Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Halloween Social Statement

So it started out simple enough- looking at photos of costumes and trying to decide what to be. I saw a photo of a playboy bunny outfit. Then came the usual "fat people can't wear that". Oh yeah? Fucking watch me. 

That's right, last night I attended a Halloween bash in a corset, bra, fishnets and playboy bunny undies then stuck on a tail and some ears. Admittedly I was incredibly nervous once I got to my friend's house. I had no idea who would be there and we all know the fat bashing that can occur around random people- especially drunk random people. Other than one guy's suspicious statement that he hoped I wasn't offended by the fact that he couldn't look at me (was I too awesomely hot or too hideously fat for him to look at me?), I got tons of compliments. Maybe a few people thought my costume was socially unacceptable, but no one said it. I had people saying how great it looked and people even recognizing it as a social statement and commending me for it. Score one for the fatties!

What was I so worried for? The thing is that there are certainly people- a vast number of people, who would have all worts of awful things to say about my costume- the trick is to just not care. Don't we all wish we could do that? Body acceptance isn't easy and there's always going to be that comment that catches you off guard and cuts to the core, but we can, and I certainly am trying, brush off the vast majority of fat hating that comes our way. So what if you don't find it attractive?  I have no obligation to anyone to be attractive to everyone in the world- not only is that completely impossible, but it's simply a double standard. 

To sum up the party itself quickly- it was great. We had murderface, a sex robot, a Victorian zombie, and that guy from that one Dr. Who episode where he has to face the big Satan like thing- you know the guy who gets possessed and has ancient crap scribbled all over his body? Yeah, him. That was the best costume and won him like +10 geek points.

Oh, and this dude- this dude was badass. And I'm totally badass for getting my picture with him.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Highlights from the Natural Beauty shoot

Photographer: Isaiah Brink
Theme: Natural Beauty. No makeup- beautiful wooded area
These are some of my favorites but I'm especially fond of the black and white ones! You can see more photos on my flickr, Fat Girl Posing and as always if you'd like to schedule a shoot contact me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Boudoir Highlights

Even though the shoot was incredibly depressing at least I got a couple of shots- if you'd like to see more, as always, visit Fat Girl Posing on Flickr (you must have a yahoo account). Enjoy and, as always, contact me if you're in the Greensboro area and would like to schedule a shoot.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hey hot stuff.. no, the other girl

Photo from today's shoot
This morning I woke up a nervous wreck. With my newfound confidence in my body and my curvaceous hips I took a gig as a model for a boudoir class. I bought a great new piece of lingerie- something clingy which is something I've always stayed away from. I always erred on the side of flowing babydolls. Red and black with fishnet stockings I was ready to do serious business. Of course having a dozen people staring at you in the middle of a room is a little nerve wracking. So I got up early, carefully got ready and arrived an hour early as always.

The first few people who arrived for the class didn't realize I was one of the model despite the fact that I was the only person without a camera. Nor did they question that the other two girls were models since they didn't have any camera. The teacher pointed me out along with the other girls when making introductions and I could see some wariness on a few faces.

I was first on the beautiful red fainting couch with a slightly deeper red backdrop. The teacher spent a few minutes talking about technical stuff, took a few photos to show the students and then instructed each one to come up and take a turn. Not a lot of creativity- no one telling me how to pose or to give them this look or turn that way. I didn't think anything of it until.... The next model took her turn prefaced with, again, technical talk about lighting and F-stops and the photographers went to town. They couldn't get enough. It wasn't the obligatory turn taking but rather crowding, instruction giving, posing, and creativity. Well I didn't think much of that either actually.. just that perhaps they were warming up- as any artist will tell you sometimes it takes a while before the ideas start racing.The third model had just as much clamoring for edgy gothy photos. The only thing I think I was good for was doing her makeup.

