Marilyn Wann

All posts in the Marilyn Wann category

I Stand…

Published January 23, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

I’m sure you’ve all seen those horrible fat-shaming ads from Georgia, USA advocating the bullying of fat kids.  If you haven’t, have a look on Heather’s post at Fat Girl Posing (because I’ll be damned if I’m giving that campaign any link love).  It’s disgusting that anyone thinks that this kind of public shaming and bullying is acceptable.

How this campaign could possibly be called “Strong 4 Life” – I have no idea.  Since when did shaming and bullying people make them strong?  I know what it will do for life for these kids – because I was a fat kid too.  It will be SHAME for life.  Low self worth for life.  Bullying for life.  Avoiding medical care for life.  Hating yourself for life.  It will not be strong, happy, healthy, empowered for life if we allow this to continue.

Well I’m happy to say that we’re not just letting this one slide.  A whole lot of fat activists have taken up the sword and are fighting this one in a whole lot of ways.  There is a website, called Stand 4 Kids, which is directly in response to the campaign, and is aggregating a lot of information on the campaign and ways to combat the shaming and bullying.  There is a petition on change.org that you can sign to demand the end to weight stigma and the cessation of this campaign.  There is a facebook group you can request to join, to get information and share news on how to combat this horrible campaign.

But my favourite so far is the series of response posters Marilyn Wann is making that mimic the repulsive fat loathing propaganda from Strong 4 Life, but share a whole different message – one of positivity, respect, strong self esteem, dignity and kindness.  Here is Marilyn’s:

How fabulous is that?  There are a whole bunch of them, from fat activists of all shapes, sizes and walks of life.  Many of them you’ll find on Marilyn’s Tumblr.

Another favourite of mine is this one from Linda Bacon, author of Health at Every Size (which is currently on sale for $1.79 in Kindle version on Amazon – works on Kindle, and the Kindle app on iOS and Android):

Seriously – how awesome are these?  What fantastic messages to send out to ALL people about their bodies and optimising their health.

Well, you know, I couldn’t let this fantastic campaign go by without contributing myself.  So I sent Marilyn a photo and a statement, and she made one for me!

I’m totally chuffed with it.  I really wanted something joyous and happy – since those images from Strong 4 Life are so miserable and shamed.  I want people to find joy in their lives and joy in their bodies.

So, will you all stand with us?  Will you join us in standing against fat stigma and body shaming, especially for kids?  No matter how you choose to participate, every action helps and is welcome.

We can and ARE making a difference.

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All I Want For Christmas…

Published November 29, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I’ve been working on a massive audit in my day job that is frying my brain (all those numbers!!) so let’s have a little fun tonight and look at some fabulous and fat friendly things that we might like for Christmas.  Who knows, we might get some gift ideas for other fab fatties in our lives too.

Let’s start with something that I’ve already ordered for myself, but I think EVERY fab fatty needs one of these in preparation for the new year.

Yes, it’s Marilyn Wann’s 2012 Fat!So? Dayplanner!

It’s a mere $14 (plus shipping) and all proceeds will go to building the Weight Diversity Action Lounge, a community center for fun, food, fitness, and fabulousness somewhere in Oakland, California.  I mean… it’s Marilyn Wann!  Plus it’s chock full of other contributors, inspiration, tips and art… including yours truly!

How about this adorable Lovedrobe Teal Heart Print Dress from Evans?

I love anything in chocolatey browns with teal, and a heart motif is one of my favourites.

Then there’s this pretty butterfly print top also from Evans.

And this GORGEOUS floral top, again from Evans.

How about a fat positive colouring book?  I want at least three copies of Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace: a body-positive coloring book!

How awesome is that?  Colouring in fat ladies.  IN SPACE!

Then of course, what fab fatty wouldn’t want a copy of Hanne Blank‘s “Big Big Love”?

(Can you guess that my Amazon wish list is pretty long?)

How about Substantia Jones’ 2012 Adipositivity Calendar?

The Adipositivity Project has been pivotal in my journey to fat positivity and strong self esteem.

