perfectionism

All posts in the perfectionism category

Valuable

Published September 5, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

It has happened again, I’ve been inspired to blog by another fabulous Fat Acceptance writer.  There are some amazing writers out there, and they just get me thinking and writing so effectively.

In particular, this post by the lovely Jessica of Tangled Up In Lace, who as well as providing a great blog, has one of the most fabulous Tumblr’s in existence.  I reblog more of her stuff on Tumblr than anyone else.

Anyway, back to the post of Jessica’s that has inspired this post.  Jessica shares an experience in her post of being duped into attending an event by being given sketchy and misleading information.  She and her friend turned up to what they were led to believe was a fat positive pinup modelling shoot, but turned out to be an event to promote a porn website and BBW (big, beautiful woman) nightclub.  She goes on to give her thoughts about fat admiration and the BBW concept, which then segues into thoughts on feederism.

I get quite angry when I find people using Fat Acceptance and Fat Admiration/BBW as interchangeable concepts.  Please understand, I don’t have any issues with fat admiration, or the BBW culture per se, but I don’t believe it is right to equate the two as being Fat Acceptance.

To me, Fat Acceptance is a social justice movement.  It’s about ending prejudice and bigotry, about pride, respect, dignity and inclusion.  To have that broken down to a mere vehicle for sexual attraction diminishes the importance of what FA activists and advocates are doing to a mere “Hey I’m hot too.”  Yes, fat admiration and the BBW culture is often a very effective way to raise ones self esteem, and strong self esteem is at the very core of FA, but to break it down to merely promoting fat being sexy undermines the power of being included and respected in society as the fat people we are.

It’s great to feel beautiful and sexy.  But to have that as the primary identifier of who you are, and to be considered attractive and sexy just for your fatness and not because of anything else about you removes any depth or complexity to you as a person.

In my mind, to reduce a person to mere fatness for sexual pleasure is no different to reducing a person to mere fatness with the aim of curing or eradicating obesity.  It makes fat people “other” than the human beings that they are.

And yet, I would say a significant portion of the visitors to Fat Acceptance blogs are fat admirers/BBW fans.  How do I know this?  Let’s start with the most prominent search terms used to navigate into this blog alone.  They’re all about fat body parts, and most of them are about “hot/sexy” fat body parts.  Again, it’s lovely to be admired, but it’s incredibly frustrating to be seen as just a bunch of fat body parts sought out for sexual gratification.

I also see it in a less sexual form, where fat women are celebrated for being gorgeous and glamorous by other women, and attention being paid merely to how they look, without any consequence to the rest of them.  Their intellect, their humour, their kindness, their outspokenness, their passion, their eloquence and so on.  The very focus is on how the fat women look, rather than who they actually are.

It isn’t helped that when we finally get a voice in mainstream media, that very mainstream media focuses on how we look as opposed to what we think, what we need and want, and who we really are.

Not only does this diminish those beautiful, glamorous, gorgeous women to their external appearance, but it sends the message that women are only valuable for their looks, and that those who are not considered beautiful, or glamorous, or gorgeous have less worth, that they don’t have a place in Fat Acceptance and society in general.

All of us are worth far more than that.  Fat Acceptance is worth far more than that.

Jiggle Away, Baby!

Published June 21, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Four times over the past two working days, my outfits (that of Friday and today, Monday), have been described as “flattering”.  I know it was meant as a compliment, but each time someone said, it made me cringe.  Because what that really means is, that I look less fat in them than I do other outfits.  Both days I happened to wear mostly black, which we all know tricks the eye out of noticing changes in surface shape, because it’s a solid, dark colour.  I didn’t wear them to be flattering, I wore them because I had accessories in great bold colours that I wanted to show off, and because I love the individual pieces of clothing.

I read this post the other day about minimising body jiggle, and it really bugged me.  Why should fat women hide that our bodies jiggle and move?  Why should we hide the bumps and lumps and curves and rolls that make up our bodies?  Because they offend other people’s eyes?  Tough shit I say!

