inspiration

All posts in the inspiration category

Holy Crap – What a Roller Coaster!

Published April 27, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Hey!

I know, it has been awhile since I blogged last.  But this post is going to be all about what has been going on in my life since the whole Hoopla debacle and I want to clear a few things up too.

So, things have been kind of chaotic for me.  The big thing is that I’m moving house in a week’s time.  Which for me is a seriously big deal – I’ve lived in my little place here for fourteen and a half years – the longest I have lived anywhere in my life.  But I’m also moving across the city, not to mention doing almost everything on my own (but I do have a couple of awesome friends who have been really helpful – love youse!) and I’m moving because my current landlord is kicking me out, not for any negative reason, but because I no longer meet their criteria to rent one of their properties, which really sticks in my craw.  So the whole thing is really massive for me.  That said, I have a lovely new place lined up to move into that has lots of fabulous things that I don’t have here.  My own private laundry!  An east facing balcony!  A lock up garage (lots of storage for me because I don’t drive)!  Proper wardrobes, linen cupboard and kitchen pantry!  Just the storage alone is making me excited.  But best of all, I will be living by the sea.  I am moving to a bay side suburb, and my new flat is only metres from the foreshore.  I can’t wait to be able to ride my bike and walk up and down the waterfront at any time I choose.  Not to mention those gorgeous sea breezes.

Yeah, so that’s the biggest upheaval.

But as well as going through a full residential relocation, I’ve had so much else on in the past few months.

There’s the shiny new library we opened at the end of March.  I always think bringing a new library into the world is somewhat like bringing a new baby into the world.  There is a long, uncomfortable gestation, then a difficult labour and intense birth, but then you have this beautiful newborn that you love like no other and are already beginning to think you might like another one!

I also sprained my ankle a couple of weeks ago.  Walking to my bus stop, moved aside to let a cute little old couple that looks like Santa and Mrs Claus by on the footpath, hit an uneven bit of concrete and turned my ankle.  Went down like a sack of spuds, landed on my right knee and sprained  my left ankle.  I’m healing ok, was very limpy for a couple of weeks there and am stuck in a compression bandage for another two weeks yet, but I’m thankful I’m strong and in robust health so that I can heal well.

Y’all know about the Hoopla drama.  And in the thick of all of that, an interview I did back in January was published in the Sun Herald (Sydney).  I had seen the online version, but when a friend left me a message to tell me that there was a “huge” photo of me in the print version, I was kind of “Oh yeah, that’s nice.”  Then she sent me the paper copy:

That’s a library card sitting on top of the paper to give scale (same size as a credit card).  I’m about half the page!!  I sent it to my Grandma, she was tickled pink.  I like how it shows off my gold We Love Colors tights and the leopard print Chucks my friend Kylie found for me in the UK.

And then there has been more media interest… Kelli Brett from ABC Radio Melbourne’s The Main Ingredient interviewed me for her programme.  The podcast hasn’t gone up live yet but I’ll share when it does.  Plus a news editor from the Australian Women’s Weekly interviewed me a couple of weeks ago, for a piece that I think will be in the June or July edition.  More on that in a minute.

I do just want to clarify something.  There has been some suggestion from several people that The Hoopla publishing my piece some weeks ago is the reason that these media gigs have been coming my way.  I would just like to make it very clear that this is not true.  I was interviewed for the Sun Herald back in January (on Australia Day, January 26th, to be exact, and photographed in the first week or so of February) and any subsequent media contact has come from either this blog or that Sun Herald article.  One of the recent interviewers had never even heard of The Hoopla, the other wasn’t interested in it.  As much as there might be people that would like to claim that they are the reason for my “overnight success” (after over 3 years of slogging away at this stuff as a second, unpaid, full time job), it is simply not true.  The Hoopla did not “discover me”, I contacted them and asked if they would publish my writing.

Right, now that we’ve got that out of the way!  I am very lucky to get these opportunities, but that luck is coupled by my own hard work.

