skin

All posts in the skin category

We’ve Come a Long Way Baby

Published November 28, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Looking out my window this evening there is no mistake that summer is here.  There is a storm brewing, it’s hot and it’s sticky.  I’m sitting here in a camisole top and a sarong, the fan blowing on me and my balcony door open to get the evening sea breezes until the storm hits and I have to run around and shut everything to keep the rain out.

It has now been about 5 years since I first started hearing about this thing called “fat acceptance” (my first foray into fat activism of any kind), and started entertaining the notion that I wasn’t worthless because there was more of me than there is of many other people.  In those years, my life has radically changed.  I’m a different person than I was 5 years ago.  I no longer put my life on hold, waiting to do things “when I lose weight”.  I no longer apologise for being the size I am.  I no longer allow people to treat me as sub-human because of my fat.  And I no longer hide myself away behind baggy, shapeless, dark clothing because others suggest it is “flattering”.

I realised the other morning as I was getting dressed for work, the me of 2012 really resents having to wear sleeves and cover my body in this hot weather.  That astonished me.  Was it really only a couple of years ago that I would never have dreamed of being seen without my arms covered?  There was once a time, that even in the hottest of summers, I would not leave the house without my arms covered past the elbow, my legs covered past the knees and a full face of makeup.  Now I often roll out of bed, shower, throw on a sun-dress and sandals and I’m out the door.  If I’m working and I have to have my arm tattoo covered, I find tops with the barest minimum length to cover the bits I need to, and then leave the rest free.  On the weekends I will chuck on a cami or tank top, a pair of shorts (sometimes plain shorts, sometimes bike-pants) and go for a walk along the waterfront with the sea air blowing on my skin.

As the weather heats up, I’m currently looking for a new swim suit, preferably a tankini or halter neck top with boy-leg shorts (so they don’t creep up my bum!) to go swimming at my local pool in.  No more wearing a huge t-shirt over the top to cover my body, no more dropping the sarong off my bottom half at the side of the pool and slipping quickly into the water.  Where my arms and legs were once pale white and untouched by sun, never seen by anyone, they are now gently ripening to brown and are adorned with magnificent ink.

I only wear makeup now when I want to dress up a bit, or have fun with some colour.  I no longer feel that I have to have a “face” on to be acceptable to be seen.  I once wore glasses that were plain and unobtrusive, now they are bold and make a statement.  Where I once wore my hair long, thick and heavy because I was told it was flattering to my round face, slowly cooking my own head under it’s weight, I now crop it uber-short with clippers, cool and light, and dye it bright hues as it grows back to a short back & sides.

Once I would hunt the sparse racks of plus-size clothes looking for black, navy, burgundy and forest green, now I am drawn to red, turquoise, magenta, mint, peach and cobalt.  From plain dark colours of my past wardrobe to the now busy prints, bold patterns and clashing colours.  I embellish them with big, fabulous accessories, shiny, colourful and jangly.  I like accessories that move and make noise, they stimulate my senses.  I look for shapes that skim my body, not blouse over it like I’m trying to hide it.  Where my legs once were always covered in plain pants, they now are bare under skirts and dresses.  When I did wear skirts before they were always with heavy black tights to hide my legs.  Now they are bare, or if it’s cold enough to need cover, have bright tights and leggings that draw attention to the shape of my legs.

In the past I walked with my head bowed, looking at my own feet, avoiding eye contact with anyone, trying to disappear.  Now I walk with my head held high, my shoulders back, surveying the world around me, smiling at the things that make me happy, meeting the eye of anyone who dares stare at me.  I would never, ever eat in public, always uncomfortable in restaurants or cafes, preferring to drink vast quantities of alcohol instead of being seen eating.  Now I don’t touch alcohol at all (I figure I drank all my share at once) and I love to dine out, to socialise with friends over brunch, lunch, dinner, coffee and cake.  I enjoy the food that I eat, and eat what I want, stopping when I’ve had enough, even if there is still food on my plate.  I know the foods that make me feel good, and those that make me feel cruddy.  I refuse to allow anyone to shame me for my food choices.

When I am home alone, I am comfortable with my naked body.  My new flat has a large mirror level with the plain glass shower stall.  The past me would never have been able to shower in this bathroom without covering the mirror, lest I catch a glimpse of my large, round, naked body.  Now I see it and value it, for being strong and capable, and for carrying me through my life.  I admire the roundness, the curves and bumps, the thickness and the marks of my life – stretchmarks, scars, moles and freckles, adorned with the ink that documents my life.  I am not bothered by the hairy bits or the saggy bits.  They are part of the road map of my life, signs of my maturing body.  Nor am I bothered by my natural hair, greying at the temples.  I feel no need to cover it as I grow it back ready to colour it something bright and fun.