More clothes!  I long for beautiful dresses from eShakti, these are my favourites (click on the images to go to the page on eShakti):

The Artist's Wife Dress

Singing In The Rain Dress

Dzilla Brass Rings Dress

The Birds Who Gossip Dress

Aren’t they all gorgeous??  I would LIVE in dresses like these if I could.

How about some amazing shoes?  I dream of Fluevog shoes.  They are the absolute pinnacle of shoe heaven for me, and they’re very fat friendly, with their wider fittings and excellent craftsmanship.  How about this selection (again, click the images to go to the website):

Splendid in Stripes

Caspian in Black and Off-White

Zaza in Red, Pink and Grey

I think we need to wind up with some accessories.  Let me see:

How about an ice-cream charm, from Georgina at Cupcake’s Clothes, and her cute label DollyMixx:

I love the radical defiance of wearing food accessories as a fat woman.  Fat women are policed about food all the time, so let’s chant Fuck Tha Police by wearing food as accessories!

What about a cupcake ring?  This one is from Etsy store Dolly-Tastic:

And while we’re on Dolly-Tastic, I absolutely adore this Hello Kitty charm bracelet:

Another one of my favourite sources for accessories is Sick for Cute (who have a plus-size range too), and I think I really, really need these whale socks:

Whale socks on a fat woman!  I love it!

And finally, I just spotted this bag and completely fell in love.

How’s that for a Christmas List?  Of course, there are loads of other wonderful goodies out there that would also be a delight to find under my Christmas tree, but these are some of the things I’m drooling over currently.

What about you?  What fat-friendly goodies would you love to find in your Christmas stocking?  Dream big in the comments Heffalumpies!

Inspirational Women: Marilyn Wann

Published November 6, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

What do I say about Marilyn Wann?  I mean really, how can I introduce the most inspirational of the inspirational women in my life?  When I first encountered Marilyn’s writing online, something in me just shifted.  It’s a cliche, but a light really did go on inside me.  Of course I rushed out and bought her book, Fat! So? and devoured it in a sitting, and that light just got brighter and brighter.  I realised there was another path for me in my life, and that I was going to forge that path myself, rather than let a world that thinks less of me because of my fat body push me along a road that it thought I should be travelling.  That’s an amazing thing to be inspired into by one woman.

Then of course I connected with Marilyn online, and discovered that as well as being incredibly inspirational, she is also a lovely person with a wicked sense of humour and a generous heart.  On more than one occasion I have asked Marilyn for advice and she has always been generous, open and very kind with her time and advice.  I have found every encounter with Marilyn has been a positive one for me.

But what I think inspires me most about Marilyn is that she is unapologetically herself.  Her authenticity and genuineness shine through and inspire me to find that kind of authenticity in myself.

So without further ado, here is my interview with the one and only, Marilyn Wann.

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

I came across the book “Shadow on a Tightrope: Writings by Women on Fat Oppression,” at a book fair in my early 20s. It was a blast of consciousness, for me—seeing all the painful experiences and social exclusion and weight judgments as part of a larger system of prejudice, and not something that was wrong with me or my embodiment. But I would call myself an armchair size accepter, until a year or so later, I had what I call my Really Bad Day. Two things happened, a double whammy. First, I was having dinner with this guy I liked and he told me that he was embarrassed to introduce me to some of his friends because I was fat. That hurt. I was also outraged. I came home, opened the mail, and a letter from Blue Cross told me they wouldn’t sell me health insurance because of my “morbid obesity.” That was the defining moment. It has been wonderful ever since, because even if I encounter rather intense and ugly hatred or discrimination, I no longer agree to go along with it or believe it. By disagreeing with fat hate, I keep a healthy boundary inside which I can live without fear. Of course, I still carry plenty of that old, fat-negative training around with me, but I don’t blame myself for that. I just try to notice it and divest from it, while also embracing diverse ideas about human value, beauty, sexiness, health, etc.

