Monday, June 27, 2011

Checking out this week

Enough said. If Ohio legislators would stop attacking women maybe I could blog more.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jog dancing

This is what happens when I go for a run.

First I get all jog attired out. You know, sports bra made of steel, spandex all over, and way to expensive shoes. I make sure I have my key, put some rocking tunes on my iPod and then open up the old air ways. Thank goodness of inhalers! This is what the “making-sure-I-care-breath” part of the process looks like.


OK good, lungs work. Also note the misplacement of my broken eyeball. How glorious.

Now most of the time I just run. You know, the typical one leg in front of the other thing. Other times jog dancing happens. There are no words to explain jog dance. Just watch.

Dance jogging as performed by Chowey

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Five Chowey Favs –June 19th (21st) edition

This is out of order, but Sunday (or Monday, not sure yet) I want to start posting my top 5 favorite things from the past week. Here are my favorite moments from last week. PS – I will get better at this the more I do it, right?


GLEE! Second best concert (N SYNC always first!)


Getting back into running


Reading for fun


Cuddle time with Kevin


Getting enough SLEEP!

My Big Bliss experience

Whenever I got to Toledo I watch unnecessary amounts of TLC and HGTV. After a long week, I love vegging out to an episode of Say Yes to the Dress on a Friday night. I could write a whole book (and maybe somebody has) detailing feminist critiques of that show and wedding culture. Regardless, its my guilty pleasure.

(source, source)

This past weekend I was in Toledo and enjoyed my usual dose of cable TV. Friday night after a few episode of Say Yes to the Dress a new show came on. It was a spin off of Say Yes to the Dress featuring plus size brides, called Big Bliss.

I felt so angry watching this show. Woman after woman came into the shop and express their inability to find themselves beautiful. They would put on amazing dress after amazing dress and still look in the mirror and feel terrible.

They hated the way they looked, hated their bodies, and in turn, hated themselves. I found all of them beautiful. I understand beauty is subjective, but still in each woman I saw grace, elegance, and style. No – I saw a PERSON who had value and deserved dignity. It was literally painful to see the self hate.

Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss Clip

The whole thing made me angry. 

I was angry at a wedding industry that says only thin brides are beautiful. I was angry at the fashion industry that doesn’t make clothes that fit all people, and perpetuates unreal expectations of beauty. To me the world needs to change not these women, yet I am sure other viewers felt exactly the opposite. I hated that other people are watching this show and victim blaming. I can see them now saying to a friend, if only they would lose 50 or 60 pounds they wouldn’t have a problem. Even the comments on the video posted above made my blood boil.

These women don’t need to change, the world that creates stereotypes, stigmatizes, and disenfranchises people based on the size of their body needs to change. This is blatant discrimination and should not be tolerated. In my rage I vowed to never let anything, a dress, an industry, or a society make me hate myself and my body. I am, like every other person, too valuable to be minimized in this way.

I haven’t mentioned this lately on this blog but personally my body has been changing. I have alluded to the terrible eating and inactivity habits I adapted while trying to finish school and find a job. My clothes fits differently so I was aware my body had changed, but this weekend I became strikingly aware to the magnitude by which my body had changed.


This realization came at the mall. I went to the mall to spend a coupon I received for my birthday. I was excited to go to the mall and find some new clothes. When I got there I grab literally two arm loads of clothes, and rushed to the changing room. There were so many things on the rack I loved. I thought that I had hit the jackpot.

But then, shirt, after pants, after dress – nothing fit. Not one item I brought in fit. I knew my body had changed, I even made sure to get bigger sizes than I would have 6 months again, but still not one item fit.
I was paralyzed. Less than 12 hours ago I watched women go through these terrible shopping experiences that inevitably fueled their body hate. Less than 12 hours ago I vowed never to let something as silly as a dress make me feel less valuable. Yet there I was, exactly in their shoes.  I was ashamed, frustrated and sad.

I went back out to the store floor determined to feel better. I grabbed more clothes, in even bigger sizes, and even grabbed clothes that wouldn’t traditionally be considered “flatter” for a woman my size. Specifically I grabbed a white dress. I got a size I knew would fit, and rushed back into the dressing room.

Some of the clothes looked ok, and they now fit, but there still was no wow. The usual rush and excitement of new clothes was gone. I was too far in the hole by this point. The last item I tired on was the white dress. It fit well and was comfortable, but still all I saw in the mirror were my flaws. The rolls of fat on my back, the bludges around my hips. There I was, in a dressing room, in a white dress, feeling exactly like those women on TV, also in a dressing room, in a white dress.

I don’t have any answers or profound statements about this experience. I am still processing all my emotions and perceptions.

I guess I wanted to share this story because I know I am not alone in these feelings. I hope to keep thinking about this experience and figure out where I can grow from it. Right now I still feel hurt. I am hoping that time will bring wisdom, and I can share that wisdom here.

I guess the only advice I can give, and am giving to my self, is to not give up. I need to stand strong in my beliefs and figure out how I can use my skills in self reflection, self care, and social justice to address this problem. If anything I hope sharing this story makes others feel less alone, and make people aware that if you feel this way, there is someone with you in your corner trying to find a way to make things better – whatever that means.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Weiner resignation represents culture around sex

I am upset Representative Anthony Weiner resigned.

