The Realities of Fat Activism

Published January 11, 2015 by sleepydumpling

It’s time I spoke up about a little something that’s going on in the fatosphere at the moment.  I don’t have a very big platform in the scheme of things, I do have a loyal group that stick around and are very supportive, and I’m forever thankful and honoured by that.  But I don’t have access to being published on mainstream websites, nor do I have friends who are high profile people in activism circles.  I have worked very hard for over 5 years to get the little bit of following and media notice I have had, and I’m thankful that there are people who appreciate my work and signal boost it on a regular basis.

But I am SO done with people who write on mainstream websites (where one article gets more shares than I get hits on a post) whinging that they don’t have representation, and then holding up MY tiny patch of the internet as an example of how fat/size acceptance is “doin’ it wrong”. (No, I am not linking to it, most of you will know the piece I’m referring to.)

Firstly, I have said for years now that I do not identify as part of fat acceptance, size acceptance or body positive movements.  I am a proud fat activist who believes in fighting for the human rights of fat people to live their lives in dignity and respect, without discrimination or vilification.  I believe in the liberation of fat people from a society that has treated us as second class citizens for almost a century now.  I do not believe “acceptance” is enough.  Body positivity has long excluded very fat bodies like mine.  Nobody has the right to hold me up as an example of either fat/size acceptance or body positivity as I reject both of those movements myself.

Secondly, I have no place speaking for anyone but myself.  If you want representation, do not look to me to speak for you.  I can only speak for my experience – that of a very fat (I personally prefer the term “deathfat”) woman with chronic illness.  I am a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault.  I have lived through poverty.  These are the things I am qualified to speak on.  I can, and will not presume to speak for anyone other than myself, however, if other people identify with my experiences, I appreciate the connection with them.

Unfortunately, I get a lot of people criticising me (more often than not they’re just trolling) for not writing about how fat hate affects men, or disabled people, or women of colour, or LGBT* folk.  I am not qualified to speak on these perspectives as I do not belong to them myself.  It is not appropriate for me to write about other people’s experiences.

I am not running a media website.  I am not editing any collections or aggregating other people’s posts.  This blog is me.  JUST me.  I stopped allowing guest posts years ago, and I write about my experiences.

If you want to be represented in fat spaces, you need to speak up for yourself.  But you also need to be aware that visibility in the fatosphere is not something that is either automatic, or without serious issues.  I blogged here for two years before I started to get any audience outside of a small group of friends.  In that two years, I spent the equivalent time and effort of a full time job in research, outreach, discussion with other activists and self-promotion on growing my blog, my visibility and my audience.  Once I started to get established, I spent just as much time lobbying the media, academia,  businesses and other organisations asking to speak, to be interviewed and to be included in events to further my activism.  In fact, until last year, I worked a full time unpaid job in activism on top of the full time job I have that pays my rent.  It’s only when it began to take a toll on my health and stress levels that I cut way back on the activism work I was doing, for my own self care.  Consequently, my audience has shrunk again, but I am very grateful for those who are loyal enough to stick around for my more sporadic posts.

As well as being hard work to get any visibility as a fat activist, most of us have to deal with some pretty horrific abuse.  Abuse that is unrelenting – despite my reduction in activism, the abuse has not tailed off even mildly.  It is relentless, always waiting in my email, on my social media accounts, and sometimes in my “real life” spaces.  It will appear on this post, and I will have to get rid of some horrific stuff.

You need to be aware that while it may look like all fun events and free shit for a fat activist on the surface, many of us spend hours and hours dealing with hate groups discussing how they’d like to see us die and suffer, sending us death and rape threats, constant harassment by abusive emails, tweets, Tumblr asks etc, theft and vandalism of our photographs, violent images and horrific pornography sent to us, things that before I started blogging, I would never have believed that another human being would do or say to someone.  Not to mention that it spills over into offline life as well.  I have had people stalk me, death threats sent to my home, hate notes left in my mailbox, been signed up to “obesity clinics” and weight loss centres, had vexatious letters sent to my employer, people abuse me in the street, all manner of crap I’ve had to deal with.  And let’s not get started on the creepers that think we should be grateful for their “fat admiration”.  Sending me unsolicited dick pics is not “admiration”, it’s sexual harassment.

