Wednesday, April 23, 2014

6 THINGS THAT I UNDERSTAND ABOUT THE FAT ACCEPTANCE MOVEMENT



First, a little information about me, because I'm sure the first thing people will do upon reading this is make assumptions about who I am: I am a 27 year old American woman who is comprehensively involved in the Body Advocacy movement and additionally works 40 hours a week as a Mental Health Professional. I am most certainly plus-size at 5'6" and 260 pounds; a size 18 in most stores. I’m pretty damn fat and unabashedly so. I eat well enough, I shop at our local food co-op and I own a juicer. I'm constantly on my feet at work, attending intensive African Dance classes (which I'm really fucking great at), riding bicycles, and having a shit ton of sex. My blood pressure, cholesterol, and all other vitals were recently assessed and are perfectly fine according my PCP. I'm a logical, intelligent, and critically thinking blogger who is here to explain to Carolyn Hall and the rest of the world the 6 things that are often misunderstood about the "fat acceptance" movement.

The article "6 Things I Don't Understand About the Fat Acceptance Movement" is an interesting read for several reasons...One, the author is aware of some of the key components that are discussed within the movement. She may be largely uneducated about the details, but knows enough to start a conversation. I can appreciate this. Two, she seemingly speaks from a place of ignorant concern more than malice. Also appreciated. And three, she may not necessarily be looking for the answers, but she has created a fantastic and organized opportunity for those of us educated on body love to clarify some of the most common misconceptions.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It’s critical to realize before we even begin, that ignorance of, deflecting of, or outright refusal to believe in fat acceptance affects us all. This body love movement is inclusive; it's about acceptance for everyone (not limited to, but including fat bodies.) 

All bodies- large, small, and everything in between pay dearly for the negativity in which fat bodies are perceived. Why? Because as long as we demonize a body shape (any body shape) there will always be a fearful comparison. And the fearful comparison will inevitably breed all forms of hatred; both internally and externally. We will never be able to embrace our bodies as a diverse society as long as negative body messages exist. So yeah, we’re going to be talking about the “social deviants” of the body world, but this discussion is applicable to us all.


(For those of you who haven't read the article, her text will be in italics, and my response as well as those from professionals in the field will follow!)

1. America is extremely accepting of fat.
I have not lived in many other countries in my life, but I have done it enough to know that America is exceptional in its general permissiveness about obesity and ill health. Though there may be negative stereotypes, staring, bullying, or crude comments, the environment we live in is one that is incredibly tolerant of unhealthy lifestyles. There are enormous portions, extreme levels of convenience, and a low priority put on physical activity (even in our schools). While treating someone differently because of how they look is not okay, with upwards of 60 percent obesity in certain cities, you can’t say that America is not accepting of fat people. We basically ensure that people will be fat, and are tolerant of the lifestyle choices that surround it. If anything, we need to be cracking down on it more.
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Hilary Kinavey LPC, Be Nourished

"It's really easy to say something like - 'America is extremely accepting of fat'  if you're not experiencing the brutality of fat discrimination. There is a ton of research out there, conducted by scientists, doctors and social scientists to prove that fat people are paid less money than their thin counter parts, that fat people receive sub-par medical care because of fat bias, that fat people are stigmatized and stereotyped in the media and that fat students are often not accepted to colleges or bullied by their educators." - Lindsey Averill, producer of Fattitude

Things you should know if you think America is accepting of fat bodies:
  • Fat discrimination is the 4th most prevelant form of discrimination (Midus, 1995-1996)
  • AND there has been a 50+ increase in size discrimination between 1996 and 2006. (Puhl et all, 2006)
  • Workers who are heavier than average are paid $1.25 less an hour. Over a 40-year career, they will earn up to $100,000 less before taxes than their thinner counterparts (Baum, 2004)
  • Of people who were 50% or more above their ideal weight on the height-weight charts, 26% reported they were denied benefits such as health insurance because of their weight, and 17% reported being fired or being pressured to resign because of their weight (Rothblum, 1990). 

