Thursday, November 4, 2010

On hiatus

Dear friends,

I will probably not be writing much, if at all, this month. I am participating in NaNoWriMo (it's my first year, but I've been meaning to for years!) and I'm trying to save my words for my novel.

It's not too late! You, too, could become a 30-day novelist... check it out at!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wow, this Marie Claire thing...

Ok, so by now you've prolly heard about the Marie Claire thing. If you haven't, I'm sure you can Google "marie claire fatties" and learn more than you ever wanted to know. Other fatosphere bloggers have already posted tons about it, so I won't rehash. But that's the context if you need it for what comes next...

One cool thing that came out of the MC thing is that someone I've never connected with about Fat Acceptance/HAES posted about it on FB, with a link to a blog railing against the MC article. So I commented on the post:
I invite you to blame the horrible author instead of blaming yourself/your body. I am part of the Health at Every Size and Fat Acceptance movements and I would love for all my beautiful friends to love themselves just as they are. ...

If you ever are interested in books or blogs or other resources to learn more about these movements I would love to share them.
She posted back that she thanked me, that she had a long way to go on self-acceptance, and that while she hated what the original article writer had to say, said writer had a right to her opinion.  I replied:
She may be entitled to her opinion, but that doesn't make it ok. Just think if someone had written an article about how disgusting they find it when gay people, or Asian people, or disabled people kiss. We'd be absolutely morally outraged. Why is fat different? (I would argue it shouldn't be!)
And very soon after, I received this letter by FB Message (NOT on the comment string, but to me alone):

I just wanted to comment and didn't want to seem like I was starting a flame war or anything...

I would argue that being fat is different. I do not agree with Ms. Kelly's sentiment at all, please believe this. But I do, as an overweight person, feel that being fat is different from being different ethnically or sexually, I know, cause I'm Hispanic, too. All I need is to be gay and I would hit the social outcast trifecta!

I am not at all saying we actively make this choice (though, arguably, there are those who do). There are a myriad of issues at hand. Things that we, as individuals have to work through. Things we, as individuals, have to take accountability for. Is it easy? Not at all. That's why it's called work when we seek a healthier life style. But, in my opinion, to compare our fat-ness to say, our ethnic-ness is not a just comparison. At the end of the day, I can diet, but cannot change the color of my skin....

Please don't think me insensitive, because I know well the trials of being overweight in an overly skinny centric culture. What Ms. Kelly wrote was simply wrong, and completely unfair. And made worse by her admission of having been anorexic in her apology.

It is horrible and dichotomous, this society we live in....we make each other feel bad for how we look, yet try to convince ourselves it doesn't matter.

I think people in general are beautiful in and of themselves...regardless of what they look like.

I hope this made some sort of sense....

And again, I'm not looking for a fight, just offering perspective...

I hope you are having a great day.

I felt weird about getting this message privately/individually. It was from someone I've seen around, but don't know personally. If he feels strongly about this matter, he should post it in reply to mine so that I could then refute it openly. What's the point of sending just to me, unless he's either a) afraid to look mean/afraid more people will agree with me (gawd, I wish!) or b) ambiguous about his feelings on some level, and subconsciously hoping I'll say something that will allow him to accept his own fatness. Now, my knee-jerk reaction was to say, "yes you're insensitive. And weird and a jerk for sending this privately. Never contact me again." Seriously, I typed that. But then I deleted it, took a deep breath, and after some false starts, sent this:
I don't think you're particularly insensitive, however I do think you are (as most Americans are) uneducated on the failure rate of diets. You have bought into the prevailing misconception that we do, in fact, have control over the size of our bodies. And that biodiversity in body shape and size is "different" than other kinds of diversity. Not too long ago, homosexuality was considered completely controllable and an illness, and prior to that, doctors prescribed skin lighteners to enable African Americans to pass as white. These things were seen at the time as controllable, but more education has shown they are in fact genetic and part of human diversity.

I don't want a fight either but I do invite you to get educated on the Health at Every Size movement and the absolutely abysmal success percentages of each and every supposed "diet" or "lifestyle change" out there. Once we acknowledge that the promise of safe and effective long-term weight loss is a false promise and a myth, it is a much shorter step to accepting the diversity of bodies in human society and ending blame and shame. 
Now, if he writes back with more fat hate, he gets blocked. I don't have enough Sanity Points to deal with that any further. But maybe, just maybe, he'll do some reading.

And that, my friends, is my Activism Deed of the Day. I couldn't stand to stay hidden in the closet of FB Private Message Land. So I am sharing it with you.

EDIT: His response, received within minutes of my message, after the jump. I will _not_ be responding. I've spent enough spoons on him. On a positive note, I got a chuckle from the amusing image of people "loosing" weight. "I will loose my weight upon the world..." watch out - it's like a tiger "loosed" from the cage!

Fat Hate, of course - part 2

There was so much I was trying to think through in that last post, there are a couple of things more I want to say...

There is another aspect of people/entities I like saying fat-hating comments that depresses me. Beyond the personal impact, the betrayal, the questioning of what that person really thinks of me, our relationship, etc... is the feeling of the whole world feeling this way. The reminder that this thinking IS like air in our culture. It is the expected thing to do, almost a reflex, to conflate fat with unhealth, to believe - to "know" - that fat is caused by overeating and under-exercising and totally within each person's power to change if only he/she would "try" enough, have enough "willpower." It makes me sad that even people who know me and have talked about HAES with me persist in buying in to these accepted precepts of our society.

