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Erin Marie

Dossier

Website
http://randomette.blogspot.com
Twitter
erinvk
Role Models
Okay - prepare for what will seem like wankery here. Nelson Mandela is my greatest role model. From the moment I read his book in grade 12, I knew that I needed to aspire to be like him. The strength, perseverence and sheer strength he has shown throughout his life is something that daily inspires me to be the best possible me I can, not just for myself, but for the world.
Distinguishing Characteristics
I'm the girl who always gets pulled over at airport security for looking 'too innocent'. Baby blue eyes, dimples (on my cheeks as well as knees and bum), I've got that whole 'cherub' thing going on. Sometimes it works for me, and sometimes I dress as a punk rocker just to throw everyone off.
Fashion Style
I'm still trying to find my style, greatly inspired by the wonderful fatshionistas of the fat-o-sphere. I like girly dresses which float, but I also rock a bit of slink. I love my Converse and a good comic-book t-shirt. Mostly though, I just dress for the occasion, trying not to offend anyone's delicate sensibilities about what fatties should or shouldn't wear. Don't worry, it's a habit I'm trying to get out of.

Posts by Erin Marie:

Everyone can be an astrophysicist.

Everyone can be an astrophysicist.  All you need to do is work hard, and you’ll get there.  Let’s face it – only quitters aren’t astrophysicists.  If it’s not something that comes naturally to you there’s PLENTY of things you can do help you get there.

Just study harder, for example.  I know it seems obvious, but clearly you’ve never heard it before, otherwise you’d be doing it. Finding the complex mathematics difficult?  Hire a tutor.  Doesn’t matter that it’s expensive and maybe you can’t afford it right now – if that’s what you need to do, then do it.

Still finding it difficult?  Maybe you need to spend more time studying so that you can get there.  What?  You’re already studying every day?  Maybe you need to do more.  And more.  If it requires you to study 12 hours a day in order to become an astrophysicist – that’s what you need to do.  Sure, you won’t have time for your friends or family, and your mental health might suffer, but at least you’ll be getting closer to that goal.

What do you mean you don’t understand why being an astrophysicist should be the ultimate goal for everyone?  Astrophysics is what everyone aspires to, really, even if they say otherwise.  Or it’s what they should want, even if they don’t.  The benefits are amazing – well worth those small sacrifices of well-being and mental health.

I’m so tired of people saying that not everyone has the capacity to become an astrophysicist.  It’s well established now that every single human brain functions in the same way and has the same capacity for intelligent thought.  Do I have any research to back that up?  Well no, not specifically, but everyone knows it.  It’s on the news all the time and my cousin’s best friend’s boyfriend’s sister did a subject in psychology and she told me that essentially everyone’s brain is made up of the same stuff, so obviously it all works the same.  Clearly the problem with the people who don’t become astrophysicists is that they’re quitters.  They’re just not prepared to do the work it takes to get there. They don’t have any pride or self-respect or self-discipline. All they want to do is sit around on the couch watching TV or playing on the internet.  That’s all anyone who isn’t an astrophysicist does.

And at the end of the day, I’m an astrophysicist*, so everyone else must be able to be one too.

——————————————————-

*Actually, I’m not an astrophysicist.  I have nothing but respect and admiration for astrophysicists.  It was the first occupation that I thought of that required a highly intelligent, highly trained mind, and I mean no disrespect to anyone in that field.


If we don’t owe pretty to anyone, why are we fatshionistas?

Recently I was hugely inspired by Erin at A Dress A Day and her amazing post entitled “You Don’t Have to Be Pretty”.

In particular, the following quote has been making the rounds on Tumblr, and it totally revolutionised the way I see dressing myself, and putting on make-up and generally getting all fanced up.

You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.

Now I don’t know about you, but this was pretty revolutionary for me.  I’ve always been the fat girl, all I have is my ‘pretty face’, which means that since I was old enough to be allowed to own make-up, I’ve been putting on make-up to make my face pretty for every opportunity at which people would be able to comment on my pretty face.  Which let’s face it, is pretty much all of life.

