I have made New Year resolutions for the past two years (2015 and 2016) and just made my resolutions for 2017 as well.
My resolution for 2015 was to eat more cake. And I did. I ate lots and lots of cake. I don’t think anyone needs an excuse to eat more cake, but my reasoning behind this resolution was to enjoy food more and worry about it less. “Eating more cake” packaged those desires into a nice, simple resolution which I could easily share with people. I wanted to enjoy food more and worry less, because I wasn’t enjoying food as much as I usually do and I was worrying about eating a lot. After moving to Australia in 2014, I started gaining weight due to a combination of factors, and I struggled to deal with and accept that weight gain. I struggled a lot. I started to feel very negatively about my body all the time, and that effected how I felt about food and how I ate. Then some of my past disordered eating habits started to resurface. So my resolution for 2015 was really an extension of my efforts to accept my body and be happy with it and in it and to not worry and stress so much about food.
I wish I could say it is all now better after my year of eating cake. I successfully ate a lot of cake and enjoyed a lot of it without worry, but I am still endlessly struggling against a society that tells me my primary value is how attractive I appear and that a failure to exercise enough/diet enough/stay skinny enough/whatever enough is actually a moral failure on my part. But reminding myself every day that I am not here to be beautiful and that every body deserves to be treated with dignity (and to cake) is helping. I am gaining weight again right now, and though I am still struggling to accept and be happy with my changing body, it is less of a burden this time. As it will be less of a burden the time after that. As it will be less of a burden on our future generations. Until it is no burden at all.
It’s not my responsibility to be beautiful. I am not alive for that purpose. My existence is not about how desirable you find me. ~Warsan Shire
I made three resolutions for 2016. Like in 2015, the resolutions were simple goals motivated by larger ideals. The first was to have more meal outside; the second was to use candles at dinner more; and the third was to wear bras less.
Wanting to be outside is a desire I’ve gradually developed, and developed rather recently. I didn’t spend much time out doors growing up. Really, I didn’t spend much time out doors until I met Pretty Boy. After meeting him, I became a moto partner and started camping when we’d travel to races. And then we started traveling on vacation together, and we found that hiking was a holiday activity that neither of us independently sought out, but together, it was the perfect compromise between his love of exploring and my ability to slow-walk forever. And through camping and hiking, I found I really liked being in nature and the out doors. The desire to be outside has been further bolstered, because eating outside and enjoying the out door in general is so much a part of life in Australia.
So I wanted 2016 to be the year I stretched beyond my default two out door activities, moto camping and travel hiking. I wanted the out doors (both urban and wilderness out doors) to be part of our day-to-day lives. I still fear the cold and the bug bites so much, and probably always will, so I haven’t succeed in making the out doors part of our day-to-day lives as much as I would have liked, but I’ve pushed myself some and enjoyed it almost completely. Some examples: we spent several evenings last summer on the futon under the bug net in our courtyard because it was just too hot to stay inside our brick townhouse. We planned more holidays focused on hiking and visiting wilderness locations and being outside. And biggest of all I think for me, we went on a camping road trip, where we camped out of Pretty Boy’s work truck along the Great Ocean Road for five consecutive nights. I make these resolutions as goals to enact for the year, but ways of living to maintain for as long as they fit. I hope to keep working on this one and find the right level of out-doors-iness for our lives.
The resolution to use candles at dinner had a simpler motivation: I wanted to celebrate more, make mealtimes an occasion. Interestingly enough, I succeed in the motivation though not in the actual resolution. We burned candles at dinner a few times early in 2016 when it was just me and Pretty Boy, but the resolution petered out. 2016 did however become our year of meal parties. We hosted a number of dinners and brunches and get-togethers at our place this year, with more people than I’d ever cooked for before (and more people than we actually have chairs and flatware to accommodate) and more foods I’d never tried making before. Its been great. I love hosting and being in the company of friends in the comfort of my own home. I’ve learned a lot about how much I love our house here, what I like about hosting, and how much me and Pretty Boy can reasonably accomplish before we have people over, especially when it involves large numbers of people. And the focus, the important part, was always the people and the food. Not how pretty the table was (with or without candles), not pictures or how instagram-able the meals were. I’m calling it a successful resolution and hoping for many more successful party meals to come.
Wearing bras less was the easiest and most-completely implemented resolution. And that surprised me. I made the resolution tentative: I wanted to wear bras less, rather than something more resolute, like stop wearing them all together, because I anticipated it would be a challenge. But almost immediately after I resolved to wear bras less, I stopped wearing them almost all together and now only wear a bra for very infrequent reasons. I never realized how uncomfortable bras were for me, and if I wear one now since giving them up, I find it so uncomfortable that I feel validated in my decision to stop wearing them. It started as a push back at all the way society tells women how they should look, what they should want, and what they need to be women. Now, though, it is as much about comfort and saving money as pushing back.
