Saturday, December 26, 2009

Auld Lang Suck.

Ohhhh ladies and gents of a single nature, we’re getting into that time of the year that full-on, no doubt can suck huge if you’re not partnered up, the double shot of annoyingness that’s known as New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day.

Along with the usual year-end horse puckey of making “resolutions” that all seem to circulate around losing weight and “getting healthy”, there’s such an extraordinary pressure upon pretty much the whole of civilization to be in a relationship because, after all, YOU MUST HAVE SOMEONE TO KISS AT MIDNIGHT ON NEW YEAR’S EVE DAMMIT. Well, for the first time in a gigantically long time, I’m not feeling that horrific empty ugh that would accompany me in years past. Oh, it’s not because I’ve got some sort of big reveal hidden after the cut. I’m not about to spring an Oprah-esque makeover show KAPOW moment on you. It’s because I decided to try a new tack – and of all the assorted tacks over the years that I’ve tried, it’s one that is actually working for me. That tack?

Not giving a good goddamn.

One of the major things I did for my head and my heart this year was extract my hind end out of the online dating pool. I deleted all the assorted profiles I had on eHarmony,, Yahoo personals, Plenty of Fish, and OKCupid. I found the exercise in online dating to be utterly exhausting because they didn’t seem quite able to convey...well, me to my satisfaction. There are plenty of folks who have had success on online dating sites – I just found myself excessively pissed at the end of the day at my general ineptitude/fail at it. The weird thing is that once I did that, once I took that particular stone off the seemingly infinite pile that I tend to tote around on my shoulders, I felt really...good. I was surprised, actually, at how relieved I felt to shut all that shit down. I’m sure on paper it screams “GAVE UP”, but I’m someone who is a firm believer in not doing something that causes me stress, pain, or all-around agony (much like, you know, dieting), and I just wasn’t taking any sort of pleasure in trying to explain the jist of me in 300 characters or less.

That action forced me to turn waaaay inward. I needed to do an internal inventory of just what I really, really wanted and who I really, really am. At the heart of it all, do I want to be in a relationship? What do I want out of said relationship? What am I seeking in a partner? Is it possible that said partner might not actually exist and is actually a construct of assorted male movie characters played by Hugh Jackman, George Clooney, and Steve Buscemi? And most gigantically super-importantly, if said partner never materializes, can I get through the next however many years I have left tromping around earth?

Ultimately, I think that’s the question we all have to ask ourselves because as we all know (and as the well-meaning critters around us insist isn’t the case), it’s quite possible that we will never have a romantic relationship of any significance. We have to make that peace with ourselves because ostensibly, we’ve all got a loooooooong time to dither away here on the planet and we have to make those years enjoyable – or, at the very least, tolerable. I don’t want to wake up every day feeling like I’m at the bottom of a well and spending every moment of my day trying to climb to the top of said well, you know what I mean?

My best friend Kristin is my guru, for lack of a better word. She’s one of those extraordinary people who seems in tune with the universe in general and can effortlessly whip out insights that would take the top of your head off. We were having one of our endless conversations about starting a blog together and discussing the dramatic relationship travails of a friend of hers and she said something that caused the “record scratch” sound effect to go off in my head: “Your life can’t be all about finding someone to make you ‘you’.” Mercy, did that ring my bell. I’ve spent so many years thinking that if I found the One, I would blossom in some form or fashion - basically, the Fantasy of Being Thin except replace “thin” with “in a relationship”. I couldn’t possibly be of value to the world or the people in my life because I hadn’t been anointed by the mystical God of Romance...or...something. My existence would have meaning because someone else (a male, in my heterosexual case) deemed me worthy of romantic attention. Whatever magical properties I contained on my own weren’t terribly impressive since I didn’t have a male at my side to officially communicate to my family, my friends, and the world at large that I was somebody.

Let me tell you, after quite a few brutal years, holy fuck am I exhausted of that sack of nonsense. I don’t need someone to “complete me” (sorry, “Jerry Maguire”) anymore. What I need is to be at peace with me and stop dreaming about who I could be and be who I am as I am now. When I seriously think about it and listen to those who love me...why in the high hell would I want to be different than who I am now? The very heart of me (w00t, Aragorn) isn’t an improvement project looking for someone to take charge of it. I am damn fine company – and not just for other people.

So I guess it does beg the question – if I’m not goofing around with online dating sites anymore, what exactly am I doing? The answer is nothing, and it’s the right answer for me at the present time. And I don’t know if that’ll change any time soon because I feel good about me and my life as it stands, partner-free. Do I have wistful days? Well hell, of course I do. But the good days far outnumber the bad ones (finally). I’m not in a constant state of pine for what I imagine those with partners must have that I lack and will never have. If the opportunity to get together with someone comes up and it suits me and feels right, then I imagine I’ll take the leap. And if it doesn’t, it’s not because I’m broken or have failed or am defective in some way. I have myself and I am, finally, enough.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Reminder: There are no rules in loving yourself.

I'm going to be kind of vague and I'm not going to name names or throw up links, but in my internetting travels it seems to me that there are a preponderance of stories lately about women who are embracing their bodies and loving those bodies, dammit, which is great...except that the message is quite loud like an air raid siren that the loving of said bodies only became possible after losing 10, 20, 30 pounds or more. Or "eating healthier and exercising".

Let me reiterate (and I'll have to be quick about it because the Bejeweled Blitz is calling and it's looking like the Midwest is about to have its ass kicked by snow and winter and it's really bumming me out having to mentally prepare for it): YOU DO NOT HAVE TO MEET A CERTAIN WEIGHT OR SIZE IN ORDER TO LOVE YOURSELF. Your belly, your thighs, your ass, your arms, every single frickety-fracking inch of you is eligible for embracing and enjoying and rocking and locking and popping RIGHT NOW. The crap magazines and all the other horseshit fiascoes online love to sell body acceptance, but their brand of body acceptance is only applicable to certain kinds of bodies - ergo, they aren't truly advocating for ALL of us though they do so enjoy wearing out their rotator cuffs trying to pat themselves on the back for being so edgy and progressive.

We're about to go headlong into the New Year's Resolution season. All we're going to be seeing, reading, and hearing for the next month or so is a fuckton of body-hating, self-loathing bullshit in the media and most likely from friends and family. I think the most important resolution any of us can make is to continue to be visible, continue to be seen, continue to live lives that so many seem determined to prove to be wrong, defective, ugly, faulty. We must dig in our heels and keep pushing back, keep pushing back not just for ourselves, but for everybody in every body.

Self-acceptance is not a treehouse club that only allows certain members. It is not a limited time offer for gold card holders. It's for all of us. Read more on this article...

Friday, November 27, 2009

I'm grateful to be free.

All I wanted was for someone to call me beautiful. All I wanted was attention to be foisted upon me by the male population for my body and appearance that wasn’t negative or abusive or obnoxious. I watched my thinner, more conventionally attractive girlfriends bask in the attentions paid to them and oh, did I burn with jealousy. How I wanted to be something that wasn’t “other”, something that bordered on human, with feelings and wants and desires. If I could only winnow this carcass down to an appropriate size, an appropriate shape, perhaps fix this prickly, mouthy personality of mine so as to be more appealing, more proper, I would be a good woman.

I wore my drag, I painted my face, I fixed my hair just so, and wished wished wished I might wake up pretty. That I would stop being “one of the boys” and become an object of desire for these baffling men who always seemed to find me so very fascinating and interesting and funny and smart, but never could manage to like me in “that way”, that oh so mysterious “way”.

Then I started reading things and I started thinking those deep thoughts that strike in the middle of the night like a fucking thunderbolt and realizing that my body was mine to present in any fashion I chose, with the only person required to be pleased by it being me (awkward sentence construction, ho!). No, I didn’t like the way my face looked with make-up, no I didn’t like the way I felt in sucky-in gear*, no I didn’t like using hairspray, and goddammit, I don’t care if you approve or disapprove of how I’m looking today, whoever you are.

I will never meet your standards for what you think is beautiful or breathtaking. And I am overjoyed.

*sucky-in gear: a very technical term for shapewear like Spanx and what have you. Read more on this article...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where I Get TMI On Your Asses Strikes Back.

A while ago - hell, well over a year ago - I spoke candidly about my mindset at that time, the loneliness and downright bafflement I felt as a fat woman at my inability to find someone who would love me back, my anger at my feelings of isolation from my friends because I wasn’t able to add to discussions of relationships or intimacy or what have you. Since then, some things have changed. And by gum, I’m going to TMI on your asses yet again – well, to an extent.

You might want to get a cocktail because chances are good sister’s gonna ramble for a little bit and it’ll take me a while to make a point, per usual. I may give you a miss and have absolutely no point at all, but I’m having one of those “Vomit Out Thoughts Sundays” and it’s been a long time coming. Hey, you know that sex thing is a pretty fine thing. Yes, I finally jumped that particular shark and engaged in frank adult behavior with another consenting adult, and it was quite a delightful experience. I’m going to do my darnedest not to get into the gories, but I want to speak on it for a moment from the “holy shit, what if he/she is horrified by my fat ass/belly/thighs/etc.” angle. I would say that one of the Fantasies of Being Thin (tm Kate Harding) for me was that once I was thin and luscious and muscular and buff that I would rampage through the countryside, bedding men near and far, but NOT until I was that thin/luscious/muscular/bufferton. It was nigh impossible for me to believe with any conviction that I could conjure up wood. I believed me and my carcass to be a boner killer of the highest regard or, at the very least, said boner owner (that is SO fun to say) would have to be exceedingly high or wickedly drunk in order to produce in my presence.

Was I ever wrong. Also, I was always rather panicked that if the opportunity presented itself that I would be so wrapped up in how I looked or how he thought I looked that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself in the least. The first time I was in a naked state in front of someone that wasn’t a medical professional, I stopped mentally comparing myself to all the thin women whose bodies I coveted and my body was body. And it – me, I, we, WOW, HEY - was doing some really awesome shit. Since digging in and enveloping myself in fat acceptance, my relationship with my body has become a downright lovefest compared to life pre-FA, but even after digesting and repeating and believing all the good stuff about being a worthwhile, decent person who happens to be fat, the little voice that says “shyeah, whatever” still has a voice, as we all know. The little voice wanted to interrupt and whisper in my ear, “ewwwww, aren’t you a horror”. Luckily, the “WOW HEY NEAT!” voice was waaaay louder.

