Thursday, June 16, 2016

just a girl from Greencastle, Indiana

I have not blogged here for some time. It's not for a lack of something to say, because I'm always full of words. It's usually that I have so much to say, I cannot confine it to a few paragraphs. That's why I write 100K word novels, right?

In any case, it's been a busy and highly sentimental month for me. My oldest son graduated from high school and my youngest son from elementary school. I made the joke on Facebook that I don't know how this is possible considering I am only 29!

But alas, I just heard from my high school friends that it's time to start planning for our 25 year class reunion, which will be next year.

So in my heightened state of nostalgia, I was thinking about my hometown and home state. I haven't visited since October 2013, and until recently had no plans to go back. I don't feel particularly welcome by certain members of my family, but I did reluctantly decide to participate in the Indies in Indy signing next July. So I have been thinking a lot about my homecoming and whether or not it will include a trip to my hometown, Greencastle.

I was also thinking about high school a lot because of my son graduating and because of my impending 25th. Many of my readers may not know that I attended the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities, which is a state-funded, residential high school for academically high-achieving juniors and seniors. Not only did I attend (and thus am an official, card-carrying nerd) but I was in the inaugural class.

I remember the local newspaper The Banner Graphic doing a story about me right before I left for my junior year in Muncie. The Banner also did a story about me when I published my first women's fiction novel Green Castles in 2013. I wonder if anyone ever put two and two together that I was the same person?

Now I'm all grown up and graduates of The Academy (as we call it) have dispersed like seeds to the ends of the earth. I think about all the funds that were invested in us and wonder if any of us have considered whether or not the state received a return on its investment. I wonder if people who read about me back in 1990 would think I've done enough now that I'm in my 40's, if they'd think I'm anything special. Have I contributed enough to society using my Indiana Academy education and my degrees from Indiana University through my years working in higher education or the novels I've published?

Because I don't feel all that special or extraordinary. I'm just a wife and mother who works four jobs to take care of her family. I'm just a 40-something who is still plugging away at a dream of writing full-time. For all I know, I'm an utter failure in comparison to other Academy graduates. These are the types of things I think and blog about when I'm supposed to be doing one of my four jobs. (Oops, sorry bosses!)

I wrote a whole book about my hometown, but I still don't know if I've given enough back. Perhaps I will never know. But I do hope when I come to town next year that a few people will come out to see me. I hope a few will have a look at my body of work. I appreciate the few people from the homeland who have supported my writing career by buying my books, following me on social media, or leaving book reviews. It means a lot to me, more than I could ever express in mere words. And words are kinda my thing.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fat Tax ~ An Excerpt from Fat Girl

An Excerpt from Fat Girl, available on Amazon at

April 17, 2014
The Reinvention by Claire Sterling

Did everyone celebrate the National Holiday this week? Hmmm, everyone is suddenly scrambling to check her calendar to figure what in the world I’m talking about. Now you’re all looking at me like I have two heads. Um, do you remember this past Tuesday? It was Tax Day! April 15th?

Ringing a bell with anyone? It may not be a holiday for you and me, but it sure is for the Internal Revenue Service. I see them doing a New Year’s Eve style countdown with party hats and noisemakers. Probably confetti too.

I had the obligatory Tax Day Fight with my Soon To Be Ex-Husband the other day, followed by an entire bottle of wine, so I certainly feel like my festivities were complete. To commemorate the occasion, I was thinking about that famous quote from Benjamin Franklin: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” You know, I believe old Ben Franklin and I would have gotten on just fine. We both seem to be a just a wee bit cynical. However, I submit that there is one more thing that could be added to his List of Sure Things: Fat Girls.

Nothing is certain in this world except death, taxes, and fat girls.

Of course, Fat Men are also fairly prevalent, but they don’t typically attract much attention. They’re sort of relegated to the background of beer commercials and sit coms, unless, of course, they happen to be particularly amusing or jolly, for example: John Candy, Chris Farley, Kevin James, or Santa Claus. When we talk about Fat Shaming and the Atrocities of Obesity, much of the time we’re thinking about women. Plus, if a fat man happens to have moobs due to excess estrogen, we sort of treat them like Fat Girls anyway. So we’re basically talking about what’s become an Epidemic of Fat Girls.

So, if Fat Girls are such a sure thing, why hasn’t our government figured out how to tax us? Can you imagine how much money there is to be made off of fat people? Look at the diet industry, for example. They’re raking in a staggering $61 BILLION a year; that’s with a “B,” folks! Why can’t good ole Uncle Sam figure out a way to capitalize on this kind of Epic Moolah -- and not by just taxing the hell out of the weight loss industry? There has to be a way to cut out the middle man and get those greedy red, white, and blue hands all over that green!

There’s been a few methods proposed by our infinitely wise (*snicker*) lawmakers about how to accomplish this task. One method is to raise health insurance premiums for the obese. Shouldn’t fat people pay more to carry health insurance than average people do? I mean, it stands to reason we’re more at risk for medical issues and premature death, so shouldn’t we pay more? By that argument, naturally we’d also have to charge more for smokers, drinkers, roller coaster riders, bullfighters, skydivers, people dumb enough to travel to the Middle East, and Black Friday Shoppers.

