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. 



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! (fatgirlposing@yahoo.com). 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.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Broken Toys

I want to say a special thank you to Sarah Robertson who not only organized this shoot, but organizes shoots that are unique and fun regularly. She also models and is an amazing friend. I also want to say thanks to Constance Medrano who was my makeup artist for this shoot. Photographers are credited under each photo.

Happy Halloween everyone!



Photo by Lois Davis 

Photo by Rob Miracle

Photo by Lois Davis 

Photo by Cawanau Keeling
Photo by Rob Miracle


Monday, September 28, 2015

Bi and Fat- Oversexualization and Desexualization equals objectification

Last week was Bi-Visibility week and Weight Stigma Awareness week. It seems like the perfect time to post my talk from last year's Fat Activism Conference on the intersection of fat and queer issues- specifically fat and bi issues. This is a rather lengthy post. My time for the conference was about 12 minutes and I took up every minute of it for this important issues.

My topic today is rather specific. I want to address the oversexualization of bisexual and fat women combined with the desexualization of fat women and how this creates a perfect storm for objectification and how that objectification affects fat bisexual women. I’ve chosen to specifically speak about this issue because, as a fat bisexual woman myself, I feel like I can speak to my own experiences.


First of all I want to throw out a trigger warning for those who need it because I’m talking to be talking a little bit about rape culture and statistics as it pertains to the objectification of women and bisexual women in particular.


I want to talk about this trend that I see where there is this mash up of oversexualization and desexualization. Oversexualization can apply to a lot of people but right now I’m going to talk about the topic as it pertains to bisexual women. As a bisexual woman I get to hear a lot of the stereotypes and then some. Bisexuals are sluts, they cheat, they’re dirty, they carry STD’s, they’ll sleep with anyone, they’re always up for a threesome. While there’s a hearty dose of slut shaming in biphobia I want to focus particularly on the stereotypes that bisexuals have a lot of sex and that that sex is somehow what defines them.


If you’ll notice, most stereotypes about bisexuals involve sex. While monosexuals have alternative names for their sexuality (gay, lesbian, straight) bisexuals are stuck with “sex” in the title. This may be both caused by and contribute to the problematic ways bi people are viewed.


Bisexuals are rarely seen as people and often seen as oversexed and always willing. It is, perhaps, for this reason that bisexual women face rape more often than monosexual women. In fact, they’re about three times more likely to experience it. According to the CDC, 61% of bisexual women have been raped, stalked, or assaulted by an intimate partner compared to 41% of lesbian women and 35% of straight women. The segment of these women facing rape is even scarier. 13% of lesbians, 17% of straight women, and a whopping 46% of bisexual women have experienced rape.


So imagine what that means for bisexual women. Imagine how terrifying that is. Women in general have to constantly be on their guard even in the midst of friends. Remember that most rapes are perpetrated by someone known to the victim. So 46%, almost half, that’s a big number, that’s a scary number. It means never being sure if you’re safe.


It’s pretty obvious that oversexualization leads to objectification. Objectification is the point at which a living being becomes an object, a commodity.In media we often see women literally turned into objects. One recent example is a coca cola bottle with a human-eque shape and a fat belly used to talk about the “obesity epidemic”. This is a clear example of the objectification of fat people, but let’s get back to women in general for a moment.  A study by Princeton psychologists showed that some men (specifically  men that they identified as sexist) had less brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that helps identify humanity, when shown photos of scantily clad women, indicating that they were not seen as human, but rather as objects. This means that men who show other signs of sexism, that is, a prejudice against women, are more likely to see women like they’re less than human. And  it’s so much easier to commit violence against someone that you barely see as human.


Objectification is possibly the only logical outcome to oversexualiztion.


To oversexualize simply means to make a person’s core being into a sexual one. To define them by their sexuality and their use for sex while denying them their own agency or being in control of their own sexual being. I deal with this fairly often as I run an art project called The Fat Naked Art Project. Fat naked bodies which are meant neither to be sexualized nor objectified, but this is often the case. Inappropriate comments have needed to be moderated time and time again. My fat models, very specifically the women, are seen as nothing more than sexual objects, specifically fat objects. Their entire identity and being often reduced to the type of belly they have or the size of their thighs.


