I write an advice column, Ask Jenny Bruso, for this quarterly print magazine. Each issue of Sisu Magazine is a highly curated, smart, gritty piece of art. Subscribe to get my newest columns!
Sisu Magazine: Ask Jenny Bruso #5 – winter 2020
Sisu Magazine: Ask Jenny Bruso #4 – fall 2019
Sisu Magazine: Ask Jenny Bruso #3 – summer 2019
Sisu Magazine: Ask Jenny Bruso #2 – spring 2019
Ask Jenny Bruso Outtake – winter 2019
Sisu Magazine: Ask Jenny Bruso #1 – winter 2019
Outside Magazine: Plus-Size Adventurers You Should Follow – If you aren’t following any plus-size adventurers, you have no more excuses! I’ve done the work for you. These five plus-size outdoorspeople are just a sampling of the many of us out there. And for you aspiring plus-size adventurers, the outdoors isn’t waiting on you to be anyone other than who you are right now, so don’t wait for it. These leaders have some words just for you.
Unlikely Hikers Explores Siuslaw National Forest – My favorite part of this experience was being able to hold and create space for critical conversation about the outdoors, while also sharing in the reverence of what nature does for us. This is Unlikely Hikers’ North Star. Hiking gave me a new and improved relationship with embodiment, something I struggle with as a plus-size person. It also reignited my sense of curiosity. I learned to play again, which inspired my creativity.
The Real Problems With Tanya Gold’s Fatphobia – While we deserve representation and, yes, I’m grateful for more cute plus-size activewear options and the acknowledgement that mannequins can also promote wack-ass messaging, I’m concerned with our desire to distance ourselves from the fat person Gold describes. Does that person deserve this kind of vitriol? Our defense of our own fitness triumphs and healthy lifestyles reinforces this othering. There’s a moral value we’re placing on physical ability and health that does all of us a disservice and it’s ableist.
I Was Escorted Off of an Airplane for Advocating for Myself – It was easy to think I was the guilty one. This fat woman who can’t fit in her seat and at that point, holding up the flight. Fat-hatred is culturally-sanctioned in the west. It’s capitalized on. Fat people are seen as out of control, weak in character and choosing to be fat, like body diversity isn’t a thing. It’s acceptable to espouse anti-fat bias in public without reprimand.
Autostraddle: When Climbing Mental Mountains Becomes Literal – Twenty plus-size women climbed Kilimanjaro in March 2019. They call themselves the Curvy Kili Crew. “Fat is seen as a weakness in character and intelligence, as if it’s a choice and not simply a physical characteristic in the same way one is thin. When it comes to exercise and athleticism, it’s assumed our interest and participation has to do with weight-loss as opposed to movement for the joy of it. Designating this adventure as one for plus-size women means there is already a foundation of understanding between participants. It’s a safer space to attempt something that would be off limits in other contexts. People of size aren’t part of the outdoor adventure narrative. Straight-size people (meaning, not plus size) don’t know about the struggle of finding larger gear and sleeping bags, or what it’s like to carry a heavier body up a trail, let alone a mountain.”
Outside Magazine: Don’t Call Nature a Cure-All – This has become the trope of outdoor social media, but whose life is actually like this? Mine isn’t. I’m always looking for the folks who have something to say about what nature does for their real lives: The people who utilize the outdoors as a part of their self-care practice, whose lives have been changed or even saved by nature. The people who go to the woods to grieve and heal, who hike to stay sober or to not kill themselves.
Outside Magazine: Winter Layering for the Plus-Size Hiker – I’m writing a regular column for Outside Magazine! My first article, explains what layering is along with a how-to and product review. I’m proud of this article and the information, which will benefit people of all sizes, but I am not proud of the fact that these clothes only go up to a 3X. (Addendum of all activewear up to 6X: here.)
My First Backpacking Trip Was a Disaster and I Can’t Wait to Do it Again – An honest mistake, yes. Hell, I didn’t even make the mistake, but it didn’t matter. It felt like failure and my ego could not handle it. I was so sad, so angry, so fearful of how this would look. I am constantly fighting shame in my day-to-day life and I recognize that pattern isn’t my fault. It’s dominant culture, it’s my upbringing. So much guilt and shame about things that aren’t my fault and the things that have been my fault have nearly destroyed me. And when your brain thinks like this, it’s really easy to make almost anything your fault.
