Jamie

Jamie was part of a group interview with Jacy. Be sure to head on over and celebrate the beauty and joy of Jacy in her profile as well.

Kyira: “What made you decide to sign up, decide to show up today in this uncomfortable sort of awkward thing that we’re having you do here?”

Jacy: “I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m and extrovert and I will talk and talk and talk. So I’m gonna defer to giving you (points to Jamie) the floor first before I go crazy.”

(Everyone laughing.)

Jamie: “OK, good we balance each other! Um, I think I’ve always, like as long as I can remember, had body issues. I had epilepsy when I was super young and was put on a medication that just made me like balloon up, people said. And, um, so just like thinking about, you know, how my weight’s been affected just because of that when I was 5 is like a huge, I don’t know. And, yeah, and just how, I know a lot of people kind of said, ‘Oh, why would you get on that medication if they knew you would gain weight from it?’ And …”

Jacy: “(Laughing.) Because curing epilepsy is some bullshit!”

Jamie: “Yeah.”

Jacy: “I’m worried about how you look!”

Jamie: “Yeah, exactly! (Laughing.)”

Jacy: “Oh, are we allowed to swear during this?”

Kyira: “Please!”

Jamie: “Yeah! (Laughing.)”

Kyira: “You don’t know me well enough yet, but I drop the F-bomb like no other!”

Jamie: “Yeah (laughing). So I think I’ve always just, um, been a little bit quote-unquote ‘curvier’ because of that, and that’s totally OK. But people don’t view it that way so …”

Kyira: “Yeah, and so thinking about that, too, you said how other people, like other people said that you ballooned up or gained weight. So was it something that, do you remember that?”

Jamie: “Um, no I don’t remember it cuz I was so young. But then people bring it up now. Like, you know, ‘Oh, when you gained, when you were that little you gained weight.’”

Jacy: “Oh, how awful of them.”

Jamie: “Yeah, yeah. Not super kind.”

Kyira: “And so, also, that piece of like kind of noticing selectively what people take with them and what they notice and how they define it. And we had somebody else talking about that, too, who he is living with OCD and depression where medication was necessary for controlling it. And we talked about the crux of like having to take medication for depression or something where you want to manage your depression, but then it helps you not really in terms of confidence cuz you gain weight often. So then you feel more depressed. So then it’s like the Catch 22.”

Jamie: “Yeah.”

Kyira: “So it kind of feels like it’s happening, the same thing.”

Jamie: “Yeah. Luckily I was younger, like maybe it didn’t affect me when I was that young, but maybe later in life.”

Kyira: “Right. And Jacy, what about for you?”

Jacy: “So when I saw the opportunity to do this, I pretty much jumped on it. Uh, there is a blog that I read a couple of years ago and the woman who wrote it – I know I’m gonna say her name wrong – it’s Karen Mangiacotti and her blog is Dangersnax.com. And it is entitled, this particular post, ‘I wear a bikini because fuck you.’ (Everyone laughing.) And it was amazing! I, I’m just gonna read the first line of it, ‘The top six reasons why I, a 43-year-old, size-12 mother-of-four woman with thunder thighs feel totally justified rockin’ a two-piece …’ And it was, it just, I was falling down laughing. I was dying because that encompassed so many things that I had been feeling for so long.”

Kyira: “Yep.”

Jacy: “Um, I have always been overweight. I am 5’2” and at my highest I weighed 235 pounds. Uh, part of that was medication. I have been medicated for depression for a large portion of my life. I’ve always been fat. When I was younger, I had, I had facial hair. I actually had a treasure-trail, I had a mustache, goatee, sideburns. And I was 18 years old. Between 18 and 25, I spent thousands of dollars on electrolysis and hair removal. I’m a teenage girl and I’m spending money on trying to make my face look right for people because I’m so insecure and people need to point it out all the time and they make me feel bad and I keep getting judged for it. It was such bullshit. So I read this blog post and it was, it was part of the shift in my life. I’m a survivor of domestic violence and I had a lot of body issues related to that – a woman’s value, what they should be doing, their role. Um, a woman’s primary role is to provide sex for men is the, is the culture I knew and what I was just living with.”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm.”

Jacy: “And I hated myself. I literally hated myself every day until my early 30s. There were a few things that helped me shift out of that. One of them was a couple of really great counselors. One of them was a yoga class that I took. Uh, in my mid-20s I ruptured my two lowest spinal discs. At 27, I came out of the second injury with a walker for 12 weeks of recovering. And then I had a knee-high leg orthotic and a cane for a year after that. And my surgeon was like, ‘You’re fine.’ Really? ‘Yep, you’re fine! Did my surgery. It was all good.’ And I’m like, ‘I’m 27 years old and you’re fine that my body doesn’t even work?’ And he’s like, ‘Just be thankful you’re not in a wheelchair!’ And that’s it.”