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

I’m proud of being able to confront prejudice pretty much full time and for nearly two decades now and enduring, even thriving in the process. I’m proud of my role in passage of San Francisco’s height/weight anti-discrimination ordinance. I worked with an amazing team and a fabulous community. Carole Cullum and Jo Kuney used their political experience to lobby groups and legislators. Frances White brought NAAFA’s presence as a civil rights organization. Sondra Solovay was brilliant in working with the city attorney to craft the guidelines for implementation of the ordinance, which set a standard. My piece was putting together an extensive packet of information for legislators with data that debunked common weight stereotypes, proved the widespread occurrence of height/weight discrimination, and included stories I gathered from people about being excluded from employment, education, housing, and public accommodations because of height/weight. I also found people who could come and tell powerful stories and expert testimony at two hearings (before the city’s Human Rights Commission and then before a committee of our legislators). The whole opportunity also came along because I organized a street protest outside a health club that had a hateful billboard. (It showed a space alien and said, “When they come, they’ll eat the fat ones first.” Our protest said, “Eat me!”) It’s an amazing feeling to feel oneself to be a social outcast, to go for years not expecting any welcome or help from people, and then to be in a community and be able to ask people for help and get such eager support. And then for legislators to agree and put into law that yes, fat people belong in society and are welcome and anyone who treats us badly deserves censure. For that, I’m not so much proud as grateful.

I’m also proud of how the FAT!SO? ‘zine and book and Yay! Scales and now, the new 2012 FAT!SO? Dayplanner, all use a kind of joy and sense of humor to combat fat oppression. Aside from all the data and the identity politics (which are both super important!), I think people respond to the example of an unoppressed response to oppression. Kinda like the movie hero who faces terrible odds with a sassy quip and then pulls off an improbable victory. Occasionally, I hear from readers who say that FAT!SO? has made it possible for them to stop feeling bad about themselves and just enjoy life with less worry. That feels wonderful for me. It keeps me going as an activist, a fat rebel. I also hope to convey that anyone can give this boost of consciousness and liberation to other people, and then feel wonderful to know you’ve helped someone free themselves of an unnecessary and harmful burden. You don’t have to be a full-time activist. Just in conversation or by your example, you could share that powerful concept with other people of all sizes. I hope they’ll let you know the awesome effect you’ve had!

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

Oh, dear. There’s not one song that’s my anthem. I’ve appreciated so many over the years. I love Candye Kane’s songwriting and singing on fat pride. Minna Bromberg has a wonderful song called the Bathing Suit Song. An old cd by Toshi Reagon has gotten me through some dark times. Tracy Chapman’s song, “All That You Have Is Your Soul” is wonderful. Also Ani DiFranco’s song, “Face Up and Sing,” especially the verse that goes like this:

some chick says
thank you for saying all the things I never do
I say
the thanks I get is to take all the shit for you
it’s nice that you listen
it’d be nicer if you joined in
as long as you play their game girl
you’re never going to win

Which is more bitter than I feel, 98% of the time. But I also just appreciate the appeal she makes in the whole song and it’s great to wail along with it.

When Heather MacAllister (aka Reva Lucian, founder of Big Burlesque & The Fat-Bottom Revue) and I did a pirate radio show called Fat-A-Tat-Tat—Soundtrack for the Fat Revolution, we played so much satisfying music that either had a fat-positive message or that was created by fat musicians (or both). I should not that Heather and I always had a playful disagreement about the name of the show. I said “the” revolution and she said “a” revolution, because she argued the revolution isn’t here yet. We got kicked off the air by the uptight guy who ran the pirate radio station (ironic, huh?) because he couldn’t stand C+C Music Factory. What he didn’t realize was that we occasionally played Martha Wash singing “Everybody Dance Now” specifically because she was excluded from the music video for that song and a thin woman was used instead, pretending to sing her part. Heather loved to play Candye Kane, Nomy Lamm, Nedra Johnson, Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys.

And of course! Now that I’ve gone on about all sorts of music I love, the obvious answer to your question comes to me: the song “Fat Girl,” by Max Airborne. Her band Creamy Goodness has recorded it. I believe she wrote this song before she and her friends decided to start the FaT GiRL ‘zine, perhaps a bit inspired by it. So it’s great that you ask about music, because it can make all sorts of great stuff happen!

