Tuesday, August 30, 2011

When is okay to laugh at the disabled?

Answer: NEVER

I was pleasantly surprised yesterday when I read an article about how the hit TV show, Tosh.0, may inadvertently be helping the lgbt community lessen homophobia. Tosh.0 is a modern day version of America's Funniest Home Videos except that the videos are youtube videos. Seeing as my browser rarely lets me watch videos inside of blogs I went directly to youtube to watch the video of Daniel Tosh and his coworkers popping viagra and watching hardcore gay porn which, unfortunately, alerted me to this video:

Tosh: When is it okay to laugh at the disabled?
video of two fat women in electric wheelchairs going down the road with one wheelchair hooked to the first. [laughter]
Tosh: now, now, now!
video replays
Tosh: if train A leaves walmart going 1 mile an hour... good thing she swung for the tow package on that rascal. And I see mom's wearing her going out tarp [laughter]. Shame on you for laughing. I don't find these jokes funny. Whenever I see someone in a wheelchair I always offer them a ride
video clip of a truck towing a long series of wheelchairs behind it with the last wheelchair turned over and being dragged with no one inside.
Tosh: 98% of them made it to their destination safely

So when is okay to make fun of the disabled? Well when they're fat of course!  Because then you know it's their own fault- unlike that football player who became completely paralyzed during a game.. no, he didn't put himself in that situation at all. Being a football player is genetic and being fat is a choice you know. At 0:17 you can see the second woman flip off the camera guy- good for her! And I sincerely hope with every bit of my being that she went home, got on a fat acceptance support group and was able to get pissed off with lots of people supporting her. Not only was she recorded by some random asshole in a car just for having the audacity to appear in public while fat but the video went viral and ended up on a national TV show.

I can't even begin to articulate why this is so disgusting. Not only do they have no idea why these women are fat or why they are disabled, but even if they did, it doesn't give them the right to emotionally and psychologically abuse these women. And I hope it truly hits home how severe the word "abuse" is because I mean it in it's most serious form. These men are using sizism, sexism, classism, and ableism to oppress and grievously injure complete strangers who have does nothing to them except  dare to appear in their line of vision.

Bigotry 101: if your sentence starts with "when is okay to laugh at" followed by an oppressed group then you should probably stop right there.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Maggie buys a dress in her own fucking size

Based on the series by Brian from Red No. 3, Maggie Joins a Roller Derby League, Maggie Gets a Mater's in Gender Studies, and Maggie Gains Back the Weight and Learns to Accept Her Body.  When I first read about the diet book aimed at 4-12 year olds, Maggie Goes on a Diet, one of my initial thoughts was "or she could just buy a dress in her own fucking size". And let me tell you, a pink size 14 prom dress? Not hard to find.  So when I looked at Brian's original (awesome) manipulation I thought "that dress needs to be her size!" so I damn well made it her size! Obviously the title plays off of Brian's but with my own bit added onto the end.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thinspiration *trigger warning*

So, just for kicks I decided to visit some pro-ana websites and seek out some 'thinspiration'. Okay, admittedly it wasn't just for kicks. I wanted to get an idea of what these people were aspiring to after browsing through a photograoher's portfolio on model mayhem. Browsing portfolios often elicits this kind of reaction. The problem isn't that these women have bones that show- some women are naturally thin and naturally bony. I've worked with models like this- no biggie. The problem, of course, becomes when that one body type becomes something that is held up as a social ideal- a body type that everyone should aspire to. For those who don't have that body type naturally they often resort to disordered eating such as chronic dieting and, for millions of Americans, eating disorders. There are enough Americans with eating disorders to make up New York City- or L.A., Chicago, and Houston combined.

So what prompted this foray into the world of pro ED sites? The photo was black and white. A tall, very thin model, twisted and arched, her ribs visible down her back and hip bones that jutted out from a slightly concave stomach- not unlike this photo (which I found on a thinspo/pro ana site, by the way). I can't post the actual photos that got me thinking about this, but I'll tell you that bones are incredibly common on modeling sites and in photograher's portfolios.. and that the pro ana pro mia sites that I visited had photos very similar for their goals. I can't begin to say how disturbed I am that the photos of photographers I know and have worked with resemble (and in some cases are more extreme than) those used on pro ED websites.

