All posts in the fattitude category

Australian Women’s Weekly Photo Shoot

Published April 30, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Well, what a day I have had!  As I mentioned in my previous post, today was the day that I met with the team from the Australian Women’s Weekly (AWW) for a photo shoot to go with the interview I recorded a couple of weeks ago.

I’ll be honest, I was as nervous as hell.  AWW is a big deal.  It’s an absolute juggernaut in Australia, a cultural touchstone that sails right down the centre of our society.  Everyone knows it, 1 in 4 households purchase it, and even more come in contact with a copy somewhere – be it one belonging to a friend or family member, a copy in the doctor’s office, the library, or just browsing in the aisles of the supermarket.  I believe it’s really important that we get our message in these incredibly mainstream places – the more people we get to, the more fatties will start to think twice about allowing the world to beat them into submission.  There is of course always a risk with mainstream media, but it’s one I’m willing to take.  So long as I stay true to myself, then I’m happy to throw myself into this and reach out.  It’s scary, but I think it has to be done.

So yeah, I was awake at FOUR AM this morning.  Totally wired, really nervous and just gobsmacked that this is where my life has taken me.  I caught the bus into town fairly early (I like to be early – that’s my thing) and had a leisurely breakfast in a little cafe I like in town before catching the bus out to Newstead where the studio that had been hired by AWW was located.

I am so, so glad that I was allowed to bring Lauren and Isaac (Gurrieri and Brown, from Griffith University) with me today, to get all meta and photograph the photography, because not only did we get some more shots for the project we are working on, but I had two people whom I feel comfortable with, and who kept me focused on what really matters to me.  I can’t thank Lauren and Isaac enough for being there today – and there was a moment when Lauren and I had a quiet chat between shots that just helped me so much.  I was feeling quite, I guess sensory overload – all the lights and noise and scents and unfamiliar clothes etc was doing my head in and I was forgetting to just be me, and Lauren really brought me back to where I needed to be.  I think the best photos will be those at the end of the shoot, because I was able to have my head in the right space.

Also, Lauren has provided me with a few photos to share with you all here.  Thanks Lauren!

Now, when the stylist Tanja Mrnjaus called me a few days ago and asked me what clothing label I would like to wear on the day, my first thought went of course, to Autograph Fashion.  Not only because I have a good working relationship with them, but also because a) they cater to my size, when so many don’t, b) they are clothes that I actually do wear every day myself and c) I know they are trying very hard to get it right for their customers.  So we arranged for Tanja to contact them, I popped into my local store and picked a few things I liked with my fave fab Autograph lady Michelle, and then Tanja worked those into “looks” that Autograph very kindly loaned us a wardrobe of clothes to shoot in today.

Clothes by Autograph Fashion

AWW really went the whole kit and caboodle with this, hiring a fashion stylist (Tanja), a very talented hair and make-up artist Abigael Johnston and photographer Alana Landsberry, and booking a half day in a studio.

Abigael started making me up and she really went all out.  It was an awful lot of makeup in “reality” – the iPhone shot I took shows just how much I had on, but of course that doesn’t show up in the magazine shots.  She really focused on my eyes and I even got to wear mink false eyelashes for the day!  She had some beautiful lip colours she mixed up for me too – the first one was such a gorgeous, rich old-world red that I wished it came in an actual lipstick, but she had a secret formula for that one.

Because my hair is very short and bright purple, she just gave it a bit of volume and texture for most of the shots, and then when I wore a cocktail dress at the end, slicked it back more to change the look.

Abigael starts work on the hair and makeup.

I really enjoyed working with Alana, the photographer.  She was fun and while a lot of it felt really silly and made me feel quite… weird, she was very perceptive and could see when I wasn’t into something.  But for me, the best part of the day was when Tanja came back from a nearby cafe and told us she saw some amazing graffiti inside it, and perhaps we could do a shoot in there.  So we all traipsed down to the cafe, Alana asked the owner and they were amazing – they let us move their furniture around and take over a little room that was all painted up with pink graffiti of cupcakes and uber-femme art.  They even made us the most wild concoction of a milkshake in purple and pink that we used as a prop.

