All photos belong to Jes, unless otherwise noted! (c) The Militant Baker. Powered by Blogger.

I'M COMING TO PARIS!


This is a very fake photo of my very real excitement about the fact that I'm going to be coming to visit all of you in Paris on December 15th*!

While I've known about this for months, I didn't mention it publicly because to be completely honest... it sounded too good to be true. But the plane tickets are purchased, a coat is on it's way AND THIS IS  SHIT IS HAPPENING FOLX!

Here's the coolest part: I'm coming to participate in a anti-fatphobia (the French term is anti-grossophobia which essentially translates into "body positive") event that the city (specifically the Mayor and Deputy Mayor) is hosting. What a magnificent thing to have happen in France and I'm so honored to be asked to be a part of it.

I feel like this is monumental enough to warrant it's own blog post, don't you?!

"As part of Anti-Discrimination Week, on December 15th , the Paris City Council is organizing in the salons of the Hôtel de Ville a public event to fight against grossophobia in the presence of Anne Hidalgo, Mayor Paris, and Hélène Bidard, Deputy in charge of gender equality, anti-discrimination and human rights.

Activists, bloggers, academics, health practitioners, education professionals, fashion and garment industry representatives will discuss this specific form of intolerance. It is characterized by openly negative, discriminatory, and even aggressive attitudes towards people of high stature.

Jes Baker, activist, blogger and pioneer of body positivity in the United States will be the guest of honor of this day.

This day will also be the opportunity to unveil a manifesto carried by the City and signed by different personalities.

Finally, a militant fashion show will conclude the afternoon."

You guys. A MILITANT FASHION SHOW. 

If you're in the area and would like to come, you can find out more information and reserve a spot here!

I simply can't wait to meet all of you!

*Yes, I'm totally aware that I'm drastically under-dressed for winter weather but don't worry! I'll bundle up!

THREE PRINTABLE SIGNS (+ TIPS) THAT WILL MAKE YOUR HOLIDAYS MORE ENJOYABLE


I'm headed to Minnesota today to meet the Midwestern branch of my partner's family tree, also known as: the side that I am about to charm the shit out of.

And while I'm excited to experience actual cold weather, stay in a rural house that doesn't have Wi-Fi (what!?!?), learn how Minneapolis likes to karaoke and listen to his grandfather tell the same joke seventeen times... I'm also weary of spending a holiday dinner with a group of people who may be unfamiliar with body autonomy or the concept of food neutrality.

I've been fortunate to have frequent get-togethers with my family here in Tucson, most of which are completely food neutral. But this experience is pretty uncommon and it's unfortunate rarity was quickly proven after I asked a few readers what sort of comments friends or family members have said to their face during past holiday meals.

The responses, while anticipated are still appalling:


  • "Do you really need all that?! Aren't you big enough?"
  • "You can't eat any more" 
  • “I really don’t see the point in (dessert) when we just had A good meal”
  • "Leave some for the rest of us"
  • "Shouldn't you be eating less?"
  • "At least make an effort to loose weight and stop stuffing yourself!" 
  • "I'd keep off the dessert, if I were you!"
  • "Don't you know how much fat and sugar that has?!"
  • " You ate that fast."
  • "Are you not doing the diet thing anymore?"
  • "That's your second plate" 
  • "Are you sure you need all that pie?"
  • "*Sigh* You’d be so pretty if you just lost some weight.”
  • "You should probably stick to salad and veggies."
  • "You're not going to eat all that salad dressing, are you?"
  • "Oh I think you have had enough." 
  • "Potatoes aren't a vegetable, you shouldn't have so many. You need to eat more vegetables." 
  • "You really ought to keep in mind how many carbs are on your plate."
  • "Do you think you should have that?"
  • "You're gonna get fatter eating that and then no man will want you."
  • "You have such a pretty face. Don't ruin your body more."


The list goes on and ON.

These sorts of comments (not to mention the unspoken judgmental stares or side-eye glances) are clearly customary for tons of people but they aren't the only thing that can make visiting home/people you haven't seen in a while/relatives difficult.

I have a few simple tips for you if you're feeling anxiety around this holiday season while preparing for a visit:

  1. Implement the "Rental Car Theory". My therapist often mentions how hard it can be to visit people you have a long (and often complicated) history with, regardless of how much internal work you've done. She suggests using the "a rental car" theory to claim some independence. Maybe you can rent a car in the literal sense so you have control over when and where you go but this concept can also translate into allowing yourself some time alone. This can be a room, a walk around the block or giving yourself permission to leave early.
  2. Create a support system.  Mentally plan a list of some people you can call, a designated person you can talk to while there or even bring a body positive book with you. Have an external way to ground yourself while in the midst of chaos.
  3. Prepare your boundaries and responses beforehand. Something I often hear from fat folx is that they struggle to vocalize their needs or advocate for themselves when they are under attack and this applies in all kinds of circumstances. This is completely understandable. It feels impossible to come up with an effective response when you're not only caught off guard, trying to subdue learned shame AND attempting to deal with the situation in the moment.


