living underground in the real world

August

Thanks for all the great comments on the post below, pals. Really fascinating stuff from all you really fascinating minds. I continue to struggle with The Question, but am feeling my way around to better answers. One point that really stuck with me that someone said below is that it’s difficult to convey to people that it’s just as offensive to comment on a skinny person’s body as it would be if the person was larger. Yup.

These days I’m trying to make the conversation go like this:

Woman (always): “Why are you so skinny, being surrounded by all these chocolates??!! Do you ever EAT ANY? Is it TORTURE? YOU MUST HAVE SUCH AMAZING SELF-ESTEEM!”

Me, with a nice smile, eyes that strive to convey disappointment in the question itself, and polite and professional demeanor: “Ah, you know, all bodies are different. Now, which chocolates did you want in that assorted box?”

I’m not totally happy with it, but I’m happier with it than I am with “I never sit down” or “genetics,” both of which seem somehow, to me, to contribute to the very problem that makes me so crazy.

 

Anyway, let’s talk again soon around these parts, OK? How’s mid-September look for you?

I’m taking this week to force myself to set up better accounting practices–after using an Excel spreadsheet for my finances for years, I’m switching to something better. I tried Quickbooks and instantly hated it and don’t feel it’s right for my biz. What I want is a very very very simple accounting program that will provide me with lots of pretty color-coded charts and will only make me enter my incoming costs and my outgoing expenses. SIMPLE! None of this fancy crap with synching your bank account and invoices and fancy tax language and ahhhh shut the fuck up already, Quickbooks!

I’m thinking mint.com. Have any of you used it? Do you have other ideas? Is Quickbooks really as time-consuming and awful as the two hours I spent wrestling with it made it seem?

So then next week will be Chocolate of the Month week (spoiler alert: I’m working on something with eggplant!), then the week after that I’m going to be forcing myself to do serious publicity efforts like press releases and whatnot to drum up some Autumnal business for the shop.

I like the business level of the shop (=not overly crazy, thus allowing me to live a somewhat normal life!), but I suspect (and am counting on the new accounting program to confirm or, happily, tell me it ain’t so) that it needs to be busier in order to for me to pay down some bills faster and whatnot.

Overall though, things are pretty damn wonderful in my world and I adore the shop and my heart still pounds when I unlock the door every morning.

I also like this funny role I’ve fallen into of educating people about good food and chocolates and forcing them to pay more and think more about their food. I like taking the grubby packages of wild-foraged tea from Jason and repacking them in fancy bags and reselling them to hipsters. The tea is really great, too!

So let’s talk again when these few weeks of buckle-down work have calmed down.

 

20 Responses to “August”

  1. JenMcCleary

    Ugh, accounting. I’m still using Excel too because it’s simple and it works. List of income, list of expenses, that’s that. I use TurboTax to do my taxes and I think there was a link after I submitted my taxes to try Quickbooks. So I messed around with it for an hour or so but just didn’t get it. It seemed too complicated and I forget what exactly it was but there was something super basic that I couldn’t figure out how to do. I’ll be interested to see if anyone recommends something good…

    Reply
    • lagusta

      I’m glad I’m not the only one! The super basic thing I couldn’t figure out how to make it do is: work for my biz!!

      Reply
  2. adriennefriend

    The “it’s just as offensive…” position is giving me pause because of the fact of thin privilege. Not just because it exists, but because I’ve been on the receiving end. People treat me very differently depending on whether I happen to be in a thin body or a large body. I still know I am capable of the same things, but different sets of assumptions, limitations, and expectations get placed on me by others, that I then have to work to shake off.

    For example, when I was in a thin body (150-160lbs, 5’9), and I starved myself with exercise bulimia, I partied all night with Atlanta’s grungy glamorous, wearing pretty little clothes (always from thrift & vintage stores, a thin(ner) person’s dream!). When I hosted dinner parties for 16 or ran 13miles I was seen as strong, powerful, assertive, and aspirational. I was sometimes miserable on the inside and almost never liked what I saw in the mirror, but my body was undeniably more socially-acceptable and appealing to more people.

