David

Another Quick Update

Hi all!

I just wanted to jump in quickly and do a couple of things:

First and foremost, I want to say a big ole “WELCOME!” to our newest writers. It’s been great to read your posts and I hope that we’re set for many more to come! It’d also be great to have even more people coming on board. Hint hint, nudge nudge. ;)

 

Second, I want to apologise for my absence. I really have been meaning to post – and believe me, I’m overflowing with ideas. But I’ve been acting as the media coordinator for my political group’s campaign for local council elections and it’s a pretty full-on job – particularly now that we’re down to the last four weeks before the big day.

I can’t promise that I’ll be able to throw together any posts between now and then (although I will try!), but I will more than make up for it once I have a chance to breathe. :D

 

In the meantime, y’all keep on being your fabulously fat selves!

 

- David


Moonica

Is fat acceptance an excuse to pig out?

I was telling Hubby how excited I was that I’d done my first post on the Axis, and the more I enthused about Fat Acceptance, the more I could see his face cloud over. After a while it was hard to keep up the enthusiasm.

Then it struck me: “Do you think me getting more involved in body acceptance is just an excuse for me to pig out?”.

Read more…


Heather

Workout Wear- “Why would you wear that?!”

Cross Post- I also posted this to fiercefatties.com. I just really felt the need to rant about it to more people! I’m tired of being told to go workout, but only in what we, the bigots, pre approve and even then you’re probably not safe. If I walk down the road and get cans thrown at me in a T shirt and long pants, then why the hell not give ‘em something to really look at and sport a hot pink sports bra while I’m at it?

As Ragen Chastain writes in her new book, Fat The Owner’s Manual,

If you don’t work out, we will complain that you are sedentary. If you do work out, we will make fun of you for how you look working out. Now, go out there and exercise because it’s good for your health!

This is a point which she reiterates often, in fact, and for good reason. Fatties just can’t win. If you don’t work out, you get treated like shit for it, but if you do, someone help you, you’re an eyesore to the world. Fatties experience stigma and abuse both verbal and physical and that’s not even mentioning the non verbal stigma such as sideways glances, looks of disgust, or man handling. I’ve been circulating some photos of me at my gym, working out. I’ve posted them and had requests to post them in several places, especially the body positive spaces on reddit.com. Here’s a sample:

You know what the number one comment I get on these photos is? Something along the lines of “My God, why would you wear that?! No one wants to see that!”. Pardon me, but I’ve never actually had a complaint. This may be because I work out at a women’s only gym or that most people are too busy with their own workouts to notice what I’m wearing. People don’t avert their eyes or avoid looking at me, but even if they did, guess who’s problem that is? That’s right- not mine! I’m entitled to wear anything I damn well feel like wearing including a sports bra which, I’ll remind people, I see thin people working out in all of the time.

I’ve even gotten these comments from supposedly body positive people. That I should dress to flatter my body- I’m sorry, I thought I was dressing to workout, not compete in a fashion show. Now, I dressed specifically in this top because it would be going on my body and fat positive blog. It’s only one thing that I wear- my collection also includes several T shirts and stretchy black shirts that I enjoy wearing. This bright pink top makes me feel confident and energetic- just what you need for a work out! There are lots of reasons for me to wear something.. but none of them are to please anyone but myself. If you don’t like what I’m wearing, look somewhere else. If you have to look where I happen to be standing, get the hell over it, I don’t exist to beautify your world, I exist to enhance my own.

If you want to see the full set of photos visit my blog.


Moonica

Allow myself to introduce… myself.

Hi, my name is Moonica (well, my online alter ego’s name is, at least), and I’m very pleased to meet you.

Well, you know, not meet, but have the opportunity to write to you. Or at you (language up until now really has left us quite ill-equipped for online interaction, hasn’t it?).

I’m not a writer. I’m not an activist. What I am is fat, and growing increasingly aware of and unwilling to accept the entire library of social subtext associated with that.

