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πŸ’Œ IF YOU SENT ME A LOVE NOTE, THIS IS FOR YOU πŸ’Œ


Dear Fucking Amazing Human,

Thank you. A million times over.

When I posted that I needed a love note or two it felt like an excessive act of vulnerability; one of the scariest things I have shared with the internet. You probably know by now that I've shown more skin online than many people are comfortable with and consistently write about my mental illness other difficult topics that purposefully put me in tender positions because being real is important. My ask for love letters was twenty times scarier than all of those things combined.

But it was worth it because YOUR LETTERS HAVE CHANGED MY GODDAMN LIFE. 

Before your notes showed up in my mailbox, I was thoroughly convinced of one thing and one thing only- that basically ALL people were and are horrible. It wasn't a hard conclusion to arrive at; I've had the unfortunate chance to see people at their worst. Millions of reactionary comments/emails/conversations that have shown me some of humanity's worst, unabashed colors. I have been handed every shred of proof that I've needed to assume that most humans are incapable of compassion and critical thinking. And the expectation of intentional kindness? Well, that has always seemed out of the question. 

That week, my therapist of eight years (that woman has seen me through some shit) finally said the words I needed to hear- "Jes, this is killing you." And she was right. I had emotionally reached the point where I had nothing left to give.

Five years of working on the internet had changed me so drastically that I convinced that there was not a single flicker of light at the end of any tunnel. Not a good thing. Not a good thing at all.

So I sent out a social media flare. And then you showed up. In all your handwritten, sticker covered, mermaid patch filled, glitter dusted glory.

Gifts, inspiring quotes, love letters, music suggestions, cross-stiched unicorns, drawings from your (v. talented btw) children, pieces of art, Vegimite (+ other rad Aussie things- shout out to Prince) rock candy rings, simple words of support. And they're still coming from all over the world. You may have not realized how much I needed them when you dropped them in the mailbox... but I NEED YOU TO KNOW THAT YOU'RE EVERYTHING WONDERFUL IN THE WORLD OKAY?

Now you know.

I've read many of them. I've also have piles saved for later. I often pick a few new ones out each morning before I start my day so that I have a beautiful reminder of why persisting is a good decision.

I expected to feel a few warm flutters. What I did not expect was to feel a large part of my heart split wide open and to suddenly have energy to give back once again. In fact, after the first two weeks of overwhelming love notes (I cried at the post office multiple times, guys), the influx of kindness gave me the emotional room I needed to pack half a dozen care packages for other activists that I knew could also use a boost. This mail also touched them like yours touched me; they shared that it gave them the energy to fight another day and it's important that you know... this is because of you.

Your kindness and support will continue to ripple out... beyond me, beyond the other activists, beyond all of us. I've been so anti-woo and universal love for so long yet somehow you've been able to reach the lost parts of me that can now acknowledge how empowering compassion and love can  be. You've restored my Woo.

I have more room for hope than I have in years. I have more room to give (and appreciatively receive) than I have in years. All because of you. It may take me forever to write back to all of you but I'm workin' on it.

ALSO, what no one tells you is writing a memoir is pretty much a mental horror show and opening a couple letters before writing is super helpful. So thanks for saving my ass there too, y'all!

Did I say thank you yet?

THANK YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUU, 
Jes

P.S. Is it against blogging rules to use emojis in your post titles? 🀷
P.P.S. If you sent me a postcard or envelope without a return address (I have a huge stack that I'm sad I can't write back to) and you would like a THANK YOU sent your way, drop me a note at themilitantbaker @ gmail dot com with a description of what yours looked like/contained and I'll make sure to send you some personalized love back when I can.

CURVY GIRL SEX // BY ELLE CHASE

(April Flores photographed by Nick Holmes)

Elle Chase is a certified sex educator, speaker, body acceptance + pleasure activist and now the author of  Curvy Girl Sex: 101 Body Positive Sex Positions To Empower Your Sex LifeWhen I was asked for a blurb to promote Curvy Girl Sex it came easily: "This book is fucking fantastic and will likely lead to fantastic fucking!"

The publishing company kindly thanked me... and then requested something without the F word (sigh) so I sent over a second version: "Curvy Girl Sex is something I wish we all had years ago, but I'm still beyond ecstatic to have and utilize it now! THANK YOU ELLE!" I stand by both.


In related news, I just read a great interview that Bevin Branlandingham of Queer Fat Femme did about Fat Sex Week XXL where the Huffington Post interviewer asked "What is the biggest misconception about fat sex?" to which Bevin succinctly said-



That fat people are not fuckable. I think that fat people are wildly fuckable.

Amen and hallelujah.


You can read a beginning excerpt from the book below and you can also find a few sex positions from the book (purposefully linked at the bottom so that those not expecting images of bangin' out won't be caught off guard;)) that show multiple different positions that take into consideration all of those things that we come across while having sex in larger bodies. 


Just remember that the amount of (or investment in) sex you have in your life is not indicative of your worth. Elle is just here to share that our options are often greater than we've been told.
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I became a sex educator and body acceptance advocate by accident. Fresh out of a seven-year marriage where there was barely any sex, I craved passion—which I saw on TV and movies, but never experienced in my own life. Never feeling desirable, sexy, or worthy of sexual pleasure, I had always felt neuter, unconnected to my body and convinced that sex and the joys that came with a good sex life were for other people, not me.

