Thursday, August 4, 2016

Sex and Prejudice; The Intertwining of Bigotry and Attraction

"I even know thin "allies" who exclusively date and sleep with other thin people under the guise of "it's just a preference!" or "I just haven't found a fat person I'm attracted to yet". Guess what? We make up 2/3 of the population in the United States, but you haven't seen a single fat person who is attractive and willing to sleep with you? Give me a break. "

That quote appeared in my last post while discussing fatphobia in intersectional vegan spaces and intersectional spaces in general. I posted it in several intersectional vegan groups and, while people agreed with most of the article, there were several people who came out with excuses for their lack of attraction to fat people. It appears that the above quote, needs some explaining.

These are some of the reactions that I got:

"Romantic/Sexual attraction can't be controlled"
"Not being attracted to fat people doesn't make me fatphobic!"
"What if POC are only attracted to other same POC? Is that racist then?"
"Then lesbians are misandrists for not being attracted to men!"
"Asexuals are racist, sexist, fatphobic, etc for not being attracted to anyone!"
"Guilting people into having sex with people they aren't attracted to is problematic/oppressive"

Oh man, where to even start with these! I guess, from the top.

The idea that attraction is innate is false. With the exception of sexuality (which is more fluid than people think), who we are and aren't attracted to is something that's been drilled into our heads since we could understand human language- maybe even before as we witnessed relationship dynamics around us. Studies show that children as young as 3 already express bias and prejudice in who they want to be friends with. This has been demonstrated with both skin color and body size and it's not because children are born racist or fatphobic, it's that they are taught to prefer one thing over another. In other word, yes, attraction can be controlled. It is controlled, just not by you.

 Don't get me wrong, attraction is deeply socially ingrained and conditioned and it's not an easy thing to change, but it is possible to change because it's not a product of our biology, it's a product of social conditioning. Working through prejudices and biases can absolutely change who you're attracted to. Your attraction is greatly influenced by social beauty norms- this is one reason why different bodies were considered attractive at different points in time- because the beauty ideal changes based on social factors.

What is learned can be unlearned. Isn't that a lot of what intersectionality and allyship is about? Unpacking our previously held prejudices and understanding our own privilege as well as how oppression intersects across marginalized groups? Well guess what- fat people are a marginalized group and you don't get to just dismiss all of us. We're incredibly varied individuals. Maybe you're not attracted to all fat people- no one is attracted to literally everyone- but to say that no fat person could ever pique your interest is fatphobic at it's core.

So yes, not being attracted to fat people, any fat people ever, is indeed fatphobic. It shows that you see us as nothing but our fat, nothing but our bodies. It's not only fatphobic, it's also objectifying and dehumanizing. You have reduced us to our bodies and deemed them unworthy. What's more, you, as the thin privileged, don't get to decide what is or isn't oppressive or problematic when talking about fat people- we do. The voices of the marginalized will trump your privileged voices every time. Your job, as an ally, is to listen, internalize what we've said, and to work towards changing the attitudes that we've called out.

It's interesting that the white, cishet, male, poster decided to bring POC into the argument. As I pointed out in the last post, people who are fatphobic often have other prejudices they're hiding. This was no different. Here's the first thing you need to know: POC can't be racist. Racism requires a power over someone else on a systemic level that people of color just don't have. POC can, however, be biased and prejudiced (this is not the same thing as racism). If a POC doesn't want to date or sleep with their oppressor (white people) then that's fine. In that case, it's less about skin color and more about the people who are enacting violence against you every day. In the same way, I could refuse to date thin people because their privilege makes it harder to relate and, at some point, they're going to say or do something bigoted against me. Should I have to put up with oppression from the people I love and who are supposed to love me? I don't think so. But, let's be clear, marginalized folk refusing to sleep with their oppressors is not the same as the privileged refusing to allow attraction to the marginalized.

Speaking of dragging other marginalized people into it, it's again interesting that we couldn't just talk about fat people- now we have to drag queer people into it. Specifically monosexual queer people. Is it misandrist for lesbians to only date women? Well no. Firstly because misandry isn't real. Not anymore than "straight oppression"or "reverse racism" is real. As I explained above- oppression takes an element of systemic power that oppressed people just don't have. Women just can't be sexist against men.

But I get what you're asking- what you're really asking is if sexual orientation is a choice or socially conditioned the way thin preference is. The answer is a little complicated since a lot of people fall within the gray area of sexual attraction- the largest portion of the LGBT community, for example, are bisexuals who can absolutely choose who they want to date and sleep with. I would not blame a bisexual woman at all if she chose to not sleep with men (her oppressors), but, we've already talked about that. Strictly monosexual women are born with their sexualities already intact. If we're talking about social conditioning- we condition our children for straightness, not queerness. Sexual orientation is something we're all born with. Fatphobia isn't. And, may I just say, it's super shitty to try to compare queerness to socially conditioned preferences.