So then, I’ll beg the question, why are fat women so oversexualized? One reason may be that fat women often have larger breasts, which are downright fetishized in our culture. But another reason may be that fat women are othered, made to feel different, to exist in a separate societal box. This makes them into a forbidden fruit dangling just out of reach. Fat women have their own set of sexual stereotypes as well. They’re always easy, they’re desperate, they’ll sleep with anyone who pays attention to them. These stereotypes that over sexualize fat women also lead to  many people seeing them as objects which leads us back to rape culture.


Several months ago I wrote a post on my blog about fat girls and rape culture which was inspired by a cafepress T-shirt which read “fat girls can’t say no and when they do it means yes”. Fat girls and women who are sexually assaulted are often told a myriad of horrible things to try and delegitimize their experiences. “You should be grateful” is the one I hear most often. Yes, grateful, because who would want to touch a fat chick?


And here we come to the desexualization of fat women. Isn’t it interesting that we can be both hypersexualized and desexualized at the same time? Our sexuality is often denied to us. In the movie, The Lorax, the fat aunt of the main character is being rather mean and the lorax himself threatens to hit her. Our main character steps in, asking, “you wouldn’t hit a woman would you?” to which the lorax replies  “that’s a woman?!”. It’s all for good laughs, right? Fat women are rarely allowed to be sexual beings in the media and when they are it’s as a twist, a surprise, or a joke.


I’m a huge doctor who fan. Even with all of it’s problems I can’t stop watching it. But I couldn’t help but notice that Donna, the one character who is, although not fat, a little thicker, the only companion who is never ever shown as a sexual being. In fact, her lack of sexuality is joked about in “The Doctor’s Daughter” episode where she offers to use her “womanly wiles” to get past some guards. The butt of the joke yet again. When Rebel Wilson becomes sexual in Bridesmaids it is a garish display that involves, you guessed it, food. Her sexuality is meant to be laughed at in that way that she’s not really sexual at all.


Both oversexualization and desexualization share a common aspect in the removal of our agency. While men, straight women, and lesbians often take control of and ownership of their sexualities, both oversexualization and desexualization involve having those decisions taken away. Women are oversexualized through the assumptions and assertions that they want any sex with any person, and do not need to consent to that. These women are given a default of “yes”. Women are desexualized when the agency over sex is taken away from them and given to someone else. Sex is not something fat women are seen as having a choice in, but something the generous will gift upon them and they can only respond by being grateful.


It’s interesting to note that fat people are often hypervisible while being completely invisible at the same time. By Hypervisible I mean that fat is on everyone’s lips, we’re in the news, all over the media, even on the radio and ads and billboards, but we’re talked about as dehumanized objects. The classic headless fatty is a good example. We’re invisible in the sense that we’re rarely seen as human and, indeed, our humanity flies under the radar.


In a very similar way bisexual women are hypervisible, in that women are almost expected to be bisexual, to experiment, to have a more fluid sexuality, but we’re sexualized to the point of dehumanization. Actual bisexual issues including biphobia and discrimination are overlooked, made invisible. While bisexual women are oversexualized and not desexualized it’s a problem in and of itself that bisexual women are seen as being constant sexual beings and sexual objects.


Living as a fat bisexual woman means being oversexualized and desexualized in various ways. Specifically I believe that the combination of oversexualization and desexualization inherently lead to objectification because it dehumanizes it’s target.


What does this dehumanization and objectification mean for every day fat bisexual women though? What it means is constant stigmatization, discrimination, oppression, and violence. We’re objects that aren’t important enough to treat with respect or equality. It can very often mean violence (from verbal to physical) from partners who have something to prove, it can mean being othered, , it can mean rape culture is a daily reality for you, it can mean being bullied and abused and it can mean a constant state of anxiety in a culture that refuses to recognize your basic humanity.


Being fat is it’s own challenge, but being fat and queer is it’s own experience. While being queer isn’t usually outwardly visible and being fat is, they can carry different consequences that, when combined, can become overwhelming. As a bisexual you can become automatically closeted because people assume your sexuality based on your current relationship. As a fat woman your sexuality can be automatically invalidated. And as a fat bisexual woman you can be fetishized and dehumanized.