Jamie: “Oh, my God”

Jacy: “So I just, I had to find my own way to heal myself. And it was PT and exercise. And I finally found this one kind of yoga that really resonated. And I went to this yoga seminar and it was a two-hour seminar, we wrapped up our two hours, and at the end of it the instructor, like we’re all just lying in a circle on the ground, um, the instructor says, ‘All right. Everyone close your eyes. It’s corpse pose. Relax yourself. Thank you all for coming, you did really hard work. Now take a minute and thank yourselves, cuz you just did something really nice for your body.’ And I fucking burst into tears! The concept that I could thank myself for anything, especially related to my body, was completely foreign to me. And that this woman would stand there with love and compassion and say to everyone in the room, ‘You can do this.’ It just blew my mind.”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm.”

Jacy: “So my relationship with my body shifted as I recovered from the injury. And there is nothing that will make you love your body more than not having part of it function and having it function again.”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Jacy: “Oh, you’re gonna talk trash about the flubs on the back of my arm? You know I couldn’t walk for a year, right? (Laughing.) Do the flubs on the back of my arm have anything to do with me walking? No? Then you can shut your face!”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Jacy: “Like people care so much about how you look. Do they care that other people are in pain?”

Kyira: “Right.”

Jacy: “People live in pain with their bodies. People struggle with their bodies. And how you look is completely irrelevant. It is completely irrelevant. And, uh, that’s something that I just try and embrace more and more. So when I saw this opportunity come up, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah! Underpants pictures on the internet saying because fuck you?’ I’m so – I’m on it! I’m there (laughing).”

Kyira: “So where do you think, where do you think the relevance has come? How, like why do we make those things relevant? How did it come to be that like, that we’re all – like I haven’t had a single person come in a do an interview that said, ‘You know, I think how people look should, like should matter.’ Or, you know, that ‘I like the standards that we have.’ Like no one says that and yet it’s still perpetuated and has been for so long. Where does that come from?”

Jacy: “I don’t even think the people whose job it is to look good like the standards that we have. Professional models have just as many body issues and problems that we have cuz they are exemplifying the shitty standards. Um, where do they come from? Is that the question?”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm.”

Jamie: “Yeah, I have no idea. But it’s interesting, I don’t think even – I think people can go back to like Victoria’s Secret angels. Like there’s no way that even those girls love every inch of their body or feel 100 percent comfortable. So if they like, quote-unquote, they wouldn’t, why do we all have these high standards that we should, you know? It’s interesting.”

Kyira: “I feel like that’s the quest I wanna go on next is like, who drew the fucking box? Like who put the lines out there and said this is what everyone’s supposed to be in and why? Like where did that come from?”

Jacy: “Honestly, I think part of it is we, we judge each other. That’s part of how a group exists, like you judge the members of the group – who’s in it, who’s out of it. Um, we just judge people and that’s how we roll.”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Jacy: “And you have to be able to. You have to be able to look at someone and be like, ‘Wow! They have a knife and they’re running at me. I judge that as a threat.’ Um, but our culture, our culture really – I can’t think of the word for it – really supports judgment. Our culture is really like, ‘Yeah, judge the shit out of each other.’ And we’re taught that to feel better about ourselves, we do that by being more than someone else.”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm.”

Jacy: “I don’t feel that I was ever taught to feel good about myself because, ‘Wow, this person and I are the same! We have things that are the same and I admire them, therefore I am good.’ It’s always, ‘There’s someone that I can look down on and that makes me bigger.’”

Kyira: “Yeah, I always think about, um, do you remember playing ‘King of the Hill’ growing up?”

Jacy & Jamie: “Yeah.”

Kyira: “So I always think about, like I think we’re the ‘King of the Hill generation.’ So like that we’ve learned that the only way to be at the top is if you can keep everybody pushed down. Or the only way to get to the top is if you find ways to pull everybody from their platform. So I think what you’re talking about, it’s been socialized. And there is a certain degree of that that’s like survival instinct and competition and surviving and whatever. But to what point is it not helpful, you know?”

Jacy: “Right.”

Kyira: “Um, so when you think about that for both of you, where do you think – how do you think culture, and maybe that’s family culture, or you both talked about people’s responses to you like growing up, especially like coming into your body, maybe it is society at large. How do you think that’s informed your perception of self and like where you got to this point today of thinking about those things that you’ve now labeled as like body issues or insecurities.”