As well as being interviewed by the Australian Women’s Weekly, they have set up a photo shoot on Monday, which I am both nervous and excited about.  They’re going the whole kit and caboodle with a studio shoot, with fashion stylist, make-up and hair and Autograph Fashion are kindly loaning us the clothes for the shoot.  I am so excited, because what fun is it to get all dolled up!  But I am very nervous and anxious, as I’m suffering some impostor syndrome about it all.  I’ve been labelled the “ugly fat chick” my whole life, and it’s just bizarre to think that I’m doing a photo shoot with AWW, a magazine that I read my mother’s copies of as a kid.  As I said on Twitter this evening “I’m in your magazines, smashing your beauty standards!”

And the other big, exciting news for me is that I’ve found a way to wangle the finances to attend the Massey University, Palmerston North Fat Studies: Reflective Intersections Conference in New Zealand!  I am SOOOO excited, not only am I taking a holiday (two beautiful weeks) to New Zealand, but I’m going to be able to get all fab fatty at the conference.  I’ll get to see friends I made at the last conference, and hopefully make some new friends.  It’s worth putting myself into hock for!  Of course I promise to blog all about it, take lots of photos and I have also submitted an abstract for a paper I am writing.  Cross fingers it gets accepted so I can present it.

So, there you have the absolute roller coaster of chaos that my life is at the moment.  I’m knackered, a bit sore, sneezy from all my allergies stirred up by packing and cleaning, and in desperate need of a decent night’s sleep and a couple of days relaxation.  But I’m also  excited, challenged and happy.

Hope you are all in positive places in your lives too!

Inspirational Women: Not Blue At All

Published October 28, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I think it’s time to share another one of the women who have inspired me in my life.  Tonight I’m bringing you a bit of a quiet achiever.  Sarah, aka Not Blue At All was another of the early blogs that I discovered when I was first tasting fat activism.  Her bubbly manner and honesty drew me in like a magnet, and she has always got plenty of food for thought in her writing.  I’ve watched her evolve through her blog, and have seen her go through the ups and downs of life with grace and good humour.  I am sure you will find her as refreshing and delightful as I do.

Not Blue at All

Was there a defining moment for you as a person that made you decide that fat activism was for you?  What was it?

I am a hippie at heart, so the activism side of fat liberation/acceptance was a natural attraction for me. I can’t say that there was a specific moment that inspired or motivated me to identify as a fat activist. I think it was gradual. Though I will say that reading Fat Heffalump and The Rotund made me realize that just being in public while fat was so political. I now embrace this and go about my life with my head held higher and with a wider smile than before. I have locked eyes with another fatty in a mall and we were both sleeveless and we sort of just smiled and nodded at each other. That was a magical moment.

What projects or achievements are you most proud of in your fat activism?

So far I have to say that my proudest achievement is participating in Marilyn Wann’s 2011 International No Diet Day “Flesh Mob” when we fat-crashed an anti-obesity conference. I didn’t realize how radical this simple act would appear to outsiders or even to other fats. I just thought it was this very cool thing we could do to make a statement, get heard and be seen without hurting anyone. It wasn’t until later that I heard from others that it was this big scary deal. It is a bit of a blur, but it was all of two minutes. It was the last hour of the conference we crashed and the guy talking had such disgust for us (the obese) that I relished in the moment, more than I had thought I would. We danced, we chanted and we made some of those people wake up a bit. Others will still hate us, but that’s okay. It just felt good to do something as a fat group with so much fat pride. It is one of my fondest memories, for sure.

Is there a song that defines you or that you particularly identify with?  Will you share it with us?

I’m such a music lover and my taste is so varied. A song that defines me? Whew! That is a tall order…But why not Della Reese’s “Come on A My House” she’s a fatty and I love the hell out of this song. I called it my theme song for a few years. It is a song of welcome, love, offerings and nourishment. So, “come on a my house!” Ha-ha! I am always trying to get my friends together for fun and good times.