This is the first phase of fat liberation for me.  I am free, I have been liberated from the prison I lived in for the first 35 years of my life.  A prison that I was both forced into, yet for many years was too afraid to leave.  My choices are mine.  My body is mine.  My life is mine.  I may never see fat bodies truly valued and celebrated by society in my lifetime, but my body is valued and celebrated by me.

I wish that for each and every one of you.

Advertisements

Going Bare

Published April 3, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I decided to hold a little bit of a personal experiment over March.  As you might know, I had a month’s leave from work across January and February, and as I spent most of the time just relaxing, I didn’t wear make-up for most of the month.  My skin seemed to really, really like it, and when I went back to work and started wearing make-up each day again, my skin really wasn’t happy.  I broke out lots, the moisture levels changed and I had a flare up of psoriasis across my nose.

Now, I have been wearing a full face of make-up to work now for easily 25 years.  I started in my first job just before my 13th birthday, and as it was in a hairdresser’s salon, it was kind of the thing to wear make-up.  For many years, probably until I was in my early 30’s, I never left the house without at least some make-up on.  I felt that I couldn’t be seen au naturel.  For many years, it was a kind of armour, a mask I wore to present to the world.  Even once I started to work through the self esteem issues I had in my life, make-up was still, to me, required for work to be “presentable”.

So it’s a pretty big step for me to decide to go without make-up at all for a whole month.

And I did it.  The world didn’t end.  Nobody screamed “Look at your hideous face!  Hide the children!”  My skin was far more happy than it normally is.  Nobody pulled me aside at work and told me that my appearance was “inappropriate”.  I saved a bunch of money (I normally go through a bottle of foundation per month).  But most of all, I accepted my face as it is, bare and natural, without feeling the need to hide or disguise it.   I even left it uncovered a week ago when I had a terrible allergic reaction to something.  In fact, I’m even going to share this rather unflattering photograph here:

I look kind of pissed, don’t I?   My poor blotchy nose, cheeks and forehead!  My skin was so fragile and tender, and I still haven’t worked out for sure what I was reacting to.  I think it might be a tree in flower at the back of my house.

I went out that day, to a social event, with a bunch of people I don’t know also attending, and do you know what?  Nobody made fun of my blotchy face.  Nobody asked what was wrong with me.  And the salty ocean air on my bare skin was a wonderful treatment for the tender, itchy, blotchy skin.

It has been really liberating to just let go of that feeling of needing to cover my face and disguise my skin somehow.  I think I’ll even enjoy playing with make-up more now that I know I don’t HAVE to wear it to be seen in public.  I’m actually quite looking forward to playing around with the new MAC make-up I bought a couple of weeks ago, and having fun with colour.

But also, I’ve been able to look at the positive things about myself without spending time using make-up to hide the negative things.  I am 38 years old and I barely have a wrinkle on me.  My skin (when not being all allergic angry or the occasional hormonal zit) is usually good and smooth.  Even though my eyes/eyebrows are lopsided, I have long, dark eyelashes that really don’t need mascara.  I have some hormonal pigmentation, but I usually have good colour and when I smile, my cheeks are rosy apples.  Without make-up, my skin evens out and is not oily or dry.

But even if somebody had carried on about my bare face, and made some negative comment, I’d have been ok.  Because I know people’s value is more than just their physical appearance.  I know what is important is intellect, humour, kindness, honesty, respect, talent etc.

Do you wear make-up?  Do you feel comfortable appearing in public bare-faced?  Or do you feel the need to have your “face on” before leaving the house?  What does wearing make-up mean to you?

You Can’t Touch This

Published February 1, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I was just reading this post over on This Ain’t Livin’ about the way people tend to respond to tattoos on others.  As most of you know, I had my sixth tattoo done last Friday, and it’s now my biggest and probably my most visible.  But I have noticed ever since I got the ones done on my feet and inside my lower forearms, which I rarely make any effort to cover up, that I get really mixed reactions from people.

My tattoos are pretty femme and inoffensive – I have flowers on the tops of my feet and the two inside my forearms are a bluebird and a heart balloon.  My new one (a fabulous naked fat lady) is probably the most “controversial” per se, what with her being both fat and naked.  I also have a very old tattoo of a cow on my back, but it is small and almost always covered by my clothes.

However, I’ve seen people’s attitudes and demeanor completely change the minute they see my tattoos.  Even while I had hot pink hair, it was the tattoos that changed the way people respond to me.  From women who clutch their handbags or children a little closer, to men who seem to feel the need to draw themselves up bigger next to me, to people in general who go from a neutral expression to negative one just on seeing my tattoos.  And as s.e. smith says on This Ain’t Livin’, they seem to make people GRABBY.

