Happy Friday, everybody!
I know it has been a quiet month over here in the Double Chin Diary land but I can assure you, it is all for wonderful reasons! Alyssa is away again in Minneapolis for her job at the second of seven Susan G. Komen walks happening. Last week she was in Detroit and in a few more weeks, she’ll be in Philadelphia. She still has quite a few more walks to get through before she gets to the final adventure of the San Diego walk that we both will be doing. I can only imagine the emotional roller coaster she rides on during these events as I know that I would probably be crying both happy tears and sad tears the ENTIRE time. It’s hard for me to even get through my more emotional blogs I write without crying my way through it! So, if you’ve got a moment – stop by her personal page and send her a comment, it’ll surely brighten her day when she gets the chance to read it.
Besides all the excitement that Alyssa has been doing, I’ve been busy figuring out the next few weeks of my immediate life. School started a few days ago so I’ve been working a bunch more to earn the funds needed for my adventure next week.
I’ll be heading out to Burning Man next Thursday with my brother. I went for my one and only time in 2008 and definitely had a life-changing experience as I believe anyone would if they gave it a chance. If you haven’t heard of this event or maybe just want another explanation, here is how I describe it. Burning Man is what human civilization could be like if we weren’t held down by the standards that society places upon us. While there are plenty of restrictions financially as not everyone can afford the $390 ticket, spiritually it is the only place that I have found where people can just be FREE. The every day aspects of life like clothing, money, careers just don’t matter at Burning Man. People wear whatever they’ve always wanted to wear knowing that no one is going to make fun of them for dressing up like a Giraffe with neon spots. I drew blue dolphins on each of my eyes and felt super cool walking around like that, not embarrassed like I would be back in the real world. Wallets are put away for the week as nothing at the event costs money (unless you need ice and coffee – the only two vital things for sale). The reason why I personally love Burning Man though is for the art. There is no limit on what the human mind can create and this event showcases some of the most talented people in the world. With the help and the extremely open environment, the best gift that comes out of Burning Man is the ability to see a different way of living life. Any words that I can write won’t give justice to the what the event can do for a person’s soul and if you ever have a chance to go, do it.
Now that I’ve given a long explanation of what Burning Man means to me, I have to tell you my story of a very significant moment in the healing of my self-esteem that came out of the 2008 event.
It was my first afternoon at the event and with the 100+ degree desert temperature, I wasn’t exactly comfortable in my sarong on my waist and scarf tied around my chest. As my friends and I wandered around “the playa”, we came across something called the “Tittie Totter.” I’ve always been a fan of teeter totters and while the idea of getting topless completely petrified me, the desire to go on this thing was STRONG. The tittie totter went up an insane amount of feet, I’m horrible at estimating but I would guess around fifty feet up into the air once the other person had sunk down to the bottom. I’m also a big fan of scenic views and knew that if I was brave enough to do it, the reward of seeing the entire sprawl of Burning Man would be remarkable.
Now, I’m the kind of person that hides in the corner of a locker room to change and have a strategy that allows practically none of my “private parts” and stomach to be shown. I also recall a time in a hot tub with Alyssa and two of our girl friends when they all wanted to sit topless (since we were alone) and I freaked out about doing it and refused.
But this tittie totter was proving to be worthy of conquering my fear of getting topless so I nervously got into line to wait my turn. Another challenge quickly became presented to me as soon as I got in line. I would have to tell them my REAL weight so I could get evenly matched with someone. I took a big breath, thought about it, and came to a very clarifying conclusion that telling my weight and taking off my top would have no effect on the outcome of my life but could bring a positive memory to a very different type of experience.
My weight was announced and a woman who reminded me of my awesome Mom yelled out, “I’ll do it!” and came rushing through the line to stand with me. Immediately she peeled off her top and continued to talk to me with absolutely no body shame at all as I held on to the safety of the fabric covering my chest. After chatting for a while, it was finally our turn.
Still clutching onto my top, I nervously walked over to my side of the tittie totter and sat down. My friend yelled out for me to take off my scarf and with another big and fearful breath, I let the scarf drop to the ground. As soon as I did that my body temperature dropped probably twenty degrees as a rush of cooling air engulfed my entire top half. I felt myself begin to rise up over the hundreds of camps around me. As I looked around, I realized I hadn’t even been paying attention to anyone else but only for the moment that I was in personally. I finally took a glance down to the ground to notice that not a single person was pointing and laughing or looking away in disgust. Once the ride was over and I was excitedly greeted by my friends and co-rider, I made the quick decision NOT to put the scarf back on.
I felt incredible.
I was so proud of myself for getting over such a big fear of mine and the very obvious temperature difference made it a simple choice to not cover up.
Apparently no one minded seeing me topless. Plus, once I did it, I began to notice that many of the people who were topless or naked didn’t have a body that was stereo-typically considered fit either. Before I went on the tittie totter, the body shape of the naked people didn’t even phase me. I didn’t even notice whether or not a person was overweight. I noticed the boobs. I noticed the lower regions because it’s not every day you see that out and about, haha. But I did NOT notice their stomachs, the part of my body that I was just as fearful to show as my chest. After the tittie totter, the body shape of people still didn’t phase me but it did help me realize that complete acceptance is one of the many wonderful things that Burning Man comes with. It didn’t matter that I’ve got eighty pounds to lose or that I have stretch marks. It didn’t matter if someone had a giant birth mark covering their stomach and back. It didn’t matter if the person was 77 years old and covered only in wrinkles, they were just as accepted as the 19 year old girl wearing fuzzy boots and a tutu.
This year I may go topless but now I’m fighting another personal battle with myself over it. Since my brother is going, I feel somewhat awkward about being topless around my grown brother. In the United States, being naked around your family just isn’t a socially accepted situation. However, as my brother and I both learned as we flipped through channels on our way to the Netherlands on a cruise, American’s fear of nudity does not share the viewpoint of nudity elsewhere in the world. So many of the channels we saw had women topless and were done so without sexuality being involved at all. The boobs were just a part of the woman’s body, a source of nutrients for a baby, not a source of sex appeal for whatever pair of eyes wants to adore them. At Burning Man, the nudity that is rampant all over isn’t necessarily done because the person is wanting to be sexy. In a matter of survival in a very hot climate, going topless was a very wise choice for me as I’m very susceptible to heat strokes as it is.
I’ve prepared myself by purchasing bikini tops so I’ll rock those until the time comes when I might feel comfortable enough to drop the top. Buying those bikini tops was another great moment in my self-esteem, but I’ll save that for another blog as this one is already longer than many of the essays I have due in school.
I hope you guys enjoyed my long story and if you’ve got any experiences of your own to share about “dropping the top” or getting over your fears of body shame, or Burning Man, let’s hear it!