Saturday, February 15, 2014

Pen Name? Me?

Anyone who knows me in real life or even on Twitter knows Isabel isn't my first name (it's actually my middle name.) I respond to Isabel/Issy, it's my confirmation name (and, thus, the name of my patron saint,) and if my parents hadn't been adamant about keeping my first name, I would totally have changed over to Isabel officially when I was five. But, nope, Isabel, while still one of the parts of my Portuguese-style first-middle-mother's maiden name-father's surname legal name, is a pen name. Of sorts.

I get the "why" question a lot from people who know me. "Why not Firstname Isabel Bandeira" or, "heck, go fancy-schmancy and throw the whole 'OMG, your name is reaching British Royal proportions and the DMV hates you because it won't fit on a license and stupidly asks you to change your legal name because of character limits' shebang up for the world to see?"

Issy's reasons for being Issy:
  • I love the name Isabel. I still haven't forgiven my parents for changing their minds and switching it to my middle name when I was born. *narrows eyes at Mom and Dad*
  • There's another person around my age in my state with the exact same name who went to college in the same city as I did (not the OMG british royalty proportions one, but Firstname Isabel Bandeira.) Back in college, there was an uncomfortable e-mail case of mistaken identity, and it's been interesting ever since. Especially since she has a much more active (and not as cautious) online presence. I already have to deal with people mistakenly thinking the search results from her apply to me!
  • Oh, holy heavens above, people already can't spell Bandeira and you want me to ask anyone to deal with even more names to misspell if I use my exceeds-DMV-character-limits name?
  • I want to keep my two work worlds separate. Which leads to my last reason:
  • I'm a woman in a male dominated industry. I've worked hard to get men in this industry to take me seriously because, I hate to say it, inherent sexism still exists in my profession. While my male coworkers are generally fantastic*, over the past 12 years I've experienced being ignored in meetings, getting dismissed by surgeons (many of whom will automatically default to the men,) and having to fight to have my voice heard without being labeled a "bitch." Writing YA, my glitter obsession, chatting about how fictional dead boys are awesome, discussing disordered eating, talking about kissy scenes-- those are all things that can seriously set me back with people who are still stuck in the eighteen-fifties. I wish the world wasn't that way, but I don't want to be impacted by that bias when a customer or employer does a web search on my name.
*Fantastically fantastic. Many of my current coworkers know I write and have been nothing but supportive. The men I work with respect me as an engineer and as someone who can whip off a good memo in no time flat. I've been able to wear (minimal) glitter while kicking butt in a technical discussion. There's the occasional mansplaining... but, in general, they're great. Still, I need to think about my entire industry (not just my office microcosm) and engineering career as a whole while feeling free to be the YA-loving writer you see on this blog and on Twitter, Pinterest, etc, etc.

So... pen name. Isabel. I'm rocking it, with a ton of teal glitter.

From this morning, where I showed off a cute eyeshadow look I was trying.
(Yes, this was from a Frozen-inspired tutorial. I love Elsa's style!)
Tried another shot of the eyeshadow, but I just look unimpressed by all the snow.
Ignore the unimpressed look, because I still love the white stuff- ice! skating! SPARKLE!

Any of you ever use a pen name? What were your challenges?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Eat The Damn Brownie

The other day, I was at a work lunch. I was sitting at the same table as one of the other women engineers who is a competitive (amateur) ballroom dancer and we were talking about our upcoming competitions.

I had grabbed a brownie and cookie from the dessert table and offered her a cookie. Her automatic response was "Oh, no, I can't."

My reaction was instant. "I really shouldn't, either. I'm competing in a month and with my ankle injury*..." And then, I stopped myself.

Back in December, one of my friends--an incredibly talented, beautiful, and intelligent athlete--ended up checking into a clinic for her eating disorder. I hadn't seen her in months because she was away at college, so I didn't know how much weight she'd lost. When she finally became an outpatient and I got to see her again, she was a sliver of the girl I'd known.

Remember this post, where I vlogged about my disordered eating? About the 800 calorie-a-day goal and my exercise bulimia? Her calorie intake didn't go over 200 calories a day. She got to a point where being fed normal amounts of calories during treatment actually hurt. My heart broke hearing that, hearing about the body image she is still struggling with. And the night before that work lunch, I was in tears after a text convo with her because, damnit, I hated seeing another girl dealing with that stupid, awful illness. (If you follow me on twitter, you might remember my "Effing anorexia" anger tweets from that night.)

So, mid-saying I shouldn't eat a stupid little brownie because I wanted the tiniest butt possible to fit in my skating dress, I stopped. I looked at my slim coworker and shook my head. "No, you know what, I can eat this brownie. I'm eating the damn brownie because I'm perfect the way I am and so are you."

Yes, a year and a half of continuous downtime thanks to my injuries means I'm trying to slog off twenty extra pounds to fit back in most of my pants. But I'm athletic and healthy. Even with these extra pounds, I'm still beautiful and no doctor would say I need to lose weight. But society has programmed us into these automatic responses and reactions and even knowing that, I'm not immune.

If I say it on this blog a million times, it won't be enough. You are perfect. Be healthy, but don't let airbrushed images and a media that thrives on unrealistic bodies drive who you should be. Exercise because it makes you strong. Eat because it fuels your amazing body and because it's one of the wonderful pleasures of life.

And every now and then, eat the damn brownie.

(filmed on December 15th. Not my fastest spin, but this body lets me do things like this!)
Sorry about the black lines- it was the first time we video-ed with my phone!

*yup, injured again. A month before Adult Eastern Sectionals. Because my ankle and the universe hate me.