But this makes sense to me.  I’ve known for a long time that the reason I wear make-up is to impress people.  For example, in a work context, women who wear make-up are thought to be less professional than their female colleagues who do wear make-up, and their male colleagues in general.  When I go out it’s to attract men.  When it’s with my friends it’s to get compliments and look nice in photos.  Very rarely was it about me wanting to look nice because that’s what I wanted.  In fact, I can’t count the times that I put on make-up in the sweltering heat even though I really didn’t want to, because that’s what people expected.  Or when I just wanted to duck out to the shops but put on a bit of eyeliner and mascara ‘just in case’.  Hell, for my 25th birthday I wore a full coat of foundation with eyeliner and waterproof mascara to go to Dreamworld for the day.

So I’ve come to terms with the fact that I don’t owe pretty to anyone. I’ve even come to terms with the other revolutionary idea put forward by a few fatshionistas about rejecting the notion of the flattering outfit, such as in this post by Natalie.  I still instinctively go for the outfits that show off my boobs and narrow waist, but hell – my boobs are amazing and I like my narrow waist!  Importantly though, I’m becoming less attached to sleeves to cover my batwings every day, and on several occasions I have worn skirts, dresses and even shorts that are above my knee!

But if it’s the case that I don’t owe pretty to anyone, and that flattering outfits aren’t important, why is owning fabulous clothes to put on my body so important to me?  To us all?

I’d like to think it’s because I like to look nice.  I really enjoy beautiful clothes.  That blue dress that I wore to my friends wedding – it is the most amazing thing I have ever owned and unless I find something better, I would like to be buried in it.  I’d like to think that the only reason I spend hours online looking for fabulous clothes, measuring myself to make sure I’ll fit into things I’m ordering from overseas and braving malicious sales people in mortar and brick stores is because beautiful clothes help me feel good about myself.

But I know that’s not entirely true.

I know another reason I’m looking for great clothes that make me look great is to give the forks to all the people who think that fat people can’t look fashionable.  I know it’s for the look of surprise when I show up to an event looking even more ravishing than my conventionally beautiful and more sought after friends.

I know it’s because I want to look pretty, because I think that’s what I’m supposed to do.

Maybe everyone else out there has it together already, and is doing it because they like clothes, but deep down I know I’m doing it to fit in with the rest of society.  It’s not just a big “F- You” to the world, on some levels it’s also a very meek and shy “Look at me, I fit in, I look just like you, please don’t make fun of me anymore.’

And you know what?  Neither of those are okay.  I shouldn’t have to give the forks to the world to make a point about finding clothes that fit my body and look good (according to whatever the fashion standards of the minute are).  Nor should I want or need to fit in with everyone else, and fear being ridiculed if I am not.

As a result of the influence of people like Erin and Natalie (and countless others), I now ask myself WHY I’m putting on make-up, and whether it’s really important if that dress doesn’t totally flatter my figure if I feel fabulous in it.  But I still wonder how much of what I do is in order to bend to the dictates of society, and how much is just because I like being pretty.

I’m still just a baby in the world of FA, and I have lots to learn about fashion and fatshion.  Maybe you could tell me – why are YOU into fatshion?  Is it really possible to want to look good for any reason other than to live up to society’s expectations of what people should look like?


Why?

I think one of the things that I most love about the fat acceptance movement is that it combines my innate curiosity and complete inability to quit asking why with a part of my life that I have never questioned.

You shouldn’t wear sleeveless tops or dresses  -  Why?

Fat people should never have naked photos taken – Why?

You really ‘don’t need to eat that’ – Why?

Why is there no fashionable clothing out there that suits me?

Why should I feel ashamed about eating fast food, or chocolate, or cake in front of other people?

Why?  Why?  Why?

And it doesn’t just stop at a why for those questions.

You shouldn’t wear sleeveless tops or dresses.  Why? Because they show your arms.  And why is that a bad thing? They’re fat.  And why is that a problem? Because fat is ugly.  But why is fat ugly? Because society has conditioned us to think that fat is bad.  Why? So that numerous different industries can profit from fear and self-loathing.  You’re thin?  Enjoy these clothes but never put on weight because once you do – KAPOW! You’re headed for mumus and ugly t-shirts.  You’re fat?  Here, buy this shake/weight loss program/gym subscription/gastric bypass surgery so that you can slim down and fit into normal clothes like the rest of us.  (Obviously that is somewhat of an over-simplification and is not the be all and end all answer, but it sure is a start).

