positive portrayals

All posts in the positive portrayals category

A Bad Day Get’s Better

Published January 28, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I woke up feeling pretty good.  I had my outfit picked out (something I could never wear to work – denim skirt, leggings and a leopard print camisole), and was excited to be going off to get my next tattoo today.  I showered and dressed, and realised I had a little bit of time up my sleeve, so I jumped online and went to my Facebook page.  Unfortunately, the first thing I saw was a post that was intended innocently by the friend who posted it, but was actually a big ole pile of fat hatred.  Even though it was posted in good spirit, it was painfully clear that the person who made the meme (one of those Demotivational posters) was being hateful and pushing more fat stereotypes (the junk food loving gluttonous fatty) and some of the comments were of very bad taste.

I was so hurt.  I plummeted into a spiral of self loathing and shame.  It took every ounce of my intestinal fortitude not to cancel my tattoo appointment and go back to bed.  Then it took every ounce of my willpower to not change my outfit and cover my body, to stay in the outfit that bares my fat arms and shoulders, that is visible.

But I did the old “fake it until you make it” and set out for the day.  I’m so glad I did.  Wanna see my outfit? (Click here for outfit details)  Here you go:

OOTD 28th January 2011

I’m fresh out of the tattooist chair, their apprentice took the photo for me.  There’s nothing like the adrenaline high after a tattoo to lift your mood.  I went from hating myself to feeling amazing in the time it took my tattoo artist, Victoria (from Wild at Heart Tattoo in Charlotte Street) to do the piece.

The piece is very significant too.  I know you want to see it.  But I’m going to tell you about it first, before I unleash it.  It’s a piece that Victoria and I designed, inspired by the art of Rubens Cantuni, a fabulous artist from Genova in Italy.  He does these pieces called Tokyo Candies that I fell deeply in love with a little while ago, after seeing some of his sexy fat lady artworks pop up on Tumblr.  (Rubens is on Twitter and Facebook if you’d like to follow him too.)  I saw this picture over a year ago and absolutely loved it, but it was seeing this one on Tumblr about a month ago that made me decide I absolutely HAD to have a tattoo piece inspired by his work.

I took a bunch of his work to Victoria and between us we came up with a design that was just perfect.  Not only is she beautifully fat positive, but it’s a celebration of the things I love about myself too.  I only have to look at her to be reminded of the things that I feel good about myself.

Yeah yeah, I know, you just want to see the damn tattoo.  Well here she is…

New Tattoo

See, I told you she was beautiful.

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Documentary: fat body (in)visible

Published December 14, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Ok my lovelies, I have something REALLY special for you.

Margitte of Riots Not Diets over on Tumblr has made this amazing documentary called fat body (in)visible, which is the most amazing piece of fat activism.

Featuring Jessica of Tangled Up In Lace (blog here, tumblr here) and Keena of Buttahlove (tumblr here), the film documents their fat activism, fatshion, and stories of both visibility and invisibility as fat women.

Do not miss this film.  I’m both deeply moved and absolutely delighted by the piece, and it’s a wonderful thing to see fat women putting their voice out there, as we’re always judged on our appearance and rarely given the opportunity to speak for ourselves.

So without further ado, here is fat body (in)visible:

Plus-Size Clothing Retailers Take Note – Positivity Makes Money!

Published December 5, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

As part of the + Plus-Size Plus + campaign I’m working on to improve the variety, quality and price of plus-sized clothing options from major chain retailers in Australia.  I’m focusing on the major chain retailers like Target, Big W, KMart, Myer, David Jones, City Chic, My Size, Autograph Fashion and the like because these are huge companies with a lot of buying power, and they’re the places the most plus-sized women go to first for their clothing needs.  Those retailers are the most prevalent, offer a range of price points that cover the broadest range of Australian women’s incomes, and in being the biggest companies, have the most room to give.  I believe they also have an obligation to their customers to offer ALL of their customers an equal range, prices and quality, not just the straight sized ones.