Even photographers I've worked with have posted photos of women with bones sticking so far out it seems painful. I really wish I could post some- just for reference, but I won't. Instead I'll share some actual photos that I found on pro ana websites:

Kate Moss who said
"nothing tastes as good as skinny feels"
photo very similar to many I see on
modeling sites

I see photos like this often in photographer's portfolios

again- something similar to the photos
that promoted this post

victoria secret model

some male thinspo
As you can see, bones are pretty popular. Rib bones and hip bones being the most common. And these photos are actually not as bony as some of the photos that I'm referring to. So this is what I found out by visiting pro ana and pro mia sites: the people they use for thinspiration? The people they're aspiring to? They're not what you think of when you think of anorexia. They're not this. Did I find a few of those images on pro ana sites? Sure I did, but very few. The vast majority of photos, of thinspiration, were of people that society as a whole considers ideal and beautiful (you'll notice that most, if not all of these are from ads, celebrities, or professional models). And if these sites ever find some of the photographer's ports that I've been looking through? Well they'd have a field day. 

Again, I'm not saying that people who look like the people in the above photos should be considered bad, gross, unhealthy, or anything else. If that's their natural body type then it just is. The problem comes from the fact that we want everyone to look like them regardless of what they have to do to get there. And as the beauty ideal is pushed thinner and thinner it seems that bones are getting more and more popular. At the same time we seem to have more and more people speaking out against models being ultra thin. It seems like a common reaction- for an extreme to get even more extreme as they're being phased out. Despite the massive amount of fatphobia we still have to fight, I do believe that we're moving towards body acceptance overall. There are still plenty of fatphobes who, while they think fat is bad, they also recognize the problem with idealizing the ultra thin and setting that as a standard and goal. I just wish more photographers would catch on. 

As it is, right now, bones are the beautiful and artsy thing to photograph. So what do I do? Who's going to listen to a fat model who tells them "hey, your photos look like thinspo and you're contributing to an unhealthy social ideal".  Like most activists, there are lots of times when I feel like things are never going to change. This bone trend thing? Yeah.. it feels like that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Diet book for 4 year olds- because 8 year old is just too old to start hating your body

Maggie goes on a diet. Everyone else is adding their two cents so I figured I'd chime in as well. As everyone probably knows already, this is a children's book targeted to children ages 4-8 (according to amazon) or 6-12 (according to Barnes and Noble). The age range listed on amazon is slightly more disturbing, but children 4-12 shouldn't be reading this book either. In fact no one should be reading books about dieting and body shaming, but kids are particularly vulnerable. Everyone trying to defend the book is going on about how no one's even read it (it's not available until October). All I have to say is- can we get real here? Can anyone really claim that something like this is okay? Or parrot the 'ole "don't judge a book by it's cover" line? We have the cover as well as a description and that's more than enough, thank you very much. Let me tell you a little something about eating disorders- and be prepared, I won't be nice and I won't be my usual eloquent self. I will curse and I will get mad.

To the people defending this book or defending diets and weight loss programs for children- are you fucking kidding me? Do you even have an inkling of the horrors that people who struggle with disordered eating and eating disorders face? Do you have any idea what it's like to live in a fat body at 14 years old (the age of the girl in the story)? It would be one thing if this book was about exercising and eating right and being healthy- it's not. It's about a fattie getting thin and solving all of her life problems. Bullshit. Not only can she be a soccer star while also being a big fat fattie, but she can be happy and healthy and wear a pink dress in her size.

I also have a problem with the photo- that's not a size 14. Images like this severely distort how we think about body sizes. Or, as my husband calls it, social body dysmorphia. This is a size 14. The girl in the picture looks closer to a size 26 or so. I know sizes look a bit different on teens, but come on. This is me at a size 16 at age 16 (only two years older than Maggie here. Yes, it's a picture of a picture. So sue me.) There's nothing wrong with being a size 26 but there is something wrong with distorting what we imagin when we think of sizes because it helps push those ideals lower. It simply highlights the sensationalist nature of this book.

