Citizen

Finding Home Between The Pages

I don't know, it must be a mid-life crisis, but over the past year or so I've become increasingly homesick.  For Victoria, yes, but more specifically for the blue-grey house I grew up in on Winchester Road, surrounded by Garry oaks.  For life with my family, who drove me crazy (and who I drove crazy) but who ensured I was never alone, for better or for worse. 

Of course, you can never go home again. Winchester Road was sold a decade ago, and is now covered in cheery pale green siding, its orchard of trees ruthlessly culled.  My brother has his own family, who I love dearly.  My parents would be appalled to have their almost-38-year-old daughter and her special needs cat move in, I'm sure.  Nor would I enjoy it.  So, life goes on, but I have to find ways to combat the homesickness, by looking for home elsewhere.  It's not always easy, living in alone in a city I didn't grow up in.

One of the places where I can go home again, is the library.  It's a different library, mind.  The bustling Richmond Brighouse Library, surrounded by the Minoru sports complex, housed with the Richmond Museum and the Media Lab, is nothing like the quiet Nellie McClung branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library that I visited at least weekly for the first 24 years of my life, where I spent hours doing homework after school.  But it's close enough to do the trick.  It smells the same.  The hushed busyness is the same.  And of course, the books are there, which will always, always be home. 

Yesterday was a lonely day, for no particular reason.  I had spent all day Saturday surrounded by friends.  Perhaps it was the contrast between that Saturday activity and the solitude of Sunday morning that made me feel sad. I got up late in the morning, spent some time sewing, but felt too listless to attack the list of chores I had scrawled out for myself on a note and left on my kitchen counter the night before.  I got in the car, and without really realizing where I was doing, ended up at the library.

I wandered around aimlessly for a few minutes, picking up and putting down books, not sure what I was looking for.  I (ahem) paid my overdue fines.  After not being immediately inspired by the choices before me, I went to one of the library catalogue computers and stood there for a moment, considering what to search for.   As I stood there, a little girl who looked too little to even reach the computer, let alone use it, came and stood at the computer beside me.  She had a colourful yellow plastic bookbag strung over her shoulder, with a nametag stuck in one corner.  "Serena," it read, in thick red marker.  Her black straight hair was pulled back from her forehead with a pink plastic band that matched her pink and white striped t-shirt.   I briefly looked at her as she grabbed the mouse and began to move it determinedly around the screen.  She was small for her age, but probably 8 or 9 years old and stood on tiptoe to reach the desk.  She was small, but old enough not to break the computer, anyway.  I turned back to my own search.

In a few seconds, the little girl grabbed my elbow.  "But, how do I do a search for a book that I want?"  I looked down at her, surprised.  Did she think I worked there?  I looked around to see if there were any staff members nearby, or if she had mistaken me for someone she'd spoken to earlier.  There were no one.  I looked at the man at the computer on the other side of Serena, to see if he might be her dad.  He studiously ignored us, so he either wasn't her dad, or wasn't interested in helping.  

"You want to search for a book?" I asked stupidly. 

"Yeah," she said.  

"OK, umm, well, let's see, you've got to go up to the top there, to that space beside the orange button, and type what you want - what book are you looking for?"

"Wings of Fire," she said.  

"OK, so, let's type in 'Wings of Fire' and see what comes up."  We typed, then we clicked, and waited expectantly in silence for the search results to return.  The leisurely pace of the library's catalogue was too much for Serena.  She clicked the mouse impatiently over and over again.  I gently took the mouse out of her hand.

"The library computers are slow," I said.  "Let's just wait and see what happens."

"I need the sixth one," she said as we waited.  "I've read the other ones."

The search results finally arrived, showing dozens of entries for Wings of Fire, a fantasy series by Tui Sutherland.  Serena looked blankly at the search results.   I scrolled for her.

"OK," I said, "So we've got book 5 -"

"I've got that one," said Serena.

"Book 4..."

"Got it."

"Book 10..."

She said nothing, looking overwhelmed.  She clutched the straps of her book bag and looked at me, saying nothing.

"So - do you know where you got the last book from Wings of Fire?  What part of the library?"

"I think - over there."  She pointed vaguely in the direction of the YA section.

