Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The more things change.

First, a quick note - Marianne Kirby, aka The Rotund, is going to be on ABC's Nightline Face-Off regarding "Is it Okay To Be Fat". I'm having a hard time not calling it Nightline After Dark and/or Nightline FACEOFF!!!! with exploding graphics. I've read the article over at ABC.com but can't bring myself to watch the clips. I go from zero to flipping my shit very easily and I know watching the video is guaranteed to put me over the edge. No matter how much I try to logic Meme Roth and the vitriol that falls out of her mouth, I can't get past her being from the Planet BWUH in the constellation *bzzzzztWOOOOOO* and that's not good for my brain or general demeanor. I think that's why I kind of take the easy-peasy way out on my blog - it's rare that I will address any article directly and approach fat acceptance, etc. from a more personal experience/emotional angle because my style of debate quickly devolves into "get bent" instead of "Here are 50 scientific facts that you overlooked, my fine fellow". I'd much rather settle into a comfy chair and rap with my readers.

Isn't that what the kids today do, get together in beanbag chairs and rap? Well, let's rap about a little something. And I might repeat myself, but bear with me.

Way way way back when I was a girl in grade school, a favorite game of mine was called "Kissing Monster". I would chase the boys around the playground, tackle my prey, and then cover the victim's face in kisses until they managed to squirm away from me (I was a bruiser as a child, so it was harder for them to escape than you might thing). One day, a teacher pulled me aside and told me (while trying very hard not to laugh) that I had to stop doing it "because they don't like it when you kiss them". Oh, how prophetic Mr. Rossi's instruction would be.

In April 2008, I talked at length about my state of singlehood and how frustrating I found the entire affair. Since then, I've spent a good deal of time taking a peek into my innards and determining how to navigate life solo in as enjoyable a fashion as possible. Which, I found, was the key - trying to have as much fun as I could despite all the noise from the outside telling me I was too this, too that, too loud, too fat, blah blah blah. At the end of the day, I really, really enjoy the hell out of my own company. If there's any advice I would give anyone who is single and may wind up single for the foreseeable future is to figure out how to enjoy your own company. Hell, it applies to everyone, single or partnered. Yes, there will be days of epic shit and loneliness and irritation. But we can have way better days and better days that far outweigh the shit days because we're all capable of way more than I think most of us give ourselves credit for. We're so trained to think we're less than, that we're incapable of reaching that mysterious "potential" simply because of the size of our waists that it can't help but bleed over into every single aspect of our lives. If anyone were to ask me what the crux of Fat Acceptance was in my head, it would be that the world would be a far better place if people didn't believe so fervently that life doesn't begin (and simply wasn't worth living) until (or unless) you hit a certain weight. So much time is being wasted, so many experiences aren't being had because of this bullshit trap, and that's tragic to me.

I touched on this in more detail at the end of December and at that time, I couldn't have predicted how my life would take an unexpected turn. It's a turn I've been trying to figure out how to discuss here because I think it is beyond important in the movement to present not just Fats With Partners Defying Stereotypes, but Fats Who Are Single and Pissed and Mixed Up About It as well as Fats Who Are Single and Rockingly Okay with it. I don't think we hear enough about the last two. But I'm going to have to start officially disclaimering myself as I have a beau (I'm 38 years old, for cry-yay, "boyfriend" seems just so...25-year-old me). Rest assured, you will be spared my waxing poetic about his dreaminess, inappropriate TMI-ing, and I'd venture to say he will be rarely discussed unless it's in the context of a fat acceptance topic. But I felt it was important to let you know what was up instead of presenting myself as Single and Pissed Yet Okay Most of the Time I Think, because that would be jerky and dishonest. I'm guilty of being jerky a bunch, but dishonesty is not my bag.

I can't really explain why my fortune in that particular department happened to change. There's no formula, no magic revision of my methodology. The thing I can promise you is that if I ever am tempted to type a platitude like "OMG THERE'S SOMEONE FOR EVERYONE!!" or "YOU HAVE TO STOP LOOKING IN ORDER TO FIND THE ONE!!!"... I will punch myself in the face for you.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

To those who know me but might not *know* me.

I'm apologizing in advance for this blog post because I will probably get disjointed (more than usual), ramble (more than usual), and whatnot. But this is a blog post for the people who don't know me as Jane, fat acceptance activist from Casual Blasphemies, but Jane... from View Askew or Janesy from LiveJournal or JaceyIBLTD from Musicland.

When you're done with this, chances are good you will think I'm deluded or ignorant or touched or all three. And you're welcome to think that when you're done because I expect it. I've heard it and the following all my life, really:

"Doesn't she realize what she looks like?" (audience member at 1990 Madrigal dinner at high school where I was playing Portia from a playlet called "When Shakespeare's Ladies Meet")

"My mom asked me if you have any friends" (friend in third or fourth grade)

"TUB OF LARD!" (car of males driving down a side street, probably junior high)

"Yes." (a young man in response to being asked if he'd accepted a bet from his friends to dance with me, senior year of high school)

"Are you pregnant?" (third grade)

"If I looked like you, I would kill myself" (Freshman year, when the entire homeroom of about 25 kids engaged in nine months of harassment, including "Wide Load" notes on my back and tacks on my chair)

My experiences aren't unusual. Ask anyone who is or was fat or in any way different from the so-called norm and I'm sure they have similar stories. I'm not particularly special in that regard. I might be slightly special snowflakey because of how I chose to deal with it. Instead of completely rejecting the world (which would have been understandable), I chose to go at it headlong and goddammit, I would make people forget I was fat by sheer force of personality. I would be the funniest, I would be the nicest, I would be the most fun person you could ever hope to meet so that the first thing you thought of when my name came up wasn't "oh, the fat girl" but "oh, the cool girl/the one who sings/the comedian/the one on the radio/the one who eats fire/the one who gives really good advice/the one who listens well/the one who writes well".

