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People Die From Exposure – Pay Me!

Published October 10, 2016 by Fat Heffalump

In one day last week I had to answer three separate emails requesting my time and considerable work for free (or a $10 gift card!).  All in the space of one day, I had two for-profit businesses and a researcher (who mentioned she had been given a grant for her research) ask me to do considerable work for them, for free.

All three of them claimed to be about “empowering women”.

Sigh… is anyone else really, really sick of this shit?

Money

You want to “empower women”?  Pay us for the work we do.  And pay us fairly – not in bloody $10 gift cards that are useless to us.We know that women are underpaid.  Women on average do four years extra work than men in their lifetimes (which is compounded when you add other marginalised identities) and earn AT LEAST 25% less than men for doing the same work – white women on average earn 25% less than white men, again, compounded when you add other marginalised identities – ie black women earn at least 40% less than white men.  That doesn’t include the frankly phenomenal amount of domestic and emotional work that women are expected to provide, for free, across our entire lives.

Yet still, businesses, organisations and academics constantly make requests of women to give our time and skills for free.  As though we don’t already have more than enough piled on us both in the workplace and unpaid in our private lives.

Look, if I’m contacted by a non-profit organisation, and it’s a cause or concept that matters to me, I’ll volunteer, if I have the time.  Because that’s what volunteering is about, supporting things that matter to you and contribute to society.  If it is something that means I’ll have to travel, I appreciate assistance with my travel and accommodation, so that it’s not a financial burden on me to participate.   I’ll even negotiate rates for small and emerging businesses, if they don’t assume that I’m just going to work for free for them.  But if I have businesses contact me, tell me about how successful they are and then ask me to do work for them – and please, understand that what I do is WORK, it’s not a hobby – and then tell me that they’re not willing to pay me, that’s exploitation.  That’s furthering your own agenda at the expense of someone else, and it’s wrong.

I’m not talking about being slung a few freebies in exchange for a review, I mean actual work – speaking at an event, writing articles or papers, something that takes my time and skills.

Of course, there are always those that claim that women are being unreasonable for expecting to be paid for their time and skills, that it’s somehow “selling out” to expect payment for work.  I’ve even had it suggested to me that I’m somehow prostituting myself for expecting to be paid for my work.  Nobody calls a man who expects to be paid for his work a prostitute.

Both businesses responded to my query about payment for my work with “The exposure will be great for you.”  I don’t need exposure.  Y’all found me OK didn’t you?  You knew my name and where to find me.  I’ve just been on a national TV show that has been a massive success – people have been stopping me in the street to tell me they saw me on telly.  I can find my own “exposure” thanks.

Not to mention that as the saying goes, “exposure won’t pay my rent”.  Exposure isn’t going to pay the bills that all of us have in our lives.  We can’t live off exposure.  Let’s face it, people DIE from exposure.

If you are in the position that businesses and other funded organisations are requesting your time and talent, ask yourself “Is this work?  Shouldn’t I be paid for working for someone?”

And if you’re a business or other organisation that is looking for someone to do some work for you, at least ask them their rates, don’t turn up expecting them to work for free.  One would hope that you’d pay your staff, so pay people who do short term work for you too.  Especially if you’re going to trade off their name and reputation.

*Image credit: Pictures of Money on Flickr
As always, I do not run advertising on Fat Heffalump, but if you would like to support me and enable me to expand on my activism work, you can do so by donating here.

Fat Out Loud – My Piece

Published July 23, 2016 by Fat Heffalump

Well hello!  I am back from an AMAZING trip to New Zealand which of course included the New Zealand Fat Studies: Identity, Agency and Embodiment Conference.  I have SO much to tell you about the trip and the conference, and I promise I will do that soon.  Today I just wanted to share the piece I wrote for the Fat Out Loud Reading Event, co-ordinated by Jenny Lee and Cat Pausé, which was held at the Palmerston North Public Library the night before the conference.  It was an AMAZING night, with some incredible pieces presented.  Any that I can post online sources to, I will do so on my Facebook page.  I’ve already shared the video of Gurleen Khandpur delivering her awesome piece.

I’m not sure if there is any video of me giving my piece, but here’s a photo my friend Kerri took of me doing so:

IMG_5997

So… you wanna read it?  Well, here you go.  I call it…

Hey, Baby

I feel your thigh press along mine under the meeting room table.  I steal a glance at you and you are smiling, your eyes flick towards me and you wink.  Later over a coffee to discuss the meeting, your hand drifts to my thigh under the cafe table. You are all bedroom eyes and innuendo.   Time and time again you offer secret touches, suggestions of private meetings, sneaky travel together to places far away, out of sight.

But as soon as I suggest we are seen in public on a social level, you make excuses.  You’re busy, but never too busy to suggest we meet secretly.