Despite being a fully-growed adult woman, I still have days where I think about...things, and I’m stunned it happened. I spent so many years – SERIOUSLY SO. MANY. YEARS. – thinking about why and what I was doing wrong and what I was supposed to do to fix it and why it wasn’t working when I would try to fix it, whatever in the hell “it” was – that the “holy CRAP *astonished face*” has yet to go away. I mean, I do try to be somewhat cool...but it doesn’t always work. Allowing myself to finally believe that goddammit, I am someone’s cup of tea was incredibly freeing and, strangely enough, made me realize that I will be absolutely okay and fine and happy if I’m never someone’s cup of tea ever again. And I would have been okay and fine and happy if I’d never been a cup of tea. Of course, saying that is easy, as I *was* a darn fine cup of tea.

Yeah, I know, I don’t know what the hell I’m trying to say, either. Anyhoo. The love part? Well, that’s a bit more complicated. I’ve spent some time analyzing the men I have loved (or tried to, at any rate) and my particular “style” of loving, if you will, is to love AT those I want to love me back. I’m very much a “look at me, look at me, look at how awesome I am!!!!” kind of woman. I both show and tell, shall we say. I overcompensate for my imagined flaws with material things and epic dissertations as to why I love who I love. I try to love my intendeds into submission, basically. I think my brain believes that if I wear my target out, he’ll have no other option but to love me back. Hell, when I was a little girl, I would chase the boys around the playground, tackle them, and then kiss them. The game was called “Kissing Monster”. Finally, a teacher named Mr. Rossi had to hold me back and explain to me, “Boys don’t like it when you kiss them”. Oh, you prescient man.

Despite being in a bit of a limbo at present, my mind is so much quieter these days. The work I have been doing on my mind and my self has been difficult and I do still have a goodly cry when the mood strikes, but there is much more peace in my head and in my heart – and not just because I had me some intercoursage. It is a hard-won peace. I’m sure I have more battles ahead, but at least one – the one with myself that raged for years and years – has come to a close.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quick Snits

Just a friendly reminder from Hollywood - it's impossible for George Clooney to act like he's falling in love with you if you're "as big as a house", according to producer Ivan Reitman. Reitman, one of the producers of son Jason's film, "Up In The Air", sat down at a round table with the Hollywood Reporter with other successful movie producers and brought up this delightful nugget when asked how his relationship with a director differs when the director happens to share his DNA: (bolding courtesy of me and the magical bolding feature)

Reitman: I have to stop being his father, I have to be his producer, which is a subtly different job. I'd say the biggest disagreement we had was over Vera Farmiga, who is a wonderful actress but she was eight months pregnant about two months before he started shooting. He said "Look, I wrote it for her, I think she'll be perfect." And she was as big as a house! As a producer, I have to say to him, "I know she's a great actress, she's going to be great in it, but she's got to be someone George Clooney is going to fall in love with." There were all kinds of actresses who wanted to play this part, bigger names than Vera was at that moment, so I kept saying, "Well, how about her?" But he just hung in there. I had to really defend his decision, and I know he agonized about it enormously. There were a couple rough opening scenes -- first days -- that he reshot at the end of the schedule to give her a little more time to get into shape. Apart from that, there was really no downside.

Behold, readers, Vera Farmiga pregnant:

And unpregnant at the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of "Up In The Air" earlier this year:

Oh Hollywood.

Fuck you.


Jane C. Nolan

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Greetings, funky retailer.

Hi, Eastern Serenity!

I suspect I landed on your catalog list due to my patronage of the cats at the Pyramid Collection. When I received your catalog, I was quite intrigued. I'm in the market to do a little holiday shopping and like to get things that are unique. I also like to support independent artists and crafters and such, so I eagerly dove into the Eastern Serenity catalog a bit ago (seriously, like, 20 minutes ago). Many very lovely handcrafted items, yes indeed. Many bags and yoga bags and decor for the home, good good. The clothing, of course, stops hard at size 14. There are a few clothing items tagged as "one size fits all", which is horseshit a good...oh, 90 percent of the time. But none of that made me raise any particular part of my eyebrow because, hey, it's not unusual. I get that. But the thing that kind of...annoyed me a bit is that you're selling these:

...and the catalog description is this: "Six yoga poses assumed by a vigorous set of life-affirming bronze statues." Okay, so far, so good, I'm feeling it. "The Rubenesque figures are bursting with energy and vitality" - yes, by gum, they certainly are! I may very well unleash some kudos, look out! " - reminding us that health and exercise aren't exclusively reserved for people who match the prevailing media images of what the human form should look like." Well, that's pretty awesome, Eastern Serenity. I like that nice little shot at mainstream media ideals, that warmed a good millimeter of my cold, dead heart. But my kudos have to be half-enthused because while you're giving me some HAES-esque lip service, you don't offer fucking clothes that I can buy and wear.

Okay, I'm sorry about the swearing, but come on. According to your catalog, "Our collection is sourced directly. We don't purchase items from wholesalers, dealers, or middlemen. We support creativity and excellence in our product selection and supplier choices. The craftsmen, designers, and artists we choose to work with are often copied by less original organizations, but we insist on purchasing from the original sources to ensure high quality workmanship and materials." So how about asking those craftspeople, designers, and artists to throw my fat ass a bone because I suspect my fat ass isn't the only fat ass that would like to drape a fat ass in something nice from your catalog. And my fat ass, thankfully, luckily, has money to put clothes on my fat ass. Money that I'd love to direct to something other than stores with names that sound like "Schmane Schmyant" or "Schmorrid".

So, in closing, Eastern Serenity, you've got some lovely (and pricey, Christ) jewelry and bags and knickknacks and whatnot, but I have to give you a big fat PFFFT in the clothing department at the present time. And no, "one size fits all" does not count.

Yours sincerely,

Jane C. Nolan
Casual Blasphemies

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

This is who I am.

You know, I was all souped up to write a blog today that was full of anger at myself because I went clothes shopping and I was horrified at what I saw in the mirror. I was horrified at the shape my body’s in – the literal shape of it. I’m not the hourglassy big-boobed, big-assed fat girl with curves that go kablam, I’m the deathfat small boobed, big-bellied, backfatted flat-assed fat girl with curves that go in all the wrong ways. I was horrified as the clerk at the Lane folded my new pants and I swear they sounded like a truck stop gigantor American flag that is the size of a football field unfurling. It didn’t help matters that I was shopping with my inbetweenie sister who was able to buy all sorts of cute things and all the while bitching about what a fat hog she was.

Things didn’t improve when I got home and went to a message board and read posts filled with hate and disdain for people like me, people fat like me, people that purport to be my friend or friendly with me spewing this hate and disdain but would be the first to screech, “But I don’t mean youuuuu!” And the hate and disdain was just so fucking casual, so infuriatingly breezy, because me and others like me are subhuman, barely worth the oxygen we inhale, barely worth the space we take up unless we proclaim that we are “trying” and we’re so very sorry for sullying your view and we promise that one day, we’ll be thin, honest. But they don’t mean me, they never mean me, except when they mean me and shake their heads at how unhealthy I must be and how miserable I must be and how I’d be such a better person if I just wasn’t know.

And I bought it all for a while, I was deep inside my head and going through all the familiar rigmarole of what I “needed” to do to “get back on the horse” and “exert some self-control”. Then I took a wander over to Jezebel and read this article and naturally, this paragraph leapt out, grabbed me by the shoulders, and gave me a good shake:

Large women are a lot like killer whales. Desperate for attention, consume massive amounts of raw fish, and need to be taught right from wrong on a pretty regular basis. By sleeping with a chubby gal who thinks that her double D breasts are, in any way, attractive is just fooling herself. If breasts, regardless of size, are propped up by a sumo-sized stomach, it doesn't count as sexy and by looking at them you're just re-enforcing bad behavior. Do you want to be part of the problem? Or part of the solution to try to get fat girls off of the streets and on a one way sewage barge to Australia.

The hate’s kind of breathtaking, isn’t it? And it’s hate that’s acceptable, appropriate, and oh so hiiiilarious because we’re subhuman, remember? Thing is, it’s not having the effect the epic, epic pile of excrement was hoping for. This sort of loathsome nonsense, coupled with the loathsome half-truths vomited out by the ill-informed only fuels my fire, it only makes me work harder, and be more determined that I will not accept that I am only as worthy as my size will allow. I will work as long as I have to so people aren’t consumed with self-hate like I was, like so many of us were, like so many of us still are, burning years of our lives swearing it’ll be better, different, do-able the second we’re thin, pretty/handsome, perfect.

I’m sure I’m repeating myself – I’d wager that I’ve said a variation on this a good...bazillionty times since the inception of this blog. I’ll repeat this message until I fall over dead because it’s a message that needs to be screamed on an endless loop, screamed into a din that is at the volume of jet engines, and maybe I’ll lose my voice before I make any significant dent in the utter insanity that is gripping our society. But I will continue writing what I write and saying what I say and believing what I believe because I don’t think I have a choice in the matter.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Off Topic: Some 20 years.

I am a nerdular fan of Nine Inch Nails. Very nerdular. NIN is a band that I was down with from the very beginning – the beginning which happens to be 20 years ago today, the 20th anniversary of the release of NIN’s debut record, “Pretty Hate Machine”. It rapidly became the soundtrack of the latter half of my junior year and a goodly part of my senior year of high school (alongside “Disintegration” by the Cure, of course) because I was extremely, extremely angry at that point in time.

I was in a massively fucked up unrequited love sort of situation that picked at my self esteem and picked at my wobbly brain chemistry and picked at my ego (which was shockingly enormous, based on journal entries from that general time period and my own recollection). The object of my affection, which doubled as my best friend, knew how I felt and exploited it time and time again, humiliating me and coloring my relationships for years. At one point, I considered suicide. What saved me was I wanted to see what kind of awards I would get at the end of my senior year for all the activities I was involved in. Once that was done, I swore, I would end it all. My ego saved my life, which is why I stroke it so lovingly to this day. After yet another humiliating event that I can’t bring myself to go into at the present time, I finally dismissed him out of my life with a phone call that I ended with “I can’t see you anymore”. Click, done, over, free.