All in all it was loads of fun and I think it will be a really positive, joyous set of photos of a fat woman in a major magazine.  That’s always a good thing!

Oh what?  You want to see some photos of the final looks?  Well, I’ll give you one as a little teaser (you’ll have to save the rest for the article in June/July!)

Check out the colours of that milkshake!

No Doing – Just Being

Published June 18, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Sorry it’s been quiet on the blog front my lovelies, I’ve been sideswiped with a cold that went down into a chest infection this past week and a bit.  Damn bug raged through the office a couple of weeks ago and I assumed I was spared the infection… but it got me after all.  Thankfully I’m starting to see some improvement at last, hopefully this means I can get all the ideas that have been burbling around my head this past week or so (I’ve read so much, no energy to do anything else while coughing until I saw stars) together and start some discussions here.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the haters and trolls and general disbelievers we fat activists get.  Mostly spurred on by a concerted attack on one young woman on Tumblr that I could see was deeply upsetting her, simply because a group of people think they have the right to bully and belittle someone simply because she is fat and doesn’t meet some arbitrary standard of attractiveness.

I get my fair share of trolls, haters and general disbelievers and troublemakers, both here and on my other social media accounts (Twitter, Tumblr, Formspring etc).  Once upon a time they used to bother me, but nowadays, I mostly pity them.  Or find them funny.   Mostly because they have this inflated sense of their power over me by thinking that by posting something hateful on my Tumblr, or trolling this blog, they can shut me up and chase me off the internet.  It’s pretty hilarious that someone would see such importance in themselves.

Of course, it has the opposite effect to the one they intended – it makes me more argumentative, more obnoxious and a whole lot more outspoken.

It’s very timely then that Ragen over at Dances with Fat would write her recent post “The Trouble with Proving It“.  Ragen highlights that every time some narrow-mind bellows “Prove it!” at her, and she does, over and over and over, they are still disbelieving of her reality.  No matter how much evidence she shares, it’s never going to be enough for these people.

I’m often called to do the same thing (for different reasons) and I have seen many other fat activists attempting to prove their own existence and realities over and over and over again.

Reading Ragen’s post reminded me of something very important.  I am not doing this fat activism to “convert” other people, to answer the haters criticism or to shout down the trolls.  Those things are not important.  I, and all other fat activists, and fat people and fat allies have no need to DO anything.  We are in debt to no-one.

What we need is to simply BE.

Simply being ourselves is a radical act in this fat-phobic culture we have found ourselves in.  Being alive, being happy, being active, being confident, being self-loving, being outspoken, being fashionable, being talented, being funny, being awesome… no matter what you as a fat person are being, simply being you is AMAZING.

For those of us who choose to spend time online sharing our lives, our thoughts, our opinions, our fashion, our images, the important part of that is being visible, being audible, being tangible.  In a world where fat people are silenced, discredited and openly loathed, being visible as a happy, confident fat person is a powerful message to send out into the world.

As I said to Ragen on her post, if it hadn’t been for my stumbling into the fatosphere, I probably wouldn’t be here today.  The people who took up fat activism before me and went public with it, being all the amazing things they are, really rescued me in a dark time of self-loathing and shame.  Just by being visible, they showed me that there was an alternative for me, that I didn’t have to spend my life buying into the fat-phobic lies that our culture perpetuates.  They showed me that I can be happy, have fun, live my life to the full and most importantly, that I, and all other human beings, have value and deserve respect.

That’s why I’m here, and why I do what I do.  I want to give that back to the world.  I want to show other people who are in the dark, frightening place that I once was, that it doesn’t have to be that way.  And that they too are awesome, radical beings, without DOING anything.  To simply live ones life happy and full is the most radical act you can possibly engage in.

And best of all… it really pisses the haters off.

“That’s the best revenge of all: happiness.  Nothing drives people crazier than seeing someone have a good fucking life.” 

Chuck Palahniuk

Not Quite Superwoman

Published January 30, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

So I was watching Glee yesterday.  Yeah yeah, I know, lots of you hate Glee.  I’ve heard it, I’ve watched the show, and made my own choices.  If you hate Glee, and can’t bear someone else talking about something that was spurred by an episode, you can skip this post.

