The Rotund

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Silk or Leather, Or a Feather

Published February 25, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I just found myself having a little surprise cry.

Every night I scroll through Tumblr and have a look at all the bits and bobs people post.  I love Tumblr*, it’s full of inspiration, cuteness, discussion, news, cupcakes, fat positive photographs, laughs and food for thought.  So tonight I was scrolling through and came across this post from Marianne Kirby**, where she explains what she would like to have as her next tattoo.

I read the sentence that she has chosen to be part of her next tattoo, and my world stopped still just for a moment:

 

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.

 

For those of you who don’t recognise it, it is a lyric from an Adam and the Ants song, Prince Charming.

As I read that sentence, something in me just clicked.  My 13 year old heart started beating so hard in my 38 year old chest.  A flood of memories came back to me, and I was almost instantly transported back to the early 80’s and my pre-teen/early teens.

And I cried.  I’m still crying on and off as I write this post.

I am not sure how I came to forget that sentence, that lyric.  It meant so much to me once.  I clung to it so hard, I repeated it over and over and over in my head.  It’s no secret that I was a bullied kid, nor is it a secret that I came from a background of domestic violence.  And I remember.  Oh how I remember, the feeling that nobody in the world cared about me, that everyone was cruel and hateful and that I was worthless.  But I also remember the lifeline that song threw me with that one lyric.

 

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.

 

When I was feeling at my very lowest.  When I was being beaten, bullied, humiliated, shamed… that lyric would pop into my head, and I would hear that song in my mind, and I would just escape.  Escape into a world of dandy men and powdered and pouffed women, with their faces painted in bright colours, a world of silk or leather, or a feather.  A world that was bright and beautiful, a world where ridicule was nothing to be scared of.

I think that part of me shut that memory out.  It hurts so much to remember that time.  Because the PTSD is always close to the surface and sometimes it’s easier to forget than acknowledge things and let the emotions come back.  Thing is, something as simple as a lyric, or an image, or a piece of music, or a scent, brings it all flooding back.

But the thing is, that lyric STILL means a lot to me, just for different reasons.  Because after a lifetime of using the lyric to escape, I realise now that it’s reality, not escape.  Ridicule IS nothing to be scared of.  I used to be terrified of people making fun of who I was, so I hid in a persona that was not me.  I dressed how I thought others wanted me to dress.  I behaved how I thought others wanted me to behave.  Only to be absolutely miserable, and people ridiculed me anyway.  So I came to a point (with thanks to therapy and the Fatosphere) where I figured if I was going to be ridiculed, then I may as well be ridiculed for being, wearing and doing the things I love. The surprising thing was that being ridiculed ceased to be painful.  It became a reminder that I was doing something that was important to me.  Even if I had forgotten the source of that belief, the lyric that taught me that no matter how much fun people made of me, if I’m doing something that makes me happy, there is no reason to be afraid of that ridicule, to be shamed by other people’s narrow-mindedness.

And that’s what makes me able to get tattoos of fat ladies, shave my head for charity and wear bright colours and kitschy accessories.  I’m confident enough to wear silk or leather, or a feather.  Thanks to the knowledge that ridicule really is nothing to be scared of.

So thank you Marianne, for sharing your next tattoo idea.  I have to apologise though, because at some point in the future, we’re going to have the same sentence tattooed on us.  I feel like I can’t not get it permanently marked on me now.  But I promise that it will look nothing like yours and I’ll tell the story of how an old memory was brought back to me and reminded me of my strength.

Oh look, have the song while we’re at it.  It’s so camp and theatrical, I still love it:

*This is my Tumblr blog if you want a look.
**Marianne’s main blog The Rotund can be found here.  It’s one of the best blogs you will read.

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More Barrel than Apple

Published February 5, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

So I’m being plagued by the black dog.  To be honest, I think it’s the heat, I never cope well with hot weather.  I’m happiest when I’m sitting steaming in two feet of snow.  Yeah I know, I’m on the wrong side of the planet.

One of my strategies when it comes to dealing with bouts of depression is to immerse myself in the Fatosphere, reading and viewing as many positive posts and images about fat people that I can.  It is just something that I know works to lift me out of that dark place, and get me back on to the road to my regular moods and ways of thinking.

I have been watching Fatshion February unfold on Tumblr, and the topic of representation of “death fatties” came up.  Now for any of you who are unaware, “death fatties” is a term coined for those of us who are classified as “morbidly obese” on the BMI scale, which is an arbitrary measurement of someone’s height to weight ratio, but is used by the medical field (and insurance industry)  to classify the fatness, and therefore health-by-their-measurement.  In reality, BMI does not at all give an accurate representation of someone’s health, only their height to weight ratio.

There was a mention of the scarcity of deathfatz posting Fatshion February photographs, and then a whole big discussion of whether or not “fat is fat” fired up, whether there should be any blogs or spaces that are dedicated just to deathfatz (there are) and whether this is excluding “smaller fats”.  I won’t get into that whole topic, and besides, Marianne Kirby has said it all beautifully on her Tumblr repeatedly, so it’s no use me rehashing it here.

But what I have got thinking about, is why I haven’t submitted any Fatshion February photographs.  What I’m struggling with is the fact that not only am I considerably bigger than most of the posters (it’s true, the deathfatz are under-represented), but regardless of the size of the posters, I see a whole lot of traditionally “beautiful” shaped women there.  All those hourglass figures, with breasts and hips that are bigger than their bellies.  Which in no way represents me.

There is a whole lot of celebration of “curvy” women.  Well I’m simply not curvy.  I am more… lumpy.  I do have big breasts, but my belly is clearly the largest part of my body.  I get it from my Grandma, she’s the same shape.  I look like I am heavily pregnant with triplets.  According to most plus-size fashion retailers, I don’t exist.  They’re all about the curves.  When they do actually use plus-size models, they’re flat bellied ones with small waists.  They’re women whose bodies stay the same shape when they sit down.  When I sit down, my belly shifts and becomes even bigger, resting on my lap.  Some plus size fashion even cut off before my size, despite my size being the usual top size of plus-size fashion.  City Chic?  Asos Curve?  I’m looking at you two in particular.  Not to mention all of the other lesser known brands that top out at Size 20, or 22.

Then there’s all this talk of apples, pears and hourglasses.  What about those women like me, who are shaped more like barrels?

Where are the true diversity of body types?

It becomes a spiral.  We don’t see bodies like ours represented anywhere, so we become too ashamed to share our own pictures.  Therefore, there are no bodies like ours being posted.

Just because my body shape isn’t considered “beautiful” or “fashionable”, doesn’t mean I don’t want to dress fashionably and enjoy dressing and styling myself.  Nor do I want to spend time finding things that “flatter” me and give an illusion of the shapes that are considered beautiful/fashionable.  My body is shaped like a barrel, and no amount of styling is going to change that.  I want to dress and adorn my body as it is, not disguise it as something else.

I’m thankful that there are those who put themselves out there.  I’m thankful that there are deathfatz like me who post their pictures and talk about their experiences.  Those of you who are at the top or beyond a standard plus-size range for your region.  Those of you who have big bellies, or any other body shape that doesn’t fit the predominant “curvy”.  Those of you who are extremely limited as to where you can get clothes to fit your bodies.  There aren’t many of you, but to those that are out there,  I admire you so much, and you make a difference to how I see myself, and what I am able to do with the limited fashion choices available to me.