"The author obviously confuses 'profits from' and 'takes advantage of' with 'accepting of'.  US companies make tremendous amounts of money by both creating a 'problem' and then attempting to sell us a solution.  Weight loss and dieting is a multi-billion dollar industry.  If we were 'accepting' of fat there would not be nonstop efforts to sell us things to 'fix' fatness.  Additionally, I am not sure how one can propose that while people are bullied, tormented, shamed and ridiculed throughout our society as a result of weight, that somehow that is “acceptance'." -Sonya Renee, Founder of The Body is Not an Apology


Wanna read more statistics about fat discrimination? Well you're in luck! NAAFA has compiled facts and statistics into this killer and colorful pdf! Read away!

2. “Body positivity” should include health.
The idea of “body positivity” when used to refer to people who are hundreds of pounds overweight has always confused me. How could you be positive about something when you are, at the same time, actively damaging it? Being positive about the way you look is not enough, you also have to be positive (and proactive) about your health and well-being. And the obvious ill effects of obesity — on organs, joints, energy levels, and mood — go totally against the idea of being positive. There is nothing more negative than treating your body with disregard.
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Kymberly Nichole, Certified Wellness Coach

"Those who believe whatever the media machine pumps out are simply not accustomed to seeing it before their eyes. They have absolutely been dumbed down by media propaganda.  I have trained women at 200lbs and I have trained women at 400lbs, I am not saying everyone I have trained has been 100% healthy but I am saying that my reality consists of big bodies with big capabilities and limitless lives. They are strong, healthy women kicking ass in the world AND most come with a clean bill of health. 

 My mission is to get my fat ass out and encourage others to do the same.  I run half marathons, kick ass in triathlons and pump some serious iron at the gym to change perceptions and attitudes and I mostly do it because I CAN." -Louise Green of Body Exchange 

This is a difficult subject to approach with the majority of society because it's often met with disbelief due to the lifetime of inaccurate information we've been fed. Everything you think you know? Rethink it.

It's important to note that the creation of our health and fat concern was initially called the "Obesity Parasite." This started in the late 1800's and was concocted by the upper class in order to differentiate themselves and reclaim their social power over the lower classes. This wasn't endorsed by physicians (in fact, they fought it) until the concept became so popular that they caved from the peer pressure. It was created by the people; not the doctors. Did ya hear that? People. Not doctors. Wanna know more about the history behind why we hate ourselves? Well, GOOD NEWS!  I've compiled it and resources here.

What we believe about health and fat bodies is often inaccurate. Here. Let me blow your mind:  skinny bodies can be unhealthy. Fat bodies can be unhealthy. Skinny bodies can be healthy. And fat bodies can be healthy.What does this mean? It means we must remove weight from the health equation. Period. That leaves us to look at the other signifiers of health.

So, check out this list of symptoms:
"Increased all-cause mortality and to increased mortality from cardiovascular disease. Increased risk for myocardial infarction, stroke, and diabetes, increased high density lipoprotein cholesterol, increased systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and even suppressed immune function."

Sounds an awful lot like what we get all shamey about and pin onto fat bodies, doesn't it?
Well I'll tell ya what: it's not a list correlated with obesity, but rather a list of symptoms that comes from weight cycling.

Its a well known fact that diets don't work. We all know this, and there is a ridiculous amount of research to back it up. They last 5 years maximum, but weight is often gained back much faster. This "yo-yo dieting" (and all diets are yo-yo diets) is also called Weight Cycling and has those huge physical ramifications listed above. I find it SO odd that we have decided to shame large bodies without knowing their health and then applaud anyone who diets when doing so can be as dangerous as anything else. All while claiming that it's because we care. It's backwards as fuck, y'all.