Many fat activists refer to having a “coming out as fat” moment in their lives, where they take their fab fat life to the people in their lives (friends, family, colleagues etc).  Did you have one of these?  How did it happen for you?

I don’t think I officially came out as fat or anything, but it was a big deal to me personally that for my last birthday I asked my friends to attend a Big Moves Bay Area event instead of giving me gifts. It was a fun night with fatties dancing and chocolate tasting. I wanted there to be a full on fatty dance party after, but sadly that didn’t happen.

If you could have someone make you the ultimate outfit for your body, what would it be?  Tell us that dream outfit/garment you’d love to see in plus-sizes.

I would start with gorgeous black knee-high boots. They would have chunky soles and possibly buckles or straps. I’m thinking industrial meets grunge. Then I would have these beautifully printed, quality lycra, tights in some goreous paisley or other lovely print. I’d probably just rock a dress I already have since the tights and boots are my biggest want at the moment, but I would love a more fitted/tailored dress. It’s why I love eshakti, I pay a few extra dollars and they make it to my specific measurements. And I would love a bag that I could wear cross-body style without it being a giant bag or having the strap too short.

Who has been your biggest “real life” support in your activism?

My husband. While he hasn’t participated, he’s always there for me. He listens to my bizarre ideas and rants and whatever else I’m going on and on about. He’s my best friend and my rock. He has attended a couple of fat events with me, but he’s a true introvert, so I never push. I actually love that he makes me feel supported in all that I do and gives me the space to get out and do what he’d never want to.
My BFFs are so very supportive, too. They went with me to a Big Moves event the first time I ever went strapless in public. I was somewhat horrified, but pushed myself to get the hell out of my comfort zone. I never looked back! They have been by my side and have my back no matter what.

Who has inspired you in your activism?

You Kath! And Marianne Kirby, Marilyn Wann, Amanda Levitt, Michaela Null, Lesley Kinzel, Virgie Tovar, Jeanette Miller, Jessica Gagnon and and and and… I could go on and on, believe me! I am so grateful and fortunate to have so many amazing and brilliant fat activists in my life. These women speak a truth that my heart needs to hear all of the time. They embody fat activism even when they haven’t the strength to write about it. They understand what it takes to keep this movement’s momentum going. I love them all.

Do you have any tattoos?

Oh yes. I long for a fat related one, but funds are not available now. I have a small butterfly in my right ear. Chinese Characters on my left shoulder blade. A vine with big purple flowers on my right shoulder blade. A lovely rain foresty piece around my right ankle.

What piece of advice would you like to share with all fatties out there?

Find and honor your authentic self. Let no one or thing ever define you, but you. Care for yourself and your needs.
Love with your whole self. Don’t hold back. Scare people off, who needs ‘em? Be honest above all else, but don’t be mean or rude or judgmental. Treat your body like your best friend, because it is and it will always be there for you. Trust your body, listen to it, be mindful of it and learn to nourish and care for it. We are taught from such an early age to distrust our bodies in fear and that makes me sad and angry. Support other fatties. Support other communities. Speak up. Stand up for yourself and others. Be your own advocate. Call out hate when hate is spoken or taught or heard. Above all, just be you.

I Want to Put a Ding in the Universe

Published October 7, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I have been a sad fatty for the last day and a bit.  When I first heard the news that Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs had passed away at 56 from the pancreatic cancer he has been suffering for some time, I was not surprised at all, as he has been seriously ill for some time and it was inevitable.  But I was struck by a deep sadness and sense of loss all the same.

Before I continue, I want to express how royally fed up I am with people who think it’s perfectly acceptable to shit on other people’s grief.  I think it’s disgusting behaviour.  Regardless of what you think of the deceased, a little respect to those grieving their loss never hurt anyone.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s only a couple of short steps away from rejoicing over that person’s death.  Everyone deserves the right to grieve for whomever they grieve for, without being shamed or ridiculed for it.  After all, isn’t that what the Westboro scum do?  Picket people’s funerals, interrupting the grievers?  I don’t care what kind of despot someone was – it is a really low thing to start shitting on people’s grief.  I think Lesley Kinzel said it best in this tweet

“Life rule: if people are sad, don’t shit on their sadness, even if you think the reason they are sad is stupid. Doing so makes you a jerk.”