THAT LAST SUGGESTION, dear friends, is why I have created some handy-dandy signs for you to print out and take with you this holiday season. Not only do they offer some phrases that you can use verbally but you can ALSO skip the chat all together and simply flash the sign of your choosing instead.

Allow the offending person a moment to read it and then, of course, promptly resume your holiday enjoyment.

One of my favorite memes is a girl standing on an enormously high ladder with binoculars with a caption that reads: "Me looking for who the fuck asked you?" It is every feel I  have about food policing all in one image. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend peeking at it here.

Three printable signs to ensure ultimate holiday meal enjoyment: 




And of course, my personal favorite (made for those with extra food-policey relatives or for those who simply don't have time to beat around a goddamn bush):


There are additional black and white versions of each sign to download and print because color is expensive AF:

 You can download these versions here: 

Note: each of these signs were made to be printed out on a regular 8 1/2 x 11" sheet of paper but feel free to adjust as you see fit!

How to implement these signs after printing them out:




  1. Adhere a Popsicle stick to the back with tape
  2. Tape a paint mixing stick to the back (duct tape recommended)
  3. It's apparent that Curious George just chopped off the end of a broom handle, so I guess that works too
  4. If you forget to prepare a handle, use something sticky at the dinner table and use a butter knife to hold it up. Bonus points if you just use a fork to stab the bottom twice so you can weave the prongs in and display it when needed.
  5. Print it on one half of a paper, fold it into a freestanding sign and place in front of your plate before the meal even begins
  6. Tape it to your head
  7. Just hold up the damn thing whenever needed


Whatever way you choose, I fully support you and your self-advocacy this holiday season!


And who cares if you love syrup on your spaghetti? All the more power to you, my friend.

Just remember these three important facts: this is your life, your body and your rules.

In courageous solidarity,

WHY THE WORLD NEEDS MORE UNFLATTERING PICTURES


I'm unsure what I love most about this picture.

Maybe I love it because I'm not smiling and that's a rare thing to capture in a photo. It could be because there are magnificent rolls and stretchmarks that are unapologetically visible. It's possible that I love it because it speaks to the sentiment that "I'm fatter in real life" which makes me grin. Or, perhaps it has to do with the fact that my hair looks fucking phenomenal. More than likely, it's a combination of all of the above.

Regardless, I adore this image and I'm thrilled that I can view it through such a loving lens.

In all honesty, this is exactly the kind of picture I would have immediately deleted when I first started blogging, but things have changed in the last five years. I was unaware that my partner snapped it during one of our porch hangouts and when he showed it to me... I was stunned at how beautiful I found both myself and the image. Instead of being repulsed by my authentic body, I was entranced. This was an unexpectedly  pivotal moment for me.

It's striking in it's black and white contrast, sure. But I also loved how few boxes it checked when it comes to what we collectively imagine when we talk about "flattering" photos.

Sonya Renee Taylor, who founded The Body Is Not an Apology (seriously visit this site if you haven't already and buy her goddamn book too!) has been posting "unflattering pictures" for years and now hundreds of people have joined in on this "Bad" Picture Monday challenge.

Her reasoning behind this concept is simple: "Shame is ugly. YOU ARE GORGEOUS."

The "Bad" Picture Monday site explains:

As you read this, 300,000 people on-line are untagging, deleting, burying deep in the recesses of the junk folder, pictures they consider “bad”. Social Networking has created a digital army of perfect smiles and brilliantly coiffed heads who all believe the only pictures that should be seen are the ones where we look “good”.  “Bad” Picture Monday reminds us that there is no “bad” way to inhabit a body
GUYS. I am a huge proponent of selfies

I encourage everyone to take them, post them, share them and repeat this process until the end of time. Many skeptics ask if this suggestion is actually perpetuating negative body image; causing obsession with likes and perfection instead of focusing on day to day empowerment.

Erin Tatum who wrote "Selfies and Misogyny: The Importance of Selfies as Self-Love" says:


-----
"Unsurprisingly, there’s no shortage of outcries from those who believe that selfies are emblematic of our collective cultural decay in a world oversaturated by social media. After all, they argue, does the world really need to see 10 photos of you posing in the mirror of a public bathroom? [...]
However, it’s not a coincidence that many of the unsavory personality traits associated with a selfie obsession – being superficial, vain, lazy, or desperate – are also commonly used as misogynistic insults against young girls.
You may think selfies are silly, but they actually reveal a lot about society’s continued tempestuous relationship with feminism."
----
(I'll add: and with marginalized bodies as a whole)

So does selfie culture inherently harm us? Not necessarily.