You don’t see it because I don’t want to inflict it on others.  I don’t want to promote the bullying and hate.  I don’t want to give them the attention they crave.  And mostly because I just hit the delete button and get on with my life as best as I can.

Are you willing to deal with these things as a visible activist?  Are you willing to put in the work to get representation in fat spaces?  Are you willing to even acknowledge that these things unfortunately come with the territory of being a visible activist?

Does that mean that I don’t have privilege as a white woman?  No.  I am fully aware that as a white, heterosexual, mostly able-bodied, cis-woman who is lucky enough to currently have full time employment that I have advantages that other people don’t have.  Does it mean that nobody has privilege over me?  No it does not.

What I can, will and already do is signal boost those activists who are speaking up.  I am not trying to win any ally badges, or be given any ally cookies.  I want to promote those who are standing up and speaking out as best I can, because I know what it’s like to be under-represented.  I know what it is like to be on the margins.  Not to mention that I personally prefer to hear the perspectives of people outside of the median.  I can see a dime a dozen pretty, white, smaller fats with plenty of disposable income blogging about fat fashion.  But after a while, the shine wears off and I want to hear about the people who have also fought societal pressure like I have, for whatever reason, even if it is different to mine.  I want to see bodies that both look like mine, and bodies that don’t but are rarely seen anywhere else.  I have more in common with other marginalised people, despite our differences, than I do with the pretty white fatshion bloggers.  My social media platforms are all full of people on the outside, of various identities, because that’s where I have always been myself.

I wholeheartedly support the call for more diverse voices in fat activism.  I want them as much as anyone else does.  But I will not now or ever sit by in silence while someone on a far larger platform than I have access to passive-aggressively holds me up as someone who is “doing it wrong”.   If you don’t like how I dress, represent myself or engage in activism, you go out and do your own.

If you already follow my Facebook feed, my Twitter or my Tumblr, you will already have access to the activists I choose to signal boost.  But I will also do so here, because it seems this is where I garner the most criticism for a lack of representation.

I invite you to share your blogs/accounts and those you like in the comments below as well.  I know I could always use some more.

Note, these are in no particular order, and are not sorted into categories, they’re just as I dig them up from my bookmarks. And are only some of those I follow (I left out any that haven’t posted in a while).

*Unfortunately there are very few men blogging about fat issues, and some of those that are have been caught bullying, harassing and trolling fat women, so I will not support them.  A couple of very good fat blogging men have stopped blogging, which is a real shame.

**Note – please keep this comment thread to sharing links to non-mainstream fat activism and fatshion.  I am not entering into a discussion of whether I’m doing fat activism “right” or that it’s my job to speak for anyone other than myself and those that wish to identify with me.

Not New At All

Published January 3, 2015 by sleepydumpling

Happy New Year!!

This is where I spend at least a month being absolutely astonished that it is 2015 already.  It happens to me every year, you’d think I’d get used to it by now.

I have a love/hate relationship with New Year.  I love the fresh feeling of a new year, all the potential laid out in front of me, even though it’s arbitrary.  I love having Christmas (which is a difficult time for me) behind me.

But for the love of all things sacred, I fucking hate all the resolutions, New Year/New Body/New Me, let’s get fit/get healthy/off the couch, the public announcements of how “good I’m going to be this year” bullshit.  It’s like a fucking tsunami of thinly veiled moralism coated in self aggrandisement.  It’s the once-a-year parade of “Look what a good cookie I am!”

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for self improvement.  I’m all for setting useful goals and working towards them.  That is, improvement and goals that are about being your best you and living your life to the best of your ability, not changing your appearance to meet some societal standard.  I simply believe that these things should a) be all the time, not just on an arbitrary date change and b) NOT be announced publicly to draw attention to what a good little person you are.

A lot of people don’t even realise they’re doing it. They’re not aware of the air of self congratulation, of moral superiority they’re emitting.  Hell, I used to even do it myself, before I realised what a vacuous societal performance it all is.

