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Natalie

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Posts by Natalie:

Skinny Jeans: The People’s Jeans

Skinny jeans are not just for skinny people. Skinny jeans became for me when I found them in my size (actually, Zoe found them in my size – in Japan of all places!) Now, you might consider me to be the sort of person who loves her body unconditionally and while it’s definitely something I aspire to, I do cast a very critical eye over myself and always seem to end up glaring at one part in particular. My knees.

The idea of my knees in skinny jeans used to be preposterous. Ridiculous! Sheer absurdity! Now I have to admit, it was because I could not ever imagine my legs in skinny jeans – because they simply weren’t available in a size that could contain my legs. When Zoe mentioned that she’d bought a pair from a label called “Smile Land” I was initially hesitant, but then warmed to the idea as I actually pictured myself in outfits designed around the notion of skinny jeans.

In the months since I got that first pair of bottle green skinny jeans, I’ve bought another pair in black and worn them happily, joyously, on numerous occasions. I’ve also realised how silly I was to think that I could not wear skinny jeans. I wear tights, I love tights! Tights emphasize the shape of my legs much more than jeans, yet I had no issue wearing them for years and years! In fact, I’ve posted OOTD (Outfit Of The Day) photos on Flickr, Fatshionista and FUCKYEAHDEATHFATTIES (PS submit to FYDF!) and received heaps of compliments.

I’ve also received enraged comments from concern trolls slapping away furiously at their keyboards, telling me that “Oh noes, skinny jeans are for skinny jeans! Think of your heath!” And you know what? I’ve laughed at them and pulled my jeans on once more. Skinny jeans are so named because the cut is skinny. Straight cut jeans don’t discriminate if you’re gay. Boot cut jeans don’t mind if you wear them with flats. Slouch jeans probably look fantastic with a collared shirt and vest too. Haters gotta hate and don’t mind if I giggle at you, while I look fabulous in my skinny jeans.


Axis of Fat People in Art

I’ve been a member of Red Bubble since 2008, creating art and selling it as prints. I’m an illustrator (primarily) and like to use lots of different body shapes in my art but back when I was at university studying visual art I noticed that I enjoyed life drawing sessions with larger models. Somehow, it feels much more natural for my hand to follow my eye when the lines are loose and flowing! I thought I’d show you a few of the artists on Red Bubble who are inspired by the fat form.

[img_assist|nid=96|title=|desc=|link=none|align=none|width=367|height=550]

Urban Attitude by TokyoCandies

[img_assist|nid=97|title=|desc=|link=url|url=http://www.redbubble.com/people/paul/art/2575766-2-play-nice|align=none|width=550|height=506]

Play Nice by Paul Vanzella

[img_assist|nid=98|title=|desc=|link=url|url=http://www.redbubble.com/people/paul/art/3177573-2-soulmistress|align=none|width=549|height=526]

SoulMistress by Paul Vanzella

[img_assist|nid=99|title=|desc=|link=url|url=http://www.redbubble.com/people/bglatzeder/art/3213750-2-venus|align=none|width=550|height=400]

Venus by Barbara Glatzeder

[img_assist|nid=100|title=|desc=|link=url|url=http://www.redbubble.com/people/samdurkin/art/266764-10-the-fairy-of-cakes|align=none|width=549|height=550]

The Fairy of Cakes by Samuel Durkin

[img_assist|nid=102|title=|desc=|link=url|url=http://www.redbubble.com/people/definatalie/art/2602252-3-the-dolly-dimples-diet|align=none|width=392|height=550]

The Dolly Dimples Diet by Natalie Perkins
(Woops, did I get a little self-promotion on this post?!)

I was hoping to support artisans on madeit.com.au by featuring plus sized garments and other crafts, however a search yielded nothing. Nada! I’m hoping this is just a failing of the search engine on the site… can you point me in the direction of Australian artisans and makers of plus size items? I started with madeit.com.au because it’s Australian, and this blog is primarily concerned with an Australian take on fatness, but if you’ve got Australian Etsy links I’d love to see them!

