Monday, October 1st, 2012
Hi! I’m a new blogger. Let’s jump right in.
So last year I was lucky enough to be offered an opportunity to live and work in Fiji for a year. Naturally I jumped at the chance, but now after returning home I have the time and the inclination to start stepping up more in my social justice involvement. I specifically wanted to share some of my Fijian experiences because so many of the issues faced by Western fat people come from the culture that we’re steeped in, and it was a really interesting time to go and live in another culture that has some different nuances to weight.
But first some stuff about me. Aside from being the sort of person who jumps at a chance to move to a third world country (when I’m feeling cynical I think they refer to these countries as ‘developing’ because of all the stomach bugs, skin infections and other health problems I ‘developed’ while I was there, but that’s a topic for another post). I’m a cissexual heterosexual late-twenties woman, classically educated, fat, and extremely white. As in hey-I-wonder-if-any-of-these-freckles-will-turn-cancerous, reflective WHITE. And of course my attractiveness in the Pacific was entwined with my whiteness from a colonialist fair-is-good and white-people-have-money sort of thing. But what I really want to talk about today is the experience of fatness.
First of all: DO NOT MOVE TO FIJI UNLESS TALKING ABOUT WEIGHT IS DESCRIPTIVE FOR YOU, NOT OFFENSIVE.
Fijians are the world’s best observational comedians in training. If they’ve observed something, they want to tell you about it. Not necessarily with any commentary, just that they’ve noticed it. I’ve had people approach me to tell me their cousin saw me in the street wearing a red shirt and talking to a guy drinking a coke. No judgement, no story, just the observation. But when it comes to observing weight, Fijians are on it faster than your Aunt Francis. “Hello, you’ve put on weight/lost weight!”
It’s kind of strange, because Fiji has over recent years absorbed a lot of the health messages around weight (there is a lot of diabetes there) as well as cultural messages from the West – so comments on weight loss are often quite complimentary. But then again, comments on weight gain are often quite complimentary too, as I’ve been told gaining weight is a sign that you are happy. At least this is what I was told when my boss was confused about how his “compliment” of weight gain to my thin Australian co-worker didn’t go down as planned. I’m not sure whether a Fijian would mean it in a complimentary for me, seeing how I’m already fat. But it is refreshing to have gaining weight not be completely stigmatised, just as an observational point.
But even if someone only meets you once and therefore can make no comment on any weight change, commenting on your weight is pretty normal. I’ve had a lot of taxi drivers comment on my weight when I got in the cab – and then about half of them would go on to hit on me, so they can’t mean it too insultingly – and one masseuse who slapped me on the thigh as soon as she saw me and exclaimed “You are big! Like Fijian girl!”
(She also went on to tell me how I could seduce boys by telling them “Try me: we won’t need a mattress.” I haven’t tried that out yet but I’ll be sure to let you know if it works).
There is this strange inverted privilege that goes on about being objectified. Understandably (and rightly so!) many people don’t enjoy having all their wonderful human complexity squished down into existing simply for someone else’s sexual pleasure. However for those of us who live on the edges of the Attractiveness Spectrum, I know there have been times when I’ve wanted to get eye-stabby on friends or acquaintances who complained of being objectified whilst I’ve been struggling with sexual invisibility.
Do we all remember Gwyneth Paltrow’s comments on her experiences wearing a fat suit for her role in ‘Shallow Hal’? “People wouldn’t even look at me, wouldn’t make eye contact with me at all. I felt no sexual energy from men [on the set]. Normally, in the film, I have all these tiny little clothes on, but when I come to the set with the suit on and feel none of that, it is palpable.” Swinging between two extremes is definitely a strange experience.
Having an actual lived experience of being in a country with different definitions of beauty hasn’t been dizzying or ego-inflating (I usually have a very healthy ego: any difficulty fitting through doors is fully attributable to the size of my head, not the size of my butt). What it has been is a very refreshing reminder of how culturally constructed beauty is. I got hit on there about 400% more than I do at home, without changing anything about myself. I’m sure it’ll be a good thing to remember once I start hitting the Australian dance floor again.
Monday, July 30th, 2012
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.
Friday, July 27th, 2012
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.
Monday, July 23rd, 2012
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
Thursday, July 23rd, 2009
Well hell-oooo Axis of Fat!
I’m Omega. Yeah, as in Ω ..
I’m a goth. I’m a steampunk. I’m a DJ. I’m a feminist. I’m a mother. I’m a geek. I’m poly.
Oh – and I’m fat.
I have been gifted by the fates with a classic hourglass figure. Regardless of my weight, my waist is always 10-15 inches smaller than my bust and hips, which are always the same size. It was true when I was a size 8, it was true when I was a size 20, and it’s true now, when I am a size 16.[img_assist|nid=56|title=Omega, being a poser despite the signs..|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=243|height=324]
I have bright, bright, BRIGHT red hair. It’s been this way well over a decade. A lot less people freak out and point since I moved to Melbourne from Brisbane a year ago.
I have two amazing partners, and a wonderful nearly-teenage daughter, and a cat, and two rabbits, and a vege garden… I have a job in Communications that I enjoy, and I have enough hobbies to sink a battleship. My world is filled with love and laughter. Life is good.
And that’s exactly the mantra I was repeating to myself while listening to two of my co-workers talk about me. Our office bathroom is right next to the tea-room. You can hear through the wall. They didn’t realise I was in there.. and were saying..
