All posts in the anecdotes category

I Need a Kick Up the Bum

Published November 24, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I got talking to a guy a while ago who is really into body building.  He’s not one of those huge mega muscular Mr Universe types, but he spends a lot of time and energy in sculpting/shaping his body into a particular shape and muscle definition as a sport.  To look at him in an everyday setting, he just looks like a lean guy.  Very handsome, but not like I think of when I conjure up a picture of a bodybuilder in my mind.  But he tells me in the context of his sport, his shape and muscle definition is a class (like boxers have classes, you know, featherweight, heavyweight, lightweight etc) and he works really hard to get himself to what is considered peak for his sport category.

I’ve known him for awhile, we chat fairly often in passing, he’s a nice guy and we have some common interests, and often find ourselves chatting when we cross paths.    I knew he was into body building, but I’ve never talked to him about it because I assumed that he would have the attitude that as a big death-fatty, I would be unhealthy and he wouldn’t be at all favourable to a fat acceptance philosophy.

Well, you know what they say about assumptions?  They make an ASS out of U and ME.  In this case, I think my assumptions have made a big old ASS out of ME.

For the first time ever, I broached the subject of his body building a while back.  He eats.  All day.  But it’s very specific things, at specific times.  I had been noticing this eating pattern for awhile, and seen how much time and energy he puts into this regime, and I’d drawn a lot of parallels to my own history of eating disorders.  The strict regime, eating certain foods at certain times in certain combinations.  This particular day, I was watching him mix up some concoction and I said to him “I’m sorry dude, but that looks gross, do you actually like the taste of it?”  He told me he didn’t find it too bad, and it’s what works best for him.  We got talking about his body building and what it takes to maintain the physique he has, which is to me, a hell of a lot of work for someone to put into just the shape of their body.

Of course, I forget that I used to do that and more in my past to try to change the shape of my body.

I don’t know why, but I finally decided to broach the topic of fat acceptance and body positivity with him.  I actually braced myself for the usual ZOMGBESITY CRISIS! reaction, the lecture about health and such.  The response I got surprised me, and in hindsight, it shouldn’t have.  He simply responded “I’ve always believed that your body is YOUR body, and you know what’s best for it.”

*blink*  *blink*

Yes my lovelies, I was speechless for a moment there.

As our conversation continued, he told me how he knows that he spends a hugely inordinate amount of time and energy on his regime for his body building, but he loves his sport and knows that his lifestyle is not sustainable for a whole lifetime, and that when he decides to retire, he will have to adjust to having a body that is a vastly different shape to the one he has now.  Like any athlete, he has made a commitment in the here and now to his body and sport, and he’s fully aware that it’s not his natural body shape, and that it’s not really anyone’s natural body shape.

I told him about fat acceptance and health at every size, and he was totally on board with it.  I’ll be honest, I had assumed that this beautifully sculpted man who spends a very significant portion of his life on his diet and exercise would have a very poor attitude towards fatness.  And I shouldn’t have.  Nothing of his behaviour towards me, the fattest woman in our mutual environment, ever indicated that, he has always been friendly, respectful and pleasant towards me.  We’ve talked about subjects both very personal and small talk.

I realised that I was absolutely judging him on his eating and exercising habits.  The very judgements that I criticise other people for casting on me and other fat people.

I need a kick up the bum for that.  I have no more right to judge someone at the highly fit and regimented end of the body spectrum than anyone has to judge a death-fatty like me.

What is really important to me is to take that lesson that I’ve received from this man and use it.  To adjust my thinking, shift my assumptions, and make sure that I own up to those stupid assumptions I had.  Not to mention share the lesson with others.  We can’t judge the mega-sporty-fit people any more than anyone can judge we fatties.

Forget the Fail-mongers!

Published October 19, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

So I was telling a friend today about yesterday’s drama in the comments with “Anna” and her whole Eeyore attitude of “You are so going to fail, you’ll never make any difference, you may as well just give up now.” and we got talking about fear of failure and whether or not it is a useful emotion to hold.

For my whole life, I’ve been told not to be too ambitious.  Not to get my hopes up too high.  Not to have unrealistic expectations.  Nobody important will ever listen to you.  You can’t change things, you may as well just work out the best way to live with it.  You’ll only regret it when it doesn’t go the way you want it to.

On Monday, I turn 38.  Not particularly old, not particularly young.  Though I know it will sound positively ancient to some of you!  When I think back to the things I’ve regretted across my life, not once has it ever been something that I’ve had a go at, and not succeeded.  I’ve failed plenty of times in my life at lots of different things, but I have never regretted a single one of those.  The things I have regretted, are the times when I’ve been too scared to have a go.  All those moments that I just missed because of fear of failure; the guy I fell in love with at 19 that I never told how I felt (and found out years later that he felt the same way, but it was now too late!), the job I never went for because I was scared I wasn’t qualified for (which someone far less qualified than I was got), the dance competition I pulled out of because I was sure I would be laughed out of because of my fatness, the business idea I had but was sure I would have failed at so I didn’t try.  Those are the things I regret.

However, when I think of the leaps I’ve taken that haven’t quite happened as I had hoped, I don’t regret any of them.  I’ve told people I’ve loved them and been rejected, I’ve had a business that folded, jobs that it turned out I wasn’t suitable for, and so on.  I don’t regret those at all, in fact I am proud that I had a go, gave it my best shot and lived through the experience.

