It starts so early

Yes, I haven’t blogged since April of 2012. Let’s just call that out and then move on. Hoping to change it, but can’t promise anything because my life has been work work work since then, and I don’t see that changing for a little bit.

I have a friend who is a nanny. She is an awesome nanny. I couldn’t come close to being as awesome at it as she is. She looks after four kiddos, all girls. The oldest girl is starting to get shit from her dad about being fat. SHE IS EIGHT. And she looked in the mirror the other day and asked my friend, “Do I look fat?” When my friend told me this, my heart just broke. Broke. This sweet little peanut hears from her dad that she isn’t wonderful the way she is. She hears that there is something inherently wrong with her and that she needs to actively try and change that thing every day. What the ever loving fresh hell. I know most folks have probably read the studies (or read about the studies) , and we don’t need to be reminded, but we can’t ignore the fact that girls as young as THREE worry about being fat. When their biggest worry should be whether they’ll have enough time to color that day. Or build tree forts. Or run in sprinklers. Whatever kids do these days. Probably Facebook and snapchat?

I think part of what tore me up when I heard the story was just how familiar the story was. My own Dad asking me, “are you sure you want that second [fill in the blank]?” as he looked at me with disapproving eyes. “Let’s just run another 1/2 mile!” as we were out for a jog. I’m not saying my Dad didn’t love me. I think he loved me (and loves me still) so much that he just cannot shut up. That may sound twisted, and yes, it is. But understanding that has helped me to recognize that problems he has with my weight are just that. HIS problems.

He came for a visit a little over a week ago specifically to talk to me about things that were bothering him over the holiday break when I was home. I knew what he wanted to talk about; it was pretty clear most of the time I was home that he was a bit uncomfortable and that he wanted to say something but just couldn’t. I wasn’t particularly excited about re-hashing our problems/his concerns with my weight (we’ve had the talk before), but it turned out to be one of the best conversations we’ve ever had. And I think it was mostly due to the fact that I was 100% honest with him, which meant being vulnerable. For so long, I have refused to show him even a hint of vulnerability, for fear it would mean that “he won” (whatever that means). If I voiced my concern over my knee aches, or told him that I was hoping to move my body more this year, it would prove that he knew what was best for me all of those years. So giving that fear up was, for me, one of the toughest and most amazing things I’ve done in this fat activism journey. I’m hopeful that my pops is coming along for the journey as well.

calling all fatties!

So I’m sitting on a couple of panels at this weekend’s Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) conference, From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom, and I’ll be talkin’ fatty things!

I want to make sure I am offering up a wide variety of resources for attendees to use if they want to dive further into these issues, so I would love your comments/suggestions!

One panel is on food justice, and while my work isn’t directly on point with this area of activism, I was asked to bring the perspective of a fat activist and challenge folks to think about how we label food as “good” or “bad,” how classism can be inherent in a lot of conversations around food justice (you know, the old “if everyone ate whole foods and made their meals from scratch, people wouldn’t be so fat!” trope), and offer examples of how to incorporate fat activism into food justice work. Anyone have examples of how this is done well? Or have articles/books/resources I can point people to? I, of course, have done and will continue to do research, but I wanted to get ya’lls input as well.

The second panel is more in my wheelhouse, as I’ve been asked to speak about how fat activists have challenged media culture around bodies by sharing stories and building community. Hey, like I’m doing right now! I’d like to also point attendees to some great spaces on the interwebs regarding body image (think OOTDs, fatshion blogs, etc), but I have not been particularly active on Tumblr in the past several months. I would love some suggestions as to great Tumblrs that showcase various fat bodies, focusing particularly on folks who identify as queer and/or people of color, and of course would not turn away additional online resources you can think of!

Thank you in advance for your thoughts! I appreciate that CLPP understands just how important it is to discuss fat and body image issues within the reproductive health, rights, and justice movement. And if any of you will be at CLPP, lemme know so we can fatty high five!

#ihavecellulite!

I ran across a brief post on Jezebel today about how Lauren Conrad feels that the paparazzi ruined going to the beach for her, because they took pictures of her in a bikini and OMZG you could see her cellulite (for the uninitiated, Ms. Conrad was a regular on a reality show about Laguna Beach, a wealthy town south of Los Angeles, and all of the, you know, rich people problems and hilarity that ensues as a result of said money. I’m not sure what else she was famous for, except she then got her own spin off and now makes clothes or something? anyway.) She says:

On [a recent] vacation to Cabo, I wore a bathing suit on the beach for the first time in years. Usually I’m just petrified. A couple of years ago someone zoomed in on my cellulite and it was so mean. I took it really personally. I haven’t worn a bathing suit in L.A. in years because of that.

