size acceptance

All posts in the size acceptance category

What is Fat Heffalump All About?

Published June 25, 2011 by sleepydumpling

Well… how do I follow on from that last post?  It is the most viewed, most commented on and most widely shared post I’ve written in the history of Fat Heffalump.  I’m both gobsmacked and thrilled.

Firstly, let me welcome all of the new readers who have come along thanks to that post.  Just a little bit of housekeeping – there is a comments policy, probably a good idea to go take a look at it, just so we’re all clear.  It’s there to protect you as much as it is to protect me.  But I am thrilled to see so many new faces popping up here, and for those of you lurking, please feel safe to comment and say hello.

I think I’m going to give you a few resources today, because I know quite a few of the new folks who have popped up here since my last post are new to fat acceptance (also known as size or body acceptance, because it really does encompass all body sizes – I simply focus on fat acceptance because I am fat myself.)  I would also like to invite the more seasoned Fat Heffalump readers to leave their favourite resources (and their own blogs in fact) in the comments for our new readers too.

Where shall we start?  I guess the basic premise of fat acceptance is that all bodies, be they fat, thin or in between, deserve to be able to live their lives with dignity and respect, and without being singled out as “abnormal”.  Even the “unhealthy” ones, I use quotation marks because really, health is totally subjective and can’t really be measured by anyone but the individual themselves.  To share a lovely quote I saw on Hanne Blank’s post about “real” women today, from the fabulous Mr. Glenn Marla:

There is no wrong way to have a body.

That’s what it boils down to at it’s very core.  Of course there are a lot of other complex subjects within that, and fat acceptance does intersect with all other social justice movements.  That’s a really important thing to understand – that when we talk about our own rights, and the marginalisation of ourselves as people with fat bodies, that it intersects with all other marginalised people and their rights.  Marianne from The Rotund has a very good post about intersectionality that also explains why we don’t go down the road of saying “Fat hatred is the last acceptable prejudice.”  Cos you know, it’s not.

There is a lot of work around basic human rights, and taking it up in one place does benefit all, so long as you acknowledge and work with that intersectionality.  As well as benefiting oneself, it benefits the world.

For me personally, the reason that fat acceptance is so important to me is about self esteem.  I come from a place where I had absolutely no self esteem.  I thought I was the most worthless human being on the planet simply because I was fat.  Then I found fat acceptance, and a world opened right up for me.  I started to believe that I was worthy of simple things, like adequate medical care and help for my depression and non-existent self esteem.  I started to believe that I had a right to live my life happy and abundant, and without being discriminated against or vilified for my body.  I began to believe that I was worth taking care of myself.  From there, I’ve grown so much and my life has opened up in so many ways.

I really do believe, that with strong self esteem, a person’s world is always made better, no matter their circumstances.  It’s such a difficult thing to cultivate, but the benefits of it are incredible.

So I want to give back where I benefited from.  I want to help other people find strong sense of self esteem, to find their confidence and point them in the direction of  all the amazing things I found through fat acceptance.

And what resources did I find that brought me to the world of fat acceptance?

Well, I think the first was the very Awesome Frances of Hey Fat Chick!/Corpulent.  Hey Fat Chick! was so revolutionary to me, to see bodies that looked like mine portrayed as beautiful and happy and strong.  There was the aforementioned Marianne Kirby with her blog The Rotund and the book she co-wrote with Kate Harding, Screw Inner Beauty (known as Lessons from the Fatosphere in other parts of the world).  There was the most wonderful Marilyn Wann and her book Fat! So?

Close to home, there is Bri King from Fat Lot of Good and Elizabeth from Spilt Milk.

Some of my current favourites that regularly get me thinking, blow my world open and inspire me are Lesley Kinzel from Two Whole Cakes, Ragen Chastain from Dances with Fat, Sarah from Not Blue at All and Elizabeth Tamny from The Extender.

Another aspect of fat acceptance you might like to get into is fatshion.  That’s fat fashion!  My lovely friends Nicole of A Well Rounded Venture and Anna of Bargain Fatshionista are a good place to start.  But others I love are Cupcakes Clothing, Pocket Rocket Fashion and we can’t forget the fabulous Bloomie of 30 Dresses in 30 Days.

