Monday, January 21, 2013

Owning Normal

I want to share this great quote from Jennifer Rowe at Fat and Not Afraid:
"Today however, I want to say no to a bunch of things, specifically the Shoulds. You should lose pounds/inches, be quieter, be nice(r), stop taking up so much room, not wear that, not eat that, suck it in, suck it up, smile, fit in, get over it.
 No, I will not. No to all of that. A deep inner voice wants to climb to the top of the closest mountain, and out here I have my pick, and scream NO at the top of my lungs. NO."
 -Jennifer Rowe, Fat and Not Afraid

The "Shoulds" are destructive.  They are part of a huge societal effort to maintain the status quo using a tool named "normative statements."  They are saying, "hey, you're deviating."  But in reality, the "norm" being advanced is rarely actually a norm; it is often an individual person advancing the idea that in order to be okay, everyone else needs to be like them.  They are "normal" (regardless of how close to average or the majority they are) and if people are allowed to be "abnormal" (relative to them), then it suggests they might actually be abnormal.  Of course behind every normative statement is the assumption that abnormal is a bad thing. 

In other words, if someone is using the word "should," it is often entirely about their own fears.  They are trying to fit in by forcing others to be like them.  They are afraid that if you stand out, it will somehow invalidate them and their efforts to fit in.  They are afraid that if everybody else doesn't want to be normal, they will lose the meaning normality holds for them.  If they base their life and values on what they consider normal, it is vitally important to them that normal exists outside themselves.  

The good news is that this is entirely about them.  Good boundaries show that nothing in their motivation or words has any actual consequence for you.  You can empathize with their fear, but you don't need to take responsibility for it.  

Never own other people's norms. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Interview Clothing Needed!

Lost-n-Found Youth needs your clothes!  Specifically business clothes appropriate for interviews for entry level jobs. 

Lost-n-Found Youth is one of only a handful of organizations in the country focusing on homeless LGBTQ youth ages 18-25.  While approximately 10% of the general population identifies as LGTB, they represent 40% of the homeless population.  Many large shelters will not accept LGBTQ youth, or prove to be unsafe for them due to bullying, coersion, or sexual violence. 

Lost n-Found Youth runs a 6 bed home in Atlanta, along with a 24/7 staffed emergency hotline for LGBTQ homeless youth.  They work tirelessly to get young LGTB people under roofs and help them learn essential life skills to support themselves.  One of the primary goals of the program is to get the youth employed so that they can afford their own place to live.  Considering the many obstacles they face to employment, it is vitally important that they get off on the right foot at an interview by looking neat and professional. 

Lost-n-Found Youth receives so many donations of casual clothing that they don't actually have room for any more and are redirecting donations elsewhere.  Meanwhile, they have a critical shortage of interview-appropriate outfits, especially for women, and including plus-sizes.  The youth in the program go job hunting every day, but need the following women's clothing to be successful:   

dress shirts/blouses/light sweaters
dress shoes (comfortable for walking)
dressy jackets and suit coats
Nylons/pantyhose (new in package)

Larger shoe sizes would be particularly useful (women's 10+)

While their biggest need right now is for women's clothes, they could still use interview-appropriate clothing for men, including:

Dress shirts
Dress socks
suit jackets/blazers
neckties in simple, modern styles

If you're cleaning out your wardrobe and getting rid of anything that a young person could wear to a basic minimum-wage job interview (i.e. those "boring" pencil skirts and blouses you've replaced with something more stylish, or those "other sizes" you'll never wear again) now's your chance to clean out the closet.

If you're willing to ship them to Atlanta, GA please contact me at @ for arrangements.  Lost-n-Found Youth is a registered 501(c)(3) and can provide a receipt for your tax records if you need one.

 All sizes of interview-appropriate clothing are very welcome, and I can do basic mending on items that need it (i.e. seam repair, button replacement, shoe shining, etc.).