Then came the food- I suppose boudoir automatically means eating phallic shaped foods and this was no different. The first girl, a beautiful girl with auburn brown hair, dipped a long jalapeƱo pepper in honey and did all of the poses you might expect. The shots were just gorgeous! I even wished I'd had my camera! The edgy girl didn't want to do any food shots- she was edgy after all, so it was my turn.. I got the banana (Freud would be proud). Out of a dozen photographers only two wanted to shoot me. That was it. At this point it was starting to set in. I had vaguely noticed (perhaps I'm wrong.. we'll see when I get the photos back) that no one was taking full body shots of me like they were the other two girls. Next the auburn hair girl took another turn- adorable full body shots of her jumping, pouting, twirling her hair. Then shots of the edgy girl being, well, edgy. Then the teacher announces I'm next and everyone leaves. I'm not kidding you.

Everyone. Left.

A few other things made me feel pretty shitty or angered me. The teacher was giving advice on dealing with certain personalities.. one being the girl who was just completely full of herself whom you could never get natural poses from. He suggested insulting her- "have you gained weight?" he said in his best mocking tone. My first thought was "why should she care if she gained weight?! There's nothing wrong with that!". But of course we all know how bad it is to be fat or, hell, even 10lbs heavier than a size 6. There were some sexist, degrading comments about both men and women (men are just poor simple creatures and women are overly emotional).

Another thing that bothered me is that the other girls were stripped down to their undies (including edgy girl being topless) while I spent $40 on this great new outfit and was asked to keep my skirt on the whole time. I kept asking if the teacher wanted me to strip down like the other girls and got "umm.. no no, you're fine". I wish I'd worn the ugliest pair of jeans I had just so I didn't have to deal with that. In order to get shot in my entire outfit I had to specifically ask for a couple photos after everyone else had left.

This experience definitely didn't boost my confidence even though I'm trying, very hard, to focus on the two people who actually did really want to shoot me. Will it keep me from modeling in other classes or in other gigs with other thinner models? No, but I'm certainly disappointed that what I expected is what happened. It shows me just how hard the road ahead is.

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's okay sweetie- mommy will never let you be fat!

So if you haven't heard, there's a UK mom who's so obsessed with her 8 year old daughter staying thin that she's restricted the child's daily caloric intake to just 700 calories a day- about half of what doctors recommend for a growing child. Her greatest fear, rather than her daughter becoming ill or suffering physically from starvation, is that her daughter will become fat and teased.

I want to focus for a moment, not on how horrible of a parent this woman is for starving her child, but on the reasons she felt the need to do so.

Unfortunately, she is right about the consequences of her child gaining weight. Overweight children are teased so often that we don't even blink an eye anymore. It becomes the norm and our only thought tends to be "well of course they get teased.. they're fat". What I want to point out is that if fat phobia and sizism weren't so incredibly pervasive in our culture already then this isn't something that would have happened. This seems to be a standard case of the cycle of abuse. The mother, weighing 228lbs herself, experienced the horrors of growing up fat. Children who are abused, either at home or by peers are more likely to develop schizophrenia,depression, anxiety disorders, borderline personality and bipolar disorder.  The reality is that for most obese or chubby children they may be doomed to a lifetime of despair simply because of their body size or shape.

So what's a parent with a fat child to do? If you know these risks how do you cope with them? Homeschooling isn't an option for a lot of parents. We go to others for advice- counselors, dietitians and nutritionists, help websites.. and every single one of them says the same thing: reduce your child's calories and help them lose weight. The problem? As we've seen with most studies on weight it's simply not that simple. Reducing calories is basically a starvation diet and studies do show that in obese patients put on limited calories their bodies act as if they're starving (which makes sense if you consider our evolutionary history of needing to store fat as well and as quickly as possible in order to survive) . Starvation diets simply don't work. Even if a patient loses weight in the short term the weight returns within a year for most patients and within five years for the rest except for those who stay on starvation diets permanently- and that's exactly what this mother is doing to her child.

