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I feel that if you are diabetic you should get to give yourself a special diabetic name. Mine? Stevia Nicks.

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Yesterday I was sat around a round table with my colleagues, their partners and some other friends of my employer. A dozen of us all together. My employer received with a special community award and we were all invited to the reception which featured entertainment and a ten-course meal. Talk around the table turned to instances of mistaken identity, profiling and stereotyping. People were sharing stories where they, based one physical feature or characteristic, had been mistaken for someone else or subjected to reductive stereotyping independent of personality, height, hair type/colour, and other significant factors of resemblance like profession, politics, and personal interests.

I share that when I was growing up my classmates would inform me that I looked uncannily like whatever fat female celebrity—or sometimes male celebrity—was most popular at the time (I’m Canadian, so the main contenders were Rita MacNeil and sometimes Vicky Gabereau—I was also, if you talk to my middle-school classmates, an absolute dead-ringer for Chris Farley). I am neither a professional singer nor a daytime talk show host nor a sketch comedian—I wish! “Because you know,” I joked “all fat people pretty much look exactly ALIKE.”  Across the table a colleague, suddenly angry, reprimands me in a sharp tone “Why do you always have to GO THERE?” 

As if “there” is a travel destination from which I can choose to come and go instead of the world I am forced to live in. As if I get to opt out of being read, objectified, and stereotyped according to the prevailing cultural attitudes about my body. As if fatphobia and fat oppression, and people being general IDIOTS about size are things that I make up to feel OMG SUPER SPESHUL,access cultural and conversation capital, to seek attention, and to stand out.  As if talking anti-oppression talk wins you more favours than enemies. As if there is any social situation where a fat body is a source of privilege or a social advantage. As if people who get shit on TOTALLY BENEFIT from oppression. As if being shit on, to paraphrase Dorothy Alison, ennobles and raises up instead of dehumanizing and destroying. As if I had never been told by teachers, guidance counsellors, professors, potential employers that regardless of my talents or interests that my body made me unfit for work where I’d have to be seen. I am more of a “back-end behind-the-camera/face-for-radio type. “You can try, but it will be very, very hard you looking as you do to get work. We’re just being realistic.”

Well, when I point out the casual, or overt, or subconscious existence of rampant fatphobia, I am also being FUCKING REALISTIC.

I did not start a scene at this dinner—though flames were coming off of the side of my face. Instead I excused myself, went to the ladies’, phoned a friend and began mentally composing this list.

WHY I “GO THERE”

1) Because fat people are human beings who deserve to be treated with basic dignity and respect.

2) Because fatphobia ruins lives and, sometimes, ENDS THEM

3) Because people see “fatness” before anything else and make negative judgments—about our character, abilities, and personality.

4) Because we have to work to “prove” worth (professionally, personally, and socially) where thin people are given the benefit of the doubt.

5) Because people make threats of sexual violence to fat people assuming we are “desperate” and “available” for any kind of sexual attention.

6) Because when we go see doctors about years of disordered eating, they assume we are lying and we get asked about “sleep-eating pizzas.”

7) Because our families and relatives use special occasions as an opportunity to shame and concern troll us about our size and weight. Because the holidays, for so many people are not about togetherness and support, but about fear, and anxiety and being made to feel like garbage.

8) Because weight loss (at any cost) is valued far above physical and mental wellness.

9) Because our colleagues and acquaintances feel that if we are a fat person who doesn’t talk about “fixing ourselves” by getting “skinny” we are “ego-maniacs” who deserve to be taken down a peg.

10) Because so many people of size think they deserve to be shat upon by their parents, partners, friends, colleagues, employers, strangers and randos in food courts and THEY FUCKING DON’T.

11) Because, to paraphrase my friend K,  if you are part of group that is institutionally and culturally oppressed your experiences of harm are not taken as truth but are “treated with suspicion as being untrue or exaggerated.”

12) Because a million individual stories of harm and shame and bullshit that you may feel free to add to this list.

13) Because “there” and this is where we have to live. And we would love it if it could be less of a howling fucking wasteland of oppression, hate speech and treating others like garbage for how they look.

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"Even if [Thelma and Louise] was the most man-bashing movie ever made, saying, ‘let’s all of us women get guns and kill men’, it wouldn’t even begin to make up for the 99% of movies where the women are there to be caricatured as bimbos or to be skinned and decapitated. If you’re feeling threatened, you’re sympathizing with the wrong character."