So after I left my husband, I found myself at a crossroads. I was desperate for passion, single, overweight, and completely unequipped with the tools to date successfully or to have passionate, confident sex without caring about how fat I was. I longed to feel someone crave me. But who could feel passion for a fat chick, with cellulite, scars, florescent-white skin, and crooked teeth? People like me didn’t experience high-adrenaline, fervent, ardent love affairs. I had to be realistic, and I had to accept that I was never going to be the object of the desire and salacious abandon that I craved. I had to settle for what I could find and somehow make it work.

But I was wrong. Oh boy, was I wrong.

I had nothing to lose, so I started dating online. Sure, I got rejected just like everyone does, but what I found was that all types of men were interested in me. Some of them had a penchant for my body type, some men didn’t care about body type, and some men found the whole package attractive. This was a revolutionary concept to me. I didn’t expect to sleep with or date such a variety of fascinating, smart, and passionate men—of all shapes and sizes. [..] My belief that I was inherently undesirable quickly evaporated.

I realized that not only was I attracted to all types of men—tall, short, fat, skinny, long-haired, bald, scarred, smooth, muscled, soft—but that all these men were attracted to me. If this was true in my life, I couldn’t be the only one. This realization gave me the germ of self-confidence that I needed to further explore and experience the sexual passion I so desired and, in a short time, got. I realized that my judgment that I was unattractive and undesirable wasn’t based in reality. It was a verdict I came to subconsciously over a lifetime of feedback and opinions gathered from mean girls at school, the media, and some really poor choices in men. The truth was I was sexy as hell as long as I didn’t pay attention to my old misconceptions and instead focused on enjoying myself, which included discovering what (and who) made me feel sensual and sexy, how to identify it in my body, the ways I feel chemistry with someone, and how to recognize when they were feeling it, too.

During this time, I recognized that the negative feelings I had toward my body and my sexual desirability was a social construct thrust upon me—one that I unwittingly and subconsciously took part in. I finally understand that this construct—that fat women aren’t sexy, or a woman must wear heels and flirty dresses, she must bat her eyes and let her date determine her dateability—was a lie. I was free. I wanted all women to know this fact. I wanted all women to know and feel confident that we are all sexy, and it has nothing to do with flat abs or lustrous hair, but everything to do with how sexy we feel and how connected we are to our sexuality.

This truth was the impetus for this book. You can’t enjoy sex if you’re constantly worrying about whether you’re sexy enough for your partner. You can’t enjoy sex when you are thinking about how to do it while looking elegant or hiding your rolls. You can’t enjoy sex if your mind is wandering and you’re not concentrating on your partner’s pleasure and your own. This is more than a book of sex positions. I hope that this book will show you how to own and accept your body the way it is right now . . . and then move on and have a fulfilling sex life.

I hope that in some way this book will empower you to not let anything get in the way of improving your sex life. Whether you learn a new position or two, come away with a better understanding of your pleasure or anatomy, or go out and buy your first sex toy, I’ll call that a success. Know that you deserve pleasure and it’s never too late to find it.


Click here for five different sex positions
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Thanks Elle for sharing with us! You can find her book (and more sneak peeks) here.

CURRENT CRUSH: CALEB LUNA


Caleb Luna is a fat, brown queer, writer and burlesque dancer (!) who resides in Oakland, California which is apparently the destination for every radical unicorn on the planet. I'm definitely not that sad to be here in Tucson though (<--Lie. Oakland, you stole my heart years ago.)

Caleb is a PhD student at University of California, Berkeley, where their work explores the intersections of performance, fatness, desire, fetishism, white supremacy, and colonialism from a queer of color lens. They also have a heart shaped FAT BABE tattoo on their arm that deserves a moment of recognition as well. Can I get a dozen Hands In The Air emojis for this above list of fabulous things please? (Ask and ye shall receive: πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ!)

Caleb writes for multiple sites including Black Girl Dangerous, The Body Is Not an Apology, and Everyday Feminism. I can almost guarantee that you've read at least one of their articles; they are often very-much-needed posts that push you farrrrrrr outside of your comfort zone and are full of complex subjects/ideas that you never knew you needed to read... which then presents you with the opportunity to process them three (or ten) times over. You don't want to miss out on them..

Count me as one of the people eternally grateful for their writing and the contributions that they offer.


Because everything Caleb writes is  more than worth reading, I'm going to share a few of my favorite excerpts with links to every brilliant and sparkling article!

Ugly is how I move through the world, how I am viewed by strangers, coworkers, potential lovers, employers, family, community members, doctors, professors, service industry workers, et cetera, and this perception affects how I am treated daily. I have been denied job opportunities because of my body. I do not fit into restaurant booths, airplane seats, or school desks comfortably—which serves as a constant reminder that this world was not built to accommodate me.