We are 15.  You come to my house on weekends and sometimes after school.  We lock ourselves in the downstairs bedroom, telling my mother we’re playing computer games and keeping my annoying little brother out.  We make out, every time.  At school, you tell your friends we are “great mates” and flirt with the popular, thin girls in front of them and worse, in front of me.

In the dim hallway of a bar and restaurant, you stop me coming back from the ladies room, and the hot kisses you bestow along my neck, behind my ear, whispering “You turn me on so much.” before reaching my lips promise of something exciting.  

But as soon as another person turns down the hallway, you leap away from me, as if you’d just been caught stealing.  In the light, where other people can see us, your tone is brisk and business-like, as though I was unrecognisable from all the other party-goers in this venue.

I am 17 and at a new school.  You come up to me and sit with me at lunch time, and are talking to me.  I feel awkward and uncomfortable, I hate this school and very few people are nice to me.  I start to relax, thinking maybe I’ll make a new friend.  Your friends all turn up.  Everyone is talking and laughing, when one of the girls says “Will you go out with Damien?”  Before I even draw breath to answer, everyone is roaring laughing and the girls are cackling “As if!!”  You never speak to me again, except to humiliate me in front of your friends.

I’m on a blind date at the football.  It’s not going well.  You’re sitting behind me and over one, with a small boy who calls you Daddy.  Despite the fact that I’m on a date, every time I turn to the right, I can see you looking down the front of my top.  When I get up at half time, I see you looking right at my chest, and you look up to meet my eye and lick your lips.  At the end of the match, your little boy says “You’ve got big fat boobies.”  I respond “I know, your Daddy has been staring at them all night.”  You go beet red and my date says “I doubt that.”

You stagger, smiling drunkenly, up to me at the bus station as I wait for the bus home from a funeral.  I am red-eyed and sagging, emotionally exhausted.  You gesture for me to take my ear-buds out so you can speak to me.  I lip read you saying “Hey gorgeous.”  I say “No thanks, I’m not feeling well.” hoping you’ll leave me alone with my grief.

But instead you scream “You fucking ugly fat slut!  You know what a real woman looks like?  This is what a real woman looks like!” and you hit me in the face with a porn magazine, open to a page with a silicone-breasted and collagen-lipped porn actress, spread-eagle and open-mouthed pouting.  Of the hundreds of people standing around, nobody asks if I’m OK, they all just look down and shuffle their feet.  I call the police, you run away.

I’m on the train home.  It’s really crowded because the buses are out.  I’m standing in the aisle, everyone is fairly closely packed, but I feel your breath on the back of my neck.  Then I feel your erection pressing against my arse.  You rub against me, out of rhythm of the jostling of the train.  I say “Ew, get off me you creep.”  Two guys in front of me laugh and say “As if, ya fat dog, who’d hump you?”  Several people laugh.

“Hey baby!  Hey honey!  Baby, you gonna talk to me?”  I don’t know you, but you’ve decided that you want to talk to me as I walk to work one morning.  When I shake my head and hurry towards the train station, you scream “You fat fucking moll, I wouldn’t fuck you with someone else’s dick!  I just thought you’d gobble on my cock, like all fat cunts!”

Everybody and nobody wants the fat girl.  They want to fuck us but don’t want to be seen with us.  We’re everybody’s dirty little secret.

Except not any more.  Not me.  If you can’t be seen in public with me, proud of me by your side, then you don’t get access to me.  Your shame is not my problem.  You’re the broken one, not me.

As always, I do not run advertising on Fat Heffalump, but if you would like to support me and enable me to expand on my activism work, you can do so by donating here.

Interview with Essence Magazine – Full Transcript

Published February 14, 2016 by Fat Heffalump

Sometimes I am really honoured by the things that come to me thanks to my writing and activism.  This week, I sent out a tweet (below) that was shared far and wide and ended up bringing me to being interviewed by a writer for Essence magazine, which for me is truly an honour.  I’m still a little stunned that my tweet, which was aimed at speaking to the white women writers in my sphere, could take me places like this.

I have been trying to decide if I was going to publish this interview in full here, as it was a very long interview and only an abridged version appeared, but over the past couple of days having to endure a completely tone-deaf, self-entitled campaign by one butthurt white woman on Facebook in response to the article, I think I need to share it.  Not to speak for any black people but again to speak TO white people who just don’t get it.  Who just don’t get that sometimes, art or media is not produced for us and we need to just sit down and listen to what black people are saying.  Hopefully if I can reach one other white person by sharing this full interview, it will be one less person offering a “hot take” on something that simply isn’t theirs to comment on.

tweet

So, without any further ado, here’s the interview reproduced exactly as I sent it to Aliya S. King of Essence…

What have you seen in the media that made you even think about Formation in this way? Were there other topics you felt white women tackled that perhaps they shouldn’t have? Or should have done so with more nuance or from a different place?



