Sunday, January 30, 2011

Captured by a pirate!

Just a quick post. I was at a shoot (not shooting me) and one of the photographers, Dragon's laire photography, got a couple of shots of me with the wonderful Foxy Moxy. I think they're cute and funny, so enjoy:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thinner is not better

This time the victim wasn't me, but rather my husband. This past weekend, unfortunately, we had to take a trip to his home town in Pennsylvania to see a sick relative in the hospital (thankfully he's doing at least a little better and was moved out of the ICU into a regular room). While there, of course, we had to see a lot of people- he has a very large family and we had a very busy weekend! While I didn't have to really put up with any weight talk directed at me- he did. It wasn't what you would consider negative.. most people would consider it positive: praise for losing weight.

Now.. he didn't actually lose weight.. at least not as far as we know- his clothes still fit.. at least mostly since he's a bit in between sizes- 36 is too big and 34 is too small. Last time we saw them he either wore a 38 or a 36- I can't quite remember. But either way the difference was either none or very little.. but they couldn't help but tell him how good he looked since he lost weight. His grandmother made sure to assure him that he didn't look bad before, but we all know the implication- thinner is better so losing weight is good. Praising someone for losing weight  automatically makes them feel obligated to maintain that weight or lose more (we want to do what gets us praise- we're just wired that way) and it plants a more sinister message that gaining weight is bad bad bad.  I didn't lose weight.. so of course no one told me how great I looked.

Praise. Everyone wants it.. that little reward center of our brain that just lights up with praise makes us addicted to it. No matter what the behavior, idea, belief, or accomplishment- if someone is praised for it often enough they start to crave it and repeat the behavior in order to get it. Gee, no wonder people are obsessed with losing weight- we're addicted! Psychologists recognize that when this goes too far and we diet too excessively (excessive calorie restriction like anorexia for example) or exercise too much (compulsive exercise disorder) that it's a problem. But it's addiction nonetheless. It's one reason of many that we can't trust human beings to inherently know and do what is right- we're such complex creatures- our brains are impossibly complicated in such a beautiful way and yeah, we're trained animals. It takes a lot to overcome this training which his why so many FA activists talk about what a journey it is to get towards a place of acceptance. It's also why education is so important.

Luckily, even though my hubby isn't big on confrontation and he didn't really tell them why they were wrong to offer praise, he did steer the subject towards something different or outright deny any weight loss. He never said thank you- there was nothing to thank them for... because thinner isn't better.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Way You Shop twittered their Fashion Friday post and, thanks to the fact that they require their featured fatshionistas to include where they got their items, I found a great new place to shop! They don't go as high in sizes as I'd like- not because they don't have my size, they do, but because that's no excuse not to think of others and fight for their rights as well- and the clothing industry is definitely one place we need more recognition and rights. While this particular website claims they go up to a 5X (size 30) they don't actually have anything in stock over a 3X (size 22).

So I'm browsing through the dresses especially and noticed that my thought process was a bit different than I'm used to. As fatties we're trained to pretty much hide everything about ourselves that we, or society (mostly society), don't like. For me that means trying to make my bust look bigger and my stomach look smaller. You know how they say that when you start dreaming in another language that you've fully embraced it? (usually used when someone is learning a new language). Well, I think we can recognize changes in thought patterns and pat ourselves on the back (and each other on the back) for embracing body acceptance more (maybe not fully, but you know..). Instead of looking at this dress and thinking "oh, no.. that would show my stomach too much.. oh well", I thought "oh hey, this'll hug my hips and stomach.. right on!".

This has been hugely helped by seeing so many other fat acceptance bloggers and just participants and activists wearing great clothing and seeing fat arms, fat legs, fat stomachs.. and still seeing that they looked absolutely fabulous and gorgeous and sexy and everything else. Once you see how other fat women and men aren't ashamed and look amazing you start feeling like you can do and be the same. So I want to give out a giant thank you to all of the fatshionistas out there who pave the way for people like me. And to all of my readers, I hope I can do the same for you- rock your style!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Warning- some nudity. (omgitsnipplesyouhussy!) Let's see if this came out the way I hoped- i was hoping to give a sense of breaking and fragility mixed with some sexuality and innocence. Obviously post processing included crack brushes and textures. 