If we're REALLY concerned about someone else's health (and why are we so concerned with someone else's health again?) we wouldn't emphatically encourage dieting like we do. Seeing that 75% of women have disordered eating, 116 million American adults are dieting at any given time (Journal of American Medical Association, 2000) and 80% of 10 year olds have already started dieting, I'd say it's time we stop congratulating others for harming their bodies in pursuit of fabricated perfection.

But I'll tell ya what: in the end, a person's body is none o' your concern. Bodies are not public property, and not Society's to diagnose. What humans do with their life and body rests solely on their decisions and our culture needs to stop assuming that we are entitled to commentary. 
"ZOMG BUT WHAT ABOUT THOSE FAT PEOPLE THAT HAVE UNHEALTHY VITALS ZOMG" you ask? Allow me to repeat myself; it's none of your concern. Their body. Their rules. 

And ya know what? Loving yourself isn't just for those who fit our standard created by the media; it's not something you have to earn. Every single person on the planet deserves the opportunity to feel good about themselves regardless of their size. Not opinion. Fact.

Get it? Got it? Good.

3. “Health at every size” seems physically impossible.
A big part of the Fat Acceptance Movement seems to be the idea of Health At Every Size, which advocates for a focus on healthy living, and not on body image. And in theory, this works, but its application is totally inconsistent. We acknowledge that someone who is anorexic is clearly not healthy at their size, and needs medical intervention, but we perpetuate the idea that a morbidly obese person could pursue an active lifestyle and remain at their size, and that saying otherwise would be “shaming” them. The truth is that weight extremes on either end are not healthy, and using rhetoric to cover up their real danger is not helping anyone. Physically, you cannot be healthy at literally any size, and sparing someone’s feelings on the matter is not going to address their immediate medical concerns.
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 -From Body Respect, by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor (due out in September 2014)

Linda Bacon PhD is the goddess behind the epic and clinically based book "Health at Any Size." If you have any questions about HAES, I recommend you pick it up. You can also click this link and read research that disproves claims such as: the only way for obese people to improve health is to lose weight, anyone who is determined can lose weight and keep it off through diet and exercise, fat is costly, and adiposity poses significant morbidity risk. If you're truly interested in learning more, read the fuck up, y'all!

Aaaaaand I'm just gonna leave that there.

4. People are allowed to not be attracted to certain body types.
Another weird part of the movement seems to be the idea that not being attracted to, or put off by, a large body is in some way shaming or internalized hatred of fat people. I know that there are many people who aren’t attracted to my body type (I don’t have much in the way of curves), but in the same vein, I’m not attracted to lots of other body types. And the focus on getting obese people to be seen as attractive seems misguided, when everyone has a preference, and whether or not someone is attracted to you shouldn’t mean anything to you. If someone wants to say “no fatties” in their online dating profile, isn’t it just their loss?
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C'mon. Lets use our brains for a second: not being attracted to a body isn’t the same as body shaming. Verbalizing this rudely, cruelly, or without valid reason can be. We’re all smart, cognizant, thinking adults here. 

"Absolutely people are allowed to like and not like whoever they choose but if someone put “no darkies” on their dating profile no one would simply say 'Oh well , their preference.'  People would call that person what they are, a bigot. As a fat black woman  I find there to be no difference between the blatant inhumane bigotry of 'no darkies' and 'no fatties.'" -Sonya Renee, Founder of The Body is Not an Apology

No person is obligated to “force themselves” to be physically attracted to a certain type of body; we all have our preferences. I happen to really dig taller men with facial hair, glasses, and muscular legs. It’s my jam, and there is nothing wrong with that. Where we as a culture, fall short, is in believing that NO ONE could find a fat body attractive. Or if they do, there is something inherently wrong with them. This couldn’t be further from the truth and I blow this assumption out of the water in the post “To that Guy Who Made a Fat Joke About Me to My Boyfriend.” Read it. It’s good.