When I was 10, I saw an article in my mother’s Women’s Weekly about the comedienne Phyllis Diller, who had a massive postcard collection.  The photo was of Phyllis sitting on this huge pile of postcards from all around the world.  I told my mother that I wanted to collect postcards like that.  “Don’t be silly!” she said “Only famous people could do that, they get them sent by all their fans.”  But I decided to start and asked my relatives to send me postcards when they went on holidays.  Then when I was a teenager, I got into writing to penpals, and I asked them to send me postcards from their holidays.  By the time I was a young adult, everyone knew of my obsession with postcards and would send them to me when they went anywhere.  Friends, family, colleagues, penpals, you name it.  People would buy vintage ones off eBay for me and give them to me as birthday gifts.  Today I have a pile far bigger than the one Phyllis Diller sat on in that photograph in Women’s Weekly and I don’t know what to do with them all!!

When I was 20, a friend of mine asked me “If you had all the money you could need, what would you do?”  Straight away I blurted “I’d start a radio station.”  (Bear in mind, this was pre-internet so being able to share your favourite music was not as possible as it is today.)  His response was  “I totally knew you’d say that!  Why wait until the highly unlikely happens?  Can’t we just do it now?”  We got talking about it and thought that perhaps we could look into community radio.

I remember a lot of people told us we couldn’t do it.  We were too young.  Nobody would want to hear anything from us.  There’s no way we could find the money to do it.  Only rich or famous people could start radio stations.

But somehow we got in contact with some people from another community radio station, and took a road trip to meet them.  They told us how to get started, by holding a community meeting to propose the idea and see who would be interested in volunteering.  We did, thanks to a friend of mine who had a venue we could use and a whole bunch of contacts.

At that meeting, the local politician told us that we’d never make it happen, commercial radio was going to come into town and they’d squash us.  The local newspaper editor told us we’d never make it happen, nobody would trust their news from a bunch of volunteers on a hack radio station.  More than half the room had some reason why we’d never make it happen.

But one local businessman wrote a cheque for $1000, handed it to me and said “It’s all yours kiddo, just say my business name on air at your first broadcast.”

A couple of years later, after we lobbied, ran surveys, begged favours, did radio announcing lessons with another community radio station, drummed up donations and sponsorship, had dozens of fund raising events, and worked really hard that first broadcast happened.  It was only a trial broadcast, but I was so proud to announce that first donation from our very first sponsor from that first meeting.  A year after that, we got our first temporary license to broadcast for a season.  Then we got one for a year.  Now, 18 years after my friend Marty asked me that first question about what I’d do with limitless funds, Beau FM is still running.  It’s still an amateur community radio station, but it outlasted two commercial radio stations and survived a pretty full on campaign from a local newspaper to shut them down.  Marty and I may have both fallen out with the committee, but what we did, from that one kernel of an idea that almost everyone told us that we couldn’t do, is still there.

Ice hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” He’s absolutely right.  Sure, you might fail, but failure is how we learn, how we work our way to success.  It might be embarrassing, sure.  But there is not a human being who has ever inhabited this earth, or ever will, who has lived their life free of embarrassment, or never tasted failure.

As Thomas Edison once said “I didn’t fail, I just found ten thousand ways that didn’t work.”

We have a choice in life.  We can have a go and live with the knowledge that we gave it our best shot, and at least asked the questions and spoke up about something we believe in or are passionate about, or we can just fear failure and expect that nothing we do will ever make a difference.  Maybe it won’t, but maybe we’ll pave the way for someone else to make the change we fought so hard for in the first place.

One of my favourite quotes of all time was given to me by my dear friend Ian about 20 years ago.  It’s very simple and one I try to live by:


Be realistic.  Plan for a miracle.



Special Guest Post: Kerri aka Katagal

Published October 12, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Well I have a very special guest post tonight, from a dear friend of mine, Kerri, who you will find over at Katagal Kapers.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about intersectionality, and how body policing extends across size, shape, colour and physical ability.  I’ve been talking to various friends of mine who identify as being bodily “different” to the imposed cultural norm in some way or another and wondering how their experiences of self esteem, confidence and the attitudes of others compare to mine, as a fat woman.

I decided that I would love for Kerri to share her story around confidence and self esteem first as a guest blogger here on Fat Heffalump, because in the years I’ve known Kerri (about 10 I think), I’ve seen her bloom and blossom from someone who was barely heard from in most situations to a confident, outgoing, strong woman.  I think in some ways our respective growth in confidence is what has brought us together as friends – we are close in age and have been colleagues for over a decade, but have grown to become good friends over the past few years.  I’m not sure that it’s a coincidence that we’ve also both grown more confident and stronger of self esteem at the same time our friendship has grown.

Kerri is a dear friend, valued colleague, cycling buddy (she wishes she had a bike as beautiful as mine), conversation partner, confidant, constant support and a bloody good cook that I am honoured to have in my life.  She is a true inflater in life – she always leaves you with your spine just that little bit longer, your head held just that notch higher.

Kerri has given me permission to share that she is hearing impaired, and wears hearing aids (the most awesome little bitty items of technology my geeky self has seen that ISN’T made by Apple) in both ears.

When I originally asked her to post I had this in mind, and so I’ve also asked her a couple of “interview” questions to go with her post, since I think they not only give an insight into her feelings about her confidence and how others treat her, as well as leading into her story about confidence and self esteem, but also show Kerri’s phenomenally positive, optimistic personality, which is one of the things I love most about her.  She also challenges people’s perceptions and attitudes, which is to me, such a radical act of activism that she lives every day.  What a woman!