This is the thing.  A person’s body is their body.  They should never have to hide it or be ashamed of it, make it look less or more than it actually is, change it to please others, strap it in, smooth it down, camouflage it, restrain it, modify it.  Unless they want to for themselves and nobody else.

Every single human body shape and size is beautiful in some way.  The human body is an incredible thing to behold, and I believe that we don’t honour it in the way that we should.  We batter our bodies, trying to get them to submit.  We starve them, ignore them, over-work them, under-relax them, you name it.  All because we want them to be something other than what they are.

I think we should let our bodies jiggle, if they have jiggles.  We should celebrate their shape, no matter what shape they are.  We should show them love and compassion.  And more than anything, we should be kind to our bodies.  We need them to propel us through life.

Wear your lumpy bits, your jiggly bits, your rolly bits, your bumpy bits with pride.  Each bump, lump, jiggle, and roll is part of who you are and worthy of your love.

I wish I could find a clip from The Simpsons I love, where  Homer Simpson is mowing the lawn on a ride-on mower, wearing tiny, tiny shorts, with a sign that says “Jiggling for Justice”.  I love that bit.  Instead I found this one that says it all pretty well:

Fat and Happy

Real Women/Fake Women

Published May 1, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I want to share a photograph with you all:

Photobucket

This one popped up on my Tumblr last week, and someone else posted a link to it via Twitter as well.  I have been able to find that the model’s name is Natasha Poly and the image is from a shoot by Mario Sorrenti for Vogue Paris.

I want to point out a few things about this photograph, from a high fashion magazine.  Because I believe that the woman in this photograph looks like a concentration camp victim with a fake tan.   Now before you get all angry about that statement, read the rest of this blog post.

I would never presume to comment on another woman’s body, or suggest that a thin woman is unhealthy or ugly or anything else derogatory.  But I am going to say it about this photograph, because what we’re looking at is NOT Natasha Poly in her natural state.  It is not the woman we are looking at, but a fashion magazine’s representation of her.  We’re not looking at a real woman any more in this case.

I want you to look carefully at the photograph.  I’ll point out a few things for you.

Let’s start with the rib cage area.  Can you see the the highlights in the fake tan to define each and every rib?  Look down her right arm.  See the white highlight again, to make her arm look thin?  You will also see them on her left shoulder, collarbone and cheek bone.  And the really worrying bit?  That wee fair spot right on her right hip bone.

It also has darker patches of tan in key places.  Under the cheek bone, between the V’s of her ribcage, on the inside of her thigh, inside of her arms and a streak down the outside of her left leg.

All of this is to make the model, who I am sure is beautiful on her own, look even thinner and taller than she actually is.

Now look at some of the angles of her body.  The angle where her right hip meets her leg.  Or her waist on her left, down to the bikini string.  Take a look at her right shoulder, lifted to her chin.  Now at her right armpit around her inner arm and to her breast.  Look carefully at her left collarbone.  And finally, have a look at the length of her right lower leg.

Can you see the evidence of photoshopping there?  How the parts of her body are out of proportion or at angles that don’t fit with other angles of her body.

And of course, there’s the lighting (both real and photoshopped) that highlights the bones in her body to almost skeletal detail.

Models are beautiful women and they’re the rare examples of human beings that are tall, slim and even featured.  They’re gorgeous, and that’s why they’re models.  But what is happening more and more overtly is the twisting of the features of women in photographs, due to make-up, lighting, tanning products and poses and due to post production work with Photoshop and the like.  Real women are being turned into these ideals that are wholly unreal, and as far as I’m concerned, freak shows.

This is why I believe we have to use the term “real women” – because what we’re being presented is not in any way real at all.

It’s horrifying that even the tall, slender, beautiful models aren’t good enough any more.  They have to be painted and manipulated into taller, thinner, more unobtainable standards that no human can emulate without doing some serious damage to themselves.

What’s next for fashion magazines?  Avatar style CGI work that in no way resembles a human being?