The reality is that all types bodies can be attracted to all types of bodies; the pairings are diverse. But be careful how you word it. “No fatties”? Body shaming. “No twigs”? Still body shaming. How ‘bout we all instead say what we are looking for; maybe even what we love. Not such a terrible idea now, is it?

5. Food addiction is a real medical problem.
Just as much as we would hold an intervention on someone who is suffering from a heroin addiction, or drinking themselves to death, should we not give the same attention to someone who is clearly eating themselves into ill health? Obviously there are going to be exceptions, when it’s caused by a medical condition or extenuating circumstances, but the Fat Acceptance Movement seems to rely too much on these outliers and not focus on the very real problem that a huge number of people in our country overeat in a dangerous way. The constant consumption of junk food, fast food, and preservative-filled snacks (especially if it’s soothing an emotional wound) is putting the body in real danger. And a lot of people are consuming these foods on more than a daily basis, which makes sense, as many of these foods are constructed to make us addicted. Should we not address these underlying issues?
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First, overeating is NOT comparable to heroin, Jesus Christ.
Secondly, YES. Yes we should address the underlying issues.

As Sonya explained, a fat body don't automatically mean there is an eating disorder. Circle back to our inability to diagnose a body based on size as mentioned above. However, eating disorders are prevalent and many of them can cause weight gain. But there is so much more to this complicated situation than the finger we point at a "lack of self control."

The underlying issues include but are not limited to: economic inequality, mental illness, lack of education, a need for control, and other internal needs that may spur this coping mechanism. 

Y'know how Carolyn declared that America is extremely accepting of fat? Yeah, no. The issue at hand is that America is extremely hell bent on refusing to take preventative action towards larger social issues.

Lets make it so that all Americans have access to nutritious food. Lets de-stigmatize mental illness so more people will utilize resources. Lets educate our society on how to take care of our bodies with a focus on health; not weight. Lets make behavioral health services available to everyone in order to address mental health needs. Lets look at the larger issues, k? Lets get some educated perspective.

6. Childhood obesity is something we can’t be accepting of.
Regardless of whether or not a consenting adult wants to participate in the FAM or HAES, we can’t say that it is safe for children. There is a reason people get so upset at seeing obese children, and it’s because it is condemning them to a life of health problems that they are not choosing themselves. Feeding children constant junk food, letting them be sedentary, or giving them sugary sodas instead of water is something that we need to be judging harshly as a society. Choosing to be obese and wanting that acceptance as an adult is one thing, but putting it on a child is another, and some of these movements’ rhetoric edges dangerously into the latter category. Regardless of where you stand politically, seeing a toddler weigh as much as a normal 10-year-old should make us all very angry.
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Ragen Chastain of Dances with Fat

Carolyn, as you fret about our victimized fat children, the world is approaching them with solutions that are embarrassingly shortsighted. One example? The Partnership for a Healthier America.

Michelle Obama, I know you were just trying to help the fat kids in America get nutritious food and feel healthy, and that's great... but what about psychiatric support for children with predispositioned depression? When they eat to soothe, what about giving them mental support? What about children who genetically have bodies that don't fit your standard? What about body love and acceptance ads that make kids feel GOOD about themselves? How can telling a child they are part of an obesity crisis motivate them to be healthier? We know that fat shaming only makes us fatter, if you're really pretending to be concerned about the issue. And what about the malnutrition they have no escape from because of their parents inability to work... what does giving them an apple do for the ramifications of that? What about the child who eats as much as they can because it's the only factor in their life that they can control? What about those who can't change their toxic surroundings and so they cope the only way they know how. What about holistic and comprehensive care that we all need so badly? Fucking apples. We must understand that preventative mental healthcare, economic stability, and education supersedes and benefits all other types of care. I may sound like a broken record, but this is important shit.

It's like handing bibles to a hungry community in Africa.
It's self-righteous, ineffective, and distressingly moronic.
Lets stop doing that, mmkay?

