Thursday, June 30, 2011

For someone who used to have knee-length hair, I sure am obsessed with short hair

Or maybe it is because I looked like Cousin It from behind that now my automatic reaction is shorter! This is sad news for my mom, of course, who wailed "Why did you cut my hair?!?!?!" when I unveiled my nape-length hair back in 2009.

My hair grows really fast (thank you, Hawaiian genes!) and I've had periodic cuts--not trims--since then. Now that it's summer and wicked hot, I've been thinking of snipping off maybe 2 inches or so. Stylists don't really agree on my face shape--some say it's heart-shaped, while most say round. In my humble and unbiased opinion, I think my face is as round as a watermelon and punctuated with a pointy, mango-ey chin. Sort of in-between Reese Witherspoon's and Jay Leno's.

In between researching genocide/honour crimes, teaching English, and attempting to have a fun summer, I've been Googling "short hair, round face" to find inspiration cuts. Here are some of the cute ones:






I'm leaning toward the last two styles--Kristin Cavallari's and Kristin Kreuk's--or some sort of an in-between that would suit my face shape. I'm liking the reddish colour of the woman in the first pic, with maybe a few highlights and lowlights done baliage-style. But we'll see. It's a woman's prerogative to change her mind, after all!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Why I Fight for LGBT Rights

My da was a good man, but like any other living creature he was characterized by complexities and contradictions.He was fiercely homophobic. I never heard him use the F-word in reference to gay man, but he made his disdain for gays quite known. To him they were a disgrace and weak. He'd make that limp-wristed hand gesture whenever he'd pass by gays. I will never forget the time when my da went to the men's section of a popular salon to have a haircut, a shave, and a head massage. When he saw that the man who was going to be cutting his hair had highlighted hair and earrings, my da was livid: "I want a man to cut my hair, not you." The look on this human being's face...I still remember it to this day. But since in service industries "the customer is always right," this dignified man swallowed his pride and kindly said, "Yes, sir. Give me a minute." That was one of the days I began to understand how unfriendly and unforgiving the world can be those who are deemed "different" or "the other."

My grandmother, momma's mom, didn't discriminate against the LGBT community per se, but she did (and still does, I believe) subscribe to stereotypes that can be equally hurtful and harmful. For instance, when one of her neighbours, an ad executive, mentioned he was thinking of retiring early to open his own business, my grandmother helpfully suggested that he open a beauty salon. "You gays are very good at styling hair and doing make-up." I wasn't there when the conversation happened, but when my grandmother recounted the conversation to us, she was genuinely surprised and offended when her neighbour shot down her suggestion. "I'm not interested in opening a beauty salon," he said. Another instance that comes to mind was when she confided in us that she was worried my cousin was gay. "He ate his french fries with a fork and held the fork in an effeminate manner," was what she said.

My mom's eldest sister thinks HIV/AIDS is a gay problem and is quite proud and vocal with her belief that "a gay man probably had sex with a monkey, and that's how HIV/AIDS began." Her assumption that all gay men are libidinous  people with zero self-control who unleashed a deadly disease unto the world is both absurd and wrong, but unfortunately there are a lot of people in the world who share her views.

There were times when I wonder if, had I been born gay, lesbian, or transgender (Two Spirit, according to AmerIndian beliefs), my da or grandmother would've loved me. Or rather, loved me less. Am I loved because of who I am, as Leilani who happens to have all these different characteristics and quirks? If I had been gay, lesbian, or transgender, would that have diminished my worth as a human being? Did (and do) they believe that we, as people, are the sum of our gender identification and attributes? 

It's been years of brutal and honest reflection, but I realize that yes, they would've still loved me...but not in the same way. They were able to offer me "unconditional" love because that love hasn't been challenged by homosexuality and homophobia on personal levels. They would love me and guide me, and slowly steer me towards the "righteous" path as well. They would love me, and then want to change me. They would love me as a human being, yet not love my humanity. They'd love me, but not love my perceived "sins" or "abnormality." 

I will never be them. I choose to not be them, even if the same blood courses through our veins. I look at people and see humanity, not gender barriers or religious doctrine. I see worth, not otherness. I see pride, not shame.

Born that way or self-chosen, a woman is a woman and a man is a man. There's more to womanhood and manhood than estrogen and testosterone, a vagina and a penis,
More than that, they are human beings. Living creatures. 

Body parts are just that--parts. Although they are like chapters in a book, the complete story of a human body can never be summed up in a chapter or a body part. We are the sum of all our parts, experiences, life--plus more.

We are worthy. May we never let anyone take that away from us.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Quote of the Week

The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I have a dream that one day, all women will realize that their worth does not fluctuate along with their weight.

They're trained doctors whose parents are distinguished writers - yet for 20 years these identical twins have competed with each other in the most disturbing way imaginable

By Jill Foster
Last updated at 12:49 PM on 16th June 2011

Twins Maria and Katy Campbell were only 11 when they overheard a snippet of conversation between their parents which, they claim, was to change their lives for ever.