I believe we need to stop worrying about offending each other with talking about bodies in the media and whether they are too thin or too fat, and focus on the work that is being done to images of real women, regardless of their shape and size, that takes them from photographs of real women, to caricatures of women.  Because we women are not characters, we’re people, and we shouldn’t be sold what I think of as “lies of beauty”.  This is not beauty.  Beauty is human and flawed and varied.  It’s not a set of treatments in a photo editing programme.

This is being held up to young women as the beauty ideal.  Looking at images that have been “doctored” like this and expecting their own bodies to look like this if they just stick to that diet, just do some exercise is making women and girls both physically and emotionally sick.  This is one of the reasons why in western culture, girls with perfectly healthy bodies think that they are fat, and why so many boys and men have an unrealistic ideal of the female body.

We are being presented a fake version of womanhood with photos like the above.

Instead of bickering over what constitutes a real woman or not, let’s just draw the line in the sand – real is how any given woman is in the flesh so to speak, even those who have had cosmetic surgery (which I personally don’t believe in, but those who’ve had it are still real women, we didn’t make them up in our heads) or are transgender, and anything doctored, altered, adjusted, photoshopped, edited or airbrushed away from that is unreal/fake/false.

In the case of this example I’m sharing with you, Natasha Poly is a real woman – that image above is not.

I want to see real women in fashion, beauty, entertainment, marketing and the media.  Women that should I meet them face to face, what I see is what was on the page and/or screen, not the unedited version of something that they are not and that nobody could possibly be.

It’s Your BODY, Baby!

Published January 10, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

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

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

tummy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Relationship With Yourself

Published December 1, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

I found this lovely little video on YouTube today:

Isn’t he a cutie?

Did you listen to the lyrics of the song?  A sweet little tune, a love song to himself.

I love this because it’s quite accurate in summing up a healthy relationship with oneself.  It’s not all saccharine sweet, there are moments of self loathing and doubt.  But when it all comes down to it, yourself is the one person you will always, ALWAYS have in your life.  So you have to learn to love yourself, to be a healthy individual.

I am learning to love myself.  Most of the time, I do ok.  Sometimes the old recordings of self loathing come back, and it gets REALLY difficult.  Sometimes other people’s recordings come in.  Like my parents, or my brother, ex-boyfriends or even strangers who have been hurtful and hateful towards me.  Those old recordings make it harder to love myself too.  But I know now that they are just that – old recordings, that I have the power to switch off.

It’s hard for anybody to love themselves.  We’re taught not to.  Not to have tickets on ourselves, not to be “up yourself” (good Aussie term there), to be humble and self deprecating.  Of course, we add those supposed to’s to the insecurities and harmful words of others, and we end up with a big pile of self loathing.

For we fatties, it’s even harder.  People tell us every day that we’re somehow worth less than others, less than those who aren’t fat.  It seems the bigger our bodies, the less our value is in our culture.  We’re dehumanised, demonised and devalued.  Facing that makes loving yourself REALLY hard.

But the thing is, we’re as worthy as anyone else.  More worthy than the douchebags that get their kicks out of trying to hurt us.  And you CAN love yourself if you are a fatty.  You don’t need to be thin to love yourself.

For me, it was the realisation that I judge myself harder than I do any other person on this earth.  When I realised that I demand things of myself that I would never expect of a friend or romantic partner, it was a huge leap towards being able to love myself.  When I started listing the things that I found wonderful in other people, it had nothing to do with their physicality or shape or size.  The things I have the most love for in other people are their intellect, their humour, their kindness, their respect.  When I started asking myself if I met those criteria myself, I was surprised at how much of it I did.

Though, as I said, it is, and probably will always be a work in progress.  While douchebags don’t get me down like they used to (though they try, the poor, sad things), sometimes the self criticism gets a bit beyond the healthy range.  At least I recognise it pretty quickly now and re-train the brain back in to the right path.

What about you?  Do you think you’re able to love yourself?  Or do you need to find a way to make that happen?

 

Still a Long Way to Go

Published August 9, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

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

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

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