(Photo by Michelle Ramirez)

A product of the fat acceptance movement is a bigger and more diverse group of people embracing their bodies and claiming fat identity. There are so many reasons to claim fatness and so many ways to be fat. It’s an embodiment that is contextual depending on other variations like race, gender and ability especially. I don’t think that the destigmatizing and expanding the boundaries of fatness is necessarily a bad thing, but it can become complicated for me when the vast majority of these people are on the smaller end of the spectrum of fatness.




I’m a fat, fat-positive activist – and I don’t love my body. I have spent the past several years thinking and speaking quite a bit about fatness. I’ve written about it both publicly and academically, participated in conferences, and co-wrote and performed in a play about fatness. I dress intentionally and strategically to show off my body and challenge presumptions of fatness in those around me. And I’m sure that, for many people, these things leads them to believe that I do, in fact, love my body. And while I do have a tremendous amount of self-love, that love is tied more to who I am than what body I exist in. 
(Photo by Beverly Bland Boydston III)

Critical television engagement remains an important aspect of my personal-political practice, and my inclinations are, of course, colored by my own positionality as a fat, queer, femme of color. This means that I still gravitate towards shows that feature people of color, fat people, queers, and femmes in my curation – and why shows like The Mindy Project and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, for example, remain important to me.
Despite their (many, many) shortcomings, outside of Mindy Lahiri and Titus Andromedon, there are so few other places I could see a fat femme of color portrayed at all, but much less as a legitimate love interest. I value that.
So while there’s clearly some forward momentum toward showing fat people to be fully realized, three-dimensional characters, I still yearn for a character whose fatness is part of them.



This experience really helped me see how white supremacy manifests in subtle ways in activist spaces, even by folks who identify strongly as people of color and/or as anti-racist and anti-oppressive.I now see how even cultivating activist communities and spaces that consist of primarily young, thin, cis, and non-disabled people is a product of white supremacy, even if the people are not all white.


And my personal favorite article-

I am tired of fighting my friends. I am tired of trying to convince them that I matter as much as their romantic interests and partners. In many ways, who we choose to love is also a decision of who we invest in, and who we distribute the resources necessary to keep one another alive—including care. I am tired of trying to get people who love me to see that I am worthy of love, care, investment and attention as much as their romantic partners. I am tired of trying to make those who love me see that I am worthy of care, time and attention as much as the whiteness and thinness they invest in through their partners. I am sick of reminding them of the simple fact that who we choose to love and, by extension, invest in is political. Investing in people is also investing bodies and this does not exist outside out of historical priorities and possibilities. We can stop politicizing desire when we stop distributing our love and care based on it. When we stop using our desire as a rubric for who we are keeping alive—or at least making efforts to.
------
I'm fairly certain that the only thing better than this world having one Caleb Luna is the world having THREE Caleb Lunas.

The above wish is now officially on my birthday list. Make a note, y'all.

You can find Caleb on FacebookTwitterTumblr, and Instagram (which I literally just spend 90 minutes oohing and aaahing over) and I suggest you follow each of their social media profiles STAT.

Thank you Caleb for gifting us your talent and presence in a world that honestly deserves neither. SENDING YOU ALL THE LOVE.

AUDITION TO BE ON THE FASHION HERO!

This post is brought to you by the power of crowd-sourcing, random inbox opportunities and The Fashion Hero!


Fact: I never know what I'll find when I open up my inbox. Today? It was a mix of interview requests, meeting reminders, affiliate program commission changes, tax form downloads, Yes and Yes's newsletter, a few cute notes from friends and a casting call from a show called The Fashion Hero. All in all, and average day... except for that last one.

I highly doubt you care about my taxes or therapy appointments, so let's skip to the good stuff and give you some info about THIS CASTING CALL!

While starring in reality television isn't on my bucket list (don't get confused though- I love to watch reality TV- I'm a total sucker for America's Top Model and The Next Food Network Star!), I have a pretty solid feeling (just extrapolating a little here since I receive many emails asking "How do I break into the modeling scene?") that there's a good chance that this is definitely your jam. And folx, now is the time!



The Fashion Hero is a program (in its second season) and is all about selecting "unconventional" models and giving them both the runway and a place in front of the camera.

If you’re into it, you can apply on their website here and I'm sending you all the luck in the world! If one of you makes it, you better let me know and you can bet I'll be watching and cheering you on!!!

Let’s get some goddamn diversity up there, yeah?

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I offer one or two sponsored posts each month. If you’d like 250k-ish monthly readers to get to read all about you or yr stuff (= the kinda stuff that all of us in TMB community will find useful + rad), send me an email at themilitantbaker (at) gmail (dot) com and we'll make it happen! And readers, thank you so much for supporting companies that support The Militant Baker:) I love you all.

SCARS, SELF HARM, AND THE SATURDAY I STOPPED GIVING A SHIT.


(All photos via Jade Beall)

Everyone (including any "body warrior") has their version of an Achilles' heel... or five. Believe me on this one.

If you search for synonyms for this term you’ll not only find weakness and vulnerability, but you will also find a list of the following: backjugularsoft spotunderbelly etc. Interestingly enough it includes body parts that are vulnerable; perhaps even prone to be hidden and protected.

I’d like to add to the list: my ass.

