Monday, September 13th, 2010
Fat Studies: A Critical Dialogue was INCREDIBLE. I truly can’t put into words how wonderful it was but I’m going to attempt to at a later stage. There were so many fabulous people to meet and ideas to action and a buttload of fun and friendship. In the interim please accept a video of my presentation, and the paper it’s based on. I was very nervous but it seemed to go ok!
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My name is Natalie and I’m fat, I like the internet and I should preface this by telling you that I’m so unacademic I had to ask Google how to write an abstract for a paper when I was encouraged to submit something for this presentation! Gratefully, I also had the support of Australian Fat Studies academics as well as complete strangers on the internet, and I want to tell you a story about how I’ve come to be here, loving and accepting myself with the help of the World Wide Web.
Chubby teen finds the internet
I started using the internet in 1995 as a 14 year old at a private girls school. While my friends were swapping X-files fanfic and accidentally swearing at our headmistress via PM over our Novel network, I was helping other students circumvent the ban on chatrooms by using Telnet talkers. I’ve always been interested in communication and community on the internet, rather than downloading porn or music and other stuff. I sought people I could connect with because most folks just didn’t get me; I had crazy ideas that human beings should be treated equitably and I was an introvert who communicated much more comfortably via the written word.
Despite running the gamut of teenagehood and being exposed to conflicting messages about what my female body was supposed to look like, I never wanted to be skinny and I never really was. At a size 14 I felt kind of trapped between being properly skinny and properly fat. I remember many times thinking that if I was going to be chubby I ought to be properly chubby with the benefit of soft flesh and rounded bits. I was attracted to chunkier people and while I felt my thoughts went against the grain I never questioned or repressed them.
At 17, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and found I had to change my whole life. Suddenly I had to inject insulin four times a day and monitor my blood sugar levels in relation to what I put in my mouth. My regular meals had to be balanced, planned, measured and predictable. I had hypos in the middle of the night, and woke disoriented and pouring with sweat; the only way it could be fixed was by eating food to bring my blood sugar back up again. I put on weight even after I lost a lot of weight pre-diagnosis, even after establishing really healthful and doctor-approved, diabetic-friendly eating habits. My body became properly fat and I felt a sense of relief to belong to a group – even if it was a feared and harassed group. I started to get really curious about fat bodies. I tried to talk about fatness with friends and family but the conversations never went very far. People, mostly female, felt genuinely panicked when I brought up the topic.
My Mother was concerned about the weight gain and accompanied me to Weight Watchers meetings. I went along to a few and ate the diet, but it never felt right to me. As a diabetic, my food intake was already policed (by myself and by other people) so submitting myself to more policing and having to pay for it felt wrong and unhealthy. I never felt as if I had disordered eating, nor as if what I ate contributed to my weight gain. My General Practitioners and every Endocrinologist up until my current one would treat me as if I were some kind of terrorist, waging war against my body by intentionally putting on weight. My current Endocrinologist actually says something new: I could have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome symptoms. Back when I was doing Weight Watchers I knew that my weight gain couldn’t be explained by my food habits and it didn’t make sense for me to further damage my relationship with food by doing a diet that reduced nutrition to numbers so I dropped out. My Mum was baffled but dropped the issue with me, while continuing to pursue various diets herself, yet always remaining the same, familiar and lovely Mum-shape. I broke up with dieting because it seemed like a crock.
Monday, September 13th, 2010
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…
If you do have any questions, drop me a comment and I’m happy to discuss further.
Friday, May 28th, 2010
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.