I can’t promise you life changing insights or debate winning arguments. But I damn well promise to be honest and open about my experiences being fat and giving up on the ideals prescribed to me by diet pedlars, fashionistas and disapproving glances. Perhaps you can associate; perhaps I can put into words something that you yourself have experienced. Or perhaps this is all very alien to you and I can offer insight into what it’s like being a genuine, real life, fat person just wanting to get on with life and eating the occasional cupcake without fear of what people think. If nothing else, I relish this opportunity to add my voice to those trying to open some eyes to the humanity of fat people everywhere – including (and perhaps especially) the eyes of fat people themselves.

Ironically, as I endeavour to join a sub-culture that rejects labels and aims to recover from the damage they do, I can’t seem to write this introduction without wanting to define myself with my own set of labels. Perhaps I’ve been too conditioned that way. Perhaps they’re just a handy short-hand to convey some information about myself and give you a basic reference of what my outlook is likely to be like. Probably a combination of these and many other things. So here it is, my curriculum vitae for your inspection.

  • I’m fat, but not morbidly obese. I am definitely too fat for most clothes shops and probably most people, but I secretly harbour insecurities about not being fat enough to be here.
  • I live in a big city and a fairly posh area in it at that, and I am pretty certain I am the only fat person a lot of my friends and acquaintances know.
  • I am a huge foody and a wanna-be cook.
  • I am the sleep deprived but insanely proud and happy mother of a 9-month old boy.
  • I am married to someone who loves me whatever I look like.
  • I’m a Christian, but promise not to be preachy or exclusionary about it and for it only to come into my writing as it pertains to fatness
  • I’m a software developer who works for myself from home.
  • I am not a fashionista. I rarely bother with makeup or high heels, so don’t expect any fatshion-style posts from me. However I love looking at other fatties (and people in general) rocking funky, off-the-beaten-track styles.
  • I am white, able-bodied, straight, and middle-class, and aware that I’m in a position of privilege in these (and other) regards and that that informs my viewpoints and experiences – but not so aware that I always know how it affects them.
  • I just bought a fantastic house and am about four months away from being unpacked and organized (this is not at all relevant to Axis of Fat, but I’m that excited about the new house).

So here’s to you, reader, to whom this is dedicated; and if I may, here’s to me finally putting down an introduction. I hope to be able to contribute something of meaning here on the Axis and I look forward to this opportunity to get more involved in the fatosphere. To help, to give back, and as part of my own journey towards being ok being just me.

 

Fond regards,

Moonica


Angela

How It Feels To Be Told You Look Small

[TW: Body Shaming]

Friday night my boyfriend and I went out to BBQ with two couples we love to go out with. One of the women complimented me on my dress when I sat down, and then told me I “look small.” My immediate reaction was a smile, but I didn’t really know what to say back, so I just said, “Thanks, I guess.”

I didn’t really know what to say because there was so much analysis happening in my brain all at once. First and foremost, I took her words as a compliment. There is no doubt in my mind that’s what they were intended to be, and she meant well. She meant I look good. And then I thought about how, in that context, small was synonymous with good; you look small meant you look good. The last thought I had before blurting out a half thank you was why is ‘you look small’ a compliment?

I want to look at the detonated definition of small. Google tells me the adjective form of small means “of a size that is less than normal or usual; little.” One of the synonyms for the adjective form listed is thin. So in that exchange, my friend was not only telling me that I look thin (good/small), but also that I look less than usual. What does this compliment mean to women? To be told you look small is, for one second, to feel thin.

Do you remember that old, awful saying propagated by Kate Moss in the 90s, “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels?”  What does “feeling thin” really mean? In the context of my story, it means receiving a positive compliment on my body for the first time in a long time. It means, for one second, feeling unashamed about what I was going to eat. Whether or not you are thin by society’s standards, it is how you perceive your body, and how you think others perceive your body, that fills you with shame or confidence. If you see yourself as big—big taking on the negative societal connotations here—it doesn’t matter what you weigh or what size you wear. And because big is seen as bad/unhealthy/wrong, women hurt themselves just to hear those words You look thin; you look small.