I remember a time when a teddy bear could fix it all.

Forget the whispers, the tiny voice in your head that always tells you whatever you're lacking. Pose and smile and pretend it's okay. 

You've cracked my armor- the one I built so carefully. Your cruelty still got through. 

My Heart Breaks: It broke on the inside but the pain, unable to contain itself, began breaking the outside too. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

There- fixed it

Muahahaha! Okay.. maybe an evil cackle isn't called for but at least a giggle is. I've fixed this GAP add:

Masquerading thin straight bodied models as curvy? Come on.. this is just insulting! While you can certainly be thin and curvy- this aint it. Here's my version:

Yeah, I'm not great with Photoshop (actually I don't have photoshop- i use the gimp) but I think I managed it okay. I just cut out a photo from my shoot with Mike Williams and added myself right in! (more work than it looks like..). Anyone else want to be put in?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Yay Scale

So remember when I ranted about that awful Special K commercial? The one that insisted you have to lose weight to have pride in yourself? Well not only have I found out that other body acceptance activists have ranted against the exact same problem, but apparently the scale they use for the commercial was ripped off of an actual body positivity movement which used the same idea- called the yay scale. I happened across a website called About Face, a body positivity group based out of San fransisco, CA (I swear some day I'm moving there!) to see that the scale that tells you good things about yourself instead of your weight (which only counts if you're thin, right?) was an idea stolen from Marilyn Wann, fat activist and author. Have a look at the original:

And look- you can have pride, be rockin, cool, or anything else regardless of your weight.. unlike the commercial for Special K which lets you know you should live in shame until you lose those extra pounds. More so, according to Jezebel, the Special K diet from their website? Of course it's just another starvation diet- topping out at around 830 calories a day. While you can eat as many fruits and veggies as you like, Jezebel points out that to get a decent amount of calories the average woman would have to consume 10-12 bananas (chosen because they have a lot of calories.. for a fruit anyway). Think you can get those kinds of calories from veggies when a tomato has about 10 calories? I don't think so.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Boudoir Class Highlights Pt1

I know, the title isn't as catchy as usual but this wasn't a themed shoot or anything- just a regular 'ole boudoir workshop. It was lots of fun- and I got to model with the fantastic Foxy Moxy who is somewhat of a local celebrity. She not only does incredible body painting but also works as a burlesque dancer. You can also see her often at local festivals in fabulous attire. There will be a part two as I haven't gotten photos from all of the photographers from the workshop yet. Enjoy! And please visit the websites of any photographers linked to under the photo- they all did a fantastic job.

By Torey Searcy with model Foxy Moxy

By Robert Campbell

By Robert Campbell

By Torey Searcy with model Foxy Moxy
By Torey Searcy

By Torey Searcy

by Robert Campbell with model Foxy Moxy

We All Have Bad Days

It's true. Sometimes I get the impression that people believe that once you become a body acceptance advocate or activist that your days of self loathing are over. It's like a one time transformation- self loathing caterpillar to accepting butterfly. I think a lot of other FA bloggers have done a good job stressing that self acceptance is a journey. Still, I think that people naturally tend to separate themselves and say "it's a journey for me and I'm not there yet, but they are". Even if they know that's probably not true, we have this habit of placing ourselves below others- not as good as them, not as far along as them in whatever it is we're judging ourselves for. I know I've done it a few times.

It's not that easy-  not for FA activists and not for anyone else. It's a constant struggle. You're fighting the entire world and a massive culture of fat hatred and shaming. You're fighting yourself and all of the indoctrination and shame and stereotypes that are buried deep in your subconscious brain. You are fighting the media industry and the music industry and the ad industry. You're righting a 10 billion dollar a year diet industry. Sometimes you even find yourself fighting supposedly fat friendly industries- like online plus size clothing shops that put all their clothing on thin models.