    When I’m a bigger body (220lbs, still 5’9), eating what I want and exercise how I please (or not!), clothes don’t matter as much because I can’t find them as easily, so I de-prioritize them. Not only do I not party til four, but I’m barely in contact with the people who do, who are, if I’m being honest here, are all thin. Instead, I’m the kind, nurturing, welcoming friend who hosts dinner parties for sixteen and goes to the gym because that’s what fat happy people do – they make and share food and then they hop on the wheel to get some of it off. The flipside of the perception that you can’t be a thin chocolatier is that it’s acceptable for me to be a fat cook because I’m a cook. But I no longer have “tiny” friends to go thrifting with – I just make cupcakes for them.

    Sigh. This post was and is about you and about the daily struggles you face with the projections of others. I know it must be hard and like the other commenter, I’m so glad you’re a positive force. I’m also certain that you’re well-aware of the fat-liberation, Health-At-Any-Size position, but I thought I’d share my thoughts anyway! It’s also important for me to be honest and positive because I often find myself missing the way I used to be treated and the things I had access to, shallow as that sounds. I really do love my body the way it is now – I just don’t love noticing how differently I’m treated.

    Reply
    • lagusta

      THANKS FOR THIS!
      Oh man, my caps lock was on (why does this constantly happen to me? I think my keyboard is trying to convey emotion when I’m trying to suppress it).

      Yes yes yes!
      Yeah, the “fat-liberation, Health-At-Any-Size” is *exactly* what I want to allude to when I want to tell scream at my customers that IT DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER if I’m skinny or not. As I said in my earlier post, I’ve been an unhealthy eater (birth-college) and a healthy eater (college-now), and my body as always looked the same (well, not since birth, you get what I mean) and it’s that sense of randomness I want to convey to people. Bodies are so fucking random!

      Also…and this is something else distressing: even though we get many wonderful women in the shop who delightfully and unguiltily (from what I can tell, at least) treat themselves to treats, I do see some unhealthy behavior toward eating/borderline eating disordered behavior happening now and then, and boy oh boy is that depressing. I’m thinking of making some sort of flier I could have out about the Lagusta’s Luscious position on food–like, that food is good. That we want to make *nourishing* chocolate, not *decadent* chocolate, with the negative connotations of that word or whatever. That we want to feed people, not just “treat” them. I don’t know, I’d work on it a bit more. But maybe in there somewhere I could work in a few lines about (usually) women and their relationship to food and how we want to change it through good chocolates that people don’t have to feel guilty about.

      But: yes. Skinny privilege. Yep. You’re right, then, that it’s not really exactly the same when someone comments on my body, because of that. They’re pointing out this weird kind of unasked-for privilege I have, and it makes me feel all gross and squirmy inside. It’s like they think I know something, when all I know is the randomness that they know too, they just don’t want to believe it. It’s like they want me to fill them in on something.

      Reply
      • lagusta

        listen you: HOW WERE THE PAINS AU CHOCOLAT? I’m dying to know!

  3. Meghan

    I used Quickbooks when I ran a startup alt-newsweekly, and while it was outrageously useful, I will confirm that it is a seriously labor-intensive product. We had a super awesome accountant who liked to do taxes cheap for artist-types, so we turned over our books to him, but it made the prep a million times easier since a digital file beats sifting through a shopping bag of receipts any day. (We were not born business people, you might have guessed…in retrospect I needed the structure of QB to keep me in line.) That’s the long way of saying your instincts are right. There’s undoubtedly an accounting product that will suit you better.