I believe the solution to these issues is the destigmatization of both fat bodies and queer identities. Though the oppression of both of these groups is deeply ingrained in our society, it’s not a lost cause. As queer rights and fat rights pick up steam via social media, literature, protests, and demonstrations, we also pick up more supporters. While I fear that internalized fatphobia and biphobia may be a large hurdle, I have seen this overcome in so many people through my activism and the activism of others that it gives me great hope. I’m so inspired by many other activists and I see the progress we’ve made even since I found fat acceptance in 2010. While it almost seems like the “war on obesity” efforts have doubled, fat acceptance is spreading quickly.

Perhaps the key to destigmatization is not only getting others to accept us, but to get people to accept themselves. In a society where we often deal with internalized bigotry, self acceptance is a core part of our activism and goals. When you convince one person to change their bigotry and lack of acceptance for others, you make a small but meaningful impact towards the change we need to see.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

In Celebration of Cellulite

 I literally woke up like this. These photos are taken in my home, after waking up, hair messy and any makeup just left over from the night before. I originally took these photos for a friend who wanted to paint me. I especially hated the last one... the cellulite! Of course, I sent them anyway and I'm happy to say that the painting is coming along beautifully.

Today, a social media friend, said that she felt like sharing her cellulite after listening to a very thin woman complain about her own and being applauded for being so  brave from other thin women. I don't think I've ever been applauded for loving my cellulite because fat people, generally, don't have that option, that privilege. When we complain about our bodies we hear "then lose weight! fix it!" (by generally I mean outside of the fat acceptance community).

So here are three very honest photos of my body. Cellulite and all.




Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fat Anorexics

I weigh almost 300lbs and I have anorexia. Technically it's designated as atypical anorexia because I, obviously, don't meet the weight requirements for the more commonly known form of anorexia which requires a low body weight. I have fat anorexia, or, the type of anorexia that you have when you either don't lose weight or don't lose as much weight as it would take to gain an anorexia diagnosis.

I want to talk for a moment about resources for fat patients with eating disorders.


Well, that was short.

In other words, aside from a facebook group which I created for fat people with eating disorders (Body Love Through Struggle), there aren't really any resources specifically for fat people. So why not visit regular ED resource groups and be a part of the rest of the recovery community? Because ED resources are typically designed in a way that's incredibly fatphobic. Fat acceptance isn't a common or welcome philosophy and, let's face it, our fat bodies? They're the worst nightmare for most recovering eating disorder patients.

Eating disorders are entrenched in fatphobia. In fact, fat people, specifically young girls, are more at risk for eating disorders than their thin counterparts. That's because fatphobia drives eating disorders for most people. To get a little personal, my eating disorder started with stealing ephedra diet pills from my mom's purse because of her own internalized fatphobia. When my bipolar symptoms began, I gained weight. A lot of weight. About 100lbs in just three years. What that taught me was that fat was the worst thing a person can be. That you have zero worth as a fat person. I was popular as a thin girl and the punchline and punching bag as the fat girl. This is what drove me to restrictive eating which, soon after, turned into anorexia.

Everyday Feminism published THIS article on fatphobia in eating disorder communities. I saw it posted on facebook and made the mistake of reading the comments. What I saw was a lot of thin people getting really defensive about their own fatphobia. "You can't tell me how to recover!" was an overwhelming current in the thread. To this I replied, "fuck that".

Let's be honest, you don't get to recover on my back, on my life. Fat people are excluded from every eating disorder conversation, recovery program, and resource for ED patients. We're almost always excluded from ED recovery blogs or posts or tumblr memes. Even the picture that I found for my own facebook ED group for fat people doesn't have any body that looks like mine, is as fat or rolly as mine. Being able to get treatment and help and find resources for your eating disorder is a part of thin privilege because when I talked about my eating disorder I was congratulated! Thin privilege is having people recognize and be horrified at the way you're harming yourself instead of wondering what you did so they can do it too. Thin privilege is surviving an eating disorder because fat people end up dead before anyone says something was wrong and, even then, admitting that what fat people do in the name of thinness is fucked up is rarely recognized.

Let me tell you something, you aren't entitled to your recovery when it costs me my life. When you're stepping me and people like me to climb that mountain isn't recovery, it's oppression. You aren't entitled to the resources that we're not allowed to have. If you think you're allowed to hang on to your bigotry because it soothes you then fuck you.

