Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Fat Mama Pig

I was always considered pretty, “for a chubby girl”. I didn’t really know what that meant. I knew I was happy and smart and popular. I excelled in school. I always had friends. Then when I was 6, everything changed.

I remember this day as clear as a bell.  I was at recess and near the merry-go round. As I approached a group of kids, one turned around to see why the laughter stopped and then he said, “There she is. Heeeey, Fat Mama Pig!” And the other kids burst into laughter. And, it was then that I realized some things. 1. They were laughing at me. 2. They were laughing at me because he called me Fat Mama Pig. 3. Being fat was not ok. 4. I was devastated.

The realization that fat wasn’t ok made me develop my comic chops. If I was going to be fat, I had to have an angle. Up until 10, my angle was that I was funny. My teachers loved me. My friends thought I was a riot. My parents couldn’t be more proud of me. And, I almost forgot that I was fat. Until someone would remind me.

By the time I was about 12, I’d emerged as quite the social butterfly. I was eloquent and articulate. My teachers chose me to do public speaking. At church, I was always the spokesperson for my age group. I realized that funny and great public speaking skills were phenomenal. Looking back, I wonder if these things would have naturally emerged or was it just a defense mechanism. When I read Alice Walkers, biography, that’s when I started asking myself this. In her biography, her injury caused her to retreat. My humiliation caused me to seek out other areas of validation when pretty had a qualifier.

In high school, I was the still the girl with the ‘pretty face’. I had tons of male friends and a façade of very high self-esteem and self-awareness. Yes, I was big. However, I wasn’t going to let that dictate my life. That’s what I told people. Truth of the matter is, it dictated almost every waking moment of my life. My thoughts toward myself would have been considered abusive if they came from someone else. I beat myself up. I dreamed of a life where fat wasn’t a part of my description. Even though my fatness bothered me, I never once chose to diet. Exercise was as near to an expletive as you could get.  Now that funny and well-spoken had taken me places that fat did not, a new validator emerged; clothes and quirkiness

At about 16, I decided that if I was going to be fat, I was going to be fabulous doing it. Every dollar I earned went one of three places: clothes for my body, shoes for my feet, expensive handbags for my arm. Finally, this is it! I’m admired for me. I’ve shed the qualifiers, I thought. Until, a handsome boy I’d had my eye on said the dreaded words. “Wow, you dress really nice for a big girl!”. Are you kidding me? Still, we’re on this. There was just no getting away from it. Everything I did, the validation/compliment was always, “for a big girl”. I suppose at this point, I could have just retreated into the background. Instead, as a sassy young woman in Chocolate City, I came to grips (somewhat) that ‘dammit, I’m fat and that’s that’. I never had a shortage of potential suitors and boyfriends.  My fake self-confidence said something that was contrary to what the media tells us. So many guys tell me that they’re drawn to that.

At 17, I started dating a childhood friend. He loved my body. He told me often how beautiful I was. This was different though. Not once did he ever say, ‘for a big girl’. I was just beautiful.  I loved him for that.  I stopped having to be the prettiest big girl, the best-dressed big girl, the smartest big girl, the most outgoing big girl or the most articulate big girl’. I was just beautiful. And, he made me feel like it wasn’t just my outer appearance that made me pretty.

I decided to run for Homecoming Court that year. My best friend told me she thought I was Court material, but I wouldn’t win because I was big. Against her advice, I ran anyway. And, I won. She was shocked. I told her and everyone else that I wasn’t. On the inside, I couldn’t believe it. I was in the Homecoming Court, but did not ultimately become the Queen. I told myself it was because I was fat. As a matter of fact, almost everything negative in my life, up to that point was blamed on the fact that I was fat. That had to be the only rational reason. Right?

It is the fall of 1992. I am now a student at Tuskegee University in Alabama, in the south where thick girls are celebrated. I am still dating my high school boyfriend. I meet a guy. He nicknames me “Stacks”, as in stacked like a brick house. He compliments on my body all the time. He is never ashamed to be seen in public with me.  I tell him that I am not looking for anything major. I have a boyfriend up north. I am only looking for friendship. One night after hanging out with me for about a month, he starts getting aggressive with me. He is trying to pressure me into kissing and sex. At first, he’s complimenting me left and right. Then he’s reminding me of all the things that he has done for me. I really do like him, however I am not promiscuous and am not interested in a physical relationship. I have never been with another guy other than my high school boyfriend. He is growing angrier and angrier and then he says, “You fat bitch. You think that I was doing all this stuff for nothing. You know what it is. You didn’t really think I just wanted to be friends with your fat ass, did you?” Instantly, I am 6 and I’m back on that playground and I am devastated. For the next 2 years that I’m at Tuskegee, I do not socialize much, even though I met several great guys. I am never again opening my heart to a man even for friendship for him to turn around and call me Fat Mama Pig.

