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You Don’t Have My Consent

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Roosevelt said a lot of great things in her life. Here’s my personal favorite:

No one can make you inferior without your consent.

There are a lot of people out there determined to make me inferior. Why? Because they want to charge me extra for goods and services, sell me diet plans and surgery, or just find someone to feel superior to themselves. Well, I’m sorry for them. It ain’t gonna work.

You see, I don’t consent.

I am not inferior.

I am not superior.

I am equal.

I deserve to be treated well just as much as any other person.

My body is not a problem to be solved or a platform for someone else’s fearmongering. It’s just my body. It does what it does, does not do what it does not do, and is very much okay precisely as it is.

Fat, night blindness, occasional ingrown toenail and all, I am equal.

Nobody has my consent to make me less than I am.

I don’t say it’s always easy. There are a lot of people out there determined to take my consent and yours by force. But do your best not to let them have your consent, either.

Because you know what? They don’t deserve it.

And if you need another quote to get you through, you can always remember what this plucky young lady said to a very sexy goblin king:

You have no power over me.

 

But what if I LIKE my appetite?

“Curve your appetite with yoga.”

Uh, okay.

First of all, I’m pretty sure those are just words strung together. I still can’t figure out what it’s supposed to mean other than some take on the idea that if I do yoga I’ll put the kibosh on wanting to eat.

So not wanting to eat is…good?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to bash yoga. I love yoga. I’m not an exceptionally gifted practitioner –imagine Patsy or Edina from Abfab trying to do a Salute to the Sun and you’ve just about got it– but I’m on the yoga bandwagon, and not because it’s the only acceptable place to wear yoga pants in public. Although it is.

But I’m also on the eating when I’m hungry bandwagon.

If my stomach says “Hey, we haven’t hung out in a while. Howzabout you and I go to town on some of these here black beans?” I’ll say “Great idea Stomach, do you want me to bring the cotija, cilantro and lime or will you?” and IT will reply “You should. I’m an internal organ and thus have limited citrus-picking capabilities.” and then, not being able to argue with logic, I’ll bring some limes and we’ll both get happy on some seriously luscious legumes.

My appetite is sated and I don’t die of starvation or get sick (yet again) from malnourishment.

It works out for everyone.

As big girls, most of us have had intuitive eating beaten right out of us, sometimes literally by the people who love or sometimes “love” us.

We’re told not to listen to our bodies, that our bodies are trying to betray us and we should have this celery stick instead of that deviled egg we so desperately crave. Your body wants protein? But protein often has fat in it and there’s nothing worse than eating fat. Or sugar. Or wheat. Or Salt. Or whatever they say is going to make you die from fat this news cycle and cure cancer the next.

It’s damn hard to get back to intuitive eating, and eating valuable foods. Many of us have a ton of emotional baggage and actual internal damage –my stomach prolapsed in college after I was given phen fen as a teenager and I spent the next ten years suffering malnutrition thanks to a completely shot and shell-shocked metabolism– so even the most natural thing in the world can be a tough row to hoe.

If you’re interested in learning more about intuitive eating an eating that’s both emotionally and physically healthful (no, it’s not a diet) I invite you to visit IntuitiveEating.org and my personal favorite resident of the fatosphere: Fat Nutritionist. It’s probably the best way to lose weight.

 

 

 

 

 

It Doesn’t Get Better: A Note to Fat Kids, Former and Present.

It Gets Better is a noble sentiment, and maybe for some people part of a stigmatized group it’s true. I certainly hope it is.

But I’m not convinced it’s an accurate statement for the fat kids out there; especially not those who grow into fat adults.

For people of size, I’m not sure it does Get Better, at least not naturally.

Left to its own devices, the Western Beauty and Culture Machine will happily crush you underfoot –for your own good, of course– for being too big for their britches.

Everywhere you look there will be pop-up ads and billboards and interchangeable vapid reality TV “stars” admonishing you from photoshopped pages to change your body into something society deems acceptable. Only then will you get invited to the cool parties, have a partner who loves you and finally be worthy of full human status.

Oh, and don’t you dare be angry. They’re just doing it so you’ll feel better about you! They’re “just worried about your health”. Did they mention you have Such A Pretty Face? Did they make the Pointed Sigh?

Sigh.

It’s not like people really need much of a push to treat fat people as sub-human anyway. We’re manifestations of weakness, of the laziness and sloth they fear in themselves, we deserve our bad treatment because really, we’ve brought it upon ourselves. (You can try pointing out science refuting the claim that size is more than just a case of calories in vs. calories out, but be aware it’s dancing-with-a-pig futile in many if not most cases.)