I'll be the first to tell you that I personally think I have a fabulous ass. I definitely feel comfortable showing it off... but there IS an exception- I'll highlight it but only under clothing. I've hidden my ass from everyone except those that I allow into my bedroom and it has long been one of my most shameful secrets. Why? Because it's scarred. "Embarrassingly" scarred.

My therapist loves to mention the moment in Twilight when Edward saves Bella from a moving vehicle. Bella asks how he did it and he (dryly) replies "I had an adrenaline rush. It's very common. You can Google it." She likes to talk about the phenomenon that happens in real life where mothers have the capability to lift cars off of their children in a moment of emergency. This super human strength is a direct response to crisis or trauma. The amount of energy that is accumulated and used to exert that extraordinary strength is nearly incomprehensible, but it exists. And we, as humans- in the stress based civilization that we live in- experience mini versions of trauma every day.

It could be a confrontation. A near accident. Or even walking out into 110 degree heat when our bodies are unprepared. All of these mini traumas generate energy inside of us. Welling up, accumulating and physically sitting inside our core. 

We are often oblivious to this stockpiling and may or may not address it as needed. When we don't address it in a productive way (exercise, and other safe physical releases... I believe tattooing is included!), our bodies find their own way to expel the energy and this sometimes shows up through self harm. Cutting is one that we talk about often, and is sometimes talked about as a physical solution for a release of energy that we are constantly unaware of. (Note: this is controversial and something not everyone agrees on, which is fair as it's an individual experience and it's impossible to paint every person with the same brush.) Self harm has the potential for some to become a remedy for the pent up physical manifestation of trauma and can manifest in burning, pulling of hair, banging of body parts, scratching, or interference with wound healing. Lord, do I struggle with the last two.

I spent several yeards in such emotional distress that I compulsively scratched at my skin until it scarred; both on my legs and my ass. My boyfriend at the time would chastise me; complaining that I was ruining my skin, but I literally couldn't stop. I wouldn't realize that I was doing it until I would bleed and even then it was still comforting. It was a habit that I struggled to break.

I find myself occasionally still engaging in this behavior, though it's not nearly as often. But the scars will forever remain, and when I went over to photographer (and life long love) Jade Beall's studio for a get together with friends, she offered the opportunity for all us to strip and highlight one specific body part. Our ass.

Of course.

But, I know as well as you that facing our body fears head on is one of the most powerful experiences we can have. I was surrounded by wonderful women, in Jade's warm presence and determined to represent those of us who rock scarred asses. So strip I did.

I didn't allow myself to think much while posing; I focused on wrapping my arms around the beautiful souls I was next to. In a blink of the eye it was over, but through that momentary shoot I ended years of shameful concealment. The entire world would soon see the marks and because of this there was no longer a need to keep them under wraps. I no longer needed to hide them, even from myself.

It's strange how something so basic can heal something so historically complicated.

So that Saturday I stopped giving a shit about my "imperfect" ass. It's blemished because of the stressful world we were all born into; nothing more, nothing less. It was my Achilles' heel for so long, but no longer. I've been slowly crossing off parts of my body that I'm ashamed of, one by one. And thanks to Jade, I've nixed another.

So, that's cool.



We all have our stories and secrets. We all have our insecurities and perceived flaws. Don't ever feel alone or guilty for being one of the many. But also know that our bodies are gorgeously unique, and the fact that not one is exactly alike (diversity is a thing!) is the most magnificent part of all. Uniformity is what they teach us, but that doesn't exist. Allow your body to be what it is, how it is. Allow yourself to not "fit in". Allow it to have wrinkles, scars, cellulite, freckles, dimples, discoloration, and bumps. Allow it to exist and serve you so that you can live your life to the fullest; this is it's greatest purpose.

I can love my body, scars and all, because it allows me to type this. Because it allows me to speak out. Because it allows me to dance to my heart's content. Because it allows me to stand in a classroom and teach. Because it allows me to love on my cats and kiss the top of their heads. Because it allows me to orgasm multiple times in a row. Because it lets me hug my Mom for as long as I need.

Because it holds the beauty on the inside, and also radiates beauty on the outside.
Because every mark tells a story.
Because every story is me.

What body part do you personally struggle with more than others? What body part needs a little extra acceptance and love? What part of your body will you allow to just be?

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This is an older post that I feel is especially relevant for me right now as I struggle to accept another part of me as my body changes. I'm grateful for the chance to re-share it for those of you who might be new readers. Welcome and hugs!

YOU CAN'T HAVE BODY POSITIVITY WITHOUT FEMINISM // BY MELISSA FABELLO


I was a guest on a body-positive podcast when the lightbulb went off: Not everyone in this work identifies as feminist.

There I was, sitting on my couch, my iPhone earbuds in, staring at the empty Skype screen in front of me, while the host asked me the most basic questions about what liberation from patriarchy looks like in practice. I can't raise one eyebrow (hell, I can't even wink). But if I had the skill, one eyebrow would have been raised in suspicion.

Maybe I had been naive before. Or maybe because my forays into both social justice and body acceptance had happened simultaneously, there was obvious overlap for me. But it hadn't occurred to me that it was possible to talk about body oppression without an explicitly intersectional feminist lens.