Oh, and if you want to hear from the fellas, you can’t go past Brian at Red No. 3 and the amazing big dude fashion resource, Chubstr.

This is just a small selection of the amazing work that is being done out there by some really incredible people.  But it will get you started and I’m sure bring you some amazing information, ideas and perspectives.

I regularly post links on my @fatheffalump twitter and the Fat Heffalump Facebook page to articles and information that interests me as well, so feel free to follow there!

Again, welcome to all of the new people who have popped up as readers here at Fat Heffalump recently, and if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.

It’s Not The End of the Road: Or Why I Still Promote Fat Talk Free Week Among My Friends

Published October 22, 2010 by sleepydumpling

Yes, I know Fat Talk Free week is problematic.  Yes I know that it’s really aimed at and practiced by thin, affluent, young, white women and that it’s likely that it often leads to the suppression of real talk about fatness, fat acceptance and body positivity.  But I still promote it amongst my general circle.

Why?  Because not everyone is on the same page of the body acceptance book.  It would be fan-bloody-tastic if everyone was well entrenched and able to recognise that while it has useful elements, it also has problematic ones, and we need to keep those in check and question them as we go along.  But people are not like that, generally speaking.  Every day, I hear, read and see people around me who loathe their own bodies or those of others, are afraid of bodies that are different to theirs, who indulge in diet talk and fat talk, that are so deeply entrenched in the cultural norm of body loathing and fear that the concepts of acceptance and positivity that are so important to me, sound so radical, so unheard of, so “out there” to them.

I want them to leave that place of body loathing and fear, but as much as I push, and push, and push, they have to want to move to that way of thinking.  I can’t force other people to change, but I can encourage them to think.

Just as an example, I have a much beloved friend, who, no matter how many times I tell him that it is perfectly acceptable to refer to me as fat, can’t, or won’t, do so without following it through with “blow softening” superlatives.  Fat is just such a dirty word in our culture that so many people are deeply, deeply resistant to ever seeing it as anything other than a vicious insult.  It would be fantastic to wave a magic wand and change that, but it doesn’t work like that.

So while I do endeavour to introduce the people around me to as many clear messages about fat acceptance and body positivity, sometimes it’s just not getting through at full blast, and instead, I have to think of other ways to present the message.

Since I started practicing fat acceptance, I’ve watched the people around me slowly change their thinking around the word fat.  I’ve seen people who were very judgemental about other people’s bodies, their taste or dress sense, and their looks re-think their attitudes towards the judgement of others.  Admittedly, not everyone around me is doing so, some are absolutely resistant to the idea, but most of the people who care about me truly are listening to what I have to say and thinking about how their attitudes, words and deeds affect others.

Fat Talk Free week isn’t what I would recommend to most people who are open to learning about fat acceptance.  But to those people who are outside of the fatosphere, even that is a radical concept.  If I can get them thinking twice about that comment about the size of their butt, or calling some fat person on the telly “gross”, or judging others about what they wear, then I’ve achieved something.  If I can get folks changing the subject away from diet talk at the work lunch table, or think twice about a comment that they might pass on someone’s body in front of their children, then there has been some value to making them aware of Fat Talk Free week.

I consider it a stepping stone on the journey to body positivity.  Never the destination, but a step closer to where we need to go.

It Works Both Ways

Published July 20, 2010 by sleepydumpling

This morning while reading tweets on the bus on the way to work, I spotted this tweet from the @PostSecret, which led me to this article from the Huffington Post.

One thing I think we have a bit of a duty to do as Fat Acceptance activists is challenge when negative language and connotations are put on to thin bodies as well as fat ones.  In the case of both the tweet from @PostSecret, and the article from the Huffington Post, while I agree we need to be questioning the body image messages sent out by these very thin mannequins, I don’t think it’s fair to refer to them as either anorexic or emaciated.  Both words imply that being very thin is by default unhealthy – and as voices calling out for positive body image for ALL bodies, I feel it’s important that we challenge these implications as well as those that suggest fat bodies are unhealthy.