What, you think this won't contribute to the same diet culture that creates and perpetuates those eating disorders to begin with? It's true that no one thing suddenly causes an eating disorder or self esteem problems. It's not just this book that's the problem. The problem is that our entire culture supports the ideas in this book. It's not about this one book, it's about the fact that kids already have enough body hate thrown at them, they don't need mommy and daddy reading them books about hating their bodies when they go to bed at night.

Let me regurgitate some facts for you (yes, I used that word on purpose):

  • half of little girls 3-to-6 think they're fat 
  • eating disorders (specifically anorexia and bulimia) in kids under the age of 12 rose 119% over the past 9 years
  • Eating disorders on the whole rose 15%.
  • A majority of 5-year-olds would rather lose an arm than be fat (did you read that? I fucking said FIVE YEAR OLDS)
  • More than 60% of teenage girls skip breakfast at least once a week and nearly 20% skip it every day.
  • An estimated 1 in 3 of all dieters develop compulsive dieting attitudes and behaviors. Of these, one quarter will develop full or partial eating disorders.
  • In a study of children aged 8-10, approximately 50 per cent of girls said they were unhappy with their size.
  • In a study of girls aged 9-15, more than 50 per cent claimed they exercised to lose weight, nearly 50 per cent claimed they reduced food intake in order to lose weight, and approximately 5 per cent claimed to use their parents' diet pills or laxatives in order to lose weight.
  • One out of three women and one out of four men are on a diet at any given time.
  • In 1970 the average age a girl started dieting was fourteen; by 1990 the average age dropped to eight. (This book apparently thinks that's too old since it's targeted at 4-12 year olds).
  • 51% of nine and ten year old girls stated they felt better about themselves when they were adhering to a diet.
  • Frequent dieting is highly correlated with depression
  • 79% of teenage girls who vomit and 73% of teenage girls who use diet pills are frequent readers of women’s health and fitness magazines.
  • 81% of ten year old girls are afraid of being fat.
  • 42% of girls in first through third grades state they want to be thinner.
  • 30% of women chose an ideal body shape that is 20% underweight and an additional 44% chose an ideal body shape that is 10% underweight.
  • Kids as young as four are being hospitalized for eating disorders (four- keeping in mind this book targets kids as young as four according to the amazon website)

I could go on, but I don't think I need to. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Razors and Pins **trigger warning**

**Trigger Warning for depictions of self harm and suicide**

edit: oops, guess I should have mentioned that the blood is, of course, fake blood- just corn syrup, cocoa powder, and red food dye.

I finally got the photos from this shoot which I did back in January. I haven't done a lot of angsty or depressive photoshoots, but I wanted to explore it and Anthony Thomas volunteered for the job. It took me forever to hang all those damn razor blades and, yes, the safety pins are really stuck through my skin- it started to hurt about half way up, but hey, it's for art, right? No one can say I don't go the extra mile! As always, follow my flickr page to see complete sets- I never post all of the photos from a shoot on my blog- it's usually just too many photos.

Also I'd like to point you to the TWLOHA website. The "To Write Love on Her Arms" campaign is one dedicated to raising awareness about depression and self injury. Please support them and their cause and let your friends, family, and loved ones know that you support them in their struggle.

incorporating my dermographia

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fishnets and Tulle

Another set of images from the PERC workshop I modeled for in June. I'm not sure what this look is, but perhaps burlesque inspired? I had an equal number of photos in this outfit with a red feather boa which was given to me by the instructor, but being vegan it made me feel uncomfortable and I decided not to post them. No fears though, I'm working on trying to find a vegan boa and, when I do, I'll do a set with it.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Today I was reading this post over at The Fat Nutritionist (if you don't follow her yet, you need to get on that ASAP!) . What's better or more yummy sounding than a post about snacks?