The truth is: You can't.

You can't have body positivity without feminism.


But the longer I'm involved with this work, the more I notice how frequently people (and, unsurprisingly, usually the most privileged folks) support the former without the latter – and how fucking harmful that is.

And yet, I (and others, especially more marginalized people) receive a lot of pushback from quote-unquote #bopo babes when I engage with them on this. Whether they explicitly believe that feminism and body acceptance are unrelated or more implicitly just don't infuse their body positivity with justice-oriented values, these folks feel offended, attacked, bullied, or called out when they're approached about this misalignment.

So I want to be clear: If you're doing body-positive work, you're borrowing directly from feminism. And if you're not owning that and practicing its inherent values, your body positivity is useless.

Here are three reasons why.

1. Viewing Bodies Socioculturally Is Rooted in Feminist Theory


I'm honestly confused about folks who can talk all day about tools of patriarchy – like narrow beauty standards and advertising media – without ever actually using the word patriarchy.

There's a clear understanding within the #bopo realm that women are culturally conditioned to hate our bodies and that our approximation to beauty is what defines our social value. The conversation about how we're not born with self-hatred, but taught it through propaganda, is there.

But, like, where do you think those ideas came from?

The concept that our bodies are imbued with socially constructed meaning – and that we need to unpack that to get at the core of the problem – isn't new. It's been the foundation of various feminist theory for, like, ever.

The idea of body acceptance is rooted in a structural evaluation of the world. And every watered down thing you say about women and bodies comes from a much more complex history of feminist analysis.

Need a place to start? Try Susan Bordo's Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body.

2. Body-Based Oppression Exists On Intersecting Axes


Listen: Body-based oppression is a social justice issue. More to the point: It's an intersectional issue. It's not something that only affects women (or "men, too!"); it's not even something that only affects people on the axis of a/gender. Body-based oppression is an inherent part of all marginalization.

Racial profiling is body-based oppression. Discrimination for disability is body-based oppression. Lack of access to healthcare, nutritious food, and shelter is body-based oppression. Fetishization of queer women is body-based oppression. The murder of trans women is body-based oppression. Fat stigma is body-based oppression.

Intersectionality – a term coined by KimberlΓ© Crenshaw, and a concept discussed previously by many Black feminists, including Audre Lorde and Patricia Hill Collins – is the idea that we are all constellations, not single stars. I am not only a woman or only queer or only white or only cisgender. I am all of those things at once. And all of those identities together affect my experience within my body – and society's experience of it.

We can't leave this shit out.

Body positivity has to be feminist because it has to be intersectional.

And if you're ready to learn more about that (please! please be ready!), start perusing The Body Is Not an Apology.

3. Fat Acceptance Is Being Diluted

Let's be clear: Body positivity was stolen from fat acceptance. No, this isn't up for debate.

The fat acceptance movement – which arguably unofficially began in 1967 when 500 New Yorkers took to Central Park to protest anti-fat bias, but had stirrings leading up to that point – is a sociopolitical movement to end suffering under and seek liberation from the institution of power known as the thin ideal.

This means pushing for fairer representation of fat people in media. It means demanding that the fashion industry take fat bodies into consideration. It means pressuring the medical industrial complex to stop exploiting the "obesity crisis." It means asking for research studies with less inherent bias.

It means commanding the recognition of fat people's full humanity by the public at large.

It's radical af.

Body positivity, on the other hand – and particularly the way it shows up in mainstream culture – is a movement for folks to make peace with their bodies, without a specific target audience. It's much broader – and way less revolutionary.

It's also a thief. It takes the radical, complex aims of deconstructing the thin ideal for fat acceptance and dilutes it into a more general goal of women's empowerment. And then it profits off of the work that more marginalized people did.

Keep you eye out for the upcoming documentary Fattitude to learn more.

Feminism was at the heart of this thing. And we need to put it back.

Body acceptance is a beautiful – and wildly important – thing. I need it. You need it. Your mom's brother's neighbor's kid's best friend's teacher needs it. But it's only ever going to do us any good if we keep it feminist, intersectional, and radical. Because the apolitical, watered down, scared-of-the-F-word body positivity that's so popular right now might make (some of) us feel affirmed, but it's not a revolt.

And we need a revolt.

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This incredible post came from the last “Beauty School”Newsletter that popped into my inbox and my jaw dropped as I read it. Yep, literal jaw droppage. 

Because 1.) IT'S FROM A NEWSLETTER (wtf no one else writes original content this well for a newsletter) and 2.) Everything that’s needed to be said ever.  All of this to say: I STRONGLY SUGGEST SUBSCRIBING TO HER NEWSLETTER ASAP.

Melissa Fabello is (one of my favorite people and) a body acceptance activist, sexuality scholar, and patriarchy smasher living in Philadelphia. You can find her in various corners of the Internet, usually trying to cause trouble, or taking a break from the revolution to cuddle with her two cats. 