In the long run, it benefits all of us, regardless of what size or shape we are.

It is important that people know that very thin does not by default equal either anorexic or emaciated.  The definition of anorexic is a person who suffers anorexia nervosa.  Not all thin people suffer anorexia nervosa.  Not all people who suffer anorexia nervos are in fact, very thin.  Likewise, the definition of emaciated is “wasted away”.  Again, not all very thin people are wasted away – or in any way unhealthy.  Instead, people who are on the extreme end of thinness can have many reasons for being so. Yes, from ill health or eating disorder, but also because they are just naturally built that way.  Like fat people, thin people have many factors in determining the shape and size of their body, from genetics, environment, to diet and activity levels.  That’s the thing about bodies, you cannot tell very much about them at all just by looking at them.

When we challenge people about the language around fat bodies, we also need to be mindful of our own language when referring to thin bodies, especially those on the very thin end of the spectrum.  For example, that old chestnut “real women have curves”.  As I’ve said before on this blog, all women are real, unless they are robots created by an evil genius, or perhaps figments of our imagination.  A woman who is thin and angular is just as much a woman as one who is fat and curvaceous.  Plus, who’s to say that fat bodies are necessarily “curvy”.  I have curvy bits on my very fat body, but some parts are pretty damn boxy too!

It’s important that we do not define womanhood by any one type of body, any one shape or size or set of measurements.  Womanhood is inclusive of all of us, not exclusive to some.

There are of course plenty of other examples.  We can’t suggest that thin people “eat a sandwich” any more than thin folk can suggest we “put down the cheeseburger”.  We can’t assume that thin people don’t have body issues because they don’t have the pressure to lose weight like we do.  We can’t assume that thin bodies are thin because they are physically active and eat less than those of us with fat bodies.

This doesn’t mean that the privilege of thinness goes unacknowledged, we all know that there are plenty of things that people with thin bodies can take for granted that those of us with fat bodies do not have the luxury of, but it does acknowledge that nobody should be judged because of their body size and shape, even those with bodies that are considered the social “norm”.

What I guess is the important message is, that if we want the world to change their attitude towards fat bodies, we need to lead by example when talking about any bodies, and squash any generalisations and negative judgements on bodies when talking about ANY bodies.
Besides, as I think it was Lesley over at Fatshionista recently said – all living things have curves, that’s what distinguishes the animal and plant from the mineral.

One type of body is not better than the other.

It’s not either/or in this situation.

It is ALL.

My Letter to Mia Freedman

Published May 10, 2010 by sleepydumpling

Well, it has happened again, Mia Freedman has posted yet another entry to her blog that is pointing out the extremes of body behaviour, in this case extreme eating/weight and erroneously suggests that it is “encouraging obesity”.

It deeply concerns me that Mia, as a representative of The Butterfly Foundation, an eating disorder support foundation, seems to think it’s ok to post these kind of pieces, from what I see as an “OMG LOOK WHAT THE FATTY MCFATTERSONS ARE DOING NOW!” when it is merely an example of the most extreme, unusual behaviour around fatness and extreme eating.

This one was one I needed to comment on, so I left her a letter in her comments, which I will share for you here:

Mia it’s interesting that you keep saying that you only post what you find interesting. Because I keep noticing a trend of posting the very extreme stories around fat bodies, or people punishing/shaming fat folks, or thinly veiled “advice” on how you think “the war on obesity” should be fought.

Are you or are you not involved with The Butterfly Foundation? Do you not have a responsibility to take a moderate, balanced, understanding view of body image? Do you not have a duty of care thanks to your involvement with The Butterfly Foundation to present a body positive perspective?

Every time you make a post regarding body image about the fat end of the scale, it looks very much a “Point and stare” kind of OMG LOOK AT WHAT THE FATTY MCFATTERSONS ARE DOING! post.