Also, last spring, I worked with Alan Garber, the brother of my good friend Linda Garber. Alan’s a rocker from way back. I wanted a funky dance song that I could play for people to dance to for an action I planned. Alan took my ideas and created an awesome tune. Instead of the children’s song, “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” we did a syncopated, grownup, body-poz version called, “Chins, Bellies, Hips…and Ass.” It worked, too! Seventeen people joined me at an “obesity” conference for the keynote talk by Xavier Pi-Sunyer. (He’s the guy behind BMI standards being lowered, back in the late 90s. A major wanker.) This conference was happening in San Francisco (a home to fat pride community!) on the only major fat pride holiday (International No Diet Day)!!! I couldn’t let that offense pass. Our group of rad fatties of all sizes (including wee children) interrupted the speech: I blew a loud whistle, turned on the boombox, and we all boogied our way to the front of the hall. The speaker didn’t know what to do. He tried to keep talking, stopped, started again, stopped again. People in attendance thought we were some kind of hired entertainment, then took our handouts. Some of them refused to make eye contact or gave us mean stares. Others were clapping along. We left when the event organizer started to wave her finger at us. She kept telling us, as we danced out of the room with the music still playing, “You should be ashamed. You don’t have permission. You can’t just walk into a room if you don’t belong.” Yup, she cares about fat people.

(Note: Marilyn sent me this awesome song “Hips & Ass” but WordPress won’t let me upload the MP3 file – I’ll try to add it or a link to it later when I can.)

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?

Yes. I came out as a proud and unapologetic fat person the day after my Really Bad Day. I also started the FAT!SO? ‘zine that day. Coming out felt really awkward the first few hundred times I did it. I imagined people would laugh at me or think I’m wrong or socially shun me. That almost never happens. People who do have a bad reaction are the people I wouldn’t really want to know anyway, so it’s not so much a shock or a surprise or painful as it is information I’d rather know than not know. The vast majority of the time, people react with relief and interest because they too have felt judged and excluded and unworthy because of their weight. And this is true for people of all sizes. By coming out, we can all expand the liveable space for all of us, not just for ourselves. If we aren’t able to feel at home in their own bodies, where are we supposed to go?

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 sew, so I have made some of my own dream outfits. My mother and I sewed a fuchsia satin wedding gown with marabou trim that I wore for the book party when FAT!SO? came out. It was sleeveless (of course!), had a low U-neck, fitted bodice, flaring skirt, and both a petticoat and an optional fuchsia lace overskirt. I wore it with satin fuchsia evening gloves and a plastic tiara with a big-ass fuchsia veil made from cheap tulle.

When I attended my first NAAFA convention, I knew the pool party was a big deal the first night. I wanted a bathing suit that would express my politics. This was back in 1995. There weren’t any vendors making thong bikinis for fatties. (Hurray for Janelle at Love Your Peaches, for creating this important resource not long after.) I didn’t have the kind of sewing machine that can sew on stretch fabric back then, so I hired fat activist April Miller to make me a scuba-inspired thong bikini. It was black with fuchsia piping. The crop top came to just under my boobs, had teensy cap sleeves, and zipped up to a little band collar. Under the crop top, I wore a black fishnet halter top that April also made, so if I wanted to lower the zipper, my cleavage was extra interesting. She also made me an optional non-thong bikini bottom. I was so sad when the spandex finally aged out on that suit. I can’t bring myself to let go of it. I wore it to the NAAFA pool party. One fat woman (who, I think, expected her string bikini to be the smallest suit in the water) made a catty comment meant for me to overhear. I had to laugh. I wasn’t there to steal attention from her. I was there in a thong bikini to publicly claim my fat ass. Also, I think that what people are allowed to wear in a society says a great deal about who people are allowed to be in that society. If fat people aren’t allowed to wear power suit or thong bikinis or protective safety gear because they’re not made in our size, that limits who we can be and what we can do in life.

I don’t know what outfit I still crave. Perhaps a really good tutu. Or some Astro-Turf chaps with the occasional plastic daisy. Or a bra that is totally comfortable and lets me have two separate boobs, not the bridge/shelf effect. And sadly, no, underwires no longer work for me—they’re just not contoured for my shape, so they torque painfully. (I’m planning to concoct this engineering wonder myself when I find time.)