Photo by Christopher Goette
I've had days when I thought I should just give up. It's too much to fight and it's so exhausting! Especially when you feel like you're making relatively slow or even no progress. And yeah.. then there are those bad days. I've been having a few bad days myself lately. Saturday I went and modeled for a boudoir workshop. I was nervous because, as you may remember, my last one didn't go so well. On top of that I was definitely having one of those days where looking in the mirror was sheer torture. On most days I can look in the mirror and appreciate my curves, love my individuality, and enjoy my sexuality as a fat woman.. some days all I see is what I was raised to see- a fat, unattractive blog. And on those days I attach every stereotype that I fight against to myself.. I think I must just be lazy, I'm eating too much, I need to be exercising more. Well yes, I do need to exercise more- but not as a tool to lose weight, but rather a tool to be healthy and fit. That, however, is not how I was feeling Friday night when trying to decide what to wear to the workshop. Everything I tried on I hated. I went through corsets and waist cinches trying to figure out how to not look like The Blob (not that looking like the blob should be a bad thing.. but some days you can't help but listen to everyone who says it is). I didn't succeed. I picked an outfit (one that wasn't very form fitting) and just sort of resigned myself.

Luckily the workshop went better than expected. The instructor did a good job at making sure both models had plenty of camera time and the students didn't seem to mind too much that they had to shoot a fat girl. As most self conscious fat people do I felt they really wanted to photograph the other model more- and maybe they did, but considering it was one of those days when you assume no one can stand to look at you, I have to chalk it up to my own fear and paranoia that day. Even though I was feeling like crap, I went and modeled anyway. Sometimes you just have to fight through it- do what you know is right whether than what you feel like you should do (like hiding in your room without food until you're "fit" for society). Of course, if you don't feel like pushing through it and facing the society that dehumanizes you so much, then that's fine- stay at home and read FA blogs and browse through The Adipositivity Project for inspiration. Sometimes, you just have a bad day. We all have our bad days. And that's completely alright.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How To Pose A Fat Girl

by Anthony D Thomas
The idea for this post came from a search phrase that I saw through google analytics- someone who came across my site found it by searching for "tips for posing larger women". Since I also have a boudoir class coming up with the Triad Strobist Meetup group I thought I'd go ahead and tell fat girls how to pose and tell photographers how to shoot fat girls.

In essence: exactly like skinny girls. The idea behind "fat posing" is always one of trying to make the model/client look thinner. In essence- it's the opposite of body acceptance! It's about using camera tricks to make your body look like someone else's body under the false  idea that a slimmer body is a better body- a sexier body. Don't shoot fat people from below, don't shoot them from the side (unless it's cleavage, right?) and, for the love of all that is good in the universe, never ever shoot them sitting down and slumped over with their belly rolls hanging over each other. So what's wrong with this picture (or should I say the resulting pictures)?

The thing is- I do have fat rolls. My boobs are small and that means that yes, my belly does stick out in shirts more with no huge tatas to act as tent poles. When I laugh I have a slight double chin and when I put my arms out I have flab. Trying to magic these things away through the use of photoshop and secret mysterious camera angles is  shouting that you're ashamed of your body and want to hide it. Well.. maybe that's what most women do actually want, and yeah.. that's what I wanted most of my life, but I'm not going to advocate for body shame- not now that I've found how wonderful body acceptance can be.

The problem is that we don't treat fat people like they're human beings. We treat them as if they were something to change, to hide, to shame and to eliminate (yes.. I said eliminate. The world is going to be SOL during the next famine when all the fat people are gone). So, my bottom line advice is to treat fat people like you treat everyone else- just like you treat the thin people whom you would never even think of needing "special posing". Let us be who we are. Maybe if we see enough photos that actually look like us we can stop feeling the need to look as good as we do in photos that are half faked.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back in Time

To get into character for this shoot I thought of the persecution and oppression of women during the renaissance. From the 13th to 17th centuries torture became a part of the judicial system in Europe and some tortures were reserved specifically for women. Women were not allowed to speak out against oppression, read, or think for themselves lest they be accused of a crime, tortured, and executed. For this shoot I imagined that I was on the run from my patriarchal oppressors, using secretly gained skills of tracking and stealth. Sadly, were this truly the 17th century I likely would have been caught and killed.