After discussing this- do I really need to go into the "asexuals are racist" argument? Innate sexuality vs conditioned preferences.. can we move on now?

But really, bottom line, can you not drag other marginalized people into the discussion? It derails the actual conversation and does a disservice to those people who deserve their own opportunity to talk and have their voices heard.

The last one was a big one for me because this person was trying to reverse the blame by implying I'm the problematic one. This is a tactic often used by abusers in interpersonal relationships. It's like saying "It's your fault I hurt you, you shouldn't have made me mad!" Reversing the responsibility is manipulative at best as well as a straight out refusal to recognize your own privilege and prejudices.

Yes, guilting people into having sex with someone, for ANY reason, is not okay. In fact, that's not even sex, that's rape. But that's not what we're talking about here. No one is forcing anyone to sleep with someone they're not attracted to. What we're arguing here is that if you weren't fatphobic, you would experience a wider variety of attraction, including to fat people. We're not saying to sleep with people you aren't attracted to, we're saying to sleep with people you ARE attracted to and that that attraction, free from prejudice, includes fat people. Excluding any entire marginalized group, outside of sexual orientation, as a possible partner will always be problematic.

Honestly, the amount of fatphobia that I experienced across the three groups that my last piece was posted proves my point about intersectional vegans or even just intersectional people in general. Many aren't actually intersectional. I also want to point out, in the same threads, I witnessed ableism, tone policing, racism and sexism. (I was actually told that my style of writing was "too dominant" and that I could make my point by being "less dominant"- tone policing and sexism all in one!). I do want to take a moment to thank the admins in each group who stepped in to shut the problematic people down- in one case the admins had to actually turn commenting off because it was getting so awful and out of hand.

So, if you claim to be intersectional, I suggest you start unpacking some shit and letting your bigotry go. Being intersectional means always striving to improve yourself and how you interact with marginalized people and communities. I expect better from you, starting right now.

I will be taking questions in the comments, which may end up on a future post.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Intersectional Vegans: Search for a Community That Doesn't Exist


Fat is something that pretty much everyone talks about. The discussion is almost always centered
around how not to be fat with the occasional fat acceptance blurb thrown in there before promptly being smashed and strangled out of existence. Fat acceptance is a stain on intersectional politics.
Even the most intersectional among us tend to be fatphobic, especially thin intersectional identified people. Let's be honest here, fatphobia crosses political lines. It doesn't matter how conservative or how progressive you are, you're probably fatphobic. You may even consider yourself to be an ally to be fat people and the fat acceptance movement, but when is the last time you called out fatphobia, posted an article on fatphobia, brought it up in a group, raised up the voices of fat people, or even made a simple post on social media denouncing fatphobia. Where are you allies when I'm fighting trolls telling me to get cancer and die or to kill myself and make the world a better place. You're probably focused on some intersectional issue - any intersectional issue- except for mine.

Don't get me wrong here, other intersectional issues are important- ableism, sexism, racism, queerphobia, transphobia, etc. But, I think, what you fail to realize, is that fatphobia intersects with each and everone one of those things. Intersections- I mean, that's what you thrive on. Looking at overlapping oppression and seeing the individual struggles that marginalized people face because of it. Unless that person is fat.

If you're not flat out fatphobic, I'm surprised, but what's far more common are people who claim to be allies, but don't actually care about fatphobia or thin privilege. You may pay lip service to your own thin privilege, but that's as far as you're willing to go. I even know thin "allies" who exclusively date and sleep with other thin people under the guise of "it's just a preference!" or "I just haven't found a fat person I'm attracted to yet". Guess what? We make up 2/3 of the population in the United States, but you haven't seen a single fat person who is attractive and willing to sleep with you? Give me a break.

Getting back to how fatphobia crosses political lines, I'd like to talk a little bit about fatphobia in the vegan movement. I think we all know by now, that vegans can be some of the most fatphobic people in the world. Veganism, even veganism properly focused on non human animal rights and liberation, has a vein of healthism running through it, which hugely intersects with fatphobia. The idea that veganism is healthiest when eating a plant based diet and that that will result in thinness as well as lack of health issues.

I'm pretty sure that I haven't met a single vegan yet who hasn't said something shitty to me about my body size (even if they've grown over time by knowing me and become a better ally). And those who haven't said anything shitty, well, their actions speak  loudest. Vegans often pride themselves on being progressive and intersectional, even as sexism, racism, fatphobia, and healthism flourish within the community. Even then, there are many groups which specifically were established to fight racism and sexism in mainstream veganism. Fatphobia is rarely, if ever, a part of their mission statement as something to resist or fight against.