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

Oh, wow. So many people, at different times. My secret resource (I won’t say weapon, because that’s needlessly violent) is an old friend from college. We get together every Thursday for scotch and backgammon and conversation. Geoffrey was involved with Queer Nation in the early 90s and has radical politics. When I need to gripe about some vexation (a fat oppression thing or a community/interpersonal thing or a how-do-I-make-this-happen thing), he listens generously and often comes up with brilliant strategy.

Who has inspired you in your activism?

I am inspired by Lynn McAfee, for the sly way she does her activism and for her endurance all these decades. I have also been inspired in my political analysis by local fat/queer community.

Do you have any tattoos? (If you would like to share a photo/s, please do!)

I don’t have any tattoos. I have sometime joked about getting a highly realistic tattoo of a freckle. Then I could point out my tattoo and people would say, “That’s not a tattoo, that’s a freckle!” But I would know it’s real. Or really a fake. Kinda an Umberto Eco thing. But I admit that’s more of a joke than a genuine intention. I’ve been delighted to hear from people who have gotten tattoos inspired by some of the art in the FAT!SO? book. I think that rocks!

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

Oh, there’s so much to say. Mainly, I want people to remember that fat hate wasn’t always a big part of human societies. It may seem right now like that’s “just the way things are,” but it won’t always be so. In part, I think human beings outgrow stupidity over time. I also believe it’s necessary to reject and resist and unlearn fat hate—and have fun doing it!

Check out Marilyn’s website FatSo.com for upcoming news on her Fat!So? Dayplanner and other projects.

Mini Review: Fat! So? by Marilyn Wann

Published January 24, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

So on my “un-post” the other day when I was feeling quite uninspired, I asked you what kind of subjects and posts you’d like to see.  I got some good suggestions (and if you have some more, please feel free to leave them) and I’ll start to have a go at some of them soon.

I thought that since Paponda suggested Marilyn Wann’s “Fat!  So?” to a new visitor to my blog, and I’ve not long finished reading it, I might give a bit of a mini review so that those of you who have yet to read it might feel inspired to do so.

I actually had a bit of trouble getting a copy of the book, because it’s a few years old now and my library service deemed it too old to add to the collection, and I couldn’t find it locally.  So I turned to The Book Depository and ordered a copy from there.

It’s taken me longer than it would normally take to read a book, mostly because life has been so chock full over the past few months, but I managed to finish it a few days ago and closed the book very happy that I’d read it.  I love the friendly, matter-of-fact tone, the anecdotes from fatties of all kinds, the little illustrations peppered throughout the book (I’ve picked one that I’d like to get tattooed on me one day in the future), and the poetry that pops up from time to time.

There is a lot of practical advice, from how to deal with medical professionals, family and strangers on the street, to how to find clothes and to rock them with confidence, how to face the dating world as a flabulous fatty, and how to negotiate your way through situations that generally just crop up for we fats that non-fats don’t really have to deal with.

One of my favourite things about the book is that at the bottom of each page there is a little tidbit of advice for the reader on a whole myriad of subjects relating to fat.  Plus in the top, right hand corner, there is one of those little flick cartoons of a very cute fat lady (the same as on the cover) dancing.

Plus the whole book is served up with a delicious sense of humour and fun, that makes it a breeze to read.

Fat! So?

New Year’s Revolution

Published December 31, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen the New Year’s Revolution campaign started by Marilyn Wann and Amanda A Evans.  The idea is to put an end to the ridiculousness of setting New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, or diet, or any other body loathing goal.  If you’d like to learn more, you can have a look at the campaign page set up here.

Most of the campaign has a Health at Every Size foundation, but since I don’t believe HAES (or even health) is compulsory when it comes to fat/body acceptance, I’m going to skip that bit.

I am however going to talk about fat acceptance and body acceptance as a New Year’s revolution.  I like the idea of “revolution” instead of “resolution” because, well, let’s face it, actively working towards NOT hating your body is radical, revolutionary.  When the mainstream media is flooded with ZOMGOBESITY CRISIS stories, magazines and other popular media tell us in one breath how to love our bodies, then how to diet them away, and then look at these yummy desserts you can make, stepping out of that flooding stream of body negativity is a radical act.