But most of all, I hate how unaware people are of just how harmful all that bullshit can be for the people they subject it to.  I don’t know about you, but my social media feeds are all a massive minefield of moralising, diet talk, “fitspo”, food policing, and New Year bandwagon jumping.  It has absolutely fucked with my head over the past week or so and I find myself spiraling into some really dangerous territory.  Every day I have to dodge trigger after trigger from people I do love and care about.  I’ve struggled with all of those old dark thoughts about food and eating and dieting to the point where I had to really sit down and work hard to pull my thinking back into a sensible place.  Thankfully, I’ve reached a point in my life where I can recognise it creeping up on me, not everyone has got there yet and the spiral can head downward faster than they can keep up with.  It sends them into a horrible place that takes forever to claw back from.  But that said, even though I can recognise it, I still have to work REALLY hard to undo the damage.

What it all boils down to is needing to engage in real self care.  Which I know is really difficult to do, particularly when your brain is being dragged down a dark path by constant triggers from those around you.  So what I thought I’d do is share with you the things I do that help, and if they are of use to even one of you, it’s worth it.

  1. Use the block, unfriend, hide, mute, list, or whatever functions on social media you can.  Have a purge.  Get rid of the people who deflate you.  For the rest, that you do care about but are hurting you with their New Year crap, hide/mute them or create a list on the site that is ONLY the people who make you feel strong and positive, and focus on that list.  Each site has a bunch of different functionalities, but most of them have options that will at least reduce the harmful crap.  Don’t feel ashamed or harsh for doing this.  You have to take care of you first.
  2. Fill your social media platforms with fabulous people who make you feel strong and positive.  Start a Tumblr following a whole bunch of fat positive accounts.  Follow a bunch of intelligent, witty people on Twitter who bring good things to the table.  Seek out blogs that talk about food in a way that helps you balance your thoughts.  Jump on Facebook and find pages that are by people who share empowering content.  Follow lots of fab feminist accounts of people of marginalised identities on Instagram so you can see representation of lots of awesome diverse people.  Make yourself a playlist on YouTube that fills you with joy.  Whatever social media of your choice, build it in to something that empowers you.
  3. Hang out with someone you know makes you feel good about yourself.  If you have a buddy who suffers from the triggery shit as much as you do, get together and have a good vent about it, and then move on to something positive and fun.
  4. Relax.  Whatever your method of relaxing is, do it.  Take a bath.  Read a book.  Have an orgasm (alone or with someone, doesn’t matter how).  Go for a walk somewhere nice.  Watch a movie that makes you laugh.  Listen to good music.  Have a cup of tea and a biscuit.  Build Lego.  Whatever that thing is that makes you sort of forget time, and just relax… do that.
  5. Make sure you feed yourself.  God this is a tough one.  The downward spiral is ever present for me on this one.  Have breakfast.  Eat lunch.  Get a decent dinner.  It’s easy to skip meals or live off simple things (ramen anyone?) when your brain is being bombarded with triggery stuff.  But if you focus on feeding yourself properly, you will feel better in the long run.
  6. Take your medications.  Yep, that’s one that I find VERY difficult when triggered by New Year shit.  Set an alarm on your phone and take them when it goes off.  Portion them off in a pill box if you need to.  Just get in a routine and take them.  Not taking them makes the downward spiral faster.
  7. Get some sleep.  Even if you have to leave other things undone, get some sleep.
  8. Get some fresh air.  Go outside and fill your lungs.  Just breathe for a while.  We all spend too much time in air-con/heating without getting a little fresh air once and a while.
  9. Treat yo self.  A bunch of flowers.  A really, really good cup of coffee.  A new dress.  Some nice hand cream.  Whatever is a nice little moment of pleasure.
  10. Remember this: You are awesome.  No, you’re not perfect, but you’re awesome.  The only person you need to impress with self improvement is YOU.

lokibetter

Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s That Time of Year!

Published December 14, 2014 by sleepydumpling

Well hello!  I’m still here, I haven’t forgotten about this blog.  You know how it is, life gets busy and all – big end of year projects at work, holiday season planning and events, all that stuff.  But it’s good to make some time to visit here and update for you all.

Since it is that time of year, I thought I’d do a bit of a Christmas list for you all.  Starting with all the things I’d like in my stocking on Christmas Day.