So let’s start with the mini-interview:

FH: Do you think your hearing impairment was ever behind your shyness or lack of confidence?

KB:  It probably contributed a little because I could never be sure that I was hearing conversations or general chat correctly so I didn’t participate for fear of looking silly – I still did on innumerable occasions within family gatherings or close friends but that never really mattered but looking daft in front of strangers did up until I started to do storytime and now I don’t care.

FH: Do you think you’ve ever faced any discrimination because of your hearing impairment?

KB: I don’t believe I have ever been discriminated against because of my hearing, well I can’t recall a situation there may have been but I don’t hold onto stuff and usually forget it ever happened if it has.  I rarely ever tick the box saying I am a “woman” or “hearing impaired” or anything of those exception boxes for conferences or anything like that.  I’ve never expected my work to pony up special equipment for me ie phones, although with the VOIP rollout I did ask Helen (a colleague) if they were going to have bluetooth capability and she then went to marvellous lengths for me to see if we could maximise the bluetooth component of my new aids but it wasn’t to be, but we sure gave it a good crack.

And now, without any further ado, Kerri shares her story on her own self esteem/confidence journey.


Well I think I’ve made it in the world of blogging for I have been asked to guest post in a dear friend’s blog around the issues of confidence, self esteem and body image.  Three things I was very late in life in obtaining but once I got them, my life changed radically for the better.

I never had any issues with my body per se.  I was raised in a standard nuclear family with a mum who was always dieting and eating low fat foods but I don’t remember absorbing that issue, its only recently that I have been reflecting on this that I realised that Mum was always on a diet of some kind when I was small.  I was an average kid and skinny pre-teen largely due to surgery I had that prevented me from eating for about ten days and I dropped kilo’s inadvertently, that only reappeared when puberty hit.

My Dad was always praising my body as strong and tough and it was, one classic moment was when Dad said “Jeez love you’re built like a brick shit house” and he meant it with love referring to how strong and sturdy my body was from wrestling obstreperous calves and horses and other large animals.  I have to admit when I was about 15 that statement gave me a few pangs of worry but commonsense eventually prevailed and I realised he meant it with love and pride that he had a strong daughter.

I don’t remember hating my body at any point or even parts of it.  I remember wishing that some parts would be bigger i.e.  My boobs and longer i.e. my legs occasionally but overall it was my body, this is what I was born with and therefore I live with it.  I have always been pragmatic about my body and will happily wander around naked in a safe environment (alone in my own home for now).  I have no issue being naked in front of a lover who commented about how relaxed I was standing and wandering around naked, but the body to me is a shell and not the true value of a person.  To me trusting someone enough to feel safe enough to have sex with them is the big one, so being naked is nothing by then.

However with issues of developing self confidence and self esteem, they came along with a lot of hard work on me.  I am reasonably reserved and more a wall flower than most people would realise when faced with unknown situations but I have pushed myself hard to get past that and had many internal debates between my shy self and my common sense self.

The huge turning point in my life came when I was 27 still living with my grandmother and I had NO social life, and I do mean NONE.  I was sitting home alone (my grandmother was 72 and had a male companion and was out) watching a program about dancing, it featured a company called Le Step and the director Mick French was being interviewed, he said 3 things – singles were welcome, two left feet were fine, and little to no co-ordination was required.

I was sold, I phoned up and found the next class and I went to the very next class.  I was shaking with nerves and sick with fear but something inside me just said this is it; this will make your life explode.  I made myself go to every class I could and it was about six weeks before I stopped feeling nauseous with fear and anxiety.  I would put my professional library mask on so that I could be civil and able to speak with people.  I went 3 times a week for about six years and it gave me great legs and excellent stamina.  I have made some awesome friends from it and have very fond memories of weekends away in “mixed” company and developed the confidence to talk to men and dance with them sometimes in a very close and personal way but I developed trust in them to do the right thing as Mick kept a tight rein on his dance school and men were expected to behave civilly or he would boot them out in a no nonsense way.

My instinct is something I trust in implicitly, when it tells me that yes this is right and to go for it I do because it has never failed me.  I have often done things way out of my comfort zone because the instinct has said ‘do it please, you won’t regret it”.

After dancing for about six years, I was starting to feel bored with it and was looking for a new challenge.  I live about a 3 minute walk from a Martial Arts Dojo.  I’ve always loved the philosophy of Martial Arts.  My Dad did Tae Kwon Do for years and enjoyed it immensely and other people I know did it at school and of course the original Karate Kid movie had me sold on the idea from the outset.  However, I’ve always been uncoordinated and clumsy, so I thought martial arts weren’t for me.  But after living so close to the dojo and checking it out as I walked my dog, I yearned to learn Karate, but thought it also to be too macho as well.  But talking with my friend Dawn who is a black belt from years past, she advised to check out the age range and if there were lots of kids, women and older folk then it was a good family dojo and to give them a go, so I did and I haven’t looked back.

I have been training for 3 years now and am at purple belt grade, the next grade will be brown and then the big one – Black Belt!

Karate has had a massive impact on my life, when I first started we had to complete these written modules as part of our early grading.  One of the modules dealt with fear, what do you fear and why?  So I had to really think about it, at the time, work was requiring all staff to undertake storytelling and I would have rather crawled naked over broken glass then read to a bunch of ankle biters.  So this was on my mind, the module required me to reflect on why I feared this thing and really gets to the guts of it.  Once I really thought about it and progressed my way through the module, I realised that I had no grounds in that fear and stunned the bejesus out of my colleagues and my boss by volunteering to do story time and I rocked it!

