On Having Depression

If you’re interested in reading all about OCD, check out this post here. I was going to follow it up with Things You Don’t Know About Depression, but I’ve come to realize that there are still things I’m learning about it, so probably I shouldn’t be writing some blog post like I’m the boss of the depressed. And if you suffer from Post-Partum Depression (for which I am very sorry, and please know that there are a lot of people in your corner, even though right now it may not feel like it), check out this awesome post by my good friend, Julie.

In looking back over the annals of my life, there are specific events that catapulted me into the throes of depression, but we didn’t really know that’s what it was at the time. My best friend moving when we were five. Middle school. Watching one of our cats die because we knew it was coming and Mom and Dad had to go to work. Most of the time, it was reasonable to feel sad because what I was experiencing were sad things, but I realize now that what I was actually feeling was clinical depression, one of my many mental illnesses that started taking root and growing every time I felt blue.


The reason I’m less knowledgeable about depression is chiefly because when you suffer from OCD, you don’t get much time to focus on anything else. My morning routine (aka compulsions) takes about an hour before I get out of bed (my anxiety piquing in such a way I never knew was possible because the entire time I’ve got to pee, but peeing isn’t in the equation. I’m working on including it to lower my anxiety, but we’re not really there yet). And with OCD comes additional anxiety (I also have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and a panic disorder, but both are difficult to navigate because of, you know, the OCD). The depression became quickly and easily backburnered because I’m just so anxious all. of. the. time.

It’s all getting better. It is. I’ve worked out for a solid 30 days now (I don’t work out on Sundays and I missed two days, one due to a back injury and one due to a medical procedure that knocked me out for an entire day), and aside from the anxiety that accompanies OCD, I haven’t felt like scratching all my skin off because I can’t handle life (that’s not really a thing with me. I don’t actually feel like scratching all my skin off, but that’s the best description I can give for general anxiety that goes with you everywhere), and my depression has left the building. For now at least. My mother and I were discussing this today after lunch (at Chuck-a-Rama), and we both agreed that even if I were to never lose any weight or inches or fit into my “skinny clothes” ever again, all this exercise would still be entirely worth it because of my mental well-being. I eat, exercise, study, work, and socialize all for my mental well-being these days, and it’s been pretty great.

But having mental illness means I can’t just be cured of it — that one day I’ll wake up and that will be the end of all the anxiety and depression. It means that, despite all my best efforts, one day, sooner or later, brought on by something or entirely out of left field, I will wake up and be physically unable to get out of bed. Prior to my regular exercise (and prescription meds and therapist and Vitamin D supplements), my depression would attack me at least once a week and would last anywhere from several hours to a couple of months (depending upon any chemical imbalances, the weather, how much my job was killing my will to live, etc.). Mental illness attacks your mind, your soul, and even your body (depression, I have found, is incredibly painful, so oftentimes I stay in bed because it hurts to get up and work around my home).

When you say, “I have anxiety,” a lot of people respond with, “I feel you.” And perhaps they do because they also suffer from anxiety, or perhaps they’re exacerbating their actual life experiences and know what it’s like to be temporarily stressed out, but either way, you receive a lot more empathy than you do when you say, “I have depression.” I’m not quite sure why that is — perhaps it’s because depression feels more vulnerable than anxiety or maybe it’s because anxiety is far more common — but I think that’s what inherently makes depression even more difficult to withstand. You don’t just feel like no one gets you — in fact, no one gets you, and what is already an isolated medical problem becomes even more isolated.

I get it. Not wanting to exist isn’t a feeling many people have experienced to the degree of the depressed, and it’s not the same thing as being suicidal, so it’s just confusing and weird. It looks like laziness, it sounds like an excuse. And while I am on occasion quite lazy and have a bag full of excuses, ready to utilize at any given moment I don’t want to do something, depression doesn’t fall into either category, and it’s offensive to imply that it does.

Why am I writing about this now? Because I’m genuinely scared that tomorrow or the day after that or the day after that or the day after that, I’ll wake up from this blissful depression-free life and hurt from the inside of my brain to the soles of my feet. And when that day comes, I’m going to need some understanding because I fear it’s going to be even harder than it was the last time.