And then there’s the penultimate question.  Is this okay?

It’s all well and good to keep questioning why and get down to the underlying reason of why things are the way they are, but the real question is whether or not that’s okay.

And I think that’s what we’re doing every day, out there in the world, as fat acceptance advocates.  We’re asking why, and getting other people to ask themselves why they think the way they do, and making it clear that it is not okay for society to dictate the way we see our bodies, dress our bodies and treat our bodies.  Nor is it okay for anyone else to pass judgement on our bodies.

For me, it has been (and continues to be) a real revelation.  I am a real questioner, sometimes I describe myself as being on a quest for ultimate truth, and that takes me to some pretty dark places and makes me question some pretty hairy things.  But until I came into contact with fat acceptance, it never even crossed my mind to question my own perception of my body, letalone that of people in my life.

It’s not easy though, being the harbinger of truth.  Many people out there don’t want to accept it.  They’ll dig their heels in at one of the earlier questions.  Why shouldn’t I show off my fat arms?  Because you just shouldn’t.  No-one wants to see them.  Why don’t people want to see them?  Because they just don’t okay.  Just cover them up.

The number of conversations I’ve had with people about these things.  Why shouldn’t Beth Ditto be on the cover of a magazine naked?  Why is it okay for my mother to comment on my body and what I put into it, but not on my thinner sister’s?  Why is it okay for people to say ‘wow, you look great – have you lost weight?’ to me, but not ‘wow, you look great – have you put on weight?’ to my underweight friend?

Most people stonewall me, and refuse to look to the deeper issue at stake here.  It comes down to the fact that society values people that fit into a certain body ideal, and those who do not fit into it – especially those of us who are larger, are shamed, ostracised and downright disenfranchised.

So you know what I do?  I wear sleeveless tops and dresses proudly to the shops.  I don’t allow my fat (or my mother) to determine my food choices based on what I need to get thin, or maintain my weight.   I go out of my way to find fashionable clothes that fit my body so that I look good and feel great about myself, and I petition fashion retailers to extend their ranges to plus sizes.  In public I order whatever I feel like eating at the time and don’t feel ashamed about doing so.

And you know what I’m going to do next?  I’m going to get a naked photo taken.  And I’m going to be surrounded in cakes and lollies and ice-cream sundaes and chocolate and whipped cream.  And I’m going to cheekily grin in that photo as a two-fingered salute to the world that says that it’s not okay for me to revel in those food choices.

Why?  Because I can.  And that, my friends, is okay.


Limbo limbo limbo limbo.

I feel like I’m at a bit of a stage of limbo in my fat acceptance journey at the moment.

On the one hand, most of the time I am able to look at myself in the mirror, with or without clothes, and think ‘Hot damn woman!  You are one sexy thing!’  I understand and totally agree that no-one has the right to police my body, or judge it, or ask me to change it.  I think I’m almost to the point where I can accept that, for better or for worse, this is my body and I can accept it and love it without shame.

But on the other hand, I still have this lingering, nagging feeling that I should be trying to lose weight.  So that I can easily fit into the seat on the aeroplane.  Or so that I don’t have to worry about my doctor blaming all of my health issues on my weight.  Or so that I am just not freaking judged every day of my damn life.

I was thinking about all of this before I watched this wonderful video by Margitte of Riots not Diets featuring Jessica from Tangled Up in Lace and Keena of Buttah Love.   If you haven’t watched it I highly recommend it, although be warned that it does talk some about dieting and body shaming.

The truth is, we face such a barrage of negativity from the world every day, that it is no wonder that I’m in limbo.  It’s like when you go into rough surf at the beach and you keep trying to make your way forward past the break, but the waves keep pushing you back, so you end up staying in the same place.  That’s where I feel I’m at right now.

In the FA community weight loss is such a taboo subject.  If you talk about wanting to lose weight you are publicly lambasted and shamed.  Whilst I understand the reason for ‘diet’ being a dirty word, the simple fact is that every day we are confronted with messages telling us that are bodies are not good enough and that we need to lose weight.  As Keena points out in the video, people are actively looking at our bodies and judging whether or not we will fit into aeroplane seats.  Every time I go into a restaurant, particularly a fast food place, I feel the judgemental stares of people thinking ‘eat a salad fatty’.

