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16 Sep

Where’ve I been?

I’ll tell you: I started a graduate program. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time, and when I took a job at an amazing institution a little over a year a half ago, I decided to go for it. This particular program has funky admissions and enrollment deadlines, so it took some time before I was actually able to apply and get started.

But, the time came, and I started the program at the end of August. It’s part-time, designed specifically for people already working in the field, so I’m still at my job full-time.

In other words, this blog is going to suffer because of my schedule. I wasn’t sure if juggling work and school would make me want to blog even more (because I would want an outlet), or if I’d just be too busy to keep it up. Now that I’m a few weeks in, I know that the reality is, unfortunately, the latter.

So, in the meantime (which is indefinite), enjoy the archives and a have good skin day!

Thanks for reading!


Twitter Change

10 Jul


Hey, all! Just wanted to give you heads up that I deactivated my @GoodSkinDay Twitter handle. I was tired of trying (not very hard) to maintain a blog-specific one and then my main one, @NBaltikahn. So follow me @NBaltikahn!

I’ll still promote GSD posts on Twitter, but I have other stuff mixed in there, too. Hope you like it.

P.S. You can see my tweets without going to Twitter (or following me): they’re at the bottom of the offerings over there on the right! >>>

A response to a response to Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign

17 Apr

My brilliant sister in-law linked to this blog post today. It’s a response to Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches campaign (you know, the thing I posted about yesterday).

I think it’s great. I did notice that the video celebrated a conventional definition of beauty. I also noticed that most of the women in the video were white. I’m annoyed that when people think of beauty they think of looks. And I’m enraged that we’re taught that looks are so important–sometimes (oftentimes) more important that confidence, strength, intelligence, gusto, creativity. All of the points made in the blog post are great and INCREDIBLY important.

But here’s the thing. This is a 6:36 Dove video we’re talking about. This is not a women’s studies course. It’s not a book. Broadening the scope of their experiment would be chaos. The explicit message is good (great, even). It’s the meta-messages that are upsetting.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a firm believer in making conscious, inclusive decisions across the board to invite change into societal standards–to change norms. That means videos like this certainly should include a more diverse group of women (and men!). The video also could have been edited with less of an emphasis (or no emphasis at all) on words like “skinny” and “thin” as (in jazzylittledrops‘ words) “implied positive” descriptors and crows feet, moles, scars, and fat as implied negative descriptors. Because who says that certain things are positive/beautiful and certain things are negative/ugly? (Society, that’s who! But anyway…)

So, what I’m saying (in circles) boils down to this: jazzylittledrops, YOU’RE RIGHT. But this Dove project can only do so much. And from what I can tell on my Facebook wall, it’s been very moving to a lot of women. I just hope they take it at face-value (ha!) like I did.

UPDATE: In my (beautiful, intelligent, creative) mom’s words, “If it makes us aware that we aren’t fair to ourselves, more power to it.” Well said.

Whole30: FAQs

5 Apr

Arranged Vegetables Creating a Face

A few friends reached out to me during the process to express their interest in giving the Whole30 a try. But, since it’s rather intimidating, they had lots of questions. Here are some good/common ones:

Q: Is it hard?
A: Yes. But not that hard, and it got easier. During the first week or so, I would finish a meal and then panic, thinking, “Oh no! Was that compliant?” Of course it was. I planned and prepared all of my meals in advance (which is very hard for some). I was just terrified I’d forget that I was even doing a Whole30. For example, I made pico de gallo. I needed to taste it, and Richie had a bag of pita chips out, so I almost reached for a pita chip without even thinking! (Don’t worry–I used a spoon instead.)

And in the evenings, the dessert cravings were a little intense–especially during a particularly rough week (see my post on treats)–and lasted until around day 20. But, I got over it.

Q: What have you been craving?
A: Pizza (I had at least two pizza dreams), wine (I had one wine dream), peanut butter, cheese (of course), and crunchy things!!! Not that fresh bell peppers or sugar snap peas aren’t crunchy, but on one grocery run, I wanted every crunchy thing in the store, including every bag of chips. So I bought roasted hazelnuts; they’re amazing.

Q: Is Richie joining you for support?
A: No. It’s not that he’s not supportive (though eating all that peanut butter in front me wasn’t very nice), but Whole30 is vegetarian-unfriendly. It’s not impossible, but it’s very difficult. We mostly made separate meals, but for some meals, we made separate proteins.

