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Nick

Dossier

Website
http://www.nicholosophy.com
Twitter
nicholosophy
Role Models
My wife, Matt Preston, Penn Jillette
Distinguishing Characteristics
I'm a little bald fat man who has grey hairs coming through his beard. This seems to excite my wife more than me, but I'm learning to deal with it. I am fat all over, except my arse which never seems to grow. You really needed to know that, hey?
Fashion Style
I generally throw on what I can. I'm learning that a nice pair of pants, a button up shirt and perhaps maybe a tie can pull it all together nicely. When I have time and money, I'd like to get into ties. I need to get nice shirts first. One thing at a time.

Posts by Nick:

Whoops – we broke it

Hi guys,

When we recently moved from Drupal to WordPress, we broke our RSS feed. Sadly it has taken until now for us to realise and then to fix it.

If you have been wondering what happened to us, wonder no longer. We are back and going strong!

If you are an RSS junkie like myself, all the posts are available on the web site so you might want to check that out to see what you’ve missed out on.

Cheers and thanks for your patience!


Nicholosophy: A man in the Fat-o-Sphere

This was originally posted at Nicholosophy, where I blog about much more than just fat acceptance.

I had the honour to speak at the Fat Studies: A Critical Dialogue conference held in Sydney on 10 and 11th September. This was unexpected and therefore my talk was an impromptu discussion about a man’s perspective of the Fat-o-Sphere. I don’t have a transcript or paper to post, so the best I can do is to show you what I had to say. Please forgive me if you can’t watch the video. Transcribing this would take half a day and I just don’t have that time spare. Next time I will put together a paper first so that I can post that online instead.

It was titled “Nicholosophy: A man in the Fat-o-Sphere”. Big thanks to Natalie for her video editing skills.

So, without further ado…

Get the Flash Player to see this video.


If you do have any questions, drop me a comment and I’m happy to discuss further.


Not-crying and the art of self-awareness

This was originally posted at Nicholosophy, where I blog about much more than just fat acceptance.

I am always on a journey of self-development. It’s only been in the last few years that I have become more self-aware. I am learning to listen to my body and to heed it when it tells me that I need to rest, or that I’m feeling flat. I am aware now that when I’m feeling blue that it is a state of mind and something that I can work though. Well, sometimes I am aware of this. Sometimes I fall into a heap and not-cry.

I don’t know if it is special to me, but I am a very good not-crier. Not-crying is when I am feeling so emotionally raw and on edge that I want to cry, and yet I can’t. My mind goes blank and I just stare, looking at nothing in particular in a state of despair and sadness. No tears well in my eyes, no sobbing or anything like that. Yet my brain switches to this off mode that is like nothing else I ever experience. So I figure it is something significant, and call it not-crying.

I’ve often felt weird about my brain. I was diagnosed as being hyperactive when I was a child, and I realised when I was studying Primary Education at Uni (thank goodness I didn’t stick with that!) that I probably had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Photo of three graffiti-style creatures on the side of a train

Oh Shiny! More completely unrelated stuff – makes sense, no? (by

What I find is that I am one who bores quickly of things when I’ve mastered them, or at least mastered them in my own brain. I also feel like my brain never switches off. Some conscious thought is going through my brain, trying to make its way out. This occurs regardless of whether I’m trying to chill out or get other things done. It’s only when I’m having a not-cry that I feel this void of thought.

So it’s no surprise then to learn that since I have these thoughts running through my brain all the time, that I often find myself falling into the trap of negative self-talk and putting myself down when I’m feeling crap. I am not perfect and yet being someone who writes about fat acceptance, I think people expect me to be. Or more correctly, I expect me to be.

I sometimes feel bad about the things I eat, even though I know I shouldn’t put a good or bad emotion on food. I sometimes berate myself for not being able to fit into my clothes, even though I know that my body will move between my natural weight range. There are days when I’d happily give up and just allow myself to be brainwashed yet again into thinking I’m defective and evil for being fat.