I’ve been a fan of Beyoncé for a long time, and over the years I’ve seen so many think pieces and “hot takes” from white writers, and men for that matter, that just made me cringe with how self absorbed they were.  One thing I’ve always believed is that not all art is made for everyone and music can be far more than something to tap your toes to.  Sometimes a piece of art is made to make a statement, or to speak to and/or for a particular set of people.  What a piece of art makes you feel is subjective and when that art is saying something in particular, if it’s not for you, then it’s best to leave the think pieces to those who it *IS* for.  

Not to mention that I’ve listened to countless women of colour write about how they are sidelined in the rush for white women to publish their hot takes.  One of the best things I ever discovered online was the work of WOC.  Tumblr and Twitter have been fantastic gateways to SO many amazing writers, artists and activists.

I know that your tweet was partially tongue-in-cheek and that you don’t really think white women can’t write about Beyoncé. But your point is plain: there are certain things (like Formation) that are so inherently steeped in a particular culture that it may be best left to those who actually have experienced it. Am I getting your point correct? 



Actually my tweet was 100% genuine.  It’s not that white women can’t write about Beyoncé and Formation, it’s that they shouldn’t.   I really do believe that in the case of this song, what we white feminists think about it isn’t important.  If we like the song, then great.  If not, it’s not for us, so time to shut up and listen to the people it is for.  I honestly believe that it’s time that in situations like these, white women writers do need to step back and shine a spotlight on the work of women of colour.  Being a writer I know lots of writers, and I hoped to reach them with that tweet.

The tweet that immediately followed that one was “Then SUGGEST some.  There are plenty out there.”  I think it’s one thing to say that someone else should write it but it’s also important to pass on names of people who are suitable.  I can suggest loads of great black woman writers who are often overlooked in favour of white women.

Have you ever backed away from writing something because you felt it wasn’t your lane? Example? 



All the time.  My work is about the intersection of feminism and fat politics, and more recently ableism, since I found myself with a chronic illness.  That’s my lane.  I get loads of media and marketing requests (some offering payment, many not) and far more of them are outside of my lane than those that are in.  It’s not my place as a cis, white, straight woman to write about issues that I am not affected by.  My job there is to signal boost the work of those who are affected.   If it’s content for my own platforms I’d rather do a link round up or something where I am sharing other’s work.  If it’s content for someone else’s platform, I know plenty of writers from a wide range of backgrounds I can recommend instead.

That said, I am 100% sure I’ve got it wrong myself in the past too.  I probably will again!  But it’s through listening to what other people have written and said that I learn and grow.

Have you ever read something that made you think: this person wasn’t qualified to write about this. He/She should have stayed in their lane. 

I couldn’t tell you how many I have.   These days they mostly get a frustrated “close browser” before I even finish them.  The number of thin people with hot takes on what it’s like to be a fat person sends me into despair.  My pet hate is thin people who put on fat suits and then write about how hard it was for them.  My body isn’t a suit, it’s me, and I think people need to actually listen to fat women, not fake it for their own take on it.

But I know that happens across all marginalised identities and I am glad I have been able to learn from other writers and activists work, rather than someone outside of that identity.

I also want to acknowledge that at the same time I sent that tweet, there were other people saying the same thing, many of them black women.  It’s no secret that often a white woman’s words will go further than those of a black woman saying the same thing, which sucks.  My intention was never to speak for black women, but to speak TO white women.

Are there references in “Formation” that you don’t necessarily understand? It’s so deeply trenched in Black culture that me, a 42 year old Black woman, had to think a minute about some of the references she was making! 



I don’t doubt some references have gone right over my head.  Not only because I’m a white woman, but also because I’m an Australian woman.  I’m pretty well versed in world politics but there are always references that are going to fly right by me.  Again, that’s where I turn to women of colour to learn from their work.

This video is such a hot-button treasure chest of issues: feminism, activism, Black-ism (I just made that up), sexuality, police brutality, governmental racism. It’s a lot to unpack. Is that part of the reason why you urged writers to allow Black women to handle the commentary and think pieces on this?



No not at all.  I’m not afraid to delve into the tricky issues – as an activist I consider that my calling.  My intention is to urge white women to allow black women to speak about art that belongs to them.   “Allow” is the wrong word though, it’s not white women’s place to give “permission” to black women… I guess I mean make space?  Hand over the stage/spotlight?  Take a seat and let someone more relevant to speak?

 Beyoncé didn’t make this song for me – except maybe to LISTEN and LEARN.

**Because** of your tweet, I feel like you absolutely could write about the video, from your own place of understanding. If someone said, tell us how YOU feel about this video and how it speaks to your experience, what would you say? Would you honestly follow your tweet and say, you know what? This is not my lane. You should speak to someone who’s lived this. 