But it wasn’t over, not really – the jerkwad douchebag dungfuck assholes that we encounter in our lives may eventually exit our lives, but they always leave a trace, a hint of stink. And his scent lingered over me for a very, very long time. I spent most my twenties in a fairly solitary state, living alone in the city of Chicago and going to work, renting movies, smoking cigarettes, venturing into the suburbs on the weekends to see my family and my couple of friends that lived out there as well. I wrote screenplays and would send unsolicited manuscripts of “The X-Files” out to Fox (I did manage to get a couple episodes to the reader stage), but for the most part, I kept to myself because I had learned that to be vulnerable, to be honest, to be an open book was asking to be terrorized, mocked, and humiliated. I was incredibly lonely. I watched my friends couple up, get married, and well-meaning friends would always say, “I don’t understand why you don’t have anyone”. Well, I did. I mean, problem number one: I never went out of my apartment! Problem number two: I was convinced that me fat = hideous horrible awful ugly disgusting smelly rotten poopy. My personality in general was (and is) kind of a hard sell, so to couple it with a body that didn’t look the way I wanted it to look? Oh, hell no and then some. Of course I was dieting through all of this mishmosh. On and off and on and off and lose and gain and lose and gain. Let me tell you, I was a pile of sunshine and delight.

But somehow – I couldn’t tell you how because at 37, I’m finding it very hard to remember the details of anything that happened before 34 or 35 - I emerged out of my twenties fairly intact and discovering the world again via the internet, of all things. I started being social again with folks both online and off. My urge to diet dialed back, though I hadn’t quite seized onto the concept of fat acceptance yet. I was approaching some semblance of peace. Not contentment, mind you, that is something that eludes me somewhat, though I can feel it nearing, but a peace with myself, a self that I beat the shit out of for so many years because of the actions of one single jerkwad douchebag dungfuck asshole. Not that I completely stopped beating the shit out of myself, oh no no no. I still take a swing every now and then. I was feeling good, feeling confident, doing my thing. Then, one day, while out in the suburbs visiting the family, I went into a grocery store while my dad and sister waited in the car at the curb. I was walking down an aisle when I spied the jerkwad douchebag dungfuck asshole and his wife and their kid. I’ve experienced many things in my life, but I had never felt the kind of utter fright and terror I did when I saw them. I hadn’t spoken to him in 10 years or more and as I started to shake, I knew there was no way in hell that this day was going to be the day I’d break that streak. The item I’d been sent in to find wasn’t something that was difficult to find (we’re talking, like, a loaf of bread), but I couldn’t find it and I ran out of the store and climbed into the car, still shaking and begging my dad to drive away as fast as he could.

Later, I berated myself for having such a reaction. I should have marched straight up to him and been cooler than cool (ice cold). I should have made up an exotic boyfriend to show him that he hadn’t destroyed my ability to connect romantically with someone! I should have should have should have ohhhhhhh for God’s sake, I did the right thing running out of the store like I did because my brain knew I needed to protect myself. I had a ways to go, but a few years later when I got a MySpace message from him telling me that he figured I was the kind of girl who would let bygones be bygones, I wasn’t a gelatinous sobbing mess for the next few days. I muttered, “oh, go fuck yourself” and clicked “delete”.

When I think about the me that was 20 years ago, I’m occasionally shocked that I survived because I have a long memory for my excruciating miseries and missteps, so much of which was accompanied by Nine Inch Nails. The electronic cacophony and driving guitars and the rage that Trent Reznor wrote and sang about served as a comfort for me because NIN was the first band that really, really got the roiling, unsettled landscape that was my brain and my heart and gave it a sound and gave me the opportunity to scream it out, exorcise it. Earlier this year, Trent announced that NIN would be playing its final shows for a very, very, very long time (if not the last time) and I managed to get a ticket for one of the Chicago shows. My life is quite different than when I first listened to “Pretty Hate Machine” – hell, it’s different than when I first listened to “The Slip” in 2008. Instead of the show serving as a way for me to vent all the unhappiness that was filling me up, I had the chance to celebrate myself and the fact that I have survived. As Trent says in “Hurt”, “I am still right here”. I may never be able to explain precisely how I managed it, but goddamn am I grateful I did.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Not so much fluffy as just plain fat.

I would like to be able to whip out a merry tra-la-la kind of post, but I’ve got things gnawing at me like they tend to do. They’re just small things, the kind of innocuous, little things that I tend to write about – you could call it my “small stuff-ing it”, I suppose. I’ve noticed that more often than not, it’s the small stuff that gets stuck and chews and grates on me, while bigger stuff seems eminently easier to handle, easier to process. And when I say it gnaws and chews and grates, it’s more that they’re things that make me clench my fists and swear quite vigorously and write e-mails that have many words in capital letters...and then I’m playing Peggle and being entranced by rainbows and unicorns (literally).

But goddamn, it pisses me off when I’m watching a favorite show or reading a blog or something from someone I enjoy and they whip out a fucking fat joke or go on a bitch about fat people.

Case in point, “Dirty Jobs” on Discovery. Hoo boy, do I enjoy that show a bunch. I enjoy Mike Rowe. I enjoy his humor (mostly) and how he doesn’t treat the folks he’s working alongside like they’re dummies or somehow “beneath” because they’re doing jobs that others would say they’re simply too “good” to do. I enjoy Mike Rowe when he’s shirtless. But I did not enjoy it on this week’s episode when Mike trotted out the old har-dee-har-har, “dating a fat girl is like riding a moped – it’s a lot of fun, but you don’t want anyone to see you doing it”. Oh dear, what a...kneeslapper? See, when I was younger, I did what a lot of fat people tend to do – we do the whole “oh, I’m going to insult myself first before anyone else does” when we’re in social situations. We launch the volley of fat jokes and self-deprecating remarks just so you can be assured that:

a) we know we’re fat
b) we know you’re disgusted by us
c) we’ll do our darnedest to entertain you so you don’t rip on us too hard once this social interaction has come to a close

And, in grand fat tradition, if someone makes some sort of fat joke, it behooves us to find it just as funny as everyone else because – all together now – ”I DON’T MEAN YOU”. (I wish I could insert a grand, operatic “TA DA!!!!!!” right now.) I swear to Christ, that’s one of those phrases, along with “you have such a pretty face” and “I only like you as a friend” that if I had a buck for every time I’ve heard it, I would be writing this from my ultra-cool underground lair that would be heated appropriately because HI SUBURBAN CHICAGO, I AM NOT READY FOR THE CRAZYCOLD YET. Uh, sorry, I digress, mainly because I’ve had to stop and blow warm air on my hands.

They don’t mean you, they don’t mean us, because we’re their friends, their sidekicks, their loyal pals, the ones who listen to all their bullshit and then flee the moment we might want to have a moment to discuss what’s going on in our lives. Okay, I might be spinning things a bit bitterly. And I should say to all of my friends who read this, I...uh, don’t mean you. But you feel me, readers. Because I would venture to say more of us than not have had that awkward moment where someone we’d tag as being a dear friend or a beloved family member spews out a fat joke or rattles off some sort of casual fat loathing/expression of disgust for fat people and we either half-heartedly chuckle or just stare in horror at them. And when it comes on the heels of maybe feeling like said friend or family member might not be quite so reciprocatey when it comes in the General Support Department...I’ve felt a lot of feelings in my life (that may be the most awful sentence I’ve ever typed, but roll with me), but few things feel worse than when someone you trust basically lets you know they think you’re a horrific piece of shit, someone – hell, something - worth only mockery and derision.

“But Jane,” you might say, “they’re not talking about you, remember? They don’t mean you!” The problem with the whole “I don’t mean you” thing is that it’s an excuse – it’s an excuse along the lines of “but one of my best friends is ____!” It’s not necessarily a conscious decision on the speaker’s part – I’d wager that if Friend Z tells a fat joke, zie’s not thinking in zie’s head, “I am going to tell a fat joke just so I can make Jane feel like shit and THEN I’m totes going to tell her that I don’t mean her!”. Mike Rowe didn’t bust out the “fat girl/moped” gag thinking about the fat women he might piss off. If he has fat women that are close to him in his life, I suspect “I don’t mean you” would come flying out of his mouth at the speed of sound if he dropped that joke and got a less-than-enthusiastic response. But what the ultimate problem is is that at the end of the day, kids, you do mean us. We fats that you insist you adore, etc. are part of that pulsating, terrifying amalgamation of deadly obesity that you’re told almost every single day is responsible for just about every ill in the world, that you mock, that you hate, that anger you for existing. So when you break out the hilarious fat gags or you’re propped up on your soapbox about that lazy lardass you saw at the grocery store whose cart was filled with nothing but what you would consider “junk food”, the message you’re sending to your fat friends is, essentially, “ew on you”.

Yes, my astonishingly deep summation is “ew on you”. I can’t spin gold 100 percent of the time.

As for the instinctive response of the fat person to sputter out a collection of self-deprecating, self-insulting fat jokes, it’s amazing to me how it makes me have such a visceral reaction, particularly when it comes out of nowhere. I used to be the Queen of the self-deprecation action, but now that I don’t think it’s particularly cricket to hate myself or for anyone else to hate me or for anyone to hate themselves, it puts me right over the edge when I see it*. I challenge those of us amongst us who still fall into that reflexive position to take a 24-hour (or however long you wish) break from doing it. Just give it a whirl, even if someone serves up a “perfect” opportunity for you.

*You may be at a different point in your FA journey than me, so do take what I talk about with whatever size grain of salt you wish. Hell, as big as a salt lick for a deer if need be. Your trip will take as much time as it takes.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Subway, eat crap.

Subway is at it again, shaming those of us who are audacious enough to choose the dreaded “fast food” instead of the allegedly nutrient-packed Subway products. In the commercial I saw this evening whilst immersed in a “Mythbusters” marathon (ostensibly in preparation for the new season’s debut on Wednesday OMG CAN’T WAIT) featured a couple of fellows taking a lunch break while working in a warehouse. As one average-looking fellow was presented with his greasy bag of Satan, a voice-over intoned (and I will be forced to paraphrase because doing a Google search only caused me to crawl into the liquor cabinet), “Here’s your bag of opposite sex repellent”; then, of course, there’s the token fat guy who doesn’t know he’s fat, HAR HAR getting his bag of “the 'I’m not fat, I’m husky special'”.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Subway, the hilarity, it just burns!