So it’s hard to be in this place right now.  Believing and understanding that it is okay for me to accept and love my body exactly how it is, but feeling this external pressure to fit in.  So I’m drifting in limbo, waiting for the wave that knocks me back, or the surge of energy that will compel me forward.  I’ll let you know where I end up.


Fatterina

Not too long ago, Natalie and I were discussing on Twitter an outfit that I thought would work, and Natalie thought it sounded like a superhero costume.  I offhandedly threw in the name Fatterina and that her superpower was not giving a shit about what people said about what she wears.  It was all very tongue in cheek, but when I lamented not being able to draw Fatterina, Natalie suggested I blog about her.  Once I started thinking about this whimsical character, I also really started thinking about who Fatterina is, and what she would do.

Sometimes I wish I was a superhero who could fly around the world and assist fatties in need.  Fatterina would do that for me.  I mean, she is me.  Even though it’s pronounced to rhyme with ballerina, Fatterina is, in essence, fatt-Erin-a.  Even the name is a bit facetious, because I desperately wanted to do ballet as a child, but my mum (I think in order to prevent me from being teased) wouldn’t allow it.

Fatterina doesn’t care about what the world says about her body.  She understands that her body is her own and no-one has the right to pass judgement on it except her.  She also stands up for her fellow fatties – especially those who aren’t yet ready to stand up for themselves.

Standing tall and proud, she tosses her hair back, one go-go booted foot forward, hands on her hips.  Long and curly, the mid-brown locks are held off her face with a gold Wonderwoman-esque headband.  The gemstone embedded in the middle is pink, and pulsates with energy.

Her costume is a confection of gold and hot pink lycra – the plunging neckline over her voluptuous breasts is golden, fitting tight to her Ruebanesque body like a bathing suit.  Down the sides however, are hot pink panels which complement perfectly the organza tutu of many shades of pink overlaying the tight fitted costume.

Ten centimetre gold cuffs can be found at her wrists, each with pink stones which she can use to focus her laser sharp intelligence and wit to shoot retorts that leave her critics gasping for breath.

In the centre of her chest is emblazoned the letter “F”, looking as though it is made from some kind of hot pink jewel.  It too pulsates with energy, seeming to come to life with every empowering breath Fatterina takes.  Flowing behind her is her superhero cape – gold on the top and pink underneath – perfect for any occasion where she may need to create an outfit out of nothing.

Her gold go-go boots have a sensible heel to ensure that Fatterina can run to the aid of any fatty beset by trolls or naysayers as fast as she can.

Fatterina could teach us all a thing or two about confidence, owning our bodies and loving ourselves.  Most of all, she believes everyone is deserving of dignity, respect and love, no matter their shape or size.

No if only I can let her out more often … and find myself a really rocking tutu!


Fatties I Admire – Supernanny

Okay, I admit it.  I am a reality television whore.  After the break up with my boyfriend I moved in with my best friend’s parents and have spent way too much time watching TV shows like The House of Tiny Tearaways, Toddlers and Tiaras, Ace of Cakes and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

I’ve also re-discovered an old favourite – Supernanny.  As a one time nanny myself, I really enjoyed picking up tips about how to deal with unruly children, and just seeing the love this woman could put into a family that was not her own.

Last night as I lay sleepless at 2am, I flicked on the TV for (yet another) episode and I realised another thing.  Jo Frost (the Supernanny) is a fierce fatty!

I mean, obviously I noticed that she was plus sized, but it wasn’t until last night that I really realised that she was comfortable in her own skin.  She immediately became a Fatty I Admire.

I mean, look at her in her Supernanny Suit!

Could she BE any cuter?

And then there’s what she looks like dressed down:

She is simply gorgeous!

I’ve seen her run after children, play basketball and generally just enjoy her job as who she is.

A quick Google of Supernanny and weight brings up an article stating that Jo Frost attributes weight gain seen over the series as the result of always being on the run and making bad food choices.  But nowhere else have I really seen her critical of herself and her size.  She just seems to me as a sensible person who enjoys her work, and her life, and is comfortable with who she is.