Let’s Talk About Female Empowerment (just for a second)

I want to make something really clear. Just because you say you’ve done something liberating, empowering, feminist, strong, etc. et cetera doesn’t actually mean it’s true. I could spend every waking minute telling people I’m actually Caucasian with very delicate Asian-like features, but that still won’t stop the fact that I am, at my very core, Asian. I could persecute someone in the name of religion — NAY, IN THE NAME OF GOD — and it still wouldn’t be what God wanted. (And I shouldn’t have to put this here, but I will absolutely never persecute anyone ever for any reason.)

I’m not going to get on this whole tirade about modesty — I’m LDS, which means I practice modesty in my appearance, but I also recognize very fully that modest is most certainly NOT hottest. And not everyone subscribes to the same belief system I do, nor do they agree with my personal views on modesty and why one practices it, so I’m not going to try and change any minds here in this blog post.


But let me be really clear — I feel quite empowered about my body in what I consider a healthy way, and I don’t feel any sort of need to flaunt it (and this isn’t a self-consciousness thing, although I’m softer in certain areas than I’d personally like to be). It’s probably 25% modesty and 75% understanding what empowerment actually means. [By definition, empower is to “make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.”] So what exactly is it that I need to do to feel empowered?

  • Well, first off, I don’t use the word lightly. It’s taken us decades, centuries, heck even millennia to get the power we have (and we still have a long long way to go). Not everything I do in my everyday life is a move in the name of empowerment. Sometimes I just, like, enjoy binge-watching Netflix or whatever. And I certainly do it because I can, but … let’s not quantify things that don’t actually deserve quantification.
  • I have a very clear idea of the sort of woman I’d like to be. I am not particularly close to being her (and I daresay it will take me the rest of my life to get closer), but I know who I’d like to become as the years go by. Understanding that gets easier the older you get.
  • I feel very confident with the body that I have, and I don’t give it too much power. I realize that I’ve been bestowed with certain parts that make me more feminine than a man, and that for whatever reason those parts can be quite powerful to them (fat sacks, guys. They’re fat sacks, and they come and go and spend the majority of our lives being saggy, so get over them already.), so I’m not going to take that for granted. But I also have hair where I don’t want it like everyone else, skin covering my entirety like everyone else except for Harvey Dent, facial features like 99% of everyone else, and fingernails that grow at an alarmingly fast rate like some other people who may read this and think oh my gosh she GETS it. What I’m trying to say is that it’s just a body. I was born with it like everyone else, and we really shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about oversexualizing it because that leads to all sorts of issues in the long run.
  • I vote, and I make sure to never vote against myself or my basic human rights. This should be pretty self-explanatory.
  • I give very little thought about other women’s bodies — someone else’s appearance should ultimately not matter to any of us at all ever. We all make certain decisions in the morning that we think make us beautiful, and who’s to say we’re wrong? (And I know, I know, there are all those Buzzfeed articles about the worst makeup in the world, and that truly stumps me because it’s pretty awful. But also that’s an aberration and most women don’t look like that on a regular basis.)
  • I don’t spend my time concerned with looking like anyone famous. Do you even know what it takes to look like a famous person? Nutritionists, dietitians, personal chefs, personal trainers, photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists, lighting … coordinators (I don’t even know what to call them), lavish homes styled by interior decorators, wardrobes upon wardrobes upon wardrobes. Unless I somehow stumble into a life that is identical to that (Dear God, it is my humble prayer that I never stumble into a life that is identical to that. Amen.), I might as well stop trying now. I’m not caving, I’m being realistic. Also, I don’t want anyone telling me how to eat. I will eat however I want thankyouverymuch.

Photo found here 

Sometimes we need to call certain things as they are. Posing topless in front of a mirror with your bestie (who may not even be your bestie in the real life), giving the world the finger (which is actually so apropos when you think about it) isn’t actually empowerment. It could be labeled a lot of things, but empowering or feminist or liberating aren’t it.