- Geena Davis (via charliebronsons)

(via cocoku)

Source: the-mobius-strip-club
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Lately, in public or professional environments where I am the only fat person present and conversation turns to diets or weight loss or other thin-centric garbage I like to interrupt and brazenly state “You know, I honestly really ONLY actually like and am attracted to other fat people. I honestly just love them THE BEST.”

Don’t get me wrong—I don’t think it’s cool to raise another group by directly or implicitly stomping on another, but when you’re openly hated and reviled as much as fat people are I think there is value in making statements like this.

It gives people pause and then they have to go “wait, are you saying a) that you don’t like me or b) are you calling me fat/ and how do I feel about that?” I think it’s a useful exercise because those of who are fat regularly encounter people who openly dislike us before we’ve even had a chance to properly open our mouths and make a bunch of impolite jokes about dicks. In society, it’s pretty much assumed that most people prefer and/or are more attracted to thinness.

If I’m feeling charitable, I follow this up with “but don’t worry, some thin allies who prove their worth as non fat-hating humans get to be honorary fat people IN MY HEART.” 

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Exactly like this but with a blanket made of cheese thoughtfully draped over my bones by my partner.

(via cocoku)

Source: forlackofabettercomic
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I am very tired of people who are not into pop culture dismissing it as pointless because they possess no knowledge of it. It is straight up ignorant to hate things you don’t understand. When you denounce things you know nothing about as not being WORTH knowing about, you’re just showing me and everyone else within earshot that you take pride in being an actual ignoramous.

Look, I don’t know very much about surfing but I don’t go around talking about how I am “OMG SO MUCH MORE CULTURED” because I don’t own a surfboard. Smashing your television is just a waste of an appliance, not an act of heroism.

When I was in undergrad in the early 00s the academy was still trying very hard to strategically ignore comics and graphic novels that weren’t Maus or Louis Riel. (Because it’s easier to dismiss nothing as pointless, then it is to pay attention to a whole new area of study). I gave a seminar on Persepolis (a text that now has its own field of scholarship, pretty much) and I had my peers—all purportedly honours English students interested in the study of a variety of texts—ask me questions like “but doesn’t it being in comic form make it hard to take this book about a woman’s experience of the Iranian Revolution seriously?” Because you know, comics, like TV are just one monolithic form. Read one Pudd cartoon and you’ve basically read an entire medium. Telling the story of cultural oppression and upheaval through images and text can only be SUPER HILARIOUS amirite? Does the book come wrapped around some bubble gum LOLOL?

This line of thought is so stupid and boring. Snobbery/taste is a lie you tell yourself to feel superior because you are worried about being perceived as inferior and you haven’t yet realized that the more you learn, the more you are aware of much there is you will never be able to learn and that is a daunting prospect. Especially if you want to fancy yourself a well-traveled intellectual. Culture has always had permeable borders and everything high was once low and vice versa. Novels—which we now uphold as the ultimate literate and cultured form—were regarded as plebeian trash when they first emerged in the 18th Century. Classical musicians in 1910 were up in arms about the arrival jazz which they considered “out of control” and lacking in “true” art or musicianship. (Jazz of course is its own nuanced and respected form of music, and its existence does not attack or deride or negate other forms of music). Stop pretending your knowledge gaps are markers of your intelligence. Today’s Real Housewives could be tomorrow’s TED Talks.

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When I was in my late teens and early 20s my cut and colour would change every few months thanks to my generous hairdresser almost sister-in-law who enjoyed having my head as a playground as much as I enjoyed having change or difference be a constant part of my look. “Who do you think you are?” was a question I posed myself hourly.  I learned about fat acceptance and feminism and being femme. I had the opportunity to experiment constantly and often with my presentation and so I did.

The last few years (since moving to Vancouver and paying an actual stylist) have been more static. I kept my hair dark brown with a blue streak for two years as I built and attempted to settle in to a new life in a different city. It’s probably the longest I ever kept a haircut/colour and people started to associate me with this particular way of being. And, I’ve learned, since this recent haircut, they also started to feel a weird sense of ownership over my appearance.

A few weeks ago I realized I was settled enough in my new city to crave change. It was a gratifying moment. My stylist had an open afternoon and so I went back to blonde. It’s obviously a “dramatic” change (especially for those who didn’t know me during my Years of 100 Hairstyles) that people feel compelled to comment on. Friends and family usually acknowledge it with a compliment, sometimes just in a neutral “oh, back to blonde/brunette” remark.  Others—coworkers, baristas, and social media acquaintances—have made a point of telling me that they prefer it “how it was”. Multiple people have said, gravely: “I think the blonde ages you.”  As if I’ve asked them for their opinion? As if that would convince me to change it back? As if a woman looking her years is the most fucking abominable choice she could make?