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Oh come on, you TOTALLY knew I was going to go there! :-P

But seriously, now let’s start with some Etsy goodies…

Silk Cotton Owl Scarf from Shovava

Silk Cotton Owl Scarf from Shovava

Laundry Necklace by oronkol

Laundry Necklace by oronkol

Rainbow Cake earrings by shayaaron

Rainbow Cake earrings by shayaaron

Male Tears Teapot by babypietattoo

Male Tears Teapot by babypietattoo

French Fry Leggings from thegeekgarden

French Fry Leggings from thegeekgarden

Now, from elsewhere on the interwebs…

I have been a fan of Erstwilder for many years now, and own quite a few of their pieces.  But these two are in my SQUEE I WANT IT list!

Seth sloth by Erstwilder

Seth sloth necklace by Erstwilder

Trixie Bunny Honey by Erstwilder

Trixie Bunny Honey brooch by Erstwilder

I’m sure  you’re all aware how much I love a good frock.  And if it is covered in quirky prints, even better still.  Modcloth seldom fail to satisfy in that department:

You're In Luck dress in Pie by Modcloth

You’re In Luck dress in Pie by Modcloth

Hooked on a Canine dress by Modcloth

Hooked on a Canine dress by Modcloth

Mew-seum Visit dress by Modcloth

Mew-seum Visit dress by Modcloth

Prancing in the Reindeer dress by Modcloth

Prancing in the Reindeer dress by Modcloth

And finally, because I’m a big kid at heart, there’s always Lego on my Christmas list!

Volkswagon Campervan by Lego

Volkswagon Campervan by Lego

Guardians of the Galaxy Milano Spaceship Rescue by Lego

Guardians of the Galaxy Milano Spaceship Rescue by Lego

But I won’t leave you there.  I love to give gifts as well as receive them, so here are some things I would love to give as Christmas gifts this year.

William McInnes’ latest book, “Holidays“, which is a fantastic beach read.

I was lucky enough to go to see William at Chermside Library this week.  I’ve been a fan of his since I was 15 (that’s a LONG tme!) so I’m always chuffed to go see him.  Look, here we are, both being adorable.  I still don’t know why Will has a tiny Christmas tree.

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I can’t resist posting this pic!

Ahem!

I got one of these in my most recent Bellabox (also an excellent gift idea) and it’s bloody fantastic.  I chip nailpolish in about 2 hours post application.  I had this stuff on all week and it is still flawless.  In fact, I just reapplied another layer to fill in where my nails have grown, and it still looks fabulous.  Easy to use, the light is compact and runs off either USB or mains power, and the colours are great.  The one above (that I have) is called “Gone Fission”.

Library Lover keep cup from ALIA

Library Lover keep cup from ALIA

What can I say, I know a lot of librarians.  And most of us a full on coffee-hounds.

Lego Cufflinks by BingJewelry

Lego Cufflinks by BingJewelry

I also know many a nerdy dude who would dig these.

This adorable Paddington Bear from the ABC shop.

This adorable Paddington Bear from the ABC shop.

Because Paddington Bear is one of my favourites from when I was a kid, and there’s a new movie coming out!

Anyway, I wish all of you the most wonderful of holiday seasons, whatever your stripe as my Grandma says and if you are interested in any of the goodies above, click on the photos to go to the websites for them.

Fat Women Fuck Too

Published November 16, 2014 by sleepydumpling

Today from the douchebag files comes the story of UK “actor” and “comedian”  (I use those in scare quotes on purpose, I’m not sure he’s much of either) Jeff Leach, who took it upon himself to screen shot the Tinder profile photograph of the amazing fat activist and all ‘round awesome babe, Kim Selling, and post it to his Instagram with a douchey caption.  He has since deleted it but I happened to take a screen shot and Kim has given me the OK to share it here with you:

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 11.56.15 am
As you can see, by his caption “Left swipe, LEFT SWIPE, LEFFFFTTTTT SWIIIIPPPPEEEE”, he clearly thought it was a HILARIOUS joke to post a picture of a sexually active fat woman and express how he definitely has to reject her.  For those of you unaware of Tinder, it’s an app for smartphones designed for people looking to hook up, and if you are interested you can swipe right and if the person swipes right back, the two of you can talk.  To swipe left is to reject the person.  I don’t use Tinder myself, but plenty of people of all kinds do and it’s a convenient way to connect with people who are looking for sexual partners.  Kim’s photo is fun and she looks gorgeous and it’s clearly sex positive, which is what you need to be for Tinder right?