    Reply
  4. Kayleigh

    Hey again! I worked in a chocolate shop for 2 1/2 years! I am 5 2″ and weigh 7 stone ( I’m not sure what that is in pounds, but i’m tiny) I am vegan and eat lots of salads and grains, I don’t like consuming processed fake ‘meats’ but eat my home made cakes and am a chocoholic. (Out of interest can you ship to the uk?) However I have always been around this weight even when I was a vegetarian and eating mountains of chocolate samples a day! When I worked in the choc shop my fellow workers and I would get asked the classic line ‘how do you stay so thin?’ ‘Don’t you eat the chocolate’? To which we would smile and say ‘that’s why our uniforms are black to hide everything’ or my favourite ‘yeah but I only eat chocolate and nothing else’ or ‘yep I eat loads’ to which the customer would give me jealous glances. I also worked in a clothes shop for larger ladies, God knows how I got the job, it was awful and I had to buy my uniform from the shop at a slightly discounted rate. I’m a size 6 to 8 and their clothing started at a size 10 up. I had to turn everything up and ended up with a selection of clothing that I wanted to burn when I finally quit. The customers there used to be rude about my size, one even patted my stomach while saying I didn’t understand how to hide her stomach with a certain style of dress, because I didn’t have one! Even my boss would alienate me by always mentioning my size and how short I was. I would’nt dare tell someone they were overweight so why should they comment on my skinnyness? Grrrrrrr! x

    Reply
  5. Marta

    I’ve used mint for my personal finances, and I like it. I like the convenience of having everything update from my synched accounts and the various charts and tools that are offered but not shoved down your throat (you don’t have to look at them if you don’t need them). You business finances are probably more complicated, but I imagine it’s still just as easy or at least easier than the other alternatives to keep track of your stuff.

    I was really moved by your previous post and also the responses to it. I have so many thoughts on the topic, it’s hard to string them together, though many of them were echoed by other commenters. One thing that has resonated with me is that we all have different ideals that we value in bodies, and sadly, they are often not in line with what we have. Yes, the two prevailing ideals for women are waifishly thin bodies or voluptuous sex bomb bodies, but I think we generally focus on specific attributes that we envy. I am pear shaped and personally found myself envious of the bodies of wispy model-like girls when I was younger. It was a revelation to me when these thin girls who I was envious of would say that they wished they had hips like I had, or that they had more defined arms like mine as opposed to their more delicate limbs. I almost couldn’t believe that they would give away the narrow limbs and hips that I was jealous of, in favor of something like the parts of my body I so desperately wanted to slim down at that time. My body image was so toxic during adolescence that I actually initially thought this might be some cruel, sly skinny girls’ joke, a sinister ploy to feign modesty while drawing attention to their perfect physiques while mocking my flawed one. Fucked up and delusional, yes, but sadly true. But I eventually realized that we all undervalue what we have. This applies to so many physical qualities. I will admit that I sometimes still wish I had slimmer leaner legs, but realizing that what I have is no less inherantly lovely than what others have has made me much happier with my self image. Ideals vary per person, per time, per culture, and it’s best to own what you have, and the confidence of that decision will make you that much more attractive. I’m starting to sound like I’m writing a self-help book, but I do think the confidence is relevant. Despite being pear-shaped, I am a fairly thin girl and get comments on it as well, always with the implication that thinner is better. These comments make me sad because they remind me of the way I felt when I was younger, and even more so because they often come from older women and it pains me that they still have not found a positive self image despite being older than me.

    I know you mentioned a few things in your previous post that you had wished for, but that you accepted not having, like more arm muscles. I wonder if one way to answer the question that might provoke thought without getting too deep into the issues would be to draw attention to one of these body envies in a light-hearted, but non-self-loathing way. The goal of this is for the question asker to have the same light bulb moment I had as a young girl: “Oh, this person whose body I am idealizing has their own different ideal of beauty that isn’t quite what they have, in the same way that I undervalue my own assets, which others may find beautiful.” So, maybe you would say something like: “The funny thing about bodies is that they often defy our logic: you would think whisking chocolate every day and having such hands on work would build up my arm muscles, but these puny arms are what I’ve got despite that. You just have to work with what you’ve got.” My apologies for using a word like puny which has a negative connotation. Again, in my mind, thin arms are delicate and lovely, but it’s all about presenting a different perspective to show the complexity of our interpretations on this subject.

    I’m not completely satisfied with that answer, and I think it’s difficult to find one that is completely appropriate for the situation, but that’s my take for now, and maybe it’ll ignite a new idea for someone else in this dialogue.

