Category Archives: fat acceptance

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.

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).

ootd no. 3 – ode to jeggings

I think that one of my first radical “I’m fat and don’t give a shit if what I wear is ‘appropriate’ or ‘figure-flattering’ enough for you” acts was purchasing and then wearing the ever-loving hell out of my first pair of jeggings. I love these things! Until rather recently, i would not have been caught dead in form-fitting pants. I watched a lot of “what not to wear”and by god, I knew how to “dress for my figure,” whatever the hell that means. But when I threw the rules out the window, there was no looking back. jeggings, bodycon dresses, maxi dresses, all thrown in the mix.

These jeggings are on their way out, I’m afraid. I’ve caught wind about these things called teggings, but I haven’t done much research. Anyone have a pair? Thoughts?

sweater: Target
tank top: Gap
jeggings: Lane Bryant
shoes: Calvin Klein (endless.com)
fat necklace: Definatalie!

closeup of the ever-so-amazing Fat Necklace!

I tried to capture the joy I have every time I put this necklace on, but the shutter went off before I was ready, so you can’t see the whole necklace in all of it’s glory. but you get the point. and i liked the pic anyway. One things this ootd exercise is teaching me is how to relax about seeing my image in photos. I’m grateful for that.

I absolutely adore this tank top so i’m giving you a close-up of the shiny stripes. shiny stripes! what’s not to love?

So what about you all? What was the first thing you remember wearing that was a distinct “fuck you” to those who’ve told you there are very specific rules you must ascribe to when dressing yourself?

wisdom for the ages

Every so often, i check out the ways people find me here using various search engines (yay site stats!). some of them crack me up. some of them make me sad. some of them i just don’t understand. so i thought i’d respond to a few of them and if ya’ll have any additional advice, throw ’em in the comments!

common searches that lead folks to my blog:

1. “I was set up with a fat girl” or “why do my friends fix me up with fat women” or “why do I always get set up with fat girls” or some variation on that theme.

I’m assuming this person isn’t comfortable with the fact that s/he has been set up with fat women. Perhaps not, perhaps s/he’s looking for intel on how to date the species…”what do fat people talk about?” “do fat people kiss like regular people?” “will i be able to eat any of the food we get at dinner, or will she hog it all?” You know, the important questions. To the person who gets set up with fat women, I say this…fat women, on the whole, are very much like non-fat women! it’s amazing how that works! there are nice fat women, and mean fat women. fat women who are great kissers and fat women who suck at kissing. fat people talk about all sorts of things! trains, the weather, politics, clothes, religion, food, movies, and more. trust me, if you date this fat woman like you would date any other woman, i think you’ll be ok.

And to the people asking these questions because they’re pissed that their friends set them up with fat women? piss off. get over yourself, your ego, and your desire to make sure you date “appropriate” women. you may even, gasp, have a delightful date with a fatty!

2. “met online i’m fat” or “dating while fat” or “how to make friends while fat” or “best friend isn’t attracted to me overweight.”

Yeah, I feel you. I’ve been there. shit, sometimes i AM there. sometimes it just sucks to be fat. there really isn’t any other more direct way to say it. Here’s the thing: dating is just generally awful for a lot of people, regardless of your weight. It can be awkward, it can be forced. And even if you put a legit picture of yourself (read: full body or one where it’s very clear that you’re fat) on your online dating profile, there are heart palpitations and sweaty palms when you think about him/her seeing you in person and running from the table screaming. Because even with online dating, a lot of us want to say the “right” thing. “Absolutely, I would date someone ‘overweight.’ Look at me, I’m so open-minded.” But then, when an actual fat person is right in front of them, they think “oh, wait. i thought you meant ‘fat’ like jennifer lopez. like, curvy, big ass. nevermind.” Sometimes the thought of meeting new potential partners freaks me the fuck out, I’ll just say it. But you know? It wasn’t until i finally said to myself, “um, this just isn’t worth it. who CARES if someone doesn’t like me because I’m fat? I may not like them because they’re mean! or dumb! or conservative!” that I began to really relax. The beauty of it is…when you take your power and agency BACK from other people, they can’t hurt you. You don’t LET others make you feel badly because you are perfectly happy with who you are. jesus, that is SUCH a self-help book thing to say, isn’t it? but it’s true!