You suggest that the feeders (a very rare breed of fat person indeed) “encourage obesity”, but how many people read about say the woman above, and actually want to rush out and get fat? How is someone with either a very rare fetish or a serious eating disorder encouraging others to follow her example? I haven’t seen anywhere that she talks about anyone else getting extremely fat other than herself… so why the “encouraging obesity” tack?

Why? Perhaps because you want to skew the public view to think that anyone who is fat and doesn’t diet or is about fat acceptance is trying to convert the whole world to fat. Or at least cast a very negative light on fat people.

You are in a highly visible position and are a representative of an organisation that is about positive body image. In fact on it’s website front page there is a headline “Your Beauty and Worth Cannot Be Measured”. Therefore you have a responsibility to share a balanced, moderate, positive approach to body image, and not just highlight the very extremes of behaviours around body shape and size. Dieting yourself fatter, skinny girls are liars, plastic surgery to prevent eating disorders, weigh ins for kids… all such extreme examples of bad body image that you seem to love to highlight.

Instead of marginalising bodies that our outside of the “normal” range, how about posting some interesting pieces on encouraging activity because it is fun, or positive stories about women who have achieved something amazing despite the shape and size of their body, or their eating disorders.

Or is that not “interesting” enough for you?

*Update* I do need to correct something I misunderstood. Mia is not a direct representative of The Butterfly Foundation but she is Chair of the National Body Image Taskforce convened by Minister Kate Ellis (on which Butterfly sit too). But my point is still the same.

Coming Out of the Fat Acceptance Closet

Published May 8, 2010 by sleepydumpling

Well, it’s been an interesting week.  The big news of course for me is that my submission for the Australian Fat Studies: A Critical Dialogue conference has been accepted and I’ve been invited to give a presentation at the conference in Sydney in September.  Not only am I honoured to be invited, but I’m also thrilled that as far as I know, this is the first time that fat people have been asked to participate in the discussion with academia.  Normally folks talk about us, not with us, you know?

One of the things I’m having to come to terms with is coming out of the closet so to speak as a fat acceptance blogger/activist in my day to day life.  Mostly at work I don’t talk about fat acceptance or the stuff that I do as an activist in the cause.  This isn’t because I’m ashamed of it or embarrassed by it – but simply because I’m mostly too busy at, and there is an element of “this is my workplace, I can’t piss people off here”.  And I know that my passion for fat acceptance over-rides my tact sometimes, so I kind of just take that hat off at work a wee bit.

However, with my absolute beside myself excitement over the Fat Studies conference, and a few other things lately, I’ve found myself quite proudly wearing that fat acceptance hat all the time.  It’s such a fabulous hat, you know?  I don’t want to leave it at home.

In response to my talking about fat acceptance amongst friends and colleagues, a few times someone has said to me “You are so brave to put yourself out there.”  I’ve felt a little uncomfortable with that, because I don’t feel brave or anything.  But then I was listening to the Two Whole Cakes Fatcasts that Marianne Kirby and Leslie Kinzel are doing at the moment, and I found myself thinking “They’re so brave.”

And they are.  So am I for that matter.  It’s not easy putting yourself out there on the subject of fat, simply because there is so much loathing, fear and hostility around it.  But I don’t do it to be brave, and while I can’t speak for Marianne and Leslie, it seems neither do they.  I think we do it because it’s the right thing to do, and because we want to make a difference.  Ladies, please correct me if I’m wrong.

Something Leslie said in the first fatcast really stuck with me.  Forgive me as I’ve paraphrased it, but basically “every time a fat woman gets out of bed, gets dressed and leaves the house she’s being an activist”.  It’s bloody true!!

Fat women are supposed to be apologetic for existing.  We’re supposed to be invisible, demure, quiet, ashamed and embarrassed.  We’re supposed to dress in shapeless, dark colours, apologise for taking up space in the world, shrink down (both figuratively and literally), pay more for everything (clothes, seats on airplanes, underwear, health care, you name it), to make excuses for ourselves, to be invisible.