One thing I’ve been doing as I think about ways to go about this, is read the social media pages of these retailers.  Some of them don’t have any presence at all in a plus-sized clothing retailer capacity, but the specialists like City Chic, Autograph Fashion and MySize all have Facebook pages and I follow them all.  One thing I really notice is that every time one of them posts, most of the comment threads dissolve very quickly into a whole lot of body loathing.  It only takes one or two comments until the “flattering” concept comes up (usually a big old bun fight about whether plus-size retailers should bother selling sleeveless clothes) and then ends up with a mix of “We fat women shouldn’t wear *insert garment feature here*.” or “I really like that but I could never wear something that bares my *insert body part here*.”

This got me thinking about the marketing we see from plus-size retailers, the language they use about the bodies of their customers and how they could change their marketing to really encourage women to enjoy wearing clothes/fashion, which I believe would encourage women to BUY more clothes/fashion.

What I would really like to see, is one of these retailers be brave enough to come up with a truly body positive, empowering marketing campaign for their products.  Instead of playing on the whole “flattering” concept, and tiptoeing around the fact that their customers have fat bodies, how about a campaign that focuses on raising the self esteem of their customers?  Here’s what I’d like to see a plus-size clothing retailer do:

  • Get rid of the euphemisms.  No more crap about “real women” and curves/voluptuous and all of those things.  Just call themselves plus-size clothing retailers and focus on selling plus-sized clothing.  I know they can’t/won’t use the word “fat”, but let’s stop with the euphemisms that imply shame for being plus-sized.  Let’s stop pretending that your customers are not plus-sized/fat.
  • Focus on positive body messages.   Fabulous fashion for fabulous women.  Love your body, put our clothes on it.  Be confident in our fashion.  Gorgeous you, gorgeous clothes.  Messages like this.  No more talk of “flattering”.
  • Use models who actually look like the women who will be buying the product.  Let’s face it, most size 14 or 16 women, while they are catered for in these stores, don’t shop there.  You can get size 14 and 16 and sometimes 18 in quite a few straight size sections.  There are a lot of women in a size 14 and 16 who are not even going to go near a plus-size section.  The plus-size retailers are catering to those of us who cannot buy from the straight-sizes at all.  How about some models with bodies that look like ours?  Often the models they use are not even plus-sized at all.  UK blogger Lauren from Pocket Rocket Fashion has done posts this week on the topic (here and here).  I shared the first post on + Plus-sizes Plus + and the response I got back was that women want to see what clothes look like on bodies similar to their own.
  • Seeing women that look like we do is only going to make us feel better about ourselves in the long term.  Especially if these women are depicted as fashionable, happy, fun and glamorous.
  • Value your customers, understand what they want, treat them like they’re special (after all, they’re giving you their money and keeping you in business, that makes them VERY special) and understand that they have different needs to straight-sized customers, but want the same experiences.

Can you imagine how awesome, and how radical, a marketing campaign that promoted body love, self esteem and positive representations of their actual customers (rather than “aspirational” representations that would never actually purchase the stock) would be?  Particularly from a major chain retailer?  How many women would be empowered and inspired to enjoy dressing and fashion and shopping?

I know that’s a company I would want to give my money to.

Fat Gals Can Have Nice Things Too

Published November 21, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I’ve just spent a couple of hours doing something I often do on a Sunday morning – reading fatshion blogs.  I have a folder in my Google Reader labelled “fatshion” and I save them for times when I can sit back with a cuppa and just flick through them, looking at the photographs and reading the stories about where these amazing fatshionistas wear their gorgeous outfits, where they sourced them from, what kind of shops they love, how they put together outfits and just general stuff about their lives.

It never fails to make me feel good about myself.  I gave up reading magazines (except for Popular Mechanics, Discovery and the occasional tattoo mag) about 18 months ago, maybe a little more.  I’ve not missed it at all, and my wallet has certainly been happier.   When I first started out with my first few tentative steps into Fat Acceptance, I really never bothered with fatshion.  I had never bothered with fashion before, because I’d always felt excluded from it as a fat woman, and found it depressing to look at clothes on bodies that bore no resemblance to my own.