Look, I’ve bitched about you before, Subway, and the bottom line is, I will never, ever patronize your establishments if my options are eating shit that is sugar-coated or eating one of your dreadful fucking subs. You started going straight to hell when you eliminated the wacky cut and topping subs with the resulting strippy bit of bread, and you sealed your fate the second you latched onto the magical tale of Jared and the Subway Diet. Your product is about as appetizing to me as stale turds in a punch bowl, and the angle your silly-ass advertising team takes even less so.

Plus, your stores have a funny smell. I don’t like you. Go away.

As for fat being an “opposite sex repellent”, I think all of those in The Museum of Fat Love would disagree with you.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

And it goes a little something like this.

I’m currently suffering from having all sorts of fragmented thoughts in my head, none of which I can wrangle into any kind of cohesive structure (or, in layman’s terms, “make sense”). Multitudes of things of a fat-related nature have been irking me and inspiring me and irking me again. And I’ve got all sorts of personal life and work life flibbertygibbetry happening (good stuff in the personal, silly-ass in the work life) which only serves to distract me more from unleashing hell. So pardon me while I riff (and pardon me for actually using the word “riff”) a bit on a few things.

As always, lots of swearing ahead.

Stop using morality-laden words to describe food. If you want to cook my goose, burn my biscuits or frost my ass, use words like “decadent”, “sinful”, or “guilty pleasure” to describe food or the ingesting thereof. “Decadent” is not a flavor; neither is “sinful”. I know I’ve said it probably…1.5 billion times already, but food does not contain morality. It does not convey upon you any sort of moral standing. If you have a salad for dinner, it does not make you a better, smarter, more fashionable, or more interesting person than if you have a cheeseburger for dinner. Watching every single thing that you put into your mouth does not make you a good person or a bad person. What makes you a bad person is you looking at what others choose to place into their mouths and declaring them to be repugnant for ingesting what they choose to. Don’t comment on what other people are eating unless it contains the words “fuck, that looks delicious” or “I think it’s moving”. If you’re unable to handle such a concept, then you should not dine with others.

Charlotte Cooper says things that make me say “YES”. In a post from September 16th, 2009, she says the following: “I don't think obesity is the problem, I think social attitudes towards fat people go a long way in affecting people's health. I think my health as a fat person is threatened by a health service that tries to withhold treatment from me until I lose weight, or tries to coerce me into profitable but unhealthy weight loss regimens; or the stress and social repercussions of being stigmatised or discriminated against, and the internalised self-hatred this can engender. I think my health is more threatened by these things than by the wobble of my belly, and that the cost to the nation of obesity-related health problems is really about what hatred costs the nation.”

“Lose weight/get fit” does not qualify as quality advice, nor does it solve your life’s problems. I’ve mentioned previously that I am an advice column junkie, from Carolyn Hax down to Judy Bachrach at (which I believe was a tip from a CB commenter). Recently, I was reading Ask Amy, which is usually an exercise in massive eye-rolling. A woman wrote in wondering how to confront a husband who might possibly be straying. Nowhere in her letter does she mention anything about her appearance, health status, NOTHING even REMOTELY resembling anything like that. It was simply an inquiry into how to deal with a husband behaving like a jackass. Amy’s response, initially, made sense (a shocking turn of events, trust me), but then rattles off a list of things she should start doing, like going to the gym to get “fit and healthy”. What in the high fucking hell does that have to do with ANYTHING? If I ask for directions to Main Street, the response shouldn’t be “well, you’ll want to join a gym so you can get fit and healthy”. The answer to “What is the capital of Wyoming” is not “the gym so you can get fit and healthy”. If I’m attacked by a cougar, going to the gym is not going to take care of the massive bite wounds I’ll have. And I don’t think the gym would look kindly at my bleeding out upon the leg press machine. Life is complicated and baffling and infuriating, and advising friends, let alone strangers, on difficult situations is a monumental task for any of us. If your go-to advice to someone is “oh, just join a gym and lose 20 pounds and all your cares and worries will disappear”, you’re a really shitty adviser.

Please strike “You’ll find someone when you stop looking” from your personal lexicon. I don’t really have anything to follow that, I just wanted to fling it out there because holy SHIT, I am tired of seeing that as another never-fails chunk of advice. If that’s the best thing you can muster up for your single friends...well, see above.

I don’t give a fuck if you’re attracted to me or not. No, really. I’m not in the fat acceptance business to demand that you must be attracted to fat people. Everyone is free to be attracted to whoever they wish to be. Where you cross my magic line, however, is shrieking that being attracted to fat people is wrong, weird, or “settling”; where you cross my magic line is when you trot out that tired-ass trope that fat chicks are better in bed because they “try harder”; where you cross my magic line is being absolutely incapable of separating your individual preferences from the preferences of others and judging those with preferences that differ from yours. Oh, and if you’re too terrified that your friends will judge you negatively for dating someone who’s fat or if you think you can magically transform your fat partner into a thin partner through “love” – really, the only phrase that comes to mind is “fuck off”, frankly. Really, I just can’t come up with anything more erudite than that.

A non-fat acceptance related pick to click: Cinematic Titanic live. My wizened cold heart just about burst with joy at the Lakeshore Theater in Chicago September 12th when I saw Cinematic Titanic live. CT is made up of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” originals Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, J. Elvis Weinstein, Frank Conniff, and Mary Jo Pehl. I was very much a Joel girl (and a Trace Beaulieu girl as well - hellooooooooo sailor) and to see them live in stereo made me all kinds of warm and nougaty inside. If you were a MSTie and Cinematic Titanic is coming to your town, go go go.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This is why you're fat.

Here's my personal answer to that website that keeps cropping up everywhere as some sort of "proof" as to why the world is eating itself to death or fat people are destroying the universe or killing the children or causing the earth to spin off its axis or whatever.

Chances are rather good that this is why you're fat. Read more on this article...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I will not be your scare tactic.

There is so much flying around my brain today. Of course, I can’t help but heed Lesley at Fatshionista’s call, and as a result of comments made today on Shapely Prose by the most delightful Fat Nutritionist and Living400Lbs, my brain that probably should have been concentrating on work items instead spun and twirled and probably spurted some glitter at some point with all sorts of fat-related things. Whether or not I wind up making sense...well, start making your bets now. (Plentiful vulgarities lie ahead)

So, the PETA billboard thing. I’ve never had a high opinion of them, so the whole “Save The Whales” horseshit isn’t surprising to me. There isn’t a group of people they won’t go after in their efforts to allegedly help animals. There’s no major **newsflash** when it comes to them – their primary interest is publicity and nothing more. The animals they purport to be dedicated to saving would be better off being as far away from this group of complete morons as possible. I’d wager there are probably TRILLIONS of animal lovin’ groups out there far better suited to helping animals than the brainless dingbat douchefucks at PETA, as PETA only cares about itself and seeing how much attention they can get. Being the twerp that I am, I get a little sad clowny when I find out actors or celebrities I enjoy are PETA people because PETA is a gaggle of assholes. If you want to support animals and whatnot, I have to imagine it’s easy to find organizations that promote animal rights without using racism or objectifying women and who actually, you know, give a rat’s ass about a rat’s ass.

PETA talk then led me to a fantastic comment from Living400Lbs on Kate Harding's article at Shapely Prose, where she responds to a portion of Kate’s piece: “We’re all just so used to the framing of fatness as “other” that no one bats an eye when people who are actually speaking to fatties only speak about and around us.

…and they reinforce this to use pictures of people like, oh, ME to illustrate studies and pronouncements on people who are overweight or slightly obese because if they admitted that only 5% of Americans are in the “death fat” category they might have problems justifying the panic."

Whenever you’re watching a news report about the AAAHHH OBESITY EPIDEMIC, you get pictures of headless death fat people going about their business. For those who might not be sure what I mean by “death fat”, it’s a description coined by Lesley of Fatshionista to describe those of us who would be classified as beyond just “chubby” or “chunky” or “fluffy” – we’re full-metal fat. Despite what the mainstream media and the general universe would like you to believe, there’s only about five percent of us in existence in the United States. We’re the poster girls and boys for terror, however; they are doing a bang-up job of convincing all of you that we are sweeping (and eating) the nation. Basically, my body is meant to serve as a scare tactic, a cautionary tale as to what MIGHT (but most likely won’t) HAPPEN TO YOU if you don’t live your life “right”. My body is supposed to horrify you, repulse you, make you say to yourself “I don’t want to wind up looking like HER.” And, in turn, my body is supposed to horrify ME. But it doesn’t – not anymore. Oh, there was a time, a long time, where I wanted nothing more than to completely disconnect myself from my carcass – which leads me to the deliciously awesome comment on the same article by the Fat Nutritionist:

“Which gets me thinking — fat acceptance is not just accepting the fact that your weight may never change, but it’s the willingness to incorporate that physical fact into your identity as a whole person. The willingness to not violently divorce yourself from your body at every verbal and mental and social opportunity.”

When I read this this morning, all I could do was say “YES! YEEEEEEEEEES!!!” (inside my head – I didn’t want to alarm my co-workers who are probably already alarmed because OMG DEATH FAT IS WORKING BESIDE THEM!). I couldn’t reconcile my inner self – my “thin self”, of course – with my outer self for years. My thin self, the “real” person that I was, the Fantasy, she didn’t have rolls of flesh or varicose veins or flibbety upper arms, no no no. My Thin Self was Linda Hamilton in “Terminator 2”, my Thin Self was Janeane Garofalo in “Reality Bites”, my Thin Self was any body but the body that I looked at in the mirror. I was the Queen of Self-Deprecatingland, I didn’t let one opportunity pass to let people know that I thought my fat ass was as horrific as (I was certain) they thought it was, what a walking punchline I was. If my appearance was remarked upon in a positive fashion, I immediately provided a list of reasons why it actually wasn’t worth any kind of positive comments. Even now, I have my days where I have a gander at my body and wish for a magical unicorn of thinness to appear and give me a whole new outer me. And then I have to remind myself that all the things I’ve done in my life I’ve done as a fat person. I’ve been to London, Paris, Australia, New Zealand, I’ve been on stage at the Chicago Theater, I’ve performed a one-woman show, I’ve sang in front of hundreds of people, I’ve kissed boys – all those things, I’ve done as a fat girl. All those things that I was told weren’t possible for me to do because I was fucking fat. When you think about it – when you really, really think about it – it’s fucking absurd. It’s fucking absurd that we exist in a world where the message is sent each and every day that if you’re fat, you shouldn’t be doing until you’re thin. And not only that you shouldn’t be doing it, but that you don’t deserve to do it. It’s absurd. Not only is it absurd, it’s downright fucking obscene. And offensive. And from my perspective, far more terrifying than this:

You want a cautionary tale? Here’s mine: I waited far too goddamned long to realize that I was good enough. I waited far too long to realize I was lovable. I waited far too long to embrace my body AS IT IS and all of the nifty things it can do. It’s your time. Don’t wait one second longer.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Taking it personally.

