happiness

All posts in the happiness category

If You’re Happy And You Know It…

Published December 8, 2013 by Fat Heffalump

Sigh…

Every single time I’m in the media.  Every single bloody time.  And I’m sure that other fat activists get it whenever they’re in the media…

“There’s no way she’s happy with herself.”

“Nobody could be happy like that.”

“I bet any money she’s really unhappy.”

“I’m not as fat as her and I’m in pain and miserable, there’s no way she can be happy.”

“She won’t be able to walk at that size, and her knees will be really painful.  Nobody could be happy like that.”

Sigh…

I want to say something to all of those people – there are enough of them commenting on my blog (who are not being published because I want to spare the rest of you their misery and hate.)

Look, I get it.  You aren’t happy with yourself.  Or you think that if you got any fatter than you currently are, you wouldn’t be happy.  Your body might hurt and you might feel sluggish at whatever size you are, so you’re assuming if you were my size, then it would be worse.   You hate  how I look, so you think I must hate it too.  Maybe you hate how YOU look, and you reason that because you’re not as fat as me, then there’s no way I could be happy with myself.

But here’s the thing.  We’re all different.  What my body can do and how it feels at my size isn’t the same as what your body feels and can do at whatever size you are, or whatever size you have been in the past.  You’re not in my body.  You don’t know what it feels like for me.  I’m not in your body, I don’t know what it feels like for you.

I get that you’re really miserable and you hate yourself.  But that doesn’t mean I hate myself and am miserable by default, simply because I’m fatter than you.  Perhaps, instead of being SO determined to convince yourself and everyone else that I must be as miserable and self-loathing as you, you could focus on learning to find the happiness and self esteem you so desperately need.  It would make your life a WHOLE lot better, and people around you would be so much happier to be in your company.  Constantly trying to prove to yourself that I must be unhappy, in pain or somehow broken harms nobody but yourself.

Now, to the rest of you, my fellow fab fatties, who I am sure have been on the receiving end of this in some form or another, I want to send support.  This kind of gaslighting is so common and is designed to make you “prove” yourself.  But the truth is, no amount of “proof” will ever appease these people.  After all, I’ve been doing this shit for 5 years, a quick Google image search brings a plethora of photographs of me laughing, smiling, having a great time, riding my bike (for some reason the media LOVE those photos) etc.  There’s a whole website devoted to photos of myself and my local fat activist colleagues living our lives to the full.  But still people want to convince themselves that I must be unhappy, in pain and not able to move my body.

Besides, we owe nobody “proof” or justification of our existence.  I’ve said it a million times before, health/fitness is not a moral obligation.  Lots of people suffer illness or disability, fat or thin.  Myself included.  There is no need for anyone to be ashamed of illness or disability, EVEN if they are fat.  Proving that “fat can be fit” or any variation of such only feeds the stigma that fat people get.  We have to be in this fat liberation for ALL of us, not just those who fit in a narrow definition of “acceptable”.

Every one of us are valid, worthy human beings.  We owe nobody proof that we are “acceptable”.  The only person you owe proof of your happiness to is yourself.  The rest of the world should be considering your visible joy a gift, not something they can demand from you.

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We’ve Come a Long Way Baby

Published November 28, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Looking out my window this evening there is no mistake that summer is here.  There is a storm brewing, it’s hot and it’s sticky.  I’m sitting here in a camisole top and a sarong, the fan blowing on me and my balcony door open to get the evening sea breezes until the storm hits and I have to run around and shut everything to keep the rain out.

It has now been about 5 years since I first started hearing about this thing called “fat acceptance” (my first foray into fat activism of any kind), and started entertaining the notion that I wasn’t worthless because there was more of me than there is of many other people.  In those years, my life has radically changed.  I’m a different person than I was 5 years ago.  I no longer put my life on hold, waiting to do things “when I lose weight”.  I no longer apologise for being the size I am.  I no longer allow people to treat me as sub-human because of my fat.  And I no longer hide myself away behind baggy, shapeless, dark clothing because others suggest it is “flattering”.