BIG FIT GIRL (ON STEREOTYPES) // BY LOUISE GREEN

(via)

Louise Green is a longtime friend, kick-ass plus size trainer and now author of Big Fit Girl (a book for fat athletes- can we just say fathletes?!?) a resource that is much needed and be can found in US bookstore health sections (and online obvs) starting TODAY!

I may be in the middle of mending my fucked up relationship with exercise, but Louise is already killing it- reclaiming movement as her own and for her own purposes. She coaches people (not just in person, but now in written form) who want to become athletes but are afraid that they cant because of their size. She shows that it's the fitness industry that is failing YOU, not the other way around.
I love her for challenging these tricky issues and showing that you don't have to participate in athleticism... but if you want to, it's yours for the taking.

The following is an excerpt from Big Fit Girl on stereotypes- why they're harmful and how to smash 'em like you mean it.

(ETA: This book is written for people who want to enter the world of serious athletics and it written from this strong POV. If you're someone looking for a softer approach to starting exercise/movement I would HIGHLY recommend Hanne Blank's The Unapologetic Fat Girl's Guide to Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts... I loved it.)

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I ran my first half-marathon in San Francisco. When I woke up on race day, my stomach was churning with both fear and excitement. Getting ready in front of the mirror that morning, I repeated my mantra: You are an athlete. You are a champion who has put in the training time. You belong here.

When we arrived at the race location and I caught my first glimpse of the start line for the 30th Annual Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon and 5k, I felt even more determined. This was the beginning of one of the most demanding days of my life, and I was filled with excitement and growing confidence. As I approached the desk to pick up my race package, I caught the eye of the young man behind the table. He asked my name and without hesitation reached for the 5krace package. He assumed I was participating in the (much) shorter race.

This moment speaks volumes about how people perceive those of us with larger bodies and why many of us feel that we don’t fit in. My body size communicated to him that I was not physically capable of running the event’s longer race. This happens at most events I participate in: someone might make an out-of-line comment or show surprise or express an assumption about what my body is capable of. The same thing happens when I tell people that I am a personal trainer and I own a fitness business.

“I am here to run the half-marathon,” I said sharply. “Oh,” he said, quickly fumbling for my race package in the other box. I took my number and the event-branded race shirt that was three sizes too small and joined my husband.

The little voice inside cheering me on had been reduced to a whisper. As we stood silently waiting for the race to begin, I couldn’t help feeling defeated. I had trained for months and run hundreds of miles, and yet this encounter left me feeling like an impostor. I had felt this before—like I didn’t fit in.
Unfortunately, this feeling of sitting on the sidelines can be common among women of size who participate in races; perhaps you have felt this way too. Throughout my career as a trainer, women have shared stories of fitness classes, races, and high school gym classes where their potential was repeatedly overlooked because of their size. As humans, we crave acceptance. And these memories of rejection linger and hold us back.



While many people assume that fat automatically equals unfit, a growing number of highly respected researchers and agencies say otherwise. Dr. Steven Blair is a renowned exercise researcher at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. His research shows that excess weight is not “the enemy.” Not getting enough exercise and being cardiovascularly unfit are much greater contributors to poor health than any extra pounds can be. Blair stands firmly by his research showing that fit, fat people outlive thin, unfit people. The National Cancer Institute also backed this finding, reporting that physical activity is associated with greater longevity among persons in all BMI groups: those normal weight, and those considered fat.

Although many studies demonstrate that a fit body can come in a range of sizes, many people can’t see beyond the stereotypes. Larger bodies seldom appear in advertisements for gyms or in fitness magazines. When we do see a fat body in the media, it often accompanies an article about the latest demonizing obesity study and shows the person from only the shoulders down, dehumanizing the person. Athletes like me who fall outside of the athletic norm often feel we don’t fit in because we’ve been told, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, that we don’t.

Changing our fitness experience means surrounding ourselves with positive influences and finding teams of people who leave stereotypes at the door. And because we seldom see athletes of size in our daily visual landscape, it’s up to you and me to change the perceptions out there.

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P.S. You can check out her Tedx here called "Limitless: Lets Think Again About Atheleticism"
P.P.S. You can also read about my feels on dance classes and orgasms here in Exercise Classes and Fat Girl Freak Outs

THE DISAPPROVAL MATRIX // BY ANN FRIEDMAN

(via)
Ann Friedman is an indispensable gift to this world and while I feel completely undeserving of her brilliance, my gratitude outweighs any modicum of modesty I may have so I'll be honest- finding her hand drawn charts has undoubtedly contributed to preserving the sanity I have left after working on the internet for years. 
I still have some and her (+ a few friends) to thank for it.
I've struggled for the majority of my time working online (sometimes still do), trying to figure out how to handle the overwhelming amount of feedback I receive on a daily basis. Some days I'm a gift from heaven; others, I am the devil incarnate. I am spot on; I am delusional. I am inclusive; I am divisive. I am approachable; I am haughty. I am selfless; I am self-obsessed