Embracing what is different, unusual, or goes against the grain is not something a goodly majority of the world has in its skillset. And certainly embracing something like *GASP* fat acceptance is just plain wacko in many, many, many, many people’s eyes. Now, when I come across something that doesn’t quite twirl my skirts or baffles me, my tendency is to either do research to find out more about said thing, ask people who have experience in said thing about said thing, or simply say, “okey-doke” and move on with my bad self to whatever next thing catches my interest. However, there is a certain breed of cat out there that will stomp feet and screech derision until the end of time not only about the O-beeeeeeeeeeesity Epidemic that Ees KEELING US ALL, but also absolutely anything that deviates from that cat’s personal norms.

Recently, I read a Dear Abby column in which a grandmother was given tremendous shit by her daughter-in-law for sending only $5 in a card for her grandson’s eighth grade graduation and then following said shit-blowing with a “thank you” card from the grandson that was, as expected, passive-aggressively awful. I thought it was simultaneously horrific and yet, amusing because I tend to be evilly entertained by awful people that believe being grateful and polite is for the weak. I started a conversation about it on a message board and it soon turned into a discussion about graduations and experiences with graduations. It appears that graduations vary by region – I graduated from eighth grade, while others graduated from sixth grade, and for others, the move from middle school into high school wasn’t marked at all. Which is fine and interesting and whatever, much like how I drink pop while others drink soda. However, one poster got sweaty and hyperbolic about how graduating from anything other than high school or college was ridiculous, clearly a money grab created and sponsored by the big bad corporations, it’s a waste of time and money and if ZIE was invited to anything even resembling such a thing, zie would practically take a dump on their porch for suggesting zie would endorse said practice in any way, shape, or form. It was impossible for hir to comprehend the notion that things are done differently in other parts of the country, things that will continue to go on with or without hir endorsement, and that hir outrage was fuckdiculous.

The Takin’ It Personally people (TIPPs!) are the people who paint fats as being food-shoveling, sweaty, lazy fools who are making the choice to be fat because they don’t want to stop eating Suzie Q’s and Ho-Ho’s while they lay on the couch/floor/bed, and are certain beyond any doubt that the fats are destroying America one stick of beef jerky at a time and should health reform ever come to pass, will bankrupt the system before you can say “but the population as a whole is aging and bringing with it increased medical needs because of age-related afflictions”. “The Obeeeeeeeeeeeeese/the poor/the disadvantaged/’the lazy’ are going to REACH INTO MY POCKET/PURSE/DITTY BAG and TAKE MY HARD-EARNED MONEY to support THEIR UNHEALTHY LIFESTYLES,” they rage before falling onto the nearest fainting couch in an anger-induced swoon. They’re the ones who get all sputtery and concern-trolly and eye-teary when the subject of the Fat comes up because it’s SCIENCE that all fat people are ticking time bombs of diabetic heart faily oozing death and they’re Takin’ It Personally because they want you to be the BEST you can BE and you’re only BEST when you are – ding dong, candygram! – thin. Rejecting the Fantasy of Being Thin and spreading that concept around really gets the TIPP’s drawers in a fiery uproar. I was informed by a TIPPer that Fat Acceptance was as “evil” as McDonald’s* and that people really shouldn’t have as much self-esteem as those in Fat Acceptance believes everyone should. Somehow, having a positive view of oneself means one no longer is interested in striving in improving oneself...? Oh wait, no, okay, I get it now, I get it now – the only really worthwhile improvement one should be making is shaving off those horrific, nasty pounds. Right. How on earth could I forget? Another TIPPster was quite aggrieved that I “refused” to “get healthy” and wouldn’t praise hir endlessly for hir “hard work” when zie embarked on a liquid diet. If I was a TIPPer, I might have raised a ruckus and railed against the futility of it and how I was personally offended and tearfully told hir how in the long run, zie would only be doing more damage to hirself and hir psyche by engaging in such a practice. But that’s not my style. My style is simply to reiterate again and again my personal message of self-appreciation, self-love, and self-worth being the ultimate goal, and a goal that is achievable and available for every single frickin’ person walking the earth, fat or thin; that it isn’t something that is only deserved by those engaging in societally-approved “healthy” behaviors or lifestyles or income brackets; and most importantly, isn’t impossible no matter what society or you tell yourself.

I had a TIPP approach me in the bathroom at my workplace one day – she was getting a gander at the nine stars tattooed on my left forearm as I dried my hands and the disdain was clear as she asked me The Question: “WHY would you do that?” It was quite hard for me not to respond, “WHY would you give a shit WHY I did it”, but I like to be polite to the TIPPs and speak slowly to them as if they were five-year-old children. “Because I’ve always liked tattoos, always wanted tattoos, and I like how they look,” I responded. She shook her head and tisk-tisked and smiled at me like I was a silly billy, saying as she exited the bathroom, “To each his own!” I only wish that the average TIPP actually believed that.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A hot link.

Melissa McEwan at Shakesville does damn fine deconstructing and basic "are you frigging kidding me" far better than I could ever do and she brings the rock with Evil Fatties today. Follow the link and read the rock. Read more on this article...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More To Hate.

It's weird - for whatever reason this particular week I became acutely aware of just how much out-and-out hatred is leveled at fat people. Or, at the very least, how the internet has provided a platform for such hatred to be aired. Marianne from The Rotund wrote a great piece at the Daily Beast regarding Fox's "More to Love", the dating show featuring a fat bachelor and fat women vying for his reality show-generated love (see her blog for the link). In an unusual moment of complete duh, I took a peek at the comments.

WOW. That's all I can manage is a WOW. The vitriol was overwhelming, the disdain, the hate - and there's no other way to describe it, it wasn't just "reservations", it wasn't just people having some "minor issues", this was a gleeful carnival of Hate and everyone seemed to be clamoring for a spin on the Hate-O-Whirl about how I (because I have to make it about me) am a horrible, awful person who is going to steal tax dollars and is a lazy, good-for-nothing loser (except when it comes to weight, of course, and it's SO SIMPLE TO LOSE WEIGHT YOU FAT ASSHOLE) who just really fucking sucks and ruins everything.

I don't get shaken by much. This shook me because you see, when I'm out and about in the world, I don't see all that many women that look like me:

The way the media hypes it, there should be an Army of Me rampaging across the planet, landing in hospitals using up all precious resources so as to prevent thin (read: deserving) people of them, and then we're rolling across the countryside, devouring nothing but ice cream and Fritos and Fritos in ice cream layered with chocolate and high fructose corn syrup - fuck, we BATHE in high fructose corn syrup. And we entice the weakest and most vulnerable among us, THE CHILDREN, down the chubby road to despair and heart attacks at age four, and we gleefully cackle as we completely undermine all society ONE POUND AT A TIME!

Except that's not what I see, and I don't think it's what a vast majority of people see in the everyday world, but with every headless fatty that's trotted out to symbolize "the obesity epidemic", people are convinced that they come across monstrous resource-sucking beasts each and every day. Things. Things that are less than human and don't deserve humanity unless they look and behave precisely how they're supposed to. I haven't felt like a thing in a long time, but after seeing those comments...I'm still having trouble walking it off. It is a relentless assault, day after day, no matter how disconnected from the major media outlets you may be. And I've stated before that it's not a winning game for anyone, but today, I'm focusing in on me because it's the only way I can manage to dig my heels in and find myself again amidst all this thing.

Of course, Fox's fucking "More to Love" ain't helping matters much. They claim to be trying to perform a public service of sorts by having a fat-centric dating show so the world can see "They're Just Like Us Skinnies!" The way they show that? By displaying the fat women's heights and weights onscreen whenever they do an interview with a particular contestant. You know, how they do on all the dating shows, right? *pounds head into desk repeatedly*

I know I'll get over it. I always have throughout the years, and few things fuel my fire more than some good old-fashioned defiance. But damn. Just...damn.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Why do I do this?

Being a fat acceptance activist or supporter is not…the…easiest thing to rock. It’s a two-fronter: you have the obvious battlefield of the mainstream media and entertainment and the weight loss industry and on and on, but you also have the internal battlefield that you’ve carried since…hell, BIRTH, it seems. Internal voices that at times seem way louder than the collective shriekers that get bent at the thought that fat people are, you know, human.

I’ve been having a bit of a time with those bastardly dastardly voices as of late, and even when I’m in one of my wiggier states, I can logic the shit out of my wigs. I’m less active than I’d like to be and I’m feeling it mentally, feeling it physically, and I have to ride the resulting grumps out and figure out some sort of activity that I like doing because I like being active and I love how it feels when I am active on a regular basis. Life has changed a bit on other fronts and I’m wrangling with that. My sister’s on a diet and she’s lost weight and WHY CAN’T I DO THAT SURE I COULD DO THAT I COULD YES I COULD PAY A DOCTOR WHOSE NAME SOUNDS LIKE “GODDAMN” MONEY FOR IT AND TAKE AN APPETITE SUPPRESSANT AND I COULD NITPICK AND OBSESS ABOUT WHAT I’M EATING FOR EVERY SINGLE MEAL *high-pitched unintelligible squeal*

Oh yeah, it’s been one of those…quarters. It’s been one of those quarters where something really, really lovely and wonderful and gorgeous and miraculous happened, but it was soon followed by the inevitable sneak-up of my brain to say, “oh hi, Jane [laughs]”. It’s annoying as hell witnessing the falling-over of people when they see someone who’s lost weight. I went to a family function recently with said dieting sister and of course, all talk went to a) how great she looks and b) what kind of failures everyone has been because they have been “bad” and need to do “something”. It’s just so…weird to stand there next to the Latest Marvel In Dieting Technology and listen to them be gushed at and know – you KNOW – the gusher is looking at you and thinking, “ugh…she’s so fat” (and not “fat” in that “it’s just a neutral descriptor!” kind of way, if you dig). And this quarter, that’s been irking me a fucking bunch. It makes me angry. It makes me very, very angry that my worth as a person is immediately negated, not just by strangers, but also by family because of my fat. I’m fucking angry that I can’t find clothes that I like. I can find clothes, sure, but I fucking don’t want to wear what I’m being told I’m supposed to like because I have a vagina. I’m fucking angry that I have to hear sloppily-researched, half-assed reports on the news just about every night about how I and people who look like me are villains and destroying pretty much anything and everything that’s good in the world. I’m fucking angry and I am tired, so so so very tired of suffering fools.