I'm not even necessarily upset by mainstream vegans who engage in all kinds of bigotry. I'm upset at those vegans who think they are above those problems, that bigotry. Vegans who are intersectional, feminist, and anti racism. Vegans who talk about classism and accessibility, and then sideeye you when you are fat and not ashamed of it or actively tring to lose weight. Vegans who schedule meetings and social activities in places that you don't fit or belong. Vegans who talk about cleanses and green smoothies and how, not that size is important, but, they've lost 5lbs already.

As an intersectional feminist and a fat vegan, I'd love to say that I've found a communit who shares my ideals. I have not. I feel outside of every group or community that I am a part of and find myself leaving those communities with regularity.

Vegans: you need to do better. You need to be better. You need to talk about fatphobia and issues surrounding fatphobia. You need to talk about the oppressions that intersect with fatphobia and you need to acknowledge our privilege. Be an ally. No.. be a good  ally. Examnine your prejudices and biases and come out a better person for it.

I'm tired of standing alone.

Fatphobia, Ableism, and the Thin Privilege Voice

Years ago, I posted a video on youtube. I had seen a sign for a child's fat camp (weight loss program) and it pissed me off. I pulled into the next parking lot, walked, and took the sign, throwing it into into my trunk. Once home, I spray painted it to read "Give the gift of no diets", as it was near Christmas time. I literally received thousands of comments (they were moderated and never made it onto the actual video). They ranged anywhere from death and rape threats, to name calling, to vague future health threats, and even accusations of being a terrorist. I'm not kidding- a terrorist. Because, as their logic went, I was engaging in the mass killings of fat children by wanting them to remain fat. Interesting how twisted a fatphobe's logic is considering that fatphobia and stigma kill fat more children than fat ever has.

Still, the number one comments I got were on m breathing- heavy breathing specifically. The trolls took this as proof that I was too fat and needed to exercise and lose weight.

I have a condition, as some of you know already, called POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). It means that as my posture changes, from lying to standing, my heart rate increases by at least 30 beats per minute, usually causing tachycardia (a heart rate of over 100). A normal heart rate for a woman my age is 60-100bpm. My standing heart rate is about 20-40 over that just from standing up.  Even mild exercise can make my heart go through the roof. Walking gently and leisurely can raise my HR up to almost 200bpm, which is the same predicted heart rate of a woman my age who is engaging in extreme exercise and is the maximum rate a heart should go. So, for me, walking slowly on even ground, is about the same as running a marathon for someone else. Have you ever seen someone run a marathon and not get winded? Yeah, me neither. (Oh, did I mention that fainting is included for someone with POTS? So pushing myself to exercise as my heart rate pushes 200 is very dangerous).

But that's not the kicker. People were observing that a light stroll shouldn't make a person breath so heavily. They were correct. But, the didn't account for illnesses which cause heavy breathing, especially in bitter cold weather. (For example, I could just as likely have had asthma, a much more common breathing issue than POTS.) I'm not saying any of this to justify myself or be the "good fatty" because fuck that. It's simply a bit of backstory.

Still, after about 4K comments or so, I posted a small comment about this condition. The response? The called bullshit. Suddenly all of those trolls were medical doctors. Comments ranged from trying to explain POTS to me (poorly), as to say it doesn't cause breathing issues, or people flat out saying I was lying about the condition.

This isn't the first time this has happened.

I have a list of medical diagnoses which numbers slightly less than two dozen. Several of which cause weight gain and other symptoms include exercise intolerance, heat intolerance, chronic pain (my joints don't hurt because I'm fat, the hurt because I'm a chronic illness patient), and so much more.

My point is this: when you're fat, people ignore you when you say you're sick. Unless you have a stereotypical "fattie" illness like heart disease or diabetes, then you're truthful, but deserve your illnesses. You're especially lying if you have thyroid disease or any other illnesses that create symptoms they'd  rather mock someone for. When you're fat, you're only allowed to be sick in the was that are deemed fatty acceptable. If you say you don't have those issues then you're lying. If you say you have other "non fat" issues, then you're lying. Fatphobia is inherently ableist (as well as misognistic which I've discussed before). Remember that when fat people die of heart disease, they died of being fat and the had it coming. When thin people die of heart disease it was a fight, a struggle that they lost, a tragedy.

Where does the thin privilege come in? Easy, if a thin person said they had any of the illnesses I have, they'd be believed, listened to, given sympathy, and get treatment and care by medical professionals. The same people accusing me of lying would be signing petitions for POTS research for thin people.