"OK, let's go over there, then," I said, picking up my own pile of books and tucking them under my arm.  "Do you know that they file books by author here?"  She gave me her blank stare again. 

"So if we find the Fantasy section, we can look for "Sutherland" and find all the books by Tui Sutherland in one place," I explained.  Serena still looked at me, her face inscrutable, but I started across the library floor, and she followed me.

"I wasn't sure where to look," she said, "Because I don't know if Tui Sutherland is a boy or a girl."  She smiled up at me, for the first time.

"That's a good question!" I said.  "I don't know either!  Maybe we can look on the back of one of the books when we find one." (We did - Tui is a she).  

We scoured the fantasy shelves until we found "Sutherland", and there they were - dozens and dozens of copies of the various Wings of Fire novels.  "So, there they are," I said, gesturing at the shelves.  Serena broke into a wide grin and immediately focused on the task at hand, busily sorting through the volumes.  "Thanks," she said absently, as I started to walk away somewhat sheepishly.  "You're welcome," I said.

I waited in line to check out my books with a smile on my face, and drove home with the feeling of loneliness that had weighed me down in the morning having abated.   I spent the evening with my nose in a book, and didn't feel lonely at all.  Once again the library had given me just what I needed.    My homesickness was successfully diverted by remembering what made me feel at home: a little bit of community, a chance to be of service to someone, and a story - one to write, and one to read.  

Sad Reality: Racism Is Everywhere. Including Here.

I got off Skytrain in Richmond on Friday night around 9 pm and walked to my bus stop to go home. At the stop was a very fit man in gym gear, in his early 30s, about 6 feet tall, who was calmly but firmly saying to two Indo-Canadian teenage girls, "What language are you speaking?" "Where are you from? You should go back there." "I'm from Canada and I speak English." "I was born here, you weren't, you need to speak English." "I can't understand what language you are speaking." The g...irls were silently staring at their phones. There were other people at the bus stop who were all looking at the ground and pretending they couldn't hear him. When the girls wouldn't respond, the man would loudly shout "HEY!" to get their attention, and start his diatribe again. He was completely focused on them. Other than "Hey," he never raised his voice. It was chilling.

After five minutes of watching this disgusting behaviour I yelled at him. "HEY! Leave them alone." Everyone looked up. Racist guy - who was scary because of how calm and direct he was - lasered in on me. "But I don't know what language they're even speaking!" I replied, "You don't need to know, they're not talking to you, now stop it." One of the girls said, "Yeah dude, we're not talking to you." Racist guy stared at me for a minute, then came and stood directly behind me, too close for comfort. He stood there while I texted transit police. He stood there while a man came out from beneath the bus shelter and deliberately stood beside me, while talking on his cell phone in Chinese, occasionally making eye contact with me to make sure I was OK. Racist guy did not like this either, and announced to the whole bus stop that he "didn't like any of these languages," and walked away. The girls got on a bus safely.

This guy was not your typical transit crazy. He may have been drunk, but not *that* drunk. He knew what he was saying and liked saying it. And that scares me to death.

Transit police came and took my statement. They told me I was brave but shouldn't have engaged him. I don't know how I can do anything *but* engage people who spew hate in front of me. Trump and his ilk have given these people permission to come out of the shadows and I am determined to put them back in the darkness, forever.

I posted this update on my Facebook and it went viral.  It's been shared hundreds of times in just under a week. I didn't post it to get kudos for shouting at the scary guy. I posted it so there can be no more smugness that "at least we live in Canada," no more pretending that racism doesn't exist here. BE VIGILANT.  We must be better than this. 

Buy a Megaphone Magazine.

Living and working in Gastown, I've gotten to know, or at least recognize, a number of the homeless (or at risk of being homeless) folks who frequent our neighbourhood.  My living room features a large piece of art I bought on the street from Ken Foster.  I always donate to the "condom lady," who walks around giving out condoms, lube and information on sexually transmitted diseases.  I never hesitate to walk around my neighbourhood, at night or any other time of day and have never felt the need to avoid the colourful cast of characters who form such a large part of Gastown's culture. 

