Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

It's almost a new year and we all know what resolution is on everyone's mind. Resist it. Overcome it. Make a resolution to be healthier. To eat better and to exercise.. but stay away from the idea of losing weight. Maybe you'll lose some by eating healthfully and exercising- maybe you won't. Probably not actually. Don't let that be your goal. Let yourself focus on loving your body and keeping it healthy- because what it does for you is amazing. It gets you through each and every day and you should treat it as well as you possibly can. In fact, make a resolution to throw out your scale. Who cares what the number says as long as you feel fantastic? We all know how little that number actually means. If you know it, don't be ashamed of it. If you don't know it, well it's no big deal. It's not a badge or honor or of shame any more than the length of your hair (which is a hell of a lot easier to change by the way).

Make a resolution to love your body, no matter what. To dismiss the abuse of others as ignorance, intolerance, and hate and know that you are far too worthy for such juvenile bullying. Make a resolution to realize the power of how amazing you are and to look at every other person you see as a unique and beautiful individual. Stop counting calories, and stop saying "I can't do, say, think, or eat this because....". Make this the year that you finally stand up for yourself. Happy New Year everyone! May it be fantastic!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays everyone!

Whether it's Christmas, Yule or just 'Holiday', I hope you have a good one. 
Happy Holidays everyone!
To see more photos from this shoot visit my flickr



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Boudoir Highlights rewind

So I know it's been a bit since I've gone on a shoot due to the cold weather and having to reschedule around the holidays and ice and snow, so I thought i'd post highlights from a Boudoir shoot that I did with Christopher Goette a bit before I started this blog, around September.  I think the lighting is brilliant and I think the photos have a great feel to them- softer than most boudoir shoots I've been to so far. If you'd like to see more from this shoot check out my flickr (must be logged in to see this shoot).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fat people: You're supposed to hate yourselves

Photo by Anthony D Thomas
Firstly let me say that I know there's more blogging and less photos lately- what can I say? It's winter! My last photoshoot was put off due to ice and let's not forget the holidays-  everyone's taking a break to do their shopping and spend time with their families. So yeah, we're getting more into the politics of sizism and I hope that you all appreciate that as much as you do the photos.

Today I was sitting down, watching Supernatural (I know.. guilty pleasure), and having a delicious snack of cucumbers and hummus  when a commercial for Special K cereal came on. The tagline? "What will you gain when you lose?" meaning, of course, losing weight. The answers were pride, sass, and pizazz. So, fat people, I hope you heard that loud and clear- pride is for thin people and is, apparently, based on how you look rather than your talents, intellect, or accomplishments. Can someone explain to me why I can't have pride, sass, and pizazz without losing weight (that i'd have a 95% chance of gaining back, by the way)?

It's pretty awful when advertisers use body shame to sell a product. I'm not kidding myself- I know it's not the only dirty tactic they use. Advertisers very often stoops to sexism (very often), sizism, racism and plenty of heteronormativism- they forgo diversity for cookie cutter versions of what they imagine us to be and what they imagine us to want to be. It's all very effective and very backed by psychology tied in directly with social programming (which they had a huge hand in). It's a bit of a cycle- they create social ideals and then tailor their own  success to the social ideals they helped create.

Now, I don't have anything against Special K or people who love cereal. I've certainly gotten into moods when I wanted a nice big bowl of Rice Krispies (and banana) for dinner instead of breakfast and for all I know Special K is a ridiculously delicious cereal. But the commercial does highlight a very prominent idea in society and that is that fat people aren't allowed to be happy, proud, full of life, or unapologetic. We're supposed to wallow in shame and apologize at every turn for all of our flaws (only because our "flaws" our visible- society doesn't seem to care about the flaws of thin people) then assure them that we're doing our very best to fit into their standards. The biggest problem that I see is that fat people often don't have those things- pride, sass, happiness, etc, but only because of bullies.  Only because people think it's okay to shame someone's body and break them, tear them down, and then kick them for good measure. Fat doesn't make us unhappy, bullies do.. and if there's one thing we should take away from the recent suicides in the news it's that bullying is dangerous and deadly.  Fat people- cower no more. Be healthy, be happy, then go forth and take over the world- because your body does not determine your worth.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Start a revolution: Stop Hating your body

I want to take a few minutes to dedicate a post to the recent attention to bullying while I highlight a project that I'm calling "Body Revolution".  You can see the second part of this project here. I was browsing good images for "fat acceptance" and came across a thumbnail photo of a woman with "Start a Revolution. Stop hating your body" written across her belly. The photo linked to nowhere- just a jpg floating around the internet- but I thought it was a fantastic idea and so I immediately set out to make my own. This is such a good idea that I think everyone should do it- that featuring bodies with messages of love is so powerful that we really need to get a thing going- so come on and join in.

