All posts in the housekeeping category

A Little Housekeeping

Published August 21, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Hi all!

Wow!  What a massive influx of new readers I have had to Fat Heffalump over the past few days.  That’s awesome, it really makes me happy to know I’m reaching new people and that there are folks ready to let go of the old paradigm of fat hate.  YAYYYY!  Do stop into the comments and say hello, tell me about yourself and I am sure you will meet some other interesting people here too.

I think it is timely though that I do a little housekeeping post before we go any further, because I know many of you may be new to fat activism, and may still be learning about a lot of the concepts that I write about here.  Fat liberation has some pretty confronting and radical concepts to the newbie – see my previous post about unlearning!

The first thing, is please go and read the commenting rules.  They give you the basics.  Any time you need to read them, they’re always linked over there on the right.

But I also want to make some things very clear.

  • This is a fat positive space.  All bodies are valid.  All bodies are respected in this space.  Use neutral language about bodies here, including your own body.  For example, do not use language like “I have an ugly big belly.”  That implies that all big bellies are ugly – and they are not.  If you are not happy with your belly, then you would say “I am self conscious about the size of my belly.”
  • No diet or weight loss promotion, EVER.  You are fine to talk about your experiences with dieting in your past, but there will be no promotion or evangelising of weight loss/dieting in this space.  This is a reductionism free zone.  I explain this further here.
  • Refrain from using judgemental language around clothing.  There is no such thing as “unflattering” – no body needs to be “flattered”, nor do they need to be disguised, minimised, hidden, concealed, and we don’t refer to clothing as trashy, slutty, tarty or any other word that implies moral judgement based on what people wear.  If you prefer to cover a part of your body for whatever reasons, then simply say “I prefer to cover my arms, I feel more comfortable that way.” or “I am happier when I wear longer skirts, short skirts make me feel more exposed than I would like.” which are  judgement free statements.
  • In this space, we celebrate fat bodies.  Rolls and folds and lumps and bumps and wobbles and jiggles are all things of great beauty and wonderment.  We carry no shame for our fat bodies here.
  • Remember your “I” statements.  When talking about the way you feel about things, say “I feel…” or “I think…” etc
  • Nobody expects you to feel good about yourself all the time, every one of us struggles with our self esteem at some point.  But I do expect you to practice referring to yourself in neutral or positive terms here.  It’s a really good exercise to think about just how you refer to yourself.  Try to describe yourself with kindness and understanding here, and you’ll find it grows to other places.  It also means that you’re not inadvertantly loading negative terms on all bodies similar to yours.
  • Health carries no moral value.  Nobody is obligated to be healthy.  There will be no moralising about health here.
  • Think about the words you use about weight, fatness, health, physical activity, clothing, body image, feelings, food, eating, mental health, and anything else to do with bodies.  Are you inadvertantly loading those words with judgement?
  • Fat is NEVER a negative word in this space.  Fat is our word to describe our juicy bodies, and it is used with pride in this space.

A good place to understand my beliefs on fatness and bodies is to read the Fat Liberation Manifesto.

But most importantly, check your privilege (if you don’t understand privilege, here is a good place to start), and no bigotry will be tolerated in this space.

I hope this makes things clear, but if you’re not sure, please ask.  I want this space to be enriching, thought provoking and body judgement free.  Not just for me, but for all of you too.  It all contributes to healing the damage done by a fat phobic society.

A Little Housekeeping

Published February 10, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I feel like a bit of a change.  So I’m going with a new WordPress theme here on Fat Heffalump.  Nothing fancy-pants, just another one of the freebies offers up.  I actually find this easier to read than my old one.

I wanted to give you all an update on Operation Baldy.  So far I’ve received just over $2200 in donations that I’ve received, with a whole lot of pledges that haven’t come in yet.  I would really like to hit the $3000 mark, but it will depend on the pledged donations coming through.   As it stands (not counting pledged amounts) I’ve got $1670 for the Cancer Council of Australia, and $575 for the Queensland Flood Appeal.  Not bloody bad for shaving ones head to raise money huh?