There's one guy in particular who always sits outside the Tim Hortons in the bottom of my office building.  He doesn't say much, nor does he carry a sign of any kind.  He just sits cross-legged, sometimes gently rocking back and forth, and waits.  I've occasionally bought him meals, and have seen other people do the same.  I've always had a soft spot for this guy - I'm not sure why.  It may be because he doesn't ask for help, or demand my attention.  But it may also be - and this sounds terribly judgmental of me - because he looks so much like a regular everyday joe. 

It's easy to demonize some of the scarier people who approach you on the Downtown Eastside, with huge haunted eyes, arms riddled with track marks, clothes in rags, who scream obscenities at you when you don't give them what they want.  That's not this guy.  He just seems like a "normal" person who has been dealt so much bad luck that he's buckled under the weight of it.  In truth, all of these people deserve our attention and compassion, all of them have been the victim of personal tragedies.  All of them are living their own version of "normal."  I'm not saying it's right to judge any of them, or to feel more compassion for one than the other.  What I am saying is that this guy who sits outside the Tim Hortons has not become such a shell of his former self that I can't recognize a bit of myself in him.  I think that's why I feel personally affected by him.  

I ran some errands at lunch today, and as I returned to the office, I saw him.  Standing on the corner - the first time in however many years that I've seen him standing up - was Tim Hortons Guy.  He was up, dressed, and selling copies of Megaphone magazine and also the Hope in Shadows calendar.  I did a double take as I walked by him  - was that really him?  It was!  I was almost in the office door before I turned around.  "How much is the calendar," I shouted back to him.  "Twenty," he yelled back.  "And the magazine?"  "Two bucks."  I dug in my purse for my wallet, walking back to him.

"I don't have a twenty," I said apologetically.  "But I'll take a magazine."  He looked at me quizzically.  "Didn't I already sell you a calendar?" he asked.  "No," I said, "but I'm glad you're selling them!"  He grinned.  I handed him my toonie, took my magazine, and went into the building.  I felt so proud of this guy, so happy to see him standing on his own two feet, in every sense of the word, wishing I could tweet/Facebook/text every single person to go and buy a magazine, a calendar, whatever this guy was selling, now that he'd decided he was worth the effort.  It completely made my day.  

 

For those who aren't familiar with Megaphone, it's a street paper, that operates much the same way that the Big Issue program does in the UK.  Sellers buy the magazines for 75 cents.  They sell them for $2, which means they make $1.25 for each magazine they sell.  If you see a vendor, pick one up.  There is a "Find a Vendor" function on the Megaphone website that can point you towards sellers.  

 

Megaphone also released a report this week on homelessness deaths, based on data they had compiled from the BC Coroner's Service.  The average life expectancy for a homeless person in BC is between 40 and 49 years of age, around half the life expectancy for a British Columbian, generally speaking.  There are approximately 16,000 homeless people in the province.  That's a lot of us who are at risk.  If it only costs you $2 to help a person make their life a little better, or a little longer, will you do it?

Take a Breath, Not a Side.

As much as I love Q, I am not going to engage in lamenting Jian Ghomeshi's fate nor will I engage in CBC or victim/accuser bashing just yet.

I completely agree that no one should be fired from their job for their tastes in the bedroom. People must be free to be who they are in their private lives - what happens between consenting adults should stay there.

I completely agree that Ghomeshi is a great broadcaster and his interviews are second to none. I am devastated he is not going to say "Hi there - Happy Monday" to me tomorrow.

However, I tend to think CBC's legal team would have had to tread very carefully here. Give them some credit. Do you think the CBC drops their biggest star, syndicated in 180 markets, without serious consideration? Further, the Toronto Star has just published some very upsetting accounts from multiple sources of a violent and disrespectful pattern of behaviour. Wait until both sides are heard before you pick a side, if you must pick one at all.

Reporting sexual assault, even in the most straightforward of cases, is very difficult for a woman. There are statistics that prove this fact. Now, imagine throwing a celebrity into the mix. Or imagine some of these female accusers (there are multiple according to the Star) really had said yes to some BDSM - just not to what he did. "Well yes officer, I told him he could whip me, but not punch me in the face." It becomes a very grey, very messy, very embarrassing area very quickly. So women stay silent.

I personally want to encourage a culture where women feel comfortable to come forward or challenge those that have wronged them - as I think most of us do. Keep that in mind before jumping to Jian's defence based on his very moving personal statement.