The Epiphany

I’ve spent a lot of time on Instagram sharing my personal thoughts on mental illness, eating disorders, and happiness but haven’t ventured much to my blog. I assume people would rather read a long-ish photo caption than an entire blog, and most of what I want to say fits within Instagram’s constraints (though I’ve had many posts in which I had to edit stuff out because I extrapolated too long).

If you’re new to this blog, welcome — I don’t write in it too often, but because of that my posts hold more meaning than they used to. I am an LDS Korean-American adoptee, married (with three furbabies), with OCD, depression, anxiety, and binge eating disorder.

I’m a real riot.

After a very difficult 2015 (mentally speaking — a lot of great stuff happened, so I can’t say the entire year was a bust because it wasn’t) and start to 2016, I decided one day I needed to make some life changes. I was already seeing a psychologist, I was on new medication, and I was working on mindful eating (which is much harder than it sounds and thusly very difficult to maintain), but the lows I experienced were still so low. I forgot to take my Vitamin D (I still do — I’m going to put the bottle in the bathroom with my other medications right now. Give me a second.), I’d wake up with extreme anxiety and difficulty breathing, my irritability could go from 0 to 60 in a second. And although I found some answers in a rather fascinating article/study on the correlation between mental illness and high altitude living, I wasn’t willing to throw in the towel and say, “Well, this is just how it’s going to be while I reside in Utah.” I couldn’t possibly.

I’m going to touch on a few things as quickly as I can to avoid turning this post into a tirade. I know that some people will read this and understand or support my thoughts and others will read it and become defensive because ultimately they’re reading about their own lives and they don’t want to admit it. And, as I’ve experienced as an educated, certified professional makeup artist — life experience, education, knowledge simply don’t matter to some people. The information you have to share does not apply to them, it can’t possibly be correct, they want it to be wrong. But I’m going to say this: as an adult woman who’s suffered from an eating disorder for at least 14 years, I have just come to KNOW certain truths. Feeling guilty when you eat is one of the most mentally damaging things you can do to yourself. Recently, it was Easter, which meant candy and large meals for a lot of people, which then meant concern over how much we all ate. And not to sound callous, but I legitimately do not care how many Cadbury mini eggs you’ve consumed since they hit stores. Eat them, love them, enjoy the fact that they’re here because they’re going to disappear for another 10 months, and then don’t beat yourself up over it. Don’t EVER guilt yourself post-eating, no matter what you’ve eaten, how much of it, etc. Mindful eating means you’re listening to your body and its cues — “How full am I now? Do I feel satisfied?” — and it leaves out the self-deprecating hatred of, “I’ve failed. I messed up. My diet is over. I can’t ever succeed. Might as well give up now.” You eat for health, both physical and mental, which means if you want a cookie, you should eat the cookie. Mentally, you’ll feel better, and by allowing yourself to enjoy it, you won’t binge later. And trust me, I know all about bingeing. Being more mindful often leads to making better choices in the long run, so be mindful rather than guilt-ridden. (I just ate an entire box of Annie’s organic mac & cheese singlehandedly. No regrets.)

So one Friday a couple weeks back, I got home from the chiropractor and told my husband we were going to the gym to exercise. It was the one big factor missing from my life because no one likes working out, it’s germy, it makes you sweat, it requires you to interact with other sweaty, germy people. (And I know I could technically work out at home, but that’s like taking an online course. It’s going to be sorely neglected.) We hated every second of it, and then we did it the next day. And then we did it that Monday, and then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and finally Saturday. And then we woke up the following Monday (aka yesterday) and did it again.

Sometime late last week, I started to notice that my workouts were growing in their intensity, without my even really thinking about it or meaning to. It made me feel better, mentally and physically, and I wanted to experience more of that natural high. And then Monday, aka yesterday, I hit my epiphany: I wanted to go back, despite already working out in the morning. (I didn’t because it genuinely was not reasonable to spend much of my time in the gym rather than home with my family, and I’m not training for anything. I didn’t feel guilt not going back because that’s not the point.) I finally realized and understood how much exercise is for your mental health as much as physical.

