Monday, December 30, 2013

A New Year

Tomorrow is the last day of 2013. I still have Christmas songs stuck in my head and I'm not quite ready for 2014. I do not make resolutions for each new year. Studies show that they don't work anyway. But what I'm going to do this year is set a goal. Not an unrealistic goal that I'll beat myself up over if I don't achieve it (like we do with resolutions which ends up in a habitual cycle of hope, failure, and self loathing). My goal is to love myself even more. But, fat girl posing, don't you already love yourself wholly and completely? God, I wish. Yes, even I, who pose naked and then post those photos on the internet for people to see, am not totally at peace with myself.

by Travis McKeithan
Yesterday my husband said something about my, um, large posterior. Despite the fact that he was talking positively about it, it cut me. I guess I had this image in my head of myself and, yes, my giant ass, but I secretly hoped no one else had that same image of me. Which means I'm maybe not as far along on my self acceptance journey as I thought. Maybe if I had an ideally shaped fat frame (like the hour glass frame with a round booty) I'd be more at peace with myself. That's not an excuse though... self acceptance is about accepting yourself regardless of your shape. So, flat ass or no, I should be loving every inch of it. Hubby certainly does, so why can't I?

So that's my new year's goal. To love my big ass, my small breasts, my thick thighs, and every other part of me. I've come such a long way from self hatred and an eating disorder to fat activist and model. I'm not giving up now. I have so many wonderful fat activist and body positive friends whom I can go to for support or just to complain. I'm so thankful for every single reader and fan that I have on this blog and all of the support and love that you offer.

So, while this year is ending and another one is beginning, it gives us all an opportunity to be a little kinder to ourselves, to love ourselves a little more and, for the love of everything good, to ditch the diet resolutions. Weight loss is the number one resolution every new year's and also the number one failure. Why? Because diets don't work, no, not even if you call them "lifestyle changes". So make your goal to love your body, no matter what. All the rolls and wrinkles and dimples, the hills and the plains. Every part of you is special and beautiful. Every part of me is special and beautiful. Now, I just have to remember that for the rest of 2014. And I know I will will the support of my loved ones, friends, and, of course, all of you.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays and a great big goodbye to 2013! It's been real, but I'm ready for new adventures in the coming year.

Right now I'll leave you what's likely the last photo post of the year with my lovely winter dress from AutoAlive on Etsy.








Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Autumn Air

All photos are from the wonderful Ginny Johnson whom I worked with at a class/workshop for the North Carolina Photography Group (an experience which I'll write about later). The first few images aren't fall themed (and rather cold in the color scheme), but were done for my good friend Sharon who requested I shoot in this beautiful oriental dress she gave me.








Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Bountilful Skeleton

It's getting close to Halloween everyone! Let the spooky, fanciful, and altogether awesomness of the season begin!

Photo by Brian Leon

Photo by Mackenzie Evans

Photo by Brian Leon

Photo by Jimmy Dagenhart

Photo by mackenzie Evans

Photo by Brian Leon

Photo by Jimmy Dagenhart

photo by Brian Leon

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

National Suicide Awareness Week

So, how many times can I write about my past suicide attempts without becoming repetitious? How many times can I lament about the number of people who attempt or complete suicide because of bullying? How many times can I repeat myself that self harm is often a second away from a slit wrist? I'll tell you how many times: not enough. It's National Suicide Awareness Week and that time of year that I talk about suicide and bullying and self harm and  yes, weight stigma. Because weight stigma is the number one cause of bullying at school. And we know that kids who are fat or even perceive themselves as fat are more at risk for depression, self injury, suicide attempts, anxiety, eating disorders, and more. So talking about weight during National Suicide Awareness Week seems pretty important considering fat kids are more likely to be bullied and attempt suicide.

The kicker here is how many people use these things as justification for more weight stigma. They say that being fat is unpleasant and therefore people should get thin for their own mental health. But is the cure for ending weight stigma more stigma? I think the obvious answer here is no. The answer is ending stigma and discrimination and oppression. Because you know what is absolutely not good for a person's health? Yeah, those things. The problem is that people believe weight is mutable. That it's a choice we make. And, for about 5% of people weight may indeed be malleable through what we deem "lifestyle changes". Eat healthier, exercise regularly and poof, new body! The problem is that for those other 95% of people it doesn't work so well. You tend to diet and exercise and yet the weight always comes back no matter what you do and, most of the time, you just end up heavier than when you started! Well no matter how much busting your ass you've done, the stigma is still there. You did the work, you made the changes, and yet the weight doesn't go away for you and neither does the stigma.

For me, I was a skinny kid until about 2nd/3rd grade (or 7/8 years old) when my Bipolar Disorder hit. Suddenly, with no change to my habits, I put on a good 100lbs in about three years. And I've been about the same size ever since (a size 22). Yes, in 6th grade I wore a size 22 in women's. Try shopping for cute trendy clothes at that age and that size! And yeah, I was bullied mercilessly, I lost all of my friends, I was asked out by boys as a joke, and, at age 10, I attempted suicide. I've written about my first suicide attempt enough that it almost feels numbing and yet part of that is the unbelievable fact that a 10 year old would try to kill themselves. And yet it happens more than we'd like to think.