I dieted with purpose and with skill, like so many of us do. I counted my calories and exercised accordingly and I'd lose that weight and oh, how wonderful I looked, how good I looked! It was never enough, of course. My body held onto as much of my fat as it could and the second I would relax a little, not work out all five days or six days or seven days, KAZAAM it came screaming back. I did it for years. I did it from the age of 10 until my early 30s. I almost committed suicide twice in my teen years because I knew no one would love me because of my fat and I'd always be alone. (First time around, I didn't do it because I wanted to see Duran Duran live; second time around, my ego - which is epic, mind you, to this day - wanted to see how many awards I would get at the end of senior year of high school because I was very active in theater, speech, the radio station, the newspaper. Yes, the stupidest things can actually save you.)

Being a fat acceptance activist is the best decision I made, one that I'm 110 percent happy I made, and I will go to glory believing deep in my bones that fighting the diet culture and the sizeism and fatphobia and fucking wrongheaded information and attitudes that rule this country is right and the truth and even if I make ONE person embrace their size AS IT IS and not give a shit what the scale says and lives one's life without tormenting themselves about one's weight or appearance and lives one's life how it suits them without fear or apologies for it, I will feel like I did some good. But actively rejecting the diet culture, the default, the lifestyle that is deemed morally sound and "good", fucking sucks on many days.

It's been sucking the last couple of days, ever since Kevin Smith got booted off his Southwest flight and he went public so gloriously with it. It's sucked because it's served to remind me just how hated I am. When I say "I", I don't necessarily mean the Jane that you know (either in "real life" or "online"), because you may be of the "oh, I don't mean *you*" persuasion. That is, when you go on a tear about the horrid fatties making the world a shittier place or when you have no compunction about peering in someone's grocery cart and criticizing their choices because of their size or busting on a celebrity's weight gain - oh, *they're* fat and horrid, but oh no, Jane...you're not horrid. You're not like THOSE fat people - why, I don't even see you as fat! I understand that mindset. I've lived in the shadow of that mindset my entire life, worked my ass off to distract people into that mindset because I wanted to be liked, I wanted to be loved, I wanted to be cool.

Over the last couple days, it's sucked and it's hurt me to see fat people apologizing to the universe for existing and not trying hard enough to be thin and taking up too much space and failing morally for being fat; the cheery, game self-deprecating tinged with self-loathing, the act I put on for so many years rolled out before me over and over. The act is exhausting. The act is wrong. The demand for the act is morally bankrupt and vile. And yet, it's easier. It's approved, you see. If I were to declare I was going on a diet tomorrow, I would be praised to the high heavens. It wouldn't matter the kind of mental pain it would cause me, the personal pain it would cause me, the pain it would cause those closest to me because of what dieting requires of me. I would be trying for a just cause, not something as foolhardy and useless as fat acceptance (pah!). I would be liked by more people. I might even be loved. I certainly wouldn't be "crazy", that's for sure.

I don't require you to understand my fat acceptance stance. I wish you could, but I know there aren't any miracles coming down the pike anytime soon. If you're dieting, I'm not going to cheer you on or praise you for losing a half a pound. I'm not game to agree that any food you consume is "bad" or "good" because it's just food and food is lovely. I'm sure we can find plenty of other things to talk about other than your diet and other than my fat acceptance (except "Lost" - I bailed on that shit in season one). I hope you find contentment and that you find a way to dig yourself and your body and all the things it's capable of doing regardless of how much fat may be on it, and that you don't put your life on hold until that magic day when you've met your goal weight. I wish you only the best.


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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Let me tell you the one about the director and the airline...

As covered nicely over at Shapely Prose, director Kevin Smith found himself getting the boot off a Southwest Airlines flight for posing a "safety risk" - in other words, flying while fat. Kevin's Twitter can be found here if you'd like to keep an eye on any future Tweetings he might leave about the subject.

It's hard for me to objectively talk about Kevin because I'm a blatant fangirl of his, very active on his message board at ViewAskew.com, I've had the pleasure of meeting him a couple times as well as his enormously cool wife, Jen Schwalbach. In many ways, he reminds me of me - "the fat kid" who honed the sense of humor to a razor-sharp point and developed a personality that would hopefully distract people from my fat, that they would like me *despite* my size. He's broken my heart with his honesty about his feelings regarding his weight and his numerous attempts at losing weight because holy fucking shit, I've been there, we've all been there. And I've been horrified seeing him get concern-trolled by his fans at times.

I can't say whether or not Kevin would be eager to become a public proponent of Fat Acceptance, though I know I'd love to have him. I think I *can* say that he wasn't banking on becoming a hot topic in the Fatosphere tonight. If nothing else, I hope that he holds onto the disdain and Twitter-rage towards Southwest Airlines and the realization that *he* wasn't the problem and Tweets the dopes into oblivion. Read more on this article...