But I want to use a moment I saw in the show to illustrate something.

So, I was watching Glee yesterday.  It was the episode where the boys are using mental images of Coach Beiste (played by the wonderful Dot Jones) to, ahem… cool their mood, when things are getting heated while making out.  Mr Schuester finds out about it, and tells the guys off for being jerks, because it’s a really hateful thing to do.  He actually says something to the boys about “How do you think Coach Beiste would feel if she found out.”  Shortly after she actually confronts Mr Schue and asks what is going on, and rather stupidly I thought, he tells her.  He tries to be sensitive about it, but he tells her this horrible thing the boys have been doing.

When she is visibly upset, he tells her to “Not take it personally, they’re just being kids.” to which she responds quietly and tearfully “I do take it personally Will.  I take it very, very personally.” and leaves.  It soon transpires that she is quitting her job at the school because of this.

Will confronts her as she is packing and she tells him “I know I can be a little intimidating at times, but deep down inside, where no-one can see, I’m just a girl.  Am I nuts that I just want to be reminded of that sometimes?”

I can tell you, I was in floods of tears at that moment.  Absolute floods.  Because I can totally identify with it.

As a proud fat activist, it’s often assumed that being ballsy enough to call out fat hatred, to speak up when others aren’t able to, and to live one’s life large despite the fat hatred that is just rampant in our culture, means that we’re strong and confident and impervious to the bullshit that gets flung our way.  As an extroverted woman, who has made a conscious decision not to buy into the cultural ideal that women should confirm to a certain look, that we should be meek and dainty and not do anything to make ourselves look different to the “norm”, it’s assumed that I am able to just ignore the hatred that comes my way for being different (and I know I’m not the only woman who feels this way).

Those of us who step out of the stream, who rock the boat, who accept ourselves for who we are in the face of vitriol, bullying and shaming, are assumed to be these confident warrior women, who can just shrug off all the negativity that is hurled our way.  And boy do we get it hurled our way.  Usually because people just assume we can “handle it”

Friends, family, online followers and all kinds of people in our lives say “But you’re so confident!  You’re so ballsy!  You take no shit!”  This may be absolutely true, but that doesn’t mean that we are made of steel.  It doesn’t mean that nothing hurts us, that we are unfeeling to pain, hurt, shame, sorrow or any other negative emotion.

I can tell you that pretty much every time I have ever tried to express hurt, or shame, or sorrow and so on, the person I’ve been trying to express it to says something like “But you’re so confident!  You don’t listen to that shit!” or “You’re a strong woman Kath, why would you let that get to you?”

The answer is, for the same reasons that anyone else does.  Because sometimes, the things people say and do are hurtful.  Because we are human beings.  And because like every other human being, we just want love, and kindness, and care, and respect.

To have that negated by the “But you’re so confident!” response can actually make the hurt cut twice as deep.  It’s almost like we’re not allowed to express pain, that we have to keep “being strong”.

The truth is, like anyone else, even the most confident, extroverted, outgoing person has feelings.

I’ve really experienced it this past week.  Yeah, I shaved all my hair off and got a big fat positive tattoo.  Pretty out there things to do.  But that has needed some processing on my part.  I look in the mirror and I look different.  People react to me differently.  Yes, I chose to do this because, well firstly to raise some money, but secondly to challenge people’s attitudes about a woman’s appearance.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t need to carefully process the changes myself, and that I don’t feel when people are hurtful about it.  However, when I did need a little bit of processing time, and then fell over a bit emotionally, triggered by another event, it was  a great shock to people in my life, and several of them were quite incredulous that I should need my self esteem boosted a bit to give me a push, or that I should need a bit of tenderness when I am hurt.

No matter who the person is;  be it your extroverted, confident friend, a rad fatty that you admire on the interwebs, or anyone else who you think is strong, confident, extroverted, awesome… remember that they are still a person.  That sometimes that extroversion and confidence is the face they give to the world to protect the soft stuff underneath.  That they sometimes need some tenderness shown to them, a moment of acknowledgement of their feelings, or some time to process what they’ve just done when it comes to an act of defiance.  Unlike Superwoman, they’re not made of steel.

