Sam’s worries about dieting and eating disorders: The early years!

Occasionally I realize how long I’ve been thinking about size and body image. Here’s something a friend just found for me in a digital archive. It’s a piece I wrote in the mid-80s about dieting and eating disorders. Hard to read but the first line is about spring when young men’s hearts turn to love and young women’s hearts turn to dieting. Sadly what’s changed is that men diet now too. That’s not the kind of equality I was hoping for. Also, I wasn’t thinking then about body acceptance for all sizes. Thin women can be happy too–obviously. There’s no need to say Goodbye Twiggie. She’s welcome to the body positive blog celebration too.

I don’t recall the exact reason but I remember as a graduate student starting my writing CV afresh. I didn’t include any of the paid writing I’d done as an undergraduate on my official record. It was all publicly accessible and written for a general audience and I think I worried it was too journalistic and not professional/philosophical enough. That might be true but I like that my topics of interest and core values haven’t really changed. And now I’m doing more public writing again, I’d like some of that older stuff on my CV again.

I’m still looking for a magazine piece I wrote for a Canadian feminist magazine on the feminist potential of Harlequin Romances. It was an interview with a professor about her research. But no clue which magazine or how to find it. I also wrote a book review about the book Emily Murphy: Rebel. Again, it was for a book review magazine that gave you the book and paid you to write a review. Money for writing was how I started out.

I’m still trying to track this stuff down but I thought blog readers would appreciate how long I’ve been writing and fatness and feminism.

fitness · rest · sleep

No sleep for the homeless and fancy sleep for the rich? A quick update on luxury sleep

Recently (okay, yesterday) I blogged about the weirdness of high end, Manhattan napping classes. Luxurious guided naps for $22/hour in a fitness class context.

When I shared the story to Facebook, a friend reminded me of the drastic measures taken to stop homeless people from napping in public via hostile architrecture.

Here’s an example.

Metro stop bench is tilted so attempting to lay down ends up with you sliding off. From–GKl8gViv03YjplUn-PPaemCZnq1mmGikDgi0MoqLc

I remember one time my partner Jeff tried unsuccessfully to spend the night in a park in Florida but was woken when sprinklers came on. They weren’t needed for watering. Their purpose just was keeping people from making the park their overnight home.

So for the rich there’s the privatization and commodification of sleep and for the poor, there’s the policing and forbidding of sleeping.

More than ever we need the Nap Ministry.


Leg brace and leggings that fit

I’ve written before about my struggle to buy winter stuff. It’s frustrating beyond belief. I now have a winter coat. Thanks for your patience Mallory and Sarah. But leggings that fit, that stay up, continue to elude me.

It’s partly because winter came fast. Daytime highs were 15, 17, 13 one week and then 2, 3 and 5 the next. Now there’s a snowfall advisory and a low of-13. It all felt awfully fast. When I’m leaving for work now it’s freezing. It’s partly because I’m too busy to shop (and I hate shopping.)

Oh, and I’m fussy. The cold ankle pant trend isn’t me. I want my leggings to reach my socks and my shoes. What is with the 7/8 length trend?

I also need to wear leggings because of my knee brace. Pants don’t work. Tights don’t work. It has to be leggings pretty much everyday. I dislike pants so much that it’s connected to my struggle to really bond with winter. Even my beloved (and pricey) Canadian made yoga jeans (see In praise of yoga jeans) no longer come in any leg width other than “skinny.” I’d love fashion wise to wear knee high boots and dresses and skirts but my calves are enormous. See Finding clothes that fit athletic women’s bodies. And then there’s knee brace It isn’t easy!

Back to leggings: My fave are Lululemon–yes, I know they’re evil–high waist Align. In black. (Thanks Ann for the recommendation.) They’re soft and dressy enough to wear to work. I’d prefer a company which manufactured their leggings in North America but failing that I want these in size 12 or 14. That’s what I was trying to order above.

You’d think given that size 12 and 14 are pretty popular sizes that they’d be more easily available. I try not to feel judged by the “sold out online” thing. Gap and Old Navy are a bit easier to find but they don’t last as long as they aren’t as work suitable. I worry about the carbon footprint of clothes so I hate buying stuff that wears out within a year.

There’s lots to juggle here. I hate whining. I just want long lasting leggings that fit. Preferably ethically made. Is that too much to ask?

fitness · sleep

High end luxury fancy sleep

Sleep is getting strange. From the never sleep crowd to the sleep as personal revolution set, there’s a lot of talk these days about sleep. It even made the program of the Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy conference we recently hosted at Guelph as the topic of one of the papers presented.

Feminist philosopher Cressida Heyes describes her feminist sleep project this way, “In 2017 I won a SSHRC Insight Grant for my new project, Sleep is the New Sex. Put simply, I hope to write the first feminist philosophy of sleep. This work continues Anaesthetics of Existence in its focus on liminal states of consciousness and their political consequences, but has a more obviously thematic focus and will be written in a more popular voice.”

Fascinating, right?

We blog about sleep a lot here too. I’ve got lots to say about sleep but the thing that weirds me out the the most is upscale sleep, expensive sleep, sleep with a price tag attached. Fancy sleep.

I’ll get to that in a minute.

Let’s note first that sleep tracks social privilege. For example, black Americans get a lot less sleep than white Americans. In fact, the difference in sleep quantity between the two groups may be enough to explain the difference in life expectancy between the two groups.