Nope, you’re a lazy cow and there’s nothing sacred about cows in this culture: They just get slaughtered…or worse, slaughter themselves.

Bullying is now news, after too many –one is too many– kids, perceived or identifying as something other than cut-and-dried hetero, committed suicide.

But bullying, we all know, is not new news and it’s not solely the domain of gay kids.

Yet how many front page human interest stories do you hear about the plight of the fat kid being bullied in school?

Whither our tearful congressmen? Where’s the garment-rending when a bullied fat kid commits suicide?

More importantly, where are our 24-hour specialized hotlines to stop those suicides before they happen?

Tormenting fat kids is less of a headline and more of a forgivable rite of passage, swept neatly under the Children Can Be So Cruel rug (Children Can Be So Cruel, a fully-licensed subsidiary of Boys Will Be Boys and She Was Asking For It In That Skirt Partners, International)

Yeah, children can be so cruel.

Is it a newsflash that adults can be too?  The “War on Childhood Obesity”, however good its intentions might be, is just another way to codify and institutionalize size discrimination against the people least capable of defending their own interests: children.

Regardless of age, if you’re fat, Society, either openly or covertly, wants you to hate yourself thin. Except we can’t hate ourselves thin, at least not in the long term. Sometimes only thing that sticks from years of being hit in the head with the anti-fat hammer until our ears ring with self-hate is…guess what? Self hate.

So it’s hard to say It Gets Better because really, it’s going to get worse. Subtler, to be sure, but worse.

What’s the solution? We can’t wait for it to GET better. We have to MAKE it better.  Individually. Put on your own oxygen mask, then help your neighbor.

Make it better by applying a critical eye (and okay, sometimes a critical finger) to anti-fat bias.

Surround yourself with positive, thought-provoking friends and resources. Read The Fat Nutritionist. Understand Health at Every Size.

Reject any media that celebrates a culture where our bodies are punchlines and our feelings don’t count but still want our precious, precious dollars. I’m not the smartest girl on the block (and it’s not even a very big block) but even I have a problem with giving companies money to insult me.

Stop watching E! and its equally abysmal coterie (Those channels make you stupid. They just do. Read a book. Watch a documentary. Just step away from the “Reality TV” before mindless describes more than just your choice in entertainment).

For the love of all things holy, stop buying women’s magazines.

Watch the runway shows if you want to be up on fashion, at least you’ll only subject yourself to the models and not hot pink headlines offering quadruple chocolate fudge bombs, plastic surgery tips and “630 Ways To Drop Fifty Pounds By Thursday You Pathetic Spinster Cow!” on the same cover.

Find your own path, define your self BY yourself.

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Quality vs Preference

Well I never!

Let me just say I am aghast, no, several ghasts at so many of your treasonous cinematic ways.

It’s like that time a few years ago when I played that April Fools joke where I shamefully admitted to having promoted Crocs in exchange for cash and prizes (do I LOOK like a mommieblogger? Do I talk about gluten-free cupcakes, knitting or fabric with owls on them? No, I do not.) and a whole bunch of people were calling for my head, offering themselves as my editorial replacement.

Treacherous harpies.

Of course there are classic films I don’t enjoy.

I adore Vivien Leigh but I’d be fine without sitting through another viewing of Gone with the Wind, and although I won’t say neither love nor money could make me sit through Lawrence of Arabia again, it would take large quantities of both to get me to watch Omar Sharif ride in from the horizon on his camel, no matter how cinematically important that scene remains.


(like this, but for about five minutes)

These are not bad films.

It’s the rare piece of pop culture that stays relevant 50 years (as in the case of Lawrence of Arabia, released in 1962) or nearly 75 years.

It’s amazing so many of them still are.

1939 brought us GwtW, The Wizard of Oz, Of Mice and Men, Ninotchka, Dark Victory, The Women, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Gunga Din, Stagecoach and a whole bunch of other classics that lend credence to the idea that it’s been all downhill in tinseltown since the clock struck 1940.

Ideals, tastes and conventions, not to mention technology, have changed dramatically since Greta giggled, so it’s important to appreciate film (or music or, I don’t know, body shape) on their own merits and not how well they compare to modern tastes, no matter how deeply or subtly engrained those tastes are.

Take, for example, the top musical hits from the same year.

