life that I was not going to be large. Genetics decided that for me.

I take up space, which apparently in our society is a crime worthy of punishment if you’re a woman.

Because, in case you hadn’t noticed, we women are supposed to be small. Underweight, taking up no space, not making any noise or having any opinions. We’re supposed to be pretty, according to a very narrow definition of pretty.

Women are not supposed to eat.
Women are not supposed to eat.

The first time I was told I was too tall I was about 12. A guy I liked said I would be pretty if I wasn’t so huge. I was about an inch taller than him. We got on well as friends but he told me he couldn’t be seen with a girl who was taller than him.

Two years later my father started calling me “buffalo butt” and laughing at the “joke” because he thought he was a wit. I was medically underweight at the time. I started my first diet about then.

When you’re meant to be big, and your frame and your bones are big, and your feet are fast getting up to size 11, there is no diet in the world that will make you smaller.

My best friend said she was embarrassed when we went shoe shopping and the shop had nothing to fit me. My mother kept saying I should be more ladylike – whatever that meant.

I think it meant “less like me”. I think it meant less everything to do with me. Less of me.

I started to realise that’s what the world wants. It wasn’t just me either, with all my size. It wasn’t personal, even though it hurt like hell.

Women were supposed to be less than men. Not just less in our achievements and our abilities, but in our size, our space that we control, our earnings, our ideas, our voices. Everything.

We were supposed to be “assistants”, not the person being assisted.
We were nurses, not doctors.
We were teachers, not Principals – unless of a primary school or kindergarten.
We were secretaries, not the boss.
We were the scenery – the eye candy – in the movies.

Not the hero.

Nothing seems to have changed. We're still the "eye candy" and the "romatic interest".
Nothing seems to have changed. We’re still the “eye candy” and the “romatic interest”.

At school I remember asking about being an engineer, and being told, “Oh, you don’t want to do that! and being steered towards a career as a nurse or a teacher. I didn’t fancy cleaning, so I opted for teaching.

There weren’t many “acceptable” options for girls to choose from, after all.

Women live in a smaller world, and we’re supposed to be smaller to fit into it. But as I grew older, something clicked. I guess I started wondering what happens when a person demands a bigger world? What happens when we’re too big for the boundaries others set for us?

I sometimes wonder if I would be the same person today if I hadn’t been born too big to fit the role society wanted me to fit?

If I’d been born the “right” size, looked the “right” way, would I have challenged the role that I couldn’t fill?

Those Cinderella shoes were never going to fit me. So I created a new fairytale with myself as its champion. Would I have done so had the glass slipper fit?

cinderella

I don’t know. I don’t have answers. But I know one thing: I, in my oversized body, said Fuck It to the world.

The world as it was didn’t fit me, so I created a new world that suits me better. That I liked better.

And, as I look around, the Ugly Sisters – all of us who never, ever could fit the shoes we were told to wear – we are all creating our own worlds, side by side.

    They told me I was too big, so I used my height and strength as an asset and began to think of myself as an amazon, proud and strong, with a heritage that goes back thousands of years.

    They told me boys were smarter than girls, so I got myself a few degrees at University.

    They told me computers were for boys (I wasn’t allowed to touch my brother’s computer when it was bought for him, in case I – less than two years his junior and a teen at the time – “broke it”). So I created the largest online community for Pagans in Australia at the time of its creation, became a WebMistress, ran webpages and online forums, and learned my way around the internet, before taking on a Software Engineering degree.

    They told me I couldn’t fight because I was a girl, so I joined the Army.

    They told me sport was for boys and that I sucked at it, so I went to the State Championships in rowing.

    They told me girls were weak, so I became a bodybuilder and weightlifter.

    They told me girls couldn’t be Leaders, so I became a Leader of several communities, transforming them and removing previous corrupt leaderships.

    They told me I couldn’t write music, so I became a choral composer whose works have been performed worldwide.

    They told me girls couldn’t change the world, so I wrote stories with new worlds in them.

Be the change you want to see in the world

I’m just an ordinary woman, with no special abilities. Except I don’t believe in boundaries and rules, and I don’t believe in Impossible.

Maybe that’s what has made my world so amazing? Because only by believing in the impossible can we make it happen.

Women can do anything.
Too long we’ve been told to keep our horizons near, and our world small.
Too often we’ve believed it when we’ve been told what we supposedly can’t do.
The combination of being told to keep ourselves small and being told to appease others is deadly.

It’s time we all said Fuck It to the world, and made some noise. Because, by doing so, we might just discover who we truly are.

Strange weather…and a worried Priestess…

I’m going to talk about climate change. I guess if you’re one of those who thinks climate change is a phony stunt put on by scientists for a reason nobody can quite explain, then this post isn’t for you.


I’ve been worried about the weather.

This year is the same as last year. We had a very early warm Spring. The bulbs were up and out ridiculously early – almost a month and a half ahead of time – and apparently birds were about that much ahead of time in their nesting behaviour.