I’ve learned enough though to know that I can’t go back there. I was miserable there. I had no idea who I was as a person. In fact I think I was trying to pretend that I was someone I wasn’t. I was pretending to be ok with being fat, and clearly I wasn’t. I read all the books and had all the recipes on how to lose weight. I’d regularly think about joining Weight Watchers, which I think I last did in 2005 or 2006. Man I was such a sad person back then, and yet I thought I was happy.

Now I know I am happy, at least a lot of the time. The times I feel like crap I at least appreciate later on knowing that I was feeling like crap. I’ve learned so much from my crap moments that I can’t really trade them. I wouldn’t be me without them.

I think it is hard to be accepting of ourselves, whether we are fat, thin, tall, short or whatever. I reckon that if I wasn’t fat I wouldn’t be happy with other things. So to hell with going backwards, I’ll happily keep moving forward. I just need to remember to cut myself some slack occasionally.


Triggering

This was recently posted over on my new blog Nicholosophy. I’ve taken the liberty to cross-post this as I think it’s very relevant to what we often deal with within the Fat Acceptance community. As a warning, I mention the terms ‘weight loss surgery’ and ‘sexual assault’ but do not talk about these topics.

I’ve had this topic in my drafts bin (which is where I keep all the things I want to write about) for the last few days but I’ve been putting it off. I think it might be that I’m concerned about what I’m going to write and how it is going to trigger me. Now it’s funny that I should start a post on triggering with how I think my own writing might trigger me. I haven’t even explained what it is yet, so perhaps I should get onto that.

A trigger as defined by the Wordnet (r) 2.0 dictionary is “an act that sets in motion some course of events”. As an example, you turn the key in your car and you trigger the ignition system to start the car. It could be the fact that you stand on your dog’s foot triggers it to growl. These sort of situations make sense – you do something which causes a reaction. However triggers don’t have to relate to setting off some sort of physical event. They can be emotional as well.

Triggering is the concept that some things, when said or written, can trigger a bad emotional response. A blog post or video or tweet is considered ‘triggering’ if it sets off someone to have a bad reaction because it brought up some situation or issue that they have faced in the past.

I’ll give you an example of an emotional trigger that happened with me the other night. I was washing up the dishes and “Australia’s Funniest Home Videos” was on the television. Like any home video clip show, they often show things that are perhaps funny to some but just make other cringe. But you don’t expect much of an emotional response, except perhaps laughter.

Well the clip they showed was of a fat man on a water slide. The voice over went something like “Now I know why the attendant wanted to grease me down before I went on the slide”. The man was stuck – not because the slide wasn’t wide enough but because he must have been sticking to the slide. He then gets up and starts to walk down the slide. Apparently this is considered ‘funny’. But I was upset, not laughing.

Back in the 90s I went to the local water park here called “Wet ‘n’ Wild”. I was a teenager and I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to roller coasters, speed slides or anything of that nature. This time I thought I’d get on the speed slide. They have mats bu

t since I was concerned that I would end up going too fast and crap myself, I decided I didn’t need one. No one said anything to me suggesting it would be a good idea. So I got in and pushed myself off.

Cue me half way down a speed slide unable to move because I was sticking to the slide. The embarrassment and shame of being the fat kid stuck in the slide still hits me today. I had to get out of the slide, walk down the maintenance strip on the side of the slide and come down to the bottom. To make matters worse, I cut my foot open on some wire and had to get attended by first aid.

A little piece of me died that day. A little piece of me went away and locked itself so tightly inside that it would never get hurt again. Any time I think of that day I end up in tears. Hence why I’ve put writing this off until now.

Consider someone who has been sexually assaulted, bullied or who has been bashed up because of their race of sexuality. Any time something comes on TV or the radio or the internet that reminds them of that time, it triggers an emotional response. A very innocent situation or words said that would not make most people react can cause them to become upset, angry or even (in the extreme) violent. And it is all perfectly reasonable for that to happen, because they are dealing with a hurt unlike anything else that most of us experience.

My experience on the slide that day is significant to me. I can’t imagine what it is like to have someone overpower you, take away your dignity and sexually assault you. I can’t imagine what it is like to be spat on and kicked to the ground because you are gay. I’m sure it hurts and haunts much more than my experience. So if a TV show can trigger an emotional response in me, it must be worse for them.