“The racial inequalities in the US are stark, but none are more damaging than the health gap between blacks and whites. On average, blacks die at a significantly younger age than whites.”

Here is a recent report on sleep differences between black and white Americans, Nobody Sleeps Better Than White People, Says Study. And here’s my response in a past blog post: Sleep and social privilege, or why rich white people like me should stop whining about how tired we all are

That important detail out of the way here’s three recent updates from the world of commodified sleep.

First, forget standing desks, napping desks are the next big thing.

Napping desk

Second, Toronto just got its first napping studio. The first adult nap room I encountered was for undergraduate students at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I was a new grad student and I knew that lots of the students, commuters all, led busy lives, taking classes and working, often in shifts that didn’t easily line up. I was happy to see that there was a nap room where you could sign in, nap, and be woken up when you needed to work or go to class. Now they even have nap pods.

Napping studio

Third, I just came back from a weekend in New York. While waiting for a friend, I spied this place, Inscape, a meditation studio in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan that offers “deep rest” classes. You can read more about them here.

Here’s a photo of people in the “deep rest” class.

See also Sleep is the new status symbol.

I can’t imagine paying for napping classes. Spin classes, yes. Yoga, yes. Napping, no. Why does the latter strike me as incredibly privileged and so rich and wasteful while the former options do not? Would you take pricey nap classes?

I much prefer the activist, anti-consumerist approach of the Nap Ministry‘s public nap-ins. or collective nap experiences. “The 2nd Thursday of every month we will be at one of our favorite spaces with a FREE Pop-Up Rest Event. It is a perfect opportunity to experience our programming, meet the Nap Bishop, have a cup of tea, and curl up and rest with cozy yoga mats, pillows and blankets. You can drop in to catch a restorative cat nap or stay for a longer rest. We look forward to seeing you.” Their website includes advice for good places for public napping.

from . A Nap Ministry Collective Napping Experience.

Thinking Positively about Winter

Black words on white square against black and white photo of snowy trees, “If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow.”

I don’t know about what is like where you live but here in Southern Ontario there’s snow. I did my first sub-zero day of bike commuting. I was shocked to see that even the midday highs went above zero and the snow wasn’t going away.

It was a quick trip from warm autumn weather with highs in the high teens to full on serious winter. I’m struggling to find the things I need. Where are my winter cycling gloves? Where’s my puffy winter coat? Etc etc.

And lots of my friends are struggling to adjust. “Too soon,” they’re saying.

Canadians struggle with our long winters. People are sharing stories of the children and pets excitement at the first snow but confessing that they view it with dread, a thing to be endured not enjoyed.

I shared this story on the Norwegian secret to enjoying a long winter. Here’s another How people stay happy in this Norwegian town where the sun doesn’t rise. I also shared some of our older posts: Making peace with winter and Riding on the cold and the snow.

I’m looking forward to snow tubing with my kids over the holidays. I’m thinking I might go skating outdoors too. I’m definitely excited about fat biking. On the whole, my “winter dread” meter is running pretty low.

I’ll see you out there playing in the snow! How are you coping? Are you ready for snow and cold?

Snowy trees on Sam’s street
Sam’s house with bonus snow
cycling · feminism · fitness

Bikes, feminism, and moral panic

Image description: Black and white vintage photo. Roadside shot. Sign reads “Cyclists are advised to dismount.” Two bikes leaning against the sign. Two cyclists are hugging and smooching in the grass.”

Monday, November 4 – Dr. Samantha Brennan, Dean of the College of Arts, University of Guelph Bad Girls, Bikes, and the Women’s Liberation Movement It’s often said that women rode to freedom on the bicycle. Providing women with both a way to get around independently in the world and freeing them from restrictive garments that made movement close to impossible, cycling was pivotal in the early feminist movement. Avid cyclist and feminist Samantha Brennan will explore the historical connection between women, bicycles, and feminism.

This week I gave a talk in the ARCHAEOLOGY – HISTORY LECTURE SERIES held at the Upper Grand District School Board here in Guelph. We had a packed house and I got lots of great questions.

Here’s a slew of past posts on women, feminism, and bicycles that my talk drew on.

Some history of women and bikes

Is your bicycle making you gay?

Bicycles: Making good women go bad since the 1800s

Bike seats, speed, and sexual depravity

Riding this summer? Beware of bicycle face!

Global issues

Give the girl a bike!

Will bike riding in Saudi Arabia change the way women dress? 

Wadja: A girl, her bike, and her dreams

The Modern Day

Do Cupcake Rides and Heels on Wheels help or hurt the cause of women’s cycling?

Bike races and podium girls: Time to kiss goodbye?

Do drivers pass closer to men or to women?

Girls and bikes together again?

Mixed feelings about high fashion cycling gear

Bikes for ladies? What year is this again?


Four Fit Feminist bloggers run races!

Seems it’s the thing to do in the fall. In October and November we have four race reports. (OK, five race reports on four races.)

Here they all are together in one place!

Mina Runs the Paris 20k

Jennifer: Couch to 21.1 km (Guest post)

Bettina doesn’t run a half marathon, part 1: imperfect training and disappointment and Bettina doesn’t run a half marathon, part 2: “downgrade” race report

Nicole: Sweaty, Sore and Slow

Image description: people wearing bright coloured clothing running on a street. Photo by Mārtiņš Zemlickis on Unsplash