Since then the development of my self confidence has seen me progress steadily in my career, I was stagnating because I was scared about pushing myself out of my rut as a Band 3.  Karate made me look at that, I am now a Band 5 for the moment and have even acted as Band 7 successfully.  I have had the courage to allow a couple of men into my life personally and had short term relationships, they weren’t terribly successful but I have at least had the courage to give it a whirl and work out more clearly in my mind what I want out of a relationship and if indeed I actually want one.

I give Karate and dancing full credit in revealing me to the world.  Dancing gave me the confidence to wear sleeveless tops and tight fitting pants, when I realised that women of all shapes and sizes wore these things and no one howled them down for it.  Karate has given me the confidence to walk down the street and project myself as a strong “mess with me at your own peril” kind of woman.  However, I know the whole time that this confident strong chick has always been inside me, she just took a long time to reveal herself.

I look people dead in the eye now, it is empowering, and people find it confronting to be looked straight in the face.  I hold myself up high and square my shoulders and project my confidence out there, it works.  Someone gives me a hard time, it’s never for too long, as I turn and face them dead straight in the eye and stand tall.  I am a work in progress and I am always looking to improve myself and make the most of my given opportunities and live my life well!


Thank you to Kerri for her post and I hope you’ll leave her a comment below, as well as checking out her own blog at Katagal Kapers.

Let’s Make it Better

Published October 7, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I want to talk about bullying.  But I’m struggling with it, because even now, when I am in a safe, happy place in my life, when I am bully free and strong, I still feel hurt and fear.  Just thinking about what I suffered at the hands of bullies plunges me back into all of those emotions, even though rationally I know that I am safe and strong.

But I HAVE to talk about it.  Because not only is it good for me personally to voice all of these demons that bother me, but because being open about it, putting out there into the world what people are suffering every single day, and calling it out for what it is, is needed to help battle the very deeply ingrained bully culture of our world.

Brace yourself, this is going to be a long post.

Bullying is by no means a new thing.  It happened to me all my life and I’m 38 this month.  As a child, as a teen, and yes, even as an adult.  And I know it’s been happening for so long in history one couldn’t pinpoint an origin.  But I do think that it is particularly vicious in our time now.  I’m not saying it’s at it’s most vicious now, or that it we haven’t had equally/more vicious periods of bullying in our history.  I do think it comes and goes in cycles perhaps, as society finds excuses, until the inevitable backlash comes along.  It’s time for that backlash now.

I am of course, right now, spurred on by the It Gets Better project, which is in response to the suicide of several young gay men who were bullied to the point of losing all hope.  However, while I do want to send a message of support out to the young queer folk out there, and talk to them about the bullying they go through, I want to broaden this to anyone who has suffered, or is suffering at the hands of bullies.  Whether that be because you are GLBT, fat, shy, female, small, different, just an easy target… whatever reason the bullies have chosen you, I want to talk to you in this post.  And that goes to those of you who have been bullied in the past but are doing ok now.

So let’s start with my story.

As I mentioned, I was bullied my whole life.  I came from an abusive home, so perhaps I already had the mark on me of being a suitable victim.  I don’t know, but it definitely started before I got fat, so it’s not just my fatness that was the reason.  I can remember being pushed over at Kindergarten by a boy who was bigger than me on more than one occasion, for no good reason that I knew.  When I went to primary school, I got it there.  Menaced by bigger boys for any money I might have (which was very little if any), or my stuff, even if it was cheap and crappy.  I was made fun of for being poor, for being dirty, for being fat (even before I was fat), for being stupid (which I have never been), or just because I was available for bullying.  When I got a little older I would stand up to the bullies if they targeted my younger brother, but if I was just on my own, I seemed to lack the confidence to do so.   They would push me around, throw food or anything else gross they could think of at me, steal my school stuff and hide it or destroy it, make fun of how I looked or what I was wearing, or lie to teachers and get me in trouble when I hadn’t done anything.

But, in primary school I had friends, a couple of lovely teachers, and my beloved school library (complete with teacher-librarians who I still idolise today), so I survived.  It was much harder surviving what was being dished out at home than dealing with what was happening at school.

When I got to high school, things changed.  I got fat.  Puberty hit at the end of primary school so I was far more developed than my peers.  Added to the mark I already seemed to have on me labelling me as a perfect bully victim, it equaled 5 years of living hell.  For the first time, the girls started in on me.  Say what you like, boys might be rougher and bigger, but girls are far, far more vicious bullies.  There was one girl who had a pair of twin sisters as friends.  Think of the two oafs that Draco Malfoy has as his henchmen in Harry Potter… Crabbe and Goyle.  That’s what these two twins were like.  Twice my size, mind numbingly stupid, but would do anything that the Malfoyesque girl told them to do.  They beat the shit out of me.  They burnt my stuff.  They followed me home (across the street from the high school, fucking great huh?) and stood there on the corner for hours on end, menacing me.  They told the older boys that I liked them and that I’d sleep with them for money.  They rang the school pretending to be a concerned parent and dobbed on me for doing things I didn’t do.  They told my violent father that they caught me smoking.  They stole my lunch and ground it in the dirt.  They cornered me in the girls toilets and forced me to stick my fingers down my throat until I vomited, and told me that I had to do that after every meal because I was so fat and disgusting.  They found a boy to piss on me, which he would do every couple of days.  They got other boys to ring my house and ask me out, and then laugh at me no matter what reaction I had.  They spat on me, they stole my school books, they tore my school uniforms, they just never fucking stopped.  All the while the main girl just told them what to do, and spewed hateful words at me.