Tell me about your favourite art with fat people in it!


Fuck you PETA

I just wanted to write about how I feel about the fatphobic PETA billboard, but I’d like to preface it by stating that this is a group blog and we all have different experiences and reactions to things and we’re all free to blog about the same subject with different points of view. However, on this topic… I will say few words about the actual content of the billboard.

I’m not surprised at this latest campaign at all, I was actually disappointed they were so subtle. PETA have a long history of provocative and misleading advertising, and their history of “activism” is infused with the notion that human rights aren’t as important as animal rights. I’ve also noticed that every PETA campaign gets a little bit more provocative – because they’ve realised they get more mileage out of a billboard lease if they piss people off and make them talk about it.

So that’s why I don’t talk about PETA controversies. They are completely unconcerned with social justice and human rights, and will likely never change their asshole brand because it gets them too much press.

 


A Fat Bride Survival Guide

When I got married I was a fat bride. In fact, I was fat when I got engaged – I was even *gasp* fat when Nick and I met! Despite having a well established, recognised and loved body shape before getting married I copped a huge amount of pressure to lose weight in the lead up to the wedding. For some reason, I had it in my head that my wedding day would be a celebration of love and happiness between Nick and I however it seemed that foolish me had little idea of the true wedding agenda – basically some kind of reality tv show where the ugly duckling turns gorgeous siren.

 

Wedding Mosaic

There would be no end of helpful clicks and tuts on hand to whip me into shape (I maintain that rectangular with bumps is a shape, dammit) for my reveal, wait, wedding day. My hairdresser at the time barely let her congratulations fly past her lips before she’d cornered me and asked how much weight I was losing. She lost the job. Bridal stores have ALL KINDS of euphemisms for asking about your weight loss plans. My favourite was the ever so polite “Now, are we planning on losing or gaining any weight for the big day?” Not to mention the hushed murmurings of “big girl”, “solid build”, “flattering” and “voluptuous”. You know what? I walked out of all of those places. I wanted a bunch of supportive people helping me look even more fancy on my wedding day, not a wake of frowny-faced vultures picking over the fat girl.

I wanted to share a few things that helped me survive as a fat bride, because if you’re not used to speaking up it really can be intimidating and upsetting. I had a crystalline vision of how I wanted to look on my wedding day and I wasn’t ashamed of my body, nor did I have plans to change it consciously before the date. Being somewhat blunt and quite confident, I had few real issues with the barrage of concerned but unhelpful people who just wanted me to look fabulous when I got married. I understood that they were coming from a mindset held by most brides, a world where a slimmer bride must be the more beautiful bride, but I was not convinced of that – as I suppose most of the Axis of Fat readership is!

  1. Come out as fat to all of the people involved in your wedding party.

    Lay down some ground rules when it comes to your body – i.e.: it’s none of your business. I also told my bridesmaids that I would not entertain negative body talk during the fittings. If they waited until I was out of the room, that was fine but I didn’t want dress fittings to be railroaded by unproductive and negative discussion!

  2. Look at some real life weddings.

    Offbeat Bride is still one of my favourite wedding sites because there are so many different bodies all happy, celebrating and looking great! Glossy magazines are fine, but if you don’t want to have a traditional western wedding you’ll be left feeling empty! There are heaps of wedding blogs out there to help you with ideas for garments, decorations, themes and locations.

  3. Talk about your ideas with your wedding party.

    This is especially important when it comes to garments. Different bodies like to wear different things!

  4. Bridal stores generally carry two sizes in “try on” dresses – 10 and 18.

    I think I only went to one store, where I definitely did not fit in the 18. I figured that if they were going to assume that they could just grade a smaller sized pattern up to “fit” me, then they could go jump.