I am 30 fucking years old. I have no interest in looking like a newborn fucking baby.  I look like a goddamn adult woman because I AM ONE. Getting older has been the best things that’s ever happened to me and a privilege at that.

When people ask me if I’ve lost weight, my default answer is “oh shit, I HOPE NOT.”  When people tell me I look older, I’m going to start saying “great, that’s what I was going for.”

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Something you might not know about me is that I worked in a pretty top-notch school-age daycare for nearly a decade. While I worked in childcare I gained practical insight into explosive diarrhea, beyblades, and how children and self-esteem and confidence can work. I know everyone, ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE, despises unsolicited advice about how to raise their children so I very rarely chime in with any around my friends and neighbours with wee ones unless someone asks me directly (which they usually don’t, because I’m currently nobody’s parental nothing). I really struggle with holding my tongue, however, when it comes to fat kids getting bullied. So tumblr, you get to hear all my feelings on the subject. You’re not thanking me but you’re welcome anyway!

I cannot recall a time where I was not considered fat (perhaps in utero?—my mom’s doctor reportedly fat-shamed my brother and me as newborns, so that’s out). As such, I was predictably and enthusiastically bullied through most of my childhood. Faint impressions remain in the form of tragic diary entries—like the ones I wrote in fourth grade where my going concern from Sept-Jan was how to get really sick or make my family move so I could AVOID the February downhill ski excursion so I would not have to be weighed in public at the equipment fitting—and angry rants when I am drinking and approaching a milestone birthday and feeling particularly À la recherche du temps perdu. And while I don’t regret the obviously incredibly modest and good-looking person I am today, I believe things could have played out a lot differently had people in my life responded to that bullying differently.

As a fat adult who now happily spends most of my down-time marveling at the intellect of my friends and trying to effortlessly incorporate references to super-cool-looking lizards into my writing (one day I will succeed!) I can tell you with some certainty that the gross and shitty attitudes of my peers would not have weighed me down like an eternally hot fresh and steamy dump on my soul if I’d been around parents, friends, and family who regularly challenged the assertions of my classmates that being fat (whether I was or not!) was a sign of moral and physical decrepitude and stanky spiritual rot. (The truth: that I don’t deserve hate and/or derision for my body size wasn’t in my viewfinder until my late teens, and even then it took me until my early 20s to believe it could be real and applicable to my life. Proust understands!). If every time I’d cried about someone calling me “fat” while snotting all over my Lisa Frank sticker book a parent or adult that cared for me had responded with “yes, and also a burgeoning piano player, a Garfield expert, and really quite remarkably adept at drawing very realistic-looking rats in bonnets” the word would have, slowly but surely, become a mere adjective about the way I look. It would have been a fact instead of a shameful curse and pointed assault on my tender child soul and everything I hoped to become (Astronaut! Television pony expert! Natural redhead!). If every time I’d worried out loud about my weight and how it made me unloveable, untalented, and unwanted at a thing a parent, teacher, or adult friend had reminded me that, yep, I was fat, and also loved, and also wearing purple sweatpant overalls, and also demonstrably great at things (see aforementioned rats-in-periodwear drawings) and encouraged me to pursue whatever I was interested in I would not have allowed ignorant peers, gymnastics teachers, and misguided guidance counselors to slam doors (on uneven bars, auditions, and my ultimate career-dream-of-talking-about-my-many-opinions-about-ponies-on-all-the-televisions) in my face.

I mean, ok, I don’t *know* for sure because I haven’t tested it via multiple timelines and a DeLorean, but I have a good idea of how it can work because I’ve seen it play out with actual kids. Kids whose parents and caregivers listen, acknowledge the hurt their kids feel, but doggedly refuse to let them think being called fat is any reason to doubt their current selves or their future potential. I’ve seen happy fat teens and pre-teens living happy functional fat teen lives that are dominated by preparing for speeches on the flora and fauna of ancient Egypt, roller derby tournies, and school musical tryouts instead of figuring out how to subsist solely on rice cakes, and whether or not it’s possible to simultaneously cut oneself while running for five hours an evening at the highest speed and altitude available on the treadmill at their local YMCA. Happy fat teens may be achieved by continuous, positive verbal reinforcement, refusal to participate in diet talk, and being a living example of a non self-hating fat person who possesses the ability to do a really rad raptor walk. (Ask me to demonstrate if we ever meet in person). They are definitely not achieved through shame, body-negative parents, and membership to paid weight-loss franchises.