So, yes, that is some sadness right there. She didn’t wear a bathing suit for YEARS because of a pic of some cellulite? Yes, sure, we could all wax sarcastic about “ohhh, it must be so hard to be a rich white blond girl who enjoys thin privilege!” but honestly? I’m mostly just sad. What in the fresh-hell kind of fucked up culture do we live in that people refuse to go to the beach when it’s warm out because they are so ashamed of something that nearly EVERY woman has? To be very clear, I don’t want to lambast folks who feel the same way as Lauren Conrad does. This is not your fault (cue Good Will Hunting clip). It isn’t. This is a god-damn sad illustration of just how good we are at shaming people about their bodies. It’s mind-boggling how good we are at it. Yay us!

So, as soon as I got home from work today, I snapped this pic.

It’s not the best shot of cellulite that ever existed, but you get the point. It’s certainly about as risque as I’ve ever gotten in terms of posting things to the interwebs (I know, I lead a very dangerous and salacious life, watch out). If I had more followers and was more savvy regarding social media, I’d try to make this “a thing,” but instead I’m just putting it out here in this little corner of the internet world. I will also be Tweeting it under #ihavecellulite! and I encourage any and all of you to do the same! Show us your cellulite! Because fuck this noise, people. It’s important that those of us who feel comfortable doing so help spread the word that cellulite isn’t something to be ashamed of. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It isn’t inherently evil. It’s part of us. So hug it or something!

waking up skinny

possible trigger re weight loss talk

Remember when you were younger and would go to bed and think, “what if I woke up skinny? Like, what if magic actually exists and I wake up tomorrow morning looking exactly how I wanted to look??” Anyone? No? Was that just me? I remember thinking just how amazing that would be. Well, that question has started to pop back into my head lately and my answer increasingly is, “holy shit that would be amazing.”

As in, sometimes I wish I could magically wake up tomorrow and look like a different person. It just seems like things would be easier.

I’ll just let that sink in for a bit.

What I wouldn’t give to not think that. I feel such shame for thinking that. I HATE that I think that. I don’t even like typing it here. It makes me feel ashamed, feel like a failure, feel like I’ll never get to where I want to be regarding my body image. And shouldn’t I be much further along in this journey, as I started writing publicly about it over two years ago? I know, I know. I answered my own question…this is a journey and some days are better than others.

I have no deep thoughts here, only a renewed promise to post here more often, and that means posting some dark shit sometimes. Folks who know me would likely agree with me when I say that I don’t like it to appear as though I don’t have my life together. I’m much better at being a public mess than I used to be (yay public messes!), but my default is certainly to clam up and be all “lalala, no no, everything is delightful! puppies and rainbows!”

So yes, I’m owning it. Owning the fact that I want to live in a magical world where you could just shut your eyes, open them, and see a thinner person staring back at you. Intellectually I get where this is coming from. I do. I think that if I was skinnier, I would have loads of dates, I would have awesomer clothes, I would I would I would. And clearly there is no use wishing for THAT world, when I live in, you know, the ACTUAL world. But if there’s one thing I learned through this process of fat acceptance (I’m actually starting to not use that phrase as much anymore, but that’s for another post), it’s that trying to suppress the thoughts you wish you weren’t having doesn’t do any good. In fact, it often does more harm than good, so go on, let that shit out! *aaand scene

Update: fabulous reminder from commenter G about the amazing “Fantasy of Being Thin” by Kate Harding. It was one of the first FA blog posts I read, back in 2007. I’m gonna go read it again right now.

throwing the fatties under the bus

i work in the reproductive justice movement. As such, my facebook & twitter feeds are generally chock-full of news, comments, and status updates about the (more often than not) horrendous state of affairs in the US regarding a host of reproductive health, rights, and justice issues (see: the shackling of pregnant and birthing prisoners, infant mortality rate as a result of systemic racism, environmental toxins and their disproportionate impact on the repro health systems in communities of color, etc). Needless to say, it can be a real bummer sometimes. But I love this work so very much.

I get to work with some of the brightest, most passionate, kick-ass, radical women and men to help push this country forward when it comes to fighting for reproductive justice. But sometimes I get a big reminder that just because folks work in social justice does not mean they don’t carry with them some seriously fucked up notions of fat bodies.

A couple of weeks ago this video made the rounds on my facebook feed. If you can’t view it, basically it’s a rant by a rather social justice minded comedian about a website put up by pro-life/anti-choice folks. The website is a place where folks can let readers know what they’re giving up “until abortion ends” (I think the website is called until abortion ends, but I don’t want to give it traffic) by uploading their own videos. So people make a video about, say, giving up ice cream until abortion ends. Or soda. And so on. Ok, yes, it’s a slightly odd take on the issue, but I see where people are going with it. To them, abortion is evil. They are taking a stand, as it were, by giving up something they love in order to save fetuses. I can wrap my head around that (that doesn’t mean I agree with the sentiment, I’m just saying it makes sense).

