Two Whole Cakes

All posts in the Two Whole Cakes category

Hashtag Activism – A Sign of Strength

Published April 5, 2014 by Fat Heffalump

Something awesome is happening on Twitter right now.  Born of a conversation between @fatbodypolitics and @mazzie, the hashtag #notyourgoodfatty was born, and it has been picked up by fat women (and a sprinkling of men) all over the world.  I know yesterday it was trending in the US, but I’m sure it has been trending elsewhere and is probably trending as I write this, because it’s right in the middle of another run now.

Hashtag campaigns always get a lot of criticism that they are pointless and don’t change anything.  I call bullshit on that attitude.  As a fat woman who is so fucking fed up with both the general shit that fat women have to deal with, but also with the constant measuring of whether some fat people are “better” than others, just reading through the thousands of tweets from other fat people venting their frustrations and smashing down that “good fatty” lie gives me strength.  It also expresses things I have not been able to myself.

I’ll keep this short and sweet because it is taking off right now, but I’ll share some more favourites later.

So get yourself over to Twitter, and search for #notyourgoodfatty

But do ignore the trolls.  They’re showing their arse over there too.  How embarrassing for them.

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On Shopping and Shaping a Wardrobe

Published December 30, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

In my lunch hour today I went shopping with my friend Nadia.  Originally I just went looking for a pair of black Mary-Janes, my old pair had died and I realised that other than ballet flats, I didn’t have any flat, black, comfortable shoes that I could wear with tights.  I really, really need some good quality shoes that I can be on my feet all day in, so that was my goal.

We popped into Rivers and they had all of their sandals and casual shoes for $20 a pair, so when I found both a pair of very cute patent leather and suede Mary-Janes in black, and another pair of cute leather Mary-Janes in a kind of olive colour, I bought both.

Then since the Rivers store is only two stores away from the Autograph store, and Autograph were having a 70% off sale… well, you know Nadia encouraged me and all.  SHE DID!!  Anyway, I came away with 3 tank tops, 2 dresses, a chemise, a bolero and a pair of swimmers, all for $93!  Weeeee!  I do love me some shopping.

Now let me just clear something up here.  It has been suggested in a few quarters (including one abusive email that I received) that I am somehow “selling out” to Autograph because they have sent me clothes to review.  Yes, they have been very generous, and I really appreciate that they’ve chosen me to do this with.  But that does not mean I’m doing some kind of “blog for product” thing here.  I will be the FIRST to speak up when Autograph don’t get it right.  In fact, there is a woman who works in their Brisbane Myer Centre store who is bloody awful at customer service, it would kill her to be pleasant and friendly.  (Though the other lady that works there is really nice, I don’t want to tar them all with the surly lady brush).  Autograph are in no way perfect when it comes to plus-size retail, (prices are still a bit steep for some things, still a whole lot of crossover busts and still far too many scratchy, non-breathing synthetic fabrics) but right now, review garments or not, they are getting some things right.

Not to mention that I also still BUY from them, because they’re also the one store that I can get to easily that have a) clothes to fit my death fatty, apple-shaped body b) prices I can afford, though usually on their sale racks and c) something that I like, even if I don’t like all of it.  If they want to send me clothes to review, I’m going to bloody take it and give honest reviews.  When I think they do good, I’ll say so, when I think something sucks, I’ll say so.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I was having a little think about all the shopping I’ve done lately.  For the first time in my entire life, my wardrobe is bursting at the seams.  I actually have more clothes than I have space for them and that I’m able to wear.  Not only have I bought clothes (and yes, received clothes) from Autograph, but I’ve also had a bit of a spree from Evans, Yours, thrift sales, Target and when I can get to them, Big W and Kmart.  So I’ve added to my wardrobe quite considerably over the past few months.  I’ve become adept at finding marvelous bargains, mostly through the word of mouth online, so that I can afford a whole lot more than I once would have been able to as well.