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I think the coolest thing about the body acceptance movement is that it's success doesn't rely on the understanding of or compassion from others. Don't get it and still think fat people are awful? Too bad so sad, and really not cool. But individuals get to choose whether they will love their body or not regardless of what you or society/the media believes. And this in and of itself is the most powerful thing.

This movement that goes against hundreds of years of false indoctrination? Yeah, it's gaining momentum. It's existed before the internet, but now that we're able to connect internationally, we have more resources. One person at a time, we're deciding that the status quo is complete and utter bullshit and that we deserve to love ourselves. Put together hundreds or even millions of people that decide this... and you've got yourself an unstoppable revolution.

Carolyn, I don't think you were truly looking for answers, as they're out there and readily available for those who look. But it doesn't matter in the end. You've allowed me to answer important questions that regularly foster bigotry, as well as remove some shame for those who maybe want to love themselves, but were hindered by misinformed thoughts like yours.  And for that I'm thankful. 

Fucking cheers, lady.

Monday, April 21, 2014

18 FATKINIS FOR ULTIMATE SUMMER BABLINESS


Our summer here in Tucson is hotter than hell, but one of the sweet sweet consolations that comes with this weather is the absolute necessity of pool time. We love our cool pool time here in the desert. And with that pool time... comes some serious bathing suit shopping. 

Before we continue any further, I must warn you: I bitch about plus-size bikinis A LOT. Or rather, I bitch about the scarcity of them.

Read on.

A couple of years ago, I began my first quest for a plus size bikini in town. And I found nothing. Absolutely. Nothing. It sort of repulsed me and I believe my exact words that summer were: bathing suit season is chunder worthyIt was obvious to me that by refusing to stock bikini options retailers were (not so) subtly body shaming by reflecting what society says about large bodies without saying a word.  Fat girl swimming options were strictly limited to one pieces, tankinis and skirted suits; all created to hide, tighten, slim, trim, and cover.

And guess what? If you do a basic search for plus size swimsuits online, you'll find the exact same thing:



Look familiar?

Well, I'm not havin' any of it! I'm a huge advocate of consumer choice, and so I set out on a mission to find bikinis for the fat girl; fatkinis as they are affectionately called. Last year I found you guys 15 great suits, but this year I've outdone myself and collected my favorite 18 BIKINIS for your belly baring pleasure!


Over the summer I taught you "How to Get a Swimsuit Body in Less Than Five Minutes!", and I'm going to challenge you to quit waiting until you lose "x" amount of pounds and rock a suit that makes you feel like a vixen now. If you're not up for bikinis, thats okay. There ARE some cute one pieces out there. However, the first time I EVER WORE A BIKINI was the moment my body love journey's trajectory skyrocketed. It changed the way I felt about my body like nothing else had before. It was so empowering, and I felt sexy as fuck. And guess what? Not a single person lost their vision after seeing my stomach, as I had anticipated. Truth.

If I could wear 18 bikinis at once (and I definitely want to try this), I would choose the following:



ASOS didn't impress me like they did last year, but I did fall for this floral suit (top/bottom). Tess rocks the cherry bikini so hard, it makes me wanna try too. And ModCloth does swimsuits right (top/bottom). So so right.


I love indulging in my nautical inclinations, so I've given you three fabulous options for this summer! Black Cat Bikini's are made to order, and go up to 6x. I LOVE this polka dot number (top/bottom). Good god. ModCloth also has a top with a white bow that looks pretty damn supportive (top/ alternative bottom with buttons!). And wanna lounge on a yacht? This white bikini (top/bottom) was made just for that.


The majority of my wardrobe has polka dots and leopard print. There's no reason this can't extend into my swimwear! Swimsuits for All has this high waisted baby which I'm drooling over. Tess models another sexy  Black Cat option in leopard. And I don't know your moral stance on Walmart, but they sure know how to dress a fat girl on the cheap.



