I'll make this as easy for you all as possible. Do you want the short version or the long version?
The deal is that it's a fundraiser for a friend's medical expenses.
The fund is called Body Love, but not many people have really heard of it, since it's just the name I made up for my organizing efforts (based off the name of one of the benefit concerts I produced). What happened is that a friend of mine was literally dying from a severe eating disorder and a group of us decided to get her malnourished butt to treatment. We told her to just go and we'd figure the rest out later. We wanted there to be a later. Her health insurance covered most of the bill (and that was damn good insurance"”I have a friend whose daughter spent almost a year in eating disorder treatment. They took out a second mortgage to finance it.), but the remaining amount was $8000. Me and one other friend put that eight grand on two credit cards and set out to fundraise. Of course, that was three years ago and the fundraising efforts lost steam for a while (oh, the joys of grad school"”it's amazing that I found time to floss my teeth), but now I've graduated (can I get an amen!?) and have picked back up the Body Love endeavor.
Oh, we've done many things to raise money: that spoken word and hip-hop benefit show; asking friends to postdate monthly donation checks; garage sale after garage sale after garage sale; zumba classes; and my personal favorite, which I am doing this very weekend: selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts at Lakefair, the annual carnival in Olympia. Like the irony of selling doughnuts to pay for an eating disorder treatment? I do. In fact, originally it was my sickly friend's idea. The photo of that cute girl eating a doughnut is one of the doughnut-eating donors, or "dough-ners," as I like to think of them.
At this point I am sure you are saying, "Hmmm, that's sure swell of those kids to help out their friend like that." And yes, we are swell, thank you. But for me this project has taken on different meanings, with overlapping issues that span far and wide. For example, how many of you know someone who is a woman? Any woman. Just pick one. I don't want to be presumptuous, but I'll take an educated guess that, at some point in her life, she has struggled somehow, in some way, with loving her body due to impossible societal standards of beauty. She wasn't born thinking that her thighs were too fat or believing that she was deeply, deeply flawed in a zillion different, microscopic ways. Maybe this female friend/mother/sister/wife/girlfriend/grocery clerk/pop star/congresswoman of yours has had a full-blown eating disorder, like my friend. Or maybe like me, she quietly starved herself from age ten to seventeen, eating just enough to subsist, but not enough to thrive or to fuel my body or to feed my brain the vital nutrients it needed (sometimes I wonder how this self-imposed denial has affected me long-term, as in, I'm sure I would have totally been an Ivy-league, Merit scholar, MENSA, chess champion, NASA spokesperson had I not felt the need to bike myself to the drugstore and buy diet pills"”AKA, legal speed"”when I was eleven. We'll just never know!).
Do you know how many women I've met who've never felt uncomfortable in their body? Exactly two. I remember these two conversations almost word for word because I could absolutely not comprehend a world where a woman would be unaffected by poor self-image. In these conversations with these women (who, incidentally, were both reed-thin, although I know that for many women, even very slim ones who wear a size 4, there is no such thing as skinny enough), I gasped. I asked them how it was possible. I marveled and blinked. I thought them liars.
This is just some of my personal story and does not even begin to speak to the experience of men, male-bodied people, and trangender folk, who, as I am quite aware, also suffer deeply from this issue.
Alright, for those of you have never felt insecure in your body, or for those of you that need more convincing, here's another reason why I'm passionate about raising money for this cause, and I touched on it briefly before"”THE HEALTH INSURANCE CRISIS IN THIS COUNTRY, which, if you ask me, is part of a longstanding crime against human rights. I'm not being dramatic. I think that in the future, humans will look back at this period in our history and wonder how the hell this went on for so long. But I won't go on about this right now. If you want me to know more about my political stance on the socio-economic ramifications of this dilapidated tin-shack of a healthcare system and why I think health insurance CEOs should be tied up and dangled by their toes for a considerable amount of time, see me after class.
I'll shut up, soon, and if you are still reading this, thank you. Thank you for taking time out of your day to consider all of this stuff and to listen to my story. Judging by the fact that you are reading this, I'd say that you are a kind person who cares deeply about other people, and I'd venture out as far as to say that just by reading this, even if you don't end up donating a single cent to this cause, that you have helped support my friend. Thank you.
The reason I agreed to do this was because I believe deeply in community (and here, allow me to stand atop my soapbox). I envision a world where friends help each other out like only someone's parent might. And you know what? After me and a group of many, many other people have pulled together $6000 thus far, I know that my vision is a reality. For those of you who have already donated your time and money to this cause, thank you. If you're sick of me heckling you for dollars, let me know and I'll never send you another request about this again. You can also block me from your email contacts or un-friend me on facebook"”I'm just putting out all the options. (It might sting at first, but I'd get over the rejection eventually.)
The good news is that my friend is alive and doing well. She's no longer in danger of dying, and in fact, she's hardy and strong and out and about in the world doing amazing things and touching other people's lives through her own efforts to build community and work toward social justice. She's a brilliant, powerful leader and I can't wait to see all the nifty stuff she does in her lifetime. I'm glad that we all get to.
I'm hoping to make this whole incredible experience into a full-length memoir.
Donate and I'll thank you in the credits! Donate and I'll forever call you Deep Pockets So-and-So in a jocular, punch 'ya-in- the-arm-when-I-see-you-kind-of-way. Donate and I'll get Diane Sawyer to actually handle your copy of the book when I'm invited to appear on ABC World News. I Promise.
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