If we're going to be honest about humans as a whole, we all fall somewhere on the spectrum of these projections. None of us are 100% perfect and none of us are 100% evil (though I question the latter when it comes to those currently working in that house on Pennsylvania Ave). But after a few painful years of trying to sort out the legitimacy of these claims, I finally came to the realization that those I needed to listen to were those that I respected in the field in which I was trying to contribute. I needed to listen to those who I felt were making the world a better place. Juuuuust maybe they were the ones that mattered when it came to altering my contributions and making much needed progress.
It was shortly after this semi-vague epiphany that I found Friedman (after she shared my article on why we hate happy fat people and Melissa Fabello linked me) and discovered the above diagram that succinctly showed what I had been trying to grasp for ages.  
She generously allowed to share this post in hopes that it helps you also navigate the feedback that you receive. Some is really important, even if it's hard to hear. And some? Well, some of it just doesn't deserve your time and energy. The internal space you have is limited; be conscious of how you distribute it.
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In my ongoing quest for the perfect framework for understanding haters, I created The Disapproval Matrix. (With a deep bow to its inspiration.) This is one way to separate haterade from productive feedback. Here’s how the quadrants break down:
Critics: These are smart people who know something about your field. They are taking a hard look at your work and are not loving it. You’ll probably want to listen to what they have to say, and make some adjustments to your work based on their thoughtful comments.
Lovers: These people are invested in you and are also giving you negative but rational feedback because they want you to improve. Listen to them, too. 
Frenemies: Ooooh, this quadrant is tricky. These people really know how to hurt you, because they know you personally or know your work pretty well. But at the end of the day, their criticism is not actually about your work—it’s about you personally. And they aren’t actually interested in a productive conversation that will result in you becoming better at what you do. They just wanna undermine you. Dishonorable mention goes to The Hater Within, aka the irrational voice inside you that says you suck, which usually falls into this quadrant. Tell all of these fools to sit down and shut up.
Haters: This is your garden-variety, often anonymous troll who wants to tear down everything about you for no rational reason. Folks in this quadrant are easy to write off because they’re counterproductive and you don’t even know them. Ignore! Engaging won’t make you any better at what you do. And then rest easy, because having haters is proof your work is finding a wide audience and is sparking conversation. Own it.

The general rule of thumb? When you receive negative feedback that falls into one of the top two quadrants—from experts or people who care about you who are engaging with and rationally critiquing your work—you should probably take their comments to heart. When you receive negative feedback that falls into the bottom two quadrants, you should just let it roll off your back and just keep doin’ you. If you need to amp yourself up about it, may I suggest this #BYEHATER playlist on Spotify? You’re welcome.

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While I can't back the generalization of lesser rappers, I'm grateful for this clarifying outline. And guys, if you're not already subscribed to her weekly newsletter, think about changing that. 

May we all continue to strive to be and do better in the name of progress and healing.

P.S. I did write an article on how to cope with online body hate that may help you as well. 
P.P.S. Good luck out there!

FAVORITE POSTS OF 2016

(via Toni Tales)

While 2016  was a rather, well... terrible excuse for a year (often and appropriately compared to a dumpster fire) some good things have happened and I thoroughly enjoyed searching through TMB archives to find them. Below you'll find my favorite posts, your favorite posts and other posts that are noteworthy for re-reading before we get too far into 2017. Take a gander!
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FAVORITE POST OF THE YEAR
SO, I'VE GAINED WEIGHT. SO WHAT?: When something is loved my me + the internet and hated by trolls? Well, then you know it's a keeper. This is certainly my favorite thing written this year and I suppose that's because I wrote it... because I had to. It was difficult and slightly painful but completely necessary. I have a feeling it was the same for many of you.


FAVORITE SUMMARY POST
THINGS NO ONE WILL TELL FAT GIRLS: THE G-RATED VERSION: Unshelved created the greatest illustration that summarized the Things No One Will Fat Girls book in the most perfect way. It only seemed fitting to share with a brief explanation- curse free.


FAVORITE RESOURCE POST
20 DIVERSE, BODY POSITIVE BOOKS FOR KIDS THAT YOU DEFINITELY NEED IN YOUR HOME: Gone are the days where you could only find a couple books that talked about body image for children. I did some digging and found 20 fantastic options for those short shelves in your homes.

Also see: The Resource tab for 200+ links/books/blogs/helpful things for adults too.


FAVORITE REMINDER POST
 A QUICK REMINDER ABOUT SHINY THINGS ON THE INTERNET: It's a short and sweet post, but one I've come back to often. Life isn't linear, functioning at 150% isn't sustainable, and comparison solves nothing. Actually, because my life is currently in social hibernation mode... I'm going to go back and read it one more time. Thanks for this, Self!


FAVORITE GUEST POST
IN PRAISE OF THIN ALLIES: I'm so grateful for guest posts and for the amazing individuals that allow me to share their work. This post perfectly encapsulated how I personally feel about allies within the FA movement and I'm thrilled Ragen allowed me to share it here!

"The Ultimate Bra Guide" by Cora was a close second.


FAVORITE OUTFIT POST
I WEAR WHAT I WANT: UNICORN DRESSES FOREVER: There clearly isn't anything that beats a $20 pink unicorn dress. I say clearly because when this post went up, hundreds of us purchased one on the spot. There are few things that make me giddier than thinking of hundreds of fat babes rocking unicorn (and dinosaur!) dresses. We make such a good team and I anticipate more unicorn things will find their way into my life!