So, this comedian is lambasting the people who upload videos to this site; he says something like “hey, big deal you’re giving up ice cream and soda! this isn’t a stand! you’re giving something up that you should give up anyway.” (emphasis added) He talks for a little while longer about how it’s not a sacrifice when you’re giving up something that isn’t good for you. You see where I’m going with this.

Anyway, quite a few of my facebook friends (and organizations I like) put the video up and made positive comments about it. I ignored them, until it just pissed me off. So I put it on my page and wrote: “this video has been making the rounds on my news feed…and i gotta say, i find it interesting that people and organizations that advocate for a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her repro health care are in the same breath telling her what she should and shouldn’t put in her body. #saynotofoodshaming!”

I thought more people would respond, particularly because so many folks had also posted the video but with glowing reviews. I did get one response, someone who, in my eyes, missed my point entirely. She said: “I see it as less food shaming than pointing out that the people on this site aren’t really making sacrifices because the things they’re pledging are really just making healthier choices. Pointing out that giving up McDonald’s or Taco Bell is something good to do anyway isn’t dictating what a woman puts on her body.”

I find this line of reasoning fascinating. It contradicts itself in the same sentence! twice! “I see it less as food shaming” and then “making healthier choices.” WHO decides which choice is healthy? (in essence, that was my response to her) “Pointing out that X is something good to do isn’t dictating…” UM, how come YOU get to decide what food is good?

So there we go. A reminder that fat oppression and fat & food shaming exists even in social justice circles. But that doesn’t surprise me. Food shaming is sewn into the fabric of our existence, and it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than the odd facebook conversation to overturn it. Also, this happened just a few weeks after I learned that a panel I proposed at a reproductive justice conference discussing the intersection of reproductive justice and fat acceptance/oppression wasn’t accepted. I’m just feeling a bit let down by a movement that exists, in part, to lift people UP in regards to their bodies, their sexuality, and their health (however they define it to be).

sometimes they get it right

I’ve been working for several days on a post about noticing when i’m being my authentic, true self and when I feel the need to metaphorically (or literally) “suck it in” around people I don’t feel fully comfortable with. I keep writing a few words and then moving away from it, I think because it feels really whiny to me right now and I don’t like being whiny, even though I know that’s coming from all of my own shit and sometimes it’s just helpful and cathartic to get it all out, even it feels like a colossal woe-is-me-fest.

However, I just saw a series of ads from the South African Marie Claire and one of the pics really made me smile, so I thought I’d throw it up here quickly. I should say that this doesn’t really give Marie Claire extra points or a free pass in my book (remember the whole “ew, fatties kissing is gross!” piece by one of their bloggers?). I also am skeptical ANY time an advertisement asks us to love our bodies, as they’re usually telling us that the best way to love our body is to use their product. Having said that, I just love one of the pictures they’ve used. She’s gorgeous, she looks defiant (“I dare you to pass judgment, because I am fabulous.”), she has fat rolls, she’s just stunning. It’s amazing how powerful pics like this can be. it’s kind of small, but basically the text indicates that everyone wants some body part of someone else. “You wish you had Stephanie’s skin, and Stephanie wishes she had Tasj’s boobs, and Tasj wishes she had Kassie’s legs…” and so on. But really, it’s not even about the text for me.

right?

ootd no. 4 – i declare fall!

It’s fall, hooooorayyyyyy! anyone who knows me knows i LOVE me some fall. the leaves, the crisp days, the scarves, the smell of pumpkin, the colors. to me it feels more like a beginning than the new year. and. AND! the clothes! I feel like my fall wardrobe is far superior to my spring and summer wardrobe, so these sunny yet cold days make me a happy happy camper, i tell you.

And yesterday was the first day of fall that i wore tights! so for me, it was the official first day of fall. come celebrate with me! what are your favorite fall staples?

dress: Target (I think?)
jacket: Old Navy
tights: We Love Colors in black (I sprung for the more expensive ones, the ones with lycra, and holy AMAZING! can’t recommend highly enough. thank you for the gentle nudge, Kath!)
shoes: indigo by Clarks (Endless.com, but it looks like they only have suede left). These shoes are unbelievably comfy and my go to fall shoes. love love them. never thought I would rock the ankle bootie. so so wrong, i was.

Oh, you want a close up of the shoes? Done.

What’s that? And the pretty multicolored dress? I can do that too!