I have had people grab me by the wrist and turn my arms over so they can see my tattoos.  I’ve had people hoick my bra strap/top out of the way so they can see the one on my back.  I’ve had people reach down and stroke the flowers on the tops of my feet.  And these have been both strangers and people I know.

Actually people have been grabby with my hair since I took it out of the “natural” look, ie hot pink and now bald.  One woman gave my hair a good yank and said “Oh it’s real!”  Another grabbed it as I walked past, almost causing me to fall with the force that it stopped me with.  Twice since I shaved my head a week ago, someone has rubbed my head without asking, one a stranger, another someone I know.

I have no idea why people feel it’s ok to get grabby with folks who have tattoos or some hair styles.  Or at least women.  As s.e. smith writes in her post, her male friend doesn’t seem to get the grabby thing.  Maybe it’s because the female body is objectified so much, that it is perceived as public property.  I know pregnant women suffer the grabbies too, and I can’t imagine how infuriating that is.

I’m also not sure how to respond to unwelcome grabbiness.  I have been known to bellow “DON’T TOUCH ME!!” when it gets all too much for me.  I don’t really want to bellow at people, but I do want to let them know in no uncertain terms that touching someone uninvited is not appropriate.  I have also had people get offended when I’ve asked them not to touch me uninvited, as though I’m denying them some kind of right.

So, have you suffered people touching or grabbing you inappropriately?  How have you responded?  Did you ever ask why someone has done it?

Hit me up in the comments lovelies, let’s work out how to deal with Grabby McGrabbersons!

 

Fat Bodies for Dummies (and Douchebags)

Published May 18, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I want to talk about fat bodies tonight.  Cos you know, all the stuff over the past week about body image, all the cries of Disgusting!  Vile!  Lazy!  Unhealthy!  Gross!  Smelly!  and so on that proliferate when we have talk about fat bodies has been burbling about my head and I think that a lot of fat haters and those that fear fat have absolutely no idea about what a fat body really is like, or what it’s like to inhabit a fat body.

Of course, those of us who have fat bodies have usually spent many years loathing those fat bodies as well.  When you’re told all the time that fat is disgusting, and all of those other charming descriptors I’ve used above, it sticks pretty quickly and you start to believe it.  But if you’re like me, and have been able to find some self esteem and think about your body rationally, then you start to realise a few things.  Let’s do a breakdown:

Fat bodies are in pain under the strain of their weight.

We’ve all heard the guff about how you’re fucking up your knees, hips and ankles by being fat.  I’m a Super Fat and my knees, hips and ankles have no pain unless I do something stupid, like kick heavy boxes out of the way.  I have an incredible strength to my body (which I will talk about more later) and while my whole family has arthritis running through it, with my younger (thin) brother having suffered debilitating pain at various points in his life, I’ve not had any trouble since one growth spurt in my teens.

Fat bodies are not athletic at all.

Tell that to a sumo wrestler, weight lifter, someone who does shot-put, discus or long distance swimmer.  Personally while I have no agility or speed, I’m stronger than most women I know and some men.  I can split a golf ball in two with just one hit, and can send a tennis ball, cricket ball or softball out of the park.  I’m also far more flexible than one would believe.  I do yoga and while yes, sometimes I have to bend around my fat, I’m still able to do all the poses in regular yoga that everyone else can do, with no pain at all.  I also love riding my bicycle (it’s so pretty, one day I’ll do a post on how pretty my bicycle is) and walking for ages.

Fat people all huff and puff and can’t keep up.

This one I do have experience with, because I’m one of those lucky souls who suffers allergies.  And when they’re playing up, yeah, I can’t breathe as well as other people.  But guess what?  Even when I was a skinny kid, or when I lost a lot of weight and was exercising long sessions every day, I still struggled with my breathing.  But surprise surprise, when my allergies are treated… the breathing clears up, whether I’m a fatty boombaladah or not.

Fat bodies are sweaty and smelly.

Bullshit.  Every man I have ever dated and quite a few I haven’t have told me that I smell divine.

PEOPLE are sweaty and smelly.  Some are lucky and don’t sweat that much, some of us only really sweat out of our faces so we look like beets on hot days. (That’s me!  A waste of makeup some days!)  Fat bodies are no more smelly than thin bodies.  CLEAN bodies are the key.

Which leads me to…

Fat bodies are dirty.

No, dirty bodies are dirty, no matter what size or shape they are.  Clean bodies are clean.

People who have fat bodies hate themselves.

I don’t hate myself.  I used to, but I didn’t really hate myself because I was fat, I hated myself because I listened to people who told me that I should hate myself.  I don’t listen to those people any more, and my self loathing is cured!  It’s a miracle!