The reason it’s so stuffed is because I’ve actually not removed anything much from there for the past decade.  I still cling to clothes I bought ages ago.  Marianne and Lesley have talked about this in one of their early Two Whole Cakes fatcasts, the phenomena of fat women buying clothes that are in their size simply because they fit, and are affordable, and then hanging on to them forever because they might never find them again.  As I looked through my wardrobe, trying to make room for the new stuff, I realised that this is exactly what I have been doing.  What if I can never get a decent pair of black pants like these again?  But I loved this skirt so much, it doesn’t fit me any more, but it was so beautiful, what if I never owned anything this beautiful again?  This is one of the first dresses I bought after I got my first decent job, I just have to hang on to it, it’s SO significant.  I bought this when I was in the US, and I’d never seen anything like it back here, I can’t let it go.

It is time for me to shed these things that I never wear, that don’t fit, that aren’t appropriate for my current lifestyle.  Not only because they take up too much room in my small flat, and not only because I can no longer wear them, but because they are representative of an old way of thinking about myself as a fat woman.  They are the things I clung to because they flattered me, because they were the few crumbs of what I could find to fit my fat body, because I might not find something else.

I clung to these clothes like one clings to a dying relationship… because I was scared might not have another one.

Things have changed.  I have changed.  Where once I waited for the clothes to miraculously appear for me to buy, now I have the power to tell retailers what I want and tell them that they can have my money when they provide it.  Where once I wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing things without sleeves, or high waisted skirts, or fairly body-con dresses, or dresses at all, now thanks to fabulous fatshionistas who have gone before me, I will be bold, wear things that please me, try new things, be proud of my body.  Where once I would have hidden in black, shapeless sacks, now I look for colour, for shape, for style.  Where once I had the option of one or two budget department stores that had a small selection at the back to fit my body, I now at least have a couple of solely plus-size clothing retailers and some fantastic overseas retailers selling online at an affordable rate with shipping that is reasonable.  Not to mention the smaller, independent sellers who are cropping up as well.  The internet has not only opened up a world for them to sell to, but it has opened up a world of contacts to share and network when it comes to finding plus-sized fashion that is affordable and desirable.

Not to mention that I have built a career over the past decade and through bloody hard work and passion for my field, can now afford to shop when I feel like it, as well as when I simply need to.

I can say goodbye to the garments that I have clung to for so many years.  Because I’m ready to move on to bigger and better things, clothing-wise.  Because I don’t have to stay in that bad relationship any more for fear of not being able to find another.  Even the fabulous garments that I have metaphorically outgrown, or desired but never really connected with can go, remembered fondly but bid farewell, perhaps for another to love, as a better fit than they were for me.

Celebrating the Community

Published November 29, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I’ve had a few intense days with work, but as far as I know it all paid off this morning with the opening of our relocated library at Carindale.  My entire body is still stiff and sore from the mammoth effort I put in over the past three days, but I know it will pass.

Because I’ve been quieter than usual online for a few days, several people from the Fatosphere have taken the time to check in on me, just to give a wee nudge and make sure that I’m still about and ok, which was absolutely lovely.

In the spirit of focusing on the positive this month (and the month is almost over, eep!) I really want to talk about where the true strength of fat acceptance is, and that’s in it’s community.

Earlier this week I was listening to the Two Whole Cakes Fatcast on radicalism and Marie Claire from Marianne and Lesley, and they were talking about the sense of community within Fat Acceptance, and how there is no rivalry amongst the fatosphere – or at least none that they feel.  This is one of the things that I love about fat acceptance, the way that we see every success had by one of our peers and/or allies as a win for all of us.  When one of us breaks through somewhere, is published, has a successful event, gets some good visibility happening, and so on, it benefits all of us, even those who are not activists but are just fat and want to opt out of the mainstream of diet, body loathing and shame.

I was also reading this post from Lisa of Lisa’s Life Lessons on how she has received a lot of vitriol for speaking out against weight loss surgery, and how merely telling her story, and sharing the stories of others who have suffered like she has, has drawn quite a lot of hatred in her direction.  She has found haven in the Fat Acceptance community as well as encouragement and support.  The comments on her post are further evidence of this.

It only takes an event where Fat Acceptance activists and allies get together to highlight how strong the community we have is.  Marianne blogged about the Re/Dress NYC indie trunk show event and expressed how supported, encouraged and welcomed she felt in that space.  I have talked about it myself after attending the Australian Fat Studies conference in Sydney.  There is nothing like being in that space with people who you don’t have to explain or justify your choice to opt out of body loathing and shame.

The power of community is often underestimated.  Particularly by those who wish to silence and further marginalise people.    Our strength is in being able to support each other to go back to what we do time and time again.