Well, this was huge for me. I’d spent so much of my life working out begrudgingly because I was doing all the things I THOUGHT I should at the gym that I forgot to make it enjoyable. This time is different: I almost never run (and if I do, it’s for very brief spurts at a time), I take breaks during the classes and don’t care if other people see it because sometimes I genuinely can’t do what the teacher is asking and injury isn’t on the menu, and I spend a lot more time in the weight room actually knowing what I’m doing and why because my husband has educated me on it. This doesn’t meant that some mornings I don’t wake up and think, “But bed is so much better” or “I don’t really have time for this,” because I absolutely do, but I do it anyhow. I’ve yet to regret the decision.

So. I sleep better (sort of — insomnia can only be cured by so many things, but an effective workout does make me pretty tired), I eat better (this is two part — I don’t rationalize that I can eat everything in sight because I’m working out, but I also eat ice cream and candy and don’t feel bad about it, partially because I know that gymming it up every day counteracts much of it), I feel better.

I guess what it boils down to is that I’m not exercising to lose weight. I’m exercising to have a healthier mind. And that’s a lot more motivating than anything else.

Viral Things Become Obsolete

A friend recently reposted that old video of Beyonce dancing to The Chicken Dance Song — an incredible mashup that works well on so many levels, I could probably expound upon that for the remainder of this blog post. That video, once viral (viewed over 1 million times on YouTube alone, which doesn’t include all the clicks generated from Facebook or other social media (it’s probably been viewed a billion times on Instagram if for no other reason than videos automatically load as you’re scrolling, and then of course you have to watch that video six times in a row).

[As a completely unrelated side note: I’m watching a movie that just used the phrase “jot and tittle,” and I think we all need to use that more frequently in our everyday conversations.]

Anyhow, I got to thinking about this funny Beyonce Chicken Dance video and how I only think about it when I’ve recently viewed it or discussed it (which is usually only prompted by my viewing it). How this once very viral video became — sort of — obsolete. In fact, this could be said about nearly every viral video that’s hit social media in the last few years; I’m sure we’re not thinking about them particularly often, although our memories are jogged when they’re reposted and we’re reminded of their existence.


Image from YouTube.com

And that got me thinking about He Who Shall Not Be Named (no, not the actual one — the other one who’s running for president, whose name will never be uttered on my blog because I do not want to give him the satisfaction that I’ve assisted in his notoriety). In the past several months, I’ve seen nothing but bad press about him, and nearly every single one of my Facebook friends has uttered his name in the same breath as “is terrible” “is racist/sexist/too conservative/evil” “shouldn’t be president”, etc. And his name becomes more and more viral by the second — every single time someone mentions his name, even in passing, his notoriety soars. He’s the virus we didn’t see coming.

I’m going to go ahead and say it right now: if he does, in fact, become president, (which I do not believe is statistically possible because the assumption is that literally every voter who does not vote for, say, Rubio or Cruz will vote for him and that literally every voter who does not vote for, I’m going to say Clinton because Sanders doesn’t stand a chance after the Primaries, will vote for him as well. Because of write-ins and the Independent party, I don’t see that happening. I mean, maybe it might, but it seems highly improbable.)  well, I BLAME YOU ALL. At this point, the people who vehemently spew forth his name with the same vitriol as they do towards Hitler or other evil dictators will be entirely to blame for his rise to success. I suppose I associate myself with only others with the same level of intellect as myself (or similar), but these large factions of supporters do not exist in my world, and I imagine Super Tuesday’s wins were primarily due to his name trending so much. I mean, there’s entirely the possibility that people voted for him because they just wanted to troll us.

We’re treating this presidential election like a reality TV show. We’re watching it, with bated breath, waiting to phone in or for someone to get their rose, and we’ve forgotten the chief purpose of a presidential election is to actually elect an electable official and place him/her in a rather important office. He’s bigger than the Kardashians (which I am certain irritates Kris Jenner to no end because no one should be bigger than them). (And again, might I remind all of you who despise the Kardashians’ rise to incredible fame, that is also your fault because you were talking about them more than, say, Jersey Shore or Lindsay Lohan, just enough to help them become a household name so even our grandparents somehow know who these people are, despite their not actually doing anything significant for society.)