Jo Frost, Supernanny, is this week’s Fatty I Admire!  Stay tuned for follow ups in this series!


I am your mother

(This post mentions sexual abuse, eating disorders and other sensitive subjects that some people may find triggering.)

Wait. Stop. Think. Before you make that comment about fat people, think about who you’re saying it to.

I am your mother, who gained 20kgs in pregnancy and never lost it. I am your father, who sat 20 years behind a desk so that you had food and clothes and education.

I am your sister, who was sexually abused as a child and uses her fat as a cushion to protect her from the world. I am your brother with a metabolic condition which means I am unable to process food normally.

I am your friend who grew up in an impoverished family and was forced to eat unhealthy, processed foods, or not eat at all. I am your neighbour who eats and exercises just like you, but who can’t manage to shift the weight.

I am your colleague, who was bulimic as a teenager, and has worked 10 years to fix their relationship with food.

I am your daughter, who just wants your acceptance and love, no matter my shape. I am your son who cries himself to sleep because the world hates him.

I am the possibility of who you could have been, had life given you a different path.

Now, what was it you wanted to say?


I deserve love

My post last week which introduced you to me and my journey of fat acceptance got me thinking.

When I was twenty, my best friend was consoling me over my failed relationship and all of the ways in which my life had fallen in a hole (they were many and varied).  We had both recently come out of exhausting and abusive relationships, and had both always battled with our weight.  Neither of these issues were things that we spent a lot of time talking about, but looking back I realise that it was because of these shared experiences I knew that I could trust her words and her wisdom.  As I cried for the millionth time about how it must have been my fault that my drug addict boyfriend cheated on me, my best friend halted me in my tracks when she said to me:

At their core, everyone has something that holds them back.  A question, a phrase, a belief – something that makes them think that they can’t achieve their wildest dreams, or anything even close.  Once you figure out what that core belief is, you can work towards letting it go and reaching out for your potential.

In that moment, what she said resonated with truth.  Without consciously thinking about it, I said:

I don’t deserve to be loved.

So there it was, at age twenty, I had discovered the deep-seated core belief that was holding me back.  I don’t deserve to be loved.  And not only that – I don’t deserve any of the wonderful things in my life.

So obviously, eight years later, I should have totally overcome this conviction, have it all sorted out and be killing it out there in the world.

Yeah, right.

I should preface the rest of this post with the comment that there are many contributing factors to this core belief than simply being fat, most of which I have previously recognised and attempted to deal with.  Without going into too much detail, my childhood and adolescence was less than ideal in terms of familial relationships, and I know for certain that these early experiences contributed a great deal to my idea of love.

But after I wrote the post about my journey into fat acceptance, and particularly about those boys that I loved who didn’t love me back, it got me to thinking about how my experiences of being fat contributed to my belief that I don’t deserve love.

Those boys that I loved, that didn’t love me back … I know that they are part of the life experience that has made me who I am today.  But right now I have to acknowledge that who I am today is a person who does not believe that she is deserving of love because she is fat.  And that those experiences contributed to that.

I hold no grudge against those guys.  Some of them I’m still friends with.  But the fact remains that (at least in my head) the reason that they didn’t want to go out with me was because I was fat.

Actually, if I’m truly honest with myself, I’ll tell you that with most of those guys, I didn’t even admit to them that I liked them because I was so afraid of being ridiculed for being fat, even more than I already was, just for being me.

And those that I did tell – ‘Sorry Erin, I just don’t see you in that way’.  Of course, in my head that went ‘Sorry Erin, I just don’t see you in that way, because you’re fat’.  Maybe that was what they were saying.  Maybe it wasn’t.  I guess I’ll never know.

And if it didn’t come from them, where did that message come from?  Was it my mother’s constant comments on my size?  Was it the teenage magazines that I read even though none of it applied to me, because I was fat?  Was it the way the boys used to dare each other to flirt with me, as if it was totally impossible that any of them would actually like me?  Was it the fact that when I went clothes shopping I had to look in the middle-aged-woman friendly plus sized section or men’s section to find clothes that fit?  Was it seeing all my girlfriends with the boyfriends and me sitting on the sidelines alone?  Was it the stares and comments I got when I played sport, no matter how well I played?  Was it people telling me I had such a pretty face?  Was it the sense I had that it was important for me to do well academically so that I could stand out in some positive way?