1994, I move back to the DC area. My high school boyfriend and I have still been dating. We are ready to make things more permanent and more official. I genuinely love him. But, I don’t trust that he’s not going to use my fatness against me.  I make him prove his love to me over and over and over and over again.  The difference is now; I am not just curvy or voluptuous. I am rapidly gaining weight. And I am waiting on him to be done with me.  I am doing all these things while still walking around appearing like I have it all together. I am the go-to chic for all types of advice. People see that I’ve got it going on and they want a piece of it.

2006, I am now married. I have been married for 10 years to an amazing man. He never mentions my weight. He tells me I am beautiful. He touches me. He loves me. And, I HATE me. He never once calls me fat. It is almost as if, he does not notice it. That can’t be possible. I love him for this.  But, I also resent him for this. How can a man raised in America with images of beauty thrown in his face every day honestly think I am beautiful? I don’t even think I am beautiful.  He reminds me of when he first met me, at 14. And then, when he started dating me at 17. Over the course of our relationship, I have gained over 130 lbs. Yet he says “you’re just as beautiful now as you were then”. I think, ‘clearly, this man has lost his mind’.

2009, I cannot take it anymore. I am lying to myself. I am lying to the world. I talk to my doctor about lap band surgery. She is not that crazy about the idea. She challenges me to lose 50 lbs. on my own. I do and then decide surgery is not for me.  I am now a successful woman. I am a mentor to girls. I am an encourager of my friends. But, I am still fat. Slowly, but surely, I am starting to become ok with that.

2014, I am turning 40. I am comfortable (mostly) in my fat skin. Sometimes, I dream of skinny. But now, those dreams are few and far between. Mostly, I see this beautiful woman that I have become. Fat is a part of me. But, it’s no longer ME.  When people qualify me now, ‘for a big girl’, I just think that it is ignorance on their part. I sometimes worry about health and life expectancy. I am proud of the now 70+ lbs. that I have lost and kept off.  On a whim, I enter an online modeling contest to be the face of a website for the month of December. I become the face of  2014. The comments are things like “gorgeous”, “stunning”, “so confident”….and not one ends with ‘for a big girl’. And, I honestly believe it. And accept it. I am no longer Fat Mama Pig. I am LaTrelle. I am beautiful. Not for a big girl. Beautiful. Period.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Joy and Pain and Everything in Between

Hey TrelleBlazers,

It's been a LONGG LONNNG LONGGGG time. SO much has transpired in this past year. Today's blog is a departure from fashion and all that good stuff and is a little uncomfortable and dare I say deep. I was reading a piece online this a.m. about stillborn deaths. And, it stirred up a bunch of emotions. I do share from time to time on social media, but I recognize everyone doesn't like sensitive subjects. Additionally, I've been hesitant because I'm truly not looking for pity or even likes. I want to share my story to help someone. Deep breaths.....And HERRRREEEE we go.....

I was young and a new bride in an unfamiliar city. Oh, and pregnant. About 4 months into the pregnancy, I woke up with the most intense need to pee that I've ever had in my life. I didn't make it to the bathroom and there was more urine than I'd ever experienced. Two days later, I woke up with the most horrible stomach cramps. It's amazing how your body innately knows something even if it's never experienced it. I said to Tyrone, "I think I'm having a miscarriage". Tyrone thought I was jumping the gun and I kinda agreed. I decided to call out of work and stay home and rest.  Two hours later, the pain was more intense and I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. Please brace yourselves. Moments later, I looked down sensing something was terribly wrong. There were my daughter's feet. Scared out of my head, I jumped up. There was no way I was going to have this baby at home by myself. I quickly dialed 911. In my heart, I knew she was dead. But, a part of me held on to hope. The EMT's quickly arrived. And I asked, "Is she dead". The guy just said, 'let's just wait until we get to the hospital'. My heart sank.  We arrived to the hospital and I’ll always remember the ER doctor. He was rude and heartless. I was quietly crying on the stretcher and he said ‘dry your eyes. This is a blessing. You young teen girls have no business being Moms.”. I told him that I was a married woman and he quickly apologized, but I remember thinking what difference did that really make. I was laying here with a half delivered baby hanging out of me and this man was telling to suppress my mourning. And, that is exactly what I did.