We do not know the whole story. But we do know there are two sides to it.

Update - A Real-Life Response from Lululemon

As I mentioned in my

blog post

yesterday, a brave and gorgeous friend of mine wrote a heartfelt letter in September to lululemon expressing her disappointment at not being able to fit into their sizing.

With her permission, here is the amazing Dani Fecko's letter to lululemon, and lululemon's response, which can be summarized as, "not changing our sizing structure, but we'll take your feedback into consideration."  I received the identical response when I wrote to them in 2007 - so I guess they're still getting around to taking my feedback into consideration.  Sorry about the highlighting, haven't figured out why it's there or how to get rid of it...

Sent: Sep 16, 2013 8:44:00 PM 

Subject: Disappointment 

Dear Lululemon, 

I'm writing to express my concern at your severe mismanagement of 

expectations. I'm going through a change in my lifestyle right now. I let 

work rule my life for many years, and was not healthy. Now, I have a 

wedding coming up and am working to make fitness a priority. Im watching 

what I eat and I'm working out at least four times a week. I feel awesome. 

I'm revisiting my yoga practice now and I'm really enjoying it. I get to a 

yoga or pilates class at least twice a week and I bike or run at least 

three times a week. I don't feel any pressure from my classmates or 

teachers to look or feel a certain way. I'm doing what's right for me and 

moving at my own pace. I feel like Im really moving along and am more 

comfortable in my skin than I have been in a long time. 

At least I was until I went into your store looking for a new yoga top. It 

was my understanding, based on your company values, that Lululemon is a 

company that stands for inclusion, joy and being healthy. It seems that you 

can only participate in those values, and in trying to get healthy, if you 

wear a size 12 or lower. It would seem that your actual values are quite 

different than what you preach: only people who look healthy now can wear 

your clothes, even if they only wear them to buy groceries. Those of us who 

are not the ideal “lululemon shape” but are working on themselves, to feel 

and be healthier, may not be seen in your clothes. 

I have fit into Lululemon clothes in the past. In fact, I have some pants 

that have stretched out that I still wear. Needless to say, I'll be looking 

for new ones. And when I am a size 12,and then size 10 and then size 8 

again, I won't be coming back to your store. Because I believe in 

practicing what I preach. And I'm working to get healthier – not to fit 

some store's ideal body type. 

With great disappointment, 

Dani Fecko

And here's the response:

From: 

lululemon athletica

<

gec@lululemon.com

>

Date: Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 5:45 PM

Subject: RE: Disappointment (#2046-380799686-0948)

To: Danielle Fecko 

Hi Dani, 

Thank you for taking the time to write to lululemon athletica. 

Currently our size range is 2 - 12 (or XXS – XL) for women and S-XXL for men. Our goal is to elevate the level of health and fitness in every community we touch and we recognize that people who are passionate about health and fitness come in all shapes and sizes. At this time, we don’t have plans to change our current sizing structure. However, we are a culture based on feedback and are our design team is committed to reviewing guest feedback on an ongoing basis. We are passionate about product innovation and will take your thoughts into consideration as we continue to develop new product that support the sweaty pursuits of our guests. Thank you again for reaching out and sharing your feedback. 

Warm regards, 

Emma 

lululemon athletica 

Guest Education Centre 

Toll Free (US & Canada): 

1 (877) 263-9300

Local: 

(604) 215-9300

Fax: 

(604) 638-1200

Shop online at 

http://www.lululemon.com/

Follow us on Twitter: 

http://twitter.lululemon.com

Like us on Facebook: 

http://facebook.lululemon.com

creating components for people to live a long, healthy, and fun life 

Size Matters.

It seems to me to me like Business 101: if someone repeatedly makes requests to buy your product, then you can probably assume that if you make it available, they will buy it, and you will make money.  If you choose not to make that product available to the people requesting it, then there's something else going on.  You are choosing to exclude that market for a reason, usually one to do with what you may call "corporate strategy" or "brand positioning" but what some people, especially those affected, may call just plain prejudice.