The hair is growing back rapidly, it is now two weeks since I whipped it all off, and it’s about 5mm long all over.  Because it’s so thick it looks like it’s grown like a weed.  Yet I can only just grab a teensy little bit in my fingers.  It feels funny though.  Kind of like a microfibre plush toy.  Today I bought some hot chilli red dye to colour it with soon.  I might even have enough hair next week to do it.

I’ve got some cool stuff coming up to share with you all.  I’ve recorded two podcasts in the past week, and written a guest post on my experience with eating disorders.  As soon as they are live I’ll let you all know.  It’s really amazing to be able to collaborate with other activists and allies, I feel blessed with these opportunities.

I’m still wanting to know what kind of topics are important to you in Fat Acceptance.  So if you have any, could you pop them in the comments below?


+ Plus-Sizes Plus +: Tips and Tricks for Feedback

Published November 15, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Just a tiny bit of housekeeping before I get started.  I have made an Operation Baldy ticker, it’s over there on the right.  As you can see I’m up to $270 already!!  Woot!  Thank you again to those who have donated, and if you can help me to raise $1000 for the Australian Cancer Council, it would be most appreciated.  Plus you get to see me shave my head bald as an egg!

Now, I think it’s time we did some more work on getting our message across to those plus-size retail chains again, don’t you?

One of the most effective ways I’ve had of communicating with a lot of businesses, not just plus-size retail chains, is through writing to them via email (and snail mail too).  Many businesses have KPI’s (key performance indicators) that set a time frame around responding to written customer contact.  For example, they may set an initial contact within 1 working day, and then a follow up, more detailed contact within 5 working days.  Particularly when they are complaints and there is something to be resolved.  They may also have a formula for changing their business practices on the strength of the number of requests they get on a certain issue.  For example, one business I used to work for believed that for every letter they got asking for a change in their business practices, there were a hundred other people who also wanted the same change, but didn’t write to them for whatever reason.  Then if they got 10 written contact items, they considered that a thousand people wanted something changed, then it was worth the time and effort to do so.

So, how to approach them?  I have been writing feedback letters since I was a teenager, and I’ve learnt the hard way what not to do!  I’m not going to share how many times I’ve either pissed the business off or made an idiot of myself… it’s too embarrassing!

What I have learnt are the following rules.

  1. Be polite.  Ranting, swearing, calling them names and being nasty is not going to get you anywhere.
  2. Be clear.  Tell them exactly what it is you you are not happy with.  It’s no use saying you’re not happy and that you’re upset and so on without stating very clearly why.
  3. Be respectful.  Remember that it’s somebody’s job to deal with your complaints, and if you’re going to treat them like dirt, they’re not going to be interested in helping you.
  4. Give clear examples.  If it’s a product you are finding fault with, tell them the exact product.  If it is service, tell them as much as you know about the person who gave you bad service.  Go back to Rules 1 and 3, don’t call the person names, or swear about them.  If you know their name, say so.  If not, give the time and date it happened, the name of the store or branch, and respectful detail.  Do not say “that dumb blonde”, say “the staff member I spoke to was a blonde woman, wearing a green top.”
  5. Don’t be greedy.  Ask them to repair or replace an item, or refund your money, but demanding extra free stuff is rude and greedy.
  6. Tell them you will come back to them if they improve the issue you are complaining about.  Why would they bother helping someone they think they’ve totally lost as a customer?
  7. Mention word-of-mouth if you have talked to someone about their product/service.  Word-of-mouth is very, very important to businesses.
  8. Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but please, make it at least make sense.  Use a spell check function if you have to.  Ask someone else to read it if you’re feeling a bit unsure.
  9. Very important rule this one…. Praise them… and do it with honesty. You don’t have to get all “You’re awesome and I love you!” just praise something about the store/staff/product you like.  Don’t make it up, if it’s not genuine, don’t worry about it.  For example, you might say “I have always found your staff friendly and helpful, but I am really disappointed with the products you are currently offering.”
  10. At the end of your email/letter, thank them for their time, and say “I look forward to hearing from you soon on this matter.”
  11. Give proper contact details so that they can respond to you.  You wouldn’t believe the number of complaints that have to go unanswered because the sender hasn’t given their contact details clearly.