H&M suprised me with their options for plus size bikinis. This paisley one (top/bottom) was my favorite. And this purple suit (top/bottom) makes me think of both a mermaid and a disco ball. That's definitely not a bad thing. Black cat also has a vintage throwback gingham two piece which is kitschy as fuck.



This white Black Cat suit (top/bottom) is probably my favorite of them all, most likely because it nails the Marilyn Monroe look on the head. Walmart also sells separates (top/bottom) and that boob support looks mighty fine. And Hot Topic has some adorable (and affordable) options, believe it or not! This skull suit (top/bottom) was one of my favorites.



ASOS offers us the little black bikini (top/bottom) that is beyond sexy, m'girl Gabifresh has created this geometeric Midkini (more pictures here), and if you're feeling extra summery, well, here's a colorful blue suit (top/bottom) that will do just fine.

NOW there is something you need to know about the plus size clothing industry: plus size women have a lot of buying power and manufacturers are only now starting to realize that. So we ARE seeing a liiiiiiiiiitle bit of an increase in fashionable clothing, but not enough. And certainly  not enough in the swimwear department. However, some of this rests on us. I am convinced that a contributing factor to the lack of "skin flaunting options" is the fact that we're STILL not as comfortable baring our bellies as we are covering them. The demand for slimming-tucking-trimming suits still outweighs the let-it-all-hang-out suits, and this wont change until we use our buying power to show otherwise. We need to show that FUCK YEAH WE LOVE OUR BODIES AND WE WANT ALL THE SEXY OPTIONS. One way to do this is to rock a fatkini this year. Show the world. Work it. Flaunt it. Love it. 

It will change the way the world sees large bodies and as a bonus, it can be an empowering experience for you. Trust me on this one.

So lets buy a million bikinis (!!!) and show the world that we are confident in the fact that our bodies are perfect just the way they are. And y'know what? That's the goddamn honest truth.

Where do you like to buy swimsuits? Do you have a good shop to share, or recommendations for a website? 

And are you going to try a bikini this summer? 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

VIVA LA FATTITUDE!: WHY I'M MAKING A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT FATNESS // LINDSEY AVERILL

Lindsey Averill is one of my personal heroes. She is half of the brilliance behind Fattitude; a budding documentary about the truth behind fat discrimination. Just in case you aren't sold on the prevalence of fat discrimination, let me share what has recently happened since the launch of the Fattitude Kickstarter: Lindsey and every person involved in the making of the movie have been personally attacked by cyber bullies who have posted their personal information with encouragement of harassment. The bullies have also taken to Twitter and YouTube to spout some of the ugliest opinions based on nothing else but a body size. This along with a barrage of phone calls at homes, partners works, and other associated places they have also ordered pizzas and other items to have delivered out of spite. You can read more on what has happened and how to help here.

This doesn't intimidate me, though my heart goes out to those who have to deal with this reality, but in fact it makes me even more determined to help make this movie happen. The extreme hatred has proven even more that Fattitude must be made and that social change is needed so that all bodies can exist in a positive, supportive, and safe world. 
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So, I’m going to tell you my story – but I want to tell you the end first: I figured our how to love my body! That said, I trekked through a lot of bullshit on my way to body positivity and I don’t want other people to have to swim in that body hating garbage, so I’m trying to change all that with a film I’m making. It’s called Fattitude and you can check it out here.

In the grand scheme of things I had it relatively easy. I was born in 1978 to a warm, white, generous, and thin upper-middle class family. I didn’t lack for anything. Literally, my experience was so grounded, supported and wholesome that I’ve been known to rollout quips like, “my childhood was filled with rainbows and cotton candy, and if all children had parents like mine then world peace would be right around the corner.” I’m not trying to tell you that I lived in the glowing light of patriarchal perfection. No right-wing conservative thinker would perceive my parents as perfect. Their marriage failed. They fought. They were open about sex and bodies. They cursed and made a million mistakes. They got drunk. They did my homework when I was tired and cranky. And they loved me, every minute, all the time. That said, for my sake (according to them), they always wished I wasn’t fat. 