Thin people who consider themselves allies are in the position where the can use their voices to educate fatphobes- because they'll be listened to. Not always, maybe not even most of the time, but more than us fatties could ever hope to be listened to. Here, it gets iffy though. Because thin people should never speak over fat people, and yet their voices hold more power, more sway. Thin allies have to figure out was to speak for us, without speaking over us, and lifting up the voices of fat people in the process. I know, being an ally isn 't easy. But know what's even harder? Being fat. Add being a disabled woman on top of being fat and it's not an easy life. Just look at all of the health issues that chronic stress can cause- from joint pain to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

I know this post is long and you maybe didn't want to hear about my chronic illnesses. You wanted some in-your-face truths about fatphobia and thin privilege and ableism. But the truth is that I'm tired. I'm worn out from being attacked ever day and not being able to defend myself and having no one come to my defense.

You, my thin privileged friends, are lacking in your responsibilities. I want to say that I expect more from you, but I don't. I expect to fight this fight either alone or alongside other fatties. But hey, I wouldn't mind being surprised once in a while either.

Here's my point, one type of bigotry almost never shows up to the party by itself. It brings friends. Fatphobia can often intersect with pretty much any other tpe of oppression. Fatphobia is not a single thing, by itself. This is why I feel weird when someone expresses fatphobic ideas and beliefs. I know that is not the only type of bigotry lurking. And fatphobia affects people on both sides of the political spectrum- so if your oh-so-progressive friend with privilege coming out of his ears decides to say something fatphobic, be assured that they are not the feminist the claim to be, they are not intersectional, as they claim to be, etc. And when they talk about intersectional issues, but don't mention fatphobia- be wary, be suspicious. And hey- call them out. That's your job now, okay?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Skinny people, I see you: Taking up space where you shouldn't and what to do about it

Two photos side by side of a light skinned fat woman with medium
length pink hair in a black top with greenery in the background.
The right picture shows the woman after the photo was put through
facial improvement software, making her face and nose slimmer as
well as making her eyes more symmetrical and larger and her lips
I see you skinny people. I see you struggling. I see your self confidence issues. I see you hiding your
stomach in a one piece bathing suit because you're too afraid of a bikini. I know that self loathing body issues are not exempt for you. I know that fatphobia affects you.

Now let's talk about what else I see and don't see. I don't see you sticking up for me, the fattie. I see you occupying space in fat acceptance instead of raising up the voices of fat people and allowing us the space you occupy. I don't see you trying to change fat oppression. I do see you trying to change "skinny shaming" though. I see you equating "skinny shaming" and fat oppression as if hurt feelings are the same thing as dead children. I see you screaming for yourself, but not for me. I don't see you in my social media posts where I have to defend myself against fatphobes with no allies to help me. I see you subtly contributing to fatphobia and then crying "but I'm an ally!" when called out on it. I see you asking me to educate you on my oppression, but I don't see you trying to educate yourself. I see you, right now, about to type "not all skinny people!" to defend yourself instead of reaching out to your fellow skinnies and helping end my oppression.

Here's the thing, asking you to help end my oppression does not discount your experiences or suffering at the hands of fatphobia and the patriarchy. All it says is that, in this particular instance, fat people are suffering more than skinny people when it comes to fatphobia. In the same way, the patriarchy informs toxic masculinity which affects men negatively, but it's going to, by definition, affect women and femme presenting people more.

Regardless of how fatphobia bleeds over onto you, remember that it's targeted at me. You still hold power over fat people and have privilege in a world that favors you over us. I know it's not a power you asked for. It may not even be a power you want, and I get that. I have privileges too. Hell, I even have relative thin privilege compared to people who are fatter than I am. Being a size 22/3x, I can buy a lot of clothes that just don't exist in a 4x or larger. I can fit some places that people larger than me can't (like airplane seats and certain chairs, and even medical equipment), I can, mostly, be left alone in public depending on where I am, and I see people, however rarely, who represent me. These are all things that give me some privilege because privilege exists on a sliding scale. Thin people, have all these and more, including important ones that can mean life or death (such as having a doctor take your illnesses seriously).

Basically, it doesn't matter how badly you feel about your body, you're still the oppressor. I'm still the oppressed. I have the right to be angry at you, regardless of your personal issues, I have the right to express that anger, I have the right to have access to fat only spaces and to insist that you don't get to be a part of it.

Mostly though, your job as an ally is to always be learning, always doing better, and always taking pressure off of my shoulders. Your job is to educate other thin people (people with internalized fatphobia you don't need to deal with because you can't police how someone deals with oppression- even if those ways are shitty and oppresses other fat people). So next time your facebook friend posts a fatphobic meme or comment, try educating them, posing links to information and posts from fat people. When a fat person speaks, don't be so quick to jump in with your experiences- try just supporting your fat friend and quietly being there for them. Don't ask us to educate you, but rather, when you don't understand something, or have questions, ask a group dedicated to intersectionality and education or google articles or posts by fat people. Remember too that you can take all of the rules of allyship in an intersectional setting and apply it to fat acceptance and fat liberation.