The danger doesn't lie in the act of posting images of ourselves, but it can morph into something negative... it all depends on HOW we share them.

The harmful part of selfie culture can come from sharing pictures of ourselves that we alter before posting. I'm not talkin' about lighting or clarity, but of running them through Facetune or another app that distorts our appearance in a way that attempts to align us with our cultural standard of "beauty". Sharing those photos- the ones that aren't REALLY us? It's then that the likes and hearts reinforce that we aren't enough just as we are. That's a really shitty experience. Don't do that to yourself, okay?

But there IS other option and it can be life changing: when we share unedited, authentic and "real" photos of ourselves we are not only publicly saying "THIS IS ME WORLD, WHATCHA GONNA DO ABOUT IT?!?!" but additionally, any support that is given online reaffirms that our bodies are definitely okay the way they are. At the very least- we don't die of anticipated shame when sharing a body that we don't see praised in the media. That's a great experience in and of itself as well.

Of course, I'd love for our need of validation to disappear completely. But we're not there yet, and I'm okay with taking baby steps as we figure out social media and it's power.

It's important to remember that there is an even bigger outcome that comes from selfie culture: we are flooding the internet with our diversity. Companies are no longer the only ones dictating the bodies we see; we play a part in that narrative too. We are leading the body image conversation more than ever before. YAY, US!


BUT I ALSO WANT US TO TAKE IT ONE STEP FURTHER

I want more "unflattering" photos; not just unedited images. I want to see more I wanted to delete this SO HARD but I didn't and shared it instead photos. I want to see pictures that take a moment to contemplate before sharing... and then to see them posted anyways.

There is a surprising amount of empowerment and freedom in this. Erin continues:

----

"The real anxiety with girls and selfies is that selfies might provide girls with the means to create their own positive image of themselves, thereby severely diluting the impact of outside opinion. 

If your confidence comes from within, you can’t be controlled as easily."

---

I've made a point to try and share "trash-bin worthy" photos of myself since I began blogging. Posting double chins while jumping, cellulite highlighted on my legs, close-ups of my sideburns (courtesy of PCOS), nearly naked photo shoots captured by other photographers and other images that I've had to take a deep breath before hitting publish. Honesty was important to me, sure, but... it was more selfish than that. It was a visual way to personally shove shame aside and watch myself survive millions of people seeing my body as it is every day.

It's amazing how much braver you become with every "post" button you hit. I'm finding that with each step that I take outside my comfort zone, the bolder I become.

Which brings me back to the picture at the top of this post.

I present to you: my stomach covered in visible stretch marks. Rolls that form under a tight bra. My face without the "smile" that we often demand of women. My lack of "good-naturedness" that is expected from fat folx to compensate for our body size.

It's me, in a serious and candid moment. Here I am, just as I am. Offering this publicly and without an apology.

And now? Now it's your turn, my friend.


-----

ETA: Remember that the concept of flattering is a social construct- a term used to personally assess how closely we (or someone else) can match our cultural beauty standards. Those beauty standards by the way? Also a fabricated social construct. In short: fuck. Flattering.


COVER REVEAL: LANDWHALE


(Photo by the phenomenal Jessy Parr)


 🐳PRE-ORDER HERE! 🐳

It's happening.  It's real.  It's FINALLY HERE:

"LANDWHALE: On Turning Insults Into Nicknames, Why Body Image Is Hard, and How Diets Can Kiss My Ass"

Landwhale (a memoir!) officially has a super snazzy cover, 256 pages, a pre-order option and a place on anyone's bookshelf who wants another book to add to their collection of rad words printed on paper.

This second book (which feels quite different to me in comparison to Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls) is best summarized by the quote I used in place of a dedication:


"We have tried to prove to the thin world that we are worthy for far too long.
If you are going to be brave, be brave for the fat people."

--------------

About the book (from the professionals):

"Building on the manifesta power of Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls, this memoir goes deeply into Jes's inner life, from growing up a fat girl to dating while fat. With material that will have readers laughing and crying along with Jes's experience, this new book is a natural fit with her irreverent, open-book style. 


A deeply personal take, Landwhale is a glimpse at life as a fat woman today, but it's also a reflection of the unforgiving ways our culture still treats fatness, all with Jes's biting voice as the guide."

About the book (from me):

I wrote Landwhale from scratch; digging deep and purposefully covering topics in ways I haven't before.

I wrote about PCOS, feeling like a hobbit, 
fat sex, new realizations about my childhood that came only through writing, Harry Potter roller coasters, honest thoughts about online hatred and why skimming emails will only leave you with mortifying regret. 

I included experiences of traveling internationally while fat, Justin Warner's indefinitely open invitation to join us in a threesome, the effects of online heroism and the complicated feels that comes from having three vaginas which will make sense once you read it. I promise. 