I’m fucking angry that fat people’s medical concerns are insty-treated with “lose weight”, as if there’s absolutely no other explanation for a malady. I’m fucking angry that people are actually questioning whether the nominee for Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, can do the job because she’s fat. I’m fucking angry that little kids are learning earlier and earlier to hate themselves because they don’t look like what they see on TV, in movies, or like other kids. I’m fucking angry that there are parents who are teaching their children that nothing matters more than thinness. I’m fucking angry that billions of dollars are made off the self-hate industry and that people with influence and a voice that others pay attention to buy right into it again and again and again (HI, OPRAH). I’m fucking angry that people cloak their prejudice in “I’m only concerned about your health”. And most of all, I’m fucking angry that there are women and men in the world who walk through their lives believing they’re not worth a sack and a half of shit simply because they’re fat, who wait and wait and torture themselves over and over and over again believing they’re only permitted fun and wonder and love when they’re thin.

I’m not the best blogger in the Fatosphere, not by a long shot. I suck at deeply analyzing studies and articles and reports because I get too (fucking) angry. My ability to coolly parse goes right out the window due to my inclination to go from zero to !!!!!!!!!!! in 2.3 seconds. I’m not the most strident blogger, either. I don’t have tales of getting into online brawls, spewing out facts and figures to counteract the “YOU’RE GONNA DIE BY 30 FATTY (just as an aside, I’m 37 and we’re all going to die sometime)/UGLY FATTY (well, depends on who you ask, I reckon)/NO FAT CHICKS (you got me there, sport)” vitriol. I refuse to return to the mindset I required in order to diet and I will not encourage others in their efforts to diet or have weight-loss surgery, but I’m not the person who will shriek, “NOOOOOO!” at them because ultimately, as I ask you to respect my right to treat my body as I wish and not make judgment or comment upon it, I will do the same for you. But goddammit and tarnation, I will repeat over and over again that there is nothing gained by anyone in accepting that self-hatred and self-loathing is appropriate, welcome, or a rite of passage that we should all endure. It does not make you a better person, a more “real” person, a more right person to live each day telling yourself how awful you are. The people who would gladly tell you yes, you’d be prettier/more handsome/better/more moral/”good” if you were only 10, 20, 50, 100 pounds less are not people who hold your best interests at heart. They are, plainly put, in my way of talking...jerkoffs. Those would love you conditionally – they are jerkoffs.

So why do I do this? Because I remember so, so very well how I used to feel about myself. How I cried over how ugly I thought I was, how worthless I believed myself to be, how I couldn’t possibly be loved as fat as I was/am, how many years I blew refusing to really live because I didn’t think I was allowed to. If I can get just a few people to get off that train and see – really see – that they have and deserve a place in this fucked up, goofy-ass world just as much as the “beautiful people” do, then I’ll have done something good. Maybe not earth-spinning-off-axis huge, but I can be content with tilting things a bit.

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

The State of Independence.

It's the Fourth o' July here in the United States, marking the day we said "hey yo, we don't think so" to the British and threw down stakes on our own joint. Of course, because I'm having people over for dinner and had planned on grilling...the weather has taken a big dump on the Midwest. THANKS, WEATHER.

But I'm not here to talk about my grilling plans (or how they've been pooped on) - I'm here, instead, to declare independence and hope you might join me at whatever comfort level you're currently residing.

My self-worth is not determined by the size of my ass, the span of my belly, the jiggleliciousness of my upper arms, my stretch marks, or how this might determine how attractive or unattractive I am to others.

The food I eat doesn't change my morality. The chocolate Frosty shake I had yesterday didn't make me bad. The mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing I had before it didn't make me good. The pork tenderloin I'm cooking tonight won't make me bad. The fruit salad I'll be having along side it won't make me good. I'm a decent person because I'm not a raging douchehole. (Okay, some might disagree, BUT WHATEV.)

My weight also doesn't affect my morality. The size of my thighs is not an arbiter on the Good/Bad Scale. I will not be a better, finer, smarter, more charming, or more delightful person if I'm thin. I am a fine smarty charmer, period.

My weight doesn't determine how worthy of love I am or how much love I'm capable of flinging out there.

I will not hide myself. I will not sit in a corner and behave like I'm "supposed to" because I'm fat. I will be true to myself in all respects and accept and embrace the consequences of being me. I will be loud, I will be honest, and I will gleefully work to upend every single bullshitty message that is being sent to women, to men, to everyone about what makes them worthwhile.

I will be defiant to the very end, and goddamn, I will have a great time.

Happy Independence Day, everyone.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

The Wonderful World of Doucheney

I've been lax in the new bloggage arena, as I've recently returned from a trip to Australia and bouncing back from 24-hour-long travel days is not quite as easy as it used to be. So you'll have to excuse me if I'm a bit all over the place because I'm in one of those moods that results in having far too many subjects swimming through my mind and simply not enough brainpower to summon up any kind of intelligent response beyond "SHUT IT" or profanity-laden variations thereof. So, for now, I will focus my ire on the Wonderful World of Disney.

My bell has been rung hard by Walt Disney Studios' upcoming animated movie called "G-Force". "G-Force" is about a gang of intrepid international spies or some shit, and they all happen to be guinea pigs. Cute, right? Well...if you're into guinea pigs, but yeah, CUTE! Whee! Fun! Guinea pigs doing karate and engaging in adventure! Voiced by Sam Rockwell, Tracy Morgan, Nicolas Cage, and Penelope Cruz, the G-Force get into hi-jinks and stuff and...whatever. This movie never would have registered on my Couldn't Particularly Give a Guinea Pig's Ass About Disney (yes, including Pixar*) Radar unless I'd seen a commercial for it on Discovery Channel or Animal Planet and couldn't suss out who was doing the voices of said guinea pigs. I looked up the website for information and what put me over the edge and fired my ass up was the fact that the female guinea pig, in a film that is ostensibly geared towards children, is SEXY. Agent Juarez, voiced by Cruz, is a "sexy martial arts pro". IT'S A FRIGGING GUINEA PIG. GUINEA PIGS ARE JUST ONE THING: CUTE (well, if you're a guinea pig fan). They are not SEXY. The male character pigs aren't given descriptors like "sexy" - they're "determined to succeed at all costs", "outrageous". Not one mention of how "sexy" those male guinea pigs happen to be.

Oh, but sexy Agent Juarez is "the brains of the outfit", so it's okay that the female character in this crapfest's initial description is about how fucking "sexy" she is. If you're wondering why boys and girls are getting sexualized younger and younger, you don't need to look much further than this impending shitfest for some clues.

*Yes, I realize that not being a fiend for Pixar makes me a soulless, heartless robot incapable of love or something. It's not that I hate Pixar, I'm just not particularly driven to rush out opening weekend to see whatever they might fling up on the multiplex screens. Plus, I spent a year in college studying and doing animation, and it kind of made me really hate most cartoons. Except "The Venture Brothers".

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Self-loathing coated in butter.

How do you solve a problem like Kirstie Alley? She’s on the cover of People magazine this week, decrying the horror that is...well, her. Of course, she’s a horrible, disgusting human being because she’s “fallen off the wagon” and has gained 83 pounds as a result of de-Jenny Craigging herself in 2007. She’s at the shriek-inducing number of 228 pounds, which I haven’t seen myself since I was in high school, and so, like a good self-loathing fattie, she’s publicly deriding herself on a major magazine cover and on Oprah for being 58 years old and not looking like she did or weighing what she did when she was on “Cheers”...OVER 20 YEARS AGO.

There are comments on the article – I’d advise avoiding them, as it’s mostly the usual song and dance of “calories in/calories out”, “there’s no way she’s only 228 lbs, she must be 350 lbs.”, “embrace your size – but lose weight anyway!” and “it’s a lifestyle change!!!!” I swear to Christ, if there’s any cliche’d phrase I’d like to torpedo, it’s “IT’S A LIFESTYLE CHAAAAANGE!!!!” Say it in a really high-pitched voice to amp up the annoying factor. But at the same time, it’s an interesting microcosm of the hamster wheel so many people are stuck on. “I lost weight, it came back, and I lost weight, and it came back, and it lost weight, and it came back” is a common refrain among the commenters, but dammit, they are determined that this one last time, just this one...last...time, it is going to stick and stick hard and they are going to be the perfectest version of themselves that they know is hiding inside of them--! Oh, and the usual “I need to be around to see my grandchildren” gets dropped that I can so easily envision being said in a wobbly yet summoning up strength they had not known they had with tears dancing in their eyes sort of voice. This fat ain’t gonna lick me! No sir! I’m gonna spend my days counting my calories/points/eating my frozen NutriSystem meals/endlessly fretting about what I put in my mouth and one day, I’ll find me a man who loves me and get a real nice job in the big city and everything’ll be a-okay ‘cause I’ll be skinny and pretty and good!

Sorry – flight of fancy that probably should have stayed in my head. Though I do tend to have internal dialogues that wind up sounding like 40s melodramas. I’m not sure I have a point, exactly (and when do I, really), but when I read all of this horseshit I wish I had a scream as loud as an air raid siren so I could grab people’s attention but good and tell them that hating themselves is not going to be the magical key to weight loss and perfect health. Self-loathing is not a fucking character-builder. It doesn’t make you stronger. It doesn’t make you better. It’s just an ever-deepening, creepy-ass trap; a trap that is a huge moneymaker for corporations that do not have and never will have good intentions. You’re not disgusting. You’re not freakish. You’re not ugly. And you’re never going to be perfect. And holy shit, that is so okay.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Random rambling for a Thursday night.

