behind the scenes
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An Instagram post, my body, and my book launch…

Prepping for launch

In preparation for my book’s launch next year, I’m assessing my relationship with social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like are important tools for any author wanting to maximize her exposure. They’re especially important for authors like me who are using a hybrid publisher like She Writes Press because we are responsible for publicity and marketing. Yesterday, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed looking for accounts to unfollow. Apparently, my Followers to Following ratio is poor, meaning I follow too many people and not enough people follow me back. #firstworldproblems, I know. But in today’s world this stuff is important, and the algorithm Gods knowing my social media relationships are superficial or worse, nonexistent, is bad news.

Anyway, I was also looking for more author/book type people to consider following. Until now, I’ve used Instagram to share my mixed media artwork, look at other artist’s work, and get ideas and inspiration for topics for my art classes. Notice how there’s no mention of books or writing or authoring. Thus the problem, and the impetus to unfollow a large number of banal media outlets, random actors, and hardcore strangers in the hope of replacing them with book type peeps I could get to know.

Scrolling along, I saw Zibby Owen’s latest post. If you’re a writer and/or a mom and don’t know who she is click the link. Like the rest of us Zibby is many things, including the head honcho of Moms Don’t Have Time To (read, write, lose weight, grieve etc.) Her credits are extensive. She must have some serious energy to keep up with all the stuff she doesn’t have time for! I saw her picture, holding an award, and stopped scrolling to check it out.

The Instagram post

zibbyowens1

Photo that stopped my scrolling.

Look at her adorable face..and she’s holding a freaking award…that she won!

Zibby is winning awards all over the place right now…for her podcast and for an anthology of essays she edited. I don’t know Zibby, but she is an inspiration in the “get ‘er done” department. Look at how her post starts. “Another award arrived. . .” What the what? Another? But then there’s that stinkin’ but.

Her comment went on to say, “But the first picture my son took of me holding this trophy was so horrifically unflattering that I still feel beyond awful about it. (This one is fine but hides all.)” Then she asked a question:

I’m curious: would YOU be wiling to gain 20 pounds if it meant winning awards and doing something personally and professionally rewarding? How about 30 pounds?! Be honest. Think about it.

I thought about it and immediately wrote a response.

My body

“I gained 40 pounds after my 13-year-old daughter was diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. That was 9 years ago and I still have the extra 40 pounds. . .and I was already overweight. Our/my journey through her illness changed almost everything for the better, including what I think and how I feel about my body. So yes, I would and did!” Zibby responded that she liked my perspective.

A couple of things. First, I wasn’t speaking for my daughter when I said almost everything changed for the better. I wouldn’t wish our experience on my worst enemy, if I had one. Some day, I hope she’ll share her story. I’m speaking for myself and referring to my personal journey of awakening and responsibility. Also, it’s not like I sat up one morning and thought, I’ll deal with this disaster by stuffing my gullet with food and wine. That will really help me, eventually! So while it was a decision to eat and drink as much as I did it was really more of a fallback, a reliance on an old pattern.

I’m saying that, at the time, if someone had told me gaining weight would be part of becoming a mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthier, happier person I would have told them to fuck off.

I’m not in denial. I know that being overweight is suboptimal for my physical health. What changed along the way was my relationship to myself and my relationship with my body was a huge part of that. In my memoir, Bloodlines, I dive deeply into these topics: weight, body image, self-esteem, appearance. My daughter developed an eating disorder for god sake. Food, nutrition, nurturance are central to the storyline.

suzy body

Someone to check out on Insta: @suzyreading.

Suzy just posted this quote the other day. She is a psychologist, mentor, speaker, and author of at least 2 books on self-care, both of which I own.

The pandemic took it’s toll on our health in myriad ways, including weight. I saw a statistic indicating 62% of Americans gained weight during quarantine. We need to cut ourselves some slack. Suzy is posting and talking about this very topic right now.

Does feeling happier mean I’m cured? That I never look in the mirror and focus on my droopy jawline or rounded cheeks? That I stare lovingly at my reflection telling it how much I love me? Of course not. I’m still an inculcated American female. But what I know, what I learned, for sure, is that my inside and outside worth, my value, isn’t dependent on the size of my body. I remind myself of this fact every, single, day. And I remind my daughter, too, on days she seems receptive to hearing it. I may have said the same thing when she was young. I hope I did. The difference now is that I believe it.

If LOVE is too tough a place to start in connection your body, which I totally get, try starting with kindness.

I want us to win awards, wear bathing suits, and do every damn thing we want to do without our first thought being, Do I look fat? Or ugly? It’s work that takes time. I know it does. But I know the work gets easier when we’re doing it together. When we are sure that we aren’t alone. You are not alone.

I wonder what will happen to our collective when we–heavy, thin or in between–inhabit the spaces we’re entitled to, most importantly our bodies.

6 Comments

  1. Thank you for introducing me to @ZibbyOwens. I appreciate your authenticity and YES! If love to too much of a leap, kindness and self-compassion lead us to real love. So excited for your memoir, Bloodlines!

  2. I feel your Instagram angst. I have been loath to establish an account because frankly, I don’t know what I can say that will incite people to want to follow me. If I’m writing a book or ghostwriting an article I have direction and inspiration and the words flow naturally. IG seems like online small talk to me, and I don’t have a clue what message random people would deem to be important or inspiring. But I am told repeatedly that I need IG as part of my author platform.

    1. I totally feel you, Kelly. I had fun posting my art doing all artsy stuff, but am struggling to figure out how to present the writing. And I for SURE feel the same way about Twitter. I don’t get it..at all.

  3. I wonder if the social media gods are more concerned with the younger crowd when it comes to certain platforms. Most if my friends are not on IG at all. I rarely am. Your book audience, Tracey, seems to be moms and daughters, women, and people interested in mental health and the journeys we travel to overcome difficult situations… ummmm, well, that’s a lot of people over various generations. So maybe it makes sense to be active on all social platforms. I don’t envy you in having to post across platforms, but I am absolutely willing to brainstorm some ideas about posts with you.

    And the body image thing. How I wish I could go back to not judging my body. That would take me back to about 11 years old, if not earlier, believe it or not. When I was in 6th grade, I had 2 friends that were sisters, both with flat stomachs. My stomach was just fine (through my adult lens) but it was never flat and hard. They had a pool at their house and we swam there often. Them in their bikinis and me in mine, but I’d wear a plain white t-shirt over mine, in and out of the water. That made me feel less uncomfortable. I was judging myself. And I thought they were judging me, too, but now I’m sure that was only in my head.

    1. I totally believe it, Sue. Right around 10 or 11 is exactly when we start judging our bodies and everything else. I don’t know what it is about that age, but it’s so common. I, too, wish I’d never started comparing and contrasting, but it seems unavoidable in our society. I think I’ve met 1 woman in my life who seemed never to fall into the abyss of it. I’m just glad we’re find out way back out! Thank you for this thoughtful comment.

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