I saw my first diet guru and began to count calories before entering puberty. I went to a private high school, where fifteen-year-old girls had personal trainers and I was always picked last for team sports. I was the heaviest girl in my class and had endearing nicknames like “wonder blob,” a moniker that came complete with a jingle modeled after a Wonder Bread commercial. I was never the lead in the school play, but I was often cast in roles that were originally scripted for men, the steward in Anything Goes became the stewardess and the father in The Fantasticks became the mother. In fact, once, while I was standing there, my mother complained that I deserved a shot at a leading role, and the school drama teacher exclaimed, “Well really, Lindsey isn’t exactly an ingénue, you know.” I was a junior in high school and I weighed 160 lbs. (Just out of curiosity – what’s not ingénue-y about that?) I remember another instance when a good friend relayed rumors that a guy or two thought I would be the prettiest girl in our class if I would just, “lose a few,” and when I was sixteen the catcall hollered my way was heifer.  Fat was my identity but I denied it. 

My fat body was easy to deny because I lived in a world where no one else was fat, but everyone complained that they were, particularly the women. It didn’t matter if you were looking at the real people in the world around me, my mother, grandmother, aunts and friends or at the women in the television shows I watched, the novels I read or the movies I dreamed of being in, ALL the women called themselves fat, felt fat, repelled fatness, and feared getting “fatter.” Fat was the enemy. We were all fat. Only I was fatter. 

Fat was something that made you unfeminine, unwanted, not sexy and ultimately unsuccessful. So, I was sure that my fat was a phase. All I needed was that one moment of will power – to truly dedicate myself to diet and exercise and it would all change.

When I was seventeen, I neared the end of my time at the aforementioned top-notch private school. Graduation from this elite educational experience required an all white dress and in those days wearing all white meant dealing with the embarrassment of teetering down the graduation aisle feeling like the stay puff marshmallow man. The metaphor here is intentional, rather than a young, thin, nubile teenage girl, I envisioned myself as the likeness of a white, creepily happy, bloated man/monster – completely disconnected from all notions of femininity, youth, beauty, and health. Of course as a teen registering as symbolic of puffy and masculine was an emotional nightmare because I lacked the intellectual nuance to recognize the constructed nature of gender stereotyping and the righteous acumen to flip off any one who takes issue with my fatness. (“None of your beeswax, Asshole!”)

So, at seventeen propelled by sheer terror I lost ‘the weight’ for the third time. Yes, there were two previous cycles of starve and shrink. Ask any fat girl; weight loss is a reoccurring phenomenon.  On this particular occasion, I starved myself down to a size eight, (the coveted single digit size). In celebration of my thinner body, my mother took me to Barney’s department store on Madison Ave. and bought me a white leather skirt suit. I remember standing in the dressing room looking in the mirror and thinking there I am – the real me, the thin me.

In other words, I was completely disconnected with the reality of my body. In those days, it didn’t even occur to me that I REALLY was a fat girl. Instead, I pictured myself thin.  A model of feminine perfection –gaunt and gorgeous– imprisoned in fat flesh. (Please note: I may have walked down the graduation isle as the thin version of me, but I was back to being fat again in less than a year.)




This self-perception and complete disregard or denial of my fat body is not even a little unusual. Lesley Kinzel’s written about it – Virigie Tovar’s talked about it and I’m sure some of you reading this have felt it. For me, and for many others a fat body was not understood as a home, self or source of empowerment, rather it was perceived as an obstacle, which hindered fat girls from achieving acceptance. This means that fat women and girls have no genuine connection to the reality of their bodies. Instead, fat girls walk around believing if they could just commit themselves then they could reach their ‘real’- read thin – weight. And at the same time thin girls look in mirror and see what they consider to be terrifyingly fat bodies. Sigh. 

