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Fighting Back | Manolo for the Big Girl
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Fatties With Heads! Doing Awesome Things!

We’ve all seen the photos that go with scary screeds about ZOMGOBEESITEEEEE! They tend to look like this:

… or like this:

No heads. No human expressions. According to media standards all we are is bellies… and an occasional pair of buttocks. It’s propaganda that dehumanizes us and makes the world fear us.

But the fact is that we have heads, we have hands, we have feet, we have interests and friends and lovers and spouses and jobs and all the same things thin people have. I, for one, am sick and tired of being portrayed as a stomach or a pair of nether cheeks.

Enter Stocky Bodies.

It’s a fabulous collection of stock photos of fat people doing things like exercising, hanging out with friends and lovers, shopping, getting tattoos, making jewelry, and just generally having lives.

As the creators state on their site:

Our images challenge oversimplified and demeaning representations of weight prejudice by showing subjects engaged in everyday activities, such as bike riding, shopping for fashionable clothes and performing their jobs. The documentary imagery to be shown through the library is a non-stigmatising view of what it is to be fat and live an affirmative life.

You have to sign up and agree to terms of use if you want to use the pictures, but the process is painless and free… as are the pictures.

The brainchild of Dr. Lauren Gurrieri and Mr. Isaac Brown, they gathered together Australian FA activists to act as the subjects of their photos. In fact, you may have recognized the ever-awesome Kath of Fat Heffalump up there riding her bike.

So far the only thing I can think of that would make it better is more photos!

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.






Can Pigs Fly? You Betcha!

Oftentimes activism is about making things happen yourself.

Many of us in the fat community have bewailed the lack of attractive, sturdy exercise wear in our sizes built for our bodies, and rightly so. The hardest part of exercise and sports for a lot of us has simply been finding something appropriate to wear in the first place.

Well, there’s a chance to help a start up company get going to address just that gap in the market. They’re called Flying Pig Apparel, and they launched their Kickstarter campaign for funding yesterday.

The company intends to produce and market exercise wear especially designed for the needs of the larger woman athlete. Their designs include clever features like small weights sewn into the hems of capri pants to help keep them from riding up, longer cut tops to make room for larger breasts and bellies. The inseams on pants are reinforced so they don’t wear through. As for sizing, to avoid as much confusion as possible, they intend to market pants by hip measurement and tops by bust measurement. That means you won’t have to pull up a size chart to find out whether you wear a L or a XXXL. One number should give you a good idea.

The thing is, Flying Pig Apparel needs help from the community to get started, hence the Kickstarter campaign.

How does that work? Well, a group or company sets a goal with Kickstarter, in this case, Flying Pig Apparel is looking for start up funds of  $11,000. If you decide you wish to help out, you can go to the Kickstarter page for Flying Pig and pledge money. You don’t send money right now. You wait until their time limit for getting funding runs out – in this case on July 1-  and see whether the pledge goal has been met. If it has, you send in your money. If not, well, then you don’t owe a dime.

But if you think you might have five or ten bucks or whatever number lying around at the end of the month and you’ve been dreaming of sturdy, attractive sportswear in your size, well, you might do worse than make a pledge to help make that dream come true.

Oh, and if you pledge $50 and they reach their goal? You’ll get your choice of a free tank top or tee shirt from the line and a limited edition tote bag, as well as a video thank you from the Flying Pig team.

Not bad.

If this company gets off the ground we all benefit. And together we can make it happen.

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?


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.


My So-Called Feminist Eureka

Last month on Twitter, reader Leah Gates asked me to share my Feminist Eureka moment on the tumblr blog The Eureka Moment.

I didn’t have a eureka moment per se.

I never had that cinematic money shot where I jumped on my desk in the middle of my social studies exam and suddenly declared “This is patriarchal hegemonic bulls**t of the most rank and venomous order and, as God as my witness, this misogynistic outrage shall not stand!

After all, I was popular and being Popular While Fat, especially in high school was radical enough. I didn’t want to ruin my chances at Prom Queen.

The truth was, and still is,  I’m a pretty girly girl on the outside and my highly-polished candy shell has served me well.

It’s not fake.

I point that out because  we’ve all run into sugar-coated vipers from time to time — in the South their distinctive hiss is, of course, blessherheart— but I believe for every poisonous powder puff there are a dozen women just like me, whose almost cartoonish femininity is just one letter in their persona’s alphabet soup.

It has always been thus.

I loved classic movies as a kid.

I still do, but as pretty as Audrey Hepburn looked in all her Givenchy frocks, I never related to the easily-digestible non-threatening Professional Naif. Where were the female rugged individualists with opinions and guns to back them up? Except Annie Oakley from Annie Get Your Gun. Screw that trick-shooting traitor.

Sure, I wanted to DRESS like Holly Golightly but I wanted to BE The Duke.