I’m honoured that you feel that – in fact I’m honoured that the tweet has gone so far with black women in general.  I can’t tell you how chuffed I am at so many of the shares and retweets I’ve seen.  I saw Kat Blaque share it on Facebook yesterday and I was just a pile of mush!

I still feel kind of weird participating in this piece, but I’m deeply honoured as well.

  I would honestly follow my tweet.  Besides all I really have right now for it are superlatives, and that’s not earth shattering news.  It’s a killer song and video that has some incredible imagery and lyrics.  Beyoncé knocked my socks off with this one.  I saw the video of her SuperBowl performance too – also fantastic.

Why do you think so many people, (black, white, male AND female) connected so much with your tweet?

I could only hazard a guess – and probably for the same reason that I appreciate when a man, a thin person or an able bodied person steps back to let me speak – it’s so frustrating being spoken over by people who have privilege over me that when someone does speak up and say “step back folks, it’s not our turn”, it feels really good.  Plus I guess it’s nice not to have to be the one to tell white people to step back for once, you know?

What was your thought process when you tweeted it. Your account is protected so you knew it was likely going to remain in your sphere. Would you have tweeted it if your account was public? 

My account is private only to keep out the sheer avalanche of hate that a fat woman gets online.  I am happy to get new followers, I just need to keep out the randos who spend their lives harassing and abusing women online.  As a visible fat woman I deal with abuse and harassment on a daily basis – death and rape threats, being called horrific slurs, stalking and doxxing.  I simply don’t have the sanity points to deal with it everywhere so I have locked down my Twitter account for a little peace!  

I do have a lot of writers in my sphere as it is, and it was them I was addressing (the white ones at least!) but absolutely I would tweet it publicly!

What was your first thought when asked if it could be shared?

Alysse of @readytostare mentioned that she wished she could share it and I told her she was welcome to either screen cap or do the old style copy + paste share.  I don’t mind people sharing my tweets as long as they ask, as I am on private.  I was happy to extend the message to any white lady writers she might know.  I had no idea it would be shared as far and wide as it has been until another friend tagged me on Facebook and I saw the share numbers there.  I was completely gobsmacked!

How do you feel now, knowing that you literally have a role in the Formation news cycle?

I’m not sure I would go as far as a role, but as I mentioned before I am really honoured that people would share my tweet so far, especially by women of colour.  I learn so much by reading the work of so many awesome women of colour all over the world, to think I’ve said something they think is worth re-tweeting just has me glowing.

Sort of a sidebar question: What are your thoughts on Beyonce, before and after Formation. Are you a fan? Are you a member of her insanely loyal #beyhive. And what ARE your thoughts on Formation?
I’ve been a fan of Beyoncé for a very long time.  Destiny’s Child, her early solo stuff, her movie roles, she’s awesome.  I wouldn’t call myself a member of the #beyhive, because while I think she’s awesome I don’t think she’s perfect!  I’m not into all the tracks on her self-titled album (but love the ones I do like) and don’t expect her to be everything to everyone.  But she is a cultural icon in so many ways and is always pushing at the boundaries to shift the industry.

As for Formation, I’m still in full squee mode over that song.  The personal and political statements in both the lyrics and the video imagery, her brilliant choreography and that iconic wardrobe!  My first thought on watching the video was that someone needs to be awarded for that red outfit, because it doesn’t budge a millimetre on her body despite her intense dancing.  I can’t get a top to sit right on my body while sitting still, let alone a plunging neckline while dancing vigorously!

But most of all, as I said on Twitter last night, I think that anyone who says that music can’t drive serious political and cultural discourse isn’t listening properly.  Just look at how that one song and video has stirred up conversation about so many things – that’s pretty revolutionary stuff to drop as a surprise release.  More power to her for it.


 

Footnote: Here are some pieces on Beyoncé and Formation written by black women.  Read these!

Fat Activism is Not About Your Boner – Part 2

Published November 7, 2015 by Fat Heffalump

Ugh.  It’s happening again.  There’s another round of posts/tweets/talk declaring “You can’t force me to find you attractive!” responses to fat activism.  Post after post after post from random dudes, usually crawling out of reddit or 4chan, loudly declaring that fat activism has no place in modern society because “You can’t force me to find you attractive!!”  It doesn’t matter what topic we talk about, there they are:

“The availability of a full range of affordable plus-size clothes is sadly lacking.”
“You can’t force me to find you attractive!”

“Doctors are failing to treat fat patients with dignity and respect, and this is endangering their health.”
“You can’t force me to find you attractive!”

“Fat women are paid less than thin people for doing the same work.”
“You can’t force me to find you attractive!”

“Fat women cannot walk down the street or be visible online without being abused and harassed”
“You can’t force me to find you attractive!”