I am so thankful that I came into this community thanks to Fat Acceptance activism.  It’s what keeps me going and makes it worthwhile when the haters turn up.  Thank you for being part of my community.

Coming Out of the Fat Acceptance Closet

Published May 8, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Well, it’s been an interesting week.  The big news of course for me is that my submission for the Australian Fat Studies: A Critical Dialogue conference has been accepted and I’ve been invited to give a presentation at the conference in Sydney in September.  Not only am I honoured to be invited, but I’m also thrilled that as far as I know, this is the first time that fat people have been asked to participate in the discussion with academia.  Normally folks talk about us, not with us, you know?

One of the things I’m having to come to terms with is coming out of the closet so to speak as a fat acceptance blogger/activist in my day to day life.  Mostly at work I don’t talk about fat acceptance or the stuff that I do as an activist in the cause.  This isn’t because I’m ashamed of it or embarrassed by it – but simply because I’m mostly too busy at, and there is an element of “this is my workplace, I can’t piss people off here”.  And I know that my passion for fat acceptance over-rides my tact sometimes, so I kind of just take that hat off at work a wee bit.

However, with my absolute beside myself excitement over the Fat Studies conference, and a few other things lately, I’ve found myself quite proudly wearing that fat acceptance hat all the time.  It’s such a fabulous hat, you know?  I don’t want to leave it at home.

In response to my talking about fat acceptance amongst friends and colleagues, a few times someone has said to me “You are so brave to put yourself out there.”  I’ve felt a little uncomfortable with that, because I don’t feel brave or anything.  But then I was listening to the Two Whole Cakes Fatcasts that Marianne Kirby and Leslie Kinzel are doing at the moment, and I found myself thinking “They’re so brave.”

And they are.  So am I for that matter.  It’s not easy putting yourself out there on the subject of fat, simply because there is so much loathing, fear and hostility around it.  But I don’t do it to be brave, and while I can’t speak for Marianne and Leslie, it seems neither do they.  I think we do it because it’s the right thing to do, and because we want to make a difference.  Ladies, please correct me if I’m wrong.

Something Leslie said in the first fatcast really stuck with me.  Forgive me as I’ve paraphrased it, but basically “every time a fat woman gets out of bed, gets dressed and leaves the house she’s being an activist”.  It’s bloody true!!

Fat women are supposed to be apologetic for existing.  We’re supposed to be invisible, demure, quiet, ashamed and embarrassed.  We’re supposed to dress in shapeless, dark colours, apologise for taking up space in the world, shrink down (both figuratively and literally), pay more for everything (clothes, seats on airplanes, underwear, health care, you name it), to make excuses for ourselves, to be invisible.

So when we’re not invisible, when we talk about being fat, when we accept ourselves for who we are, as we are, when we live life to the full, bold and brilliant, when we are outspoken or confident, when we choose to clothe ourselves in things that make ourselves noticeable, we’re even more of an activist than just existing.

It isn’t easy.  Not only are you dealing with your own demons, a lifetime of fat hate heaped on you that you have to battle to re-claim your self esteem and confidence, but you’re scrutinised and inspected to the nth degree, just in case you make a mistake, or have an error in something you say, or are misinformed.

You’re also dealing with a whole lot of hatred in the form of the trolls you get on your blogs and anywhere else you’re active.  Some fatosphere bloggers don’t have much problem with it, but some of us get hammered every day by some douchebag who posts comments spewing their narrow minded hate.  Even when you have a good platform to deal with them, and get rid of them individually pretty quickly, there is another to take their place.  Why on earth anyone would want to waste their time on trolling blogs I’ve never understood, but one has to have a strong self esteem to deal with these morons.

But we keep going.  We keep blogging, talking about fat acceptance, feminism and body politics.  We keep doing it because it’s important to us.  A quote I love (and that I can’t work out who said it originally, sometimes the internets make it harder to find information than easier) and that sums up the whole shebang for me:

Courage is not the absence of fear but the awareness that something else is more important than fear.

I’ll talk more about the results of my coming out of the fat acceptance closet as time goes by and I find out how more and more people in my life react to it.

Are you active about fat acceptance in your day to day life?  How do your family, colleagues, friends etc respond to your fat acceptance activisim/beliefs?