Luckily today I can stand for women's rights without the fear of death or dismemberment. So enjoy the highlights from this shoot by Okeeze Artography. The shoot was incredibly fun and the photographer very easy to work with. We managed to get into a little trouble with the mud and the snow and water which made it all the better. Check our my flickr for more from this set and email me if you'd like to schedule a shoot.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"The Industry Standard"? YOU are what I'm fighting.

Have you ever come across a sizist that just made you want to rage? On Model Mayhem, the main site that I currently go through for shoots, I was browsing images (and there are some truly stunning ones) when I came across a very interesting one. I clicked.

Begin rageface.

Not only did the photographer, in his profile, come across as very rude,but his ideas about beauty embody everything that is wrong with the industry. Embodies everything that I fight against when it comes to the media's abuse of women and young girls. His requirements for working with models? 5'9" or taller and no more than 120lbs- he stressed that this was the absolute max he would take a model at. More so he stressed the need for 100% flawless skin, "politely" informing us "don't waste your time if you don't fit the description".

size 4 model
Okay, for a moment, let's ignore the flawless skin comment. While it's beyond moronic to require flawless skin for an image that you're going to retouch anyway (and he does retouch his photos, of course) the weight and height requirements which, he points out, are the industry standard, are what really got me going. Just for fun I decided to type in his minimum requirements of 5"9 and 120lbs into a BMI calculator. While I don't advocate using one of these on yourself as they are, by and large, pretty useless on measuring health, it was interesting to see that it came in at a status of underweight. Of course, he prefers models who are thinner and taller so let's try 110lbs and 5'11" and you begin getting severely underweight,.

Ana Carolina Reston Marcan size 0 model
who was still modeling until her death due to
 complications from anorexia. 
Now, I want to take a moment to point out that some people are naturally very tall or very thin or both. They eat well, they exercise, and they are healthy. Their bodies are simply no good at storing energy and they should, in no way, be belittled for their natural shape or size. However, the problem here is that the occurring of people like this naturally is fairly rare. The average size of a woman in the US is 14. That means that half of all women are over this and half are under this. I don't know the statistics on just how many people are a size 0-4 (extra small and "the industry standard") but I can assure you, it's not most women.

There is just something a little disturbing about a photographer who requires his models to be underweight and contributes to the attitude among female models that they must starve themselves in order to achieve this magical fantasy of thinness. In 2006 Uruguayan fashion model Luisel Ramos finally reached the coal of size zero and, shortly after a fashion show, died of a heart attack as a result of her extreme dieting. 
size 12 model

Add to this that 80% of elementary age girls feel like they're too fat or need to lose weight and that eating disorders are becoming an epidemic in this country and you have to wonder how people like this can sleep at night.  Seven million women and about a million men in the US are estimated to have an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulemia. These numbers don't even count disordered eating like over eating or binge eating which have less severe physical effects but similarly severe psychological and emotional effects (especially when considering these tend to be dismissed and even mocked leaving the victim feeling more at fault and less likely to seek help). 

This is exactly why I decided to try my hand at modeling and why my profiles all say that I'm here to knock down societal walls. Women need to be evenly represented in the media. They need to know that they should not try to attain anything more than health and happiness and that this "standard" is impossible, ridiculous, and unattainable. More so, they need to know that all bodies can be beautiful and sexy and wonderful.

I'll end this post on a more comical note- the photographer in question also refers to himself in the third person. Yes, you can feel free to laugh and commence eye rolling. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

A romp in the park

I just got back my photos from my shoot with Mike Williams (SeeMyImagesNow). We took a good long walk through Country Park here in Greensboro, NC since the gates were closed and not allowing cars through due to the snow and ice. Even through two hours of walking I managed to have a good time and Mike got some great and fun shots that I really enjoy. If you'd like to see the rest of the set, please visit my flickr page. Contact me if you'd like to schedule a shoot.