Just like Coach Beiste said in Glee…

“I know I can be a little intimidating at times, but deep down inside, where no-one can see, I’m just a girl.  Am I nuts that I just want to be reminded of that sometimes?”


Documentary: fat body (in)visible

Published December 14, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Ok my lovelies, I have something REALLY special for you.

Margitte of Riots Not Diets over on Tumblr has made this amazing documentary called fat body (in)visible, which is the most amazing piece of fat activism.

Featuring Jessica of Tangled Up In Lace (blog here, tumblr here) and Keena of Buttahlove (tumblr here), the film documents their fat activism, fatshion, and stories of both visibility and invisibility as fat women.

Do not miss this film.  I’m both deeply moved and absolutely delighted by the piece, and it’s a wonderful thing to see fat women putting their voice out there, as we’re always judged on our appearance and rarely given the opportunity to speak for ourselves.

So without further ado, here is fat body (in)visible:

OOTD: It’s Just TuTu Much!

Published October 25, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Today is my birthday, and my lovely friend Nadia (you can find her over at Niddie’s Nest) made me the most fantastic tutu I have ever seen.  She brought it in to work this morning in a HUGE fabric bag that she made just to carry it, and I was so astonished at it’s awesomeness I think I was speechless for about half an hour.  I know, me, speechless!  That never happens!

This afternoon Nadia and I had fun doing some OOTD shots in the stairwell at work.  Mostly because this man climbed past me and my massive tutu four times!  In the end we asked him if he wanted to be in the photo, or wear the tutu!

So here are my goofy photos of me in my tutu:



My camera isn’t very good, I think it might be reaching the end of it’s life. Time to buy a new one methinks.

I posted this photo on Facebook and Twitter earlier today:


And I’ve been astonished at the number of fat women who have piped up that they would like a tutu too.  I say, make one!  Get a friend to make one!  Then put it on and pose like a goof in the stairwell at work, or somewhere else that tickles your fancy.

All my life I’ve dreamed of having a tutu.  When I was a little kid, I watched ballet on TV and while I didn’t dream of being a ballerina, I wanted the outfit.  They were so pretty and feminine, and everything I didn’t feel like.  As a young woman, I would see fashion shoots with tutus in them, and long to own one, but I thought I was far too fat to dress like that.  I told myself I could only have it if I lost weight.  My body won’t lose weight, so for a long time I believed that I could never have a tutu.

But do you know what?  I deserve to own and wear a tutu if I want to.  So do you.  To hell what anyone else thinks.  So what if I look like an idiot?  I love my tutu and how ridiculously huge and foofy it is.  It’s my body, my life and my wardrobe that it’s going to live in, not anyone else’s.

If there’s an item of clothing you’ve always longed for, be it a tutu, a bikini, a biker jacket, knee high Go-Go boots, tight jeans, whatever it is, go out and get it.  Find one that fits you that you just love to look at.  Get one made if you can’t find what you want in your size.  Put it on and rock the damn thing.  Surround yourself with “inflaters”, the people who boost you up, not shoot you down, like my friend Nadia, who will support you in having fun with clothes.  Strut.  Laugh.  Dance.  Wiggle your arse.  Have silly photographs taken of yourself and post them online.  But most of all, LIVE.

You deserve it.  Yes, even YOU.

You’re The One For Me, Fatty

Published October 5, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

For about three weeks, I’ve had the Morrissey song, You’re the One for Me, Fatty stuck in my head.  Some of you are going to not like this, but I’ve always hated Morrissey.  Firstly I am a Cure fan (and you know the two rarely mix) and secondly I just can’t stand the whiny pratt.  But that song popped into my head a few weeks ago and I can’t get it out.

Last week I was walking back to work with a friend who I’d just had lunch with, when I spotted some scrawled graffiti on the Treasury building here in Brisbane (which now houses a casino) and I just knew I had to get a photo of myself taken with it.