I'd like to point out that since finding fat acceptance I haven't had a single suicide attempt or suicidal thought related to my weight. I believe that finding acceptance and love and community has helped immensely and there's at least one study that backs that up.

So here's a question: If weight is so important in bullying and suicide statistics why isn't it talked about more? In the movie Bully, weight was never once brought up as a reason for bullying for instance. I saw the movie and yes, parts of it moved me to tears. It was a good movie, and yet it lacked a vital life saving part of the puzzle. People look at fat kids and fat adults as fair game. They did this to themselves so they deserve derision and abuse. We have a responsibility to address this, especially in spaces that aren't fat specific spaces or feminism specific spaces. It has to be seen in the same way that bullying for other attributes are seen- as unacceptable and as the bigotry that it is. Getting fat bullying and suicide into the mainstream will be hugely important in how we deal with this topic and how we solve this problem.

The fact is, it doesn't matter if weight is a choice or not. No one deserves to be bullied and abused into attempting suicide. It doesn't matter if it's because the kid is fat, disabled, lgbt, a racial minority, poor, or just plain weird. Everyone deserves respect and understanding. Everyone.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Unimportant

I'll admit it, most people think what I do is  unimportant and it hurts. One guy on facebook called me an antifeminist and a show pony for doing what I do. I'm relatively unknown and I don't think I'll ever be "discovered". I've been blogging and posting for three years now and I'm no where near as famous as most fat activists I know- even fatshion bloggers are more respected than I am. Why? Because all I do is sit in front of a camera and pout....right?

I'm here to tell you that what I do is hard. Not just physically, although holding a difficult pose for an undefined period of time can get hard, no, I mean emotionally. Like everyone else I have issues with my body. Although I resolved much of my body hatred when I discovered fat acceptance, I still have a deeply ingrained dislike of my fat, my small boobs, my big nose, my non existent eyebrows, my.. well, you get the point. But here's the thing. I don't do this for myself. I know it may seem like it's a boost to my self esteem or whatever, but it's actually not. The thing about cognitive dissonance is that other people telling you how pretty and photogenic you are does not necessarily make you feel like it is so. And I often post photos that I even hate (not because it's a bad photo, but because I feel too ugly or fat) because I know it's not for me.

The point of what I do is to show other people who have bodies that don't fit into the typical thin model archetype (even "plus size" models who still tend to have big breasts and flat bellies) and they should love and be proud of who they are. I get so many messages telling me things like "your body is so much like mine" and "I thought my body was weird and unattractive". Then they tell me how I've helped them in some way. These are little bits of sunshine in my otherwise dreary and anxiety filled days. I'm feeling quite a bit of anxiety right now, at this very moment, because it's so difficult to explain the importance of what I do.

I challenge the system. Yes, even though I'm a part of it. In the same way that people of color often challenge the system by inserting themselves into modeling, acting, etc. Because while the system is flawed (okay, very flawed), you can't fix it by sitting on the outside. We can complain about people of size not being represented, but who's going out there and representing us? You can't talk about how models are getting thinner and how unrealistic they are without needing models who are representative of a wider range of bodies. So yeah, I'm a part of the broken system (sort of since I'm not actually part of the broader modeling scene), but it's an important part.

Part of the reason I began modeling was because I never saw a body like mine. Not "plus size" models with their flat tummies, not fatshion bloggers who didn't have folds like I do and always seem to be smaller. I didn't see a lot of people posting photos of themselves online and I certainly didn't see a lot of what their bodies actually looked like. I know fatshion has gotten more popular in the last couple of years and so now I probably could find people with similar body types, but no one who's willing to pose in, goodness forbid- the nude! (My one saving grace is adipositivity)

I still hesitate every time I make a photo post. I still have dread. I still haven't rid myself of all of my body issues and fears. But it's not about me, is it? It's about you. So yeah, it's hard. It's hard being unsure of yourself and posing in front of a camera. It's hard to put yourself out there, to send messages to photographers when most of them will reject you. It's hard to post those photos online to be scrutinized. It's hard to read the troll comments that those posts attract. Emotionally it's exhausting. Sometimes it's so exhausting that I just do nothing for a while. But I do believe it helps people and it does good and that it's important. And that's why I'll continue, for as long as I can.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pink and White

There were so many great photos by Alyson Lawton that I'm having to split the photos up into a couple of posts. This is the first. Obviously these photos are from a couple months ago when I still had pink hair. Alyson is a talented photographer and I very much enjoyed working with her and hope to work with her again in the future.











Sunday, July 7, 2013

Electric Banana

Electric banana is the name of the manic panic in my hair ;-). This is the first time I've done all over yellow and I'm loving it! Photos by the talented Travis McKeithan.