I realised the other morning as I was getting dressed for work, the me of 2012 really resents having to wear sleeves and cover my body in this hot weather.  That astonished me.  Was it really only a couple of years ago that I would never have dreamed of being seen without my arms covered?  There was once a time, that even in the hottest of summers, I would not leave the house without my arms covered past the elbow, my legs covered past the knees and a full face of makeup.  Now I often roll out of bed, shower, throw on a sun-dress and sandals and I’m out the door.  If I’m working and I have to have my arm tattoo covered, I find tops with the barest minimum length to cover the bits I need to, and then leave the rest free.  On the weekends I will chuck on a cami or tank top, a pair of shorts (sometimes plain shorts, sometimes bike-pants) and go for a walk along the waterfront with the sea air blowing on my skin.

As the weather heats up, I’m currently looking for a new swim suit, preferably a tankini or halter neck top with boy-leg shorts (so they don’t creep up my bum!) to go swimming at my local pool in.  No more wearing a huge t-shirt over the top to cover my body, no more dropping the sarong off my bottom half at the side of the pool and slipping quickly into the water.  Where my arms and legs were once pale white and untouched by sun, never seen by anyone, they are now gently ripening to brown and are adorned with magnificent ink.

I only wear makeup now when I want to dress up a bit, or have fun with some colour.  I no longer feel that I have to have a “face” on to be acceptable to be seen.  I once wore glasses that were plain and unobtrusive, now they are bold and make a statement.  Where I once wore my hair long, thick and heavy because I was told it was flattering to my round face, slowly cooking my own head under it’s weight, I now crop it uber-short with clippers, cool and light, and dye it bright hues as it grows back to a short back & sides.

Once I would hunt the sparse racks of plus-size clothes looking for black, navy, burgundy and forest green, now I am drawn to red, turquoise, magenta, mint, peach and cobalt.  From plain dark colours of my past wardrobe to the now busy prints, bold patterns and clashing colours.  I embellish them with big, fabulous accessories, shiny, colourful and jangly.  I like accessories that move and make noise, they stimulate my senses.  I look for shapes that skim my body, not blouse over it like I’m trying to hide it.  Where my legs once were always covered in plain pants, they now are bare under skirts and dresses.  When I did wear skirts before they were always with heavy black tights to hide my legs.  Now they are bare, or if it’s cold enough to need cover, have bright tights and leggings that draw attention to the shape of my legs.

In the past I walked with my head bowed, looking at my own feet, avoiding eye contact with anyone, trying to disappear.  Now I walk with my head held high, my shoulders back, surveying the world around me, smiling at the things that make me happy, meeting the eye of anyone who dares stare at me.  I would never, ever eat in public, always uncomfortable in restaurants or cafes, preferring to drink vast quantities of alcohol instead of being seen eating.  Now I don’t touch alcohol at all (I figure I drank all my share at once) and I love to dine out, to socialise with friends over brunch, lunch, dinner, coffee and cake.  I enjoy the food that I eat, and eat what I want, stopping when I’ve had enough, even if there is still food on my plate.  I know the foods that make me feel good, and those that make me feel cruddy.  I refuse to allow anyone to shame me for my food choices.

When I am home alone, I am comfortable with my naked body.  My new flat has a large mirror level with the plain glass shower stall.  The past me would never have been able to shower in this bathroom without covering the mirror, lest I catch a glimpse of my large, round, naked body.  Now I see it and value it, for being strong and capable, and for carrying me through my life.  I admire the roundness, the curves and bumps, the thickness and the marks of my life – stretchmarks, scars, moles and freckles, adorned with the ink that documents my life.  I am not bothered by the hairy bits or the saggy bits.  They are part of the road map of my life, signs of my maturing body.  Nor am I bothered by my natural hair, greying at the temples.  I feel no need to cover it as I grow it back ready to colour it something bright and fun.

This is the first phase of fat liberation for me.  I am free, I have been liberated from the prison I lived in for the first 35 years of my life.  A prison that I was both forced into, yet for many years was too afraid to leave.  My choices are mine.  My body is mine.  My life is mine.  I may never see fat bodies truly valued and celebrated by society in my lifetime, but my body is valued and celebrated by me.

I wish that for each and every one of you.

Dear You, Volume 2.

Published May 29, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Dear You,

Hello again.  It’s a little while since I wrote to you last, isn’t it?  I was just thinking about you.  Yes, you!  And you.  You too, over there in the corner.  I’ve been thinking about you a lot.