In the Fat Acceptance community, talk about weight loss and weight loss surgery is considered triggering. The first time I ever learned about triggering was when I posted a blog post on Axis of Fat which was an interview with a lady who had gone through weight loss surgery. The idea was that I wanted to learn more about it so that my opinions could be formed based on fact and not conjecture. What I didn’t realise was that my post would trigger emotional responses in some people that crushed them inside.

Now when I write a blog post and I think the content might be triggering, I warn the reader at the outset. That way they can make up their mind whether they want to read on or not. I don’t have to stop writing about the triggering subject matter. I allow the reader the chance to have the choice about whether they read about it. This is actually fairly standard practice in the Fat Acceptance community.

I need to keep in mind every day that everything I write here, or on Twitter or Facebook can be read by someone I don’t know too well. I don’t know about everything that has happened to them and even with my closest friends, they could have some secret trauma that they have locked away for their own self preservation. I have to keep in mind to be sure that what I write won’t be triggering for someone. If I think it will, I either don’t write it or I warn people in advance. Quite often it is probably better to just leave it well alone.


Fat – don’t just throw it about willy nilly

One of the aims of the Fat Acceptance movement is to reclaim the word “Fat”. That doesn’t mean we should throw it around willy nilly though.

For years, the word “Fat” has been used as a pejorative. Cries of “Get off your FAT ass”, “FAT prick”, “Look at the FAT f#@ker”, “Oh look, another FATTY!” have been used to beat down and belittle fat people. So it’s right that we go out and try and reclaim this word.(It’s strange though that fat has also moved into other areas, such as “Fat beats” and “Fat wheels”.)

Fat should be in the same class of adjective as tall, short, slim, etc. It is merely a word describing a physical characteristic. It makes me uncomfortable to think that people have to mince words to try and describe my physical shape. “Big boy”, “Bulky”, “Well Build” are all just covers for the word “Fat” because people are scared of being offensive. Hey, I’m FAT.

However we need to remember that not everyone is up to the same stage of self-acceptance as the next person. A lot of people would still be offended by being labelled as fat.

So what do we do? Talk.

I think it is important to talk to our friends and family, fat or not, about how we are happy to be labelled as fat and WHY we think it is important to reclaim the word that has been held to be so offensive for so long. The more that we educate others around us, the less impact the word is going to have and less times are we going to hear it being used in an offensive manner.

I actually think I’ll be long past my prime before the word fat loses all offensive undertones, but the small steps that we make today mean that fat people in the future don’t have to be offended by using an adjective that aptly describes them. Fat.


Nick interviewed by ABC Radio Australia

Today I was part of a panel interview on ABC Radio Australia which also featured Samantha Thomas from Monash University (on twitter as @samanthastweets and soon to have a blog).

I don’t think they quite got what they bargained for as we certainly weren’t there to sell weight loss to the pacific. Have a listen and let us know what you think.

I made the recording myself so sorry in advance for my twitter client making all sorts of noises during the recording.

 


Feelings, nothing more than feelings…

As a male member of the Fat Acceptance community and as a blogger on this site, I have been contacted by the media to talk about fat acceptance or being fat in general. I’m more than happy to agree to these requests where I’m sure that it isn’t just a chance to put down fat people for being fat. I have no interest in helping the media reinforce the negative perceptions which were created by the media in the first place.

People have commented on how confident I sound and how I have the capacity to communicate my points clearly and in an manner that is easy to understand. It probably comes as a surprise then to learn that I actually have problems speaking on the phone or in person with people I don’t know. I’m hopeless at face to face communication with someone I don’t know when it is a social situation. If I don’t have to do it, I don’t seem to do very well at it.

Perhaps then it is my passion for Fat Acceptance and how strongly I believe in it. It’s because of my unwavering belief in myself and those around me. Let me tell you this is wrong. Very wrong. Very recently I’ve been struggling a bit with how I feel about my body. It’s very easy in these times to fall back to old habits and believe that all my problems are because I am fat, and therefore weight loss is the solution.