We are taught that loathing your body, no matter it’s size, is normal.  From being too fat, too thin, too short, the wrong shape, too wrinkly, going grey, having visible pores (let alone actual “blemishes” like freckles, scars, zits, moles, and all the other completely normal things that human bodies have), being too hairy, not having lush, flowing locks on our heads, having curly hair, having straight hair, having big breasts, having small breasts, from being apple, or pear, or whatever other fruit they can think of shaped bodies, you name it, you’ll find a magazine article, or a news story, or a television advert about it being “wrong”.  We’re bombarded with these messages from as early as we can hear and see.  We hear them from our parents, our colleagues, our friends, everyone in our life.  We are told what clothes to wear to be “flattering”, what shoes will elongate our legs, what makeup will hide our “flaws”, what diet will get us “bikini ready”.  Fitness, and increasingly more loudly, the moralising of “health” (to be exact: thinness) is the message that is hammered home over and over again.

Is it any wonder that when a new year rolls around, and the cultural meme of setting resolutions for the coming year kicks in, so many of us just default to body loathing to spur us on to our goals?

What if you were to just not do that this year?  What if you were to not set any goals, or if you feel you need to, set a positive one?  Or one not even related to your body?  What do you think would happen?  Do you think that your life would suddenly get worse if you didn’t diet or if you just stopped engaging in body hating activities?  Would you die?  Would anyone go to jail?  Would the zombie apocalypse happen?

I’m totally ready for the zombie apocalypse if it does happen, by the way.  No really, I’ve got it covered.

I know what would happen.  You’d not have to worry about the disappointment of failing another diet.  You’d not have to beat yourself up about breaking another resolution.

You know what else might happen?  You might actually feel good about yourself.  You might have more time to spend on living life, because you’re not fussing over diets or having to get to the gym when you hate it.  You might actually look in the mirror one day, and not feel bad.

I can tell you what has happened to me since I stopped buying into body shame and loathing.  Now, just like Pantene, it didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen.  Let’s see:

  • I’m a heck of a lot happier than I was when I bought into all of that diet and body shame and loathing.
  • I can look in the mirror and not feel worthless, ugly, repulsive.
  • I can go shopping without it being a major exercise in self loathing.
  • I save a whole lot of money that I used to spend on diet pills, meal replacements, diet magazines, “fitness” gadgets, and a bajillion other expensive things designed to fail at losing weight and getting fitter so that I would just spend more money on them.
  • I get dressed in the morning and feel good about how I look, and if someone doesn’t like how I look, then tough shit to them!  I still feel good about how I look.
  • More people compliment me than ever.  Now that my shoulders are back and my head is held high, people feel they can approach me, they smile at me and I smile back.
  • I just smile more often than I used to.
  • When someone makes a rude comment, or is downright nasty, I now realise that’s their shit, not mine.
  • When the black dog of depression does bite my butt, and I find myself either depressed or anxious, I am better equipped to work it through than I was when I was full of body loathing and self hatred.  It still happens, but it is usually shorter and less severe.
  • I’m better company when socialising around food.  No more agonising, no more causing a fuss because “there’s nothing I can eat” (because I was eating nothing and hated being around food), no more self loathing and guilt trips for actually letting any food pass my lips.
  • The range of clothing I will now wear is far greater than it ever was.  All those things I told myself I was too fat to wear… just get in my wardrobe already!
  • I have so much more confidence with dating.  I hold my head up, look a dude in the eye and smile.
  • I save a shitload by not buying magazines.
  • I only watch TV without any ads… I can watch twice as much in the same time.
  • When I have conversations with people, it’s about INTERESTING stuff.  Not diets and how fat I am and blah blah blah.

And there are no doubt dozens of other benefits that have come my way since I got off the body loathing roller coaster.

Look, I can’t promise you that all of this is going to happen to you.  I can’t promise you that any of it is going to happen to you.  But don’t you think it’s worth a try?  Don’t you think that if you get just ONE benefit from giving up on all of the self loathing and actually being kind to your body, and therefore yourself, the experiment is worth it?

Would you give it a try?  Just for 2011.  Come on, the water’s fine.  Jump on in.  We’ll look after you.