I wanted to include a list of resources that were specifically fat friendly ED resources at the end of this post. Unfortunately, other than the facebook group mentioned at the beginning of this post, I couldn't find anything. If you have a resource, please post it in the comments!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Just trying to get by

I feel like I've been doing too many photo posts and not nearly enough text posts. That's because I've been extremely busy between bouts of being very tired and very sick. As most of you know, I am gluten intolerant due to thyroid disease and a simple sandwich gifted me a two week migraine, two trips to the ER, one to an urgent care, and many many medications. This is on top of a lot of hectic things happening in my personal life.

What I did want to do was share with you a new community on facebook that I've created: Body Love Through Struggle- a body positive eating disorder resource group. '

As many of you know, I'm recovered from an eating disorder which took up a decade of my life. I occasionally still have triggering thoughts and bad body days and I realized that there were little to no resources for fat people with eating disorders, especially not ones that focused on fat acceptance and body acceptance as a path to recovery and healing.

I've joined and unjoined an awful lot of eating disorder support groups because many were constantly fatphobic, which is understandable given the nature of eating disorders- yet they refused to acknowledge fatphobia in general, let alone internalized or even externalized issues. Many refused to believe that a fat person could even have an eating disorder beyond Binge Eating Disorder, or believed that being fat was an eating disorder itself (again, related to BED). Most advocated "healthy weight gain" which often meant gaining enough weight to still be thin, just not too thin. All in all, many ED communities are very problematic.

On this new group I hope to not only be a resource for people struggling with eating disorders, but also to be able to find and post other good resources for people to follow in order to get the help and support they (we) need.

So, if you feel the desire, please come and join our group or, at the very least, spread the word.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Wood Nymph

Who knew wood nymphs came in plus size? (Hint: I did!). Thanks to the wonderful ICU Photography for this set. It was really fun putting the costume together (by which I mean burning my fingers while hot gluing things to other things).








Monday, May 18, 2015

Dieters and Fatphobia

Why is it that so many fat activists and people within the fat activist community have been turning their backs on FA in favor of The Fantasy Of Thin? I'm so tired of seeing fat role models decide to lose weight. Rosie Mercado comes to mind, but she's only one of many. I've seen many bloggers embark on a "weight loss journey". The 95% probability that they'll gain it back and then some doesn't seem to bother them, they're too caught up in dropping pant sizes. What really bothers me is the damage that this does to the fat acceptance community. Yes, it often damages individuals too, but so do a lot of things. Usually I say something's not my business... unless it's promoting oppression. As the old saying goes, your right to swing your fist stops at my nose.

Now, I'm a queer woman. I've fallen in love with men and women and had my heart broken by both. It's a pretty common belief that queerphobia is harmful and that people just, you know, shouldn't be assholes. They should be tolerant and accepting and, heck, even happy for us when we manage to find happiness, regardless of whom that's with. I don't hear a lot of people saying that it's someone else's choice to be queerphobic and we should walk on eggshells to not offend them or hurt their feelings because, you guuuuuuys, it's THEIR choice to hate people. Never mind that it results in anything from job discrimination, to suicide and murder. Oh no no, let's let them be. Live and let live, right? Except they're not really letting us live are they?

I feel the same way about fatphobes really. Even people with internalized fatphobia. It does so much damage to the rest of the fat community and it literally can cost people their lives.. yes, from job discrimination to suicide, being fat in a fatphobic society sucks, and when you give into that fatphobia, you're making it worse for the rest of us.

Now, this doesn't mean that I don't understand where they're coming from. I wasn't always a fat activist, I hated myself, I dieted, I was suicidal, I was extremely fatphobic. But I also didn't go around saying I was a part of the FA community and totally on board with fat acceptance as I'm starving myself. Meaning that if you're going to decide to lose weight, you need to recognize that you're no longer body positive and that you're harming your fellow fatties. And don't be surprised when people call you out, because people will definitely call you out.

I'm pretty tired of tip toeing around dieters in order to avoid offense. I'm not going to put up with queerphobes, sexists, or fatphobes (or any other kind of bigotry for that matter, but those are a few that apply to me). Just because something is normalized in our culture doesn't make it okay or protected.