So before anyone wastes my time by commenting on how much they hate the dirty millionaire capitalist who ruined the world, I want to talk about why the loss of Steve Jobs in the world means so much to me.

Many of you know my love of shiny gadgets.  Especially sleek, glossy, minimalist shiny gadgets with coloured screens and embedded cameras that you can carry all your music around on that have a white apple symbol on them.  But that’s not the reason I am mourning Steve Jobs.  Shiny Apple gadgets are pretty, but they’re not what inspires me at the core.  Oh of course I feel they connect me to the source of the inspiration sometimes, but really, they’re just the icing on the cake.

Steve Jobs was an inspiration to me because he believed that because we only have one life to live, and it’s not a very long life really, we have to spend that life being as authentic to ourselves as we possibly can.  Making the best of what we have in our lives as we can and wring as much out of them as possible.

For the first 30+  years of my life, I didn’t really do that.  Because I believed my life was worthless.  That I had nothing to give anyone, and no place in the world.  I believed that I just had to muddle through and stay out of everyone’s way, and quite often I believed that it would be best if I could just cease to be, because I had nothing to contribute to the world and nobody wanted me here.

Then things started to happen in my life, all about the same time.  I found a great doctor who treated me with respect, and started to look for ways to get me out of the deep pit of depression and rock bottom self esteem I was in.  I travelled overseas for the first time, and found so many warm, giving, fabulous people in America and Canada who just accepted me as I was and wanted to spend time with me.  I got through an icky relationship situation and removed my ex from my life.  And I heard about Fat Acceptance.

Somewhere along the way, I encountered this quote:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”

And it sunk right into my brain and my heart.  There is something so simple, so clear about this quote that just sat me on my arse and made me think about what I was doing with my life.  It was a really pivotal moment for me.  I later discovered that was a quote from the commencement speech he gave at Stanford in 2005.  The piece is full of wisdom and honesty, and it told me far more about the man than all of the biographical articles I had read before.

I began to take more interest in Steve Jobs as a man, not just as the figurehead for a really cool brand.  I started to listen to the things he had to say, and think about his life and his choices and how he saw the world.  Oh I understand that along with his innovation and insight he’s had some pretty serious luck.  But could also see the hard work and the willingness to stick his neck out and try something new when others were so determined to take the safe route.  That’s what I admire about him, and that’s what inspired me to change my life, to take up the things that are important to me, to try new things and speak my mind.  To realise my value in the world, and hopefully, help other people to realise theirs.

The more I read and learned of Steve Jobs, the more inspiration I got from his words.  The more lightbulbs I got from his wisdom.

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.”

Steve also spoke of being different, which as a fat person who refuses to buy into the cultural normative of fat shame, meant a lot to me.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

But my favourite quote ever from Steve, was the simplest one, and the one I’ve chosen to title this post with:

“I want to put a ding in the universe.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to put a ding in the universe too.  I believe that if each and every one of us thinks about what we do, how we impact the world and how we spend our lives, we can each put our own ding in the universe, and collectively shape it to a better place.  It’s my entire reason for doing everything I do  – to contribute to making this world a better place.

There is a reason that everyone is talking about the passing of Steve Jobs.  Not because he made shiny gadgets that people spend a lot of money on, but because he put a great big ding in our universe.  He believed in himself, and believed in those who stand up to make a difference, even if it breaks the rules everyone else seems to think we should stick to.  He will be missed, not because of that apple logo that became synonymous with him as a person, but because he understood that people who step out of the norm are the ones who will change the world.

He pushed this misfit, troublemaker, VERY round peg forward in her life.  And I feel the loss of his wisdom, innovation and inspiration deeply.

Vale Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011.