I used to wear bras because I thought my boobs were “funny” shaped and too small, and because I thought bras made my clothes fit and look better. And that reasoning persisted until I read a series of articles about going braless, and I really thought about my reasoning, really thought about the judgments and view I was supporting by wearing bras for those reasons. I realized my boobs are not “funny” shaped by any measure I care to judge them by and my desired look and fit of my clothes is no longer the same as conventional figure flattery. I don’t want to have excessively round and protuberant boobs that are the focus of my shirts and dresses, which I feel is what the majority of bras and women’s clothing is striving for. I want more gender neutral clothing that does’t highlight my body in any manner (sexual or otherwise—see above Warsan Shire quote), and I want to be comfortable. Not wearing bras supported both of those desires.
The one true thing I’ve always know about my boobs that is still true today is that they are small. And on the very, very far end of small. As in, I have to search and search and search for bras that actually fit me, because I’m a small AA or smaller. For reference, that’s three sizes smaller (small AA, AA, A, B) than the smallest cup size typically offered for fashion bras (B). If I find a bra that fits, and I like the style/color/cut, and it isn’t ridiculously padded (because yes, there are small breasted women who don’t want to make their boobs look bigger), I definitely won’t like the price. As a result I have a few very expensive bras and several more ill-fitting bras. I was delighted to find I could be more comfortable and save money by not chasing after affordable, well-fitting bras.
The biggest hurdle has been getting over my fear of being confronted and accused of being indecent. I don’t think I’m being indecent. at. all. And I have a good response at the ready if I ever do get confronted: guys wear tight or short shorts here all the time and if one doesn’t want to see their crotch-bulge, one averts one’s eyes. If one can’t avert one’s eyes, that’s their problem and they don’t demand the guy changes his clothes. The same logic should apply to me. But I haven’t been confronted. No one’s mentioned anything about it to me at all. I haven’t even caught anyone staring. Nothing negative has happened, only positives. And as time goes on, I keep getting more confident and less fearful of getting confronted about it.
I do recognize how privileged I am to be able to make the choice not to wear bras: I don’t need the support of a bra for comfort (athletic or otherwise); my preferential style and desired presentation help “camouflage” the fact that I don’t wear bras, making it less confrontational; I have conventionally-attractive-privilege and thin-privilege so I can get away with more unconventional presentation choices. But it is a choice I make for me, its the right choice for me, and I’m grateful I have the privilege to make it.
After a bit of thinking and inspiration in response to the current state of the world as I see it, I’ve decided on my 2017 resolutions. My resolutions for 2017 are to 1) go to bed earlier (even if that means compromising what and how often we cook at home) and 2) read one book a month, particularly about domestic or international politics or history, in a digital format.
I’ve been exhausted for the last 4 months, and it has to stop. I’ve been motivated and working on my research; I’ve been feeling social and ambitious cooking at home; I’ve been traveling. The combination of those activities is really effecting my sleep and its unsustainable. I feel the decline in my motivation and desire to be social, so I want to recommit to taking care of myself. I know I need more sleep than average to function, so I want to prioritize getting enough sleep in 2017, and prioritize it over saving money on food and eating healthier food by cooking at home and mostly from scratch, since I have prioritizing those two things very highly since moving to Australia, often to the detriment of my sleep schedule.
For my second resolution, I haven’t picked the books yet, but the Guardian’s list of non-western books that every student should read and the Wired-reported list of President Obama’s essential reads are going to be my starting point. I enjoy reading non-fiction and have read a lot of non-fiction at different points in my adult life, but I want to do so now, with a clearer intention: broadening my view and understanding of the world. I want to learn about view points different from mine and about history that I am most unfamiliar with. I want feel more prepared and educated to take on more influential roles and positions, personally and professionally, in the future. Or even just to have conversions about global issues. I want to be prepared to act in those potential future roles in an educated manner with the goal of making the world around me better. And not just better how I think society should be better, but research-supported, fact-based better. I also have an undying love of print that is at odds with my desire to reduce waste. Hence, digital. I actually fear that might be the hardest part of it all.
Do more better. ~Tim Challies
Using reason and evidence to do the most good. ~Effective Altruism
Intentionality is something I value very highly. I try to do as many things in my life with thought-through intention as I can, but it takes a lot of information and knowledge and self-awareness to act intentionally. I am trying, as always, to further my knowledge and self-awareness. And with my resolutions, past and present, I try to reinforce those goals.