One day when I was about 14, something snapped.  I lashed out with a steel ruler that I happened to have in my arms with my school books, and hit the main girl across the face with it.  I was horrified but I had just snapped.  The deputy principal took me into his office and said “I know you’re not that girl, you’re not violent.  But I know what goes on at home, and that you don’t want to be that person.  Don’t ever come back into my office for this reason again.”

They never bothered me again.  In fact, even the oaf twins gave me a wide berth.

But the bullying didn’t stop.  Older kids stepped in.  Boys got worse.  They grabbed my breasts, forced me into corners and grabbed my crotch.  They pulled down my pants.  They asked me out and then screamed with laughter at the mere thought of dating me.  They spat on me, pissed on me, threw dog shit at me, you name it.

I changed schools in my Senior year because my mother moved us to a new town.  The bullying happened there too, just with different kids.  But they could have been the same kids.  They looked and sounded like the same kids to me.

Teachers never helped.  They told me not to be so sensitive, not to engage with the bullies, not to take things so seriously, to mind my own business, to get a hobby, to lose weight, to apply myself better in school.  My parents didn’t care, they were too busy fighting each other and bullying me themselves.

By the time I was 16, I wanted to die.  It was the only way I could see an end to it.  But for some reason, I never did it.  I just wanted dying to happen, I couldn’t do it myself.

After I left school, there were some good years, but soon after more bullies found me.  One of my first full time bosses bullied me for fun.  A neighbour bullied me.  I had some more good years.  Then a colleague bullied me for a couple of years that were absolutely hellish, and which only stopped when a bullying complaint was filed on my behalf (when I simply asked for help) and while that complaint was dismissed because of a technicality, for some reason the bullying stopped too.

I got help with my self esteem and the depression issues (which I believe are part chemical, part result of constant abuse and bullying my whole life).  Things are good for me now, and I know I would never, ever take the shit that I once used to tolerate.  But in those bad years, time and time again I wished for death to claim me, a few times I got to the point of attempting it myself.

So I know, oh believe me I know how it feels.

Now, to those of you who are young and think it never ends.  It does.  You are not what they say you are.  You are not worthless, ugly, disgusting, gross, nothing.  You will survive this.  And it WILL get better.  Please, please don’t give up.  Talk to someone.  Call or email something like The Trevor Project, or Kids Helpline, or Lifeline, or something else in your state/country along those lines (anyone who knows any services, please share links in the comments).  But hang in there.  Hold your head up and know that you DO deserve better.

And I promise you this.  I am working to MAKE it better.  It’s not fair of people to just say “Hang in there, it will get better.” without doing anything to make it better.  You shouldn’t have to just ride it out and tolerate being bullied.  But if you can hang on, I and a lot of other people who care, will work to make it better, to change things.  I will fight to change the cultural attitude of permitting bullying, or excusing it.  I will ask others to stand beside me in that fight.  It has to change.

Now to those of you who are adults and have suffered bullying in the past.  Or those of you who maybe have or know kids you’re worried about when it comes to bullying.  I need to talk to all of you.

It’s not right that we ask kids to hang on, to suffer through the bullying with the vague promise that “it gets better”.  We need to MAKE it better.  We need to teach our own children, and all of those around us, that bullying is never, ever acceptable.  I’ve seen posts over the past couple of days saying that bullies do so because they hate themselves, or because they’re the victims of abuse at home themselves, and a myriad of other reasons.  I’m here to say that while I care that people feel this way, I DO NOT ACCEPT THOSE EXCUSES.

I hated myself my whole life, until I was past 35.  I came from a violent, abusive home.  Lot’s of us did/do.  Lots of us have things in our lives that made/make us miserable, but do we turn to bullying to deal with that?  No.  Because we know it’s just a very pathetic excuse to be a cretin.

I do not accept any justification for bullying.  I am not going to give bullies sympathy and hugs.  Not until they stop bullying.  If and when anyone chooses to be a good human being, and to treat others with basic respect, then I will encourage them and support them until the ends of the earth.  But so long as someone is bullying others there need to be decent repercussions for that behaviour.  We need to stop making excuses and enabling bullies.  We need to speak up and say it is unacceptable, over and over and over again.  We need to tell our friends, our families, our colleagues that bullying behaviour is not acceptable.  We need to work to make it better for the kids that are coming up behind us.  We cannot let the same injustices happen over and over again.

It’s time we stood up and said loud and clear that bullying is NEVER acceptable. Change takes time, but we have to stand up and start making that change.  The kids of today will join us down the track, and more and more after them.

Let’s not expect young people to just suffer through bullying.  Let’s make a difference.

7400 Grams

Published May 21, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

A little housekeeping first.  I’ve decided to resurrect the Fat Heffalump Facebook Page.  Come on over and “like” it, and I’ll share interesting links and stuff there that feed into the fat acceptance message.


I had a bit of an epiphany early this morning.  I had been reading a few blog posts about weight loss, dieting and exercise last night and had been talking about my own experiences with trying to lose weight and the whole diet/exercise thing.  I was mulling it all over this morning when I woke up before the alarm went off, when I realised something.

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I was at a friend’s place recently and they had a scale in their bathroom, which I just couldn’t resist, and weighed myself, for the first time in about 2 years.