It was probably all of these and more.

So in the eight intervening years, I’ve been through ups and downs of self acceptance and believing that I deserve to be loved.  As any good life coach will tell you, the first step on the road to being loved by others is to love yourself, and that is a battle I have fought a thousand times.  Most of those battles have taken place in the battlefield of my mind – charges against negative thoughts, skirmishes with past demons and out and out brawls with sheer untruths.  Some of them though, have been against my body.  Sometimes, when I’ve thought that I hate myself because of my size, I’ve waged war against my body, pushing it to physical extremes and withholding food from it – all in the name of loving and nurturing myself.

Funnily enough (or maybe not), it was when I was in Africa that I came to a place of understanding and acceptance of who I am.  Cut off from my world, from the people who usually surround me and the usual events of my life, I was forced to look at myself and decide whether or not I liked the person I saw.  I was surrounded by wonderful people who allowed me to see the truth of who I was, and I realised that I am okay exactly the way I am.  In fact, I am more than okay, I am a wonder of nature.

I am loving.  I am kind.  I am gifted at music and singing.  I have the ability to weave experiences and emotions into song.  I am intelligent.  Even my emotions – one thing I have battled my entire life – are wonderful.  The way that I am able to openly express my feelings without restraint is a marvel.  I am beautiful.

Let me say that last one again – I am beautiful.  I look back at photos of myself when I was in Kenya – still fat, caked in dirt and sweat, having not washed my hair in over a week, and I see that I am beautiful.

I wish I could say that sense of inner peace I had found lasted, but it didn’t.  I came home, suffered from severe reverse-entry culture shock was (finally) diagnosed with bipolar disorder and voila! Confidence completely shaken.

Almost.

You see, something in me has been different from that moment on.  Deep down I now know what it feels like to love myself, and I know that despite what is going on in society, and in my mind, that is truly how I feel about myself.

Do I believe that I deserve to be loved?

By myself, certainly yes.  By other people?  When I first got back, I believed that definitely, I was ready to be loved.  But now … well, I’m still debating it.

I came back from Africa with my heart freshly broken by someone I had met over there.  But I wasn’t going to let it stop me from getting out there and allowing myself to be loved.  I finally got some closure with a long term ‘will-it/won’t it happen’ relationship, and I put myself out there for internet dating.

Almost immediately I met a guy who I hit it off with, and we’ve been together ever since.

Funnily enough, it has been during our relationship that the questions about deserving love and body image have reared their ugly heads again.

My BF is amazing.  He loves me unconditionally, and loves my body.  He tells me every day how beautiful I am, how sexy I am, how attractive he finds me.  He tells me he loves me at least once an hour, and when I prevaricate on whether or not he does, he tells me in no uncertain terms to STOP, listen, and trust that what he says is real.

But that doesn’t always stop the questions in my head.

My BF is an attractive man.  He is successful and interesting.  He would certainly have no dearth of opportunities to meet conventionally attractive and interesting women.  Why then, would he be with me?   Me, who for the majority of my life has had to wait for people to ‘get to know me’ before they ‘saw me in that way’.

How can I possibly deserve his love, when all I’ve ever done is be me?  And let’s face it, I’m not easy.  I constantly question his feelings for me.  I express all kinds of emotions  – some of which are rational and some of which are not.  I’m not attractive by society’s standards.  Mostly, I’m just a giant (ha) pain in the ass.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that when I put in the effort, I scrub up real nice.  But surely it would be easier to be with someone who people didn’t have to look past the fat to find attractive.  And surely it would be easier to be with someone who wasn’t so hung up with how she looked.

At the end of the day, I realise that none of these are good excuses for not deserving love.  In fact, when it comes to other people, I truly believe that everyone deserves to be loved.  Because you know what – love is not about deeds or worth.  It is something that people give of their own free will.  I see the double standard I apply to myself when I say that while everyone else deserves love, I do not, because I am fat, or because I am damaged or because I am broken.