We love to complain. It’s a lot more fun than talking about stuff we love (for a lot of people. Certainly not my mother.) because we get to whine and say awful things and know that our friends all agree with us entirely, and it’s great because we all hate it. Being more vulnerable and having real talk moments make us uncomfortable, so we head right back into the world of E! and TMZ because it’s safe. The problem with enough people complaining about the same thing is that it almost always does NOT lead to the end result of said thing disappearing. Because, you know, we’re talking about it. It can’t disappear if it’s still relevant.

And I think we also find immense fear in negative press — heaven forbid other people say they don’t like us for whatever reason (and seriously, it’s ok if other people don’t like you — admit it, you don’t like everyone with whom you’ve come in contact either). That’s the worst thing that could ever happen, right?


The worst thing that could happen is that we leave no legacy. That at the end of the day, no one actually cares about us at all. I don’t need a lot of friends — less than 10 suits me fine — but if I hit a point in my life when no one cared for me (that would take both of my parents and my husband being dead, but let’s pretend for the time being that it wouldn’t because of course that would be awful in its own right), I’d be steeped in some pretty intense depression. We want to be loved and valued, of course, but mostly we want to be heard. We need a witness.

Of course, I could say this over and over again till my face turned blue, and it wouldn’t stop anyone from assisting in his continuous rise to becoming the most powerful man on earth (and I don’t just mean that in a presidential way — seriously, he’s consumed our lives, so he honestly IS the most powerful human I can think of right now. I can’t think of anyone else because my brain is simply filled with his name and stupid face.). I wish it would. I wish we could declare tomorrow an indefinite holiday to never speak of him again, and I assure you it wouldn’t take very long before he got cataloged away with “BEST REACTION EVER!”, “Cat Gets Caught Stealing!”, and “Johanna Channeling Arethra Franklin!” Did you know there are kids these days who have no clue who N Sync is? Didn’t even know it ever existed, that Justin Timberlake’s origins are more embarrassing than they could ever know? Imagine a world where those same kids also didn’t know about … well, you know. That guy.

I’ve posted about him twice on Facebook, both times fraught with embarrassment and shame and in one, attempting to avoid name usage so he wouldn’t know I was one of the millions who talk about him more than Jesus. It was two times too many, but in my defense, the second was about this whole issue right here.

We have, as a collective worldwide group of individuals, all of the power to make someone or something disappear. We just do (sorry, Andrew Keegan). So why aren’t we using that power yet?

We’re All a Little Bit Racist

I mean, that’s true, isn’t it? Even when we don’t mean to be, racism just kind of inherently happens because stereotypes exist, and we as a society bow down to them, and then we start to think we’re right.

Stereotypes come from somewhere — they have to — so the argument, I suppose, is that they hold within them some iota of truth. And while that may be the case, over-generalizing an entire group of people, whether by ethnicity, country of origin, religion, or political stance, is something we should probably all avoid. Even if a study were done that proved it to be true in 98% of all cases, there would still be that 2% proving it is not a blanket theory.

So Mexicans slough at work, Blacks kill police officers, Asians are good at math, Indians may actually be computers in human form, and White people are gun-toting patriots.

I’m going to go ahead and just dispel any idea that Asians are good at math because I am quite terrible at it (in recent years, I’ve become a math atheist. And I know, I know, you’re wondering what it ever did to me and why I’m bearing a grudge, but it’s far easier to not acknowledge its existence than let it ruin my life). I do not play the violin. I’m pretty lazy and lack self-discipline. I speak one language, and I don’t eat rice on a regular basis (because, you know, carbs are bad for you *insert eye roll here*).