There you have it.  Basically, those are things that have got me through to a lot of businesses.  Not all of them really listen (Unilever, you suck!) but many of them do, and many will try to resolve the issue for you.

Now, how about I put one together as an example, and then if you want to use any bits of it, you are more than welcome to.

I’m going to focus on Target Australia with this one.  Mostly because I am really unhappy with how they shove their plus-size range down the back of the store like they are ashamed of their plus-sized customers!  Or are ashamed of the stock.  Either way, we deserve better than that.  So let’s see…

Dear Target Australia,

I am writing to you today to tell you how disappointed I am with the way your plus-size clothing range is laid out in your stores.  I am a frequent customer of the Myer Centre Target store, and I have noticed over the years that I have been shopping in your store that the plus-size clothing section has been worked further and further back in your store, to the point that it is now in the far back corner next to the fire exit, fitting room and employee access.  When I am in the suburbs, which is fairly frequently due to my work, I usually pop into the Target store for a look around, and I noticed that pushing the plus-size clothing to a back corner of the store seems to be the norm for all of your stores.

This makes me feel that you do not want either me, or the product you expect me to purchase, to be seen by anyone else in your store.  It means that when I once would have felt welcome and comfortable shopping in your store, I now feel like I am only catered for because you feel you have to, and that you don’t care what I, as a plus-sized woman who enjoys shopping for clothing, needs or feels when it comes to shopping in your store.

I understand the need to work the layout to fit things in to maximise your customer’s spending, but does this have to be done at the expense of one group of customers?  Could you not perhaps put shoes, or general accessories in this space, where everyone equally is affected, not just your plus-sized customers?

At the front of your stores, there is a statement that reads:

Every Australian has the right to look good and feel good about the way they dress and live.  At Target, we aim to make this achievable with stylish, fashionable clothing and homewares accessible to everyone.

Recently I wrote to you about the lack of plus-size options in your stores these days, and I feel the way that the plus-sized clothing is pushed to the back of the store in an unattractive location, and not displayed with the same styling and finesse as the straight sized clothing contradicts your statement that is clear for all to read as they enter your store.  Add to this the news that you are considering offering your Hot Options range to only a size 22, it makes me feel that as a Size 22 to 26 woman, you are not very interested in my custom in your stores.

I was actually shown the statement above by a friend of mine who I had mentioned the location of plus-size clothing to, when he snapped a picture of the sign in front of your store and sent it to me to ask if I had seen it.

I want to continue to shop at Target, your prices are very good, the service consistently polite and friendly, and your stock is usually of a good quality.  Value for money is really important to me, but so is being valued as a customer, regardless of my size or shape.

I hope that you will consider my complaint, and think about the message that you are sending to the customers you are catering to with your plus-sized clothing lines.  As the average Australian woman is a size 14, it is not a small minority of customers, but a significant portion of the Australian population.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Fat Heffalump

Of course I won’t sign it Fat Heffalump when I send it to Target!

A friend really did send me that picture of the statement outside one of their stores, if you wish to see it for yourself, click here.

I’ve actually just sent this one to Target Australia now.  If you wish to contact them yourself, here is their contacts page.  The feedback form is easy to use and they do respond.

Please feel free to use this letter to base your own on, but don’t send it exactly as I’ve written it, because businesses do disregard copied letters.

