The Body Beautiful
By Jacqueline Cioffa
As a former model and makeup artist who worked with Ashley Graham I can assure you she is not ‘fat,’ she is perfectly portioned. The average dress size for a woman in U.S. is 12 – 14. The modeling industry, fashion, and celebrity promote unhealthy and unrealistic skinny body standards for all women. This disturbs me on so many levels having witnessed firsthand the detriment to low self-esteem, eating disorders and unattainable weight issues has on young models that starved themselves to fit into a size zero.
Please don’t ever body shame anyone. I blame our culture hungry for gossip, entertainment television, the media, and fashion magazines for feeding the beast and creating a world where negativity and bullying of every kind are acceptable behavior. Social media bombards unrealistic images of skinny models, actresses and actors because Hollywood glam sells magazines and fuels the vicious, negative news cycle for girls, and boys who grow up with unrealistic and unhealthy body ideals.
As for Ms. Cheryl Tiegs I’m certain she is a victim of the media spins, twisting her comments into negative comments for a profit. Her words misconstrued, chewed up and spit out to make a dollar.
Don’t believe everything you read in a magazine or see on the tube I promise you the pictures have been trimmed, tucked and photoshopped.
Let’s celebrate and lift women up, be positive role models for young persons of every size.
Size should be measured by moral character, self-confidence, support, authenticity and kindness.
They are beautiful traits in women. Malala is beautiful, Ashley Graham is beautiful, Cheryl Tiegs is beautiful.
So is every non-famous, nameless woman who wakes at 5:00 AM, applies gloss, hops on a bus, goes to work, fights for a cause with a smile, and returns home to fix dinner. The every woman who tucks her kids if she chooses to have them, or perhaps decides to run for President.
To the woman who stands tall and puts her best, prettiest, healthiest face forward every day and wakes up to do it all over again, for me she is most beautiful.
I’m older and wiser today with a few more pounds on my frame, life experience and measure my weight by a new and more accurate scale.
I’m human. I’m a girl. I’m healthy, and I’m doing my best to fit in the skin I live in.
Same as you, and same as me.
Never Judge a Book
By Jacqueline Cioffa
Here’s the thing about writing.
When someone risks pencil to paper and is fortunate enough to convey an emotion about the unique way they view the world well that’s art, magic and creative expression.
I am not a brand.
God, I hate that word.
Although, I have been.
Modeling, acting and all the various exhausting pretend faces I’ve worn just to fit in.
I have gifted away most of my words and that is life as it should be. The day I become calculated, contrived, or worried about how many books I’ve sold, or how filthy rich I am, or if the comma is misplaced, or if you like and hate the person more than the page will be the day the words no longer belong to me.
Funny, I was a rich model once and that means very little if next to nothing today.
Except for a whole bunch of potential storytelling catalogued in the brain.
Write because you love it, you can’t breathe without it, and because the words don’t require a two-way mirror.
Only contemplation, beautiful sunshine redemption, and bounce back reflection.
Never, ever judge a book by its cover.
Crack the spine and see for yourself.
I am writing
For the love of possibility behind the broken glass.
The Paradox of Our Age and a Beatbox
By Jacqueline Cioffa
I’m not going to spin the crooked ways the world disgusts me, fueled by greed, and selfie look-at-me affliction. I’m not going to ask why the hell we’re celebrating, glorifying, mystifying, ridiculing, opinionating, posturizing, and Glam-O-Rizing Reality TV wannabe Celebrity with million dollar ‘99 problems but the bitch ain’t one’ bad behavior? I’m not going to rant and rave graphic, go on and on and on and on and on about fabricated circus ponies, farce bullshit, false niceties, lies and innuendo. Bad, bad PoliticO’s.
Rappin’ box beats…
Nope, nah, forget it man.
This bullshit, twisted, wake-up-people rant ain’t about greed, ain’t about you, ain’t about me.
Shit, Player, I’m a foul-mouthed-fool checking myself, too.
I’m gonna spin this prophetic, profound, and wax poetic…
To a true, old school melodic moment of gangsta’ rap radio wave silence.