How can congress demand he resign, but not expect the same from others who did similar, if not worse, things. Yes I’m looking at your David Vitter. Rep. Weiner also was a strong progressive voice. He spoke up on issues I care deeply about, when others would not.

What upsets me the most about the Weiner resignation is that is demonstrates the inability of US culture to accept the ways in which people use their bodies and express themselves sexually.

He sent pictures of his body to other people and also had sexual conversations with them. This behavior disgusted people around the country. My question is, what’s the problem? His interactions were consensual and surely uncommon. 

These were extramarital exchanges, but I argue that was not what really bothered people. What bothered them was that he was expressing his body and his sexuality in a way that is not accepted in mainstream culture.

This is why the resignation is bad. The same culture force that ousted Wiener is the same force that tells women if they dress a certain way they should expect to be assaulted, and that only heterosexual relationship warrant marriage.

This is the force I face every day advocating for access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare services and effective sexual health education. The Weiner resignation represents that again the US let our inability to accept people and their sexual expression get in the way of good public policies, and politicians that stand up for them.

Excellent coverage from Rachel Maddow:

Rachel Maddow Show

A reminder of the voice that will be gone without Rep. Weiner.

Anthony Weiner during healthcare debates

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What I love about out of shape running

I am really out of shape. That is not some self hating criticism – it’s fact. I took about 2 months off from exercise during the crisis which was graduating from school. I just went for a run and it was rough, but good.

Also note – with out these people I would never exercise.


(source, source, source, source)

The run tonight reminded me why I love out of shape running.

Perspective on mileage

When you are training for a big race, the mileage gets high. I half trained for a full marathon, and completed one half marathon. I was running 20-30 miles a week while training for those races. While training you lose perspective on how much you are really running. I remember feeling complete defeated because I cut an 11 mile run short and only ran 7 miles. I felt bad because I could only run 7 miles? Yeah, that’s messed up. Starting back at square one makes you proud of what you did than, and proud of the little you can do now.

Respect for the fitness I once had

Also while training, or just when in really good shape, I never really understand how fit I am. There was a time in grad school I was teaching abs, Pilates, and yoga, strength training pretty intensely 3-4 times a week and running 15-20 miles a week. Whoa, I was like beast woman, but at the time I didn’t appreciate it. Being out of shape gives me perspective on what it means to be fit, and I take that perspective with me as my body does begin to change.

life isn't over if I lose fitness

When I am really fit I think, oh, I will NEVER be out of shape again. Ha, I laugh at that statement! Life is full of unknown challenges that can make it difficult to stay fit. Yes fit people, there might be a time you are injured, or busy doing other things. Yes, there are other things to life than fitness. The best thing about running is even when I leave it for a while, it is always right there for me to return to. After committing for a few weeks consistently the fitness comes back. Its not like magic, it all makes a lot of sense.

Remembering what is all about

When I am out of shape I don’t map my routes, monitor my pace, or set mileage or time goals – I just run. I focus on moving my legs, and finishing. A lot of this is freeing, knowing that my only goal is to not face plant. It reminds me why I love to run. it makes me happy to just move my body, listen to music and let my mind slip away. This time is just for me, no one else. It is great to feel this reconnection to the sport I love.

All in all today’s run was rough, but it was relaxing and motivating. What more can I ask for right?


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Time for grad school recovery

The last few months have been all consumed by grad school. During that whole process I felt  like this:


And I had to see things like this, which I hoped to never see again.


Oh silly pre-grad school Ashley would probably see that stack of books and think, oh wow cool! I want to learn those things! Post-grad school Ashley mainly thinks, OMG vomit, get those out of my face.

Anyways as of yesterday all my paper work has been turned in and signed. I am done. D-O-N-E baby, yeah! Now I feel like this:


If you are wondering, yes that is my computer mouse in my hand. I am sure there is some fancy way to time photos with my webcam but I haven’t figured it out yet.

Please, stare at those for a long time. They get better the more you look at them.

Now that I am done with grad school I am left with the sad sack of human that was chewed up and spit out by the fine institution I attended. Needless to say during the process of …

  • Getting a new job
  • Fighting the federal government trying to take away healthcare from women
  • getting another new job
  • conducting and analyzing research data
  • writing my culminating
  • writing my culminating again after getting it chewed up and spit back in my face by again that fine institution I attended
  • Doing other weird things – lobbying, testifying and so on

… there was little self care. I went from a 85% vegan to a 100% pizza, fast food and whatever else was cheap and would fit into my mouth kind of eater. I also went from 8 weeks into a marathon training plan to absolutely no exercise.

Correct, NONE. That is pretty impressive really.

Now it is time to pick up the pieces and make my next moves when it comes to self care. During this whole process I learned a lot. I have changed my views about healthy living, well really living in general, and thus also what the purpose of this blog will be.

I am off for a run to try to get myself back into some regular fitness schedule. Look forward to more posts about my adventures in trying to figure out how to live like a human being again.

And now your moment of Zen, a sparkly GIF in honor of my shiny new degree. PS – nothing says higher education like sparkly GIFs!

(source )

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Tomorrow I am presenting my culminating project. During the past two years so much has changed, so much has developed.

I am excited to open the next chapter, and begin using this blog to further grow and explore topics I am passionate about. Stay tuned, things are about to get for real.