Of course, when called on his misogyny and fat shaming, instead of either a) shutting up and avoiding making an idiot of himself or b) apologising, deleting the post and moving on, Leach decided that he would declare he’s a “feminist” who was making a point that women should have “more respect for themselves” and not post pictures of themselves with a lamp that says “sex”.  Of course, it’s a hook up app.  Which is for the very purpose of finding sexual partners.  And he was on it, presumably looking for a sexual partner himself.  So not only is it a really, really bad cover up for him being a fat-shaming jerk, it’s a big steaming pile of hypocrisy, because if a woman can’t post a photo of herself with the word “sex” on a hook up app, that HE himself is looking for sex on… whut?  Can any one say slut shaming?

A quick look on his Instagram shows photos of scantily clad THIN women, quite creepily including some he is following down the street and him posing in front of the camera/mirror himself.  So it seems he’s quite comfortable with displaying his own sexuality, that’s ok.  And thin women don’t get lectured about self respect.  Just the fat chick on Tinder.

It’s patently obvious that he was posting Kim’s picture for the lulz of “Ha ha look at this fat woman who wants sex, how gross.”  But no, no, he was being feminist.  He was teaching women how to respect themselves.  To show just how he wasn’t making commentary about Kim’s fatness, and isn’t being a jerk about fat women, he left this comment on Instagram and these comments on Twitter (which he has since deleted – guilty much?).  Very focused on fatness for something that wasn’t about fat, right?

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Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 6.09.33 pm“Belittled her own self-worth” eh Leach?  She looks pretty pleased with her self in her photo to me.  I smell bullshit mate.  Don’t hand me a shit sandwich and tell me it’s good for me.

But anyway, this all draws me to the topic I wish to talk about today, which is the policing of fat women’s sexuality.

We can’t bloody win, can we.  Firstly we’re told we’re “gross” and “nobody wants to see that”.  However, as pretty much any visible fat woman can tell you, there are PLENTY of offers for sex, whether you want them or not.  It’s like a game of whack-a-mole on the internet for me personally, to get rid of the dudes who seem to believe that if a fat woman is visible online, she wants, nay, must be grateful for, sexual attention.  Which is not just mere interest, but unsolicited dick pics, your photos (even non-sexual, fully clothed) being stolen and blogged on BBW porn sites, and generally skeevy messages treating you like a personal sex toy.

If we specifically say yes we do want sex, and use a dating site or hook up app to make our intentions clear, we open ourselves up for a whole new level of hate and ridicule.  Either it’s “Nooo!!  Not a fatty wanting sex!” or the good old “Hey big hottie, want to fuck?  I don’t mind fat girls.  No thanks?  Well you’re a fat bitch anyway that I wouldn’t touch in a million years.”

Not to mention the whole happy to fuck you in private, but won’t be seen with you in public thing, which I am sure many of you can relate to.

Women in general are objectified and have their sexuality policed, we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t, but fat women have to deal with a whole extra layer of shaming, ridicule, hatred and being treated like we should be grateful for any crumbs of male attention.

The reality is, fat women have sex.  Some of them don’t have sex.  Some of them have sex with multiple partners.  Some of them have sex with other women.  Some of them have sex with people of all gender identities.  As consenting adults, we are the ones who have control over who we do or do not have sex with, and how much sex we have in our lives.  There is no legitimate reason we should be ashamed of our sexuality.  We don’t have to feel grateful or obliged to anyone for wanting to have sex with us.  And we certainly do not have to tolerate random douchebags like Jeff Leach ridiculing us on social media.

I am happy to say that Kim had a quite a strong support team around her when she shared that this had happened to her, and there are still people making sure in no uncertain terms that Leach knows his behaviour is unacceptable and that Kim has more awesome in her little finger than he does in his entire skeevy body.  Just so that nobody forgets just how amazing Kim is, I’ll leave you with her spoken word piece, Fat Bottomed Girls.

You can also follow Kim on Tumblr and Instagram.

Birthday Post – 42 and Counting!

Published October 25, 2014 by sleepydumpling

Happy Birthday to me!
Happy Birthday to me!
Happy Birthday dear Heffalump
Happy Birthday to me!

Photo by camknows on Flickr

Photo by camknows on Flickr

Yes, today is my 42nd birthday.  I was hoping to wake up this morning and find that I know the meaning to the question of life, the universe and everything, but sadly, that hasn’t happened yet.  Maybe it will happen at 6.45pm, which is the exact moment that I entered the world 42 years ago.