So when we’re not invisible, when we talk about being fat, when we accept ourselves for who we are, as we are, when we live life to the full, bold and brilliant, when we are outspoken or confident, when we choose to clothe ourselves in things that make ourselves noticeable, we’re even more of an activist than just existing.

It isn’t easy.  Not only are you dealing with your own demons, a lifetime of fat hate heaped on you that you have to battle to re-claim your self esteem and confidence, but you’re scrutinised and inspected to the nth degree, just in case you make a mistake, or have an error in something you say, or are misinformed.

You’re also dealing with a whole lot of hatred in the form of the trolls you get on your blogs and anywhere else you’re active.  Some fatosphere bloggers don’t have much problem with it, but some of us get hammered every day by some douchebag who posts comments spewing their narrow minded hate.  Even when you have a good platform to deal with them, and get rid of them individually pretty quickly, there is another to take their place.  Why on earth anyone would want to waste their time on trolling blogs I’ve never understood, but one has to have a strong self esteem to deal with these morons.

But we keep going.  We keep blogging, talking about fat acceptance, feminism and body politics.  We keep doing it because it’s important to us.  A quote I love (and that I can’t work out who said it originally, sometimes the internets make it harder to find information than easier) and that sums up the whole shebang for me:

Courage is not the absence of fear but the awareness that something else is more important than fear.

I’ll talk more about the results of my coming out of the fat acceptance closet as time goes by and I find out how more and more people in my life react to it.

Are you active about fat acceptance in your day to day life?  How do your family, colleagues, friends etc respond to your fat acceptance activisim/beliefs?

Just a Quickie: Two Whole Cakes Fatcast

Published May 4, 2010 by sleepydumpling

Haven’t got a lot of blog time tonight, but I really, really wanted to share something with you all.

Marianne Kirby of The Rotund and Leslie Kinzel of Fatshionista have got together and started podcasting with Two Whole Cakes: Fatcast.

I have listened to the first two so far and can highly recommend them for those of you within the fatosphere and those of you who want to know more about the fatosphere and fat acceptance, be you a Fatty McFatterson yourself or not.

Marianne and Leslie get right down into it quick sticks, and talk about the politics of fat acceptance, their experiences and their thoughts on where the movement is going and in fact has been.  But they do so with bucketloads of fun, good grace and humour.  I have discovered that I can’t listen to the podcasts on the bus because people stare at the giggling fat lady!  Yet I also found myself nodding along in agreement and a few lightbulbs going off as the ladies articulate things I have been unable to.

If you follow this link, you will be able to download the podcasts or subscribe via iTunes, and can see the notes and links the ladies have mentioned in the podcasts as well.

Well, what are you waiting for?

Fuck You BBSize.com

Published February 23, 2010 by sleepydumpling

I was just going to post a quick video tonight because I’ve not been well for a couple of days (just a stupid head cold, somebody breathed their germs on me) but I came across this little bit of insanity and just had to share it.

It’s a blog post on a website called BBSize.com: Pure Fashion for Plus SizeWomen

Let’s hit you up with the link so you can go and have a look:

Non Slimming Fashion: Bold but not so Beautiful

Ok, now you can take a few deep breaths, pick your jaw up off the ground and give yourself a good mental shake.

Can you believe it?

This is a blog that is supposed to be body positive, and all it does is post a whole pile of fat hatred, spouting how fatties should be dressing “slimming” and “flattering” and actually shames a whole bunch if innocent fatshionistas that they actually STOLE the photographs from.  You heard it right – none of the women in the photographs listed as what fatties shouldn’t do in the name of fashion were asked permission to publish their photographs.  Well, none that have come forward anyway, but I’m pretty sure it’s a safe bet.  Not to mention that they’ve used photographs from various other catalogues and sites and there seems to be no permission on those either.

Yeah BBSize.com – fat women should be in black or navy shapeless sacks, hiding ourselves from the world because you don’t like seeing fat bodies.  Fuck you BBSize.com, I say.

It would be good if you all left a comment over there stating just how wrong this kind of post is, and if any of your photos are on there, demand that they take them down and publish an apology (and know that you look fabulous, no matter what those douchebags say).

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