“Fat women are not represented fairly in art or media.”
“You can’t force me to find you attractive!”

“Gastrointestinal mutilation is killing fat people.”
“You can’t force me to find you attractive!”

Hot tip fellas – we have never either asked or demanded you find us attractive.  It’s pretty certain that if you’re that type of dude, we don’t find YOU attractive, and we could care less whether you find us attractive or not.  Fat activism has nothing to do with your boner.  It has always been about the rights of fat people to live their lives in dignity and respect, without fear of vilification or discrimination.  Standing up and saying “Don’t treat fat people as subhuman.” does not mean the same as “You must find us attractive.”  Our demand to be able to walk down the street or be online without being abused and harassed, or to get decent clothing, medical care and working conditions has not one iota of anything to do with whether or not people find us attractive or not.

But that’s the thing isn’t it?  Many men only treat women with respect if they find them attractive.  It’s the Nice Guy phenomenon.  Those men who are only “nice guys” to the women they want to sleep with.

Which leads me to the next problem that fat women face – and that’s at the other end of the spectrum.  Men who expect us to be grateful that they DO find us attractive.  I can’t tell you the number of times I have complete strangers contact me to tell me that they find sexy, as if I’m supposed to care.  I write about fat women in fiction – skeevy dudes commenting how they like me in a particular dress, or emailing me dick pics.  I even get them creeping me on LinkedIn and GoodReads for fucks sake!  I write about harassment online, some rando messages me that he wants to lick my fat feet.  I post pictures of my new outfit, some creep follows me on Flickr and favourites hundreds of pictures of me.  I say on Instagram that I feel cute today – some dude tells me I’m a hot BBW.

Newsflash – I am not your BBW, whoever you are.  I am not your ANYTHING.  I don’t know you, and I don’t want to hear about your boner.

When women talk about how they feel beautiful or sexy or pretty, it is not the same thing as demanding or inviting other people to do so.  It’s about how we feel, our self-confidence and self-esteem.  It’s about our right to take up space and feel good about ourselves.  If I post a picture of myself and say “Damn I’m cute!” – it has NO bearing on whether or not someone else feels the same way.  It’s about how I feel and if someone disagrees, I don’t care.   I am still cute, whether you agree or not.  No need to tell me.  It’s not about you.  I’m not going to click on some strange guy’s photo and say “Dude, I don’t find you attractive at all.”  Or “You’re gross.”   One, what I think about some stranger doesn’t matter and two, it’s DOUCHEY to try to make anyone feel bad about themselves.

We don’t have to feel or show gratitude for men telling us about their boner.  Particularly when most of them would turn and sneer if some random woman who they weren’t interested in approached them.  It’s interesting how a man declaring sexual interest in a woman is something women should be grateful for, whether they are interested or not, but a woman showing interest in a man earns her scorn and ridicule if it is not reciprocated.

Because that’s how they’ve set up the parameters around fat women – we can’t win no matter what we do.  If we demand to be treated as human, we are either accused of forcing random men to find us attractive, or we’re treated as objects to fuck with no agency or humanity.

To all the fat women out there sick of either being abused or skeeved on by random men – your self-confidence and self-esteem is not determined by other people, it is determined by YOU.

The Competition is a Lie

Published July 18, 2015 by Fat Heffalump

Well hello!  I’m still here, still alive (I know fat haters, you had me pegged as dying by the time I was 40!) and still keeping up with the fatosphere.  I know, I’m not writing as often as I used to – I have to focus on the boring stuff of life so much more these days, like working and paying the bills, there’s not as much time and energy to spend writing, which really bums me out.  But I am here, and I do continue to share a lot of stuff on my Facebook page.

Today I want to share some wisdom with you all.  Triggered by a couple of things really, I want to talk to all the women out there about self esteem and how you view/treat other women.  I’m currently reading a thesis I recently participated in (Tayla Hancock: Life in This Fat Body) and am hearing some of the other participants stories of how they feel in comparison to other women.  The other trigger is the almost constant surveillance I receive other women in public.  I’m sure many of you have experienced it, being out in public when you  notice a woman look you up and down (the old body check), focus on something about you (for me it’s usually my rather prodigious belly!) and then you see the expression of superiority and disdain travel across their face.  You know the look.  “Well, at least I’m not THAT fat/don’t have a big belly/fat arms/big butt etc/am prettier than her.”

I recently even had someone admit on my Facebook page that even though they’re a fat woman themselves, they find themselves looking at other women and thinking those very things.  My answer to her was “Don’t think that those women don’t know you’re doing that.  Because we do.”

I want to let you in on a little secret.  Judging other women will not fix your bad self esteem.

It won’t.  It might make you feel superior for a few minutes, but the minute you see another woman who you think is prettier/thinner/better than you, then your self esteem is going to crumble all over again.

