Tuesday, March 8, 2016

International Women's Day '16

by Lauren Carney
Today is International Women's Day. The history of the day goes back to 1909. International Women's Day included women from all over the world, as a day to recognize the social, cultural, political and economic accomplishments of women while simultaneously calling for women's full equality and rights.

To me, the original inclusion of so many women in this day means that today is also a day for intersectionality. Because this is a blog about fatness, I feel it's appropriate to talk about women's rights and accomplishments in reference to fat acceptance. The fat acceptance movement is as old as 1967 (likely older). For decades fat acceptance groups were separated and relied on word of mouth to spread information. Today, we have the all powerful internet and fat acceptance ideas have spread all over the world and there are blossoming and well established communities all over. Books on the subject are easily accessible and, with third wave fat acceptance, we see the inclusion of intersectional issues. I think these are huge accomplishments.

I'm speaking from a place of both marginalization and privilege because we all exist somewhere on a spectrum. That being said, I'm going to talk about a commonly discussed issue within the fat acceptance movement: how female read people have less privilege than male read people when it comes to the issue of being fat. Because today is also a call to action for women's rights, I want to remind people that women's rights should include all women, including fat women who are often stripped of their femininity, their sexual being, and their humanity (note: I'm not saying that this only happens to fat women. Again, fat and woman is just one intersection of many, but it's the one I know.)

Fat women hold less privilege that fat men. This isn't to say that fat men don't face fat discrimination because they absolutely do, especially deathfats (because, yes, thin privilege exists on a spectrum too). Fat women are simultaneously oversexualized (read fetishized) by many people and desexualized by many people. The average girl starts her first diet at 8 years old, and fat women are at the biggest risk of eating disorders. It's harder to shop for affordable and fashionable clothing, and we're denied jobs, raises, and promotions more often than fat men. We're even more likely to be found guilty in court cases. Fat women face greater obstacles to access to birth control including abortion and are often forced to attempt weight loss while pregnant (studies show that dieting pregnant mothers lead to fatter babies).

Fat people are oppressed, but fat women face (at least) two forms of oppression that intersect and we absolutely  need fat men to stand up and acknowledge this fact. Women's rights and fat rights are inexorably linked. In fact, I didn't even become educated about feminism until I found fat acceptance. I couldn't help but read feminist theories and ideas when reading about fat acceptance issues.

Thin feminists and even many fat feminists still fail to recognize this and fatphobia is, unfortunately, extremely common in feminist circles. If your feminism isn't for all women, then who is it for? Just yourself? Just those you care about? (this leads to a disturbing question- do you not care about any fat people in your life?). This isn't a question about (or a post about) health because health is irrelevant in how much respect a person deserves. In how much dignity a person deserves. In how many rights a person deserves. This is a question of humanity and when a privileged person decides that a marginalized person is worthy of humanity. Of wholeness as a person.

At what weight do I become undeserving of basic rights and so deserving of scorn and oppression? Which magic number is that on the scale? This is my call to other feminists who are currently not fat inclusive to become so. To be truly intersectional. Fat acceptance is in the spirit of the day and I hope for every step we gain as feminists, we can gain as fat people too.


Friday, March 4, 2016

Shadowbox

Photo by Freeman Long
Photo by Freeman Long
Photo by Freeman Long

Photo by Freeman Long

Photo by Freeman Long


Photo by Freeman Long

Monday, January 25, 2016

Forest Spirit

This is my favorite costume that I've done (though Ursula will always have a special place in my heart). I made the headdress myself. My makeup artist was the very talented Pilin Leonard (pi_cosmo_mua on instagram) and the shoot (theme was Enchanted Nightmare) was organized and set up by Sarah Robertson (sarah_bethxo on instagram). Okay, nothing more really needs to be said about this post- it's a picture post and I had a great experience! Photographers credited under each photo.

photo by ICU Pictures

Photo by Glass Avenue Photography

Photo by Duncan Moody

photo by Avisek Choudhury photography

Photo by Tusharadri Mukherjee

photo by ICU Pictures

photo by CH Photography and Art 

photo by ICU Pictures 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Disability in the New Year

It's a week into the new year. I can't believe it's 2016 already! (wasn't 2000 just, like, a couple years ago? Seriously now.) This year is starting out with an amazing shoot (next week duckies.. just be patient!) and more positivity and energy than I've had in a long time. Although I took a six month break from The Fat Naked Art Project, we've started posting there again as well. It's been one hell of a week.

All that being said, I want to take this opportunity to write about disability and fatness as well as disability and activism.

What spurred this new post? Well, honestly, the amount of money I just had to spend on prescriptions (and I still have a couple more that I need to pick up today).