As to the “how to make friends while fat” piece, I can only say that much of my advice is the same. focus on yourself, find things you love about YOU. also? there is this totally awesome FA community just waiting for you, so start poking around the interwebs!

3. “i have really fat friends, will i get fat.”

yes, probably. watch out, that shit is contagious.

This was fun! I’ve saved some for next time, stay tuned!

look, a fatty!

I was at a meeting the other day and during a break a friend/colleague of mine was talking to her high school friend on the phone about their recent 10 year reunion that she wasn’t able to attend. She came back after a while and gave us the play by play. Overall, she said she loved catching up on all their old friends. Then she said she asked her friend, “so, who got fat?” and then after what seemed like a bit of an awkward pause (to me), she said, “and also who got skinny?” I felt like that second question wasn’t actually posed and was instead stated for my benefit. “see, i’m not singling out fat people, i’m just curious about the changing shapes of all bodies!” and frankly even that is problematic. but i wanted to talk about how it made me feel. to put it bluntly, it made me feel like shit.

being fat isn’t something to be gossiped about. when you want to find out “who got fat?” you’re asking about who “let themselves go,” or who “doesn’t have it anymore.” Inherent in all of this is the idea that being fat isn’t correct, it isn’t right, we shouldn’t be it.

I am not saying it’s abnormal to notice a change in someone’s weight or appearance. We’re visual creatures, I get that. And some of the time, statements like that don’t carry with it the intention of judging someone. But most of the time? I’d venture to say nearly all of the time? Comments about people’s weight or appearance aren’t simply a statement of fact. They’re riddled with judgment. And above all, it reduces someone’s weight or appearance to a story, to gossip. Fat people are more than just a story to be gossiped about over a phone conversation. I went a while back to the a Fat Meet Up at the ever so lovely coffee shop of Not Blue At All, and we had a great discussion about being fat in public, especially around children. One of the people there said she gets the “look mom, she’s so fat!” all the time, and she sees it as a teaching moment for the children, because inevitably the parents will be mortified, pull their children away, and whisper furiously “we do NOT say things like at!” What message do you think kids get when they are simply pointing out what is, to them, just a fact? Look, she is fat. Look, he is tall. Look, I’m noticing these things as a new person in the world and it’s amazing to me! In the blink of an eye, they have fully received society’s message that fat is a bad word, that even if someone IS it, we certainly don’t point it out. And ta da, society’s boatload of shit is laid down upon some child who was just pointing out a fact. That child likely wasn’t judging her body, she was simply noticing it. Then adults come in and fuck everything up.

Here’s the bottom line…my friend’s question to her friend about who got fat in the last 10 years didn’t feel like an innocent noticing of the fact, a la kids. It felt like I, and people who look like me, was being reduced to something to be sensationalized, gossiped about. And it sucked. But I have to say that it didn’t crush me to a million pieces like it may have a couple years ago, so for that I am grateful.

Who has called this type of behavior out in friends before (nicely or not-so-nicely)? How’d the conversation go?

it’s about to get heavy

Possible triggering re: weight loss.

I’ve been feeling…off lately. Scattered. Uneasy. Skittish. I think it’s because I’m about to really get into some shit. Some heavy mental lifting, if you will. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact I’m looking forward to it. But I can tell I’ve been preparing myself because I’ve been pretty withdrawn the past couple weeks (as evidenced in part by my complete lack of presence on this here blog). Not really wanting to go out for drinks, not particularly interested in meeting new people, in fact not wanting to be around people at all. I went to my parents house last weekend when they were away and it was simply delightful (love the ‘rents, but damn I wanted some alone time!). Which is interesting, this concept of wanting some alone time. I live alone. I haven’t made tons of friends here yet. I’m gettin’ plenty of alone time. But I needed something a bit more. So off I went with my dog and two bags full of dirty laundry (seriously Sabrina? You’re 30. time to stop taking dirty laundry home to your parents house. does anyone else still do this?) for a weekend full of close to nothing. Just me and three dogs, some horses, and chickens:

I sat outside a lot, just kind of staring at the pretty trees, talking to the animals, soaking up the sun. and I started Dr. Linda Bacon’s “Healthy at Every Size” which is blowing. my. mind. I’ve had the book for quite a few months now, but for whatever reason, didn’t pick it up until I was packing to go home. And I am so glad I brought it. I’ve spoken before about HAES, so I won’t go into detail again here. And I’m not going to turn this into a book review, at least, not until I’ve read the whole thing. Suffice to say, when a friend of mine asked me what I loved about it so much, I responded, “it’s like someone telling me it’s not my fault.” So powerful. And honestly? I think maybe I wasn’t ready to read it until just now. Because it’s bringing up all sorts of stuff for me, mostly around my relationship with food.

Historically, I’ve examined my relationship with food as a bit of a passing hobby. Sure, it came up in therapy (note to self: find a therapist here), but I haven’t dedicated a whole hell of a lot of time into really examining how I interact with food.

I think I’ve been withdrawn so that I could shore up energy, if I may get super touchy feely hippie for a moment. This shit ain’t easy, and the idea of spending real focused time examining, pulling apart, and staring at my relationship with food is utterly terrifying. But the best part is it is simultaneously the clearest thing in the world to me.

***so I wrote all of that up there about 3 weeks ago and then disappeared again. And I think I know why. I had quite the solitary and meditative Sunday this past weekend, and it just sort of hit me like a ton of bricks. I want to lose weight. This may not seem like much of a statement to most of you, but let me tell you in that in the fatosphere, and for those of us who call ourselves fat activists? Them’s fighting words. Or at the very least, they’re words will get you some attention.

But let me explain myself.

“I want to lose weight.” Even saying those words out loud to myself shook me. Why? Why all of a sudden am I starting to go there? It felt like going backward. If I’m all “hooray, fat activism, I love my body!” then how can I want to change it simultaneously? This tension has been with me from the beginning of my FA journey, to be sure. It’s just starting to come up a bit more. But then, on Sunday, I REALLY sat with that statement. What do I mean? What about losing weight is appealing to me right now? And it was as clear as day: I don’t necessarily want to lose weight, I want to feel better. Those are two very different things, but historically, they have NOT been two different things to me. The answer to the question “how can I feel better” was always, without fail, 100% of the time, to lose weight. So now, when I don’t feel right in my body, the answer that comes to me right away is: lose weight. The next step in this for me was to unpack it and go from there.

For the last few months, I haven’t been paying attention to my body when it comes to feeding it. It’s sort of been all processed, all the time.  As I have made abundantly clear in this space before, I am not interested in labeling foods as good or bad. Before we came in to fuck everything up, food didn’t have moral value. It was. just. food. Anyway, the food I’ve been eating lately hasn’t been the most, shall we say, whole and natural. (disclaimer: I don’t give two shits what anyone else eats. Eat Taco Bell and Cheetos every single day for every single meal if you want, I will not judge you for it, this I promise) Instead, my diet has consisted of foods on the more processed side of the spectrum. And it doesn’t make me feel good. Sure, it may make me feel good in that moment, but I’ve been feeling off for a while and it’s due, in part, to my dissociation from my body and my diet.

I joke that my diet (as in, the food I eat, not “DIET” in the way most of us use the word) only works in extremes. I’m either throwing back frozen pizza and no veggies or I’m cooking gourmet, locally-sourced, free-range whatever. There isn’t much in between for me. The time has come to head toward the more whole foods side of things (foods that are whole, not the store). I’ve been focusing on this for the last few days and it’s incredible how much better I feel already. I should also note how appreciative I am that I can make this choice. Cheaper food isn’t necessarily the food with the most nutrients, and there are millions of folks every day who don’t have the opportunity to choose the more expensive/more nutrient rich option.

I’m not saying this was the magic bullet and now all of my problems will go out the window. But it’s been such a glorious relief to recognize the difference between “I want to lose weight” and “I want to feel better.” And besides being a relief? It feels powerful. And I like it very much.