For those of you who are subjected to the judgement of women needing to feel superior to you, take heart, their perception of superiority to you is no real reflection on your value.   Their critique means nothing.

Let’s face it – we women are taught from birth that our appearance is the most important thing about us and that life for women is a competition with each other.  To get the “best” man, “best” job, “best” home, “best” family etc we must be “better” than other women.  So it’s only understandable that we grow up to engage in those really crappy behaviours towards each other.  The reason that we do this, isn’t because we’re women, but because women are taught by our culture that we’re SUPPOSED to do this.  After all, how often do you see that in popular culture – the trope that women have to compete over a guy, or something else.  We’re not allowed to compete for things like sport or skill, as that would be “unlady-like”, but if we want the thing that’s held up to us as the ultimate goal for women – the attention of men, then we’re expected to fight tooth and claw for it.  It’s a false value system.  The truth is, the attention of men is of low value and all too abundant.   You really don’t have to compete with other women to get it, if that’s what you want.

That said, because it’s deeply ingrained and we’re taught by society that it’s how we’re supposed to behave, doesn’t make it OK.  Before we look at any benefits to ourselves, we need to be asking “Is this the right way to be treating other women?  Would I like to be treated this way?”  I’m pretty sure for most of us, the answer is a very firm no.

There is no competition.  By competing with other women, you instantly lose.  Every. Single. Time.

The way to make things better for yourself is not by pushing others down, but by recognising that we all have value and that womanhood is not a zero sum game.  The more we see value in women in general, the more we can recognise our own value.  Besides, beauty is false social economy as it does not belong to you – it’s fake currency metered out by our culture –  society can and does revoke it in a heartbeat, taking a woman from valuable to not in moments.

There are some really important facts for us to understand when it comes to our value as human beings, and to put us firmly on the path to building better self esteem.

Firstly, other women’s appearance, bodies, lives and success have absolutely no relevance to your value as a woman.  Womanhood and your value as a person is not a competition, and other women being successful or prettier or thinner than you does not make them superior to you as a human being.   Your value is something intrinsically tied to YOU, not to other people in relation to you.  There is no rank when it comes to womanhood.  There’s no real hierarchy of women.  Sure, a lot of men and society in general would love us to believe that we can be ranked and rated and should be devoting our lives to moving up that hierarchy, but it’s false.  If we are convinced to believe that, then we’re expected to compete for male attention and buy products to make ourselves “better/more worthy”.

Secondly, there will always, be someone thinner, prettier, sexier, better dressed etc than all of us.  Well, except perhaps Beyoncé.  But I can guarantee you, the most gorgeous woman you can think of still sees other women and thinks “I wish my [body part] were more like hers.”  So no matter how much superiority you build up when judging another women, it’s ALWAYS going to come crashing down when you encounter one that you decide has something better than yours.

Self esteem is built by learning your own worth, not measuring other people’s.  Seriously, the most important lesson I have ever learnt in building my self esteem is that by not judging other women, I actually stopped judging myself so harshly.  When I stopped judging other women for what they wear, how they look, the size and shape of their bodies, how they live their lives, suddenly I realised that I felt better about myself.  When you stop playing that constant comparison game, your energy is focused on so many other things and you stop being so critical of yourself.  When you are not constantly looking for someone to be better than, you also stop finding people you feel are better than you.

Finally, I think the most important thing to realise is that women are awesome.  We are.  When you learn to value other women for more than just how small their arse is or how clear their skin is, you realise that being part of womanhood is so richly rewarding.  Making friends with other women and valuing other women teaches you to value and be kind to yourself.  Once you start changing your thinking, it becomes self-perpetuating.  The more you question your attitudes towards other women and change that judgemental thinking, the better you feel about yourself, and then the better you feel about yourself, the less you feel the need to cast judgement on others.

It isn’t an overnight thing and is a learning process.  But the more you practice it, the stronger your own self esteem will get.  But I can tell you now after years of working on it, no amount of sneers at my big belly or fat arms diminishes my value as a woman.

So, the next time you find yourself looking at another woman and thinking “My ***** is better/thinner/prettier than hers.”, ask yourself why it matters.  Ask yourself how you’d feel if she was doing that to you.  And realise that so what if you’ve got a smaller arse than her or whatever.  That reflects only on you, not on her.

Or if you’re like me, and are one of the women who insecure others LOVE to treat with disdain, to use as their yardstick for their own worth, I want you to do something for me.  Next time you  notice it happening, put your shoulders back.  Hold your head up and look that woman in the face and remember that she’s doing it because SHE feels worth less, not because you are worth less.  Don’t give anyone that sense of superiority.  Smile at her, and walk away, rocking your badass, awesome self just as you are.