You’ve got plenty of Glenn Miller, Bessie Smith singing “God Bless America”, a doubtlessly timeless ditty called “The Adventures of Piccolo Pete” and a personal favorite of mine, “Little Brown Jug” (it is a Plumcake family tradition to bounce wee children on one’s knees and sing Little Brown Jug, dipping them dramatically during the “we fell in!” line).

You can’t really fault Glenn Miller or Bessie Smith even if they’re not your preferred genres, but for my imaginary money, the only song that sounds as fresh and painful today as it must have then is Billie Holiday’s haunting “Strange Fruit”.

It reminds me of a brutal breakup when I was 26.

Uh, the over-easy rejection of classic films, not the horrifying epidemic of lynching of the thirties and forties, although I once had to gently tell my sweet but occasionally oblivious voice teacher that even though he was doing an all Billie Holiday tribute, as a middle-aged white man from East Texas with a twang thicker than day old grits, he didn’t exactly have the cultural pedigree to get away with singing that particular song.

Anyhoodle.

Back when I was 26, my long-term fella dumped me HARD for an East German amnesiac who couldn’t remember her name.

I’m not EVEN making that up.

Although he’d always been all about my big girl body, and his new strudel had all the svelte daintiness normally associated with a brain-damaged East German shot-put champion (I’m just guessing about the shot-put part, but the rest is dead on) he told me

“Just because you don’t hate your size doesn’t mean your size is okay.”

I was, for one of the very few times in my life, speechless. How could someone so smart be so wrong wrong wrongitty wrong?

It was then I realized –because I’m not very bright and hadn’t figured it out sooner– that some people really did decide on a person or object’s value and virtue based on whether they liked it or not.

What a crippling way to live.

Which isn’t to say there aren’t empirically rotten films or people out there, and there’s a whole conversation to be led by someone much more erudite than I about the joys of good taste and whether the enjoyment of quality craftsmanship is better or purer than the pleasure derived from “ooh, shiny thing go boom!” and whether, from a pleasure aspect, having good taste is more of a blessing or a curse.

Oh, and the next person who dares to say The Searchers is a bad film, when it is fairly and universally acknowledged as one of the best American films ever made, gets a one way trip to the woodshed behind Villa Plumcake and will be treated to a lengthy lecture on its cultural import, visual beauty and merciless examination of racism and the attitudes about Native American genocide. You don’t have to like it, but it doesn’t mean it’s not great.

Pancakes and Self-Care

Happy Feast of Saint Buttersworth!

It’s Shrove Tuesday, more popularly known as Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras and Pancake Tuesday. People everywhere will be getting their flapjack on in order to get all their indulgent behavior out of the way before Lent which starts tomorrow for the Western Church (those Eastern guys with the awesome beards and whatnot have their own schedule. Also better baked goods. Schisms ruin everything fun).

It’s common for people who observe Lent to also observe a Lenten discipline.

Back in the olden days it was usually giving up something; meat, chocolate, booze, swearing…you know, pretty much everything that makes life fun.

That never really worked for me.

I’d give up the lot and come Easter morning…nada. I hadn’t evolved in my spiritual journey one bit. The only thing I got out of it was a habit of swearing like Wally Cleaver. Gee Willickers!

More recently the trend has been towards adding something beneficial to your life, often in the form of volunteering and study.

I’m all about that, especially the volunteering because most of us should be ashamed at how little time we dedicate to the poor and needy people of this world, but in addition to service and study, I’m going to try something a little new this year.

I’m going to work on my self-maintenance.

(photo courtesy of the wonderful and amazing Lady Mechanic Initiative of Nigeria)

This whole relocation thing has been a tough row to hoe and I’ve let myself slip the way so many of us do when we have supposedly bigger fish to fry (because apparently it’s also folksy idiom day here at Manolo for the Big Girl).

I’ve found myself making less of an effort each morning to dress “just so” or to do my hair or makeup.

Why bother? I don’t have many posh parties or elegant soirees to attend, heck, I haven’t been to a restaurant that has more than three walls in a month, I’m not going to be here long enough to need social currency (I’m moving farther south in May) and I’ve already got the single best looking man in the entire country wrapped around my little finger, among other places and he’s certainly not going anywhere. Why not traipse around in the proverbial bunny slippers until three in the afternoon?

Because habitual self-indulgence is bad for you.
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Take Care of Yourself for the Holidays

Ah, the winter holiday season! There’s a crisp snap in the air, homes are filled with the aromas of peppermint and ginger, the malls are potentially lethal, a very few people recall that there are holidays other than Christmas being celebrated, and the world is awash in body shame.