Your Emotions are YOURS

Published October 30, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

My friend and Cyster Jenn reposted something I said on Facebook as her status update last night, and while of course I was very honoured, I took the statement I had made away for awhile and have been rolling it around in my mind, thinking about what it means to me and how best to expand upon it.  I guess the best way to start is by sharing it here:

It’s not about allowing people to hurt you, it’s about your right as a human being to be treated with basic respect, dignity and fairness. We need to stop blaming the victim with the attitude of “they only hurt you because you allow them to” and put the onus back on to the perpetrator.

What I keep hearing, over and over, as a response to anyone who complains or calls out bigoted behaviour towards fat people are statements like:

“Don’t take it so personally.”
“They only hurt you if you allow them to.”
“Why are you always so angry?”
“Don’t let it get to you.”
“Just laugh at them.”
“Just let it go.  Get over it.”

And many other similar pieces of “advice”.

I really need to express my objection to this kind of attitude.  People who are harmed by others, be it physically or emotionally, have every right to be angry, hurt, dismayed, feel violated and any other way they happen to feel about the harm that has been laid at their feet.  They also have the right to expect that the perpetrator has to be the one to take responsibility for their behaviour, not them as the victims.

For too long, we’ve been practicing the old “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” attitude.  The truth is, words DO hurt people, and it is NOT acceptable to just say whatever one likes about others without taking the responsibility of the results of making those statements.

I also saw people responding with things like “Well it depends on the case…” suggesting that there are some kind of rankings for violation/abuse.  We need to let go of that attitude that there is some kind of gradient that means we should shut up for some things and speak up for others.  Yes, abuse is varying in it’s degrees, but that doesn’t mean we should just let the small stuff go.  Because what happens?  The big stuff gets bigger and more and more gets swept under the carpet.  Instead, put it back on the heads of the perpetrator.  The responsibility is with them and the level of repercussion is theirs to bear, not ours.  Violation is violation and there have to be repercussions for all of it, not just the worst end of the spectrum.

Yes, pick your battles, but that doesn’t mean you have to hide that you are hurt by the violation if it isn’t as violent as another violation.

You don’t have to pretend that their words don’t hurt.  When people tell you to just get over it or to not allow others words to hurt you, what they are doing is minimising your feelings, effectively telling you to be quiet and not complain.  They’re also minimising the responsibility of the person who has hurt you.

You can be angry. I’m not saying that you should be letting anger consume you, or other people’s behaviour from stopping you living your life to how YOU want to live it, but you have every right to feel anger and hurt and to express that.  As Marianne Kirby says in her recent post:

How dare people try to stifle our hard-won anger? Especially when we have every right to BE angry in the first place. You DO have every right to be angry. It is not wrong for you to feel that way. It’s important to find constructive ways of dealing with that anger but the anger itself is not usually the problem, okay? You are right to be angry at the people who want to abuse fatties.

She’s right on the nail.  With anger, I can fuel a whole lot of things.  That doesn’t mean that the anger controls me in any way, quite the opposite.  Anger is not the problem, the abuse is the problem.  Make the abuse go away, and off the anger goes with it.

In reference to the Marie Claire debacle of this week, the amazing Marilyn Wann tweeted yesterday:

Marie Claire says: “The opinion was that of a blogger, not the magazine. She posted an apology…We consider this matter closed.” Nuh-UH!

The prejudice-monger (Marie Claire) doesn’t decide when we’re prejudice-free. The prejudice isn’t gone until the FAT LADY says it’s gone!

Oh how I love how Marilyn can get right to the nitty gritty and say it so succinctly.  The perpetrator doesn’t get to choose how people react to their behaviour.  They also don’t get to choose when they’ve fully taken responsibility for that.  The person/people they have wronged do.

Don’t let anyone diminish how you feel.  Don’t let anyone tell you to just “get over it”.  How dare they?  Are they the ones harmed by the behaviour?  Even if they are, they choose how THEY react to it, and how they feel about it, not how anyone else does.  Your emotions are YOURS, and nobody has any right to minimise them.

*BTW: Do read Marianne’s post, it’s good advice on keeping yourself emotionally healthy and strong in the face of fat hate.

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!!