I got my friend Nadia (check out her blog, she’s very crafty and creative) to take a pic of me as an OOTD shot with the fab graffiti:

You're The One For Me


Ok, outfit details:

Headband: Rubi Shoes
Earrings: Diva
Dress: Big W
Tights: We Love Colors
Boots: Novo (I also have them in bottle green!)
Ring: Diva (its a big swan decorated with garish pink crystals, I’m so subtle!)

Awesome Fatties Volume 1: Marilyn Wann

Published September 6, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I just have to share this video:

I am currently reading Marilyn’s book, Fat! So? and loving every single page.  What an amazing, inspirational woman.  Marilyn is a prime example of living with fattitude if I ever found one.

I will blog more about the book when I’ve finished reading it, but until then, check out her website www.fatso.com There are photos of butts as the icons to each section of the website people!!  BUTTS!!

Over the Top

Published August 16, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I’ve been writing this post for a while.  It sits in my drafts folder, I faff about with it, then I just save the draft.  I’m not entirely sure why, maybe because I still have moments of self doubt when it comes to the subject of style, maybe it’s because I’ve been talking about my family and that’s always a loaded subject for me.  But I think it’s time for me to just finish the damn thing and hit publish, you know?

I have a great aunt who I haven’t seen in a lot of years, mostly because we’ve never been close, and she lives geographically far enough away that it’s just prohibitive enough to stop me from seeing her more often than I do.  It’s usually been weddings, family reunions, landmark birthdays and such that I caught up with her throughout my life.  Besides, I don’t even go to those things any more, since I opted out of my family.

My memories of this great aunt have always not been of her directly, but of other people talking about her.  Not in a nice way either.  Mostly it was ridiculing what she wore.  The most vivid memory is of family sitting around after a wedding, making fun of the outfit this great aunt wore to the wedding.  It was a dress she had made herself, in a big black and white polka dot print, with a handkerchief hem.  She was referred to by people, by her own relatives, as a “puffed up dalmation” and a “spotty frog” and various other ridiculous analogies.

My great aunt was a fat woman who made her own clothes, and was unapologetic about her love of all things bold and colourful and outlandish.  I remember thinking as a kid, as a teenager “But I kinda thought she looked awesome.”  I also remember modifying my own tastes because I was afraid of my family ridiculing me like they did her.  They made fun of the clothes she made herself (hell, a fat woman had a tiny percentage of the choices we have today in plus sized clothing, what else was she supposed to do, living in a rural area?), they made fun of the way she styled her hair and wore her make-up, they made fun of her loud laugh, her child-like sense of humour, the jangly, noisy jewellery she liked to wear.

Now that I’m in my late 30’s, and having come to a place of self acceptance, I can look back over my life, particularly my youth, and see how often I let people pressure me into toning down my own personal tastes for fear of being ridiculed.  I would have forays into wearing or styling myself in a way that pleased me, and then a family member, or colleague, or even a supposed friend, would make a disparaging comment, and I’d tone it back down again.

These days the place I hear that sort of thing is in the culture of the workplace.  The comments about how women over 35 should never wear more than 3 accessories, or should cut their hair to shorter than shoulder length.  The talk about what colours are “appropriate” for a corporate appearance, whether or not someone is “mature” because of the way they dress or style themselves.  It’s in pretty much every workplace I’ve ever worked in, and I know it’s in that of a lot of my friends.  It’s not from the workplace per se, in that in most cases, there is no decree from anyone’s management or company owners that staff modify their appearance, but from the culture of the workplace, where people’s colleagues or those in the industry around them create this unwritten code of appropriateness.

Because as women, society imposes all these rules on us to behave in a certain way.  To present ourselves in a particular code that is pushed on us from the day that we are born.  Other people make the cultural rules about women, not us.  Don’t be too “over the top”.  Over the top of what?

Or in the case of fat women, be invisible.  Don’t stand out.  Don’t be noticed.  Blend.

I’ve decided I’m not going to tone down my personal tastes any more.  Of course most of you know I dyed my hair hot pink a couple of weeks ago.  I’m still amazed at the number of people who’ve stopped me in the street, or in the elevator or wherever to tell me they love my outlandishly pink hair.  I’ve never had so many compliments on my appearance in my life!  The compliments far outweigh the criticisms that I was so afraid of before, and render those criticisms invalid to me.  The world around me is going to have to get used to seeing a woman, a fat woman, unapologetically bold and colourful.