But I do know some things, and I think I will share them with you all since I’m feeling like my 40’s are bringing me into a new level of wisdom that I never had before.  Consider it my gift to all of you.

1. Getting older is kind of awesome.  I know a lot of women say they feel invisible once they get into their 40’s, but hey, fat women are mostly invisible all their lives, so that hasn’t happened to me.  In fact I would say that I’ve become more visible – not just in the physical sense, but in that I will speak up now.  I spend a whole lot less of my time trying to disappear and not be noticed.

2. Not everyone can love their body.  But learning to value it is a good thing to do.  Bodies don’t always do what we want them to do.  And despite all the well intentioned “Love your body” messages, for a lot of people, that’s just not possible for a myriad of reasons.  However, our bodies propel us through our lives.  They do a bunch of important shit that we need without us ever being conscious of it.  They can experience (and give) a lot of pleasure.  Learning to just inhabit the body you have got to the best of your ability, and at least value it enough to be kind to it.  The kinder you are to your body, the easier it is to live in.

3. Your self worth does not hinge on whether or not men want to have sex with you.  Remember, as said by @moscaddie on Twitter – dick is abundant and of low value.  Believe me, no matter who you are, there are dudes out there who want to fuck you.  But really, aren’t you worth more than that?

4. Your 20’s suck.  That’s not the peak of life.  If it is, then you’ve got a big, long, downhill slide ahead of you!  Aim for your peak to be much later.  I think I’d like to peak around 65.  We as a culture seem to put so much value on to our 20’s, when really, it’s a pretty rough decade for the majority of people.  You’re old enough to have to adult, but you’re not old enough to have figured out shit yet.  It gets better than that.

5. Be kind to your feet.  Yes I know those 6 inch stilettos are gorgeous and make you feel sexy.  But give your feet plenty of rest and care.  Because you will be forced to wear ugly, ugly shoes way sooner than you want to if you don’t take care of your feet now.

6. If it makes you feel good, it’s not a waste of time.  Yeah I know, there are so many things we need to do with our time right?  We really shouldn’t take that nap.  We really shouldn’t spend an afternoon reading/building Lego/faffing about on the internet/insert idle entertainment here. I should be cleaning the house.  I should be sorting out that spare room.  I should be…  Let yourself have regular leisure time.  REAL leisure time, filled with things that make the time zoom by because you’re so into whatever you are doing.  The dishes will get done.  Whatever else it is you feel you should be doing, you will do later.  It is good self care to just chill.

7. You don’t need that much perfume/body spray/other scented item.  Believe me, just a little dab or spritz is all you need.  If someone can smell it on you when they are more than a metre away from you, it’s WAY too much, you’re making people’s eyes water and nose run, they’re just too polite to say anything.  Scent is sexy when you’re up close, not when it’s crop dusting everyone in the vicinity.

8. All genitals look weird.  No really, they all look weird and nothing at all like you see in porn.  There’s nothing wrong with how yours look.  Unless they’re suddenly green and oozing, then go see a doctor.

9.  Food is not the enemy.  You need food.  Stop fighting it, and you’ll start to notice things you never noticed before.  Like when certain things make you feel tired and run down or queasy, or jittery.  You can’t know which foods your body needs when you are busy treating food like an enemy.

10. Fashion is fun, but style is personal.  Have fun with fashion, but don’t be a slave to it.  If you don’t like anything that is currently in fashion, just rock your own style.  Truly stylish people wear what they love, not what is fashionable.  Even if others don’t like your style, who cares?  You love it right?

11. Blood is not thicker than water.  Families can be some of the most damaging people in your life.  If they do you harm, you are within your right to remove them from your life.  Build your own community of people around you.  People who treat you with respect and love you unconditionally.

12. Be in photographs.  If you shy away from cameras, there will come a time you will regret that there are no pictures of you.  Let the people who love you take photographs of you, or take them of yourself.  I really wish I hadn’t bolted from cameras all through my teens, 20’s and 30’s.