Q: Have you been surprised about ingredients in anything?
A: Yes! Why does chicken need sugar? It doesn’t, but you’d be amazed how much has it added. Luckily, the Whole9 forum was incredibly helpful when it came to ordering lunch at chain restaurants (which I did at work a couple times). Did you know Panera has a secret menu? (It’s more Paleo, but you can make Whole30 adjustments.)

Q. What can you eat?
A: Lots of stuff! When out, I had a few bun-less burgers and lots of salads with grilled chicken. One of my favorite at-home meals was spaghetti (squash) and meatballs with homemade marinara and wilted spinach. I also rocked a few delicious curries (coconut milk SAVED me).

Q: No alcohol? Really?
A: Really. During the month, I went to a brewery’s birthday party, a concert, and a couple bars, and we even hosted a barleywine tasting at our place. I drank seltzer with lime and sometimes added a splash of berry juice. It was delicious! (Now I’m considering getting a SodaStream).

Q: Did you cheat?
A: No. Not on purpose, at least. At home, not at all. When out, there’s only so much you can do. I’m sure not all of the cooking oil was Whole30-compliant, and I wasn’t about to raid any kitchens. And I realized–a couple weeks in–that the tea I keep at work has soy lecithin in it, so I didn’t have it for the remainder of the challenge. You have to draw the line somewhere.

Q: What results have you seen?
A: Check out my results post here!

Q: Will you keep it up?
A: No! Well, not really. First, I need to reintroduce grains, dairy, beans, sugar, and alcohol one by one to see how they each affect me. But I already know I’m going to make it a point to consume very little sugar and alcohol. And maybe even dairy. Because as much as I love cheese, the truth is that I love good cheese, and I had lost sight of that, eating just any old cheese that came my way. That’s right: I was a cheese hussy.

Any other questions? Stay tuned for reintroduction posts (maybe) and recipe posts (definitely)!

Whole30 Halfway: On Treats

10 Mar

Originally posted to my family blog, here’s the latest on my Whole30.

Baltikahn Blogikahn

I’m halfway through my Whole30 and I feel great. But I’m not posting to talk about my results (so far) because it’s still too early to really tell what I’ve learned or what has changed.

I want to talk about bad days. And I don’t mean bad days on the Whole30, I mean actual bad days that just happen to occur while doing a Whole30.

Last week was really hard for me. There were little things that added up to put me in a foul mood: I lost a special ring, my car wouldn’t start, I had a very frustrating meeting, I overextended myself and was totally exhausted. I mean, I watched the last 10 minutes of an episode of Undercover Bosses and cried. I didn’t even get to see any character development!

While winding down at home each night, I wanted–felt like I NEEDED–a treat. Lots of treats. Ice…

View original post 269 more words

I’m tired. Let’s do a Whole30!

28 Feb

Those of you closest to me know that I’ve been struggling with fatigue for a while (now everybody knows!!!). Docs found a Vitamin D deficiency (twice), and taking D every day has been helpful, but most days, I still don’t feel like my usual (or is it old?) self .

Since (other than the D-ficiency) docs are stumped, I decided to take matters into my own hands and try something new. It’s a program called the Whole30, and it’s designed to be a sort of cleanse/lifestyle change that brings awareness to how the things you put in your body affect you. It’s developed by Whole9, “a community focused on health, fitness, balance and sanity, all built on a foundation of real food and healthy nutritional habits.”

Here’s Whole9’s elevator pitch:

We eat real food – meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, healthy oils, nuts and seeds. We choose foods that were raised, fed and grown naturally, and foods that are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.

This is not a “diet” – we eat as much as we need to maintain strength, energy, activity levels and a healthy body weight. We aim for well-balanced nutrition, so we eat animals and a significant amount of plants.

Eating like this has helped us to look, feel, live and perform our best, and reduces our risk for a variety of lifestyle-related diseases and conditions.

Doing a Whole30 is the best way to get started. They call it a short-term nutritional reset. When I tell people that I’m doing one and that it means I won’t be eating grains, dairy, added sugars, legumes (what?!), or drinking alcohol for 30 DAYS, most people think I’m crazy.

But what I think is crazy is how inexplicably tired I’ve been.

I know it’s not sustainable. It’s not a Whole365. But it will be enlightening to see how my body responds to the absence of certain foods, as well as their reintroduction (one at a time, if I can) after 30 days.

Anyway. I’m only on Day 4, so I don’t know if it will work. But I think it will. I have to hope it will. 

And if the testimonials are true (and I know some are, because I have friends who have done it), then I don’t think it’s crazy to expect great things. I’ll definitely follow this up with a recap when I’m done, and maybe even check in along the way.