At my most crazy starvation and exercise binge kick (between 4 and 6 hours exercise per day, I shit you not), I was exactly 7.4kg lighter than I am now.  That was at my lowest adult weight.

When I was constantly dieting and going to the gym, which I hated with a passion (not necessarily to the starvation and exercise insanity levels I call my worst), I was 16kg heavier than I am now.

Today, I no longer diet and refuse to exercise, but only engage in activity for the love of it, not to “exercise”, I am 16kg lighter than regular diet and exercise!  And only 7.4kg heavier than at my most extreme desperation of dieting and working out.

How fucking insane is that?  All those years of starving myself and working myself into the ground with ridiculous levels of exercise out of desperation to lose weight, and for what??  SEVEN POINT FOUR FUCKING KILOGRAMS!!

And yet the real insanity?  When I was in that completely manic phase, I got stuck at my lowest weight, and after two months stuck there I went to my then doctor, and cried my eyes out, telling her how I had no life and I was exercising up to six hours per day, that my friends didn’t want anything to do with me and that I couldn’t keep up with work.  I cried that I couldn’t move off that weight (which was still fat) even after two months of working my arse off.

Her response?  “If you just ramped it up a notch, you’ll lose some more weight.”

Yep, between four and six hours per day of manic exercising wasn’t quite enough for this doctor.  She wanted me to add more.  More than power walking before work, two sessions at the gym, two hours of swimming of an evening and then yoga before bed.

Which goes to show, even doing what they tell you to do and diet and exercise, isn’t enough.  It’s never fucking enough, unless you’re one of the miracle few that get thin, and can stay thin.  Even then they constantly berate you not to “fall off the wagon” or “slip up”.

Thankfully I stopped going to that doctor.

I get so angry when I think that not only doctors, but society at large expects fat women to practically kill themselves, or at least live in misery, to try to reach a goal that matters to them – not to the woman in question.  It busts my arse when I think that I fought so hard for a shitty 7.4kg, and that wasn’t good enough.  It was everything that I had to give, and it wasn’t enough, because I was STILL FAT.

So screw you calories in and energy out – you’re a complete lie.  I’m going to eat however I feel like eating, and move my fat body in whatever ways I enjoy, but I’m not playing the “Get thin” game any more.

I’m still fat today.  A mere 7.4kg fatter than my thinnest, but 16kg lighter than my very fattest.  I’m happy.  I don’t hate myself.  I’m healthier than I’ve ever been.

Life is good.

The Woman I Want to Be

Published March 23, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I had some giggles on Sunday.  I was sitting in a restaurant with a friend of mine, when I noticed these three little girls, aged about 7 or 8 years old, making passes of our table and whispering.  I realised they were trying to sneak looks at the tattoos on my feet, which are flowers on the top of each foot (lotus on the left, pansy on the right).  After about the 5th pass, as they got close enough to our table, I turned over my left arm and said “Here, look at this one.” and showed them the bluebird tattoo on the inside of my left arm.

Their eyes were like saucers, and the little blonde poppet that was the one who was showing her friends my foot tattoos said “WHOA!!  AWESOME!!”

It was a delight to see them so impressed by my ink.

A few weeks earlier, another friend of mine had a barbecue, and as I don’t drive and he lives all the way on the other side of town, he offered to come and pick me up.  He and his two wee daughters (I think they’re 6 and 8) came to get me, and we drove the 45 or so minute drive back to his place.  When we got out of the car at his house, the younger of the two girls came up to me and said “Excuse me…?” in that cute way little kids have.  I replied “Yes honey?” to which she gave a huge sigh and said “I LOVE tattoos!”  Every now and then she and her sister would come up to me and investigate one or more of my tattoos, and at one point the older of the two announced to me that she loved purple hair.  Yes, I have purple hair as well as tattoos.

I’m in yr restaurant/house, corrupting yr children.

One of my friends who is over a decade younger than myself and I were talking about the whole thing of women we admired when we were kids, or were younger women, and it got me thinking about the fact that now, in my late 30’s, I am of the age group that can be of influence to other young girls and women.  It led me to think about the women who I admired when I was a young.  I remember that I loved any woman who was “different”.  I loved artistic women, or outspoken women, alternative women.  Still do.  I admired women who were smart, outspoken, kind, funny, well travelled, well read, individual women.  I wasn’t inspired by the picture perfect supermodel (after all, I was a teen in the golden age of supermodels), but was inspired by the quirky women, the ones who were more than just famous or known for being beautiful.

The first woman I idolised was my childhood teacher librarian, Miss Stubbs.  I thought she was fabulous, and what I remember is how smart and well read she was.  The first famous woman I remember being inspired by was Barbra Streisand.  I loved her in comedic roles when I was a small kid.  Hello, Dolly!, The Owl and the Pussycat, Funny Girl.  She was funny and loud and talked really fast, and she looked beautiful, but in her own way – not like all the other women I saw on TV or in the magazines.  As I got older, the women that influenced me were the same – strong, confident, outspoken, talented women.  In my own life, famous women and fictional women.  Annie Lennox, two more school librarians (the latter of the two was a formidable little woman, intelligent, fierce and outspoken, with a huge booming voice that didn’t seem to fit her tiny stature), a schoolfriend’s mother who had a loud laugh and a cheeky sense of humour, Aretha Franklin, Tank Girl, Sarah from Labyrinth, Anne of Green Gables, Tori Amos, k d lang, Dolly Parton, the saucy, 65+ woman in Florida who I befriended online over a common adoration of William McInnes…  All women who are outside of the box as far as traditional values for women are concerned.