  5. Investigate a dressmaker.

    The WeddingThis is what I did – my mother and I asked an assistant at a  local fabric shop for her recommendations and she gave us the phone number of the amazing Gloria, a couture seamstress and pattern designer. Gloria only took petite and plus sized clients, and had incredible pattern drafting skills which she used to outfit women who didn’t fit within mainstream sizing. Instant brownie points! Working with Gloria was a great experience – I had designed my dress but with her guidance we made it epic! We also designed the bridesmaid dresses in such a way that the design would be adapted for each of the girls’ personalised slopers (a sloper is like a basic pattern created to fit your measurements). I wanted my sisters and my friend to feel special on the day, with a gorgeous dress that they felt great in.

  6. If a vendor bothers you about losing weight, drop them.

    If you feel up to it, you can always say something like “I’m not planning on losing weight for my wedding”. You don’t need to  sass them back, or come back with a quip that will make them regret ever saying anything to you. You don’t have time for that, and you’ll feel rotten afterwards. Focus on your main goal – getting this theatrical monster of a wedding on the road.

  7. Listen to people, but don’t forget that you are the authority on your body.

    Plenty of bridal (and plain old everyday fashion) assistants have plenty of things to say on what’s “flattering” or “suitable”. There seems to be a metric buttload of rules and regulations and if you bother following all of them you’ll basically wave goodbye to any sense of individuality. If you really want to wear a dress that’s cut a certain way, ask the assistant or the dressmaker if there’s something close if they absolutely veto your first choice (or, dump them). Tell them why you want your neckline just like so. Be assertive and use “I statements” – “I feel confident when I have cap sleeves” or “I feel really gorgeous in a strapless dress”. Push for what you want, or else you’re having someone else’s wedding.

  8. Wear comfortable shoes that fit you correctly.

    Most wedding days go on for 12 hours – you don’t want to be wearing unsupportive shoes that make you snarl. Alternatively, take your damn shoes off. I did that, because my gorgeous Italian sling backs kept slipping off! Unfortunately I also stood in dog poo, but uh… what can you do when you can’t see your feet let alone half a metre in front of you?

  9. You don’t have to wear the garter belt.

    I really did not want Nick to dig through my skirts and pull a rotten scrunchy off my thigh, only to throw it to his mates. The whole idea grossed me out. What I did was arrange to slip it to him with my magical sleight of hand during the whole garter toss show. I was going to pin it inside my skirt, but I didn’t get a chance! Of course, if you hate this part of the reception  – nix it. You’re not really beholden to anyone to include anything on your wedding day besides the bits required by law during your ceremony!

  10. Have fun!

    After months of planning, your wedding day should be when you take the pressure down. If you’ve been true to yourself and your relationship, you should be feeling completely at ease – surrounded by all the people who love you and wish you well.

Do any other fat brides (nay, fat grooms!) have tips? I’d love to read them – post a comment!


I’m fat without the ph, but you can determine my acidity baby.

Tiara linked me to a post on Agent Lover wherein the heroine of the piece thought she’d slap the wrist of a fellow blogger who included her pictures in a “Fat Love Friday” post without permission. Mars from Chicken Dinner Candybar apologised and offered to remove the photos, but this offer was not taken up. I’ll blog about this since Marie from Agent Lover thought it was fair enough to bring into the public sphere, and because I have a few important issues to raise. Like my fist, as I shake it into the sky.

Sort your shit out privately.

It’s not “brave” to have a whinge about this when you’ve already dealt with the author of the “offending” post. What’s your intention? Publically shaming Chicken Dinner Candybar by directing your readership over there isn’t very mature. Your large readership could now very well have a negative bias towards the “offending” blogger and a strengthened bias against the notion of fatness. That shit is for Livejournal, dear Maude!

That isn’t the way to spread body acceptance.