FAVORITE "MORE TO COME" POST
6 PLUS SIZE TRAVEL INSPIRATIONS: Traveling is a tricky subject when it comes to body size. I've never seen the internet lose it's shit more than when talking about flying while fat. And because of this, many of us are terrified to get on a plane, explore other cultures and step into the unknown. So I put together 6 plus bloggers who are doing JUST THAT.

Travel is also steeped in privilege which adds to the "tricky" factor, but I'd like to post a little more about it in 2017 because I think challenging our body based fears is important.


FAVORITE UPDATE POST
WE'RE ENGAGED, OUR PUPPY LOOKS LIKE A MUPPET AND OTHER IMPORTANT LIFE THINGS: I love writing update posts though they are often long, ramble and include things that are only important to... uh, me. Regardless I post them because I love to and this particular entry was the perfect reminder that yes, some good things did happen for me in 2016.

Though the dog struggle is still real, guys.


FAVORITE "NO ONE WANTS TO READ BUT EVERYONE SHOULD" POST
WHY OUR CURRENT POLITICAL ISSUES HAVE EVERYTHING TO DO WITH BODY POSITIVITY: I find myself struggling to put my thoughts into words lately (this does NOT make writing a book easy FYI) but I forced myself to sit down and write about the most important thing I could think of- how all marginalized groups and their oppression are connected. How as plus sized white women (which many of us here are), our fight is not separate from the discrimination we see outside of our lives.

This is hard to read, I know... and sometimes it seems easier to just focus on ourselves. But it's not enough. It hasn't been and it's certainly isn't enough anymore. I don't have all the answers and I'm not an expert on this subject but I feel it's important conversation to have. I hope we start having it more often.

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If you had another fav, feel free to share! And here's hoping that 2017 has some good moments in it too.

I WEAR WHAT I WANT: RETRO DRESS PERFECTION


Right now, my life is full of: Ella Fitzgerald's crooning, half moon manicures, Melmac dining sets, 1940's makeup tutorialssteam set curlers (thanks Kelly Ann!), Count Basie's Orchestra and vintage dress experimentation. 

I've been completely and totally seduced by 1940's (and 1950's, to be honest) style and I think it's it's about time I shared some of it with YOU... starting with dresses!

I've been trying dozens of vintage style dresses on Amazon in hopes of finding some affordable options for all us fat babes. (Hat tip to the Amazon Return Department for taking care of all the dresses that didn't fit... there were many.) Luckily, I've found some that do work and they (+ fitting tips) are below!


Shop this outfit:

1950's Cocktail Party dress in XXL  ($28-38. See below for fit details)
1940's style slingback heels  (Dressier alternative here!)
Glasses (I just ordered these and can't wait!)
Lip paint (I'm a drugstore die hard)


After trying on 25 dresses and returning 19, this is what I've learned:

Most vintage style dresses/brands run a couple sizes too small. If you're a size 18 or smaller, you will likely be able to fit into any plus dress you like! Yay for you! I, however, am not a size 18. More like a 22/24 (depending on the brand) but a determined 22/24 and so while I stuffed all those tiny dresses back into their envelopes I promised myself I'd keep looking until I found something that fit.

And then I found GownTown.

GownTown is gorgeous. Gorgeous and the best option I've found so far (I wore this dress of theirs for the holidays) because it provides the most important thing when it comes to fatshion: STRETCH.
Four tips for shopping their line:

  1. The 92% Polyester, 8% Spandex blend is your best friend. These are super stretchy and offer a lot of wiggle room. Check the dress description for this!

  2. Note but don't obsess about the measurements. Their XXL can fit a 22/24 and some may even fit a 26, depending on the cut and stitching. Make sure to note #1 and #4 if you're looking to fit larger bodies!

    If you're 26/28+ I highly recommend Eshakti's custom retro dress section; they are to die for.

  3. The bust area runs small on all of these dresses. If you're a plus size babe with a small chest THIS IS YOUR LUCKIEST DAY! LIVE IT UP!

    Those with larger busts- just look for styles that have more room up top and utilize those free returns when needed! I had 50/50 luck with this area as a 42DD.

  4. If you have extra large upper arms- sleeves that don't have extra reinforcements (Ex: this dress doesn't whereas this dress does) are likelier to fit and fit comfortably. If you're concerned, go for those! Note: this short sleeve dress and this sleeveless dress are my favs.

Note: Wellwits also runs larger like GownTown compared to other brands. The above applies to them as well!



These shoes are everything I've ever dreamed of after writing this Peggy post months ago. They're slingback platforms with the perfect 1940's silhouette... and they're really comfortable which makes it that much more of a win.

This look isn't necessarily authentic to a decade (I've mixed a 50's dress, 40's shoes and a modern orange lip because: my life my rules, right?) but I love it just the same. There are a few eShakti dresses in the mail which means perhaps there will be a genuine vintage look headed your way soon!

Until then, lets both go binge watch Season 1 and 2 of Agent Carter, shall we?

P.S. Where do you find your favorite vintage dresses? I'd love to know.
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