I’ve always hated that small is a compliment for women. This is a great example of a gendered compliment. A gendered compliment is when someone gives you what is meant to be a compliment about your body, appearance, or behavior due to gender. In my case, being told I look small was a compliment precisely because I present as female. By society’s beauty standards, being told you look small puts you closer to the ideal.

Truly, I have a problem with any ideal. Having an ideal, whether it is gaunt frames or pear shapes, is dangerous because it asks people to be something other than themselves. It says bodies should be one way, and if they aren’t that way, they are worthless. Many people internalize these ideals and become ashamed of their bodies. For a lot of women, being told they look small is something they long to hear simply because of body ideals.

I don’t want small to be a compliment. I don’t want big to be an insult. These words in the context of our bodies are responsible for so much shame and bigotry. When we are not talking about bodies, these words have interchangeable positive and negative connotations. In that exchange with my friend, I felt the flicker of internalized body shame: I smiled. She told me I looked small and I smiled. And I smiled because, in relation to my body, I’ve been taught that small is good; small is feminine; small is desired; small is sexy; small is a compliment. But as Google showed us earlier, small is none of those things; it’s none of those things unless I define it that way.


Heather

I made my first fat people art!

This whole past week I’ve had three children in the house- my son, my sister in law, and my nephew. In figuring out fun things to do with them we decided to break out the air-dry clay. I made a vase first. Yes, with all the skill of a 6th grader who was taking art class for the first time. Next I couldn’t figure out what to make so after a few moments of thought I decided on a fat person! Again, admittedly, it’s not that great, but it’s my first piece of fat people art so it’s proudly sitting in my office on a little shelf with my fat paper doll book. So here it is- my fat woman!


Angela

Get to Know Angela

HI everyone. You may have a seen a post by me last week and wondered, “Who is this new person?” I didn’t do a formal introduction because I just had to write that piece last week. It had been brewing in my mind for quite sometime. So I’m going to introduce myself a week late.

Currently, I run a blog called Love Your Rebellion that I started in the Fall of 2009. At first, my rebellion was personal. But as the adage goes, the personal is political, and what was once a small endeavor has become my focus as a feminist blogger. I saw rebellion as a concept in need of redefinition. Rebellion has been co-opted by advertisers and record executives (among others) to mean something material: a leather jacket, a belt with studs, charcoal eyes, or purple hair. It also connotes “bad” behavior (think The Bad Girls Club). I believe rebellion is not defined by any of these things. Rebellion is about revolt and revolution; it’s about fighting against tyranny and injustice. So, I fight body tyranny (beauty standards and ideals), gender injustices (sexism, transmisogyny, homophobia) racial injustice/tyranny, and class injustice. All of these require a cooperation between the body and the mind. Using this construction of rebellion, I changed not only the uses of rebellion, but my perspective about the role rebellion plays in my life.

I’ve always been a fat, hairy, feminist, but I wasn’t always happy about it. Once I changed my perspective about rebellion, I slowly began to accept these aspects of myself as uniquely and individually me. Others may identify with being fat, and/or hairy, and/or a feminist, but none will present these issues to the world in the same way I do. The same can be said about any person.

My self acceptance via redefined rebellion was due in part to my education. I earned a BA in Creative Writing and then an MFA in Critical and Creative Writing. I focused on feminist theory to fulfill my critical writing components in both programs. The seeds of a loving rebellion were planted by the writings of bell hooks, Patricia Hill Collins, Helene Cixous, and many many more feminist writers and teachers. Currently, I’m reading Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach, so you’ll probably see a lot of postings generated by that text.

