Tag Archives: feminist

#WhyIMarch

I march to show my daughter that we stand up for ourselves and we stand up for others and we stand with others. Yesterday was a much too belated (on my part), tiny step in a long march towards equality and freedom for all. But I took it. And my husband took it. And my daughter took it. And we’ll take another. And we’ll march together.

As my friend so beautifully articulated, “I’m humbled by the work of others before me, embarrassed by my silence and complicity, and eager to catch up.”

My Personal Pantsuit Manifesto

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Note: This is the most politically vulnerable and the most religiously vulnerable and the most unedited I have ever been. I ask that you hold my thoughts gently.

Last night I wept in the shower. And I kept wondering why. Why am I so grieved? Because I was and I am grieved. I went to bed on election night with some NyQuil hoping to finally get some rest and heal from my cold. And I woke to a text from my sister announcing the news. And in a fog I tried to ready my daughter for school and pack for work and wrap my head around what was going on right now. I turned on the news for about five seconds before I shed my first tears of the day.

And I wondered why. They day before I had debated whether to tell my daughter about the historical significance of having the first woman president, or whether to allow her to grow up with the belief that this is how it always has been. And when I woke up that debate seemed foolish and wildly privileged. And I owe my daughter more than that.

And the truth of my tears came to me in bits and pieces.

I wept because there would not be four more years of complacency. I was awake to the fact that I had done too little for too long.

I was awake to the fact that we continued to ignore the basic needs of our Native sisters and brothers. And all I did was like a few social media posts.

I was awake to the fact that my country was killing innocent women and children in the name of war. And all I did was watch a documentary.

I was awake to the fact that it was still a country where it was dangerous to be black. And still I stayed silent on teaching my daughter about race.

I was awake to the fact that refugees are wasting away in limbo. And all I did was listen to a This American Life podcast.

I was awake to the fact that our society is still patriarchal. And I just worry about the moment she realizes this.

I was awake to the fact that to be any form of other right now is scary. And it has been that way for a long time. And we are all human. And we are almost all others in some shape or form. And we need each other to stand up for each other. And I felt awake to the fact that there are some brave people genuinely, literally standing for others. And I want to be one of them.

And slowly a resolve began to grow.

I can put on my own oxygen mask. I can take care of myself. I can drink water and rest and pray. Because I will be no good to anyone if I am not well.

I can partner well. I can love my husband. I can enjoy his company. I can communicate with him in our obsessive quoting of old Seinfeld episodes. I can talk with him about politics and religion and all the unsavory things of the world. I can support him as he teaches the next generation.

I can love my little. I can advocate for my daughter and her generation. I can teach her about race and class and sex and prejudice and fear and love. I cannot forget to teach her about love. But more than teaching, I can learn. I can learn from her and her precious heart and her innate wisdom. I can learn about love and joy and forgiveness and dancing. I have so much to learn about dancing.

I can do my work. I can open our store and sell our goods from artisans around the world and embrace this tiny contribution to the economy where ethics and quality and beauty come first. I will savor the delicious, most American blend of our Persian and Texas culture.

I can donate my money. I can “think global and act local.” I can donate to Houston Area Women’s Center and Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston’s Refugee Services department and University of Houston’s Immigration Clinic.

I can donate my time. I can teach my free yoga class every Tuesday at noon and offer a space for people to stop and breathe, if only for one hour. I can chop veggies the Tuesday before Thanksgiving for my church’s dinner for our homeless community. I can call IM and volunteer my time with their refugee resettlement.

I can pray. I can pray, not in resolve to change an outcome but in hope of changing my own heart.

I can party. I can sustain myself and my family and my community with the joy of celebration. I can feast with my Persian/Welsh/Irish/German/Puerto-Rican/Indian/immigrant/first-generation-American/Muslim/Christian family. I can play Game of Things. I can laugh until I cry and my sides ache.

I can pantsuit up, not because #imwithher but because I’m with her. I am with Malala and Mother Theresa and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee and my daughter and my friends’ daughters…and…and…all the hers everywhere. And although I agonized over what a presidency with her would look like on the world stage, I was galvanized by her concession speech. Not to carry her torch, but to carry my own. To do my best to at least be a glimmer of light in this world.

I will neither belittle myself for doing too little, nor delude myself into thinking I am or could or should save the world.