If you wish to contact other plus-size retail chains (including department/variety stores), here are a few links for you:

Autograph Fashion

City Chic

My Size


David Jones

Big W


The most important advice I can give you is to take the time and contact them.  Unless you do, they don’t know that you’re not happy with what they offer.  And unless we all do, they don’t know how many of us are unhappy with what they offer.

I am also working on a comprehensive plus-size consumer survey (not one that is loaded to answer direct questions, but gives broad feedback) and more campaigns to communicate to plus-size retail chains of the level of service and product we want.

Until then, please feel free to join the Facebook group and offer suggestions and ask questions that we can collectively answer.

And if you’ve had any success stories with contacting companies with complains, please share in the comments below!

Checking In

Published August 13, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Hi all,

Just a bit of housekeeping today, I have some posts coming up but life has been so busy, they’re waiting for me to get time to actually prep them up for you all!

A few little notes.

  • Please let’s not use the term “real women” in this space.  It’s a stupid term really, we’re all real, regardless of our body shape or size.
  • I have finally found what the problem was with my Facebook page, and by clicking the link over there on the right, you should be able to see it.  Come on over and “friend” me, I post heaps of links to interesting stuff there.
  • And for those of you who tweet, you can find me on @fatheffalump
  • If you are a woman with PCOS, please feel free to check out CystersUnited

So, let’s just have an informal chat hey?  What’s interesting to you in the world of body image, fat acceptance and self esteem at the moment.  Hit up the comments and we’ll just have a bit of a natter.

Shooing Away Seagulls (+ Facebook)

Published June 26, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Yeah I hate housekeeping too.  I need one of those magic Jetsons houses that you just press buttons or get a robot to clean.  But this is blog housekeeping.

For some reason, links to the Fat Heffalump Facebook page weren’t working for some people.  It was totally random and really frustrating.  I dug around a bit and found a wee badge that SHOULD work for everyone.  You can find it over there on the right, under the Twitter widget.  I apologise for any inconvenience to those of you who had the frustration of not being able to connect.

The other piece of housekeeping lies in the number of seagull commenters I’ve been getting lately.  You know the ones.  They swoop in, make a lot of noise and crap all over everything until you shoo them away.  The ones who have that first ever comment “I love your site but…”

I am all for discussion with the majority of you who have bothered to read more than one post on my blog, and who aren’t just looking to cause irritation or gain attention.  But from this point on, anyone who swoops in looking to debate on their first comment from this point on will be deleted right away.  If they  hang around long enough to read other posts and have some constructive things to say, then they’re welcome to stick around, but the seagulls will be shooed away.  NO CHIPS FOR SEAGULLS HERE!!  (Hey, I’m a fat lady, I’m supposed to eat all the chips myself anyway, amirite?)

Thanks to everyone for your patience while I nut out what I want to do in this space and make it all work proper.

You’re on Fat Base

Published June 15, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I’ve been thinking a little about what this space means to me.  By this space, I mean this blog and the space for you, dear readers to comment.  I was wondering if I came down hard on a commenter on this post a couple of days ago, and so I’ve taken some time out to think about it, and decide what is important to me.

The conclusion I came to, is that the most important thing to me for this blog is that it is a safe space.  A safe space for me, and a safe space for you.  I want this to be a space that you and I can come to and never, ever hear that fat is bad.  It’s not denial or delusion – the rest of the world tells us that fat is bad, so there needs to be a space where we can just take a rest from hearing that over and over and over.

Besides, I believe wholeheartedly that fat is not bad.  Ever.  It is just fat, a substance, free from any moral value.  Fat is present in every animal (after all, our brains are high in fat) and some have more and others have less.  Fat is not the worst thing that can happen to you, it’s not killing you, it’s not the cause of all your problems.  It is simply a type of cell.

When someone comes along and says, amongst fat people that fat is a Bad Thing (commenters own capitalisation), even if they’re only saying that fat is bad for themselves (which is never how it is, it’s the implication that fat is bad for some people, but not others, that comes through) then it encourages more to come along and say that fat is bad in this safe space.