Before this experience, I just assumed that miscarriages meant that you kinda just passed the baby with minimal pain. I quickly found out that because I was 16 weeks, I’d have to go through the labor process. I was moved to a room and the hours began. About 10 hours later, I had delivered a beautiful, already deceased babygirl. I couldn’t bear to see her or hold her. My husband described her to me. Perfect was the word he used to describe her.

Life went on and now settling into married life, we planned our next child. After just a few tries, we were pregnant. And, ecstatic. My pregnancy was high risk and my doctor put me on moderate bed rest. Christmas was approaching and I was too excited to put up the baby’s Christmas stocking. On Christmas eve, I went to my doctor’s appointment. My doctor was so excited. Everything looked great. She said to me “LaTrelle, congratulations, I think we are safe now. You can breathe easier”…22 weeks in. YES. The next morning, I was walking up the stairs, and my water broke. We rushed to the hospital. They ran tests. And the news I’d been dreading was confirmed. “Mrs. Chase, the baby is deceased”. While dealing with the pain of the news, we had to prepare for the pain of labor and delivery. 10 hours later, with Tyrone and 3 friends at my bedside, my son, already deceased came into the world. Again, I couldn’t hold him or see him. But, my husband and my girlfriend did. They both described him as perfect. The doctor told me if it had been 2-3 weeks later, his lungs probably would have been more developed and they could have saved him.

Life went on, but I grew more and more withdrawn. I started feeling the familiar symptoms of pregnancy, but each pregnancy test came back negative. I accepted a consulting job in Alabama. No real periods, but positive pregnancy tests. I was sitting at my desk and those tell tell stomach cramps started. I left work and immediately drove to the hospital. Explaining my symptoms and my history, they sent me away convincing me that I was just hyper senstivie because of all I’d been through with my stillbirths. I drove myself back to my hotel. 10 minutes later, my water broke. I drove myself back and the doctor said, ‘there’s no way’.  I was rushed to an ultra sound. And, staring back at me was a baby. Not just any baby. A live baby. With a heartbeat. The doctor said “Mrs. Chase, you have a decision to make. You’re in labor. So, we can deliver now, and there is a 99.9% chance he won’t make it 10 minutes outside of the womb. Or we can  wait”. So, I waited. I waited for my child to pass away because I couldn’t handle it. I often wonder ‘what if’. However, my mental state was so fragile, I believe I would have lost my mind. I’d been through SO much. And, I really never shared my pain with anyone besides Tyrone. I never wanted to burden anybody or make anybody uncomfortable. So, I put on a mask and I lived. Except, I didn’t live. I was a walking dead person.  And, at every turn there was some person saying  that is was somehow my fault. Maybe if I had done this. Or hadn’t done that. And, every comment was like a shot with an assault rifle.

And after years of existing, I gave up. I slipped into a deep depression. Religion made me pretend that everything was ok. As long as I looked the part, nobody questioned me. So I became an expert at mask wearing. I have to say that during this time, Tyrone hung in there with me. He encouraged me. Prayed for me. Listened to me. Took the brunt of my anger. Kept the house afloat. Kept me from drowning. I can’t remember when the turning point was, but I will say when I turned my back on religion, but opened myself up to Jesus Christ (and therapy), a change took place.

I don’t have it all together. Some days, I still cry. There are many times that I question God. However, I can’t change any of it. All I can say is that I’ve been through some stuff. That had the potential to make me lose my mind. And truth be told, I did lose my mind. But with prayer and a renewed will to live and a sense of purpose, I was able to find me again. And, I guess that’s the message in all of this. We all go through stuff. And some of that stuff pushes us to a dark and ugly place. But, then we have a choice. We can’t let it bury us like a corpse or we can realize that the dirt didn’t come to bury you, the dirt came to grow you. Because you’re a seed. Remember that TrelleBlazers.



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Am I Too Sensitive About Being Black? #nope #notevenalittlebit

This past year has been a whirlwind of emotions for me. Really, the last few years. I find myself at a crossroad. Let me start by saying this is NOT a bash of White people, Black people, purple people or blue people. I have some things I NEED to say!

This week I've found myself in several disagreements about the Syrian refugee crisis. I am not 100% sold on the idea of just opening America's borders to any refugees, HOWEVER, I am concerned with the viciousness and the meanspiritedness that I see. At some point during each and every concern, race came up. Out of all those times, I brought it up ONCE. And, frankly it was because I was sick and tired and I'd had enough. But, then I started thinking that maybe I am too sensitive..And, then I decided to put fingers to keyboard and speak my truth. The remainder of the blog is not about the refugee crisis at all.... It's the questions and answers that came to my mind.