Method #2 is to tax unhealthy food. Like a Twinkie Tax, a tax on soft drinks, or maybe Ben and Jerry’s. They say that taxing cigarettes has helped to curb smoking-related deaths, but I am ever hopeful that people just got so disgusted by the idea of coating their lungs with tar that it lost its appeal. Sadly, that is almost certainly not the case. While cigarettes are exorbitantly expensive and addictive, new smokers are still born every day. I’m not sure why they think this method would work with unhealthy food items. After all, the idea of coating your arteries with thick, yellow plaque is exponentially more appealing than the tar thing. Plus, fried stuff just tastes a hell of a lot better!

Unfortunately, the simple fact is that as much as obesity costs the country in medical expenses, it also makes corporations and entrepreneurs a lot of money. Someone is making millions off all these new flavors of Oreos I see every damn time I go to the grocery store. And who do you think is buying all those Oreos? Um, Fat Girls, that’s who.

And what about the plus-sized clothing; bigger, sturdier chairs and beds; larger, roomier cars and trucks; and even wider coffins required for our burgeoning populace? Those industries are capitalizing on our expanding waistlines in a Very Big Way, pardon the pun. Not to mention the fact that diabetes supplies, cholesterol drugs, CPAP machines, and all manners of weight loss aids are flying off shelves. Fat Girls pour billions of dollars into the economy, plus we don’t live as long off our pensions and social security. I think you could make the argument that Fat Girls help the economy, not hurt it.

So remind me again why we have such a thing as Fat Shaming? Yeah, that’s right: muffin tops and cottage-cheese thighs are pretty unpleasant to look at. Maybe we should just tax unsightly body parts instead. I guess this year as I suck it up and file my taxes like a dutiful citizen, I should at least be grateful to not be paying a tax for my fat ass and thunder thighs.

God bless America!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

#ThisBody and Beyond

Last week I finally had a post on my Facebook page go semi-viral, which was pretty exciting after posting stuff on there faithfully for over three years. By semi-viral, I mean that the post got over 11K views (and still counting), over 600 likes, hundreds of shares and over a hundred comments. That's a lot for a page with only 1500 fans. Fortunately for me, it's resulted in several likes to my page as well as sales of my body positive novel Fat Girl. That makes some of the nasty comments I received a little easier to handle.

The post was regarding the #ThisBody campaign by Lane Bryant and their recent television ad that was rejected by networks:

While there is much I'd like to say to those who commented negatively, especially the blatant fat-shamers, in the interest of time (and my attention span) I'm only going to address two groups of people in this blog:

1. To the Men Who Commented

It's not that your opinion doesn't matter to someone, it's just that it doesn't matter to ME. Right at the top of my page, there is a banner that says K.L. Montgomery, Author of Women's Fiction. Did you see that W word? That's not you. That means perhaps you should find something better to do than troll my page with your bigoted and hateful comments. Although you made it very clear that you don't find me attractive, any of the Lane Bryant models attractive, nor anyone else you deem "obese" or "overweight" attractive, I am willing to bet that you're not all that aesthetically pleasing yourselves. I'm also pretty certain that you're not very happy people. If you were, you likely wouldn't be harassing women on a women's fiction author's Facebook page. Happy people don't need to disparage complete strangers. They have better, happier things to do.

By the way, for every man who is physically repulsed by fat women, I can find you another who either doesn't judge a woman's beauty by her weight OR who are especially attracted to women carrying more weight. That's right. Some men prefer fat women. 

2. To People Who Played the "Unhealthy" Card

Another group of commenters that intersected with men were the ones who say the Lane Bryant ad campaign glorifies an unhealthy lifestyle. Or that obesity is an epidemic and we should be very afraid of promoting it with this kind of advertising.

First off, I really doubt anyone who sees this ad is going to think, "Wow, I'm so skinny! I think I'll work on gaining some weight so I can be plus-sized like those models at Lane Bryant." And even if they did, who cares? How does that hurt you?

Secondly, I said this approximately a zillion times in replies to commenters already, but it bears repeating (and shouting from the rooftops): YOU CANNOT DETERMINE SOMEONE'S HEALTH BY THEIR SIZE. For example, I think Ashley Graham looks incredibly healthy, (she's one of the models in the ad, look her up. I think she's gorgeous!), but you can't really tell by looking at her. Last time I checked, I'm not a doctor, and I don't have Ashley Graham's chart in front of me. I've never run blood tests on her or medically examined her, so I really don't have any business commenting on her health. Just like YOU don't have any business commenting on mine. By the way, at a size 18, I have low blood pressure, perfect blood sugar, and perfect cholesterol. I haven't been to the doctor (other than for two minor injuries) for over a year.

Furthermore, if you think underweight, emaciated models are better examples of healthy lifestyles, I beg to differ.