So I try to accept love where it is given, although it is hard, at times.  And I try to look back at those realisations I had about myself when I was in Africa and apply them to myself again, with more success at some times than others.

I wish I could say that I had the demons under control, that I had truly conquered that deep seated core belief that I didn’t deserve love, or good things in my life, but the truth is that I will probably never completely overcome that.  Hopefully one day I’ll be able to realise that fear as the root of a problem as soon as it comes up, and quash it as being untruth, but for now I’ll have to make do with the fact that it’s something that I will continue to struggle with, and attempt to remain aware of it.  And I’ll remind myself of the words I give to other people whenever they struggle with loving themselves.

You are okay.  You are more than okay.  You are a wonder of nature.  Whatever gifts or attributes or traits that give you your ‘you-ness’ are a marvel.  You are loved more than you can imagine by more people than you dare to dream. Love is not something given based on worth, deeds or accomplishments.  Love is something that is freely given whether you deserve it or not.

Love is a gift. Rejecting love is like leaving a beautifully wrapped package with the most perfectly chosen gift inside languishing on a rain-lashed doorstep simply because you felt you did not deserve any gift from the giver, let alone one so beautiful and so perfect.  Whether or not you accept the gift is your choice – it doesn’t change the fact that the gift has been given. Will you choose to accept that love, or reject it, hurting both yourself and the giver?


Baby steps as a fatshionista

I had a very exciting day yesterday.  Not only was I the MC at the wedding of an old high school friend, but I took my first tentative steps into the world of fatshion!

Back in July I bought an amazing blue pleated dress from City Chic with the intent of wearing it to the wedding, but back then I kind of just planned to do my usual thing of wearing the dress with whatever black accessories I could scrounge from my wardrobe.  Over the past few months though I’ve been inspired by so many amazing fatshionistas that I decided to go all out and really rock it!  This was the result!  (Sorry about the dodgy photos but I was home alone armed with nothing but my laptop and iPhone, and being quite busy on the day with MC duties, didn’t get any other good full length shots.)

Blue poppy: Tempest Ahoy at Etsy - $10.00 (attached to my own black headband).

Earrings & Necklace: Diva – $15.00. Extender chain for necklace, $3.00.

Dress: City Chic – $149.00.

Bolero Jacket: Crossroads. I’ve had this for so long I can’t remember how much it was.

Shoes: Diana Ferrari. On sale at DFO for $79.00 (and paid for by my lovely BF!)

Purse:  Birthday gift from a friend.

The purse was the inspiration for contrasting colours for the outfit.  As soon as I opened the wrapping paper on my birthday I was like ‘this will be perfect with the dress!’  After that, it was a matter of sourcing the right shoes and accessories!

Do you know what I loved most about this outfit?  The fact that, despite all the hours I put into planning and shopping and thinking about how I was going to make a statement for the fatties of the world – how we can all look beautiful and fashionable – on the day of the wedding, I didn’t think once about the fact that I was fat.  Not once when I was complimented on the dress did I think to myself ‘Not bad for a fatty, right?’.  I didn’t once worry about double chins or my flabby arms or my butt that sticks out to high heaven.  The whole day I felt amazing.

Lillian over at My Unacceptable Body had this to say about her recent Moment of Divine Fatshion:

Clothes can be magical, not because they can transform you into someone else, but because they can vibrate harmoniously with who you really are, enhancing and amplifying your you-ness.  And although we can’t realistically live our whole lives in perfect fabulousness of dress, we all deserve a regular dose of allowing our outsides to look as we are inside: comfortably and effortlessly beautiful.

That’s how I felt in my blue dress yesterday, and how I aspire to feel all the time.  Or at least most of the time.


It’s all part of the journey

I want to cry.  I’ve just been reading the comments attached to the recently much discussed article about fatties in bikinis, and I just want to cry at the judgmental, closed-minded … disgusting opinions expressed there.  The article itself is bad enough, but the comments… well they’re something else.

In my 28 years on the planet I have always been a chubster, and have been through a huge variety of attitudes towards my body.  As a kid I didn’t care – I just played sport and hung out with my friends and sang and danced and acted like I wanted.  Then I became an adolescent, and I realised that my body was not the norm.