Love does not need to win. This is not a game. It is not about winning or losing. It is about acting in love because love is what we are called to do.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

“The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)

Cheetos, Modeling & the Toddler Effect

During one of Ben’s after school tutorials a female student started quizzing him on what he feeds Leila. If her goal was to avoid actual schoolwork, she accomplished her mission. Leila was still relatively young at that point, so the list Ben recited was pretty uncluttered – sweet potatoes, beets, blueberries, peas, cauliflower, etc.

“Do you give her Cheetos?”

No.

“Is that because you want her to be a model?”

“No. I want her to be healthy.”

The student went on to talk about how she takes her niece out for ice cream and buys her Cheetos and how she does this because she loves her niece and her niece loves her for doing it. As for us, it was obvious from our list that we did not love our daughter.

Ben was discouraged at this blatant evidence of his student’s poor nutrition habits. Somewhere along our almost ten years together our perspectives on food have shifted drastically, and my husband has become quite the food advocate. Somewhere in Ben recounting it to me two things became painfully obvious in regards to how this student relates to food.

  1. Buying non-nutrient-dense-food equals affection.
  2. The only reason you eat fresh, whole foods is if you want to be skinny.

Both make my heart hurt. Not only for this particular student, but for all of the women who buy into this stupid, harmful lie.

Ben and I think about what we eat. We think about its impact on the workers, on the environment, on our bodies. We truly believe we vote with our dollars, and when it comes to food, more than anything else, we try to make every vote count. When it came to feeding Leila, I began elevating my awareness early. The month before we conceived her I cut out alcohol and all meat outside the home (i.e. all the meat I could not confirm did not only have “one bad day” of life). Throughout my pregnancy I diligently consumed as much fresh organic produce as I could stomach. Volunteering at a co-op once a week only reaffirmed my efforts. My diet was not faultless, but it was intentional. The first two months postpartum were much more negligent, but a bout of thrush threw me into the arms of an anti-candida diet and mountains of greens. By the time we got to feeding Leila solids, the thought of feeding her anything less than organic whole foods was not even a prospect.

This past spring I was sitting down to a quiet breakfast of organic peanut butter puff cereal. Leila wanted a bite. Like, I could not distract her away and back to her own food, bite, so I put her on my lap and we both contentedly munched away at breakfast. Well, Leila was content. I was feeling an unnecessary helping of guilt. Yes, it was organic. Yes, in the grand scheme it was not a half bad breakfast. But I wanted to her to want the stuff I was setting in front of her, the whole unprocessed stuff. The stuff we mainly eat.

Very quickly into this second year I realized that Leila usually wants what we have, even if it is the exact same thing that is on her plate. This toddler effect has translated into me being more focused on making sure we buy and eat quality foods. I did not want to tell Leila no to foods we were eating. I did not want to create a “good food”/”bad food” dichotomy. This is where I was at when Ben told me this story about his student.

At first they seemed completely unrelated. Then I got requests to give Leila cookies or a piece of cake or whatever, and I said no. I got questions about what I fed Leila. And the responses were not that different than Ben’s student. Somewhere in the realm of what-do-you-want-her-to-be-a-model, or good, you want her to be skinny.

And then I finally consciously realized what the real fight was. It was the fight I knew was coming the second they told me I was carrying a girl. And I’m PISSED OFF that it started before she even knew what a cupcake was.

Yoplait yogurt their swapportunities

Diet ANYTHING

Celebrities and their diet du jour

The list goes on forever and ever and creeps into spaces I thought were safe (like food bloggers that apparently are more concerned about counting calories than the quality of their food).

Well, they can all go bleeeeep (content omitted to keep this family-friendly) because I’ll be damned if Leila walks away believing that her worth is related to what she eats and how she looks. Hell no is thinner better or fewer calories better. Hell no should the motivation behind what you eat be how you will look.

This is what we are teaching her. Food is for our bodies. Food is to nourish us. Food is also pleasurable. Enjoying meals together is a sacred ritual that communities have shared for hundreds of years. Only she knows what exactly her body needs and how much of it she needs. She will know how it will thrive best.

In the meantime we are making those decisions, and with every snack of hummus or apple or mornings together making blueberry pancakes, my goal is two-fold – to nourish her growing body and to teach her to listen to that magnificent intuition we are all born with but society silences.

Eat on girl!

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(PS I’ll know that I have succeeded if Leila is confused when she watches this video, instead of relating)