There’s this misconception that, so long as it’s “positive,” it’s not racist. And it’s true that not all stereotypes are racist, but for the most part, all racism is stereotypical. I belong to a group of individuals who are often viewed as the superior minority — my people work hard and apply themselves. Except for, you know, the ones who don’t, but they’re in the minority of the minority and simply do not count. When you say to me, “You must be good at math,” don’t snow yourself into thinking what you said wasn’t actually racist because *sighs* it was. Offensive? Not particularly, until I start thinking about the racism aspect, but I realize you could say far worse things to me, so I suppose I should count my blessings that I belong to the most worthwhile race.

By the way, not all Asians work hard. *raises hand* I slept in till 11:30 today and didn’t get out of bed for two hours.

I feel like I need to also say something on the matter of racism in humor. Look, a few of my favorite stand-up comedians are kings and queens of self-deprecating humor relating to their ethnicities and countries of origin. We could probably argue all day long as to whether that humor is a good outlet to deal with the duality of being a minority in America or a negative impact on an entire race because it’s feeding into the stereotypes. I personally consider it the former, although I’ve heard some that not only stepped into the latter but actually jumped in head first, and then it was no longer amusing to me. And unfair though it may be to you, it’s just more acceptable for minorities to joke about, you know, being minorities.

Otherwise, racism in humor is awkwardly uncomfortable to me. If something is both funny and racist, the take away from that ultimately should be that it’s racist, and it just shouldn’t ever be uttered. Really nothing should ever trump racism. When I was in high school, I was working on a group project with some friends. One white boy, one white girl, one black boy, and myself, so like … AMERICA! Somehow the topic of funny racist jokes came up (I feel like it must have been jokes at first and then treaded into the uncomfortable place of racism), and after the white boy told one particularly offensive “joke” involving the n-word (he actually said it right there in front of my friend, Marvin, and I don’t recall how he reacted, but I was none too pleased), my friend (I’m just going to spoil the ending for you and let you know the relationship ended upon utterance of this joke) said, “No offense, Mary, but …”

I’m going to give you a brief lesson on how to be a decent human. If you must begin anything with the words “no offense,” then you really shouldn’t say it ever at all under any circumstances. You are openly admitting that you are a fool because 1. you know you shouldn’t say it, 2. you’re admitting you know it, and 3. you’re doing it anyhow. Seriously, that makes you suck at humanhood.

The rest was, “… What do you say to an Asian you see in the hall? …*insert the most uncomfortable silence known to man* … I CHINK I GOT SOME GOOK IN MY EYE!”

So, I mean, like I said, the friendship died a fiery death right then and there. One racial epithet is more than enough, two is just gratuitous.

The problem is, I know what her line of thinking was — as an adoptee, I’m considered by many friends and acquaintances to essentially not be Asian. And while I am certainly not interested in Korean culture, the fact that I was born in Asia to parents of Asian descent and a long line of Asian ancestors makes me, ahem, Asian. I can’t really alter that. But because of this non-Asianness, I am somehow immune to all things racist? (I do pose this as a question because it baffles me still.) I may watch the Super Bowl and eat pizza and listen to Adele while wearing leggings (I draw the line at Uggs, although I bought some seriously cute leg warmers today), but … still Asian. Still going to be offended by racist comments.

It happens, accidental (and intentional) racism. And whether or not you believe race is something created by society to separate us and we’re all just humans gosh darnit, it’s here to stay. I doubt we’ll ever truly be able to get away from it. (Also, I think that’s a really stupid argument and sounds like something a white person would say to seem relevant to his ethnic “peeps”.) What’s important, however, is how mindful we are on a daily basis, how hard we try to be thoughtful and kind and to ignore all the stereotypes, allowing ourselves to simply learn about those around us.

The Problem with Physical > Mental

This morning, Husband’s alarm went off an hour before mine needed to, which is a curious thing since he’s still sleeping and had no reason to wake either of us up at a specific time. Bless his heart. 

First, I started stewing over how people must snow themselves into thinking their OBGYNs/hospitals are not performing abortions, and how the high cost of healthcare is probably covering overhead, so more of each patient’s money is going toward that than their tax dollars to Planned Parenthood abortions (which would be zero since federal tax dollars can’t be used for PP abortions). My assumption is they’ve never thought about it, so here I am thinking about it for them (and to recap, I firmly support Planned Parenthood). 