THE PARADOX OF OUR AGE
We have bigger houses but smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees but less sense;
more knowledge but less judgment;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicines but less healthiness.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
but have trouble in crossing the street to meet our new neighbor.
We built more computers to hold more copies than ever,
but have less real communication;
We have become long on quantity,
but short on quality.
These are times of fast foods but slow digestion;
Tall men but short characters;
Steep profits but shallow relationships.
It’s a time when there is much in the window but nothing in the room. —The 14th Dalai Lama
Take a Picture, or Not
By Jacqueline Cioffa
This face has been scrunched and smothered by new new talc scented infant kisses
This face has been covered in mud, dirt, blood, open-wounded, stitched, patched and put back together
This face has been brave, kind and stubborn pout five-year-old defiant
This face has been bullied and attacked by mean girl high school drama and self-important syndrome
This face has been pummeled, scarred and attacked vicious
This face has been glorified, mystified, beautified, and plastered on billboards
This face has worn one million types and varying hues of chalky sultry makeup
This face has known privilege, spoiled riches and possible envy
This face has rested her cheek against a sterile cement floor curled in fetal position lying beside the hospital bed where her father has died
This face has been on the receiving line of sweet, melodic nighttime sexy soft forehead kisses from momentary star-crossed lovers fleeting and delicious
This face has felt rejuvenated immersed in sea salt and sunshine encapsulating and inviting Miami oceans in wintertime
This face has burrowed deep under a pillow dark, terrified, tears and snot escaping all orifices
This face has been bronzed and sunny
Filled with Angel kisses and brown spotted freckles
This face has been the recipient of 450 V currents sent to an exploding brain through wires attached to her scalp, voltage dialed up to maximum
This face has been overly expressive, exuberant, surprised and giggly
This face has been grey, pallid, aged and wrinkled
This face has been acid burned to obliterate Squamous cell carcinoma riddled blotches
“The camera is a save button for the mind’s eye.” — Rodger Kingston
This face is tired, exhausted, despondent, devoid of Vitamin D and defeated
This face is not the who, how, or where
This face is not the who, how, where, or when
This face is not the who, how, where, when or why parts of me
It’s cellular skin alive, hazel eyes, pointy nose, scarred forehead, potty mouth lips and cheeky cheekbones
This face cannot carry the weight of a life nor mask the beauty
It’s just a face like all others
It’s mine though, this face
Raw and unfiltered
“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” ― Ansel Adams
Take a Picture, Or Not 2015 © Jacqueline Cioffa
Originally featured on Paperbacks and Wine
In line at the grocery store I couldn’t help but check out the pretty, cool chick in front of me and her wooden clogs. They had heels. I thought maybe she’s from NYC, she’s not from here (most sensible people wear boots). And, she’s going to fall on her butt outside. The sidewalks are sheets of ice.
I had just fallen on my ass.
A disabled man one counter over was having trouble paying and checking out. The cool chick was there in two seconds, “I’ve got this. Let me pay for this.” Well, the man could not have been happier…she made his day, the cashier and mine.
Moral of the story…if the shoe fits.
Thank you, cool lady with the funky shoes.
These Modern Ties
By Jacqueline Cioffa
You know what I despise sometimes?
‘Visualize your best life,’ social media posts. If only you meditated longer, dreamt bigger, brighter and better… a gulf stream, rolls royce and diamond solitaire would magically appear via Amazon. All your grandiose desires, jubilee shrieks and pixie dust sparkle whims before you and not behind. If I were a blonde, bombshell genie in a magic bottle… I’d obliterate global warming, nukes, little girls with shredded self- esteem, cancer, homelessness, poverty. Name it. Go ahead…make your wish. I’d stomp out every single injustice; I’d balance the scales.
Christ I hate when someone writes, ‘living their best life.’
It’s preposterous, deluded, and downright denial.
We are granted breadcrumbs of serenity; uncatchable, unmatchable, untouchable moments when life feels happy and snug. Calm and wonder overflow, and JOY is easily accessible. Perhaps. Yes, a few lucky upturned frowns sounds about right.