Ally is not an identity, it's not a title that you get once and you're done. It's an ongoing, organic, thing that takes emotional labor and mental effort on your part. The emotional labor and mental effort that I put in is on a daily, hourly, and even minute by minute basis. Please take some of that from me. I see you, and want you to know that I see you (all day, every day, whether I want to or not), so please.. see me as well. Because my suffering is made invisible, but you can do something about that.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Happy 30's

It's a question that's been buzzing around in my mind for a while now. Am I too old for this? Am I too burnt out? Am I too... something? Maybe something that I can't describe, but something nonetheless? I know a lot of you are pounding fists on the table demanding to see more photos, demanding more meaningful text posts, demanding an update, demanding content- any content!

The content that you demand has been sparse, if non existent these last few months. I've done all of three photoshoots in the entire first half of this year, but I haven't been idle. I've been a busy bee behind the camera. I've had several shoots for The Fat Naked Art Project (on blogger and tumblr) and I'm keeping pretty busy with other types of shoots as well, including launching a new site for boudoir photography. Next website to go up? FNAP needs a print store so that you can hang beautiful naked people in your home.

Still, a question begs to be answered: how much more energy do I want to put into modeling and how long can I feasibly keep it up? I've shot with many local photographers and don't have the resources to travel for modeling. Photographers willing to shoot a model of my size are already around unicorn or dragon status in rarity and I fear I may have exhausted my mythological beings resources. (anyone know a stray fairy perhaps?) On top of simply having fewer resources than I did years ago, I've gained weight (giving me even fewer options than I had 20lbs ago) and I've gotten older.

Not that I don't want to still challenge the fatphobia in modeling, and I'd like to challenge the ageism too, I have to admit, that it's more difficult with compounding factors. I'm not going to stop taking opportunities that come my way! But, as you've seen this year, the shoots themselves will likely slow down. That being said, I will try to pick up on my text posts in a meaningful way.

Feel free to send me topics you'd like me to cover, ask for advice you'd like me to answer (publicly if you'll allow), or suggest content you'd like to see.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Eating Disorders and Underrepresented Communities

Today is World Eating Disorders Day, a day to help raise awareness for eating disorders of all kinds, throughout the world. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who will be ignored on this day. The typical face of eating disorders will be a young, white, very thin, girl, likely with anorexia or possibly bulimia. And yes, these people exist. This post is not meant to deny or invalidate those experiences because they are very real and very deadly. But while people are offering support and resources to these young women and girls, people of color, fat people, men, trans, and nonbinary people fly under most people's radars.

Let's start with the fact that studies show in 6th and 7th grade girls, Hispanics and Asians showed significantly more body dissatisfaction  more, than white girls. Similarly, Native American girls were attempting weight at a greater rate than white girls. Despite the fact that eating disorders are seen as a white person's issue, ED's affect all races in the US at about equal rates.

Another group that's rarely, if ever, talked about, is older people. Yep, you read that right. Eating disorders among older people are on the rise. There's been a steep rise in the increase in body disatisfaction in people past midlife- a 31% rise in the past few decades and we don't even have statistics on this past 1997 (almost a decade ago!). We do know that over a third of outpatient treatment for eating disorders was for people over the age of 30. And, even though weight loss can be harmful, especially as you age, 20% of women who were 70 years or older were actively trying to lose weight.

Boys and men are not only often ignored when it comes to the ED community, but face added stigma in that eating disorders are seen as a feminine quality. There aren't really many statistics on men and eating disorders and more research needs to be done, but we do know that, though eating disorders affect women and girls more often, cases for boys and men are catching up. And there aren't even statistics on boys and men with muscle dysmorphia or "bigorexia", a condition in which someone is obsessed with the idea of getting bigger with muscle.

Sexuality plays a role in this too. For boys and men who were queer, they were significantly more likely to have starved themselves (fasted), used laxatives or diet pills, or vomited to try to lose weight.  Queer teens were also twice as likely to report incidences of binge eating with queer girls and women being twice as likely to binge. (Binge Eating Disorders is another under the radar, stigmatized, ED that we'll talk about later) Keep in mind that we don't even have a vague idea about eating disorders in the trans community. Among trans and non binary people, eating disorders exist, but we don't know how common they are or how their identities play into their eating disorders. We do know that fat is often associated with femininity, especially when it appears in certain spots in the body (such as the hips or chest). Here's a story about a trans man with an eating disorder where his curves made him feel fat and, ultimately, lead to anorexia nervosa.