This led me straight to adoption (which is my preferred choice when it comes to an infant one cannot care for for whatever reason, but certainly I do not govern anyone’s choices but my own). And then to: most people want healthy, perfect babies. And then to: but not everyone — some people will adopt babies with disabilities or deformities. And then to: which is more preferable to them than adopting foster care children in their own backyard, a child for whom they do not need to wait, a child who will be less expensive. And then to: which must mean physical deformities trump behavioral problems in preferability. And then to: why?

People don’t tend to hide their fear of behavioral problems or mental disabilities. After all, look at all the anti-vaxxers who’d rather their children die from or infect others with mumps or measles all to avoid the (zero) possibility of the autism spectrum.  I could really go on all day about THIS hot button topic, but let’s not and say we did. And while most of society says, “No no — this small group of people isn’t representational of how we view things,” I fear that it may be. We’d rather our children have an outward, physical problem than an inward, mental one. 

Which brings me back to adoption. 

It’s speculation on my part, certainly, but it seems to me that’s the underlying fear of adopting local foster children. They might have mental disorders, problems with addiction, learning disabilities, or something that requires them to go to therapy and take medication. (And I’m specifically talking about individuals who are open to and willing to adopt babies or children with physical deformities here — I know most people want perfect newborns, unblemished from the world’s tragedies, particularly those of the Asian variety, who carry with them an often 7+ year long wait. What must it be like to be wanted for that long. Foster children certainly don’t know.) Years of medical tests? A lifetime of procedures? Catheters or surgeries or wheelchairs or physical scars left on their small faces? This we can handle as a family. We will come together, bolster each other up, and we will conquer the world together. 

Somehow forgetting all the while that these physical scars, these outward signs of being different, will without question lead to psychiatrists or psychologists, to speech therapists, because this child could very easily be traumatized. I am in no way saying these children should not be adopted — on the contrary, more should be because one doesn’t really risk more by adopting an imperfect child than the plausibility of giving birth to one (medical histories only go so far back I imagine, though I’m an adoptee, so mine consists of nothing). 

I’m just saying children with physical deformities or scars may be as emotionally and mentally broken as a child without them, who was, however, born to a mother with addiction or who lost his parents to the prison system or who has no other family to care for him. 

Furthermore, you may, as my parents did, adopt a healthy, seemingly perfect infant who will eventually go on to be diagnosed with a slew of mental illnesses, who takes medications that on occasion make her physically sick, who some mornings simply cannot get out of bed, not even to eat. (I don’t even have the luxury of saying, “But at least I’m physically perfect!” because I have adult-onset acne and back problems and a torn labrum in my right hip.)


What are the problems we have, as a society, with neurological and mental disorders? Why are they worse and more daunting than physical? And what can we do to fix that?

Utah, the Oversexualization of the Body, and Why I’m Wearing Booty Shorts

Theatre in Utah is weird. I mean, it’s really weird. It can be easily said that theatre worldwide is an oddity — after all, it’s a group of individuals, some introverted, some extroverted, some straight, some gay, some religious, some not, who all get together and pretend to be other people for a brief period of time and bond over it in an “I’ll braid your hair at our next sleepover if you braid mine” sort of way.

Weird stuff.

But in the heart of Mormonland, in a place where religion tends to trump all, things get kind of tricky. [Before I get too much further, for those of you who haven’t been reading this blog the past few years, I am a Mormon (not begrudgingly, I go to church when the Spirit moves me to get out of bed, which as of late has been less frequently, so maybe I need to work on that, but my testimony is otherwise intact)]. A quite liberal art gets watered down, it’s more conservative, rehearsals and performances don’t fall on Sundays because of the whole keeping of the holy Sabbath day. I’ve found the last part of that to be pretty helpful since I am, as aforementioned a sentence ago, a Mormon who keeps her Sabbath as holy as she might.