As stories of suicide have swept the media, bullying has come to the forefront of many people's minds. It's fueled pro lgbtqi arguments against bigotry, brought to light how harmful sexism can actually be, and highlighted classism and shaming people simply for lacking money.  One thing that I haven't really seen talked about though is sizism. Long before it was a phenomenon, bullying went on around the country- unnoticed. Teachers and parents parroted the same, useless, advice; "just ignore it". Anyone who's ever been bullied knows that ignoring it makes it worse- your bullies will try continuously harder to get a response if you refuse to give them one. 
Fat shaming remains one of the last socially acceptable forms of abuse and bullying. The victim of the abuse is also usually the victim of blaming for the abuse and before our TV's lit up with stories of gay teen suicides there were fat teen suicides. And fat pre teen suicides. And fat children suicides. And even more attempted suicides. Being fat may be the number one predictor of depression in this country- not because fat people are naturally miserable, but for the same reason gay teens are now dealing with depression (gay people aren't inherently miserable either, I promise you. Ditto for anyone in the lgbtqi community)- abuse.

In school I was lucky enough not to be subject to abuse for my sexuality (mostly because I didn't come out until my early 20's). Since then I have actually experienced some abuse when people find out that I am bisexual (I've been abused by both the straight community and gay community), but I was unfortunate enough to be fat. While I won't get into the detrimental effects of the abuse that I suffered, I will say that treating anybody like that is simply inhuman. Being fat may very well be the number one thing that kids get teased about- it does an immense amount of harm and this issue needs more attention. Please, commit to loving your bodies and to loving other bodies as well. 

Let's start a body revolution.

"You're not fat"

On my flickr page I got into a discussion about the term "fat" and why I use it. Like most fat people I always hated the term. Fat was so negative and it meant so many bad things. When someone calls you fat they mean that you're lazy, ugly, stupid, worthless, and more. So of course calling someone fat was an insult! I would never condone calling people ugly, stupid, worthless, etc. If we used that same sentiment with the word "jew" it would simply be racist. Oh, he's a jew! (insert negative racial stereotypes implied here). We wouldn't accept that- we'd say, "so? what's wrong with being a jew?". In the same way, when someone says "she's fat" we should respond with "so? what's wrong with being fat?". You wouldn't expect jewish people to stop calling themselves jewish just because some assholes attached negative terms to it, would you? So why let a few bullies force us into not calling ourselves fat?

I'm fat. And I get annoyed when someone else tells me that I'm not fat because what they really  mean is "you're not ugly, lazy, or worthless". Well, thank you, but I know I'm not, and none of those things have to do with my weight. So I get, "but you're beautiful". Well, again, thank you.. but that doesn't have to do with my weight. Fat people aren't automatically ugly and, as I've talked about before, ugly doesn't really even exist since everyone is attractive to someone- and life isn't a beauty contest... or rather, it sure as hell shouldn't be.

This got me thinking- what defines a fat person? Fat is a descriptive term for a size or shape usually dependent  upon how many extra fat cells a person has (for now we'll ignore the use as it pertains to objects such as a fat vase or a fat book). Fat usually means an excess of these fat cells. This made me wonder.. who decides where fat begins? It's such an abstract and vague term. I'm fairly certain that there's no question that I am personally fat at a size 22 and 260 lbs, but there could possibly be some fuss over if I was fat or not in high school at 180lbs and a size 15. We have all of these terms for in between thin and fat that are supposed to be more polite (because, remember, the term fat also means you're lazy, smelly, stupid, etc) like chubby, thick, curvy, and husky.I guess we start being fat whenever the rest of society says we do. There's no good solution to this. Regardless of what word we use there will always be the 'in between' people.