And, speaking of fat.. let's get onto eating disorders in fat people. We know that being "overweight" or perceived as "overweight" puts you more at risk for an eating disorder. That's right folks, fat people are at a greater risk for eating disorders than thin people. And fatphobia- convincing thin people that they're fat or need to lose weight- puts them at greater risk too. I don't think we can pretend that fatphobia has nothing to do with eating disorders when thinness is often the goal. Wanting to be thin and body dissatisfaction are the most well known risks for eating disorders, and yet, we like to think that fat shaming not only is good for fat people, but doesn't affect thin people. In reality, fatphobia is deadly. Eating disorders are the deadliest mental illness with people with anorexia nervosa having a mortality rate six times higher than the general population which includes suicide. Bulimia also has a high suicide rate and mortality risks for Bulimia and EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) were similar to those with anorexia.

We should not that fat people are most often diagnosed with EDNOS and that EDNOS is the most common eating disorder. (Though people with EDNOS can fall anywhere in the weight range from average to fat, they just don't meet the low weight requirements of AN or BN)

Unfortunately, we don't know the suicide rate among those with BED (Binge Eating Disorder) because, let's face it, no one cares. People with BED tend to be fat (Though not all are. You can have BED and be thin) and we don't really care about fat people. Or BED. Binge Eating Disorder is highly stigmatized. If you're thin then the general thought is that eating a lot is cute, adorable. Despite the fact that BED sufferers face extreme emotional distress including guilt, feeling of internalized fatphobia, and self hate. Fat people with BED are thought to just be overeaters who brought their fate on themselves and they could "simply stop eating so much" and they'd be cured.

And please, let's not forget that none of the statistics in this blog cover disordered eating (such as dieting or other methods of weight loss that do not fit the criteria for an eating disorder). When we factor in the percentage of people who are dieting to lose weight, it's clear that eating disorders and disordered eating affect a massive number of people. In adult women, over half say that eating holds no pleasure and they often feel guilty- think about that. Guilt for doing something you have to do to survive, something we've evolved to take pleasure from. Only 20% of women are instinctive (intuitive) eaters, meaning 80% had some kind of disordered eating.

This is a serious public health concern. I know people like to spout off that "obesity is an epidemic!" but this? This is the real epidemic: fatphobia.

So, today as we look at all of the personal stories of people who have struggled with eating disorders or who still struggle, let's remember the marginalized and underrepresented people who struggle as well. Challenge the stereotype and educate people, because ignorance is killing the most vulnerable among us.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Flowers and Pearls

I was completely honored to work with local Burlesque performer Miss Pearl Necklace. Together with photographer Freeman Long we created some beautiful fat positive photos that I absolutely adore!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Just an Update

It's been a while and, yes, I have photos coming for you soon, but not today. Today is just an update day. To let you know what's going on and that I haven't forgotten about you.

I've had my hands full with The Fat Naked Art Project and recently traveled to Atlanta, GA for a shoot. In addition, I have had a few local shoots as well. I've been really busy with my photography in general (and keeping the trolls at bay has been a bit of a hurdle). I'm also hoping to launch a new photo project this year called Body Love Through Struggle which focuses on people who have or have had an eating disorder, particularly marginalized groups who are often under represented in the ED community.

Speaking of- I'm working with an ED organization (I'll tell you who when I can!) to make their org more inclusive and body positive. This includes helping with training videos, a youtube interview, and teaching FA courses at their next conference, just to name a few things.

I'm also adding to the types of fat acceptance classes that I'll be teaching locally. With my Fat Acceptance 101 class being a huge hit, I'm planning a 201 class that deals with fat acceptance and intersectionality more in depth as well as a fat acceptance and children and young teens class and a fat acceptance and eating disorders class. Look at me go!

If you're wondering why I seem to be working on so much right now, it's because I'm newly medicated for Chronic Fatigue. Soon to be medicated for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) as well... then, there will be nothing in this world that can stop me! For so many years I've had such big plans and no energy to make them happen. Now that's all changing and I'm so very thankful to every doctor who helped me. I always thought it was the Thyroid Disease slowing me down, but now, even though I have a list of diagnoses, I finally know what's wrong and why and I can tackle each problem as they come.

Thank you to my entire support system and everyone who's been there for me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

International Women's Day '16

by Lauren Carney
Today is International Women's Day. The history of the day goes back to 1909. International Women's Day included women from all over the world, as a day to recognize the social, cultural, political and economic accomplishments of women while simultaneously calling for women's full equality and rights.