But then I found Tumblr, which led me to the awesome Frances and her tumblog Hey Fat Chick.  She threw open the doors of fatshion to me and once I started, I couldn’t stop.  I found myself pouring over fatshion blogs, tumblr accounts and the Fatshionista flickr group.  I found myself looking at the clothes and seeing myself wearing them, rather than some model who had been airbrushed and photoshopped into oblivion that made it clear that I could never wear those things.

Before long, I started to notice a radical change in myself.  Instead of just dressing in whatever I could find to fit me in the shops and never thinking about it again, I started to look for ways I could interpret the trends and styles that the fatshionistas were sharing.  Where once I would only buy clothes that I needed to function, I started to want things simply because they were beautiful, and because they expressed something about me.  Then I did something REALLY radical… I joined the Fatshionista flickr group and started posting my own OOTD (outfit of the day) photographs!  Guess what?  The world didn’t end!  Nobody laughed at me and I got some lovely compliements about the clothes and styling I was wearing.  Then I went on to start posting my own OOTD posts here on Fat Heffalump!  JAW DROP!

I never would have believed that I would get into clothes and accessories and fatshion at any point in my life.  I thought it was something I wasn’t allowed to do, because I am a fat woman.  In my teens I swung from only wearing what fit me (shorts, t-shirts, leggings) to clothe my body, to finding the most anti-social styles I could wear to try to scare the world away (goth, punk etc).  In my 20’s, I mostly did the grunge thing, because jeans, a band t-shirt and a flannelette shirt with Doc Martens was a nice uniform that I could wear and fit into.

These days, I’m discovering a deep, strong love for all things femme, and for lots of colour.  I only wish I could still wear high heels, but they don’t seem to like me any more, and I don’t have time in my life for shoes that hurt!

Nowdays I find myself compiling folders and using tools like Pinterest to catalogue my inspiration and put ideas together, based on the fatshion I find online.  If you had told me I’d be doing this a mere 2 years ago, I’d have told you that there was NO way that would ever happen!

So which fatshion blogs do I love?  Well, I follow a pretty long list, but how about I give you a few that really stand out for the kind of style I love?

I’ll start with the lovely Georgina from Cupcake’s Clothing.  Oh how I adore her style.  It’s romantic, fun, feminine and whimsical.  Her photographs are beautiful and I love seeing cute clothes and accessories on a body that is far closer to mine than anything I see in magazines.  Look… adorable…

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Adorable I say!

Another one I really love is A Well Rounded Venture.  Her style is classic and chic, and she does bold colour so well.

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Then there is Lauren from Pocket Rocket Fashion.  Lauren has a cute, feminine style that always fills me with joy when I see her posts and pictures.  She also loves leopard print, which makes me very, very happy!

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Representing for the Aussies, I really love Too Many Cupcakes.  She has a sunny, fun, upbeat style, and seems to ferret out the most amazing accessories.  Love her work!

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The US has lots of great fatshionistas too of course, one of which I love is Bloomie from 30 Dresses in 30 Days.  Bloomie rocks a dress like no other, and has a smile that could blind you for a mile.

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There are dozens more and I could make the world’s biggest blog post sharing them all with you, but these are just a few examples of the ones I love.

I really want to thank all of the fatshionistas out there for doing what they do.  I know a lot of them think they just post pretty clothes and stuff on the internet, but the truth of the matter is, what they do makes a difference.  Their visibility and love for fashion, clothing and styling is not only inspirational, it’s activism.  Fat women being visible is the very pinnacle of fat activism.

What about you?  Do you have any favourite fatshionistas?  Maybe they’re ones that I or other readers haven’t heard of before.  What is your style?  Do you indulge in fatshion and fatshion watching?  Share your fatshion loves in the comments!

November Challenge – Positive Posts

Published November 1, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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