Popular American retailer Abercrombie & Fitch came under fire last year when its CEO, Mike Jeffries explained to Salon magazine the company's decision to limit its sizing to Sizes 0 to 10 as part of a corporate-wide strategy to appeal to the "cool" and "attractive" kids, not just implying that if you didn't fit in a Size 10 or smaller, you weren't cool but actually saying their clothes were not for the "fat kids."   Chip Wilson, founder of lululemon, noted in a recent interview with Bloomberg TV that "some women's bodies just don't work" with their clothing.  

Ignorant comments such as those made by Jeffries or Wilson are not something new to me.    I have been called fat my whole life - even when I wasn't fat.  I can't remember how young I was when I was first called fat by other kids - I literally can't remember a time when that didn't happen.  I have a picture of a gorgeous 6 year old Dani on my fridge who could never be called fat - and yet that's what was happening at school.  And when you hear something often, you start to believe it, and live it.  I was fat, so I ate.  And the insult became the reality.  As a teenager I wanted nothing more than to wear the same clothes as my girlfriends and despaired when, as a 17 year old Size 12, with boobs and hips and a butt, I couldn't fit into the same "baby tees" or low rise jeans.  I cried many times in mall dressing rooms feeling fat and unattractive.   I went on Weight Watchers for the first time when I was 13, and actually did quite well with the program, but I endured taunts from classmates throughout elementary and high school, regardless of how thin/fat I was at the time, because I had already been labelled "the fat girl."   Kids who didn't have better comebacks in our juvenile disagreements often resorted to "Well - you're FAT" to end the discussion.  And it usually did, with me in tears.   

This prejudice did not go away as I got older. I matured, but society didn't.  If I refuse to give money to a panhandler in my Gastown neighbourhood, they will shout after me that I'm fat. I've had drunk guys whose advances I have ignored shout about how fat I am as I walk away from them.  I met a record industry insider in the early 2000s when I was younger and desperate for a career as a singer who told me that the reality was, I didn't look like Christina Aguilera or Britney Spears and that's what I'd need to look like to make it as a singer.   I've been routinely overlooked for parts in theatre because of how I look - even in my early 20s I was being thrown into the "mother" or "old lady" or "funny girl" boat, because how do you cast a big girl, no matter how bright her smile, as the ingenue*?  Regardless of whether I've been a size 8, 12, 16, 18 - and I've been them all - these issues still affect me in my adult life.  The "fat" label, once affixed, is hardly ever removed.   And sometimes we keep it there ourselves: I know even when I've been wearing a Size 2, and been sick and green from starving myself, I've looked in the mirror and still seen a fat person.  

So, no, that companies don't want to make clothes for fat people isn't news to me, but perfectly in keeping with my experience as a big person.   I don't feel the need to make immediate indignant retorts on Facebook when people like Jeffries or Wilson show their true colours.  The message isn't new:  Fat isn't cool.  Curvy isn't cool.  Thin is correct.  It is beautiful. Thin is fit, and healthy, and there is no other possible definition of what "fit" or "healthy" can mean.  And if companies like Abercrombie and Fitch and lululemon would prefer not to cater to myself or other women who do not fit their size charts, it is their prerogative and I don't have to shop there.   

Still, I feel it keenly when a dear friend who I think is beautiful and amazing writes a brave letter to lululemon asking why she can't buy a shirt in their store to wear to her regular Pilates workouts, and receives a flip response about why she does not fit their image of a "target guest."  I feel bad for my male friends who have subjected themselves to gruelling workouts and horrendous diets of shakes and pills to live up to some image of "maleness."  I have lived this frustration.  I've cried those tears, I've fought those battles.  17 year old me would be bitterly disappointed not to have the same clothes as all of my friends.  33 year old me sees it as an opportunity to scour the Interwebs for cool brands and designers who no one else has.  It hurts me, but I also have tools at my disposal (mainly income) to help me cope.

So, some women's bodies, bigger women's bodies, "don't work" for Chip Wilson.  This isn't news. 

What is news to me, and saddening, is how people who I consider intelligent, sensitive and educated - people who know me, and know other bigger people - accept these messages and reinforce them, without a thought to how they affect people they claim to respect and care for.   What is news to me is how people who have experienced weight issues themselves, once resolved, show little empathy for others.  What is news to me is that the media onslaught of "thin is beautiful" has been internalized so much that smart, caring people reduce weight issues to two causes: gluttony, or laziness, and thus justify exclusions like those made by lululemon and A & F ("Well, if you want to wear these clothes, don't be so lazy.  Don't be so fat"), when the reality is that size and weight are so much more complicated, difficult, and sensitive issues.