Why is it not ok for me to talk about my Blackness when people remind me of it each and every day? Just when I bought their brand of bull that they were colorblind, they let me know, THAT IS A LIE!

So, you say I'm too sensitive--
perhaps it's because when I purchased a beautiful truck and it immediately started having problems with it, the general manager told me 'I know what happened here. You people do this all the time. You buy cars that you can't afford and then you make up things to get out of having to pay"

So you say I'm too sensitive--
perhaps it's because I hear more times than I care to remember, "You are so articulate"... Let me give you a hint. That is not a compliment to a 41 year old, college educated person...EVER. Why is this surprising to you? Because I'm not the illiterate porch monkey you assumed I would be.

So you say I'm too sensitive--
perhaps it's because when I went into an establishment to use the restroom and offered to PURCHASE a meal and I didn't even need them to make it because there weren't any public restrooms, a man loudly proclaimed "yea, they think since Obama became President they can do whatever they want to do"... so, you think that I want to purchase a meal that I'm not even going to eat. No, if I was doing what I WANTED to do...well, we won't go there

So you say I'm too sensitive--
perhaps it's because when I'm in a group where I'm the only Black person, inevitably after everyone else has been greeted with a 'hello", I receive a 'hey girlfriend' or 'hey, sister'.... get a dictionary. Go to sister and girlfriend. I assure you I'm neither of those to you. (I'm speaking not of people that I KNOW)

So you say I'm too sensitive--
perhaps it's because when I'm at a statewide competition sitting at a table with a group of educators and I am the only Black one, the White waitress comes over to ME to let me know that 'we're serving fried chicken for lunch'. When she sees my befuddled expression, she goes on to say "it's REALLY good and I wanted you to know". At first, I think it's not because I'm Black. It's because I'm fat. But, then I realize there are 3 other fatties at the table too...So, nah, that ain't it.

So you say I'm too sensitive--
perhaps it is because I've realized that every turn, there's a White person reminding me that I'm Black. As if, I could ever forget it.
perhaps it's because I realize that when the White person is telling me I'm Black, I'm supposed to be OK with that. But, somehow when I say, I'M BLACK. I'm a race baiter. I'm a liberal. I'm Too darn sensitive. I'm a reverse racist.

So you say I'm too sensitive--
perhaps it is because when I mention racist or racism, you get offended and start defending yourself and getting in your feelings. EVEN if I've never said White racist.
perhaps it is because you assume that everytime a Black person says racism, they are talking about you!

So you say I'm too sensitive--
perhaps it is because I have the ability to not lump you in with a bunch of crazed fools but you see me as you see every other person
and please keep your, I've got Black friends speech.
Good for you.

So, am I too senstive...Nope, But maybe I'm just a little to Black for your taste. I'm an uppity Negro. I don't pick cotton. And, I don't bow down.

Smooches and Much love~!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

So much to say but really nothing to say at all

Blogging had become my outlet. I was getting into a groove and it felt good. Then, I hit a wall. I had so many things to talk about. I started so many fantabulous posts, but then I wondered....am I sharing too much? am I not sharing enough? The biggest thing was I didn't want to put out a blog JUST for the sake of saying "I posted something this week"...in times past, the blog had been organic. It just sort of became..... Well, now I'm back. Refocused, rejuvenated and ready? But, I want to know, what do YOU wanna hear? More fashion? More faith? In a sea that's overcrowded with every kind of blog you can imagine, I don't want to just be one more. I want it to be beneficial to the reader and for you to have some kind of takeaway. So comment and let me hear your thoughts... I'm ready....

Until next time TrelleBlazers, be good to yourself! Muah

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Love and Marriage..... Volume 1

I decided that I wanted to do something slightly different for today's blog. I met my mate when I was 14 years old. We started dating when I was 17. We got married when I was a week away from 22.... I was young and thought I knew everything and was seriously ill-prepared to be somebody's wife AND to be 500 miles away from everything and everyone I've ever known and loved. So, almost 19 years later, people are constantly shocked when I say I've been married to the same man all these years. The 1st thing I want to say is ANYBODY that you think has a perfect marriage, please know it ain't true! I love my husband beyond measure. We have an amazing relationship. Amazing doesn't equal perfect or good all the time. We fuss. We disagree. We get in our feelings. He gets on my last nerve sometimes. I'm sure I sometimes get on his (probably not that much though...LOLOL). I could write a book on our experiences, but I thought it would be nice to get marriage talk from the male perspective. So I asked my honey to jot down some thoughts on love and marriage. Short and concise is what he gave me, however I can honestly say these words and actions are what brought us through.....

