flaws

All posts in the flaws category

Hiding My Sins

Published February 3, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I’m wearing a new dress today.  It’s a really lovely maxi dress in a black and white print that I picked up on mega special (80% off original price I think) at Big W last Friday.  I’m also wearing a little black crochet shrug/bolero thing over it, just because the dress is a little cleavagey, and that wouldn’t be very appropriate for my workplace.

This morning, a colleague complimented me on my dress, and then said “Good idea wearing the shrug over your arms, they hide a multitude of sins.”  Now I don’t know about you, but I felt that the compliment was nice until that moment.  Because I wasn’t wearing the shrug to hide my arms or my sins.  I have no problem baring my arms, even though they are yes, shock, horror… fat.  Very fat.

Why is it that fat people, in particular, fat women, are supposed to hide their bodies away, or obey long lists of rules about how they dress?  And furthermore, why is it acceptable for people to hand fat people a compliment, and then take it away by suggesting that their outfit makes them look slimmer than they are, or hides their “sins”?  Why does “flattering” always mean “slimming”?

You know all the rules.  Fat people:

  • Shouldn’t wear stripes, especially horizontal ones.
  • Should cover their bodies.
  • Shouldn’t wear skinny jeans.
  • Should cover their arms.
  • Shouldn’t wear anything too fitting.
  • Shouldn’t wear anything too loose.
  • Shouldn’t show their tummies.
  • Should wear muted colours.
  • Should NEVER wear bright colours.
  • Should wear big prints.
  • Should wear small prints.
  • Shouldn’t wear ruffles.
  • Shouldn’t wear pastels.
  • Shouldn’t wear different colours on the top and bottom of their bodies.
  • Should flatten their tummies, thighs and butts with control top tights or spanx or some other kind of heavily elasticated undergarment.
  • Shouldn’t be tanned.
  • Shouldn’t be pale.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, BLAH!!

Notice how many contradictions are up there in that list?  Yes, for every time you’re told one thing to do as a fat person when it comes to dressing, someone else is lining up to tell you the exact opposite.

Well here’s the thing.  This is my body.  My body isn’t slim, or the same shape as everyone else’s body.  It’s big and fat and lumpy and has a HUGE tummy that I couldn’t hide even if I parked myself behind a screen all day.  But it’s a healthy body that works and is beautiful in it’s own unique way, and that I have to clothe in a way that is a) appropriate for the venue that I am in and b) a way that makes me feel good and expresses my personality.  I DO NOT have to hide it, apologise for it, atone for it’s “sins”, disguise it, or be ashamed of it.  My body is not sinful because it is fat.  Fat does not have any connections to morals.  It’s just fat, not Satan.

I wear clothes that I like, that when I put them on, make me feel good, and express the mood I’m in and my personality.  I love bold prints and bright, rich colours, bare arms, dipping cleavage, soft, drapey fabrics that slide over my skin, prints that are feminine and prints that are cheeky and fun, styles that are comfortable for my busy day to day lifestyle and that are durable enough to last more than one or two wearings.

Of course, I do have a responsibility to wear clothing that is appropriate for the place I am wearing it.  A bathing suit is not the right outfit for my workplace, nor is a cocktail dress the right outfit for going to the dog park.  In my workplace I have to be groomed, clean and professional.  Being fat is not unkempt, dirty or unprofessional.  It’s just the shape of my body.  It’s not ok for me to be too cleavagey or show too much leg in the workplace, that goes for everybody regardless of their body shape/size, but it IS ok for me to bare my fat arms or wear horizontal bloody stripes!

If a fat body offends someone, it is THEM that has the problem, not the owner of the fat body.  If someone is upset at a fat person wearing something that they’re perfectly ok with a slim person wearing, then yes, it is THEM that has the problem, not the people wearing the outfit.  Bodies are not public property, nor are they bound by any rules as to what shape or size they have to be or even appear to be. Yes, that means that a fat body doesn’t have to wear “slimming” or “flattering” clothes.  They can break any and all of those “rules”, because they’re rules imposed ONLY on fat people, never on slim people.

Nor do fat people have to suffer in silence over those false compliments about how clothes “make you look thin/like you’ve lost weight” or “hide your sins”.  What’s wrong with just complimenting someone with “You look great today, that’s a beautiful dress.”  I’m far more likely to wear the dress that gets that compliment again and again than one that I’m told hides my fat away.  I think next time someone tells me that an outfit I am wearing hides my sins, I’ll suggest I should take it off because “If I’m gonna sin, I want to wear it like a badge of honour!”

But I know not everyone has the ability to be as cheeky and loud-mouthed as I am.  I know it really, deeply hurts a lot of my fellow fatties out there when people say these sorts of things, and I know a lot of you agonise over what you wear because you want to avoid people saying such things.  I used to as well.  Then I realised how bloody stupid all the rules were and that I couldn’t make everyone happy no matter what I did (unless I could miraculously become thin – but even then people would talk behind my back and say I was thinking too much of myself since I lost weight and blah blah blah).  So I decided to make ME happy.  And I found my cheeky, loud-mouthed attitude, screw what anyone else thought.

Wear what you want to wear my lovelies.  Wear what makes you feel good, what you like on yourself, what expresses how you really feel.  Wear it proudly and screw what anyone else says about your bodies.  When you feel good, you look good, and you show your beauty.  Every single human being has beauty, they just need to find the right way to show it, and I believe that is by being happy, proud of yourself and holding your head high.  YOU are worth it.  Every single one of you.

It’s Your BODY, Baby!

Published January 10, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Yeah I know, it’s been some time since my last post.  I have been sick this week just gone, swinging between wild nausea, thumping headaches and this horrible lack of energy thing.  Summer gets me every year for a bit, and this week seems to be it.  So of course I have some blogging to catch up on.