I watched the trailer for “Julie and Julia”, the upcoming Nora Ephron comedy based on the true stories of renowned chef Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep) and Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a woman who decided to go through Child’s seminal cookbook and prepare a dish every day for a year straight. I’m interested in seeing the movie because I’m quite fond of both Meryl and Amy, but damn if I didn’t get pissy with the trailer trot-out of the usual trope – that Powell is upset to the point of tears that she might be getting fat due to her labor of love. Of course, she’s reassured by the Sassy Sidekick Girlfriend character that it’s only showing in her face. Blugh. My queendom for a woman-centric movie that doesn’t contain one single fucking “I AM TERRIFIED I MIGHT GET FAT/I AM FAT/DOES MY ASS LOOK FAT IN THIS” scene. It’s rather creepy that the most frightening thing for so many people is the idea of becoming or being fat. I’m more afraid that I’m going to get into a life-or-death struggle with a giant squid or hammerhead shark than I am of my fat. But I also have to acknowledge that I’ve never held a position of thin/beauty privilege. I’ve never been praised exclusively for my looks and my self-esteem has never hinged primarily on my thinness. And it will probably sound condescending of me, but I feel bad for those who have been or are in that position. I’ve got plenty of mind-fucks for a myriad of other reasons due to a myriad of other subjects, but jeepers, that has to be one of the biggest mind-fucks to be so terrified of gaining weight and not fitting in that teeny tiny societal box of what is considered “pretty”.

I’ve lived fat my entire life. It’s simply the way I’ve always been. I’ve practically cross-stitched “You have such a pretty face” on pillows. So it’s admittedly hard for me to truly understand the kind of panic that seems to accompany so many women and men over the idea of being fat. And how could you not panic, thanks to the constant broadcast message being sent: fat destroys, fat depresses, fat makes you morally suspect, fat makes you lazy, fat makes you ugly, fat makes you unlovable. Even after all the personal work I’ve done to embrace me and every bubbly bit that is part of me, I still had a moment of astonishment not too long ago during a pretty deep conversation with a friend of mine where he told me “I’ve always thought you were beautiful”. Mercy, how I had to fight myself to not tell him “you’re wrong/you’re blind/you’re high”. I think I even had him repeat it because my brain kind of shrunk like a squeezed sponge for a moment from the volume of the “BWUH?!?!?” that echoed through my skull. You really never completely get rid of the “you’re wrong/you’re blind/you’re high”, I’ve learned. Even if you’re able to parry immediately with “oh, shut the fuck up, brain”, the “oh pshaw” litany hides in the dark, waiting for the perfect opportunity to leap out like Vegas Elvis doing karate moves to “Suspicious Minds”.

How do we make fat something that simply is, like being thin, like being blond or brunette or tall or short?

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

If you pretend it doesn't exist, it doesn't exist!

Emily Yoffe, a.k.a. “Dear Prudence” on, is into chats now, apparently. And this question came up:

Arlington, Va.: Dear Pru,

I need your feedback. I am a "woman of size". I have been all of my life. I work out regularly, don't overeat, but here I am. I'm not asking for diet advice. What I need is something different. I need advice on how to deal with the country's hostility towards overweight women. Women of size are not seen as date-worthy, have insurmountable negative connotations associated with them (lazy, slobs, smelly... I'm none of those things!), and are in general treated poorly. Being judged for your looks is the last acceptable form of "prejudice". I guess what I'm most sad about is that this is such a tiny part of who I am, yet never gets overlooked. However, I'm still invisible. So, I guess my question is: how do I overcome my anger at people who feel it's okay to judge me?

First, Yoffe’s response, and then my response to her response.

Emily Yoffe:: First of all, remember you're not alone. Most American are "people of size" so at any workplace or social setting you are hardly going to be the only overweight person. Remember, often the way you are treated is in response to the way you act. You say your weight never gets overlooked, yet you are invisible. This sounds as if you spend a lot of time looking for ways to interpret encounters as being about your weight. I am not saying there is no fat prejudice out there. But if you are comfortable with yourself, and act as if you are, you will notice a lot less hostility.

I almost want to pinch Yoffe’s cheeks for being so...deliciously clueless. But let me say first to Arlington, VA., and everyone else in general: drop the “Last Acceptable Prejudice” hoo-hah now, please. Because it’s not. And engaging in the Oppression Olympics is foolish and undermining to anyone’s cause. Now, back to Yoffe’s “advice”, which boils down to “people won’t be mean if you behave” with the obligatory “oh, well, hurr hurr I certainly don’t doubt there’s no fat prejudice out there”.

Is there air on your planet? On your very, very privileged planet? All you have to do is watch network television for an evening, look at any tabloid at the checkout stand, or read the fucking internet and there is fat prejudice everywhere. EVERYWHERE. If you stopped fat women on the street and asked them when was the last time they felt like they caught shit for their weight, be it blatant or otherwise, I’d bank they could rattle off quite a hefty list of grievances. I also don’t think Yoffe quite gets the idea of fat not being overlooked, yet making one invisible at the same time from a fat woman’s perspective. I’ve had plenty of occasions where I would say that I have felt invisible and yet simultaneously quite obvious because of my fat. Dismissed and ignored because of my fat. Being dismissed and ignored would certainly fall under the umbrella of “invisible”, I think.

Let’s also take a moment to address the idea of “start acting like you’re comfortable with yourself and people will not be mean”. I think many of us have learned that being comfortable with ourselves and being public about it doesn’t exactly warm the hearts of all people, everywhere. If there’s a blogger on the Fatosphere that hasn’t gotten at least one comment telling us to shut up and quit complaining, to stop being fat, to go on a diet because they DO SO work, to stop being lazy/binging/ugly/stupid...well, I would eat my hat. Embracing how we look and loving how we look is a threat. And the thing’s not only a threat when fat women do it. Women refusing to adhere to the demands of the very narrow spectrum of what is considered “beautiful” is a threat to the weight loss industry, it’s a threat to the patriarchy, it’s a threat to the fashion industry, it is a threat to everything we are taught from the get-go about what’s “right” and what’s “wrong” and what women should do in order to be “good” instead of “bad”.

Later in the chat, a participant chimes in with this, which is all kinds of awesome:

For the “woman of size”:Check out the Fat Acceptance movement! It's a wonderful way to work on combating the kind of prejudice you describe, and to connect with other people (mostly women) who have similar experiences. I'm particularly fond of Kate Harding's Shapely Prose blog, but just google Fat Acceptance, and you'll see lots of options.

Yoffe’s response (I can so easily imagine her sniffing with derision)? Good advice, thanks. But I also think the "woman of size" needs ways to think less about her size. Uhhhhh-huh. So if we all just think less about our size and more about...oh, I don’t know, pretty shoes or kitties or unicorns, ALL THE BAD IN THE WORLD WILL GO AWAY. Yes, I realize I’m probably hyperbolic and heavily sarcastic and getting capslocky, but for fuck’s sake. I’d love to not think about my size. However, THE ENTIRE FRIGGING WORLD IS FOCUSED ON IT. If you read anything even resembling a major newspaper/website/watch news channels, there isn’t a fucking day that doesn’t sport some sort of “holy shit the fat oh my god the fat the fat is coming we are all fat we are eating ourselves to death think of the children don’t let them have sugar or cake or anything because the cake kills” story. And what makes it all creepier is that people eat it up without question. Any other stinking story about ANYTHING and eyebrows are raised, cynical statements are made, data that looks wonky is dismissed. Something about fat, though, and it’s BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES BECAUSE THE FATPOCALYPSE IS A-COMIN’.

FYI, the “Fatpocalypse” is here, and it’s not going anywhere because it’s always BEEN here. And it’s getting more visible. And, even’s getting louder.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Say ladies, it's OUR turn!

Strange, I just don't see this ending very well:

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Fox is developing a dating-competition series that casts "average-looking" people.

The series, titled "More to Love," is billed as the first "dating show for the rest of us," throwing open its doors to overweight contestants.

"For six years it's been skinny-minis and good-looking bachelors, and that's not what the dating world looks like," Fox president of alternative (programming) Mike Darnell said. "Why don't real women -- the women who watch these shows, for the most part -- have a chance to find love too?"

Fox orders heavyweight dating show

Of course, the tired-ass bullshit about "real women" gets trotted out. Newsflash, fellows: ALL women are real women, be they fat, thin, whatever. Having you come right out of the gate using that snooze-inducing nonsense doesn't inspire me to try out or tune in. Apparently, the success of "The Biggest Loser" is what "convinced" the network to give "More To Love" (and that title can go fuck itself, too) a whirl. The success of "The Biggest Loser" isn't about people thirsting to see "regular" people on TV. People watch “The Biggest Loser” to pull some sort of “inspiration” from it for their own bound-to-fail diet adventures, or to ooh and aah at the magical transformation that would come to anyone if their primary occupation was dieting and exercising. A magical transformation that, for a majority of the contestants, is fleeting. When “The Biggest Loser”, a show that has been mislabeled as a “public service” as it not-so-subtly humiliates and risks the health of its contestants on a weekly basis serves as your model, I’m not feeling confident that “More To Love” is going to be anything more than an exploitative humiliationfest geared towards people who want their pointing-and-laughing to be even more condoned than it already is by the media/society.

Sure, I'm willing to admit that my cynicism comes from having experienced the darker, crappier side of humans. And obviously, the producers are looking to make a buck. But it's so...annoying and rather offensive to me that they're trying to paint themselves as these Mr. Beautifuls who want to shake things up and show the world that fat girls DO date and fuck and *gasp* deserve love, too! I'd love it if Mike Darnell and Mike Fleiss managed to make a show that wasn't a train wreck of a nightmare and really did take their mission as seriously as Hollywood players can take it. But considering their first project together was "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire"? Yeah, I'm not banking on it.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

The Ass That Wasn't There.

I need to put a Post-It note or something on my computer monitors both at work and at home to remind me that the next time I get a wild hare up my ass to do some lingerie shopping that one really needs to have an ass to wear “cheeky panties”.