If you continue to read my postings here, you will come to know a lot about my personal life. I don’t know what specifically to tell you other than what I’ve written above; I’m so bad at introductions in person: shoe-shuffling anxious and always in a sideways stance. It’s hard for me to tell if this is or isn’t the written equivalent.

I know that writing for Axis of Fat will further my progress in self acceptance. All I want is for everyone to be who they are without fear of harm or exclusion.


Heather

Introducing

TW for ED, suicide/depression, self harm

Hi everyone, I just wanted to take a minute to introduce myself, Heather, also known as Fat Girl Posing, and tell you a little bit about myself and how I came to fat acceptance. I’ll try to keep it short. As an adult I’m opinionated and creative, something I hope comes through in my posts. I write for my own blog, Fat Girl Posing where I blog about my experiences as a local plus size model, as well as for Fierce Freethinking Fatties under the name hlkolaya and now, I’m happy to be writing here as well!

I’m fat- a deathfat in fact, and I grew up that way. In fact, I was a size 22/24 in 6th grade, only three years after my journey into fatdom. You see, before third grade I wasn’t fat at all. I was a “wiry” child as my mom likes to say, just like my son is now. I wore the smallest sizes and they were still big. So what happened? Well, hell if I know, but the doctors’ best guesses – and these are medical professionals talking about weight so take it, as always, with a few handfuls of salt- are that my body changed when my bipolar symptoms kicked in. Yep, I’m fat and kinda nuts (no, you’re not allowed to say that, only I am), you’d have to be to be in the business of fat activism I guess. So in three years I went from bean pole to, what, a watermelon or something if we’re sticking with food analogies.

So I lost all of my friends, got asked on dates as jokes, got beaten up, even had bricks thrown at my head. I went from the popular girl to the lowest of the low. At at ten, in 6th grade, I first attempted suicide. I’d try again a couple of times growing up. By age 15 I had an eating disorder where I regularly starved myself, abused diet pills, over exercised, and purged. I had also started self harming at that point. It’d take me ten years to overcome both.

How did I do it? For me it was almost overnight. I was at a friend’s house, talking about how I’d managed to get my daily caloric intake down to 350 and she handed me a book and asked me to read it. It was Lessons From The FatOSphere by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby. I read it, got pissed, stomped around for about two weeks and then a lightbulb went off in my head. It was only a month later when I started my own blog. For me it was the science of it- I’m a science based girl and I couldn’t ignore all of the evidence right in front of me no matter how much I wanted to. I threw out my scale, went into recovery for my eating disorder (then decided to actually tell someone about it and get diagnosed), and became an activist.

I’m a fierce advocate for all human rights and I value intelligence and compassion above all else (one without the other is useless). And that’s me- in a very small nutshell. I’ll probably be doing a combination of photo posts as well as text posts and anything that I find fat and awesome. Thanks for letting me get to know you all. <3


Angela

Living Fat: Fat Bodies and Performance

[TW: Body Shaming, Mention of Dieting]

I remember the first time my fat actress fears were realized in the form of a high school musical audition: I went out for the part of Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. After the initial vocal audition, most of the girls auditioning approached me to tell me they were sure I would get the part, and then the cold reading audition seemed to solidify that possibility. When the cast list was posted, I speculated the only reason I wasn’t cast as Miss Adelaide was because I was fat. I approached the drama teacher and asked her if that was indeed why, and she said—and I’ll never forget this—“Angela, you know that girl is nowhere near as talented as you, but people in this town just won’t believe a girl your size would be a burlesque dancer.” I left her classroom in tears. I was 17.

My next brush with the limitations placed on a fat performer came from a theatre professor at my community college. I looked up to her so much because she was the most inspiring director I’d worked under and, more importantly, she believed in my ability. I could tell she was pleased when she saw my weight start to drop from 200lbs to 190, to 180, to 175. When she noticed I hadn’t budged from 175lbs for a few weeks, she casually asked “Are you going to continue with your weight loss plan?” I didn’t really know what to say besides yes. When I left her office I realized she was trying to encourage weight loss so she could cast me as her leading lady or ingénue; then I’d be believable. I felt judged by my body. People would tell me that’s just the way the acting world is. I’d say that’s just the way the world is, and came to believe that I’d never be who I wanted to be as a performer (read: person) until I was thin.