To me, the original inclusion of so many women in this day means that today is also a day for intersectionality. Because this is a blog about fatness, I feel it's appropriate to talk about women's rights and accomplishments in reference to fat acceptance. The fat acceptance movement is as old as 1967 (likely older). For decades fat acceptance groups were separated and relied on word of mouth to spread information. Today, we have the all powerful internet and fat acceptance ideas have spread all over the world and there are blossoming and well established communities all over. Books on the subject are easily accessible and, with third wave fat acceptance, we see the inclusion of intersectional issues. I think these are huge accomplishments.

I'm speaking from a place of both marginalization and privilege because we all exist somewhere on a spectrum. That being said, I'm going to talk about a commonly discussed issue within the fat acceptance movement: how female read people have less privilege than male read people when it comes to the issue of being fat. Because today is also a call to action for women's rights, I want to remind people that women's rights should include all women, including fat women who are often stripped of their femininity, their sexual being, and their humanity (note: I'm not saying that this only happens to fat women. Again, fat and woman is just one intersection of many, but it's the one I know.)

Fat women hold less privilege that fat men. This isn't to say that fat men don't face fat discrimination because they absolutely do, especially deathfats (because, yes, thin privilege exists on a spectrum too). Fat women are simultaneously oversexualized (read fetishized) by many people and desexualized by many people. The average girl starts her first diet at 8 years old, and fat women are at the biggest risk of eating disorders. It's harder to shop for affordable and fashionable clothing, and we're denied jobs, raises, and promotions more often than fat men. We're even more likely to be found guilty in court cases. Fat women face greater obstacles to access to birth control including abortion and are often forced to attempt weight loss while pregnant (studies show that dieting pregnant mothers lead to fatter babies).

Fat people are oppressed, but fat women face (at least) two forms of oppression that intersect and we absolutely  need fat men to stand up and acknowledge this fact. Women's rights and fat rights are inexorably linked. In fact, I didn't even become educated about feminism until I found fat acceptance. I couldn't help but read feminist theories and ideas when reading about fat acceptance issues.

Thin feminists and even many fat feminists still fail to recognize this and fatphobia is, unfortunately, extremely common in feminist circles. If your feminism isn't for all women, then who is it for? Just yourself? Just those you care about? (this leads to a disturbing question- do you not care about any fat people in your life?). This isn't a question about (or a post about) health because health is irrelevant in how much respect a person deserves. In how much dignity a person deserves. In how many rights a person deserves. This is a question of humanity and when a privileged person decides that a marginalized person is worthy of humanity. Of wholeness as a person.

At what weight do I become undeserving of basic rights and so deserving of scorn and oppression? Which magic number is that on the scale? This is my call to other feminists who are currently not fat inclusive to become so. To be truly intersectional. Fat acceptance is in the spirit of the day and I hope for every step we gain as feminists, we can gain as fat people too.

Friday, March 4, 2016


Photo by Freeman Long
Photo by Freeman Long
Photo by Freeman Long

Photo by Freeman Long

Photo by Freeman Long

Photo by Freeman Long

Monday, January 25, 2016

Forest Spirit

This is my favorite costume that I've done (though Ursula will always have a special place in my heart). I made the headdress myself. My makeup artist was the very talented Pilin Leonard (pi_cosmo_mua on instagram) and the shoot (theme was Enchanted Nightmare) was organized and set up by Sarah Robertson (sarah_bethxo on instagram). Okay, nothing more really needs to be said about this post- it's a picture post and I had a great experience! Photographers credited under each photo.

photo by ICU Pictures

Photo by Glass Avenue Photography

Photo by Duncan Moody

photo by Avisek Choudhury photography

Photo by Tusharadri Mukherjee

photo by ICU Pictures

photo by CH Photography and Art 

photo by ICU Pictures 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Disability in the New Year

It's a week into the new year. I can't believe it's 2016 already! (wasn't 2000 just, like, a couple years ago? Seriously now.) This year is starting out with an amazing shoot (next week duckies.. just be patient!) and more positivity and energy than I've had in a long time. Although I took a six month break from The Fat Naked Art Project, we've started posting there again as well. It's been one hell of a week.

All that being said, I want to take this opportunity to write about disability and fatness as well as disability and activism.

What spurred this new post? Well, honestly, the amount of money I just had to spend on prescriptions (and I still have a couple more that I need to pick up today).

Most of you know that I have thyroid disease (Hypothyroidism). Some of you know that I have Bipolar Disorder (Type I). I haven't talked about my Migraines, or having POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrom) or even my Chronic Fatigue. I don't talk about the pain that I'm in daily from injuries resulting from being Hypoermobile either. Heck, I don't even really talk about my Acid Reflux or now it's given me Chronic Nausea for so many years that I've forgotten when it started which severely impacted my life. I'm also in recovery (5 years) for Atypical Anorexia.