I have a couple of people in the FA community that I still look up to. People who haven't given in. People who are still fighting for equality. But every time I see a friend or blogger or activist fall prey to this misogynistic beauty ideal, a little piece of me dies. It makes me so sad and angry and disheartened. This means that I just have to fight harder I guess.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Spring Pastels

Shoot Organizer: Sarah Robertson

photo by Quaint Designs

photo by Derek Palmer

photo by ICUPhotography

photo by ICUPhotography

photo by Wade Alexander

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

That's Life

oh, hey, i got bangs.
This is just an update on my life and what's been going on. My goal this year has been to cut back on photoshoots a bit. Partially because it's difficult to find photographers willing to work with a model of my size and shape and it's become an endeavor that takes up too much time and energy, and partially because I have so much else going on. Bellydance, burlesque, yoga, chorus, volunteering, photoshoots, working, and more. I barely have time anymore! I'm pretty exhausted, but enjoying it.

I've also noticed that I'm not shocked by much anymore, which is why I write less. I see something that, a couple of years ago would have gotten my blood boiling, and I shrug my shoulders and think, "oh, of course, here we go again". I think I'm experiencing activist burn out. And, let's face it, there's some pretty bad things going on in the country right now that are not fat related that I've been focusing on.

None of this means that I'll stop doing what I do. I'll still try to post as often as possible, both photo and text posts, but they'll be less frequent (as they already are I suppose). Don't feel as if I've abandoned you! I'm just busy living life right now. (Which reminds me, I have photos from my burlesque performance to upload!)

I do have a themed photoshoot coming up soon so keep an eye out for that (I'll be putting a lot of work into the costuming). In the meantime, how about some suggestions on topics you'd like me to cover (or re cover)? You can be my muse!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sea Witch

I want to preface this photo post by saying that I, with the help of a great friend, sewed the tentacles for this dress myself (it's extremely unfortunate that I only received one photo of the entire dress). I had a lot of fun making it and learned a lot! So enjoy!

Huge shout out to my amazing makeup artist: Beautiful Reflektions (Charlotte, NC)







Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Problem With Sexualization of Fat Bodies

Occasionally in fat feminist spaces we talk about the sexualization of women's bodies, specifically fat women. We talk about oversexualization and fetishization mostly and, inevitably, someone always chimes in, "but, I like being oversexualized/fetishized/objectified". I want to start out by saying I understand, but that doesn't mean that this line of thinking isn't problematic and I'll talk about why. 

First, I'm going to discuss why it is I understand and some of my own history with problematic thinking. I pretty much grew up fat. I started out pretty skinny, but when some chronic health problems kicked in when I was 7 years old, I gained about 100lbs in the course of about three years. Boys asked me out as a way to make fun of me. This, in fact, became a fear that still carries on today. I lost all of my friends and became a target for my entire grade. So when the skinny girls started talking about unwanted attention, I thought, "I'd give anything for that attention!", completely ignoring the "unwanted" part. I thought that any attention would be welcome and couldn't fathom it being non consensual or unwanted. Aren't those girls flattered? 

**Trigger warning** 

I also used to think about being raped. Not as in rape fantasies because I knew it would be horrible and traumatizing, but in the way that I blamed myself for not being raped yet. I thought maybe I was too fat and ugly for anyone to want to rape me and if someone did it would somehow validate my worth. I was a young teenager so I didn't understand all of the implications of this, but it was a pretty frequent thought nonetheless. So, when I say that I understand wanting to be objectified, I really do. I understand self loathing when you aren't objectified. I understand how good it feels to be wanted for your fat rather than rejected for it. That doesn't make it benign however. 

Firstly, none of these things- fetishization, objectification, oversexualization- exist in a vacuum. They exist inside of a patriarchal society which runs on turning women into only bodies fit for the male gaze and nothing more. It creates and feeds insecurities and then takes those insecurities and sells them right back to us in the form of the ideal beauty standard. It's not just about the individual and how fetishization, for example, makes you feel, it's about how it takes women as a whole and, in this case, fat women, reduces their worth to their bodies. 

I'll note that fat men can be fetishized too, but generally speaking it's less frequent, though no less problematic. Because I'm a woman, I'll be focusing on women in this post, though I'd be happy to interview a fat man who wants to talk about this topic. 

Secondly, I want to go back to rape culture. When I spoke at The Fat Activism Conference back in August 2014, I talked about fat rape culture because it's so unique. Fat people are often told that no one would want to rape them or, if they are raped, that they should be flattered or feel lucky because at least someone wants them. There was a cafepress T-shirt that has since been taken down which read: "Fat Girls Can't Say No (and when they do, it means yes)". Fat women face this special kind of misogynistic rape culture that says their bodies are so tied to their fat and that that fat is so gross and worthless, that being raped when you're a fat woman is a good thing. 