When someone is vulnerable, and they hear “fat is a Bad Thing” (even if not aimed at them) in a safe space, they start to question themselves.  It’s human nature.  “If her fat is a Bad Thing, then my fat might be a Bad Thing.”  Then it leads to more self loathing, shame, fear and the whole fat acceptance message is cancelled out.  Particularly when the person saying that her fat is a Bad Thing has announced her weight and weighs far, far less than many of the others reading those comments, and has made comments about how other people hit on her.  This negates the message in anyone who weighs more than she does, as well as those who don’t have people hit on them.  It creates a hierarchy of fatness that is ok and not ok.  That’s not acceptable in this space, even if it is unintentional.

Now I know that not all of us are on the same rung of the fat acceptance ladder.  Some, such as myself, are climbing fairly steadily upwards (with the occasional stop for a breather, sometimes even dropping a few rungs!)  Some have stopped on one of the rungs and are contemplating climbing back down again.  Others are still standing at the bottom, looking at the ladder and are not sure that they want to start climbing.  I understand that and I don’t expect everyone to be level with me on this ladder.

However, there are some steps that I have taken that I have made a very conscious, informed decision that I need to have for my sanity, and to me, are the right thing to do when it comes to fat acceptance.  One of those is firmly stating that this is a safe space for fat, and not accepting any criticism of fat in this space.  Even it is criticism of someone’s own fat.

Another is to be a very firm, clear voice in this space about what is acceptable and what is not.  Sometimes that means I have to repeat myself and take an abrupt tone, but it’s an area where I feel I need to show others reading that may not have commented, but might be thinking the same things, that this is a not negotiable area and that they are safe from negativity about fat in this space.

If someone wishes to debate this topic, there are many, many, MANY other spaces they can do so.  In fact, the whole world is available for people to talk about whether or not fat is bad or can be a Bad Thing for anyone.

But this tiny little pocket of the interwebz is not that space. Remember tag/tiggy/chasey where you couldn’t tag someone who was at home or base?  This is the internet version of home/base for fat.   Nobody can tag it here.

In this space, fat is not a Bad Thing.  It is just a Thing.

Fat Heffalump Goes 2.0

Published October 21, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

Hello all,

It’s still me, still The Sleepydumpling, only I’ve set up a profile specifically for this blog. I wanted one with my little heffalump artwork there, done by the lovely Luke Bamkin, and that I could modify to reflect this site a bit more. So unless I forget to change accounts, you’ll see me posting as Fat Heffalump here from now on.
Another thing I have done is set up a Twitter account specificially for Fat Heffalump, so that I could aggregate all of my fatosphere tweeties there and focus on fattitude solely from that account. I’ll be following lots of fatosphere tweeties there, and sharing all the interesting stuff I find. If you are a tweetie yourself, you can follow me here:
Fat Heffalump on Twitter
I’m also setting up a blanket rule that I won’t be friending anyone on my Facebook unless I know them in real life, or we have a mutual real life friend. Not because I’ve got any concerns, I just want a private space for myself. We all need one!
However, I also want to meet new folks in the fatosphere, so instead I have created a Facebook page that you can “become a fan” of and join in the conversation there, and get to know new people. Plus I can block out the time wasters and trolls.
Fat Heffalump on Facebook
I will also add buttons on the sidebar later (I’m going out shortly, being on holidays is awesome!) for these sites etc.
I look forward to further interaction with you lovely folk.

Housekeeping Dahlings

Published October 16, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

Hello lovelies.

Just a quick housekeeping notice – I’ve added a wee blogroll to the right hand side there, underneath the Fat Heffalump herself. Just scroll down a bit, you’ll see it.
This is only a small slice, I will add more later, these are just the ones I’ve read today.
In fact, if you have a blog with fattitude, or you would like to recommend one, leave me a comment doing so please.
Now, back to your regularly programmed content.