The best solution may be what is our end goal- for people to stop caring who's fat and who's not and look at a person based upon who they are. Or maybe accepting that people have varying opinions of fat and thin just as they may have varying opinions on who has a light complexion and who has a darker complexion. The point is not to assign terms, negative or positive, to a descriptive word. I promise not to think all blonds are stupid if you promise not to think all fat people are lazy. I promise not to think all black people are criminals if you promise not to think all fat people are worthless. I promise not to think all women are superficial and catty if you promise not to think all fat people are overeating.

The comparison of sizism to racism or sexiam are both deliberate and accurate. Study after study seems to find that weight isn't really in our control. Unless you wish to develop and eating disorder or encourage others to do so (which I would call irresponsible at best)- and yes, I'm including dieting in there as a socially acceptable form of eating disorder- then your body will always try to return to a certain weight. 95% of all dieters gain back lost weight. Those who keep it off do so through constant starvation.

My point? Hating on fat people is just plain bullying and sizism is just another form of bigotry. As a woman and a member of the lgbt community I have some experience with bigotry and sublte forms of shaming. Tearing down a person isn't acceptable in any form. When I say fat.. I just mean fat. And when other people say fat, they mean a lot more, but we can't let their hate mongering change our behaviors, or self worth and certainly not our language. I'm fat. Don't let others let that mean something negative- stand up for fat people and correct them.

Friday, December 10, 2010

You're big, but..

My advocacy of body acceptance is started to gain some attention among my friends and acquaintances both day to day and online. Luckily most of the reactions have been positive- but then that's mostly coming from body acceptance groups, facebook friends, or other social networking sites so of course they're going to agree with me- I wouldn't have added them to my friends if I thought they were jerks (that does occasionally happen and they also get promptly removed). However, I keep running into this one phrase over and over- "you're fat, but... ". Usually this is followed with something like "you're gorgeous" or "you're such a cool person".

Cue squealing break sound effect. Let's stop right there.. my being fat doesn't need a qualifier. I don't somehow become more or less of a cool person based on my weight and while weight added or subtracted from my face might change my appearance you're simply playing into social standards to say that I'm more or less beautiful depending simply on that. Yeah- people have preferences, I get that. So at best what you could say would be along the lines of "in my opinion", "to me", or "i think".  This statement makes fat an inherently negative term- something bad to be, but I somehow become a worthwhile person because of other redeeming factors? I don't think so. My worth as a person has nothing to do with what I look like- either my weight or my face or my height or anything else.

This might be a good time to bring up something that someone else mentioned which is that, in their opinion, I should add photos to a 'gone wild' forum for plus size people. I disagreed based on an objection to objectification as well as an objection that 'plus size' had to be separate- 'hey, go over there so that we don't have to look at you. There are plenty of fatty lovers there who can tolerate your hideousness'. Yeah.. not exactly the route I want to take. But then the next line also made me think. They said "it's a good self esteem booster when you're down".  While I understand the factualness of that statement it's a fact that I find deeply disturbing.. that if someone was feeling low that they would seek praise for their physical appearance instead of their charm, their wit, their talent, or their humor. My self worth is no longer connected to how I look and I look back on the days when it was with deep sorrow.

The bottom line is that your value as a person cannot be placed on physical attributes. And I hear all of you out there saying "yeah, easy for you to say, you're attractive" (or whatever other word people tend to use), but you know what? I'm pretty average. Photography is about lighting and angles and poses and makeup and props and a good photographer can bring out the beauty in anyone (and we all have it), but I know what it's like to have low self esteem and to feel ugly- because being called ugly is almost always tied with being called fat- whether or not it's true. Your could have perfectly symmetrical features, but that bully- that fatphobic person full of abuse and hatred? They're still going to call you ugly. You have to realize that yeah, to some people, you're not all that attractive (ditto goes for me) but to some people, you're gorgeous and amazing. Despite the "standard" beauty ideal, beauty is far from standard. Standard is an illusion made up with smoke, mirrors, and photoshop. There is such a wide variety of body sizes and shapes, of noses, and eyes, and faces.. just go out in public and people watch sometime- we are all so vastly different how could there be a standard? How could we ever think that any one person would appeal to everyone?