I can’t turn on my computer or television without being assaulted by messages that I’m going to gain gigantic amounts of weight this winter if I don’t stop being so greedy at the same table I’m supposed to fill with homemade goodies until the legs give out. Every ladymag in the universe has a picture of the perfect pie, cake, or souffle I’m supposed to make, alongside a reminder that gaining a single ounce from eating it means I will die well before my time, alone and unmourned as Scrooge in the vision shown him of his potential future. Every year some fanatic out there starts a campaign to make Santa skinny so that he can use his role model status to shame those who carry more meat on their bones.

But you know what? We can opt out of the insanity. We can spend this special time of year failing to hate ourselves. We don’t need to create the false dichotomy of too much food  that we are not allowed to eat. You know what we can do?

We can take care of ourselves.

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Reclaiming Fat

Wow. I’ve got to be honest; I was not expecting such a strong reaction from the Can’t I Just Be Fat piece, but boy am I glad I got one.

One thing I want to clarify is I think it’s important to be able to call yourself fat without it being A Thing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ever use any other words. I call myself a big girl all the time. For example, one afternoon in Mexico a friend took me on a stroll around the city and I was wearing the most adorable leg-lengthening pair of Joseph Griffin espadrilles on the planet.

Your pal Plummy is already a long drink of water and the heels on those bad boys are about six inches so I was wending my way through the calles of Baja at just around 6’4″. A quick google tells me the average height of a woman in Mexico is 5’1″ and the hombres a hair over 5’5″, so I’m wandering around somewhere between a foot and a foot and a half taller than almost everyone on the street. When I retell that story I say “huge” not “fat” because “fat” doesn’t tell enough of the story. Walking down the street with a fat girl isn’t generally enough to cause open-mouthed stares on the streets down Mexico way. Walking down the street with a fat girl who also happens to be extremely tall, extremely fair and wearing immaculately-pressed white linen mini-dress with matching portrait hat…that’s another story. He might as well have been Kate Hepburn and I made a very fine leopard on a string.

As I leave you this afternoon, I’d like to post a few of the more thought-provoking comments from Wednesday’s post and invite you to continue the conversation here. Have a great weekend gang, and I’ll see you on the flipside.

Miss B wrote:

I had an experience with this recently. I was having a conversation with a friend, who probably wears a size 18, while I wear a 24. I referred to myself as fat, and she said, “No, don’t call yourself that! You’re not fat! You have a pretty face, you have pretty hair, and you dress well! You aren’t fat!” I was surprised that her definition of fat meant sloppy, ugly, and having bad taste. I told her that I was fat, and I was fine with being fat.

Thea wrote:
I think ‘fat’ like many pejorative words and phrases can only be reclaimed by the people who live it. And like so many other pejoratives – if you try and ‘claim’ it or even use it casually when you don’t belong to the group, you are likely to get decked.

I call myself fat, and I’ve also seen my friends flinch on my behalf when I use the word and tell me to ‘stop talking about yourself like that.’

As an experiment, I alternatively describing myself as ‘dumb blonde’, ‘dippy’ and ‘bimbo’. I was gently corrected by people who love me for using all those words, but not with the venom of when I called myself fat.

So why I call myself fat, I do realize that for many people, even who live it, it’s still the worst insult in the world. And I don’t want to insult others unless I mean it. Fat people get enough of that in the world.

Cat wrote:
I write for a fashion and beauty blog that is intended to be inclusive of women of every size. I write mostly beauty product reviews, but occasionally do an outfit post in which I write about a particular look and include options in various sizes. I always shy away from using the word “fat” because I am not fat myself and I don’t want it to be taken as an insult. I usually say, “plus size” or “larger girls” or something along those lines, but I always wonder if that’s worse than just saying “fat.” What do you think? Is it the type of reclaimed word that’s acceptable only within the group to which it applies, or can skinny girls say it, too?

Marsha wrote:
The reason that I don’t use the word in daily discourse is that I’m not into ironic self-related rhetoric. I think it’s possible that people with whom I interact on a daily basis (colleagues, friends, my husband) may have forgotten that I’m fat, what with my wit, charm, and shockingly green eyes and all. If I remind them by using the word, it can only be to my detriment.

(this nearly made me cry, if I was a huggy person I’d give you a hug Marsha —ed.)

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