And as much as I wanted it, I knew it was out of reach and it was out of reach because the Rules were Different For Girls.

I didn’t even know what the rules were.

I knew they didn’t involve  pushing for the front of the line or trying out a new and exciting dirty words only to have it excused away with the mysterious “boys will be boys“.

I knew it involved being a Nice Girl, since the worst thing in the world –with repercussions so terrible I never exactly found out what they were– was to have your name whispered along with the pointedly capitalized phrase “Not a Nice Girl”.

Nice girls did (or more often didn’t) do this, that or the other thing and the finishing school finish line always kept moving.

I was walking a moving tightrope just to make sure I didn’t fall into perdition before the training wheels fell off my bra and yet somehow when my brother acted up it was —say it with me now— “Boys will be boys“.

Sure he got punished –I still can’t believe he thought making pornographic calls to 911 from a payphone and then hanging around the phone after was a good idea– but for he was punished his actions, not as a judgment against his character.


Man in Diabetes Ad Has All His Limbs

If you’ve been to New York City lately, you may well have seen these billboards telling us all that if we drink large sodas, we will get diabetes and have to have our legs amputated. It shows a headless fat man with crutches and his right leg amputated below the knee behind a row of growing soda cups, and informs us that eating less is the way to avoid developing diabetes.

Never mind that (a) no direct causal link between drinking soda and developing diabetes has ever been proven, (b) no direct causal link has ever been proven between eating anything in any amount and developing diabetes, (c) no mention is made of the fact that the bar has been lowered for diagnosing diabetes (much like several other ‘fat peoples’ diseases’ such as hypertension) in the past few years, or (d) the vast majority of people with diabetes will never face amputation of anything at all, there’s another aspect that’s even more shameful about this ad: the man in it has all his limbs.

You see, several years ago, California actor Cleo Barry agreed to sit for a professional photographer for $500.00. As part of the contract, Barry signed a release form that allowed the photographer to distribute or sell the images as he saw fit. The photographer sold this image (sans crutches, Photoshop amputation, or scare tactic message) to Image Source, a stock photo company.

Fast forward, and the New York City Department of Health chose Barry’s photo to buy for their diabetes awareness campaign. After all, what could be more likely to hammer the message home than a picture of a fat, young, black man… once they did a bit of digital surgery?

And young does enter into the equation. The vast majority of amputations among diabetes patients? Happen to people who have been living with diabetes for literally decades. They aren’t performed on people in their twenties, like Barry, but people in their sixties and upwards, who have had poorly controlled blood sugar for twenty, thirty, forty years. Even then, the rate is very small compared to people living with diabetes. You know, people like Mr. Twistie who was diagnosed nineteen years ago and yet still has all his limbs and his eyesight.

When Barry became aware of the ad, he was horrified. In fact, he stared at his computer screen and cried. He feared what this ad would do to his acting career.

But he has decided to fight back, folks. In a move to both bring attention to how exploitive this ad campaign is and bolster his career at the same time, Barry has made the following offer: he will lower his usual pay rate to any soda company willing to use his unaltered image in their ad campaign. He even says he’ll sing and dance ‘without charging an arm and a leg.’

In other news about fighting back, you may have heard about the Billboard Project. If you haven’t heard the news, Ragen Chastain at Dances with Fat (and if you aren’t reading her blog, I absolutely encourage you to do so last week!) has started a campaign to raise funds for an alternate billboard to put up in Georgia to rebut those appalling billboards telling fat children they are sick and bullied, but they bring it on themselves by being fat. On thursday, the Go Fund Me page opened for business. Ragen and those working with her on the fund were hoping to raise $10,000.00. That goal has been kicked to the curb, folks! It was beaten inside of twenty four hours. The new goal is $15,000.00 to fund not only the original billboard, but a host of other ways of getting out the body love message. There’s just over a thousand dollars left to go to meet the new goal.

But wait! There’s more! And it isn’t an incredible Ginsu steak knife.

More of Me to Love has offered $5,000.00 in matching funds… but there’s a catch. While the monetary goal was reached quite a while back, they stipulated that there must be a minimum of one thousand unique donors to unlock those funds. This is an incredible offer, and I love the fact that the agreement includes building a truly grassroots movement that includes a lot of people, rather than a few donations from people with a lot to spare. But as of Ragen’s last update, the project still needs nearly three hundred donors to unlock the More of Me to Love funds.

So please, if you have anything to spare, go to the Go Fund Me page and make a donation. Anything from five dollars up is accepted at Go Fund Me. If you cannot spare that much, or would rather use PayPal, you can go here to donate Solidarity Dollars, starting at quite literally one dollar donations.

Remember, every dollar is another blow against body shame and publicly funded bullying.

And every dollar, every refusal to buckle under, every act of individual body love is another chip in the wall of hate and prejudice. Let’s take that wall down!