Most of you know that I have thyroid disease (Hypothyroidism). Some of you know that I have Bipolar Disorder (Type I). I haven't talked about my Migraines, or having POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrom) or even my Chronic Fatigue. I don't talk about the pain that I'm in daily from injuries resulting from being Hypoermobile either. Heck, I don't even really talk about my Acid Reflux or now it's given me Chronic Nausea for so many years that I've forgotten when it started which severely impacted my life. I'm also in recovery (5 years) for Atypical Anorexia.

So I want to take a moment to talk about how those affect me, affect my activism, and affect how people see me in regards to my activism.

Firstly, most of you probably already know about Spoon Theory. For those of you who don't, go ahead and go read up. For a quick TL;DR-  spoons are a metaphor for energy/ability either mental or physical and is typically used by the disabled community. I even made a text based game called Spoons to help my friends and family understand what it's like a little better.

Having disabilities, both mental and physical, makes my job tough to say the least. I'm going to be brutally honest here and I know this will draw a lot of hate from trolls (which I'll talk about a little later). I'm a Stay At Home Mom partially because I have too many disabilities to hold down a traditional job. Even modeling is difficult and I've had to cut back on how many shoots I do. I'm also a photographer, but I can't do that full time either. This puts me at an emotional and financial disadvantage (I'll add that I do have class privilege because of my husband who is able to work). Oftentimes I come up with a money making scheme that involves photography or making things, but, inevitably, I run out of spoons time and time again.

Not only does my Fatigue affect my modeling, but my Bipolar Depression limits how many shoots I can do as well and when I am able to do a shoot, my Chronic Pain (from injuries), limits my movements. In particular, I have Chronic Tendinitis in both shoulders which means I can't fully raise my arms or put my elbows over my head.

There are both mental and physical limitations to what I can do in any given month, week, day, or even hour. By fat, the Chronic Fatigue has been the most limiting. It's hard to explain to people what it feels like to sleep twenty hours a day (and no, you don't wish you could do that), to miss so much of life because you're too exhausted to even eat. (Luckily I start a new stimulant medication for this tomorrow!)

I think though that, by far, the hardest part of being disabled and an activist, is the part where people mock you and dismiss you for your disabilities.


  • Why are the fat ones always crazy?
  • Right... it's a glandular issue... uh huh... 
  • Exercise intolerance? (part of POTS) she's just lazy cause she's fat. 
  • She wouldn't be so tired if she just lost weight. 
  • no one listen to her... she's bipolar/crazy. 
  • An eating disorder? Eating too much isn't an eating disorder fatass. *
*It can be. It's actually called Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

It's difficult having such a huge part of yourself, one that you have no control over, being mocked and shamed. This is ableism. Ableism is the oppression and discrimination of people with disabilities in favor of people who are able bodied (people with no disabilities.) 

Having your work and your beliefs and ideas dismissed because of illness is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how the disabled are treated. Ableism intersections with just about everything, including Classism for those with disabilities who cannot earn a living. We also face higher incidences of domestic violence and violence in general ad have a higher mortality risk due to ineffective or insufficient care as well as just by virtue of being oppressed. Being fat and disabled almost ensures medical neglect and social stigma. Sometimes I worry about how shortened my life will be, not because of my lifestyle or my weight, but because of how others treat me, including medical personnel. 

The trolls/abusers of the world will always always use your disabilities to their advantage, as I've found out personally when I came out as bipolar as well as anorexic. Trolls, like all abusers, will use anything and everything they can to break you, including gas lighting, insults and belittling you, threats of physical violence, and more. 

The key, for me, has always been fat acceptance which has enabled me to learn to stand up for myself, to have confidence, and to love myself regardless of what other people say, do, or think.

So, while 2016 has, so far, been an exceptional year for me, I, like many others with disabilities, will face many obstacles throughout the year(s), but I will always turn to my fat acceptance community to keep me strong, mentally and physically. 


Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy 2K16!



It's the first day of 2k16. Last year was one hell of a ride, but, like many others, I'm glad it's finally over so that I can start another great year. I'm not a huge believer in ra-ra-new-beginnings type stuff. Maybe it's because I've never been able to really let go of things that happened in the past. I have a big mixed bag of bad and good and traumatic in my past and I know that it makes me who I am. I never want to apologize for that because I like who I am, even as I'm constantly trying to become a better person.








All that being said, I'm excited for 2016. I've made some resolutions and I'm feeling optimistic (so far) about all of the great things to come this year. I'm focusing less on the photo posts and more on the text content of this blog. Partly because it's getting harder to find shoots to be a part of and I'm making peace with that, and partly because I want people to care about what I have to say in addition to looking at my pictures.