As a show of good faith I decided to post a photo that I took just before writing this post- no makeup, hair unwashed- I even made sure to make it big enough for you to really see. Yeah.. I'm just a normal person. And how I look doesn't change who I am. And how you look, doesn't make you more or less worthy than I or anyone else.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I am FAT

When I say fat I mean fat and sometimes it seems like this word goes completely over people's heads! perhaps it's because we throw it around so liberally. Size 6 models go around saying "does this make me look fat? God, I'm so fat!". Let's gloss over the negative labels that are attached to that or the automatic assumption that it's a bad thing- the way we use fat and how often we use it makes me think that people don't know what it means anymore. What is fat? Well we know that technically it's extra fat cells- a cell which is used to store energy from food for use during times of famine. But as far as what it means socially- well that's a trickier one and seems to change every few years. As a result it's not enough to say that I'm a fat model or to tell people online that I'm fat because it doesn't seem to come across right and people are always a little struck when meeting me in person. Let me say this again- I am fat- not just curvy, not just a little squishy around the edges. I wear a size 22, I weigh 260 lbs at 5'8", I have rolls, cellulite, and plenty of jiggle.

More so I not only don't fit into a cookie cutter definition of beautiful, I also don't fit into a cookie cutter definition of fat or "plus size" because you know what else? I don't have big breasts. If you're shocked it's because it seems most fat people you see, especially plus size models, have large breasts- it helps with that hour glass figure. Photographers love it- cinch that waist and show off those hips and boobs.

I want to celebrate it and I want to show it off. I want to jump up and down and scream "hey! This is my body and I love it!" and you don't have to love it and you don't have to find it attractive and you certainly don't have to want to jump in my pants- but you do have to recognize that it's one body of many and that they're all different and all wonderful. And, most of all, you need to recognize that you do not have the right to shame people about their bodies, that you do not have the right to abuse or tear down someone, and that words are every bit as abusive as a fist. Bullying is part of a large problem of emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse- abuse that ruins lives and even kills.

Celebrate your body- every part of it- and celebrate everyone else's body. These bodies are what take us through life and yes, they have limitations and sometimes they are sick or don't work like everyone else's, but they are uniquely yours and uniquely beautiful.

A Splash of color

Hey everyone! I went and ordered some new eyeshadow online- I was a little worried about the actual colors since photos tend to be deceptive. What I really wanted was red. I'm not sure if I'm happy with this shade and may still get some manic panic red but I decided to go ahead and experiment with multiple colors. I spent most of my life trying not to get noticed so I never did a lot of the bold, bright, and eye catching colors. I stuck mostly to some black eye liner and earth tones. That goes for my clothing too- so here you go: a splash of color. What do you think?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

First Snow

We didn't even know it was supposed to snow today! My husband was getting ready to go pick up trash for an adopt-a-highway project with a local group and a friend informs us it's already started snowing at her place. Sure enough the adopt-a-highway cleanup had to be rescheduled and we soon saw flurries and then large fat snowflakes falling at our place. I couldn't resist going out and taking some shots in the brand new first-time snow! I don't think I've done high contrast shots before but I really like these.

I wanted to talk a bit about the  third photo down. As a body acceptance advocate the first things I had to get used to were things that showed a lot like my arms, my face and my legs. Until recently I've worn nothing but long pants and long skirts since 8th grade. I walked into class on my first day wearing shorts- a girl at the desk behind me looked at my fat legs and shook her head and said "nuh uh!" while making a disgusted face. I never wore anything other than pants after that. Since breaking out of that shell and buying my first short skirt I've gotten more comfortable with my legs but one thing I haven't gotten comfortable with? My belly.

I immediately started getting to the point where I let my husband touch my stomach (which has always been off limits) but as far as showing off in photos? I just couldn't do it. Undressing in front of other people- fine! As long as I didn't see it I was good. Well that's not really acceptance is it? So today, without even really thinking about it, I decided to pose in a way that made my shirt come up on my side. It seems like one more good step in self acceptance.

Happy first snow everyone!


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...