I’ll turn up appropriately shod, clean and groomed, and covered in an appropriate manner for the venue.  But I’m not going to apologise for my taste any more.  I stopped apologising for my taste in music, movies, television and books long ago.  Why has it been so hard to stop apologising for my taste in dressing myself?  What does it matter if I wear my pink hair in pigtails at 37 years of age?  Who am I hurting?  If I want to wear fluorescent orange tights with my new black dress, how is that affecting anyone other than myself?

I think about my Auntie Gwen.  With her big spotty dress that she made herself to wear to that wedding, and the long, jet black hair that she would loop and style in amazing ways.  Her raucous laugh and her kind eyes.  What an awesome lady.  A damn side more awesome than those who had nothing better to do than gossip and bitch about her because of her colourful taste.

Breaking the Contract

Published August 2, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Ok so I dyed my hair pink yesterday.  Not a soft, floaty, ethereal pink.  Not a dusky, muted pink.  But a hot as possible, obnoxious, shiny, LOUD pink.  It wasn’t entirely intentional, the colour I used came out as a raspberry/cherry red last time, but this time the bleach worked a little more effectively and I had a blonde base underneath instead of a copper one.  But I am glad it went this colour because it’s far more representative of my personality, and I’m quite heartily in love with my new pink hair.

I’ve found I’ve had two basic reactions to it.  A lot of people love it.  They love the intense colour, they feel it’s daring and bold and I’ve had a few comments that have been really fun.  One colleague said it looked like a lolly (candy), and another thought it was like one of those Anime characters.  I got in the lift and a lady said “Oh!  I love your hair!  It looks like a unicorn mane!”  How’s that for an awesome compliment?

However, some people really take exception to my having pink hair.  The people who know me are polite about it, they change the subject or they say “Hmmm…”  But in the little over 24 hours since I coloured it, I’ve copped a lot of abuse from random strangers.  When I walked to the shops yesterday afternoon, in a trip that was maybe 15 minutes there and back, I had half a dozen douchebags yell shit at me out of passing cars.  Today I overheard a girl walking in front of me say to her boyfriend “Look at the fat woman behind us with the stupid pink hair.”  A guy yelled and flipped the bird at me as I waited for the bus this morning.  I got more catcalls throughout the day.

I believe there is a reason for this random hatred and the tut tutting of the people around me, aimed at me as a fat woman with loud pink hair.  It’s because I break the societal contract.

Women are not supposed to draw attention to themselves.  Fat women even less so.   We’re supposed to be demure, delicate, submissive, quiet, elegant, classy, modest, self debasing, “feminine”.  We’re supposed to feel shame about ourselves, to minimise, to be invisible, out-of-the-way.  “Nobody wants to notice your fat arse, bitch.”

Women who make their hair loud colours, or wear brightly coloured clothes, or have tattoos are loud, brash, brassy, obnoxious, unprofessional, childish, juvenile, unfeminine, silly, outlandish, ridiculous, immature… the list goes on.  The entire judgement of that woman’s character is on how she looks, without ever learning anything about her at all.  Not a thing about her intellect, wit, kindness, honesty, passion, generosity is ever worth acknowledging when her appearance is outside of what is considered “proper”.

So when a woman does something bold with her physical appearance that makes her highly visible, she breaks the societal contract.  She does what a whole host of people want to do, but don’t have the guts to do.  So they get angry and take their misery out on women like that.  How dare she do something that they want to but feel they can’t?  And she’s FAT too!  BITCH!!

How dare I not be ashamed of myself?  How dare I take pride in being noticeable and visible?  Who do I think I am?

I know y’all want to see the hair colour, even though I can’t seem to get a photograph to reflect the exact colour it is.*  So I’ve combined a photo of the hair with a message to all of the haters out there who get all sweaty lipped and twitchy over a fat woman who makes herself visible.



*It’s more like the colour in this photo or perhaps this photo in reality – the photo makes it HEAPS darker!