As I write this I’m sitting at the desk I’ve had since I was a kid, and etched into the pine are the names of various boys I was in love with throughout my teenage years.  None of whom ever saw me as anything other than their ‘good friend Erin’ who was good for a laugh and to help them with studying, but not much else.  I agonised over those boys.  I cried myself to sleep over some of them, all the while believing that I would never be good enough for them because I was fat.  I did every diet under the sun and developed ugly habits of starving myself and then binge eating, pushing my weight up further than if I’d just been moderate with my food.

As I entered into young-adulthood I became somewhat more comfortable with my body – greatly helped by meeting and falling in love with a guy who seemed (at first) to accept me and love me for who I was.  Sadly, even this was short lived, as when his friends started giving him stick for going out with ‘the fat chick’, he started pressuring me to lose weight.

After he and I went out separate ways I spiralled into severe depression which saw me gain even more weight and become self loathing.  I reverted to my old eating habits, on some days eating nothing and on others gorging myself on junk food.

Eventually I regained some equilibrium and started making healthier choices.  But my weight was always on my mind.  After all, everyone around me was telling me that it was ‘healthier’ for me to be thinner.  Even when all medical tests came back as perfect, my doctor told me I should lose weight to be healthier.  If there’s nothing wrong with me, how can I be healthier?

Last year I volunteered for three months in Kenya, spending a significant proportion of that time doing physical labour.  I lost a lot of weight.  I expected that to make me more comfortable with my body, but I found that the opposite was the case.  It was like there was more impetus for me to lose that ‘last little bit’, and just emphasised the fact that I still ‘wasn’t quite right’.  The confidence I had gained was from getting out into the world and experiencing something amazing, but much of that was lost when I put weight back on due to medications that I had to start, and having to return to my more sedentary life.  Even though I knew in my head that confidence had nothing to do with my body, I couldn’t help but be sucked into that mindset of fat = bad.

The more I learn about the fat acceptance movement, the more I realise that I have been so confused about my body for so many years.  There have been very rare occasions when I have hated my body, or parts of it.  Mostly though, it has just been my body, and while I understand that it is not conventionally beautiful, I don’t see it as something hateful.  Which is why it is so confusing when the media and the people around me keep telling me that it’s something to be ashamed of.

I guess what attracts me to the fat acceptance movement is the concept that my body is my business, and it’s no-one else’s business what it looks like, what I put into it or what I put on it.  The fact that there is no shame attached to fat, it is just a part of my body – the body I use as a vehicle for my life – to work and swim and run and jump and love and kiss and generally experience this sometimes badass and sometimes painful thing called life.

And so as I take these baby steps into accepting my body and my identity as someone who accepts her body, I find it really difficult to read comments such as the ones on that article which show that a huge proportion of the population consider fat to be ‘disgusting’ and fat people to be gluttonous slobs.  Because these people don’t even know me, and they’re telling me I’m a disgusting gluttonous slob.

I’m not.  But it still hurts.

Some people recommend not reading the comments on articles like that for that exact reason, except that I want to be part of the fat acceptance movement not simply by belief in it, but by actively rising up against it.  I want to be able to shout down those who say that fat is disgusting and point out that fat is not necessarily and indicator of health and well-being.

But I’m still a baby, taking baby steps on this journey, and I don’t even know where to begin.  I feel helpless and lost, and hurt.  So I retreat back into my shell without ever having said anything.

So where does that leave me right now?  To be honest, I really don’t know.  I like who I am.  I can look at myself naked in a full length mirror and think ‘Hey, you know what?  You’re sexy.’  I feel like I need to eat healthier and exercise more, but that’s because I want to be healthier, not skinnier.  Most days I can get up and get dressed and leave the house feeling like I look good great, and loving myself sic.

But I am still hurt by those comments.  I am still upset when people give a sideways look at my wobbly arms when I’m wearing a spaghetti strap dress, or glance at my knees when I’m wearing shorts.  I still feel guilty and ashamed when I get on an aeroplane and struggle to get the seat belt done up.

I know that I want to be better at accepting my body, and I want to teach other people about accepting theirs, and other people’s as well.  What I really want though, is for there to be a day where not only do I not think about being fat, but where no-one else does either.

My name is Erin Marie, welcome to my journey.


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