Wish me luck!

*Note: This was originally posted on my family blog.

Reblog: Femme Privilege Does Not Exist

14 Jan

Because someone had to say it.


by Cyree Jarelle Johnson

I’m (not) sorry to inform you that femme privilege does not exist. Not in the queer community. Not in the world at large. Does. Not. Exist. In fact, the very idea of inherent “femme privilege” is rooted in misguided misogyny. It operates under the erroneous idea that the discrimination and violence that femmes in particular and feminities in general experience is not based on our gender presentations. It relies on the idea that all femmes are cisgendered and cissexual, which is cissexist. It anachronistically leaves out femme as a genderqueer identity. It is ignorant to the continuing oppression of women, femmes, and other femininities by patriarchy and masculine privilege.

The most common argument for femme privilege I encounter is that femmes are not the recipients of physical and spiritual violence because of their femininity, while female masculinities are frequently the target of such assaults. Even upon first glance this ignores the constant reality of rape and sexual assault in the lives of lots of transgressive femininities. Personally, I have been “corrective”ly raped twice for being femme, once by a doctor when I was 17 after coming out on my intake forms and the second time during my time working at a bar in Newark. According to a study performed by Keren Lehavot, Ph.D.  “women who identify as “femme” (or feminine) and have a more feminine appearance report more adult sexual assaults” than women in the study who identified as “butch”.

That’s not even to speak of the harassment that I experience every day on the street. Not just the street, everywhere I go. It is frequently terrifying, and it also leads to more terrifying things. Of course, omnipresent harassment is afforded to masculine of center folks as well: because in both cases the harassers are targeting our gender presentation. For real, they are. The truly hate us both, for the same reason. Our harassers are deeply invested in the control and ownership of bodies they perceive as “women”. They want to decide who gets to be included in that category, and what that identity means. It is not a complement when I am catcalled, grabbed, pushed, smacked, and groped on the street, it is an insult. And it is certainly not a privilege.

Then there’s that weird concept of passing privilege that I don’t even think works for sexual identity in the way that it does for race, but is so frequently employed that way. Racial groups have phenotypical markers that differentiate their skin and hair and body features from that of a privileged race. Being gay or queer looks different in every corner of this country and every corner of the world.

The idea of cisfemmes passing for straight and receiving straight privilege ignores the fact that to patriarchy inside every lesbian lies a straight woman. Straight people don’t see anything but straight. Even if very masculine female identified folks are instantly read as gay by heterosexuals, does that necessarily make not experiencing that a privilege? Passing is a privilege when you pass into a group that has privilege. “Woman” is not an inherently privileged category at all, nor is “feminine”. Femininity, queer and straight alike, is viewed as frivolous and shallow, stupid and excessive. Most importantly, it is taken much less seriously than masculinity.

Moreover, regarding femmeness as privilege ignores the existence of femmes who are trans*women, androfemmes, kikis, and all those who may simultaneously be femme and not able to pass for straight or even pass for feminine. It forgets us femmes who try and fail and try and fail again to be seen as authentically feminine. We femmes with tapers and Caesars lined up. We femmes who are 6’4 in heels and rock a bitchin’ limp that people frequently comment on yet rarely stare at. We femmes who sit gap legged in flannel waiting for folks to stop telling them to be more feminine when we are trying as hard as we fucking can.

In her interview with, Brown Grrlz Project Co-Founder Trinz Massiah writes that femme privilege “is a matter of perspective. A femme identified womyn has to negotiate always safe spaces to “come out” over and over again… Can you imagine the anxiety of negotiating safe spaces constantly?” Central to femme invisibility (which should be called femme erasure, in my opinion) is the allegation that femmes are not “gay looking”. Ok, then who is and why? Who gets the privilege to set the tone of the conversation of what it means to look queer or gay? Clearly not femmes or we would have at least included ourselves.

There is the problem of “looking straight” and needing to access queer/gay safe spaces and being questioned uncomfortably. Of spending time scrimping and saving to dress up for the dyke bar and pay the cover just to have everyone treat you like a fag hag. Of being out for almost a decade and still getting treated like an interloper until someone sees me with a stud they know. Of being made to find people to vouch for your dykedom. Of having to come out every day to everyone, often several times to the same people because apparently femmes are not experts on their own lives.

So, in short, don’t come at me with that shit. Quit relegating feminitinity to the backburners of queerness because of a faulty generalization. Check your own association of femmeness with excess and shallowness and stupidity. Learn how to see femmes, and stop blaming us for our own erasure.