So why is it that all of society tells her to reduce calories to lose weight and then, when she does it, talks about how awful it is? Is it possible that they don't truly believe the poison they're espousing? Do they even realize that they're the ones creating the problems to begin with? Let's face it, if it weren't for the awful and pervasive abuse that fat people suffer this woman likely wouldn't care what her daughter weighed as long as she was healthy. We can't create a thin based culture and then act surprised when we see things like this. So yeah, this mom has set her daughter up for a lifetime of health problems and body issues and psychological damage, but if we're being honest we have to admit how huge of a rule our culture plays in travesties like this.

There are all these articles about children who are obese eating horrible things, but what it doesn't talk about are all of the thin children eating those exact same things- (of all of the obese children eating healthfully) the health of the child will suffer in both cases and it's completely independent of weight. A thin person who eats nothing but junk food isn't more healthy than a fat person who eats nothing but junk food. We need to focus on changing our minds, not changing our bodies and that includes the minds of those around us.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dear Mom, You Don't Know

I want to address this because it's something that keeps coming back to my mind again and again- and that is that people assume they know your eating habits or exercise habits depending on your weight. This works both for thin people and fat people. I'm going to address it in more of a personal manner though and talk about why it was completely false in my case.

When I still cared about my weight, when I still thought being fat made me worthless and lazy and glutinous, I did everything I could to lose weight (Now I know better). At one point I decided I needed my thyroid checked because it was just ridiculous that eating healthfully and restricting calories, and exercising wasn't working (gee, maybe that's because diets don't work.. but I didn't know that). I confided this to my mother who didn't believe there was anything wrong with me, pointing out that I don't exercise much anymore due to multiple injuries. "What about in high school, mom?", I asked. "I know how you ate in high school." was her reply, obviously implying that my eating habits had to do with my weight. I'll be honest- I was shocked. There's very little my mom knew about my life in high school and my eating habits were definitely not part of her knowledge.
grade 6 shortly before first suicide attempt

Now, I want to be clear that my mom worked very hard and very long trying to support three children after my father skipped out on child support completely so I'm not blaming her for not knowing my eating habits as it's clear why she wouldn't. Either she was working or I was at school, with friends, etc.

So why did she claim she knew how I ate in high school when she rarely was privy to the knowledge? Because she assumed she knew what I ate because I was fat.  What she didn't know if that I hardly ever ate at all and, thus, often had fainting spells (which my now husband can attest to). I never ate breakfast, rarely ate lunch, and when I ate dinner at home I ate side dishes because I became a vegetarian when I was 14 (freshman year) and we didn't cook many vegetarian meals- therefore I was stuck with corn and potatoes most of the time. This starvation diet that I was on may account for me being at my thinnest in high school (a size 15/16 US).And certainly starving myself would be the only way to get back there (if you are even thinking of suggesting that then you are one sick fuck).

In addition to eating very little for about 5 or 6 years I also was incredibly active. I love walking. I really want to emphasize just how much I love it- I would walk everywhere I went in high school and would still do so today if I didn't have an ankle injury which causes severe pain when I walk. I woke up, walked 20 minutes to my best friend's house so that we could ride the bus together, went to school where I had marching band practice every day, rode the bus back to my best friend's house, walked 20 minutes home, did homework/watched TV for a couple of hours then walked back. Then we'd walk to our other friend's house (another 20-30 minutes)  just so that we could walk around the neighborhood more. Not to mention that I had additional marching band practices, games, competitions, etc as well as frequently starting new exercise programs with my friend, Beth.

All of this walking with very little food and, for a couple of years, diet pills every day three times a day, throw in the occasional periods of bulimia and it would amaze anyone that I wasn't very thin. I would simply not eat for days at a time- once for two weeks. When presented with this information most people would say that I'm lying. I find it funny that when a very thin person says they eat non stop, no one disagrees, no one calls them a liar, and no one argues.

There are all sorts of assumptions made about fat people which are shown for being ridiculous when the same things are applied to thin people. "Fat people just eat too much" would mean that thin people eat less- so all of those thin people who eat junk food in high quantities should be morbidly obese by now shouldn't they? "fat people just don't exercise" ignores all of the thin couch potatoes out there snacking on pizza and all of the fat people, like me, who were or are incredibly active.