I’m not sure body acceptance even registers as an issue for Agent Lover, because she admits that “fat” is a negative word. The fat-o-sphere has been around the internet for a few years, plus yannow, we’re fat so we’re super visible! As a blogger, Marie must have some powerful blinders on. The fat-o-sphere doesn’t just encompass fat people either – there’s a range of body types blogging about the topic and these authors self identify as “fat allies”, “inbetweenies”, “deathfatties” and other titles using fat with and without the ph.

Fat isn’t a pejorative to a lot of people.

“No matter how many times anyone tries to empower the word, the word fat ain’t going to be thought of as positive unless it’s spelled with a PH, ok?”

I guess I missed that memo. A lot of us did. The tricky thing about saying “never” is that one day you’re going to have to eat your hat. Chicken Dinner Candybar obviously considers fat to be a positive word, she blogs about it at least every Friday! The thing Marie forgot to take into consideration was context. If my pictures were posted all over a site that obviously talked disparagingly about fat, I would not only email them but spread my wrath throughout the bloggerverse. That’s not what happened here. While Marie has every right to be upset, she does not have the right to decree that other people can’t ever empower fatness.

Personally, I hate it when people use euphemisms for fat. Fluffy, BBW, curvaceous – they all make me cringe. I’m fat, I’m empowered and I’m doing pretty well, thanks very much!

You put your picture on the internet.

You have very little control over where it goes from there, or what people associate with your body. In this case it well-intentioned but poorly received. It could have been way worse. I post my photos on FUCKYEAHDEATHFATTIES and I’ve seen some very nasty comments as people reblog my photos. But you know what? I suck it up, because I know I’m fucking fancy!

You don’t just see a fat person’s style, you see their body too.

Don’t negate it, and don’t pretend it doesn’t exist. If style was the most visible thing about people, many of us would be walking down catwalks. The truth is that body shape is a HUGE FACTOR and denying that it’s a political battlefield is tantamount to plugging your head in the sand and showing everyone your pantaloons.

Whether one self identifies as fat or not, one does not have the right to declare unilaterally that fat is a negative word for absolutely every body. We’ve been conditioned to accept certain words (and indeed body types!) as positive or negative, and it’s really important to understand that human thoughts and prejudices aren’t set in stone. We can gradually accept a notion that challenges our conditioning by being open and asking questions and participating – not by digging into the ground, crying offense and refusing to grow.


Anna Scholz’s Fall/ Winter Looks

[img_assist|nid=32|title=Anna Scholz Fall/ Winter 09 looks|desc=|link=url|url=http://www.annascholz.com/AW09brochure/flipviewerxpress.html?utm_source=newsletter_16072009&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=content_image-AW09-preview|align=center|width=600|height=699]

Today I saw Gabi at Young, Fat and Fabulous post about Anna Scholz’s latest looks from the Fall/ Winter collection, and while I’m not typically into consuming commercial looks, a few of the outfits were amazing and pretty much me! There’s no way in hell I could usually afford an Anna Scholz garment, and the site doesn’t ship to Australia anyway, but it’s nice to dream… isn’t it? I really need a sassy black dress like that, and a lovely coat to keep out the chilly Brisbane wind right now!

 


My outfits, let me show you them

I really want to get into some kind of habit of posting “outfit of the day” (OOTD) shots. First though, I think I need to catch you up on what I like to wear. I don’t like wearing polyester-chiffon, see-through blouses, or anything stretchy simply for the sake of hiding my body; I do like simple lines and layering, textures and surfaces, prints and colours. For me, fashion is joyful and expressive and I like to be able to dress for the occasion and reflect my feelings about the day or night ahead in what I’m wearing. Sometimes I can be conservative, but a lot of the time I just like to have fun. Depending on the brand, I range from AU size 20-24; in my overseas sizing experience I can be a US 22-26 and UK 24-26. My belly sticks out – I often say that I’m more frontal than I am “sidal”, and as a result I think I do try to find clothes that don’t draw attention to my belly. In the past I have been asked by strangers if I am pregnant (to which I answer “no I’m just fat”). I tend to either wear tops that sit at the top of my thighs, or skirts and belts at my natural waist – which is quite high.