It’s like, I look at the pictures on the website of heinies sporting “cheeky” unmentionables – point of order, I have to use “unmentionables” because FUCK, do I hate the word “panties”. In my head, I can only hear my own nasal Chicago accent saying “panties” and it’s a brutal, brutal noise, so “unmentionables” it shall be from here on out. So anyway, I look at the pictures on the website of hind ends sporting cheeky unmentionables and they look so lovely and I’m dazzled into imagining that I possess such a hind end and suddenly, I see they’re on sale and I have a Lane Bryant credit card and oh, it’s been so long since I’ve bought anything at LB let alone refreshed my unmentionable collection with new gear so YES I WILL TAKE THE CHEEKIES THANK YOU *CLICK*.

Then, they arrive and I gleefully throw a pair on and realize I simply do not have the ass to fill these fuckers out. My flat ass that has been flat since the dawn of my time, that remained defiantly flat even when I was at my peak gym attendance, my flat ass didn’t magically puff out to match the photoshopped Lane Bryant asses. It just stayed its usual flatty self, with flaps of fabric sitting on my ass where ass would go if I only had an ass (a deleted song from “The Wizard of Oz”, perhaps).

Of course, I’m not going to send them back because from the front, they look pretty okay. And they go just enough with the new fancy bra I bought that has a little dingly-dongly decorative bit hanging from the middle thing (as you can tell, I am a dedicated follower of fashion). I go through odd periods of buying lingerie. And as you’ve learned from previous (whiny) posts of mine, it’s certainly not because I’m jazzing my junk up for my man – I just have these inexplicable buying jags where I turn my nose up at casual (or comfortable) underpants and will not buy anything that doesn’t feature lace or beading or sequins or see-throughy bits. I’ve dabbled in many lingerie areas, from boy shorts to bustiers (not that I have much yay to boost), and learned that more often than not, I wind up feeling more uncomfortable than sexay. It’s kind of hard to feel sexy when you’re digging lacy fabric out of your crack or trying to bend underwire so it’s not poking you in the side of the boob (or, in my case, my flibbety flubbety upper arm flesh).

And yet...when I get into one of my moods...I can’t resist the siren call to try and look like something of a siren.

Well, as much of a siren as a fairly androgynous chick who gets mistaken for a guy at least once a month can look.

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fear me.

So I was at today, as I am usually every day, and this article caught my eye. It’s not a huge revelation that high-end designers aren’t interested in designing clothes for fat women. Something that burned itself onto my brain years ago was Donna Karan proclaiming she’d never make clothes for fat women because she didn’t want to alienate her thinner clientele – she said something along the lines of that if a thin woman saw a fat woman wearing the same outfit as she was, the thin woman would feel horrible because she’d “worked so hard” for her body and how appalling it would be to see a woman who didn’t work hard in that same outfit (after all, us fatties – lazy, lazy, lazy bitches we).

The thing that rang my bell more was this little bit from the L.A. Times article written by Emili Vesliind: "The fear of fat is so ingrained in designers and retailers that even among those who've successfully tapped the market, talking plus size often feels taboo.” The fear of fat. The FEAR of fat. As if fat is this creature stalking through the night, seeking out new victims, a mythical critter hell-bent on wreaking havoc. Simply put, fat is the globe’s chupacabra.

Thing is, though, it’s quite easy to imagine the fear of fat, because most, if not all of us, have had that kind of funky, unsettling experience where you can sense someone physically shrinking away from us because of our fat. I can remember my mom telling me stories about patients at the drug/alcohol/eating disorders clinic she used to work at where some of the anorexic patients were terrified of sitting near the fatter patients because they thought they might “catch” the fat and gain weight. Logical adults would see the illogic in that, of course – but then you have scienterrific knobs claiming fat spreads like a virus amongst friends and family and the world gobbles the illogic up because, after all, a SCIENTIST said it and it MUST be true. It’s not difficult to find articles that are a variation on “Kids Say The Darnedest Things!” where kids proclaim they fear being fat more than they fear the end of the world or fire or war or any number of things that are far more horrible and awful.

And it’s not hard for me to imagine people thinking that if they looked like I do, it would be the most horrible thing to ever happen to them. They’re informed by the media every day that a person that looks like me is a ticking time bomb, a heart attack waiting to happen, a slovenly, lazy, filthy, out of control thing that eats everything in sight, is unloved, is friendless, is pathetic. I’m sure I’ve made reference to this before, but when I was in third or fourth grade, a classmate of mine told me her mother had seen me at some sort of school play or whatever and asked her, “does she have any friends”. Some years later, I was performing in an event at my high school – every other year, they’d throw a madrigal dinner, kind of a Renaissance Faire lite sort of thing where food was served and entertainment was of the “Huzzah!” variety. I was playing Portia from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” in a playlet called “When Shakespeare’s Ladies Meet” by Charles George. My parents and sisters were sitting at a table with strangers (never the Nolans’ idea of a good time) and were stunned into silence listening to the running commentary they were making on me and my size. These were adults mocking a teenage girl, a kid. But in the world we exist in, there are plenty of people who might try to justify such a thing. The same people who raised hell because Torrid exists (making cute clothes for fat teenage girls only “enables” them, you know – let them wear sackcloth and repent for their sins!), the same people who believe that liking yourself if you’re fat – hell, loving yourself if you’re fat – is a terrible thing, the same people that want fat people to stay indoors and out of sight and stop defying society’s rules by being loved, being loud, being visible.

If I’m going to be shunned for my fat, then by God, I want to be feared. I want you to fear that I’m not going to shut up about everyone being allowed to love themselves, appearances be damned. I want you to fear that I’m going to screech it from the rooftops that everyone deserves to be loved. I want you to fear that I’m going to convince more and more people each and every day that being different is okay – not just okay, but goddamned great. I don’t fear being feared – I fucking embrace it.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

That gratitude thing AGAIN - with a twist.

So I was talking to my sister tonight, and finally pried out of her that she's got herself a boyfriend. It was always one of those things that everybody figured, but nobody wanted to confirm - not because the guy's a shitheel or anything, but my family tends to operate on a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. We're not the most open of people because we were raised with a philosophy that if you're having issues, shut up and deal with it. Of course, I'm pleased for my sister. She deserves to be happy and this guy's a decent fellow. But of course, I went to bed in a foul mood and couldn't sleep for all the, you know, crying.

At the close of last year, I made a decision to remove all of my dating profiles from various sites. I spent far too much time sending out messages to various menfolk and receiving no responses in return, which only served to make me feel humiliated and idiotic. As I chewed on it and thought about it, I think if there's anything I've figured out, any kind of grand revelation I've had, it's that I simply do not have the mental energy to try and suss out what in the fuck men are looking for and why I seem to completely lack it. My grand plan for 2009 is coming to terms, once and for fucking all, that the universe has sent a very loud message, loud like an air raid siren, that I'm not meant for a relationship. It will never matter how much I may have in common with someone, it will never matter how well we get on, I lack whatever...SHAZAM or SHECLACKY or SHEBANG that seems to be key in turning over that particular engine. You either got it or you don't, and I'm someone who clearly don't, for whatever reason that I will go to the grave not understanding. It's a blessing that I don't have a screaming need to have children and haven't spent years daydreaming about a perfect wedding to the perfect guy, and I'm certainly able to take care of myself and I've never not done something because I'd be doing it alone. I'm more than capable of contending with the next however many years I'm left with on a perpetual solo mission. I know this, in my heart and in my brain and every other corner of my being.

So it's rather vexing to find myself sitting up at 11:30 p.m. ugly-crying about it...YET AGAIN. Because I'm supposed to be in a good mood. I'm on vacation, for Christ's sake. I'm going out of town Monday to Vegas to celebrate (well, cope with) my birthday, and it will be so nice to be someplace where it's 60 degrees instead of 10 below, and have the chance to kick back and relax and oh yes, do some--okay, a LOT of gambling. I'm going alone, by choice. And I know the second I land at McCarron, I will be delighted to be someplace I really dig, staying at a hotel I've never stayed at but have always wanted to, with plenty of books to read and plans to stretch my shit out and lounge. But I also know that corner of me, that corner of me that I would do absolutely anything to vanquish, to silence, to shut up once and for all, that corner of me that wants to be with someone and will not/cannot process why I'm not worthy of being loved, that corner that I want so much to STOP CARING because it is CHILDISH TO EXPEND ALL THIS ENERGY ON IT (and write about omg), will be scratching at me...gnawing. Knocking at the door like the fucking Land Shark, determined to remind me at every turn that I am not the girl that gets a happy ending, I am not the girl the fellows fall over, I am not going to be someone's have to have. To remind me that every single guy that has been tragically unlucky enough to fall on my radar, every single one that I've held my heart out to and said, "it's yours, fucking TAKE IT"--it doesn't matter. That's probably the most...maybe "galling" isn't the right word, but mercy, it's medicine that doesn't go down easy. That notion, that truth that it doesn't matter how much I loved, what I did, it meant nothing. In the big scheme of things, if I'm remembered at all, it's as a joke. An awkward moment they'd prefer to forget.

Now it's midnight, and I seem to be all ugly-cried-out (sing about that Lisa Lisa). The temperature in and around Chicago is plunging into Oh Hell No proportions, and I've realized that I've penned yet another blog entry that is not particularly Fat Acceptancey and more...brain-vomity. I do want to touch on gratitude, though - not being ordered by people to be grateful for all that I have, which I've bitched about before. No, I want to throw down an order to all the folks out there who are in healthy relationships with people who dig the absolute shit out of them - be grateful. Be so very grateful. Give them hugs and big old smooches (virtual or otherwise), let them know how brilliant they are, how much they rock. And if you're in a relationship that you know damn well needs to come to an end A.S.A.P. but you're terrified of being alone - living alone is heaps better than living a lie. You had the SHAZAM to get into the one you're in now, you'll have that SHECLACKY to get into another one, a healthier one, a happier one.

I wish I could summon up a really good, Go Team! message for those who are in positions similar to mine, some sort of "'sawright, we'll get froo it" like I'm some jolly old bat in a very British musical. It'd probably be disingenuous at best. I guess if I were to say anything, it's that it's okay to be pissed off and baffled if you've given it the good old college try and then some and still come up with naught. We just need to stumble and grasp our way to contentment at all costs.

For now, I hope to stumble my way into some sleep.

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