So I want to emphasize, no mom, you have no idea what I ate in high school. You are just as guilty of making false assumptions as anyone else in society. Think about what my brother ate and you'll realize he ate far more than I did. Next time you decide to make an assumption based on facts that you don't even have, please rethink it.

How Lessons From The Fat-O-Sphere changed my life

A few weeks ago I was visiting a friend, helping with a yard sale. We ended up talking most of the day about various topics, but at some point diets and fat came up (don't they always when two fat women are talking?). I can't remember exactly what was said although I'm fairly certain it was something about counting calories and how it never seems to work, and she told me she had something I needed to read. Lessons From The Fat-O-Sphere by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby. I flipped through it and ended up forgetting it when I left.

A few days later my friend brought it over. Well alright alright.. I guess I'll read it. I was sure it was some stupid frou frou 'love your body, you're a goddess' crap.. which is great when I'm feeling euphoric and manic and decide that I'm the best fucking thing since sliced bread, but overall it's never held. So I read.

And man did I get pissed.

Seriously- this book is the type of book that, if you're like me, will piss you off at every new chapter. Everything in it goes against everything you know and have been taught. Then comes the sadness as you start to feel your hope of eventual thinness is being taken away from you by the cold, hard truth- backed up with plenty of studies and expert opinions. Then more anger at your body for being so stupid as to not be naturally thin like all those girls you know who can never seem to gain weight no matter what they eat. Then, finally, acceptance. If you can get through to that last part, I promise it's worth it.

Before I read this book I hated myself- and I had since I first gained weight around 7 or 8 years old. And why wouldn't I? Everyone told me I should and hey, they all hated me too so it made sense. Obviously I was just doing something wrong even when I was doing everything right. When I was a teenager I used to cut myself.. I used to cut the parts of my body that I hated. Once my brother found out he told all his friends at school that I was trying to cut the fat off. So then they could laugh at me for being fat and being a freak. In high school I began developing eating disorders. Throwing up, starving, diet pills, over eating, binge eating, and everything in between. I obsessed over my weight- tried every diet, went to gyms.. it never worked but hey, that just made me hate myself more for not doing it right.

At 25, married, and with a four year old son I still didn't have control over it. I began counting calories and the more I counted the less I ate until I was consuming about 300 calories a day. If I went over 500 I internally and mentally freaked out. I wouldn't let my husband touch my stomach, or any other part of me that I deemed too flabby or fatty.I hated having my photo taken and always hated going out where there were people because I felt they were staring at my fat and judging me. Maybe they are.. I've just learned not to care.

So what happened when I read the book and let it sink in? I started by posting video and full body photos (not taken at the myspace angle that most fat people use to visually shed 50 lbs), I began looking for fat positive photographers which led me to a site called Model Mayhem (I have two shoots booked this week already), I began wearing clothes proudly and even wear one of my shirts that has no back without layering and, most importantly, I stopped dieting. I realized that even when I'm not dieting and counting calories I still don't pig out and consumes thousands of calories in a day- so what was I so worried about? I've gotten involved in the fat-o-sphere and even helped start a new sub reddit on I'm much happier and, though I  haven't completely accepted my body and I still have plenty of hangups, I'm on a great road.

Welcome to Fat girl Posing

Fat Girl Posing comes from a few things- firstly that my regular blog was getting too chaotic and dealing with too many topics- most people couldn't identify and relate to everything I posted so I'm narrowing it down. The name comes from my flickr account (warning, some adult content) of modeling that I've done with local photographers through model mayhem or the Triad Strobist Meetup Group. The modeling came from reading the book Lessons From the Fat-O-Sphere by Marianne Kirby and Kate Harding. It took about two weeks to go from completely hating myself to the cessation of calorie counting, weight shaming myself, hating my body, and doing awful things to it in the name of the fantasy of being thin. For more on these topics visit Kate Harding's blog as well as Marianne Kirby's. Visit the Q&A for some enlightenment. So the first thing I'm going to do is move over some old blogs and then begin posting anew. Welcome to Fat Girl Posing and enjoy your stay!

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