Fat Activism Is Not About Your Boner

Published June 6, 2015 by Fat Heffalump

I think I just got the most ridiculous email I have ever received in my life.  Here is a screen cap:

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Here’s my open letter to Matt:

Dear Matt,

I couldn’t give a flying fuck about your boner.  My value, and the value of other fat women on this earth, is not measured by whether or not we give some random douchebag a boner.

The reason you can’t “attract women” has nothing to do with you having Asperger’s syndrome, it’s because you’re a judgemental fuck who thinks that women are on this planet for you to stick your dick in.  Or in your words ogle/fuck/date/marry.  Don’t use your Asperger’s as an excuse, plenty of aspie people find sexual partners and loving relationships – why?  Because they don’t treat prospective partners as though they owe them sexual attraction.

We don’t need to fix your fat hatred so that you get a boner for us.  There are plenty of men who value us and treat us as their equals, not living sex dolls.  If you want to expand your options for a relationship, try improving yourself, not demanding others perform for you.

It is not our job to help you find us sexually attractive.  It’s YOUR job as a human being to treat fat women with the dignity and respect that is our human right, whether you find us attractive or not.  Emailing a fat woman to tell her you find her and women like her “repulsive” is not treating them with dignity and respect.  It is also YOUR job to treat ALL women as human beings, not receptacles for your penis.  Until you do so, keep your sad little limp dick to yourself.

Yours sincerely

Kath

P.S.  Fuck you and your “large bodies repulse me”.  YOU repulse me with your misogyny and fat hatred.  And yes, YOU are showing your fat hatred by referring to us as “repulsive”.

I can't remember where I found this image, but it suits this piece perfectly.

I can’t remember where I found this image, but it suits this piece perfectly.

Honestly, it’s times like these that I could smack men like this in the dick with a frozen spoon and really keep the boners away.

Mad Max: Fury Road – Furious and Furiosa!

Published May 31, 2015 by Fat Heffalump

Heads up, this post is going to be chock full of spoilers.  Continue on at your own peril!

So I am fresh home from a lovely day out with friends which included seeing Mad Max: Fury Road at the cinema this afternoon, and I cannot NOT blog about this one.  Holy crap what a movie!  I don’t normally do review type posts for movies unless they have a distinct fat theme, but this is one that I just HAVE to write about.

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I actually wasn’t going to see Fury Road at the cinema originally.  I had seen the original trilogy back when they first came out but wasn’t particularly attached to them in any way.  I remember the first one being extremely violent, and the third being kind of cheesy, but hadn’t given them much thought since then.  I had been seeing bits and bobs about Fury Road in the media for some time, and while I was thrilled to see that Tom Hardy was cast as Max (he’s wonderful in everything), I am not really much of an action movie fan, so I wasn’t all that interested.  But I’d seen some good press about it a while ago, some friends had really raved it was going to be great so I thought I might go and see it in the cinema, because it’s good to support the Australian film industry, but thought if I missed it, I wouldn’t be that bothered.

But then the “Men’s Rights Activists” started whining about it being “feminist propaganda” and I was INSTANTLY thinking “Oh sign me up for this one then!”  Anything that pisses off the MRA’s can have my money, just for shits and giggles.

Before I go on, there is a lot of talk from all perspectives about Fury Road being a “feminist movie”.  Now personally, I don’t believe there really is such thing as a “feminist movie”, short of perhaps a biopic about famous feminists or a story about the history of feminism.  What most people really mean when they suggest a film is a “feminist movie” is that it either approaches the story from a woman’s perspective, or that it simply treats women as human beings with agency over themselves.  I know, doesn’t take much to get that “feminist” label, does it?

What Mad Max: Fury Road is however, is 120 minutes of strap yourself in, hang on tight and try to remember to breathe occasionally top shelf cinema.  Right from the beginning you are thrown in to some intense action and it barely lets up for the entire movie.  I cannot remember the last time I saw a film that had me white knuckle, breath-holding, “Holy shit!” uttering engaged from beginning to end.

Now I must say, I am not normally an action movie fan.  Mostly I find them boring, because while there are lots of jaw dropping stunts and big explosions, they usually lack good narrative and engaging characters.  I need to be attached to at least one character and to feel like I’m being taken along in a story to be engaged in a film.  Fury Road has got it all.  Wild car chases, fire, big explosions, creepy villains, a flame-throwing guitar player strapped to a huge mobile stack of speakers, dust, desert, and punch ups… but it also has tenderness, courage, intelligence, kindness and a whole lot of heart.

Max is not a testosterone fueled hero.  He is a man suffering obvious PTSD who is facing his greatest fear – of being captured and used as a living “blood bag”.  His terror at being captured by Immortan Joe’s war boys is palpable.  You feel his frantic attempts to free himself from the chains and mask the war boys have put him in.   His only goal is to escape.  It is not revenge, it is not a lust for blood, it is simply escape.  Max isn’t even the protagonist of this film, even though it bears his name.