Time is spent de-cluterizing, looking back and leaping ahead. Humans are predictable. They prefer to skip past the hard questions. Me? I can’t seem to stop the verbal diarrhea, pondering, squirming and searching. Why don’t the scales even out? Why does the too young, too beautiful, sticky sweet new mother die? Her babes left to fend for themselves. Why do gray cover clouds mask the sun? Why is it mother knows best not to ask unanswerable, stupid, preposterous philosophical questions?
It’ll make you go bonkers, Crackle Barrel, cuckoo clock nuts.
I bet she that mom visualized her perfect baby bump life in pastel hues, fluffy white lambs and nursery rhymes. Dead dreams don’t exist, silly me.
Why? I sure as hell don’t know, but I’d like to. There are no answers when newborns know their mothers in passing, through birth canals, photographs and hand me downs. Someone’s misplaced, jumbled, embellished memories reminisced in haste.
Do not post some inspirational, bullshit quote without asking first.
Am I aware of the planetary spins, people hovering and circling around me? Did I attempt one kind thing today; did I go out of my way for a stranger? Did I do something good, something considerate without telling a soul? Did I do something for the JOY or the pain without running to boast on Facebook, Instagram, and the Twitter? Did I live behind a screen, inside the screen, was I that blind? Did I venture out to inhale the oxygen, to forget what felt safe and comfortable? Did I take risks beyond the pre-determined edges, color outside the lines, feel the rain and the sun on the inside? Well, did I?
Well, have you?
Have I been lucky? Damn straight. Have I been unlucky? That too. Do not say think positive; I might punch you. I fight to breath, to stay, to be alive. It’s hysterical; a dramedy. This life is not about me, and yet I take it personal. I’m a blip, a speck obliterated before the wind blows. I’m not complaining, but wait… hell yes I am. I not a Debbie Downer most of the time or even full fledged pessimist. I’m a realist, I’d surmise.
Close your eyes and listen if you’d really like to know about me.
To understand how excruciating and uncomfortable it feels to bleed under the skin. To smile through tears and forget the bad times…To declutter, debunk, and destroy the pain that comes from a chaotic, misfiring, and free-floating mind.
Do not suggest I try harder, or swallow my pride. Hey you, over there…look at the sunny side. What the fuck do you know? Tiny moments of happy are best lived inside the heart and eyes open wide.
I’m tossing them out the attic window. Since the beginning of time until tomorrow they’ll be teetering, tottering, balancing and unbalancing.
That’s pain. That’s JOY. That’s the high cost and the low maintenance.
And this is my honest-to-God get out of my face, in your face, best potluck shot.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll post a cheery, colorful, feel good quote.
Perhaps, maybe not.
One never knows.
How high the highs and low the lows.
These unfashionable, sufferable modern ties.
Still, it’s nice to see pretty colors and happy faces sometimes.
In His Boots
The mementos we hold on to, heirlooms we choose not to discard and throw away.
All the traditional, routine ways we try to live inside the memory of someone, some one precious, beloved. To feel them near in the physical awhile longer can seem foolish and nonsensical.
It’s ridiculous to think an oversized, outdated, uncomfortable pair of black boots with fleece lining and thick rubber soles hold any value, and yet.
I wear my father’s boots when I head out to walk the dog. It’s crazy, they’re too big and my heels slip and slide trying to find solid footing on shaky ground. It doesn’t matter. I’m not trying to be practical, or looking for some mystical answer or hidden treasure. The cold air smashes against my ankles and makes my toes curl. I don’t care; I like the deep freeze against my skin. The winter frost reminds me I am indeed breathing as snow creeps in and drips down my exposed limb. I suppose I could double up woolen socks, try to fill the void. Why would I? I tried that once, my feet felt cramped and uncomfortable screaming for some space and air.
To feel the empty, sit in the hollow spaces he once filled effortlessly makes perfect sense.