Fat bodies are disgusting/vile/gross…

Only to narrow minded people who have got nothing better to do than worry about what other people think.  Fat bodies are beautiful in their own way, in fact, ALL bodies are beautiful in their own way.

So there you have it.  Fat bodies 101, for dummies… and douchebags.

If you have a fat body, do you love it?  Do you struggle with loving it because of the vitriol poured towards fat bodies?  Sometimes our bodies don’t do what they want them to do, and that makes it hard to love them too.

Maybe we should share what we love about our bodies (no matter what size they are).  I’ll go first, you can all follow in the comments.

I love that my body is strong and healthy, and that it propels me through my full life.  I love that my body is a blank canvas for the tattoo art that I love so much.  I love my magnificent tits.  I love that I can hug and cheer and laugh and dance and stretch and sigh and smile with my whole body.  I love that little kids and pets all snuggle into my fat body.  I love that babies seem to get drunk on my body and get all woozy and happy and comfy.  And most of all, I love that my body knows what’s best for me, so long as I take the time to listen to it.

Your turn kids!

Fresh Ink

Published February 21, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Phew!  What a week!  With all the hullabaloo on the Kevin Smith being kicked off a flight for being too fat debacle, plus my own little adventure in vastly increased internet attention thanks to my discussion with John Birmingham, it’s been pretty intense.

So when Ivan of  Fat in NYC gave me a nudge over not blogging my latest tattoo, I thought I had better do something about it.

Yes, I got tattoo number 5 a week ago.  Check it out:

Photobucket

I know, it’s not the greatest photograph.  But have YOU ever tried to take a photograph of your own left arm with a proper sized digital camera in bad light?

But you get the idea.  Isn’t my wee birdy beautiful?  The incredibly talented Victoria from Wild at Heart Tattoo here in Brisbane created him for me.  I didn’t have any real reference material other than a couple of photos of birds I got from a Google image search.  One had some markings in his feathers, the other was the intense shade of blue.  So I described to Victoria in an email what I wanted, and she came up with this guy for me.  The only thing I tweaked was the shape of the ribbon, just to tie it in to my other arm tattoo a wee bit.  I loved  her first draft artwork on sight.

However, it pales in comparison to the final piece.  I’m absolutely gobsmacked at what a gorgeous piece she has done.  And it’s on my arm for the rest of my life.  Weeeeeeee!

Why I Love Tattoos

Published January 13, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

For any of you who know me in real life, and/or have me on Facebook and Twitter, you will already know that I am very excited about getting two more tattoos in the very near future.  I am booked in on Monday to get the first of these two, on the top of my right foot, and will book the second one while I am there, which is for the inside of my left forearm.

I already have three tattoos; a pink balloon heart on the inside of my right forearm, a pink lotus flower on the top of my left foot, and a Far Side cartoon cow on my back above my left shoulder blade.  I also have the intention of getting a lot more than just the two I have planned now.  The only thing that prevents me from going all out and getting full sleeves and work on my legs and torso is that quality tattoos are an investment, so I have to pace my spending.

Check ’em out…

Photobucket

Photobucket

I don’t have a photo of my cow, it’s hard to photograph my own back, and she’s very faded and bluey-green now, so it’s not so nice to photograph.

There is a reason I love tattoos other than it annoys my mother that I have them.  I love them because they make me feel beautiful about my body.  As someone who has suffered body image and self esteem issues my whole life, been fat since I was 11 and who has drifted in and out of eating disorders since I was in my early teens (these days I thankfully seem to be out of them, I would like that to be permanent), I have always struggled with finding my body beautiful.  The first time I ever did have something I totally loved about my body was when I got my first tattoo, the cow on my back.

I felt that at last, here was a part of my body that I had some control over.  Here was something I was doing to MY body for ME, and not for anyone else.  Not to make me more acceptable to society, not to impress a guy, not to fit some kind of norm for others.  It was another 15 years before I was tattooed again, the next two were done on the same day 18 months ago, and again that feeling was there.  Now every time I look at the parts of my body that have tattoos, they look and feel beautiful to me.

Another thing is that when I get ink, I always choose a design that means something to me ABOUT me.  I’ve not got tattoos to honour anyone else, or to commemorate events.  Each of my tattoos has a meaning around my self esteem or messages to myself.  Whether it be reminders about what is important in life, or something that expresses things I like about myself.

Being tattooed makes me feel just that bit more confident about my body.  I’m even booking in to have a manicure and pedicure on Monday before I go to the tattooist, just so that my feet are all pretty ready to be photographed when I have my fresh ink.  Something I would have never done years ago, which probably seems silly to a lot of people, but I didn’t even have the self confidence to allow my hands and feet to be touched by anyone I didn’t know closely.

So, do any of you have ink?  If so, what have you got and why did you get it?  Do you think it changes your self esteem/self image at all?