Outside Magazine: I Don’t Hike to Lose Weight. I Hike Because I Love it – “Many comments from other hikers—even something seemingly innocuous like “You’re doing a great job!”—are meant to be supportive and encouraging, but they don’t always come off that way. These comments are, sometimes indirectly, about our bodies. An othering is happening. There is surprise about our abilities, concern about what may be interpreted as lack of ability, and sometimes straight-up rudeness. Many people I talked to expressed having moments where they were treated as if they were in the way of another hiker. These interactions don’t allow us to simply be hikers on a trail.”
My Body Took Me Here: Angels Rest – On March 3, 2018, I participated in the storytelling event, Back Fence PDX, where I told this story about my first “hard” hike from memory with no notes! This is what I wrote up for practice, the delivered piece was a bit different. It takes place in early spring of 2013. All of the photos are from that day.
Does this Mountain I Just Climbed Make Me Look Fat? – When we talk about obesity, we are rarely expressing actual concern for fat people. If we truly cared, the conversation would be about what may be contributing to the “problem” instead of the usual offhanded talk about “rising obesity rates,” etc. However, there’s a catch. The things causing obesity, don’t always make people fat. If you mean to say that depression, poverty, lack of access to affordable, healthy food and adequate healthcare or feelings of not being safe to exercise in public for fear of judgement from others are the things maligning Americans, then say that.
REI Co-Op Blog: Building Community Through Group Hiking – I am obsessed with figuring out how to lead the most successful group hike possible, which is totally impossible because life is full of variables, BUT! I aim to do my best. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
Portland Monthly asked me, along with a handful of other Portland-area locals, to write a few words about the Columbia River Gorge during the Eagle Creek fires.
FabUplus Magazine Spring 2017 – Actual published writing! In a magazine! I wrote a sweet lil beginner hiking 101. Note: I have nothing to do with the editing of this…
May 1, 2017 – Fat Woman Falling – “I want to be that overly confident bad ass who’s never embarrassed or cries when she’s hurt or does something stupid. Being a fat outdoorsperson putting myself out there, really out there, for the purpose of disrupting the common narrative, I often get caught up in feeling like I have to be an example. As if I’m supposed to portray myself as a superhero one-hundred percent of the time to prove to my team that if I can do it, they can, too. I admit this is total lizard brain thinking rooted in Show No Weakness brand sexism.”
March 21, 2017 – Chicken, My Anchor – “His shelter name was Tommy, but that didn’t work because my at-the-time boyfriend’s dead dad was named Tommy and it just felt weird. I tried to call him, ugh, Morrissey. Yeah, it was 2001, the year after I did not graduate from high school. I had just moved into my first apartment, a roach and flea infested dump on the furthest edge of town. It was dreadful, but the promise of adulthood and freedom were gloriously at my back. I was an adult! I lived on my own! I have forgotten so many things about my young adulthood I wish I could remember, but I will never forget the day I got him. I was at the San Diego County Animal Shelter and this gray giant, far bigger than any other cat I’d ever seen, was standing up in his cage on his hind legs, front claws drawn all the way out and attached to the metal door, screaming at me for attention. He was terrifying.”
December 15, 2016 – Cape Horn (+ writing) – “I look around and try to notice everything I possibly can, something I do when I need to get out of my head. Drenched neon mosses and licorice ferns growing off every alder trunk. The remaining leaves, a yellow deserving of new definition. The fog swirls thicker. Gratitude for green. All year, the seasons haven’t known whether to shit or get off the pot, but it is distinctly becoming winter, which isn’t so stark in Northwest Oregon, but actually kind of luscious, lively, magical. I’ve been going through my days like I’ve lost my magic and I hope to get some back today. I listen to the trees, the hollow roar of the Columbia River Gorge and the distant noises of highway fourteen. The sounds fill me up and I imagine them pushing out my pain.”
September 21, 2016 – Ape Canyon (+ writing) – “My body’s been a mess and my head even worse, but when my alarm goes off I’m up. The only thing that can get me out of bed after working late and only getting five-and-a-half hours of sleep is an all day hiking adventure. I wake up feeling different. Not as full of apprehension as I often am lately. Maybe, it’s just that I’m about to hang out with my very favorite mountain, Mount St. Helens.”
July 5, 2016 – The Journey is Good, Too – Reflecting on one of the first hikes I did, what I wish I knew then, good body days and bad body days, many helpful tips for the beginning hiker and Unlikely Hiker. – “I didn’t like to walk back then, ever. Not even a couple of blocks to the corner store for more soda water for my whiskey. I was probably wearing awful shoes, like Converse. I found out what a switchback is and I did not favor it, but I did favor a few things. The beauty and magic of the woods was not lost on me.”