Jacy: “If you want a moment to think, I’m happy to talk.”

Jamie: “(Laughing.) Go ahead.”

Jacy: “It’s a beautiful introvert-extrovert pairing – I’ll talk and you think! (Laughing.) Um, it brings up something kind of interesting. So I came into this because I have this righteous desire to show other people you don’t have to care about what you look like. And it’s really important for me to communicate that. One, having breakfast this morning I was literally like, ‘Oh, my god, should I be eating oatmeal? Because I might be bloated then and I will look fat in my picture. My naked picture to show people how much I love my body! What if I look fat? Oh, my god.’ And that fact that like holding these two in concert with this paradox of if shouldn’t matter and it really does matter really shocked me. I wasn’t expecting that. Yeah, and the socialization and the culture and the expectation no matter, no matter how hard I fight it there is always an expectation of how I should look. And I hate it. I was invited to join a TV show, ‘The Quiet Man,’ and I said, ‘I don’t want to deal with visual media cuz I don’t want to have to worry about makeup and clothing and hair all the time. And this guy is like, ‘Oh, no, no no. Don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine. You don’t have to worry about your makeup.’ And I was like, ‘That is a really male thing to say.’ Cuz as a woman, if I go on TV without makeup and hair and clothes that are nice but not too nice – so if I go on TV without looking good but not too sexy, then, OK, so I’m either lazy, I’m lazy and stupid and I don’t care about myself, or I’m just there being a little …”

Kyira: “Super-sexualized.”

Jacy: “Right! And I’m like women walk this line and if you don’t hit the middle ground then you actually lose credibility. And I’m like, ‘You’re an older white guy. You have credibility just by existing. You could come in your flannel jammies and you would probably still have more credibility than me if I were under- or over-dressed. I’m not dealing with that.’”

Kyira: “Yeah. It’s interesting, too, cuz I think about that with all components in term of, like, where privilege comes into play. Cuz that happens with, not even just gender but in terms of like racial identity or things like that, too, where there’s certain privileges that, like, I will have being a white woman that somebody that’s not white but identifies as female isn’t gonna have. Or like, right, that like things that being a woman, we’re inherently gonna have different standards that shift for us. Like what you said fits perfectly with something someone else talked about to me about an interview. She goes, ‘Well, time to go to the two outfit looks that a curvy woman has for an interview. Either frumpy and lazy-looking, or hyper-sexualized.”

Jacy: “Because it’s all boobs and butt.”

Kyira: “Right. And so it’s then what’s created to exemplify the human figure in a way that you can just feel comfortable in without it being one or the other.”

Jacy: “Right.”

Kyira: “Where do you think, when you think about culture again, how do you think that’s influenced you?”

Jamie: “I remember when I was super little, probably like 8 or 9, I couldn’t sleep one night and I turned on those stupid informercials. And they had one of those like weight-trainer things along with, it was like a package, weight-trainer things with a bottle of pills that would make you skinny. And as an 8-year-old, I wanted that so bad.”

Kyira: “Ugh.”

Jamie: “Yeah. And I was like, I just thought, ‘Oh, people will like me if I get this. And I’ll lose weight. And I’ll be, you know.’ And that was like 8. And it really makes me sad that and 8-year-old self of mine kind of was robbed of childhood because of perception on stupid infomercials at 4 a.m. It’s, yeah, so just those little things throughout the day that we see on commercials or TV ads or anything, like on the bus or anything. Or even just seeing the people around us that are super, um, obsessed with how they look at any given minute, that’s just so toxic to how we see ourselves.”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm. And that that’s portrayed as a positive, right? That there are – research shows that there are biases toward people that are thinner.”

Jamie: “Right.”

Kyira: “Like they must care more about themselves, they’re more dedicated, things like that. And so there is this like drive from that. But then also, with the people that are focused on those things, we forget that that’s a really miserable life. Because they’re feeling what you felt at 8, every day.”

Jamie: “Yeah!”

Kyira: “And the truth is, we probably all are, in some degree, it’s just – yeah. It’s so interesting. I’m imagining as you’re saying that, I’m like is it the ‘6 Second Abs’ or the ‘Ab Rollers’? (Laughing.) Or all the others – cuz like I had ’em all! (Laughing.) And I asked for ’em for Christmas! I was like, ‘What, like who does that?’ So it was the same thing.”

Jacy: “And so that brings in an interesting, uh, driver to some of this behavior – what industries make money off of people being obsessed with how they look? Fashion, cosmetics, health – quote-unquote health, we’re not talking medical health.”