I want you to know something.  You’re ok, you are.  Oh I know, you’re not perfect and sometimes you feel fraudulent, like you’re only pretending to be ok, but the truth is, imperfection and “faking it” are ok too.

I want you to know, you don’t have to feel invincible all the time to be ok.  You don’t have to be permanently fabulous to make a difference to the world.  Nor do you have to be completely loving of yourself, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to be ok.  It’s ok to feel afraid, to have doubts, to be a little less than your shiny self from time to time.  It happens to all of us, and that’s ok.  The key thing is to acknowledge it, feel it and allow it to pass.  Or if you need it, it’s totally ok to ask for help.  You don’t have to change the world all on your own.

Also, don’t feel you have to perform all the time either.  There will be times where you just need to step back and BE without worrying about what you have to DO.  Anyone who expects you to be perfectly “on” all the time doesn’t really care about you – they’re caring more about themselves and their own expectations than your needs or feelings.

The thing is, self love is about so much more than just declaring “I am awesome!” and believing it.  You are awesome.  But you are also human, and part of caring for yourself is acknowledging that all humans are flawed, and cutting yourself some slack.  Forgiving yourself.  You will make mistakes, and you will be flawed, but that’s fine.  We are all flawed, we all make mistakes.  What matters is how you work through those mistakes and flaws.  The most perfect thing you can do is acknowledge them and learn from them.  But most importantly, be responsible for your mistakes.  That’s the thing that will make a difference.

Because really, it’s all about doing the best you can within whatever circumstances you’ve got in your life at any given time.  So what if someone else is able to do more, give more, be more.  That’s them, in their lives.  You have yourself, in your life, so that’s what you’ve got to work with.

But there is something I REALLY want you to know.  You are a perfectly acceptable human being right now, this minute.  You are just as valid as any other human being, without changing a single thing about yourself.  That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to want to grow, evolve or improve yourself, or you can’t do better sometimes, it just means right now this instant, you are worthy of your own self love.  Even if it is hard to love yourself sometimes (and boy, is it!), or you’re struggling with some really difficult stuff in your life, you still deserve it.

So dearest you, be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and give the best version of you that you can give, but know that even in the tough times, you are still valid, worthy and deserving of your own self love.

I love you.

Kath

Fat in a Swimsuit

Published January 1, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Well, whaddya know.  Guess who fell into a big pile of self loathing in the past 24 hours.  Yup, you’re looking at her. (Ok smart arses, you’re READING her!)

Yes, it still happens.  As positive and as confident as I get, sometimes it just happens and there’s no rhyme or reason for it.  Yesterday, I wrote my previous post for the New Year’s Revolution, was feeling good, and spent considerable time posting body positive messages to my Tumblr until midnight rolled around and it was 2011.  I was feeling good.

But then, in preparation for going to the beach with my friend Kerri today, before I went to bed I decided to pull out my swimmers and pack my stuff up ready to go again.  I got a pair of new swimmers on sale the other day, so I planned to wear those.  I tried them on (I knew they’d fit, but I wanted to make sure the straps on the shoulders were the right length) and looked in my full length mirror… and it hit.

In hindsight, it’s because the top half of the swimsuit had NO bust support.  Which meant that my magnificent rack of doom had nowhere to go but down.  And it was uncomfortable, no – PAINFUL.  But instead of doing what I should have done, which is cursed out the manufacturers of a size 26 swimsuit, it became a spiral of self loathing.  I hated my breasts.  I hated my belly.  I hated my thighs.  I hated my back.  I hated my chin.

I agonised over that damn swimsuit and my body for a good hour.  Eventually I decided to put it away and wear my old swimsuit (which I only bought last year) which also doesn’t have adequate bust support in it, but I can wear a bra under that one and it isn’t visible.  I can at least know my back and chest aren’t going to hurt because I’m properly supported by a bra.

Just an aside, who the hell makes a size 26 swimsuit without adequate bust support and thinks that’s ok?  Who do they think is going to wear this?  Ok not every size 26 woman has big breasts, but wouldn’t it be better to have too much bust support than none at all?