Maria recalls: ‘We were standing at the top of the stairs and heard our Dad remark: “Gosh, those girls are becoming young women, aren’t they? They’re getting hips.” ’

To most people, it’s the kind of harmless remark that an observant father might make about his pre-teen daughters. But for Maria and Katy, who are the identical daughters of distinguished writers, it triggered a sinister pact that would haunt the family for more than two decades.

‘We were incensed by Dad’s remark,’ says Katy, now 33 and, like her twin, a qualified doctor. ‘I remember screaming at him: “I’m never going to start my periods!”

‘We decided that day that if we stopped eating, we would lose our “hips”. I wanted to punish him and Mum — and I suppose that’s what we’ve both been doing ever since.’

Who can really tell what goes on in the muddled and duplicitous minds of anorexics? But the awful reality is that, thanks to their desire to ‘punish’ their parents, Maria and Katy have destroyed the past 20 years of their lives — and may never recover.

‘It’s like having a ball and chain around my ankle that I can’t throw off,’ says Maria. ‘I’m so consumed by what I’m eating, how many calories I’m burning, what I’ll weigh tomorrow and what I weigh today. It’s an obsession.’An obsession that could kill them both.

Even now, with preternaturally childish bodies and voices, the young women admit they struggle to make sense of what has happened to their lives.

To the utter despair of their parents — 58-year-old Christy and his wife Clare, 56 — the twins have spent most of their teenage and adult life in and out of various recovery clinics.

Today, the twins will be hospitalised again for several months — only this time, they say, they are determined to beat the disease.

‘It’s got to the point where Katy and I are absolutely sick of the situation,’ says Maria, who is 5ft 5in and weighs just under 6st.

‘I’ve lost everything due to this illness. I’ve lost my life, my house, my hair, my job, everything … and I’m absolutely sick of it.’

Katy, who is the same height but whose weight teeters dangerously under 5st, agrees. ‘I can’t walk any more. My back hurts, my heartbeat is irregular, I’ve got osteoporosis, chronic gastric pain and pancreatitis. I’m on diuretics because my kidneys don’t work.

‘The recovery clinic is the worst place possible, and I feel like I’ve been sentenced to Holloway Prison. I’ve got so much fear in my belly that I’ve stopped sleeping for the past two weeks.

‘But this is going to be the last time. I have to get better.’

In Britain, one in 100 women aged between 15 and 30 suffers from anorexia and it is most likely to strike in the mid-teens. 

The causes are unknown, but experts believe it could be a result of genetic predisposition and a chemical imbalance in the brain, as well as emotional and psychological issues.

The strange thing is that both women maintain that their childhood in a lovely detached family home in Wandsworth, South London, was idyllic.

‘We were very happy little children and got on brilliantly with Mum and Dad,’ says Katy. ‘Our brother Joe, now 14, came along after we’d left home. But while we were there, we had lots of friends and lots of fun.’

But as the girls approached puberty, they became introspective and depressed, and the transition from state primary to a private secondary school in Streatham, South London, proved problematic. The girls felt intimidated by the other girls and their teachers, who they felt looked down on them for coming from a state school.

‘At secondary school, at 11, we were all weighed in PE class,’ recalls Katy. ‘There was another set of identical twins who weighed less than us. They were prettier and popular, and Maria and I felt insecure.’

‘Katy and I also began to resent Mum because she was so slim,’ says Maria. ‘We looked up to her as a role model and felt we came up short.’

Katy continues: ‘At primary school, we’d had a friend who had lost a lot of weight. She was anorexic at nine, so we knew a little about the illness. 

‘For some reason, instead of feeling repulsed by the illness, it held a weird attraction for us — and when we saw those thinner twins, we wanted to be like them and our mother.

‘Maria started keeping a food diary and would jot down everything we ate, our weight and how much exercise we’d done. We started skipping breakfast and exercising fanatically, doing 50 lengths of the pool in the morning and gymnastics after school.

‘We weren’t vomiting, just exercising a lot, but we never even felt faint. In fact, when we were losing weight so quickly, we got an incredible adrenaline high that made us want to lose even more.’

This pact saw the girls’ weight drop by more than a stone in 12 months. 

 ‘We had a system where we’d starve ourselves for six days, only eating 400 calories precisely a day — ten pieces of pic ’n’ mix, an orange, a banana and a diet cola,’ says Katy. ‘Then, on the final day, we’d eat anything and everything we could get our hands on — bread, pasta, crisps, cakes.’

Maria adds: ‘At home, we would hide what was happening from Mum and Dad by putting our food behind radiators, in drawers, in our piano. Then, when we weren’t being watched, we’d simply throw it in the bin.

‘When we were 15, Mum noticed we were losing weight, but we brushed her off. She began to sit with us during supper — but one of us would distract her while the other put food up their sleeves.’

Katy says: ‘Mum’s admitted she feels guilty for not doing more to help us — but there was nothing she could have done. We were obsessed with being thin.
‘Now, of course, we both feel dreadful for all the suffering that we’ve put our family through. It’s just that this pernicious illness affects everything, and when you’re obsessed, you don’t care what other people think.’