It’s not just here in New Zealand that this strange stuff was going on. Over in England, on the other side of the world from us, frogs have been spawning months ahead of time, and garden plants are budding, tricked by the unseasonal weather into thinking Spring is here.

But it isn’t. Over there it’s autumn right now.

Frogs are spawning in the UK's late autumn. Photo from the Daily Mail.
Frogs are spawning in the UK’s late autumn. Photo from the Daily Mail.

What happened next after our incredibly warm early Spring, in which we were wearing t-shirts and shorts and everything began blooming, was even stranger. The weather turned bad abruptly. For the last two months we’ve been back in very cold weather again, with fierce storms, virtually non-stop rain, and hail storms on more days than I care to count (every day this week except Tuesday, and most days last week).

The storms have blown the blossom off the trees, and the young leaves are struggling to gain a hold. We’ve lost trees, and power lines have gone down all around.

Farmers are at their wits end, wondering when to cut hay for the winter – with so much rain practically every day, the grass is too wet, and if it is cut and bailed up it will rot. So it continues to grow.

Things may be very difficult next winter if the grass isn’t dry enough to cut. The animals rely on it to get through winter when nothing grows. If there isn’t enough food in storage, they’ll starve or have to be culled.

Seeing the visible effects of climate uncertainty

As someone who lives on a farm, and as a Pagan, I feel very connected to all this.

When I see the daffodil bulbs coming up before midwinter, I don’t have to guess that something is wrong: I can see it is.

I live in Dunedin, in the south island of New Zealand, where it is cold. Some people here laugh and say if it is going to get warmer, well, bring it on!

But what is happening is chaotic; unpredictable. We get ridiculously warm early Springs and late Autumns that convince the animals and plants it’s time to breed and grow. Then things turn back to ice and hail, and everything dies in the frost.

This isn’t healthy warmth. This is a challenge that nature is not equipped to deal with, brought on by us.

I know I can’t do anything significant about all of this, and you might say if one person can’t make a difference what’s the point of worrying? But what I can do is talk about the changes I’m seeing, and express the genuine fear I’m feeling inside.

This isn’t something that we should be debating and laughing about. This is something real, and we need to make widespread changes to the way we all live in order to deal with it. Changing a light globe or two won’t cut it. I’m convinced that downsizing and simplifying our lives, and moving altogether away from consumer culture is the only way forward.

To what? Something better, I think. Because – let’s face it – consumer culture, working 50 hours a week, being in lifelong debt, buying cheap plastic crap made by people in slave conditions and envying the Joneses aren’t all great cultural wonders I particularly want to keep for eternity anyway. Do you?

Thanks for reading and, if you can, spare a thought for those poor little English frogs. I think they’ll be in for a rough time when the weather turns.

2_6_2010_frozenrose

If the earth is alive, does she grow?

As far as I can remember from my studies in biology (which were a long time ago now!), all living things grow and reproduce.

So here’s the question: if the earth is alive – which is what I, and many many Pagans, believe – does she grow?

The possibility of the earth as a living organism was really first tackled from a scientific point of view by James Lovelock, with his Gaia Hypothesis.

The Gaia hypothesis proposed that:

    that the biosphere and the physical components of the Earth (atmosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere) are closely integrated to form a complex interacting system that maintains the climatic and biogeochemical conditions on Earth in a preferred homeostasis.

[Quoted from Environment.com]

In short, that the earth is one, self-managing, self-regulating organism.

But then there are the issues of reproducing and growing – two things that most, if not all, living things do.

The reproducing earth

How would the earth reproduce?

Maybe – and I’m just musing here, as I’m no scientist – we’re doing that for the earth, with our exploration of space and other planets.

We can’t keep things absolutely sterile, no matter how hard we try. The Mars Rover will certainly have transferred microbes to the Martian surface: even if we humans never colonise the planet ourselves, its possible that our germs might do it for us. So maybe H G Wells, with his stories of bacteria moving from planet to planet, was further ahead of his time that previously thought!

We’re a part of the earth, whether we acknowledge it or not. To my way of thinking, it’s entirely possible, once you accept that the earth is a living thing, that part of our job as one of its “organs” is reproduction.

The growing earth

The expanding earth theory has been around for quite a while. If you haven’t seen it before, check out this presentation – it floored me when I first watched it!

Theoretically, geologists have discredited this theory. But to me, the proof is in the visuals: it all just fits. It’s completely convincing because you can see how the land mass pieces of the puzzle fitted together on a much smaller earth.

So even though geologists may not support the expanding earth theory, I do. And I believe there will come a day when this theory is proven to be correct. As I said, it makes sense. It fits.

What has this got to do with Paganism?

I think this has got everything to do with Paganism. These theories support the belief that we are part of a living, growing organism – they support the Pagan concept of immanence – that the divine is within us and within the material world, rather than separate from it.

What do you think?