A Cultural Problem

I relate to this so much:

“Now, I do a lot of other things in my life besides being fat, but being fat is often the first thing people notice, and because culturally we have so many very specific and pervasive stereotypes about fatness, it can cause people to see me in a certain light even before they get to know anything else about me. This is something I have to deal with every time I meet someone new, or go to a job interview or business meeting, or even get on a plane — will the person I am about to interact with be cool, or terrible? Who knows? It keeps life exciting! And sometimes very, very stressful.”

Read more from Lesley Kinzel here.

Photo from Lesley's website.

Photo from Lesley’s website.

Making a Difference

Are we making a difference when it comes to spreading the message that all bodies are good bodies? We are up against loud voices, funded by big money (the diet industry is estimated to bring in about sixty billion dollars a year!). It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by those odds. But check this out: My friend Ragen Chastain breaks down a nasty situation, and shows us that activism can make a difference! Read about it here.

From Ravishly.

From Ravishly.

 

University Study: Duh

Where do I even start with this one? We don’t need a university study to tell us that there is a HUGE lack of athletic wear for plus-sized bodies. WE HAVE BEEN SAYING THIS FOR YEARS. (And I highly doubt that asking 56 fat women if there’s a lack of exercise clothes for them is going to make all of these anti-plus-size companies stand up and take notice.)
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Programming Note

A little programming note for ya: It’s come to my attention (hi, Sam!) that not everyone is on Facebook. Of course I knew that, but still, I’ve been posting way more over there than I have here.

That changes today! Starting… now!… whenever I post on Facebook, I’ll add the same content here. I tend to post a lot of links, photos, and brief thoughts, so you won’t see the same “in-depth” content that you’re used to here. But hey, we’re living in a TL;DR world anyway, right? Right!

First up, this great image I found today. Words to live by!

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My First Friend, My Enemy

Let me tell you about my first friend, “Barb.” Barb has been in my life for… well, forever. I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t there. We got along great when we were young, but then when puberty hit and we started liking boys, things got rocky. I knew that there was something about us that boys didn’t like, but Barb didn’t seem to care, she didn’t want to change who she was. I guess you could say were more “frenemies” than friends; while I appreciated some of the good things she brought into my life, most of the time I only tolerated her. (And, to be completely honest, there were plenty of times when I wished we had never met.)

Not this Barb, but close enough!

Not this Barb, but close enough!

Then, at a point in my late 20s, Barb began to listen. She agreed that if we changed some things, life would get so much better—we’d find love and happiness! We were totally in sync. We did the same things, liked the same things, and it felt amazing. And I was totally right about our lives getting better: We made some new friends, and even started to get some serious male attention. Barb and I were, at last, reflecting our best selves back to each other. Life was good!

Fast forward about ten years, and things began to change again. I was still working toward change, but Barb was reverting back to who she’d been. When we’d look at each other, I recognized her less and less. I couldn’t understand the things she was doing or feeling. Gradually, we grew farther and farther apart.

The more Barb changed, the more I began to dislike her. I didn’t even want to look at her anymore. She was a stranger to me, inscrutable. I would lay awake at night wondering how she could betray me like that, after our beautiful decade of bonding, accomplishment, and love. How could she be so different from the person I thought she was? Why was she changing back? Hadn’t we worked so hard to get to this place of peace, of harmony, of happiness?

I did everything I could to get the old Barb back. I reminded her of how great things had been, reminded her of all the things we’d done and accomplished. I assured her we could do them again! But the old tricks didn’t work this time. So I tried new things, anything, to get her to change. I screamed at her, cried, dragged her across countless miles, begged her! Obstinate woman that she’d become, she refused. We were at a stalemate.

Believe it or not, this story has a happy ending. Because one day—I remember it with perfect clarity—I realized it wasn’t Barb who needed to change, it was me. Barb knew all along who she was. She had been trying to tell me for years, and I was the stubborn one who had refused to listen. I was the one who was sure her version of herself was false. I wanted to break her and mold her into my perfect version of who I thought she should be, instead of letting her be her true self.

I thought Barb and I had found peace before, but I was wrong. Now we’re at peace. Now we’ve found harmony. That’s not to say that we don’t have our little squabbles, mostly me picking at Barb to change just a wee bit here or a wee bit there, in the hopes that it will make life happier and easier for us. But the more I accept Barb for who she is, the more I listen to the truths she speaks to me, the rarer those moments become, and the happier and healthier we both are.

She is my first and best friend. Now, when I stand in front of the mirror and look her in the eye, she smiles. And I smile back.

Let’s Talk About Acceptance

You guys! First of all, hi. I know, it’s been ages. Even though I haven’t been posting, I’m still thinking about y’all a lot. I hope things are going well for you, that you are living your best life, and you are taking care of the body you’ve got in whatever way makes you feel good.