(for clarity, let’s call them Office Bimbo 1 & 2.)
OB1 = Omega’s jacket is nice.
OB2 = Yeah.
OB1 = It’s such a shame. She obviously spends a lot of time on her appearance. But still she’s just..
OB2 = Fat?
OB1 = Yeah. I mean, no matter what she does, you know…
OB2 = Yeah. I know. I’d rather die than be fat.
OB1 = Yeah, me too.
Now I’d like to be able to tell you that I burst out of the ladies loo, enjoying their stunned mortification for a moment, and then said something blistering and witty and wonderful that rocked their skinny little bodies back against the wall with its sheer awesomeness.. and then I sauntered my sassy large ass right out of there with a triumphant wiggle.
But.. I didn’t. I just sat there. Till they went back to their desks. And then I went back to mine.
I have to work with them, you see. And – as much as their opinion annoys me, they have a right to it. No matter how stupid and ignorant it is, they’re entitled to it. I mean, I’d rather DIE than be that stupid, know what I am saying?
But gaaah.. they’d rather DIE than look like me? That’s pretty harsh.
Can you blame them, though? I mean, the range of “acceptable” if you listen to our media is pretty slim. narrow. not much wriggle room. (ha – see what I did there?)
Take this for example. This ad is currently holding pride-of-place on a huuuuuge billboard outside Flinders St station at the moment. I have seen it on buses and plenty of other places too. It’s for Kayser Lingere..
It’s selling underwear for different shapes of women. Great idea! But the models they have chosen…
Well, look for yourself:
[img_assist|nid=51|title=Kayser ad - pear|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=140|height=193]
[img_assist|nid=52|title=Kayser ad - hourglass|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=140|height=192]
[img_assist|nid=50|title=Kayser ad - column|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=141|height=194]
[img_assist|nid=49|title=Kayser ad - apple|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=141|height=191]
Now.. if you are anything like me – you will ask yourself.. are these the same girl?? (I dont think so..but they are so similar, it’s hard to tell) Is this photoshopped? (to within an inch of its life).. why oh why do people still think it’s okay to chop off the heads/faces of people in ads?!?
Their slogan? Perfect Fit. Whatever your size. (so long as it’s not more than an 18, or you’re fresh out of luck.) Sorry. I added that last bit myself. Told you I worked in Communications.
Don’t get me wrong. These women are gorgeous. Toned and terrific, every one. And now that the pixel wizards have waved their wand.. utterly flawless… but they are very, very similar. There are as many variations of smaller women as there are of bigger ones. Why, then, did Kayser choose these four, almost indistinguishable models when demonstrating different shapes?
Thank heavens they ‘shopped in cute little props to signify what “shape” they are meant to be, because otherwise I would find it very hard to tell.
Is it any wonder that young women would “rather die” than deviate from this “norm?” Not that is the norm anywhere outside the magazine ads. and the billboards. and the bus ads. Is this the message we want to be sending?
All right, let’s look what our friends at Kayser have to say about MY shape. The aforementioned hourglass. Here’s the description from their website. The brackets are mine.
THE HOURGLASS SHAPE
The hourglass woman is considered the most feminie. With an ample bust and bottom she attracts a lot of attention. The hourglass woman must make the most of her curves, which are in all the right places.
(Now that doesn’t sound so bad, does it.. no siree!)
ARE YOU AN HOURGLASS?
Think tiny waist, voluptuous hips & generous thighs….
(In what alternate reality could the model they have chosen be described as “voluptuous”. We fatties have been using that word to avoid THE EFF WORD for years. And generous? If this is their idea of “generous” I wouldn’t want to work there come Xmas bonus time, that’s for sure…)
…..the shape that most women want to be.
(Really? Can someone tell the girls in my office that, please??)
Monday, July 13th, 2009
Tubby. I remember that’s what my grandfather used to call me as a child. My family would spend every Christmas and Easter holidays with him, and whenever he saw me it would be “nice to see you’ve lost some weight, tubby!” in a very sarcastic tone.
The good stories outweigh (hah) the bad with my grandfather, but he did bring to light from a very early age that I was different to other children. I was “tubby” or “chunky” or one of the many other synonyms for fat that is used so frequently. And that was very quickly pointed out to me to be BAD. If I questioned as to WHY it was bad i was given the “oh well, it’s so unhealthy!” schtick. It’s a pity I didn’t think about it more critically and asked for some unbiased studies to back it up, but hey, I was about eight at the time.
My journey (hate that term) into Fat Acceptance is still relatively new. In the short time I have been involved with the movement however, my happiness has increased exponentially. I hope that as Fat Acceptance becomes more commonplace, more people begin asking questions. That people increase questioning the media, businesses and their government as to why its okay to openly discriminate against fats. As to why businesses are allowed to profit from diet plans that are clearly risking people’s health. And how come fat people aren’t catered to more in the fashion marketplace? (Especially if the OBESITY EPIDEMIC OOGABOOGA is KILLING US ALLLLLL! )
The biggest question more people need to ask however, is why is it more important having people be thin than having them love themselves? If you’re naturally thin then good for you, but people come in all shapes and sizes – and that’s perfectly okay. Beauty should be in the eye of the beholder, not what the media tells us beauty should be.