A couple of days ago I came across this post on Tumblr.  It’s from The Tummy Project, which aims to showcase all forms of tummies, regardless of shape, size, skin type, colour, hair or lack of hair.  An excellent body positive project.  But this post really worried me.  I’ll reproduce it here:

tummy

My tummy is on its way to being what my family calls “gobby fat.” See the pooch at the bottom, under my belly button? That will be gobby fat in ten or twenty years, maybe. All of the women in my family have big middles, and they just laugh about it and make jokes but I know they hate it and it makes them feel awful. I am tired of being scared of this happening to me. I am also scared that someone will know this is me in this picture, because I am the funny, confident girl who is always telling other women to chin up and be proud of their bodies and love themselves. And they’ll know that I am a fraud. But I don’t know what to do about any of it. I just have this tummy. I always have. At every size, at every age, the belly has been.

I’m still shocked when I see that photo and read the accompanying post.  This young woman thinks her tummy is fat??  What the HELL are we teaching young people if they could possibly think that they are fat when they are shaped like this?

That “pooch” below her belly button.  That is supposed to be there, it is her bloody internal organs!

Body image is so fucked up in Western culture that we seem to be thinking that our bellies MUST be concave or at least flat, that they cannot have any curves or roundness to them at all.  Not only is it an impossible goal for a healthy body to obtain, it’s also not even true in the pictures we see of models and actresses that do have stomachs like that.  Either they’re digitally altered so that it’s not there, or they do things like starve themselves the day before a shoot so that they don’t have a “food baby” or a bump from where the food and internal organs naturally sit.

What disturbs me even more from the post is that this young woman is being taught by the women in her family that a) her body is something to be loathed, b) to accept people laughing and making jokes about her body and c) that they can’t express their feelings about their bodies.  If they hate their bodies so much, why aren’t they helping this young person in their lives who HAS a slim body in not hating hers?

There are some inroads being made into body positivity these days, but we have so far to go that we need to really work with the young.  Right from tiny children, we need to be teaching kids and everyone above that our bodies are marvellous things.  Sure, they come in all different shapes and sizes, some of which are slim and commercially “beautiful”, but all shapes and sizes are beautiful in their own way.

Not to mention that our bodies are INCREDIBLE!  I mean, think about your hand just for five minutes.  Do some things with it – pick something up, wave, point, toss something in the air and catch it, click your fingers.  Isn’t it incredible that in a matter of seconds we can command our hand, and the rest of our bodies, to do all these things.  In the blink of an eye, our brains and our bodies work together to propel us through our daily lives and we  never even give that any thought.  How often do you thank your body for doing the work it does every day.

That’s just the stuff we can control.  What about all the things our bodies do on their own?  Like breathing, processing food and water, self cleaning, thinking, growing, repairing itself (the only part of the human body that can’t repair itself are the teeth!) and a myriad of things we don’t know about.  How awesome is that?

Instead of realising this, we focus on every single thing that we consider “flaws”, even those these things usually are just features that are unique to ourselves.  The next time you think of your body’s flaws, try and see them as a feature, rather than a flaw.  These are the things that make you, YOU.

Our bodies are not a bunch of “parts” for us to critique and obsess over.  They’re an amazing system and thing of wonder that we hardly even fathom the complexity of.

We need to take care of them, be kind to them, nourish them, move them and appreciate them.  Love your body, no matter what it’s shape, size or what it does and doesn’t do.  Love it for what it is, and what it does for you.

Still a Long Way to Go

Published August 9, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

I want to talk a bit about body image and body confidence tonight. I’ve been following a lot of fat acceptance blogs and Tumblr accounts over the past few months, and it’s great to see so many positive representations of fat women. The fellas aren’t getting that much representation much, but isn’t it always the way when it comes to pictures of bodies?

Some of the good ones I regularly read are The Adipositivity Project, Fuck Yeah Fat Bitch and Hey Fat Chick. There are others out there.

One thing I am noticing though, is that the only fat bodies that seem to be acceptable to post, are those with seemingly flawless, soft, white, creamy skin, no trace of body hair, stretch marks, scars or other flaws. Occasionally you might get a gorgeous fat black woman, but again, miles and miles of perfect skin. And often it’s quite obviously through snazzy lighting, flattering photography and post camera editing that we’re being presented these images.
Photobucket
While I do think it is amazing that we have come this far, I do think we have some while to go before we’re really getting the message ourselves, let alone sending the message out further to the rest of the world.
I think perhaps these arty, flawless shots, sometimes contribute to some of the body image problems we have. While it’s good to see these gorgeous fat bodies, and we feel like we’re closer to being something to admire, I wonder does the fact that EVERYBODY has flaws and blemishes somehow get missed with the message?
I know the guys are used to seeing their porn retouched for many years so that women are flawless or some image of flawless, and then the fashion mags picked up on it and have run like crazy with it too. But I’m wondering what the point is having “body positive” blogs and such, but still filtering out things that are labelled as “unsightly” or “unattractive” in the content?
The reality is though, that human beings are big old lumpy creatures, and they have hair, scars, stretchmarks, zits, pores, freckles, scratches, bruises, moles, pigmentation and all kinds of other marks all over them. It’s all part of the complex system that the human body is. And despite all of these blemishes, the human body is still beautiful. Even because of these blemishes in a lot of cases.
How many other women look at photos like the one above and say “But she’s gorgeous, I couldn’t be seen in just my underwear, I look nothing like that.”? How many men think that all women are as flawless as the young lady above? Are we striving even now for an unrealistic perfection, even though we’re allowing fat bodies to be seen?
I wonder is it time we need to start being even more honest and realistic about human bodies?