I recently started reading Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach, and in the first chapter she offers some meanings of fatness. One of such is: “To be fat means having to wait until you are thin to live.” Living can be defined here in a number of ways: finding true love, getting to the height of your career, letting go on the dance floor, feeling confident, wanted, recognized. For me living means performing. My early experiences with the body constraints of musical theatre made me sweep any performance wants—specifically singing—under the rug. I focused on writing instead.

Writing has always been a part of my life, but after I quit acting, it became my central art form. I put all of myself into writing; I even went to grad school for it. Writing felt like a safe place for my voice—something I wanted to share with the world, but disembodied. It would be much easier to get people to listen to me, I thought, if they couldn’t see what I looked like. My writing is not submitted to journals with a full body shot. The only things measured are the words on the page.

The musicality of poetry resembled so closely what I wanted to do with my voice (sing) that it was enough—for a while. Still, I would have daydreams of being on stage. Acting had passed, but singing is in my blood. Both of my parents are trained singers so I was always encouraged to find music in my body, but the real world presented me with images of paper thin and/or taut muscled female singers, whether rock n’ roll or musical theatre.

Try to name five fat female rock n’ roll singers. I can name a few: Mama Cass, Ann Wilson, and more recently, Beth Ditto. They are not the norm, however, and they get a lot of nasty remarks about their bodies. The majority of what I saw growing up—my idols, the starlets of rock n’ roll—were thin, lean, and able bodied women (not to mention white, cis, and straight). Forget singing lessons, forget years of singing with a band, forget passion and the pure love of it; just look like Debbie Harry crossed with Courtney Love crossed with Tina Turner crossed with Joan Jett. Right. Got it.

This brings me back to one of Orbach’s meanings of fatness: I spent most of my life thinking I had to achieve a thin body to be the kind of performer people want to see, and moreover, can relate to. This belief prevented me from truly living, from being who I want to be. At the end of 2010, I decided that I needed to just do it. Just start a fucking band, and get my body on that stage. But when I thought about how vulnerable my body could be while playing guitar and singing—the way I could lose control, let my body sway, jump, stomp, pounce, fall, bend, and shake—it scared me to death. I was taught fat bodies aren’t flattered by the movement of rock n’ roll. I still felt that I needed to reform my body before I would really attain success. I’ve spent the last two years on bicycles, ellipticals, ab machines, and diets.

I believe in being strong. I believe in feeling capable. The last two years of exercise and dieting have shown me that is what is important, and that being strong and capable are not everyone’s goals/they mean different things to different people. I have just recently stopped dieting, and I vow to never diet again (with some help from Fat is a Feminist Issue). Now, I am a year on with my band, The Young Dead. The 3 men that play lead guitar, bass, and drums in the Young Dead don’t give shit what I look like. They care about the music I make, my passion, and the quality of the performance. It still takes courage for me to get on that stage let it all go—especially since I’m the only fat girl in my city’s music scene—but as Helene Cixous reminds me, “Woman must put herself into the text–as into the world and into history–by her own movement.” Getting on stage and facing my fear of being publicly fat is how I place myself into the world, the text, and history. My own movement means being fat and being a performer; my own movement means living.


David

Site Update

Hi!

A quick update:

- I haven’t intentionally abandoned you all – my ability to connect to the internet has been sporadic at best.

- I have my ideas for how we can keep Axis of Fat going, but I’d also really love to hear your suggestions as well!

- NEW WRITERS. WANT. Email me, yes?

 

I have to dash, but there WILL be more!

 

Hugses,

David


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