Swimsuit designers, manufacturers and retailers, here is what I want.  I want a two piece swimsuit, the bottom half doesn’t matter that much, briefs, skirt, shorts… whatever, I prefer the shorts but will wear the others.  But the top half, I want a HALTER necked tankini style top, with fucking UNDERWIRE and proper adjustable halter-neck so that I can fit the damn thing properly, and not have my boobs dragging my back and shoulders and chest down.  I want one that has REAL support, like a proper bra, but is made of decent swimsuit fabric, in cute colours and prints, and I want you to put a reasonable price tag on it.  Not $300, but under $100.  If my size 12 friend with B cup tits can get this, why the fuck wouldn’t you be making it for people with bigger breasts?  SERIOUSLY.

Anyhoo..

Off to bed I went last night, feeling crappy.  I woke up feeling crappy.  Yes, in the midst of all the body positivity of the New Years Revolution campaign, all my talk about giving up dieting and self loathing and so on, it hit me.

Because it does.  It doesn’t just go away overnight.  It doesn’t go away at all really.  And no matter how immersed you are in fat acceptance, body positivity and surrounding activism, it still whomps you on the arse unexpectedly at times.  Some days you just can’t avoid it.

However, now that I’ve got through today, I think it’s a good thing that it happened to me when it did.  Because then I can share with all of you that it still happens, it still sucks… yet we survive.  We go on.  We keep going with this body positivity and fat acceptance stuff… because it really, truly does make it better.

Because of being part of fat acceptance, I was able to take a moment this morning, acknowledge that I felt crappy, and then consciously ask myself what I could do to try to make myself feel better.  The first thing for me is music.  I made sure I was armed with a couple of songs on my iPod that I know just lift my mood.  The second thing was to pop online and go through my Tumblr stream.  Sometimes, I need to hear those body positivity messages too.

Most importantly, I knew that the best thing I could do was put my damn swimsuit on (with bra on underneath), grab my stuff and get my arse out the door.

Kerri picked me up, I put my happy song on in her car, and I spent the day with my friend who makes me feel good about myself.  I went to the beach as planned, chucked off my sarong and went and got in the water.  I swam and fell over and laughed and got sand in places where sand should just not be, I swallowed great gobs of salt water, I talked with my amazing friend about life, the universe and everything, I let the power of the ocean take over and spent a good hour and a half being hammered about in warm salty water.  Then we went and got changed into comfy maxi dresses (I wore this one), headed up to Australia Fair, got a decent feed and wandered around the shops together.  I saw a dude who was so smoking hot that he took my breath away, our eyes met and we had a flirty moment.  Kez and I talked some more, laughed some more, shopped some more and then had a ridiculously flavoured coffee before heading home, salty, sandy, sunburnt and sleepy… but feeling great for having spent the day hanging out together.

When I hit the shower as soon as I got home, I realised I didn’t hate my body any more.  I was angry at the damn swimsuit manufacturers/designers/retailers for not providing me with adequately made swimsuits.

This is how it works my lovelies.  Through giving up the dieting and trying to change your body to something it is not, and focusing on caring for yourself, building up your self esteem, working through the tough bits, immersing yourself in positivity, surrounding yourself with people who build you up, not tear you down and living your life to it’s absolute fullest, you get through the bad times.  You learn to be able to put in place the strategies you need to get back on track.

But most importantly, you don’t miss out on all the good stuff, like spending the day at the beach with a dear friend, because you’re too filled with shame and self loathing to put on a damn swimsuit.

Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got to go shake more sand out of uncomfortable places.

It’s OK to be “Weird”

Published December 12, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

The universe is trying to tell me something.

Over the past few days, I’ve had a few little stings at my self esteem, some a bit bigger, particularly when it comes to my core beliefs.  I’ve had a few reminders that the fatosphere and feminism circles I choose to surround myself with are not how a lot of people think and behave.

From the “friend” who told me I “aim too high” when it comes to men (she’d seen my Crush) to the moment I pissed off a colleague by pulling him up for repeatedly and erroneously telling people that I could be “bribed by chocolate” by saying “Actually chocolate isn’t that important to me, but I know how you could assume that by my being a fat woman and all.”  From being told to “cheer up” when I was taking a quiet moment out after a stressful morning to gather my thoughts and recharge my batteries to a friend taking offense when I declined to play one of the traditional “girly” games about men.  I just seem to be getting constant reminders that the values that I hold dear, and that in a lot of ways, I’m outside of the norm.  That I’m considered “political” (despite the fact that I couldn’t give a shit about politics per se) or just “weird”.