I’m hoping to post at least weekly recaps of my outfits, but consider this a little retrospective of my favourite (photographed!) outfits of the last few months.

Tap dance teacher outfit

Top: City Chic (back when it was Big City Chic, ooaah)
Belt: City Chic
Skirt: $2 at the Valley Markets in 2002
Shoes: Softspots (so comfy!) via Shoebuy.com
Rad sparkly guitar brooch: mother in law

 

Fairly casual

Cardigan: Kmart
Shirt: Target (has cute neckline + tiny collar!)
Jeans: 1626 (now Autograph)
Shoes: Novo
Bag: Sachi (Myer brand)
Scarf: crocheted for me by my Mother-in-law
Hair: needing styling but I couldn’t be bothered

 

I'm so 80s I poop shoulder pads

Dress and belt: Yours Clothing
Awesome wet-look tights: Yours Clothing
Shoes: Novo
Scissor fingers: Jazz dancing lessons in my youth

 

WATCH OUT! It's the Axis of Fat

Top: Bonds
Dress: Evans
Tights: We Love Colors
Shoes: Softspots

 

Parisian schoolboy?

Shirt: Target (a men’s shirt that doesn’t fit my husband)
Vest: Yours Clothing
Jeans: Smile Land (Japanese brand – Zoe bought these for me when she was over there)
Cardigan: Target
Hat: Crocheted by me!
Shoes: Evans
Glasses: Giant Vintage

I have quite a few new clothes from Yours Clothing and Evans (including THE domino dress!) and quite a few places to wear them in the next few weeks, so I am reminding myself to be diligent in outfit photoing so I can report back to the Axis!

Tell me about your fashion style in the comments!


In search of: The Australian Fat-O-Sphere

I decided to start Axis of Fat because I really wanted to develop and encourage Australian voices in the fat-o-sphere, and I am so passionate about creating a community of people so we can connect with each other on some of the more local issues surrounding Fat Acceptance. In the future, there might well be a small stable of writers behind the Axis, but we want to be able to interact with other Australian fat bloggers as well to develop community and create a supportive network. To that end, I need to figure out just who is out there blogging about fat!

I would like to connect with blogs that focus on Fat Acceptance and not weight loss. This includes Health at Every Size blogs too! My inconclusive list follows – I may have forgotten some blogs, so please jump in and suggest bloggers you are aware of in the comments!

As the Australian fat-o-sphere grows (it’s inevitable, and awesome!) I will keep updating this entry. It might even be useful to make it sticky by putting a link to it up on the sidebar. If you’ve got any other suggestions as to how to strengthen our small but passionate community, please let us know!

On my personal blog I wrote an entry entitled “How to love yourself in 8 really hard steps” which included HAES principles. Linda Bacon commented on my entry, and suggested that I pledge to the HAES Community – but I’d actually already done it a few weeks earlier! I would love to encourage Australian bloggers, readers and commenters to also sign the pledge. If you don’t know much about HAES, there’s lots of resources on the site!


The Fat Dollar, Beth Ditto and hipsters: oh my

Around 10 years ago, the first hipsters (as we now know them) dragged themselves out of the post-grunge ooze. As a borderline Gen X/Yer I saw it happen – on the internet. Being interested in identity and styling, I observed the unfolding and blossoming of the iPod clutching, skinny jeans wearing individuals who were far more rooted in Gen Y entitlement than I. I remember not having a CD player, and how we’d go without music for months at a time because Dad refused to buy a new needle for our record player because we were “too rough” with it when we played his albums. I still don’t have an iPod, however Nick purchased his first just last month. I was an observer of hipster culture because I was fat, and I was not considered part of the demographic, because I was just this much <—> too fat to fit into straight sizing. My styling was heavily influenced by riot grrl bands and tough girls, so I sourced clothing from op shops and made a lot myself.