Yesterday I was in the chemist and they have a weight loss program that they run there. I saw the after picture of the lady who had completed the program and she seemed so happy with herself. I want that happiness, so surely by drinking nothing but shakes and losing 75+kg I’m going to be just as happy as her.

Somehow I doubt it.

Happiness comes from within a person. How many unhappy people do you know who aren’t fat? Does the height of a person affect their happiness? What about their race? Does the fact that I was born in November mean that I’m more or less happy than Natalie, who is born in December? Think about it for a minute instead of sprouting the rote learned answers that the media/your friends/your parents/society have conditioned you to have.

I’m not a psychologist. In fact, I struggle to spell the word correctly without a spell checker. If I asked you to think about what makes you happy and unhappy, you would find two things (or at least I did). I feel happy or unhappy when a) someone does something/something occurs/something external to me makes me feel happy or unhappy or b) when I think something/feel something/something internal makes me feel happy or unhappy.

Being fat doesn’t make me happy or unhappy. People’s reactions/thoughts/words about me being fat make me happy or unhappy. How I perceive the fact that I am fat make me happy or unhappy. And really since you have to process the external stuff as well as the internal stuff, it’s how you process it that determines how you feel about it.

“Wha? It’s all my fault that I’m unhappy? Should I just accept being discriminated against?” No. But you decide what you feel about it.

I can decide to feel sad and retreat inside myself. Alternatively I can calmly explain to the person why I think they are incorrect in whatever they’ve said (or done). There will be times where I just decide that the person isn’t going to get it, so I choose to not waste more time and more on. I can remain happy because I realise within myself that I am fat and that this doesn’t mean I need to be unhappy or feel inferior and that is all that really matters.

Sometimes I will not feel happy about being fat. It’s true that society is designed around the “normal sized” person, whatever that is. There are things that I want to do that I physically can’t because the designer has said “Thou shalt not be fat.” Other times, I’ll just feel fug in my clothes and blame being fat, instead of raising up against the fashion designers who decide that a tent is perfect for a fat man to wear to work.

But it doesn’t make me any less committed to the Fat Acceptance movement. Sometimes you have to fall over, feel like crap and then get up again. It doesn’t mean you failed.

It means you’re human.


Help get Natalie to the Sydney Fat Studies Conference this September

EDIT: WOW GUYS! In less than 24 hours we have reached our goal. Thanks everyone for your donations.

Natalie has been accepted as a presenter at the Fat Studies: A Critical Dialogue conference to be held in Sydney on September 10th and 11th. Unfortunately we have to pay for her to get down there, a fee to attend the conference and also accommodation costs. Right now that’s looking highly unlikely. So we’ve come to ask you for your help.

Natalie will be presenting her talk “You Sound Fat: Fat Embodiment Online” which will discuss being a blogger and being fat online. Natalie is well versed in blogging, posting here as well as on definatalie.com which as recently been selected for archiving by the National Library of Australia. Natalie is also fat, so who better to speak on this subject? That’s right, no one.

Any money you can give to help us get Natalie to Sydney would be appreciated. You’ll get the gift that keeps on giving – knowing that the voice of the online community is being heard in academic circles.

Natalie will need around A$650 to pay for her flights, accommodation and the conference fees. Any additional money raised about this amount will be put back into the running costs for Axis of Fat and Definatalie.com. So any dollar that you can spare will help no end.

Donate now by clicking the PayPal Donate button below and help lady who I love, and I know many of you love as well, get to the Fat Studies conference and raise her voice for fat bloggers everywhere! We’ll post an update in a week or so to let you all know how it is going.


What is Fat Acceptance?

I’m currently laying in bed feeling a little under the weather. I’ve never really found a comfortable position to lay down and use a laptop, but this is as good as any.

This week there has been a lot of talk regarding Mia Freedman’s recent blog posts on gainers and how she believes they are glorifying obesity. I have no intention of linking to the post; you can find it through a Google search but I have no intention of providing any more readers to that blog post.