Sometimes, being a fat, outspoken, feminist, intelligent, tattooed and (currently) purple haired woman is difficult.  I’m told I’m not feminine, too emotional, too argumentative, think too much, talk too much/loud, laugh to loud, too passionate am too outlandish, too wild… a freak.  Sometimes the criticism gets so loud that I have a moment where I think it would be easier to try to fit into the mold of what women are expected to be – pretty, quiet, compliant, not too outlandish or different, pleasing.  I get worn down by the fight, and think it would be easier to give up.

But then a little girl in a restaurant thinks I’m awesome because I’m different.  Or a younger girlfriend tells me that the fact that I am accepting of myself, despite my body that isn’t what bodies are supposed to look like makes her feel better about herself.  Or I meet an older woman who says “I wish I had the courage to speak up like you do.”  A friend’s daughter learns from me that happiness is not about being compliant, being pleasing, being quiet.

These moments happen, and I remember that as I grow older and stronger and more confident in myself, I am an example for other women.  In my own way, I can show other women and girls that they are valuable, valid human beings with much to contribute to the world.  I think about where I would be if I didn’t have women who were outside of the norm, who took that criticism and were themselves anyway, despite the heat they got for it.

That’s the woman I want to be.

Too Many Arseholes

Published January 23, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I can feel a bit of a rant coming on.  I’ve been feeling it building for awhile lately, noticing something happening and becoming more socially acceptable as more and more people get into things like Facebook, Twitter, blogging, YouTube etc.  And it sucks, so I think it’s time to speak up about it.

The thing that I find really, deeply offensive that a lot of people seem to think is ok, is this practice of photographing or video recording complete strangers, and then putting that image/footage up on the internet with criticism about their clothes, body, hair, etc.

I don’t know what goes through people’s heads when they think it’s ok to do this.  To snap a pic on their phone of someone who is wearing a very short skirt and post it to Twitter, to take pics of people in Walmart and send them to a blog that does nothing but ridicule complete strangers, to video some drunk stranger in a bar and post it to their YouTube.  To photograph a fat person or someone they consider ugly and post it saying “Look at this hideous person!”

Do they think the subject doesn’t know?  Quite often they do know.  And usually they’re too upset, horrified and embarrassed to say “Hey, fuck you douchebag!”  Or even if they don’t know this is being done to them, what happens when some friend or relative says “I saw a photo of you on the internet!”

Do the people who post these things even give a second of thought as to what happens to that photo as soon as it’s uploaded?  Or do they not give a shit at all?

Thing is, doing stuff like that is pure and simple douchebaggery.  Even if someone does have a really freaky outfit, or they’re dancing like a drunken fool – who are you to photograph/record them and post it to the internet for people to laugh at?  Have you never had a shit fashion moment?  Do you not have flaws about your body or looks?  Never made an idiot of yourself at a bar or a party?  How would you feel if someone posted pics or photos of you like this?

Thing is, I know what it feels like.  It happened to me.  I got on the train one morning to go to work, minding my own business, and there were a group of young guys, about 18-20 years of age.  One of them thought it would be REALLY funny to photograph the fat lady (me) and text it around to the other guys.  I knew he was doing this, but I was so embarrassed, mortified and hurt that I wasn’t able to say anything to them.  This was pre-confident, assertive me.  All I could do was try very, very hard not to cry while they made barking noises and looked at each others phones, knowing full well it was me they were texting around.

By the time I got to work I was a mess.  Sobbing my heart out.  I was lucky, my colleagues were super supportive, and one of my bosses at the time asked me lots of questions about what the guys were wearing, what they looked like.  For some reason, I remembered a logo on their shirts.  She Googled it, found the company and called them, demanding to speak to the manager.  She got him.  She told him in no uncertain terms that she wanted answers and that she wasn’t going to rest until someone was held responsible for this douchebag behaviour.  She was AWESOME.

The upshot was, the manager worked out who it was, put the guys on performance management and in his words “Tore them each a new arsehole.”

But not everyone is able to see anything being done about when it happens to them and they know it.  To this day, I don’t know if there are photographs of me still on people’s phones, still going around, or if they’re going to pop up on the internet.  It still makes me feel bad, and I’m a hell of a lot more self confident and assertive now than I was then.

I don’t care if you’re a woman doing it just to criticise someone’s fashion choices.  That’s no better than photographing someone you think is fat or ugly or any other reason – it’s all ridicule.  And it’s douchebag behaviour.

Maybe it’s because the paparazzi are so well ensconced in our culture now, that people think it’s ok to whip their camera phones out and photograph strangers.  You know what?  The paparazzi suck.  Even though they’re often stalking people who have chosen to live their lives in the public eye, they still suck for harassing those people, for stalking them and for making money off the negative stuff about those people.

But someone just photographing or filming a complete stranger on the street or in a shop, bar, or any other public place with the intent to post those pictures publicly and ridicule or criticise them is nothing short of a complete and utter arsehole.

Stop doing it.  Stop supporting it on websites and blogs that collate this kind of shit.  Stop being an arsehole.  You’ll thank me for the good karma later.

Nurture or Nature

Published December 27, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

I had a pleasant surprise today.  A little moment of delight that gave me warm fuzzies, but also has me thinking.

I was sitting in a cafe, having a coffee before I went off to meet a friend for a lunch and movie date (we saw Avatar in 3D, it was AWESOME!) when I noticed this cute little boy of about 3 years old staring at me intently.