I know that it is more than a little bit DIFFICULT and more than moderately ENRAGING to learn your child is being picked-on or feeling hurt. But I am urging you that from my experience, and from the fat kids that I’ve worked with, that when you react negatively (even a little bit) to the word fat, a word that WILL BE directed at your kid again and again throughout her life, it is kind of like you’re putting shark teeth in a hamster’s mouth and dumping seed-chum all over your kid’s body. Sure it can hurt if a Normal Toothed Hamster bites. Maybe it even takes a few weeks to heal. But Shark-Tooth Hamster! will tear your face apart and gnaw on you forever because now he shark teeth, a you-created toothhold, and (because of the shark mutation) he will never stop moving!

You hold a powerful amount of sway over your children. (Seriously, I wish I had as much influence on anything in my life right now as you have on you kids when they are young and beginning to form sentience beyond “clean my poop” and “now fill me with more).” You may want to METAPHORICALLY hundred-hand-slap your child’s bully as if you were E. Honda in Street Fighter II . I know you’re disappointed in whoever this piece of human garbage is that is making your child leak from her face. You want to challenge his wrongness about your baby’s “fatness” for all to hear. But what I’m suggesting (yes I know you’re still not asking) is that you is don’t because then in you well-meaning way what you are actually doing is confirming fat is one of the most horrible states imaginable. Pull that rage inward and forge a rage diamond if you must (my partner is going to be so set when rage diamonds from working in PR are finally harvested upon my death) and do the exact opposite. Give your fat kid firm love and decisive encouragement AS THEY ARE (and wherever they are on the size spectrum) and not a shrill “who-is-this-kid’s-mother-and-where-does-that-kid-live-because-I’m-going-to-kill-that-kid-for-what-he-said.” That, parent-or-caregiver-not-asking-for-my-advice is basically like putting that Still-a-normal-toothed-but-potentially-a-shark-toothed little hamster back in its cage and denying it the dental upgrade.

If you, personally, indicate that the word “fat” is to be taken an insult by saying loud swears, breaking down and talking shit about your own body and/or genetics, suggesting you and your child get skinny together!, becoming frothing and deranged about normal kid stuff like eating candy, you are not only adding shark teeth to the hamster but hitting it with some sort of awful embiggenment ray and then unleashing it on your vulnerable offspring. Giant Shark-Toothed Hamster! That You’ve Basically Created! (Or maybe if you want to go with another 80s film, it’s like the insult has the potential to stay a little Mogwai and then with your negative reaction you go and you shine a spotlight on it, hose it down, and take it to the casino buffet after midnight. Now instead of one potential beast you have 600 (and some of them are born knowing how to drive?!)). In either case, the cage is NO LONGER AN OPTION and you know have a much bigger, much more devastating problem on your hands. One that could take a lifetime to resolve. And none of us have that. Not even Proust! (Well at least not until we truly unlock the Hidden Power of Kale).

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AGGRESSIVE WHIMSY on Flickr.

peacock blue dress: old navy (xl)
cerise tights: we love colors (plus lycra/nylon tights in size C/D) WLC calls this color “red” but that’s a lie.
pink skinny belt: Reitman’s (xl)
two-tone oxfords: Bass brand at town shoes
crocheted (or knitted?) carnation corsage: vintage (belonged to my grandma)
holiday cheer: International Mall

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Lufthansa Cupcake/in-flight entertainment on Flickr.

Blurry! Selfie! Visibile iPhone! Breaking all my self-imposed quality control rules on this photo.

This dress reminds me of a chocolate frosted cupcake or doughnut with sprinkles. It’s dressert. I don’t usually go for the colour brown but I feel like a child’s birthday party in this. This blazer is a dead ringer for the 90s Lufthansa flight attendant uniform. I’ve been searching for a cobalt blazer for years so now I am flying high. Would you like ice in your tomato juice?

mile-high blazer: Reitman’s (size 17)
dress: eShakti "sprinkled candy dress"(size 20w)
tights: are hella old Just My Size and hand-dyed by onceupon
blue platform wedges: Payless (5 inches! I am amazed I have all my teeth)
pink pearls: vintage (belonged to my grandmother)