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


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. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Tis The Season - 10 Ways I Cope With Holiday Body Stress

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love the holidays. Any holidays. Nope, it doesn't matter which
one. (unless it's Thanksgiving which I skip altogether). I Halloween was a blast, I made spider web hummus and ate mummy dogs and made a blood brew that everyone loved. We had a spider toss game and a spooky story board. It was great and everyone had fun. This Christmas I put up a tree as soon as I was able (which would have been around November 15th). We went to a tree farm, cut the tree down ourselves and dragged it back to the car. I put up lights outside and decorated the mantel so early that I could practically see my neighbors roll their eyes (those Grinches don't decorate at all, to be fair).

I LOVE Christmas, if that isn't obvious yet. I have a jack in the box and a nutcracker and a large Santa by my fireplace. The stockings are stuffed, the presents are wrapped, and I even did some gift exchanges with some people already and I think I may have squealed in delight once or twice.

So why is Christmas always tough to get through? Perhaps it's the onslaught of fatphobic messages that we get from everywhere. Not just social messages from media, but the yearly tradition of hiding, blocking, and unfriending people on Facebook who have decided to try, yet again, a brand new weight loss "journey". (Back in my ED days I was guilty of using this phrase myself.. ugh).

Every magazine you say is advising you on how to either keep off or drop those "holiday pounds", gyms are revving up for their new year's specials, and the diet industry is rubbing it's hands together greedily, awaiting all of our dollars. (Not my dollar!).

The messages from friends and family aren't always intentional, but they're there too. Even if it's just a personal attempt at weight loss, it's a toxic culture of bonding over disordered eating and trying to adhere to social beauty standards that do nothing but kill us slowly.

It's hard enough during this time of year to be a healthy person with healthy eating habits and a healthy mindset. All of the rubbish can still get to you! Throw in a chronic illness and/or a history with an eating disorder/disordered eating and you have a whole new mess on your hands.

So, here's a few things that I do around the holidays to keep my sanity (I am not using the word sanity lightly. I have bipolar disorder and my mental health is very important to me).

   1. Turn off the TV, fast forward through commercials, watch Netflix (commercial free!) or, if all else fails, keep something by you to keep yourself occupied during weight loss commercials. You can browse twitter on your phone, practice your knew knitting technique, or talk to your family. You can even talk about the current commercial and why it's so toxic.

   2. Let friends and family know ahead of time that you won't be tolerating any diet talk, self degradation, or nasty comments about your weight this year. You can post this as a note on your twitter, instagram, tumblr, or facebook if you're less direct, like I am, because of anxiety or whatever other reason, you can write them a letter, or you can have talks with people who will be problematic one on one. Frame it as a way to look after your own health.

   3. Vent to people who understand. Whether that's facebook groups (like Fat Acceptance Cloud), fat positive friends or family, or hey, feel free to send me an email! ( Relieving some of the feelings and anger and hurt that you're having can really help.

   4 .Get yourself something for Christmas that helps you with self care. I bought myself a fat painting by artist Toni Tails. I also like to draw and paint myself so some fat posi art to give away as gifts is great therapy! You can also get yourself bath bombs, makeup, new clothes, jewelry, face scrubs, or anything else that makes you feel like you're being pampered and taken care of.

   5. Stand up for yourself and others. Activism really helps me remember who I'm fighting for. So far this month I've done a shoot for The Fat Naked Art Project (of which I'm the photographer for). Just editing the photos has made me extremely happy.

   6. Have a date night. Whether it's with yourself or with a significant other(s), make sure you know that you're cared for and that someone thinks you're wonderful and beautiful.

   7. Read Feminist and Fat Acceptance articles online- hey.. like this one! Dances With Fat also comes out with some amazing yearly holiday pieces!

   8. Eat good food with people you love. This so often helps us remember that eating is indeed for nourishment, but also for joy. I'll be having a vegan holiday feast this year!

   9. Be mindful. Live in the moment. Notice what's around you at this very moment. For me, that's a corgi sleeping at the other end of the couch, a beagle sniffing at the door, twinkling lights on my Christmas tree, an itch on my belly that I'm resisting scratching because I'm too busy typing, and the sound of the heat blowing through the vents. Notice the little things and try to find the beauty in that.

   10. Finally- Realize that it's okay to feel bad sometimes. We all have days when we don't feel our best, we let the haters get to us or we let ourselves get to us. That's OKAY and it's perfectly normal. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself and recoup so that you can come back twice as strong.

Those are just a few of the things that I do in order to try and make myself feel good during the holidays, but they're good to keep in mind all year round!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When Prejudice Informs Preferences

People like to think they’re the masters of their own souls. That their thoughts and opinions are theirs alone and that they’re basically good people. They don’t like to admit, and sometimes outright refuse to admit, that social conditioning that inform their opinions and even sexual preferences.

The wheels started turning when a friend posted an article about racism and preferences in sexual partners and skin color. Unfortunately a lot of people came out saying that they just preferred white people to date. It had nothing to do with prejudice, it was just an honest to goodness preference.

Unfortunately, preferences don’t exist in a vacuum. We grow up in a society, in a world, that hails light skin as a marker for beauty while dark skin is demonized as ugly with a lot of nasty stereotypes behind it.

My experience as a fat woman is that people often have preferences for thinness, even people in the fat acceptance community or allies. I’m here today to tell you that those preferences are not innate. There isn’t a shred of evidence to suggest we are born with certain preferences in appearance when it comes to sexuality. Obviously this doesn’t include sexual orientation but, i’m sorry, thinsexuality is not a real thing. If you’re only attracted to thin people, men, women, or anyone else, then it’s a product of how you’ve been conditioned. Yes, you’ve basically been brain washed.

I’ll tell you a little secret. I used to not like thin women. I don’t mean that I hated them for being thin, I mean that I wasn’t attracted to them sexually. I had no preference for the types of men that I dated- thin, fat, or in between- but I only dated other fat women. I told myself it was just a preference and one that I couldn’t do anything about.

I was wrong.

After some introspection, I found that sex with thin women made me uneasy because it made me self conscious. I was sure they would be judging me and comparing my body to theirs, as I was comparing mine to theirs. After working on my own self esteem and challenging my own ideas of attraction I’ve found that I can very much be attracted to thin women.

Yes, you can make yourself be attracted to body types that you weren’t previously attracted to. I don’t mean by sheer force of will, I simply mean by challenging your own deeply held prejudices, you can begin to strip them away and a whole new world of possibilities will be opened up to you.

Thinness isn’t achievable for many people and, in our current global climate, more and more people are chubby to fat. Let’s face it, you’d better start being attracted to fat people because your options are running out. In that same vein, the reason why thinness is so idealized is because it’s so difficult to attain. I know it’s an old trope, but in a time when most people were starving to death, plumpness was a marker for beauty. When everyone was wearing bell bottomed pants, suddenly skinny jeans became the new trend. Pin straight flat hair in the 70’s? Giant teased and permed tresses in the 80’s. We have a habit of wanting and doing the opposite of what’s available. It’s why we’re willing to pay so much for rare jewels and precious metals.

The bottom line is that, while it may not be your fault that your preferences are informed by your prejudices, it’s your responsibility to overcome them. Not being attracted to fat people is fatphobic, whether that’s your fault or society’s. It’s time to look inside of yourself and question where your attractions really come from, why, and to change them.