Fearing that I was going to have another one of those “Mummy, look at the fat lady!” moments, I mentally braced myself, only for the little monkey to pipe up very loudly:

“Mummy!  I LOVE pink hair!!”

Yes, I have hot pink hair at the moment.

It was such a delightful thing for the little guy to say, and he said it with such adoration and feeling, I knew he really did love my pink hair, and that’s all he was noticing about me.

What it got me thinking about, is how much of when children say things that are rude or hurtful, how much of it is nature and how much is nurture – that they have been taught.

I’m sure any and all fatties who are reading this, or friends of fatties, have heard that child’s voice pipe up somewhere really public and embarrassing with “Whoa!  Look at that FAT lady over there Mummy!”  Or been asked by a child “Why are you so fat?”  Then there is my “favourite” – “My Mummy says you need to go on a diet, you’re too fat!”

This little guy today was pretty small, about 3 years old, four at the absolute most.   I’d love to think he had awesome parents who were teaching him not to point people out in a negative way that are different, but that I don’t know.  Maybe  he was just too young to have got those messages from our culture that fat = bad.

Of course, kids don’t just pipe up with these things about fat people.  Recently I read a blog where a Mum talked about her young son coming home from school upset because the other kids had commented on his brown skin.  I’ve seen kids making fun of people who look different to them in a lot of ways.

But of course, for me, I’ve had the fat comments ever since I was a kid myself.  It used to bother me terribly, I would get very upset, but since I found fat acceptance and my self esteem and confidence, it’s a mere sting, rather than a deep seated pain like it used to be, when it happens.

So what do we do about it?  We start with our own kids and kids in our lives I guess.  Giving them positive body messages and teaching them to think about how others might feel about things they say.  Those close to us are the easy ones to work with.

When it does happen, don’t get angry at the child.  If they’re a big kid, or a teenager, fair enough.  But under 10… they are almost always parroting what they have heard from adults.  The little ones usually respond to warmth.  When I was working in child care, when kids would make comments about my being fat, I used to simply say “You know, fat gives the best cuddles.”  Most of the time that would change their tune.

However, if you can’t respond, and turn the situation, don’t wear it on your soul as pain.  I know it hurts – as I said, it still stings for me now.  Remember that the child is just parroting what they’ve heard elsewhere.  That most times, if the child really got the chance to interact with you, fat becomes invisible to them.  They don’t care about body shape until they’ve been bombarded with the body image messages for some time.  Usually they just care for approval, attention and love.

If you’ve got kids, especially if you’re not a fatty and you’re reading this, it’s important that you teach them that size is not reflective of who a person is.  After all, do you want your child growing up with bad body image?  Do you want your child facing hurt and heartbreak over the shape and size of their body?

Or you can do what I do.  Dye your hair hot pink.  Kids LOVE it!

Dating for Fatties: 101

Published September 7, 2009 by Fat Heffalump
I recently got a lovely email from a lady named Helen in response to my post “Sex and the Single Fatty”. Helen shared with me her own dating experiences (she’s about my age) and is looking for some positive, affirming advice for the single fatty over 30. She has asked a few questions, but I’ll give you an idea of where she is coming from.
She’s doing the online dating thing, and says:

I like how allows folks to state what body types they are attracted to: guys who only want women who are slender/toned/about average are guys I instantly delete as matches: this takes a lot of the pressure off of me when I GET to the date, because I know that the guy in question has stated and openness or attraction to larger women.

Kudos to Helen for putting herself out there and filtering out the douchebags from the get-go. She then goes on to say though:

1) This means that I am deleting about 90% of the matches I’m given, which takes a toll on me eventually, and 2) I hate, hate, hate how often guys say (as one match I just got did) that they want women who “take care of themselves” and “have self respect for their appearance”. Of course, I do do both of those things, but I know full well that he means that he wants a thin girl; he just can’t bring himself to say that. Reading those sorts of comments over and over and then deleting the match… I think it takes a toll on me. I’ve also wondered about the BBW dating sites. Has anyone reading this had good experiences with those?

So let’s talk about it my fellow lovely fatties? What are your thoughts and experiences?
I tried the whole online dating myself and found it very demoralising, just as Helen has mentioned. Not only because there are a lot of douchebags out there, but also because I feel that without you being face to face, there are many people who find it much easier to be rude and even nasty via email or a website. Where if they met you face to face somewhere, one would think they’re more likely to be polite and respectful. As I mentioned on the earlier post linked above, I received a lot of douchebag comments and attitudes from internet dating.
Personally, I feel much more comfortable in just being social and meeting as many new people as I can. So long as I’m socially active, I’m opening myself up to meeting guys, and I hope that the people I meet and like also socialise with nice guys. I’m open to meeting guys that are friends, brothers, colleagues etc of people.
As for BBW dating sites in particular, I’ll be honest it kind of rankles with me. I don’t want some guy to date me simply because I’m fat. The same as I wouldn’t want a guy to only date me if I was thin. I want a man who wants to be with me because he likes who I am, not what I am. Does that make sense?
Personally I’m looking for someone who is more interested in me as a person than just the surface stuff. To all the guys out there, I say…
So the floor is open ladies (and any gents that are reading). How do those of you who are single negotiate the world of fatty dating? For those of you fatties who are coupled up, tell us how you got that way! And if there are any fellas reading, give us your perspective on da fat ladeez in the dating world.