There’s a lot of junk in the world right now, even if we limit our view to just the body-related junk. You’ve probably heard about the Playboy model who took a picture of a naked woman at the gym (great break down here by Virgie Tovar). It makes me sad and angry that so many people think bodies (especially female bodies, and especially especially fat female bodies) are up for public consumption, scrutiny, and judgment. How did so many of us turn out to be mean and terrible?!

Speaking of! Check out this offensive t-shirt campaign available on Tee Spring:

shirt

Yep, this is shirt that you can buy (ironically, to to size 5XL!) to show your bigotry to the world. Check out the description:

accept

WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!?! (Tee Spring doesn’t give any information.)

Honestly, I’m stumbling over the keyboard, trying to be coherent in my outrage and disappointment that this exists. Where do we even start with why this is the worst?

I mean, (1) we’ve got the false premise that fat and fit cannot (and do not) co-exist. (2) the idea that promoting hate and intolerance is “setting good examples for young people.” (3) the idea that fit people move their bodies, while fat people eat donuts, pizza, and soda. Argh!! And (4), people do not care for things that they hate, and when you teach people to hate their fat bodies, they are not going to take care of them! So to pretend this about health is just complete and utter crap.

And the word accept. Acceptance. The arrogance of this is the most offensive part, that these rotten people think they can dictate whether or not some bodies are good enough to be allowed to exist is just mind-bogglingly vile.

I do not need permission to exist as I am. The size and shape of my body do not dictate my worth. I do not require anyone’s acceptance to exist in this body. In fact, I reject any acceptance of my body – except my own.

Put that on a t-shirt!

My Fatkini and Me

So, I just got back from vacation. A beach vacation. Before I went, I bought a fatkini. On our second day, I put the fatkini on and I went down to the beach. And you know what happened? Nothing. Nobody looked at me. Nobody even seemed to notice me. I sunned and swam and talked with my friends, and nothing happened. There were so many people there, with so many different body shapes and sizes, in so many stages of dress (and undress), that I wasn’t even a blip on anyone’s radar.

Me in the Gulf of Mexico! Not in a fatkini. Plus some random kid's back.

Me in the Gulf of Mexico! Not in a fatkini. Plus some random kid’s back.

Which isn’t to say I was totally nonchalant and chill about the whole thing, because I definitely wasn’t. I was terrified to walk out there with my belly showing – even if it was just a sliver of belly compared to what some people show off in a swim suit. Even with the encouragement of my friends and no one looking at me funny, I was still super self-conscious and uncomfortable.

From the back. Plus my best friend's back.

From the back. Plus my best friend’s back.

I fully intended to take a picture of me in my fatkini to use here on the blog (artfully posed and with just the right lighting, of course), but I never had my friends take one. I only wore the fatkini once in our eight days at the beach; as much as I wanted to be super body positive and brave, I went straight back to my one-piece suit after that first fatkini experience.

Will I ever wear it again? Sure, given the right circumstances. And if this beach vacation taught me anything, it’s that those circumstances have be right in my head, more than they need to be right in the world.

Here are all my vacation pictures, if you’re into looking at other people’s vacation pictures!

I’ll Be Here When You Get Back

Hey, hi. How are you doing? I see you’ve been posting a lot about your body lately, and I thought we could talk about it for a minute or two.

Let's sit down here and talk!

Let’s sit down here and talk!

I saw your posts about hating your body and wanting to change it. I get that. We are told that being thin (or thinner) will make us healthier, happier, better, more lovable, more successful. We will shed our troubles with our pounds! When we’re thin (or thinner), we will get the job, the lover, the praise, the respect and admiration we deserve – because we will finally be worthy of those things.

And I get how mad you are that your body isn’t what you want it to be. The bodies we see in the media seem so perfect and flawless, it’s outrageously frustrating that our bodies can’t look like that, too. It’s just not fair!

I’m here to let you know that when you stop hating your body, I’ll be here. When you realize you take better care of the things you love than the things you hate, I’ll be here. When you realize that only a super small percentage of humans look like the people on TV and in magazines, and that the people trying to convince you otherwise – even the ones with “Dr.” in their titles – are really just interested in your money (not your health or well-being), I’ll be here.

I also saw your posts about how much weight you’ve lost, how much you’ve changed your body, and how proud you are. I get that, too. It’s really exciting to lose weight. The thinner I got, the more I liked myself. And, better still, the more people seemed to like me! I have never gotten more attention from men – or from salespeople! – than I did when I was my thinnest.

And I know you’ve worked super hard to get where you are. You changed so much (maybe everything!) about your life. You stopped eating certain things, and started eating different things. You started moving your body in new ways. You’ve made lifestyle changes, and those are hard. It has taken you monumental effort – physical, mental, and emotional – to get where you are. You have every right to be proud.