    Reply
  6. Randal Putnam

    Lacey here. I have had to face the skinny question so many times over the years. Nothing helps. Many women get mad at skinny women for just being skinny. They don’t want to hear my answer, which is that I was a skinny kid, but I have always tried to watch what I eat and exercise. They want to believe that I was born this way and I can eat anything I want. They don’t want to hear that I put in some effort to stay slim because that means that they might have to put in some work to be thinner if they want. They also assume that any suggestions I have for how they might lose weight are meaningless because they have tried everything and I can’t possibly know what it is like for them. I then throw in the two stories of when I did put on some weight (college, year after marriage). How I didn’t realize it was happening, and when I did, I started watching what I was eating and exercising, so I lost the weight. It just makes much to much sense.
    People want to believe the myths around skinny girls so they can hate us for being skinny and not have to imagine that they might possible be able to control their weight without getting an operation or going on some insane diet.
    So, when someone tells me how skinny or “fragile” I look, I just smile and then I flex my little arm muscle for them and say that I think I am pretty ripped.

    Reply
  7. lagusta

    Lacey, honestly, I think your comment shows a blinding lack of awareness of the advantages us skinny people have in our society. We’re handed an awful lot of privilege, for no good reason.

    Also, as I tried to say in my post, bodies are bodies. The idea of you, as a (pretty much) naturally thin person lecturing to larger people on how they could look like you (admittedly: gorgeous!) if they just followed your example makes me really sad. What we need to work on, I think, is less lecturing and more acceptance of size diversity. Less hating on other women and more understanding of the INTENSE pressures larger women face. The patriarchy’s the problem, not individual women, who have been trained through our insane media culture from the day they were born to hate thinner women.

    I’m not trying to be a downer or mean or anything, but honestly, your comment bummed me out. Can we still be friends? I still love you!

    Reply
  8. Marta

    I know I already wrote a novel on the subject, but I just remembered this eye-opening ad from the Great Depression I found a while ago. It really speaks to how transient beauty ideals are, and you can’t help but be amused by the absurdity of the change compared to our current circumstances.

    Reply
      • lagusta

        Hilarious ad, and yeah, I keep thinking about that too–that these days cheap, processed, and unhealthy food is so prevalent that people with more money are the only ones who can afford healthy food/gyms/etc and so thinness is the thing. How quickly the fads will change if/when the end of oil arrives and food is seriously scarce.

        (This hurricane thing is making me think about serious stuff…)

  9. Randal Putnam

    Lagusta, did not mean to bum you out at all. I would love for women to accept themselves and their bodies without any reservations. That is the ultimate goal. I think I have worked over the years with so many women who are unhappy with their bodies, who I have tried the help see that they are beautiful just as they are, that I am a bit jaded. I feel like if they are so unhappy, maybe I can give them some advice that has worked to help me. However, I am the last person they want to listen to. Frustrating, more than anything else.
    So many of the teenage girls that I counsel have the lowest self esteem and hate everything about how they look. They think that if they were skinny, life would be perfect. They go on fad diets and starve themselves, but still feel like crap. I also try to give them some real advice, if they want, to try and lose some weight. I stress also that they are lovely young women and they should be proud of themselves.
    Unfortunately, a lot of these girls are really overweight, but also very unhealthy. They eat crappy food every day. They scare me because of how unhealthy they are. No one has ever taught them how to eat well or care about what they put into their bodies. All they knew was either junk food or drugs. They don’t want to use drugs anymore to stay thin, so isn’t it somewhat of our responsibility to teach these girls how to be healthy? Not skinny, but simply healthy. To me, healthy includes thinking about what you eat and how you treat your body.

    Any better? I still love you. This is hard for me to write about- too much that I want to write and not enough time to do it. I guess, my personal experience includes a terrible eating disorder when I was in college, so this just hits very close to home. I worked so hard to get well- I can’t even describe the hell I went through. I know it skews my perspective a great deal.

    With that, it is time for dinner and Randy. Best time of the day.

    Lacey

    Reply
    • atsugal

      Thanks for sharing more, my friend. I definitely understand your perspective a lot more.

      Reply

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