Those of you who know me well know that I don’t take a lot of time out of my day to read the blogs of the fatosphere. I certainly don’t read Mama Mia, which seems to be a blog about women’s fashion, body image and similar. The first I had heard of the blog post and the ensuing debate was yesterday morning when contacted by a producer for the Steve Vizard radio show on 3MTR in Melbourne.

So despite my ignorance, I read the blog post and it actually seemed pretty innocuous to me. Then again, I’ve read on a few other sites that it has been edited to tone down the language. The comments are still full of fat hatred and I would think that someone in Mia’s position would realise the need to moderate the discussion to remove the blatantly fat phobic comments.

She also didn’t do herself any favours by suggesting fat activists had eaten a “big bowl of crazy for breakfast” in one of her comments. Actually, that entire comment seems to show that she doesn’t understand fat acceptance.

So what is fat acceptance? This will mean different things to differnet people. To me, fat acceptance is about learning to love and accept yourself for who you are, no matter your weight, shape and size. It is also accepting and respecting people no matter what shape or weight they are. If we were to throw in the idea of accepting people no matter their religion, colour, or ethnic background you could really turn “fat acceptance” into “human acceptance”.

The reason for a separate stream called fat acceptance is that there are issues that affect fat people that don’t affect those discriminated based on their sexuality or colour or religion. We may share some issues but we don’t share them in the same way either.

Some of the issues that I notice being a fat person is:

  • The assumption that being fat, and therefore calling someone fat, is offensive.
  • Being fat means you are disorganised, unclean and somehow defective.
  • A fat person cannot be fit and healthy.
  • Fat people must change themselves to fit the norms that are decided by the rest of society.
  • Fat people should be blamed for sky rocketing health costs.
  • A fat person cannot expect to go into a clothing store and find clothes that will fit and look good on them.
  • A fat person should expect that any health issue they suffer is because they are fat. Mental health included.

As I mentioned earlier, a producer for the Steve Vizard show on Melbourne’s 3MTR contacted me regarding the Mia Freedman incident. I did a phone interview with Steve and while we did touch on the Mia Freedman issue a bit, most of the discussion was about what fat acceptance really is and what it means to be fat. Have a listen and let me know if you think I got it right or not.

Being a fat activist means that I am fighting these issues and more every day. I don’t blog about this every day but it is important to remind ourselves regularly of what issues we face. I’ve noticed that LGBT groups get together the protest about the right to marry and that other groups have held protests over the years to fight discrimination. It’s weird that fat people don’t feel the need to get together and fight this stuff ‘in the field’.

Perhaps fat people are used to being put in the corner. Perhaps we feel it is our deserved place; after all that is what everyone tells us.

What do you think?


Enough of the ads already Biggest Loser!

Tonight on Australian TV I’ve seen at least five ads for The Biggest Loser. Not for their tv show, but for their weight loss website and weight loss products. Enough! Add onto that the Jenny Craig (for men, mind you), Weight Watchers and other crap that they are pushing towards me and I just want to scream.

Do they have any idea who they are talking to? Oh right, they do.

There are millions of people out there in Australia who are insecure about their bodies. This number comes from the fact that most people I know have some insecurities about their body. Even I do. I just don’t run to the nearest weight loss product advertised and spend up big on something that won’t work.

Others do. Which is why they put this crap on air to start with.

What I would love to see is a program that discussed healthy eating. Not “You have to stop eating to lose weight, fatty.” What I’m talking about is information on the foods that are nourishing. What is there out there that I haven’t tried before? Show me different ways of making different things with the foods I already cook with.

If the risotto requires copious amounts of butter and oil, that’s fine. Butter and oil is nourishing just as much as fruit and vegetables are. I wouldn’t eat a block of butter in a day, but that’s because I could think of nothing worse to try and do. Not because I’ve got some devil mask wearing health freak going “oooh obesity epidemic” telling me what to do.

Don’t make people feel shame for being who they are. Let them eat as they please. Educate them on healthy, nourishing food and show them all the different things that are out there to eat.

Food is neither good or bad. It is food. It’s not about weight loss. It’s about eating in a way that makes you feel good on the inside and look good on the outside. That’s possible at 60kg and it’s possible at 160kg.


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