I’m here to let you know that if and when your body changes, I’ll be here. If your body goes back to what it looked like before, or even gets bigger, I’ll be here. I’ll stand beside you while you face the disappointment, anger, and fear that comes with those changes. And I’ll stand beside you while you learn to cope, to adjust, and to stand tall again.

I know that the messages I share aren’t for everybody. I know that you might like them at first, and then change your mind. You might really hate what I have to say, because it doesn’t apply to you at all, no way. That’s totally okay. Body acceptance is a personal journey for each of us. We all forge our own path. If you find that you need me during your journey, I’ll be here.

What Doesn’t Fit

You know when you’re clothes shopping and something doesn’t fit, and that feels really crappy? Chances are, you’ve hated your body for that lack of fit, not the clothes. One of the best things you can do for your body-related mental health is to flip that right on its head. It takes patience and time; I can’t remember when I first started having those thoughts, but now I have them all the time. It’s fantastic to stand in a fitting room, not be able to zip up a dress, and not feel bad about myself. (Instead I’m disappointed in the store, the manufacturer, the designer… and society, for good measure. Try it!)

Photo by Brad Hagan.

Photo by Brad Hagan.

But—surprise!—this isn’t actually a post about clothes. It’s a post about people. Because I realized recently that the same thing applies to the people in my life: I don’t have to hate myself when there’s not a fit. Let me explain.

I’ve been single for most of my life, and not because I’ve wanted to be. Part of that is because I don’t feel that I click with many men. Why? Who knows? It could be chemistry, personality, anatomy (mine, his, ours). Every now and then, though, I do meet someone and feel a click, a spark. And when they guy doesn’t feel it back, it’s pretty crushing. For decades, I hated me for that, and only me. More specifically, I hated my body. Why would so-and-so be into me? I’m fat and fat is the worst thing you can be! Obviously I need to change my body/myself so that guys will like me!

I had my first unrequited crush in fifth grade, so it’s taken me literally 30 years to finally stop hating my body/myself if a guy and I don’t fit. I don’t hate the guy, either. What’s the point in hate just because two people don’t click? Being compatible is easy for some, and really difficult for others, and my lot in life seems to be the latter.

That’s not to say you can’t be disappointed when something doesn’t fit—clothing or otherwise. I’ve been plenty disappointed by dresses, pants, shoes, and handsome men. Disappointment is different from hating something, be that your body or your heart, yourself or someone else.

I don’t hate so-and-so for not liking me. But I also don’t hate myself, and that fits me just right.

Things I’m Over

(Skip to the end if you’re looking for a Polar Plunge update. Start here if you’d like to hear about all the things I’m totally over these days.)

Y’all, I am over so. many. things. I’ve reached a place in my body love/acceptance journey where I don’t have the patience or the energy to talk to people who are stalled at the entrance to the road, who aren’t even on the same interstate, and especially those who are throwing down those spike strips to pop my tires and send me careening off into the median of fat/body hate. (I hope you appreciate all the work that went into this driving metaphor!)

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As always, comment sections are THE WORST. Yet somehow I find myself peeking at them now and again. It just amazes me how many thin people are so strongly invested in hating, shaming, lecturing at, feeling superior to, and putting the verbal smackdown on fat people. Just today, I saw a silly clickbait headline about how peanut butter can help with “obesity,” (which I am also over) and the first comment said:

Stop eating fast food and sitting on your lazy rear ends. That’s how you prevent obesity.

Can you feel how over that I am? I could write sixteen posts about everything that’s wrong with that comment. Instead, let’s agree to be over it and move on.

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Next up are the other fat people (almost exclusively women) who assume that I dislike my body as much as they like theirs, and want to talk about it constantly. Whether that comes in the form of diet talk, body hate talk, or even being astonished when I’m physically more capable than they think I should be: Over. It.

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Finally, I am the most over companies not wanting my money. We have talked about this so many times, and while there has been progress, there is still this weird thing where – even though something like 60% of American women wear size 14 and above – I have super limited choices when it comes to brick and mortar shopping. And don’t even get me started on fitness apparel and gear. Shops like Lululemon to Athleta are apparently afraid they’ll catch fat from my money. The other day, Facebook showed me an add for a super neat looking belt that I could wear when I’m out walking… except they only make them up to XL (size 14-16). I emailed the company to see if they are planning on making options for bigger people, and reminded them how we have money, too, but have yet to receive a reply. Over it.

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If this post makes it seem like I’m super grumpy, it’s not true. I’m actually the happiest with my size and shape that I’ve been in a long, long time. I just need the rest of the world to catch up.

That's me!

That’s me!

As for the Polar Plunge: I did not wear a swimsuit in public. I was ready, mentally, but the air temperature was 3, and the water was 39. I may have only gone in up to my knees, but hey: I raised almost $1500 for Special Olympics. Huge thanks to those of you who donated!

 

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