Kyira: “Right.”

Jamie: “Mm, hmm.”

Jacy: “But, you know, weight loss, hair color, all of this stuff. I’ve been dyeing my hair since I was 17, I’ve been graying since I was 17. I stopped for a few years and as soon as I opened my own business, I’ll be honest, I started dyeing it again. Because I wasn’t gonna go and try to be a female entrepreneur and be salt-and-pepper in my mid-30s and have people judging me because my hair is changing color. Cuz we all know it would happen, right ladies? Gentlemen? (Laughing.) Uh, and it made me angry that I felt compelled to do it and I wasn’t really willing to take the risk of not doing it.”

Jamie: “Yeah.”

Kyira: “Yeah. That’s even – I think about that, like my Grandma stopped wearing shorts. And my Grandma is hot! All the time. Like, well, I mean, she’s beautiful, too. But, like, hot like temperature-wise like she’s just hot (laughing). But like she stopped wearing shorts and I remember having a conversation with her. I lived with her and I remember saying, ‘Why don’t you wear shorts anymore?’ And it was because the norm is, after a certain age women aren’t supposed to show their knees. Same thing is like how everybody is supposed to cut their hair after a certain age and like look – and so these standards now are like so, literally just because you made it this old, like you aged this long, now you can’t wear shorts?”

Jacy: “Your reward is a limited wardrobe.”

Kyira: “Yeah!”

Jamie: “You have to be sweating!”

Kyira: “Right! (Laughing.) Your reward for surviving this long is to be hot every day of your life. And so it was just this same piece of like her making these choices and being upset about it is the same as you falling into that. But the other question is what’s the outcome if you don’t? And sometimes knowing that that would be so much worse, you just don’t even want to fight it.”

Jacy: “Yeah. And energy and exhaustion plays into it, to a point. That TV show, I mean he asked me to join it and I felt exhausted just thinking about what the maintenance would be and it wasn’t worth it. The cost-benefit, not there.”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Jacy: “If I looked top-drawer every day and that was my thing, no problem, cuz it’s where I am. But I’m here in my yoga pants and my thermal shirt cuz this is, this is how I dress.”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Jacy: “Like my wardrobe is comfortable with some business casual. Done.”

Jamie: “Mm, hmm.”

Kyira: “So what do you think for both of you has been the hardest part about getting to the point you’re at now or maybe the hardest part you imagine in the future as you keep moving in this journey to self-love?”

Jamie: “Um, yeah, I definitely wouldn’t say that I’m like entirely where I want to be in that, you know. But I think the hardest part is just, it’s just the daily stuff, like when I get dressed in the morning sometimes I try on three, four shirts to see which one makes, you know, which one makes my back look skinnier. You know, like stupid stuff like that. And I think it’s just those little daily struggles that take up so much of our time and energy, um, and yeah, just kind of control how our day goes, even that. Like it really can ruin your day if you just don’t feel comfortable in your own skin. And I think that’s the biggest struggle to overcome and I’m still not there and I probably won’t be for a while. But that’s definitely OK.”

Kyira: “Yeah, maybe the goal is not to eliminate all of it right away but maybe to stop at two shirts (laughing).”

Jamie: “Yeah!”

Kyira: “You know what I mean? Like and decide, OK, so I’ll still indulge that a little bit. Not force myself to rid all of it. Cuz there’s something we get from that.”

Jamie: “Yeah.”

Kyira: “And we’d be letting go of so much if we didn’t and just start to shift in that direction.”

Jamie: “Right.”

Jacy: “Uh, for me, I almost laughed out loud when you asked this. Uh, I have done a lot of personal growth and development in the past several years, starting with that big shift of liking myself again and becoming a new person. I still try on multiple outfits a day. I do the same thing – I don’t want to wear it if I’m not comfortable in it. And sometimes comfortable means, ‘Do my boobs look good?’ (Laughing.)”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Jacy: “But one of my biggest struggles is I feel caught in another paradigm that happens to women, not just women, it’s my experience as a woman that it’s it, is I don’t fucking care what people think and then I tell them that and then I am a bitch! Uh, ‘Gosh, you know, do you really think you should be wearing X, Y, Z? Do you really think that you should be telling me that? Do you really think that I care?’ And, and no matter how diplomatically you say it or how kindly, these little, these micro-agressions about how women look, I mean, about how I look – fuck women, it’s me! It’s all about me! (Laughing.) When you call people out on micro-agressions, you’re the problem for doing it, it’s not their behavior.”

Kyira: “Oh, for sure!”