Rape culture is the result of a misogynistic society combined with objectification and the inappropriate sexualizing of bodies. When I say inappropriate I mean sexualizing someone without their consent. I don't mean finding someone attractive or even being sexually attracted to them. What I mean is the idea that women's bodies (or any kind of marginalized body) is inherently sexual and exists for the purpose of the viewer's pleasure. Don't get me wrong, rape culture is way more complicated than that, but that's a simplified, boiled down, version in my opinion. 

So when you're taking fat women and you're reducing them to no more than their fat, no more than their bodies and you're sexualizing those bodies, it's no wonder that you get a specific kind of rape culture. 

Thirdly, I want to point out that when you say that you want to be fetishized or ofjectified, not only are you excusing the behavior of these fetishists and misogynists, but you're condoning that they do these things to non consenting women. Wanting to feel sexy and wanted is fine, but feeding into a culture that hurts women isn't. You're saying that women secretly want to be objectified and inappropriately sexualized which feeds back into rape culture. It's the classic, "I wouldn't mind being catcalled", despite the dehumanization that women who are constantly catcalled often feel. Though you may find it flattering, it can chip away are the self worth of women who experience it chronically. 

It's easy to want the things you don't have. It's easy to look at sexualization as thin privilege. After all, it's just society confirming what you already know, that they're considered more beautiful, more desirable, and more acceptable. The problem is that no woman's worth or value should be tied to how she looks. It's a trap of the patriarchy that we often think if we're not being devalued by men, then we're worthless. I've been caught in this trap myself and was for a long time, even attempting suicide because of it. After all, if I don't have value through the male gaze then what's the point in living? But women, and all fat people, have to learn that worth and appearance are not the same thing. Embracing that idea is revolutionary and, more importantly, necessary in gaining equal rights for fat people. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fat Bottom Betty

A few months ago, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and take a burlesque class. I know, I know, what about this is out of my comfort zone? I've done completely nude photoshoots and published them on the internet. Surely being only partially nude isn't as bad, right? I went into the class thinking "I've fucking GOT this. I'm going to ROCK it". 

It turns out that even I have some deeply buried body image issues still. I mean, we all have bad days, right? But this wasn't a bad day, it was bad weeks. Periods of becoming suicidal. Of thinking I should kickstart my eating disorder just to try to lose a few before performance time. It made me want to hurt myself in ways that I haven't in a long time. It was tearing me apart.

I didn't know where this was coming from! I've been a fat acceptance activist for over four years and rarely had a bad body day since. I certainly hadn't been suicidal or self harm-y because of my body in all that time. What's different? I think, partially, the fact that I deal with overly horrible people because I deal with them online is contributing. I get all kinds of threats, called nasty names, see casual to malicious fatphobia, have had photos of me stolen, photos of my family stolen, etc. People generally aren't that nasty in real life (although they certainly can be and I've had some pretty shitty stuff happen face to face too). It's especially uncommon in the Burlesque community which tends to be far more body positive and supportive than the general population. 

When I'm on stage in a couple of months, taking my clothes off to music, I'm going to be face to face with my audience. With my potential critics. Although my teacher and my classmates are all wonderful, I can't be so sure about people in general. 

I've spoken to a lot of amazing performers in the Burlesque community including plus size performers. Nervousness is normal, self doubt is normal, even really nasty thoughts about yourself are all normal even for a thin performer. Add on a social expectation that beauty equals thinness and you can feel like the ugly duckling without the beautiful swan part at the end. While it's important to remember that my self worth or my value as a person don't rely on the male gaze or my appearance, it's also important to remember that I'm doing this for myself, not potential naysayers in the audience. I want to be able to say this is something that I did, an experience that I had. I may or may not keep performing and taking classes, but at least I'll have done it once. 

Regardless of current anxieties, I'm continuing to talk to performers and I'll continue with the class and my performance, which I will, of course, keep you updated on. 

Comment below if you're a performer, especially a plus sized performer, and have any great tips or advice! Thanks duckies! 

Color

A splash of color in a winter wonderland

Photos by Calvin S.