I don’t want to box up the boots, stow them in a back closet or even gift them away. I want to remove the black boots with zippers on both sides from the shelf each winter, and grin. Another season to make new memories together, him and me.
I will carefully set them aside for when the inevitable seasons change again, and wait for spring. I want something to look forward to.
His smile fades as time and distance creates a vacuum, the gaping, fuzzy recollection plays tricks on the mind.
Was it a false memory?
Did I pile into the back of his rusted, pickup truck for Blackberry ice cream on many a summer’s eve? Did we giggle and laugh until we peed our pants from the smell of horseshit? Did he lift me up on his shoulders every chance he got? Did his eyes beam each time he looked at me?
Did I hear the snores while he slept on the floor beside me when I was fevered? Did he count laps as I swam lifting my head from the water peeking to make sure he was exactly where I left him? I still do that sometimes, turn my head to the side expecting to see him instead of an empty chair. My reflexes and muscle memory are still intact.
Were there tears in his eyes the first time I left home and the last time we said goodbye? Goodbye for now, not forever.
Did he love me?
That, I don’t doubt. I don’t need a faded memory to feel his love in my bones and smiling under my skin. His grin is the brightest, fondest memory I hold. My heart and his are forever entwined.
Still, doesn’t make the missing any easier.
I wear his boots and trip sometimes.
That makes me smile, on the inside.
Duty, responsibility, obligation and drudge
I run around making false promises lying to myself
I must end this cycle of debt, hush-hush niceties and learn to live it
The oddity full of venom and regret
Regret for harsh words hurled in the face of others living in the continuum
The vortex seasonal cycle of disgust and disappointment
Passing judgment upon judgment and hanging no mirrors in my house
I am unable to see the pretty person’s reflection in glass
Wake up child and move on
Go, get, get on and get the hell out from under
The relentless abuse you swallow the misbegotten forgotten soul
The core is damaged from unwanted vocabulary, an unpleasant learned space and skin scratch uncomfortable place
Molestations and accusations what are these words?
I am innocence tossed in the trash long discarded
I have no choice but to make amends
To say, I’m sorry
Simple, two simple impossible words do not roll off the tongue
I’m sorry for so much wasted time
I’m sorry for doubting my perfectly imperfect being
I’m sorry for forever cursing and cussing the bright light burnt stars
I am after all worthy of love
A life filled with some resemblance of happy
I’m not asking for false pretenses or avoidance
Gut punch sharp zinger pain is necessary for growth
A second act?
To right a whole bunch of fall in formation wrongs
I shudder at the possibility of abundance where olfactory senses delight and grandiose dreams are free from jagged edge worries and boundaries
If I can’t be this plain and simple unruly self, who then?
Some other pleasing needing false misrepresentation?
And so, I make amends
And so, I choose to forgive my horrendously ugly fuckups, mishaps and misfortunes
And so, I will learn from the past and the present
Goodbye, old friend
I’ll meet you in the heavens where the orbs are light dancing and colliding transparent
A buoyancy and freedom of physical weight your human form has never known
The torrential, unrelenting downpours of distraught
The hell you experienced?
Dissipated, forgiven and forgotten in less than an instant
Time is not measured in increments
A myriad of wondrous, cheery, crazy beautiful light bright color streams encapsulate and flash brilliant
Hues and the most superfluous elegant words paint the world you left behind
In the orbs there is only purity and lightness of being
You can’t possibly see it, dream it or feel it
The weight disappears and floats upwards
Hope floats forever unbound
Do I know with complete certainty there is an afterlife waiting for me?
Of course, I don’t. This I cannot say.
I want my bubble to be filled with words floating by in a lighthearted stream of consciousness in no particular order.
Being human is hard and excruciating at times, I expel the pain onto the page and wait for cathartic transparency to come back around my way.
To the orbs, I place words with meaning in no varying array. My black and white truths become a grey concept and fade away. The dark cannot shine without the light.
Family, love, rape, anguish, hope, faith, purpose, death, life, home, heartbreak, birth, joy
The words lose their hold and I am set free