So I want to take a moment to talk about how those affect me, affect my activism, and affect how people see me in regards to my activism.

Firstly, most of you probably already know about Spoon Theory. For those of you who don't, go ahead and go read up. For a quick TL;DR-  spoons are a metaphor for energy/ability either mental or physical and is typically used by the disabled community. I even made a text based game called Spoons to help my friends and family understand what it's like a little better.

Having disabilities, both mental and physical, makes my job tough to say the least. I'm going to be brutally honest here and I know this will draw a lot of hate from trolls (which I'll talk about a little later). I'm a Stay At Home Mom partially because I have too many disabilities to hold down a traditional job. Even modeling is difficult and I've had to cut back on how many shoots I do. I'm also a photographer, but I can't do that full time either. This puts me at an emotional and financial disadvantage (I'll add that I do have class privilege because of my husband who is able to work). Oftentimes I come up with a money making scheme that involves photography or making things, but, inevitably, I run out of spoons time and time again.

Not only does my Fatigue affect my modeling, but my Bipolar Depression limits how many shoots I can do as well and when I am able to do a shoot, my Chronic Pain (from injuries), limits my movements. In particular, I have Chronic Tendinitis in both shoulders which means I can't fully raise my arms or put my elbows over my head.

There are both mental and physical limitations to what I can do in any given month, week, day, or even hour. By fat, the Chronic Fatigue has been the most limiting. It's hard to explain to people what it feels like to sleep twenty hours a day (and no, you don't wish you could do that), to miss so much of life because you're too exhausted to even eat. (Luckily I start a new stimulant medication for this tomorrow!)

I think though that, by far, the hardest part of being disabled and an activist, is the part where people mock you and dismiss you for your disabilities.

  • Why are the fat ones always crazy?
  • Right... it's a glandular issue... uh huh... 
  • Exercise intolerance? (part of POTS) she's just lazy cause she's fat. 
  • She wouldn't be so tired if she just lost weight. 
  • no one listen to her... she's bipolar/crazy. 
  • An eating disorder? Eating too much isn't an eating disorder fatass. *
*It can be. It's actually called Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

It's difficult having such a huge part of yourself, one that you have no control over, being mocked and shamed. This is ableism. Ableism is the oppression and discrimination of people with disabilities in favor of people who are able bodied (people with no disabilities.) 

Having your work and your beliefs and ideas dismissed because of illness is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how the disabled are treated. Ableism intersections with just about everything, including Classism for those with disabilities who cannot earn a living. We also face higher incidences of domestic violence and violence in general ad have a higher mortality risk due to ineffective or insufficient care as well as just by virtue of being oppressed. Being fat and disabled almost ensures medical neglect and social stigma. Sometimes I worry about how shortened my life will be, not because of my lifestyle or my weight, but because of how others treat me, including medical personnel. 

The trolls/abusers of the world will always always use your disabilities to their advantage, as I've found out personally when I came out as bipolar as well as anorexic. Trolls, like all abusers, will use anything and everything they can to break you, including gas lighting, insults and belittling you, threats of physical violence, and more. 

The key, for me, has always been fat acceptance which has enabled me to learn to stand up for myself, to have confidence, and to love myself regardless of what other people say, do, or think.

So, while 2016 has, so far, been an exceptional year for me, I, like many others with disabilities, will face many obstacles throughout the year(s), but I will always turn to my fat acceptance community to keep me strong, mentally and physically. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy 2K16!

It's the first day of 2k16. Last year was one hell of a ride, but, like many others, I'm glad it's finally over so that I can start another great year. I'm not a huge believer in ra-ra-new-beginnings type stuff. Maybe it's because I've never been able to really let go of things that happened in the past. I have a big mixed bag of bad and good and traumatic in my past and I know that it makes me who I am. I never want to apologize for that because I like who I am, even as I'm constantly trying to become a better person.

All that being said, I'm excited for 2016. I've made some resolutions and I'm feeling optimistic (so far) about all of the great things to come this year. I'm focusing less on the photo posts and more on the text content of this blog. Partly because it's getting harder to find shoots to be a part of and I'm making peace with that, and partly because I want people to care about what I have to say in addition to looking at my pictures.

I think this year is going to be filled with body positivity (even working through all of the nasty fatphobia in the media and society in general). If you haven't checked it out yet, The Fat Naked Art Project is back from a six month break and posting for New Year's. I want to wish you all a wonderful year full of body acceptance, rolls, cellulite, double chins and loving every inch of yourselves. I hope that, in the darker moments, you can turn to me and other fat activists to help you through.

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...