I think this year is going to be filled with body positivity (even working through all of the nasty fatphobia in the media and society in general). If you haven't checked it out yet, The Fat Naked Art Project is back from a six month break and posting for New Year's. I want to wish you all a wonderful year full of body acceptance, rolls, cellulite, double chins and loving every inch of yourselves. I hope that, in the darker moments, you can turn to me and other fat activists to help you through.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Resolutions

In the past, I've made it clear that New Year's Resolutions not only don't work, but are often toxic. Weight loss resolutions are the number one resolutions every January and we all know how toxic those are already. This year, however, I'm going to amend my statement and say that Resolutions can be healthy and good for you- if you resolve to not obsess over your resolutions and you keep your resolutions away from being self critical. Obviously stay away from weight loss resolutions- this fat girl is never going to diet again! But here are my top resolutions for the coming year.

     1) Focus on my health. This doesn't mean that I'm necessarily going to change how I eat or even exercise, though those are on my list. But it also means that I'm going to resolve to find a way to start seeing my therapist again, to make all of my doctor's appointments, to take my medication as I'm supposed to, to be mindful and focus on my mental health, and to work on my PTSD.

     2) Do more things that I enjoy. This includes writing more on this blog, editing the book that I finished for NaNoWriMo 2015, crafting, gardening, yoga, bellydance, baking, hiking, sitting by the fire pit with a bottle of wine and the people I love, and more.

     3) Focus on not allowing things to interfere with projects. This is mostly in reference to photography and modeling projects that I'm looking forward to. Unfortunately, depression can steal the love of everything from you and make you completely unmotivated. In 2015 I've let that stop me from photographing or being photographed. Specifically I took a six month break from The Fat Naked Art Project . I'll start posting to it again on New Year's Eve and resolve to post every week and schedule new shoots throughout the year.

     4) Make more time for friends, family, and partners. This one is pretty self explanatory. I resolve to spend time with my loved ones, take road trips to see friends, cuddle with my son, go on dates that I enjoy, and generally make sure that I am present in the lives of the people I love.

     5) Stop being so hard on myself,  This one is the hardest and the most important because it includes resolving to not care so much about my resolutions. If I slip up and don't take my meds for a week, if I need to take another break from projects, if I'm a little too hard on myself... that's okay! I'm not perfect, I will never be perfect, and it's okay to mess up, to be selfish, to drop projects. It's okay to just let life happen. I think this resolution is essential to making resolutions healthy and workable.

Those are my resolutions. If you're planning on making resolutions, do so remembering that you may not follow through and there's nothing wrong with that. I'd love to hear all of your resolutions or even that you aren't making any! Regardless, I hope that you all have a wonderful New Year's Eve and Day and a great 2016 full of body love and positivity.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Sequins and Bellies

By Derek Palmer

This photoshoot was a lot of fun, but also an exercise in asserting my own self worth and desirability. This was a group shoot which means there were many models and many photographers. As usual, it was a struggle as all of the other models were not only very very thin, but very young as well. This photoshoot had a theme of metallics so I wore my sequined skirt by ASOS and I felt amazing... that is, until I was wandering around watching the photographers fawn over every other model. 

It's an inevitability of being a plus size model and a plus size woman in a thin obsessed world. No one wants to pay me much attention. 

Despite that, i got some great photos that I absolutely love from Derek Palmer and Rob Miracle (special thanks to Constance Medrano for makeup and Sarah Robertson as event organizer). I especially love the photos by Derek Palmer who wasn't afraid to photograph me and my belly in all of our spectacular glory. 

 By Rob Miracle 
A lot of photographers who did end up shooting me shied away from anything below my ribs, but Derek not only shot me, full body, but decided to keep those photos while editing. I'll admit that, when I first saw the last photo in this set (see below) that I was a little taken aback and felt badly about myself for about two seconds. 

I'm happy to say though, that I soon decided I was absolutely thrilled with the photos and posted them in every fat loving group I could think of. 



By Rob Miracle



Fat Acceptance makes me feel like I'm a part of a community (with the exception of the occasional vegan hating... if you're fat and vegan I suggest joining HAES Vegans on facebook). I"m so glad and proud to be entering 2016 with five years of fat acceptance experience and I'm so grateful to all of the people who love and support me. 





By Derek Palmer


I hope you enjoy these photos, especially the belly photos. Rocking the VBO and loving all of you. 



This is my last set of the year, so much love to everyone at the end of 2015 and I'm hoping that 2016 brings you wonderful times, good food, and lots and lots of body love.