I talk about the pros and cons of being fat, the complicated conversation around weight loss surgery AND as a bonus, I answer the Internet's most pressing question of all time: "Have you ever thought about dieting?" 

Really though, all you need to know is that it's raw, honest, vulnerable, and if I'm lucky- occasionally hilarious.

This book may have required three therapy sessions a week while writing it but it was 100% worth it. Plus, this is the COVER OF MY DREAMS, so that is hella rewarding in and of itself, right?!?


--------------

Wanna read it? Well, it is available May 8th, but in the mean time, you can pre-order it from your preferred site! You know, so you don’t forget.

10 YEARS OF SELF-PORTRAITS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO LOVE YOUR BODY NOW


While searching for some old college essays a while ago, I stumbled upon a forgotten Photobucket album that held 48 pages of memories from the last 10 years. I was thrilled to find this photographic treasure chest and eagerly clicked through them, reliving every moment that I had captured. It's so strange, the things that old photos can evoke. 

I could somehow remember the smell of my dorm room, the dust in the abandoned apartments upstairs, that specific monsoon season, those nights smoking cloves in a hoodie, that visit to a park in Baltimore, those tears on top of a parking garage, that drive to nowhere, those feelings of hopelessness, that moment of ecstatic joy, that museum trip with the Renoir exhibit, that afternoon spent listening to Jenny Watson and drinking Highlife in the backyard, that week spent on the circus train, and that cup of espresso in Venice. 

The evolution of me becoming who I am today; my many faces and multiple facets. It all came back to me with such force, it nearly knocked the breath out of me. It was unexpectedly powerful. 



I then noticed how beautiful I was in all these old pictures, and immediately connected this with how much thinner I used to be. I wasn't skinny, but I was not fat in the way that I remembered, and this shocked my nervous system in a way I can't explain.

I became hyper aware of how I felt sitting in my current body, and how I didn't see it reflected in any of the photos on my screen. I was instantly attacked by the cruel teachings of society that I've internalized my entire life.

So I wasn't as fat as I remembered back then. Why did I remember always feeling like I was twice the size that I was? How was my body dysmorphia so extreme that I felt like I was an embarrassment to those around me? Why did I hate myself so much? How could I not see?

The spiraling continued.

Maybe I'm even more of a failure now than I was then and maybe I should lose weight to become like Old Me again. Maybe I would meet more people if I looked like Old Me. Maybe I would succeed more if I looked like Old Me. Maybe I would be happier if I looked like Old Me. Maybe Old Me was better.

And then I caught myself.













I realized that Old Me hated everything about herself. I can see the beauty so clearly now, but she had no idea. She loathed every piece of her body and wished she could trade it in for anything else. Anything. Her self-esteem was nonexistent, though she pretended this wasn't the case. Old Me wanted to die instead of live in that body and I wish I could have hugged her and told her how exquisite she was.

And then I started to sob.

I sobbed for the girl that was so beautiful on the inside and the outside but couldn't see it. I sobbed for the girl who spent years missing out on magical parts of life because her perspective was poisoned. I sobbed for the girl that repeatedly punished herself for not being good enough. And I sobbed for every other person out there who believes the same lies that she did. I sobbed because these lies destroy lives.

And then my answer came. Retrieving the body of Old Me wouldn't change a thing. I'm fatter than I have ever been and somehow I happier than I have ever been. I have a career and mission in life. I have more fulfilling friendships. I am solid in my beliefs. I believe in myself and my purpose. I have learned how to heal. I have people who love me, a partner who adores me, a lover who worships me, and goals that I'm achieving.

I am the happiest I have ever been and this simply proves that happiness is not a size

Happiness is a state of being. Happiness is about finding what you love about yourself and sharing it. Happiness is about taking what you hate about yourself and learning to love it. Happiness is an internal sanctuary where you are enough just as you are, right now.







There is a comic by Toothpaste for Dinner that has a drawing of a fat man saying "I hate myself." The next frame is him as a skinny man saying "Nope, that wasn't it." Every time I read it I smile at the profound truth. It's far more difficult to treat our mind and bodies well until we learn to accept them. Nothing good comes out of finding the flaws and harboring resentment towards ourselves. 

Years ago I was more "conventionally stunning" and hated everything about my body; hurting it repeatedly on purpose. I am unconventionally beautiful now and I find myself with more good days than bad. My life is no where near perfect, but I'm learning to love myself. Just the way I am. Right now. And I am happy.

And isn't that what it's all about?


(Note: This is an updated post from 7/13 before the diluted Body Positive movement became mainstream in 2015. I left the term "body love" in the title per the original post but it's important to know that I am speaking of the concept of body liberation. You can read more about this here!)
Back to Top