The true protagonist is the wonderfully named Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron).  We don’t know all that much about her.  She drives one of Immortan Joe’s (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who was in the original Mad Max film) war rigs (a big bloody truck).  She has a prosthetic arm.  She is marked with Joe’s brand, as are his war boys, a group of men bred and brainwashed as a kind of cannon fodder.  We soon learn that she is liberating Joe’s five “war brides” – beautiful, fertile young women he has been keeping as his own personal sex slaves and breeding stock.  Later we learn a little more about where she is from, but we never find out how she lost her arm, how she came to be part of Joe’s army.  We can only guess at these things.

Personally I wondered if she may have either been one of his war brides once, or if she had once had the threat of being a war bride, but losing her arm had saved her from that fate?

Furiosa is badass.  At no point are we led to believe that she is any less capable than Max – in fact, thanks to a scene where he fails to shoot The Bullet Farmer (Richard Carter) twice, and she takes the final, and successful, shot using Max as a rifle stand, we know that she is more capable at some things than Max is.  Charlize Theron puts in a hell of a performance, fighting, driving, crawling all over a moving rig, shooting and generally just kicking arse, while also managing to convey a hell of a lot of emotion, and mostly wordlessly.  We see her anger, her fear, her pain, her frustration, her worry clearly on her face.  She cares about the war brides, and she cares about the Vuvalini, her own people, when they enter the story.  At no point is she exacting revenge with her violence, merely seeking liberation for herself and the war brides.  There is one moment that she comes close, but the war brides remind her of her promise to never to kill unnecessarily.

Which brings me to the war brides.  These five beautiful women (played by Zoe Kravitz, Rose Huntington-Whitely, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee and Courtney Eaton) are the embodiment of perfection in this post apocalyptic world, sex slaves of Immortan Joe who has been keeping them in a kind of pampered captivity.  These are five slim, beautiful young women who have been kept as pristine and special as any creature can be in this world.  They are frightened and traumatised.  However, not one of these young women could be called weak.  Joe’s favourite, The Splendid Angharad (Huntington-Whitely) uses her pregnant body as a human shield, they are all handy with a weapon, and willingly fight and work to ensure their freedom.

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I also need to mention here that quite a few people who have already written about this film have raised that it’s very much a white person’s film, and yes, it is predominantly white, but many have dismissed the ethnic backgrounds of Zoe Kravitz, Courtney Eaton and Megan Gale.  There has been a lot of assumption that all of the women in this film are white… they are not.  I also feel that whiteness has been used well – the evil villains could not get any whiter than they are in this film!  The old white men are the bad guys (and they are truly repulsive, Keays-Byrne, Carter and John Howard as The People Eater – those nipple rings! – are all MEGA gross and creepy) using violent young white men as their henchmen.  Would have been good to have some more people of colour on the good guys side to bolster that colonialist metaphor though.

One of the things I loved most about Fury Road was the complete lack of sexual/romantic connection Max has with any of the women.  He respects them.  He helps to protect them.  He even shows tenderness to Furiosa when she is wounded, but it is in no way because of a romantic or sexual connection.  He has spent the past days fighting by her side, and he clearly has respect for her and shows that in his gentleness in treating her wounds.  She is not displayed as sexual, but as strong and brave.  None of the women are subjected to the male gaze from Max or even from Nux (war boy turned rescuer, played by Nicholas Hoult, who manages to STILL look gorgeous while rail thin, bald, scarred and ultra-pallid).  We as the audience are not invited to look at the women sexually except in the context of their vulnerability to the villain, but we don’t see them through his eyes, but we see them through Max’s.  Even though there is a tenderness between Nux and Capable (Keough), it is an emotional tenderness, not sexual.

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Even though Megan Gale as The Valkyrie (holy shit what an amazon that woman is!) has a nude scene, which at first I felt uncomfortable with, I realised that it was right to use her nakedness as “bait” – the Vuvalini only know that one of Imperon Joe’s war rigs is heading towards them – they have no way of knowing that it is Furiosa – what better way to bait Joe and his minions than with a “trapped”, beautiful, naked, young woman to distract them while the Vuvalini can ambush them.  Incidentally, the Vuvalini are mostly badass biker grannies from what is left of a matriarchal society, the one which Furiosa originates from.  She and The Valkyrie are the only young women of the Vuvalini left.

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Badass biker grannies.  I mean do you need anything more to entice you to see this movie?  Plus, the only fat women in the film have a pivotal role in saving the day right at the end, which is pretty bloody awesome.

Look, this is an amazing film.  Yes it’s a rollicking great action ride that takes you along with it and leaves you breathless by the end.  But it’s also a beautifully shot film with tonnes of nuance from it’s cast.  It’s a story of hope,  freedom and the strength of women.  Go see it.