Michelle says
Snacks are legitimate, snacks are official, and when you decide that you are going to eat them and make them a non-negotiable part of taking care of yourself with food, you can stop feeling guilty about them immediately.

I'm right on board with that. Since I began eating intuitively I've done plenty of snacking. It would probably be helpful to delve into the depths disordered eating that I engaged in pre fat acceptance, but I'm not going to yet. It's an emotionally painful topic that I'm not yet prepared to share. Someday I hope I will, but let's just say that intuitive eating was a radical change for me. When do I snack? Usually when my tummy's a-growlin' and there are still hours to go until the next meal. I've learned that when my body says eat that I should probably listen. Yeah, it means I may eat less at meal time, but it doesn't matter because my body is telling me when to stop eating and, well, it knows best.

Just for fun I thought I'd tell you some of my favorite snacks! And then you can share some of yours!

Fruit! My faves are bananas with peanutbutter and flax seed, strawberries, plums, and oranges

Veggies!  My favorites are carrots, tomatoes (I know, technically a fruit), cucumbers, and broccoli . My most common snack is veggies with hummus or a delish vegan ranch dip made with a cashew base. (really- basically just cashews, vinegar, and some spices! yum!)

TOFU! (yes, that did warrant all caps) I can't even tell you how much I love tofu so sometimes when I'm hungry and in need of a snack I'll toss 1/4lb of tofu with some BBQ sauce

Guacamole and tortilla chips- preferably organic blue tortilla chips. (I know, the photo is of a taco dip with follow your heart vegan cheese, but I didn't have any photos of just guac)


Peanut butter wafers. Mmmm. This one's only a recent snack item since I only discovered that these were vegan and a "hell's yeah!" was in order. 

Mmmmm snacks. So what are your favorites?

edit: the peanut butter wafers have changed their formulas it seems and are no longer vegan (or I somehow missed 'milk fat' in the ingredients list the first half dozen times I read it) 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Time. It Has Been Wasted.

I've been to some bad, awkward, or insulting shoots, but one thing I really don't appreciate? My fucking time being wasted. The photographer who contacted me on model mayhem, firstly, didn't send me any contact information such as a phone number in case of emergencies. Then they sent me to the wrong location- the wrong city entirely! So what should have been a ten minute drive turned into twenty minutes to the wrong city, ten minutes of aimless wandering and trying to figure out where I was actually supposed to be (didn't help that I couldn't contact the photographer), then another 30 minutes back to the correct city.

By Art By Ash Photography

Getting there late for a group shoot meant that they had already gone off and started shooting which meant another half an hour of wandering around trying to find them. And this is North Carolina people. In August. Heat index of over a hundred degrees and sweltering humidity. I finally found the group and, seeing I was all dressed up, assumed I was a makeup artist. When I corrected them many of them tried to shoo me off to find another group (it had split off into several groups of photographers by then). They had no idea where the group was but they wanted me to go wander off to who fucking knows where in heels. Hell to the no. So, my reward for sticking with this first group of around 15 or so photographers (with one other model) was to be completely ignored for the next 20 minutes.

At first I waited patiently for them to be done with the first model.. waiting my turn. But when they were done they just picked up and moved to a new location and started shooting her again! So I waited again and they did the same damn thing! At that point I simply walked back to my car and left. I could have been relaxing today after a busy day yesterday.

For those of you who follow my twitter or facebook page and were expecting some awesome badass photos as a result- I'm sorry, but not a single photo of me was produced. I promise to make it up with even more awesomness soon though. </rant>

Saturday, August 6, 2011

War Paint

It's been a while since I've done a photo post. Losing my hard drive (twice) and the horrible humid heat of North Carolina has made Summer rather slow. Still, what better way to jump back in than by getting down and dirty? Oh and boy did I get dirty. This drip paint shoot with Art By Ash was really fun and by the end I had gotten paint down my face, in my hair, down my shirt, all over my clothes, and up and down my arms- I even ended up with paint in my mouth a couple of times. One shot (which you can see on flickr) shows me with a green tongue. I'd love to do more body painting in various forms and Ashley was fun to work with.

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...