Whenever that happens, I find myself rethinking why I do what I do, why I am who I am, and why the the way I think and behave seem so radical to so many other people.  Sometimes the old self esteem takes a bit of a battering (it has this week) and sometimes it makes me question a lot of my core values.  Which is not a bad thing, but sometimes I feel it sets me back in growing and learning, because I have to go back over old ground, you know?

But the thing is, as my therapist is fond of reminding me, not everyone unpacks how and what they think.  Not everyone asks questions about the world around them.  Not everyone believes that there is always growing and changing that can be done.  However, just because many people don’t do it, doesn’t mean those of us who can and do should ever feel like we’re weird for doing so.

What I want to do is to reach out to those of you who have felt this way, and let you know that you’re not alone.  And by doing so, I remind myself that my “weirdness” amongst general folk isn’t unique to me, but that there are plenty of people out there who want to evolve and question and challenge.

It’s ok to challenge people’s thinking (respectfully of course).  After all, if someone hadn’t challenged our thinking along the line somewhere, wouldn’t we still be plodding along with the masses?

It’s ok to be different.  You don’t have to apologise for not following the same thought patterns and processes as everyone else.

Just because “Everybody knows/thinks/believes/does” doesn’t mean you have to as well.  Everybody thought the earth was flat once.

It’s ok to be different.  Just because “society” says that you should look a certain way, or behave a certain way, because you’re a woman or you’re of a particular age, or because you’re fat, doesn’t mean you have to.  Social rules are not the law.

It’s ok to disengage if you need to.  If someone isn’t responding with respect, or you feel that they’re never going to get the message you’re trying to impart, you can disengage.  That isn’t admitting defeat, it’s letting go of a pointless argument.  Sometimes you just have better things to do with your time.

It’s ok to process.  If you need time to think about something, or sort out how you feel, or just recharge your batteries, then take it, and don’t let anyone tell you to “cheer up” or suggest you’re sulking.  Even if you do what I do – find a quiet corner somewhere, (I’ve even used the ladies room for this if I had nowhere else) and take some time out.  You can do that.

You don’t have to tolerate shitty behaviour from someone because they are your friend or family.  If someone doesn’t treat you with respect and dignity, you’re well within your rights to walk away from them.  Literally and figuratively.

And most of all, find the people who do support you, who hold the same values and behave in a way that you admire and surround yourself with them.  They are the ones who will get you through the tough times, who will celebrate the most when you are happy and encourage you in your endeavors.  If you need to step back inside the bubble for awhile to soak up the wisdom and fabulousness of the people who inspire and amaze you, do it.  It’s good for you.

November Challenge – Positive Posts

Published November 1, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Well, it’s been an intense time of late with Fat Acceptance, hasn’t it?  I don’t know about you, but it’s been getting to me, dealing with all of the negativity, all of the hatred, fear, shame, bigotry and abuse.  And while it’s really important to speak up against all of this bullshit, sometimes one needs to just take a break to preserve ones sanity.

So for the month of November, I’m challenging myself to only post on positive topics about life as a fat woman.  Just for awhile, I want to focus on all of the fabulous things out there that are happening, that people are doing.

I think it’s vitally important that we celebrate the positive, acknowledge our achievements and have some fun.  I think as a bit of a mental health exercise for both myself as a writer, and any of you readers who feel the need for a bit of positive space, it will do good to have a month where we only focus on the positive.

Now I’ll need your help please.  Can you please share with me any fabulous fatty news that you find?  Either in the comments here on the blog, or on the Facebook page (linky thing is there on the right) or email.  If you have a project that you’d like to share, or you know of something awesome happening out there in the fatosphere, please let me know.  I’ll do my best to dig up some great stuff for you, but we always hear so much negativity over the positive stuff.

Also if you’d like to be featured as a fabulous fatty this month, please drop me a line. (Email)

So to kick us off, I want to share with you the AWESOME gift I got from my friend Kylie for my birthday.  Check this out:

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It’s a fat cell!  Isn’t it the cutest thing you ever saw?  They have a whole range of them at www.giantmicrobes.com, but of course I just love this wee fuzzy fat cell.

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:

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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:

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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.