I couldn't pass up this shot after Mike asked me to climb onto the canon and sit. I had to show just who was boss. Obviously, I am. Thank you yoga practice for making my balance awesome (because yes, I am wearing heels).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Body Revolution Project

Welcome to the second post of the Body Revolution Project. I started this project by posting photos of myself in a sudden surge of photo activism when I realized I wasn't as comfortable with my body as I wanted to be. Body acceptance is an ongoing struggle and one which I must push the limits of every single day. After that first post, I decided that I should get other people involved.. so for this project I'm going to deviate away from photos of myself and talk about my own experiences to bring you photos and experiences from others. I've asked my friends from all over the internet to send me photos of themselves with a message of body acceptance. Hopefully this will be an ongoing project and I hope to make a new post every month or so. If I get enough people participating it may even get it's own website so stay tuned. You can see the first post here. And now, I present to you, The Body Revolution Project.

 Bask in your own glory

Love that which moves you

"Sagging and freckled and scarred, this is the fate of gravity over cleavage" Love them for how they change with you through the years

Love every part of you. 

This body nurtured and gave life to another
(photo by Heather Kolaya)

If you have submitted a photo and don't see it here it will be in a future post. If you would like to submit a photo simply email a photo of yourself or a link to a photo of yourself to You may take a photo of your body in whole or in part (just no below the belt private parts please) and I will convert it to black and white and crop/adjust light for artistic effect. You can choose to write a body positive message on yourself, or not, but we'd love it if you did. :-) All of the photos here are taken by the participants unless otherwise noted. I will be doing my own part to help by taking photos of volunteers myself. If you live in Eastern NC and would like me to photograph you, email me and let me know.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fat Girl Shopping

My favorite store to shop at locally is Torrid which is about a fifteen minutes drive to the local mall. Shopping at Torrid is fantastic but can quickly get expensive. The tops are almost never under $40. Two tops and a pair of jeans? Be prepared to pay a good $150. It would be nice if I could go into any normal store- GAP, Target, Walmart, Old Navy, etc and find some fashionable, affordable clothes that actually come in my size.

I just had a shoot which I had to run out to get some razor blades for (I can't wait to show you guys the photos when I get them!) and decided to see if I could find anything appropriately emo for the shoot or anything candy colored for an upcoming shoot. I started down the clothing aisle at Target and saw some amazingly cute clothes. I looked up and found the sign titled "plus size" (which was right beside "maternity". Nice Target.. nice.), however, when I got to the sign, I couldn't actually find the plus size section. After asking a sales attendant I was directed to a single row of round racks mashed between pregnancy pants and clearance racks. I was told that there were actually two rows, but upon investigation I found this to be untrue. What I found were T-shirts, tank tops, and a few sweaters. Ultimately I went to the checkout counter with a single tank top.

It's a pattern. If there are cute clothes, they will not be in your size. If there is a plus size section at all it is likely to be a fraction of the size of the "normal" sized section (if they call one plus size shouldn't they call the other other negative size or something equally ridiculous?). Nevermind that over half of women in the US wear a larger size than the 10 or 12 they usually stock, if you can find clothes in your size, apparently, you're not allowed to be stylish. Walmart, for example, has a fairly large plus size section.. but if you think you're going to find anything cute in there, you have another thing coming to you. They specialize in loony toons T's and bag shirts. I'm not saying that you don't occasionally find a gem, but for the most part you're going to spend far longer trying to pick out an outfit than any person who wears a size 10 or lower. Or you're going to go to Torrid and pay three times as much.

Fat people, remember, it is your duty to embody the stereotypes that people place on you by looking slovenly and unfashionable. Thankfully, that's not hard to do. Looking trendy is so difficult that it would be hard not to embody those stereotypes.

On that note I'd like to leave you with Joy Nash's Fat Rant for those of you who haven't already seen this fantastic video.

Dreaming of Wheels

I finally dreamed of myself in a wheelchair . How we view ourselves is often hard. What we think of ourselves, even how we picture ourse...