When the Abercrombie & Fitch story came out, I posted a link to the story on my Facebook and said, "Thanks Abercrombie & Fitch, thanks to companies like you I spent most of my teenage years crying in dressing rooms."  I was half kidding, but also serious.  A firestorm of comments followed, in which a friend who had lost a considerable amount of weight (and was, in my opinion as a person who has had every kind of eating disorder under the sun at some point or another, unhealthily fixated on her "new"body and "new" self) stated that I should suck it up - that if I wanted to wear A & F, I should just lose weight, or shut up about it.  A man who had actually dated me, and so whom I feel reasonably confident in saying thought I was attractive, felt the need to wade in on the comment thread and explain why he preferred thin women.   The majority of comments basically expressed that size was that simple: thin is good, fat is bad, and if you want to be thin, don't eat so damn much.  Go for a run.  And if you're fat, you deserve to be excluded and shouldn't complain.  I was willing to wade into this debate, and hear my friends' positions, as appallingly insensitive as I thought they were being (two of those who commented de-friended me after our exchange of comments, incidentally - so perhaps they were more sensitive than I thought?), in the hopes that maybe I could educate them on what it's like to live in my shoes (a "regular" size 7, in case you're wondering.  My feet aren't fat). 

So today, I read lots of posts by people appalled by Chip Wilson's comments about women's thighs, in particular - and that women's thighs "rubbing together" may be the reason their pants' quality has declined in recent years.   What was disappointing to me however were the social media comments that did NOT find his comments appalling and size-ist: 

 "No man can wear a Speedo either." 

Why not? 

"Of course he's right, some people shouldn't wear those pants."

Who are "some people"?

"I don't understand why people think that every company has to cater to the needs of every body shape around.  If you're plus size you won't look good in it, don't buy it." 

Great - but how come it's always the larger people who don't have a right to be "catered to"?  And who's making an alternative? Oh, nobody?  That's helpful.

"Exactly.  Some people shouldn't wear these clothes.  Period." 

Sorry, who are these "some people" again?  You mean bigger people?

"Plus-size people should stop complaining and get to the gym."

Thanks,  I'll slot it in after my third trip of the day to McDonalds.

Well, I can't help myself.  I feel the need to point out, for Chip, Mike and others, the following:

1.  You don't have to be "plus size" (defined as size 16 and up) to not have a gap between your thighs.   Here's a great article from Slate on that topic.  

2.  It's not plus size people's complaints that Chip is responding to, because lululemon does not make plus size clothes.  Their largest size is a Size 12, and that is only available in limited styles.  I wear tons of lululemon stuff, and there is also tons of lululemon stuff I can't wear.  For instance, most lulu shirts and hoodies feature extremely long and thin arms that just don't fit my chubby, stumpy arms.  

3.  People who do not fit into lululemon or A & F are not necessarily lazy unhealthy people.  My friend who wrote the letter to lululemon is not what I would even call plus size.  She walks, bikes, does yoga and Pilates, but just cannot fit her gorgeous sexy boobs into one of their shirts.  

4.  Fat people like to exercise too.  I do yoga every day.  I dance, I run, I hike.  I am not by any means exceptional in this.   And fat people who like to exercise also like to have clothes to wear while they are doing said exercise.  Sometimes fat people who exercise will, like some of my friends (and like me at some points in my life), turn into thin people who exercise.  Sometimes they won't.  In my book, if they're trying to be healthy, then that's OK, and they should be able to buy a pair of pants to try to be healthy in.

5.  Fat people have jobs and have money to spend in retail therapy, the same as anyone else.  Fat people like shopping when they can find stuff that fits them, and like to look good.  We would be outraged if The Gap said it wanted to exclude, let's say, all people with acne from wearing their clothes.  We wouldn't consider that socially acceptable.  So why is it socially acceptable (or defensible, or explainable) to exclude people based on body type?