     "Marriage is about making it work with what you have and who you are.  What works for one couple may not work for another.  But if I had to pick one thing I would say in marriage,  each person has to be determined.  Determine to carry the weigh when your spouse cannot or will not. Be determined to do better when you are the weak link.  Determined to make it work when you  realize that your spouse will not change who they are.  This does not include physical abuse,  infidelity or the like.  When you say I do, mean it and keep in mind ‘for better or for worse’ comes in many ways and different than what we usually consider.    "
Tyrone J. Chase, Jr.

Well, TrelleBlazers, that's it for today. Until next time, be good to yourselves (and to those you love and are in love with!)

Muah and much Love,

Mrs. TrelleBlazer

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Completely Vulnerable...And I LOVE it! (well I'm learning to love it LOL)

I'm betwixt and between in EVERYTHING in my life right now. I find myself at a crossroads. I've come way to far to turn around, yet I find myself just idling and not really moving forward. It's often difficult to put what I want to do into words to explain to someone else, but I see it, I dream it, I BREATHE it.....Anyhoo, knowing what I'm seeing in my mind, I decided it was time to do a new photoshoot. Initially, it was for some of my upcoming projects, but then I realized, I NEEDED this because I need to MOVE forward. I recently preached a sermon entitled, "Live, Move, BE"...It impacted me in such a profound way. Anyhoo, I arranged a shoot with a photographer that I've been admiring for a while. We communicated a few times via email about my vision for the shoot. I was really looking for something that wasn't typically sweet, but was sultry (yet tasteful). I wanted some next levelness LOL. I didn't really think through exactly what that would entail...Fast forward to the day of the shoot.

Everything was going great until he pulled out a chair and asked me to sit. I do NOT sit down in pictures. Although I've lost a 'few' lbs, I'm still a big girl. I struggle with body issues and am very conscious of my stomach while shooting. I was SO uncomfortable. I wanted to ask him to stop. But then, something happened. I'm sitting there and I'm thinking, "LaTrelle, you're paying for this, so you just better go with it". And then I did. Although I was still not 100% comfortable, I decided to just suck it up (literally, cause I was holding my stomach in for dear life). What happened over the next 45 minutes was truly magical. Because he challenged me to do something I don't normally do, next level was exactly how the photos turned out. I felt confident. I felt in control. I felt powerful. I felt sexy. Now don't get me wrong, this wasn't the first time I've felt that way. Absolutely not. However, usually I do not relinquish control to another person about my images and how I'm photographed. 

So, I challenge each of you, as you're looking to move to next level, you're probably gonna have to relinquish some control. It's scary. It's a vulnerable place to be in. But, literally the week after the photos were taken, I was featured on a plus size website as their last fierce photo of the week. ...... 

This is the beginning of the newness of my journey...to live, to MOVE, to be! If I can face a fear and conquer it, I know you can do it too....

Until next time TrelleBlazers, be good to yourself...and you know what else? Make sure you're FIERCE while you're doing it!


Ms. TrelleBlazer

Monday, October 6, 2014

It's Been a Long Time. I Shouldn't Have Left You Without a Dope.....wait I'm not a Rapper!

Hey TrelleBlazers,

These past few months have been a whirlwind. I had so much going on but I didn't have alot to say :-( And, I didn't want to say anything just to be saying something. Today, I just want to encourage somebody that it's ok to take some time for yourself. It's ok to take stock of your current situation. It's ok to restrategize and refocus. And one of the oxymorons that I've been embracing and learning is this. It's ok to be selfish and selfless at the same daggone time. What that means is it's ok for you to be giving and loving and do for others. It's also totally ok for you to be concerned with yourself. Sometimes, we look at our lives and we're last on the list. We often celebrate people for that. But, that's not healthy. If you're no good for yourself, you'll never be good for anyone else. So, recharge and renew and re-evaluate your plans for YOU! And once you've done that, jump right back out in the game. It's one thing to dream dreams. It's another thing to chase dreams. Now is the time to make your dreams your reality!

Until next time (and I promise it won't be as long), be good to yourself...I love you all to life!


Ms. TrelleBlazer