13. At least once per year, sit back and note all the things you’ve done over the past year.  And I don’t mean big things that happen once or twice in your life, I mean all the things that you do all the time and barely take notice.  Projects you’ve finished at work.  Things you’ve done around the house.  Books you’ve read.  Places you’ve been.  Events you’ve participated in.  Blog posts you’ve written.  Craft projects you’ve made.  Anything that you’ve completed.  We are so focused on the next thing we’re working on, the next hill we’re climbing, we forget to acknowledge all the things we’ve completed.  It feels SO good to look at that list and it makes the stuff in front of you less daunting.

14. Never give up an opportunity to pee.  Or get into an elevator with a full bladder.  Just trust me on this one.

15. Tell the people that you love, that you love them.  You have an unlimited supply of  “I love you’s.”   Give those babies away freely.  You will not be diminished by how much love you give, instead you will be enriched by it.

Do I Make You Uncomfortable? Good!

Published October 18, 2014 by sleepydumpling

On Sunday night, my friend Kerri and I went out for the evening to have dinner and see Bill Bailey live in his new show, Limboland.  We had a great night, delicious dinner and Bill was fantastic, but for me, the night was marred just a little by other people’s behaviour.

Firstly while at the restaurant, twice the waitress tutted as she went behind my chair because the gap was narrow.  Note, the gaps are narrow everywhere in this restaurant, because they’re trying to get as many customers in to a small space as possible.  Makes sense right?  More customers, more money spent.  But I noticed that she only tutted when she had to squeeze behind MY chair, not behind the equally small gaps behind thin people’s chairs.

Then when we took our seats in the Concert Hall before the gig, the older woman in the seat beside me made it very, very clear that she was not pleased at having to sit next to me.  She scowled.  She huffed.  She leaned away from me.  At intermission when she came back to her seat (we stayed in ours – and stood up so that it was easy for people to pass us), she had swapped place with her husband.  I have to wonder if she noticed that her husband spent the second half of the show gazing longingly at my breasts.  All this even though the seats at the QPAC Concert Hall are very generous and I am well contained within them with space to spare at my hips.  Unlike many of the men around me that I noticed were squeezing their shoulders in to fit, my butt/belly fit quite comfortably in the seats in all of the theatres in QPAC.

None of this is new for me.  Let’s just get that straight.  Happens all the time.  At least twice a day as I commute to and from work to start with, as people REALLY hate to see a fat woman on a train.  Every now and then someone cool comes along and isn’t bothered by sitting beside me, but invariably at least two or three people have huffed or scowled or tutted when they see the empty seat beside me.

I’ve been thinking about how much people with thin privilege grumble and groan at having to accommodate fat people’s needs, and how often they really fight the idea that they are privileged over fat people in any way – sometimes to the point of bullying, harassment and abuse when made aware of their own privilege.  I think it derives from a resentment of feeling uncomfortable.  Let’s face it, part of owning ones privilege is discomfort.  It doesn’t feel good to have people angry that they are not afforded the same privileges as you and have to overcome obstacles that you don’t.  It’s discomforting to realise that you often take things for granted that other people just don’t get access to.  As a white, heterosexual cis-woman, I know this because it is uncomfortable to realise my own privilege.  But I believe that some discomfort is a very, very small price to pay for having the privileges that I am afforded as a white, heterosexual cis-woman.

I am honestly glad that I make people with thin privilege over me uncomfortable.  Good.  It will do them good to have some discomfort in their lives, just as it is good for me to face discomfort as a white, heterosexual cis-woman for my privileges.  But more than anything else, in the case of thin privilege, I think it’s good for thinner people to have discomfort about the space they are in.

Let’s face it, as a fat woman, I can honestly say that I’ve been uncomfortable in the world pretty much my whole life.  It’s very difficult to find clothes that fit me.  Furniture is not made to include me.  Public spaces are set out in ways that it is uncomfortable for me to navigate.  Strangers make me feel uncomfortable about being in public, whether it’s by showing their disgust/annoyance at having to see me, or sit near me, or manoeuvre past me, or by the way they stare, gawp and even photograph me, like I’m some kind of public attraction (though I must say, if I’m the weirdest thing someone has seen in their day, they live a very sheltered life!)    When I turn on the television or open a magazine or paper, or go online, I’m made uncomfortable by the rhetoric around fatness, I’m labelled as a disease, broken, unhealthy, irresponsible.