People play the Unhealthy Card to cover up the fact that they're fat-phobic or fat-haters. I get it, Fat People do not speak to your personal aesthetic of beauty. Fine. But don't try to say it's because you're concerned about their health. You're not. I don't see you on cancer patients' posts telling them they're ugly, but you're concerned about their health. I don't see you saying that ads directed to cancer patients glorify an unhealthy lifestyle. Guess what, the Lane Bryant ad is not directed to YOU. It's directed to my size 18 (admittedly fat) ass.

By your logic, we can't find beauty in anyone with a health issue. So cancer patients, or diabetics, or those with heart issues are not worthy of feeling attractive or beautiful either. Oh, man, I hope I don't come down with a cold. That isn't healthy and therefore isn't pretty. It sounds completely ridiculous, doesn't it?

Also by your logic, we shouldn't have to see any advertisements that contradict our aesthetic ideals. Don't like blondes? You shouldn't have to be subjected to pro-blonde advertisements. Don't like older women? Heaven forbid they show up in a commercial. Think bald men are revolting? How about freckles? Then they're definitely not worthy of air-time. If we filled our media with models and actors that every single person deemed attractive, then guess what? We'd have NO humans on televisions or movies or the internet.

Fortunately, there are people who love blondes, and older women, and bald men and people with freckles. There are people who ARE blondes, older women, bald men, and people with freckles. And all those people should see representations of what they love and who they are in the media. By that same token, there are fat people and people who love them. We get our day in the sun too. We won't be ostracized or made to feel like we are lesser human beings just because we carry more weight.

Bottom line: Lane Bryant selling clothing to women who wear a size 14 or greater has nothing to do with health or beauty. It has everything to do with the fact that women exist on this planet who wear those sizes, and they need clothes. Women who are short and tall, young and old, healthy and unhealthy wear those sizes and shop for clothes. I'm sure you don't want us walking around naked (the horror!)  If you think we're not deserving of clothes that make us feel good about ourselves or that we shouldn't be seen in the media or in public, then perhaps you need to examine whether or not someone full of hate, judgement, and bitterness needs to be seen in public.

I'm going to end this by saying one thing. Everyone is worthy of love. It doesn't matter your race, age, gender, nationality, education level, socio-economic status, political viewpoint, religion or size. Everyone is worthy of love. Even you, rude and heartless commenters on my post. Even you.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mothers Against Body Shaming

MABS? If this is a thing, I'm in.

So today I posted about the mother who called out a saleslady whom she felt body shamed her 13-year-old daughter. Read about it here.  I posted the story on my K.L. Montgomery, Author Facebook page because I often share body image-related news stories with my readers. A couple of hours later, I was surprised to see some pretty mean-spirited and ignorant comments on the same story shared by other news outlets. Basically a lot of people were bashing the mom AND calling the teen girl fat.

After I got over my initial "What the fuck is wrong with these people?" reaction, I started wondering how people could be so misinformed about what body shaming is or what kinds of detrimental effects it can have on victims. Yes, I used the word victims. One of the criticisms of the mom was that she was being a whiny, too-easily-offended "pussy" victim. Not even kidding, the P Word was invoked.

Before I go into how troubling that is and why, I want you to imagine this for a moment:

You're in a store shopping for clothes for your 13-year-old son. The salesman says, "I think his body would look just PERFECT in this outfit if he put on this undergarment."

How would you react? I personally would be having a major WTF moment. That's because men and boys don't typically wear undergarments to perfect their bodies. Men and boys aren't typically sent the message from birth that it is their job to look pretty and to maintain a certain figure while still managing to have big boobs and curves. But wait! Not too curvy! That's why we have Spanx, right?

Body shaming happens when someone is told their body is not normal, not attractive, unlovable, undesirable, or somehow inferior to an arbitrary societal ideal. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to look your best or to dress to flatter your figure, when someone ELSE judges what would be best for your body (telling you to lose weight, tone up, wear shapewear, get breast implants, undergo plastic surgery, etc) then THAT is body shaming.

The reason I applaud the mother for bringing this issue to the saleslady's attention - and really, to everyone's attention - is because it probably was a well-intentioned suggestion. We don't think anything of wearing or selling articles of clothing that flatten, compress, or conceal bulges. But this was a 13-year-old girl, a girl probably still getting used to her newly-minted adult-shaped body. I think we need to be careful what messages we're sending to girls and young women. We need to be more careful what messages we send to every woman. We're so conditioned to try to achieve this narrowly-defined societal ideal of "perfection," we don't even realize when we are body shaming. It's just that prevalent.

Oh and, seriously, if you think this girl is fat, then you have other problems entirely.

Body shaming and its cousin fat shaming produce negative effects. Neither activity results in "shaming" victims into eating healthily or taking care of their bodies. Research shows that this type of bullying reinforces bad habits and has serious psychological consequences. For me personally, being body shamed by my mother and others has led to a lifestyle of weight issues and eating disorders.

I applaud this mother who told her daughter that there is nothing wrong with her body the way it is, and she doesn't need to achieve society's very messed-up perception of "perfection." She is beautiful just the way she is. I know so many girls and women who need to hear that message. I'm so glad this young woman did.