In 1989, eleven years after I was born, Shelly Bovey, author of The Forbidden Body:  wrote:
Racism, sexism and ageism have been recognized for the evils they are and brought into the daylight and named. They are part of the process whereby society rejects those who are different from the sociological role model, which has been defined as acceptable. Fattism is still largely a hidden prejudice and as such it is perhaps the most vicious of all… Fat is hated and despised and fat people are coerced to the outer limits of mainstream society. (1)

It’s worth noting that Bovey absolutely underestimates the brutal reality of racism, sexism and ageism. That said, Bovey’s notion that Fattism or fat prejudice is ‘hidden prejudice’ refers to the cultural acceptability of fat-hate. Literally, it is/was okay and culturally acceptable to make jokes at a fat person’s expense, to belittle fat people and teens on television, and to write books about fat bullies, monsters and demons, or rather to represent fat bodies as repugnant and repulsive, and in turn it is perfectly acceptable to dislike and demean fatness in the real world. 

After years of scholarly therapy (read: a life in pursuit of academia), I have come to understand that when I hated my own body I was participating in fattism fat-shame fat-hate and/or fat-prejudice and my distaste for my fat body was dictated by a cultural norm or social standard that excluded my body and other bodies like mine, which in many ways was directly related to how fat bodies were/are represented by multiple types of media. In other words, in this cultural climate neither I nor other fat girls had much of a chance at body acceptance. The world all around us was filled with images and stories that ridiculed us and reinforced fat as repulsive.

Representations of fat women and girls who are undeniably fat are particularly monstrous or demeaning. Spend some time considering who is fat in books, on television and in films – jokes and monsters – representations like Disney’s Ursula the Sea Witch, Harry Potter’s cousin, Dudley Dursley, and the horrifying display of fat brutality enacted against Gwyneth Paltrow’s fat suit character, Rosemary, in Shallow Hal. These representations are not pretty or kind, and believe you me if representations as degrading as this were hurled at many other social groups, there would be an uproar, letters of complaint, boycotts, protests, picket signs, you name it.

Fat-shame and fat-hatred are systemic. This is a brutal prejudice that is rooted and threaded throughout our cultural infrastructure. This prejudice is rife in our media, our healthcare system, our politics. It has to change. All bodies deserve just treatment, respect and loving care. 

I couldn’t stand by idly any more, so I got together with one of my closest friends, Viri Lieberman, who conveniently happens to be an outstanding filmmaker and we decided to make a film.  I think you’ll like it. Again you can check it out here.

If you do like it, you can support us in the following ways: 

1. If you can, donate to our Kickstarter. Every dollar counts. 

2. Share the Kickstarter on your social media feeds - facebook, twitter, personal blogs, etc. The more you post it the more likely we are to get exposure - and obviously, the more traffic we get, the more funds we can raise. 

3. Invite your friends to like our facebook page or tell your followers to like our facebook page. The facebook page is located at www.facebook.com/fattitudethemovie. On the right hand side of the page is a panel that says, "Invite Your Friends to like this page." You click the words  "see all" on the right hand side of the panel. A new box will open up and then you can click "invite" to invite anyone you feel comfortable inviting. Honestly, this is a tedious process, as you have to invite each friend individually - but we would be ever so thankful if you help us grow our community. 

4. Check out our web page and sign up for our mailing list: www.fattitudethemovie.com

5. If you know anyone you can contact or who you think we should contact about the kickstarter, please let us know. We can be reached via email:  fattitudethemovie@gmail.com

Thank you so much for any help you can offer!
Xo,

Lindsey Averill
(a.k.a. Feminist Cupcake)

THE BODY LOVE CONFERENCE: BLOG COVERAGE


There have been so many stories documented through blog posts and I wanted to collect them all in one place for your reading pleasure!



Confession: I also wanted a reason to share Kiki Nelsons photos from the event. I love them all so hard.



If I missed yours, you can leave in the comments and I'll add it! Thanks to all who shared their insights, experiences and words of love. SO glad you were all there!
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