 6.  People who are not thin may be so for reasons out of their control and for which they do not "deserve" to be shamed.  Hormones, emotional issues, health conditions, genetics - these are all things that affect weight and shape.   Mike Jeffries and Chip Wilson are not in a position where they can know the story of every potential customer they alienate with their comments.  However, you (my friends, my readers) are in a position to know, or to ask, why the people in your life may choose, or not choose, to be the size that they are.  You are in the privileged position of being able to ask, listen, empathize and accept.  The idea that if you're not thin you're doing something wrong, is well…wrong.   And if you accept that idea, or the real-life consequences of that idea (like the exclusionary policies of companies like lululemon and A & F), then you are doing your friends of all sizes a disservice.

So, no, it's not the comments of people like Mike Jeffries and Chip Wilson that bother me.  I'm bothered by the friends I have who aren't bothered by them.   I'm bothered by the people who buy into one idea of beauty.  I'm bothered about how size-ist attitudes demonstrated by retailers get reflected in the media, and then get reflected in popular culture, so that people find it perfectly OK to judge or place value on someone because of size (or lack thereof).  I'm bothered that looks can limit anyone, in their career, in love, in life.  And I'm mostly bothered that my damn yoga pants are see-through. 

And to all the retailers out there - I like to shop, I have money to spend, and given that I do yoga every day, I need a lot of yoga pants.  Make me a pair that fit, that make me feel good, and that aren't see-through or full of holes within a month (like my last few pairs of lulus) and you'll have my money.  Simple as that.  

*I have also been wonderfully cast against type and given fantastic opportunities to play the ingenue or romantic lead by directors who value talent over conventional beauty.  I will never forget director Matthew Bissett gently admonishing me when I was lamenting about how I was not going to get a particular part because I wasn't thin and pretty, that perhaps I should leave the directing to directors who may, in fact, know better than me.  And in some cases, including Matthew's, they have, and shown confidence in me where I have not had confidence in myself.

UPDATE:  If you'd like to read my friend Dani Fecko's letter to lululemon and their response, you can click here

Reaching Out for Yoga Outreach

I was always a bit of a yoga dabbler, until I went on an amazing retreat last October and realized how much I needed daily yoga practice in my life.   I can't speak highly enough of the ways in which regular yoga has contributed to my well being, physically and emotionally.  It's been a busy and stressful year, with amazing highs and devastating lows, and regular yoga has really helped me to even it all out.  

I support an organization called

Yoga Outreach

, with whom I went on another great retreat this past spring.  Yoga Outreach provides free yoga programming to people who might not otherwise have access to yoga - people dealing with homelessness, addiction, mental illness, or incarceration.  YO currently offers 22 weekly free classes across the Lower Mainland that participants describe as their "lifeline."

Starting October 14th, I've committed to practicing yoga daily for 30 days, to raise money for Yoga Outreach's programs.   It's an Asana-thon! So far I've raised $270 in sponsorships - but my goal is $1000.  Please visit my CanadaHelps

donation page

, where you can make a secure donation online.  Depending on the amount of the donation you'll also receive a tax receipt.  

Thanks in advance for your contribution! Namaste!

Good times with yoga friends!

Talking about Redemption on Definitely Not the Opera

I am featured on this week's episode of CBC Radio's "Definitely Not the Opera."  The theme was redemption, and I had been contacted by a producer who thought it might be interesting to talk to - she had read this blog and noticed that I had viewed the Stanley Cup Riot cleanup in 2011 as a kind of redemption for our city.

You can find a summary of the episode, as well as a link to the podcast, here.

I felt privileged to be ask to speak on behalf of the hundreds of volunteers who came out to help last year, but I also feel humbled and a little bit sheepish at the inordinate amount of attention I have personally gotten for being just one of many people out on the streets - it's not like the clean-up was some operation that I directed or inspired. I just chose to be a part of it.  So I wanted to just state for the record that I acknowledge, appreciate and salute all of the people that were a part of our riot cleanup crew.  Special shout-outs to my friend Kate, who I spent the day with, and the many friends we met that day: Katelynn, Tim, and countless others, some of whose names we never knew.  Thank you, all of you.

You can view my photos of the cleanup and my account of the day here.

Many thanks to CBC producer Jenna Cameron and the rest of the DNTO team for the opportunity to be a part of the show.