But a semi-conservative liberal art is, well … weird. And while our Sundays are holy, the desire to pay respect to songwriter and playwright words certainly is NOT (one of my biggest Utah pet peeves, if we’re going to be frank with each other — if it’s too offensive for your theatre, then don’t perform it, or better yet, find audience members who are more chill). MTI fees be damned — we’ll take the risk of being fined for breaking the law because religion. (And yes, the contradiction of this is absolutely not lost on me.) And for the record, the language they’re editing out for the sake of their audiences (who really should be more familiar with how theatre works) isn’t even particularly offensive in the first place. Except that maybe it might be to someone, somewhere. So. Laws are broken.


Backstage is even a weirder place because that’s where we have to change our clothes. And, of course, heaven forbid we actually see each others’ bodies.

Look. I understand the basic principle of modesty. I adhere to it, I trust it, I find it to be an important part of my life. In society’s terms, I am probably a real prude when it comes to modesty because of the whole conservatism of this aspect of my religion (note that I did not say the entire religion is conservative, but we are just not going to open that can of worms today or probably ever). Do I believe women should be able to wear whatever they want whenever they want without risk of being assaulted? Well absolutely. But do I also believe the body is sacred and modesty is a key factor to that? Yes. My religion, however, is not for everyone, so I live life pretty judgment-free. Wear what you like, just know that I probably won’t be wearing it too.


Photo courtesy My Trendy Clothe

But — of course there is a but — there comes a point when the oversexualization of the body (and I need to say right here that I don’t believe modesty is necessarily indicative of that, but it can lead to it) goes too far. At the end of the day, our bodies are just bodies, all pretty similar, with muscle and fat and bones and organs and skin and hair that maybe grows in places we’d rather it not. There’s a reason why locker rooms/dressing rooms in gyms are wide open spaces where we’re all naked together. Because it’s kind of not a huge deal. If you need a place to change your clothes, that’s where you do it. And certainly if you were to start ogling a stranger while there, then we’d have a major problem, but if you’re a couple feet away and braless at the same time, but also not paying attention to each other, then it just is what it is.

At no point during any show have I ever needed to be fully naked in front of anyone, and it’s safe to say I would not be participating in a show that had that sort of requirement. But underwear? Hosiery? Sure. Quick changes are just that — they’re a change of costume in a quick manner because you’re short on time and need to drop trou right then and there to replace them with something else.

I’m not an exhibitionist — I like people seeing me without clothing about as much as they do, which is not very much I’M SURE, but I’m also not going to go out of my way to uncomfortably get out of one costume and into another in a brief space of time like a contortionist so no one sees my back skin. I’m going to take my costume off and put another one on like a normal person THANK YOU VERY MUCH, and I think that really doesn’t need to bother you one bit. Because it’s an inherent part of theatre, it comes with the territory, and you signed up for it in the first place. Don’t like it? Don’t do theatre anywhere else ever for the rest of your life.

In Oregon, where I grew up, people would often forego the separate men’s/women’s dressing rooms and change in the common space, or they’d leave doors open, and costume changes were a non-issue. In Utah, it is an enormous issue — the sort that I imagine most Utah actors (in particular I’m thinking the conservative Mormon crew) wish could be done away with once and for all. Why can’t we simply do an entire show in just one costume? After all it works for the Simpsons, Arthur, and Kim Possible (is that still on? Do kids still watch that? They should.)


Photo courtesy Merrick’s Art

I’m rambling now. The bottom line is, the body has been oversexualized here, and it annoys me to no end, and sometimes when I’m backstage and I need to change my costume, I’m not going to get awkward about it because I will still be wearing underwear, thus making the private parts of me still private. Also I assume none of my fellow actors are actually paying that much attention to my body because there are certainly far better things happening in the world that deserve more. I’ve been cast in shows here in Utah in which that has proven to be a problem for some people — my lack of what they consider modesty, my liberalism with my body, the fact that I don’t feel the need to hide it under a safety layer of skintight nude colored tank tops that, at the end of the day, are certainly no more modest. So I had to resign myself to, at the very least, booty shorts. Again, not really any more coverage than regular underwear, but it soothes the masses, so … whatever helps them sleep at night I guess.