However none of this discomfort actually comes from my fat body itself.  My body feels fine in it’s size, it’s me, it’s the size I naturally am and if the world around me wasn’t so hostile and unaccommodating towards my body, I wouldn’t be in any discomfort at all.  It is assumed by many, even by other fat people, that every fat person must be feeling discomfort in their body.  This is not true.  Bodies aren’t all the same, and there isn’t a cookie cutter “comfortable” size for human beings.  We are diverse.  I think sometimes that diversity reminds people that we are actually animals just like any other and that makes them very uncomfortable too.

It is a sign of a vast self centred sense of entitlement to believe that the world should be accommodating to you all the time over other people.  This world is a big place.  There is room enough for all of us to be accommodated, if only people would stop clinging to the notion that everyone has to be like “them” to be acceptable.  A little discomfort to enable everyone space and representation is a good thing, and I believe that we human beings can handle it.

Those of us with privilege in any form will benefit by learning to accept discomfort from time to time in the areas that we have privilege.  One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is to sit with my discomfort of my privilege, and understand that I’m lucky only to deal with the little bit of discomfort that comes my way as a white, heterosexual, cis-woman.  But when it comes to my fatness, I’m not willing to apologise for my body and act as though I am a burden, a problem, an inconvenience.  This is my body.  It serves me well.  I quite like it.  And it does no harm in the world.  I will not be made feel inferior because it doesn’t fit the current mode that is considered “acceptable”, and I will give my body the space it needs to manoeuvre through the world while also allowing others around me to do so within reason.

Sadly, there are those who feel that by shouldering a little discomfort the same as everyone else, they are not getting their “fair share”.  When the reality of privilege is, they have been getting more than their fair share all along, and aren’t willing to give up a little of the extra they’ve been enjoying to accommodate others.

So if my fatness makes you feel uncomfortable, good.  If my calling out your thin privilege causes you discomfort, good.  Now you have a small taste of what it is like for the rest of us.

Frocktober!

Published October 13, 2014 by sleepydumpling

I’m sure any of you who’ve been reading here or following me on other social media will be aware that I am rather fond of a good frock.  I have a natural aversion to pants, and have been known to shout “Down with pants!” any time someone suggests I might wear them.  Though between us, I have discovered a love of the soft pant, you know those loose fitting ones in soft fabrics, usually with nice deep pockets and an elasticised waistband.  Those I’ll forgive.

It wasn’t always like this.  For most of my life, I really was averse to wearing dresses.   That’s because I believed the garbage that they weren’t “flattering” enough for fat girls, and that “nobody wants to see that” and all of that other rubbish about what fat women should and shouldn’t wear.  So I lived in jeans and tunic tops, baggy “dress” pants and long maxi skirts.   I can’t even remember what the first dress I bought after finding fat activism, but somewhere along the line I bought a frock, put it on and loved it.  Slowly but surely over the past few years my personal style has changed and I’ve taken to mostly wearing dresses, especially to work or out.

This year, in honour of my love of frocks, because it’s my birthday month and because it’s for a very, very good cause, I’ve decided to participate in Frocktober to raise money for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.  My goal is to wear a frock every day for the whole month of October, a different one for each day if I can (I might be able to make it!) and document as many of them as possible.  It is now Day 13 and I’ve worn 13 different frocks, and documented 8 of them.  It’s a little hard on the weekends as a) I don’t have a full length mirror at home and b) if I’m just chilling out at home, my frock is something mediocre yet very comfortable!

Anyway, this is where you come in, dear reader!  If you can, I would love it if you could sponsor me for the month.  To do so, go to my Frocktober profile page where you can safely donate with all funds going to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.  Just to show you how vital research into ovarian cancer, here are some of the facts provided by the OCRF:

The Facts

  • Every ten hours, one woman dies from ovarian cancer in Australia
  • Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death of all gynaecological cancers
  • Unlike other cancers, there is NO early detection test
  • Over 50% of the community incorrectly believe a pap smear diagnoses ovarian cancer
  • Ovarian cancer has a lower survival rate than both breast and cervical cancer
  • When detected and treated early 80-100% of women will survive beyond five years compared with only 20-30% when diagnosed at a late stage

You can follow me on Instagram or Tumblr to keep up with my Frocktober frocks and I will do another blog post towards the end of the month.  Until then, enjoy some of the first week of Frocktober’s frocks!

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