Jacy: “So it’s growing that thicker skin and learning myself more, and learning how I react, so I can remain calm and keep leading people down paths of exploring their bias and their bullshit without making them angry and without making them wrong. Like you can hold your opinion, I would love to hear more about that. Why shouldn’t I be wearing this? That’s an interesting opinion. So what’s, what’s behind that? Why is that important?”

Kyira: “See, what you just did though is like the cardinal sin of make people go deeper and society says don’t.”

Jacy: “Right!”

Kyira: “Because when you did that you just put them right on the defense, you know.”

Jacy: “And that’s why people get angry because they wanna be able to have their little biases and …”

Kyira: “Yep, and not be challenged.”

Jacy: “And play their little power games and feel good about themselves for putting someone else down. And when you say, ‘No, I have a right to be in this space the way I am. This is my body. I’m here because fuck you, I don’t explain anything to you. You don’t actually deserve that and you’re not entitled to it.’ People don’t like being told that their not entitled to. I don’t like being told what I’m not entitled to (laughing).”

Kyira: “Right.”

Jacy: “No one likes it!”

Kyira: “For sure.”

Jacy: “Uh, and being a person who will do that means understanding that there just – now I’m rambling. I don’t know. I think by talking and now I’m trying to think it out so I’m trying to make the words come out. Um, preparing for the repercussions of those actions and knowing that I’m living in a world full of those repercussions. I wanna work as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence. Oooohhh! Can’t wait to hear what everyone has to say about that! You know, there’s gonna be survivors I inspire and people I touch and there are gonna be people that have tons of opinions I don’t give a shit about.”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Jacy: “Do I wanna confront them? Do I wanna let them roll?”

Kyira: “I feel like the best advice I ever got about that – and I’d say it every single time like before I do a public speaking event or something – is it’s not my business what you think of me. And to remember and hold on to that and realize like I literally have no power in changing that. It’s all about that person’s openness to me or openness to explore with me or about me. And if they aren’t there, it doesn’t seem to be serving me to keep trying to change it.”

Jacy: “Yeah. And then that comes back to the whole body image and how we look. At what point do we get to own ourselves and do what’s comfortable for us, because of us, without having to be responsible for what other people think about us?”

Kyira: “Yeah.”

Jacy: “And our culture and our society says that we as individuals are responsible for what other people think about us. And that’s just bass-ackwards.”

Kyira: “So what do you think for both of you – as you think where do I go from here? – how are you going to find more ways to celebrate your body? To celebrate the steps that you’ve taken and nurture who you are so that you don’t get pulled back by some of those things that we know are outside of our circle of control?”

Jamie: “Um, it kinda goes back to the yoga class that you take, but I really find enjoyment in just exercising daily. I’m in the midst of training for a half-marathon and just doing things to use …”

Kyira: “Yes! (Laughing.) Sorry! I couldn’t even begin …”

Jacy: “You got my respect on that one! That’s just awesome!

Kyira: “OK, more power to you! (Laughing.)”

Jamie: “Yeah! (Laughing.) It’s not a full marathon but we’ll see! Um, just doing things to celebrate what my body can do and, you know, the positivity of my body. Some days it’s obviously harder than others to run. But celebrating that I can run and I can do this, even though I might not be a size 2. I can still run and I can still do – be active and be outside and do the things that I love to do.”

Jacy: “That’s lovely! Um, for me, so it’s the way that I celebrate my body is by keeping it healthy. It’s if I don’t do almost every day some yoga and some exercise, I will live in pain. Like fall-down pain, like can’t-get-out-of-bed pain. These surgeries, I may have recovered from them, but I have some serious pain that I live with almost every day. So minimizing pain and having pain-free days are what actually make me happy and how I nurture my body. And when I am in less physical pain, I feel so much better about how I look. I never even made that correlation before. When I’m not hurting, I don’t care what anyone thinks of what I look. When I am in pain, I care more. I try better to look good to make up for the fact that my body is lacking in function.”

Kyira: “Mm, hmm. That’s interesting.’

Jacy: “And the other half of that is, um, the business I opened is a coaching practice – coaching, training and speaking. And a huge part of what I do is connect with core values and try to help people connect with their values and live them. And living my values, living my values of dignity and independence and advocacy. Helping other people, the work I do to help other people, makes me feel better about myself and then I care less about what my body looks like. If someone’s giving me a hug because their life just changed for the better and I helped facilitate that, I don’t care if I have a tail, I just like helping other people. And by fulfilling that purpose it changes the relevance of how people perceive my body.”

Kyira: “That’s awesome!”