By 16, the twins’ periods still hadn’t started. Maria says: ‘Even now, neither of us has ever had a period. Doctors said we had to put on weight if we were not going to damage our fertility — but it went in one ear and out the other.’

Despite the illness, both girls gained excellent grades at GCSE and A-level and were accepted into medical school at the Royal Free Hospital in London. 
‘Our parents never put any pressure on us to succeed academically, but I think the fact that Daddy had been to Oxford meant that, subconsciously, we felt that pressure anyway,’ says Katy.

Six months into the courses, their tutors realised something was wrong.
Maria explains: ‘We were having just one cup of coffee and a packet of chocolate buttons a day, and Katy had lost a lot of weight. So we were called in and told that she would have to go to hospital to recover. 

‘I remember one of the doctors saying they had noticed I had lost weight, too, but that my weight loss wasn’t quite as bad as Katy’s.

‘Rather than be relieved, I thought: “No one is going to say that Katy is better than me at something.” It was a trigger for me losing another 2st.’

Because of this deadly competitive streak, the girls were sent to different hospitals in London in the hope they would not be able to encourage each other’s weight loss.

‘We were force-fed 3,000 calories a day through tubes,’ says Maria. ‘We were not allowed any contact with each other, but we got around that by writing letters under pseudonyms and getting friends to pass them on. We also managed to get hold of mobile phones and hid them in cupboards.

‘It was the first time I had been apart from Katy and we were both in pieces. It’s hard enough being forced to eat, but I hated being without my sister.
‘I felt as though I was betraying her by eating. I worried that she wasn’t eating and was getting worse, but equally worried that she was eating and I was going to be left behind.

‘I vomited in secret and hid food from staff. After three months, when I discharged myself, I’d actually lost weight.’

Meanwhile, Katy had put on half a stone, but once out of the clinic, she reverted to her old eating habits.

Incredibly, they both graduated from medical school in 2009 and are now qualified doctors. 

While Katy has never had a job — a fact that she describes as ‘mortifying’ — Maria left her first job as a doctor in a care home after six months.

They now share a flat in Finchley, North London, and their parents support them — though it is clear from their sparse living arrangements that money is tight.
So what of their future? And of relationships with men?

‘Neither of us has ever had a boyfriend,’ says Maria. ‘The illness has always got in the way.

‘We’ve never had the opportunity to go out and meet men, let alone date them. It’s something that both Katy and I are very sad about.’

Katy adds: ‘I’d really like to have a baby, but I’ve no idea if it’s possible. Some doctors say it might be possible if I get to a healthy weight; others say I may have ruined my fertility.’

Her sister shares the same hope: ‘I want children. The doctors say that if I can get my BMI (body mass index) up to 20, then it may be possible — but I’m only at 12 at the moment.

‘I want a husband. I want fertility. I want my bones and my hair — and it’s not too late. I know people who are still ill with this horrible disease in their 50s, and I’m determined that will not be me. I am 100 per cent ready to change this time.’

One can only hope that this time they succeed.

Portrait of a Nerd in Transit*

*MBTA has Wi-Fi WOOT WOOT! Now nerdilicious chicks can do research blog instead of relax on the train ;o)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Quote of the Week


You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.

--On the Waterfront 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?" (Rumi)

Dearest Da,

I don't remember the sound of your voice anymore, but I've never forgotten your words: "Chin up, darlin'."

Aloha au ia 'oe.

Time, is going by, so much faster than I
And I'm starting to regret not spending all of here with you
Now I'm wondering why I've kept this bottled inside
So I'm starting to regret not selling all of it to you
So if I haven't yet, I've gotta let you know

You're never gonna be alone from this moment on
If you ever feel like letting go, I won't let you fall
You're never gonna be alone, I'll hold you 'til the hurt is gone

And now, as long as I can, I'm holding on with both hands
'Cause forever I believe
That there's nothing I could need but you
So if I haven't yet, I've gotta let you know

You're never gonna be alone from this moment on
If you ever feel like letting go, I won't let you fall
When all hope is gone, I know that you can carry on
We're gonna see the world out, I'll hold you 'til the hurt is gone

Oh, you've gotta live every single day
Like it's the only one, what if tomorrow never comes?
Don't let it slip away, could be our only one
You know it's only just begun, every single day
Maybe our only one, what if tomorrow never comes?
Tomorrow never comes

Time is going by so much faster than I
And I'm starting to regret not telling all of this to you

You're never gonna be alone from this moment on
If you ever feel like letting go, I won't let you fall
When all hope is gone, I know that you can carry on
We're gonna see the world out, I'll hold you 'til the hurt is gone

I'm gonna be there always
I won't be missing a word all day
I'm gonna be there always
I won't be missing a word all day

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Quote of the Week


The colonists are by the law of nature free born, as indeed all men are, white or black.

--Thomas Paine

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Quote of the Week


Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

--Mark Twain 

We must never permit the voice of humanity
within us to be silenced. It is Man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him a Man.

--Albert Schweitzer

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

--Viktor E. Frankl