At about the same time (2001) I started getting involved in Fat Acceptance (FA) – also online. In Australia the movement would be non-existent until years later (does it exist yet? I know of a few bloggers and one academic – is that it?!) I used message boards with an ex-boyfriend, but the attitude towards fat was mostly to fetishise it, something I wasn’t entirely comfortable with. I am probably what people call a prude. Nevertheless, the idea that a group existed that didn’t completely reject fat people or negate their feelings or rights as human beings; well, it made me want to be a part of it. Time ticked on, Torrid broke up with its slender goth best friend Hot Topic, and I found more online communities that dealt with fat in revolutionary, even controversial, ways.

One was an ironic take on ratings communities (which I won’t name here) that was as shrill and biting as the communities it sought to mock – in fact many applicants even to this day consider the application process to be completely serious. Despite whatever reputation it developed, I found many friends there who I have kept to this day; we’ve actually bonded on lots of different levels – humour, fashion, creativity, etc. The next community I found was Fatshionista – which was challenging, frustrating and eye-opening; I’m still adjusting my consciousness due to its influence on me even though I’ve been wading around in it for about four years. I knew fashion was political, but I didn’t know just how political. I learnt about my own white privilege, as well as my own looks privilege and all the other privileges I have access to. In the beginning, I just wanted to talk about fashion; I had no idea just how deep the issues ran.

[img_assist|nid=16|title=What I wore today - 02/07/09|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=267|height=360]As a result, I style myself with incredible awareness these days. I mostly source my clothing from overseas because Australia’s plus size clothing is ridiculously awful. I refuse to believe that my Fat Dollar is only good for buying weight loss snake oil so instead I send my Fat Australian Dollars to the UK and the US where I can find clothing to style myself in the manner that I like. Sure, it sucks not being able to go into a brick and mortar store and buy up anything I like, but I appreciate how much extra consideration I give to styling my identity when I have to consider currency exchange, international sizing and shipping.

When one of the FA movement’s poster girls, Beth Ditto, announced that she’d be collaborating with Evans (a UK plus size clothing store) it sent many fatties into a tizzy. Yeah, I was one of them. Ditto gets a lot of shit; I think it’s due to hipster backlash, just quietly, but I respect her Spanx-exposing hijinx because I am that prudish fat girl. A woman does not have to be ladylike, nor does she have to be well behaved – and that assumption of ladylikeness seems to not only to extend to fat women, but to smother them. I struggle with my femininity and what’s expected of me but when I observe explicit directions for fat women to dress or behave a certain way – it makes me even more uncomfortable. I am not a woman who likes to be told what she can or cannot look like.

[img_assist|nid=17|title=Beth Ditto for Evans|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=376|height=240]I don’t know what makes me classify Beth Ditto as a hipster – I feel a lot of irony in her waters. The collection reclaims some of the awful body hiding plus size fashions of the 80s but everything is just drawn a lot… tighter. Via Twitter and Fatshionista, I’ve heard that many with Fat Dollars to spend aren’t impressed with the collection, and maybe it’s because there is too much painful irony for them. This post-modern irony has all the hallmarks of the vanguard of hipster styling, and now fat people have access to it (well, fat people who like femme clothes). What I think Ditto and Evans are doing for plus sized fashion is interesting – they’re bringing it out of the doldrums, and creating styling options that may not make fat people as ashamed to duck off into a store where they can find clothes to fit them. I don’t know about you, but I certainly know that a younger me used to endure shopping excursions with friends, putting up with shop after shop of straight sizing and hanger-flicking because I wasn’t bold enough to say “LET’S GO SHOP WHERE I CAN DRESS MY FAT SELF”. In a few years, marketers and retailers might just have that lightbulb moment when they realise they might make more money manufacturing consumable clothes for fat people rather than bombarding them with unhealthy weight loss methods. After all, our prudish standards of decency dictate that we need to be clothed. All of us.


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