On another note, and this part was hard for me to articulate so please bear with me (and/or chime in with a comment if you think you get it and can help me form my thoughts, or if you have questions). I'm sure if I mentioned that a given comment hurt me/bothered me, or otherwise called them on it a la "why do you think that's funny/obvious/causal?" they'd say something like:
  • In the category of "But it's funny, don't be so serious"
    • "I didn't mean anything by it" 
    • "Can't you take a joke?"
  • In the category of "You're not like those other fatties"
    • "You're not _that_ fat" - amusing since I'm clearly deathfatz 
    • "I know you aren't [insert  stereotype]! I was talking about other people - because of course, fat is a social construct that means fat but also gluttonous, lazy, poor hygiene, etc.
  • In the category of "The dreaded "health" argument"
    • "What does making fat-hating comments have to do with whether I like you? Of course I like and respect you, but everyone knows fat=death, it's not personal - it's a fact." 
    • "Of course I love you, but you should lose weight for your health." 
In all these cases, I'm cast as the oversensitive one for even bringing it up. Or as the one who needs a "reality check" because - hello! - fat is bad, as everyone knows. Or as the Fat Poz Nazi who always makes a big deal out of everything instead of "taking a joke." Always up there on her soapbox, shoving her weird idea that her being fat is OK down everyone's throats.

I'm finding this part hard to express. Am I making sense?

Fat Hate, of course

I get so annoyed and sad when people make offhand fat-hating comments. It's bad in a different but equally bad - maybe worse - way than when people who are clearly fat-hating spew their filth. In the case of the former (i.e. MeMe Roth, doctors, talking heads), at least I never trusted or liked the person in the first place, don't take it personally, and don't have any desire to have a relationship with that person. I expected nothing more from them.

On the other hand, when a trusted friend or supposed liberal, intelligent source makes a fat-hating remark, it hits me in the solar plexus. It's a sucker punch. I thought this person/entity was safe, that they 'got it,' that in liking and respecting me and/or in being a basically progressive, right-thinking entity, they were on my side. And then - wham!It hurts on two levels. It underlines how acceptable fat hate is - it's so much a part of the culture it's invisible to the otherwise sensitive, educated people who spew it without even thinking.And it makes me feel like this person I thought accepted me doesn't really love me - since they've obviously internalized so much fat hate.

Recent examples:
Person A (status update): something cool
Friend of A (comment): jealous
Person A (comment): It's ok, I still love you like a fat kid loves McDonald's. [emphasis mine]

Radio-- NPR Report on how people who use cash buy less junk food than people who use debit or credit. The theory is that this is another example of how using cash is more painful/concrete than using plastic, so we tend to resist impulse purchases. Interesting, weight-neutral tidbit. Until, of course, the newscaster wraps up with the tagline, "So if you want to lose weight, leave the plastic behind!"

Because, 'of course' we fatties are McDonald's-gorging, junk-food-addicted, lazy slobs who would be thin like everyone else if we'd just comply. And of course if that turns out to be false, if we're good little fatties and we try and try but still can't lose weight... they'll be happy to cut out some internal organs to help us conform. But that's another post.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Keep your assumptions off my body

So over the past 24 hours, I've had a catastrophically yucky initial meeting with my (potential, violently rejected) new primary care physician, followed by (admittedly mild, but I'm sensitive to this sort of thing) Facebook drama. I posted on Facebook shortly after I left the office, because I was upset and distressed by the horrific 5 minutes I'd spent with the doctor. Unfortunately, in addition to several supportive comments, one friend (whose partner is a WLS "success story") posted a finger-wagging comment basically scolding me for overreacting, saying that it was probably appropriate for the doc to act as she did. Then, some other rad fatties and allies posted vehemently anti-WLS comments. Which felt good to read, but they in turn prompted the pro-WLS friend to spring to the defense of WLS. All of this in comments that started to feel like a flame war on my FB. It was to the point by this morning where each FB notification was making me feel sick, because I dreaded what it was going to be...

Finally, I decided to respond. But I'd been doing so much thinking that it became far more blog-length than comment-length. So I'm posting it here instead. I'm sure some rad fatties and anti-WLS people will think my position is not strong enough. While on the other hand, my friends and acquaintances who have positive ideas about WLS will probably feel I'm being unreasonable in my resistance. I can't please you all. I can only try to think this through and navigate it the best I can. I am torn, caught in the middle between the hordes and masses of society who think my body is an abomination, a disease to be "cured" by any means necessary, and by the small, quiet voices of fat acceptance and HAES and the tentative reaching instincts of my own body and soul, which tell me that fat is part of my biology and my identity and it's the world that needs to change, to stop treating me badly and seeing me as a problem and an intrusion.

There's so much to respond to in what everyone said on my FB. I agree with the strong negative feelings that many of you have about these surgeries. On the other hand, I understand where my friend who said the distressing stuff was coming from (even though the way he said it really hurt!). I know several "success stories" for whom the surgery was really wonderful and they are feeling great / much improved / it was all worth it / etc. Which only serves to confuse me because I feel even more pressure to accept the pressure of medical professionals. However, I simply must stick to my own gut feeling/intuition/confidence that this is NOT the right path for me - at least right now. I won't say never, cause who knows?

What truly pisses me off about this doc is that, as I said in my initial FB status post, she had met me LITERALLY 5 minutes before stating that bariatric surgery was really my only option. She had not had me fill out any new patient paperwork. It's almost certain that had not reviewed my medical record extensively, if at all, given how overworked clinicians are these days and the fact that I had not scheduled a full physical, just a 15 minute appt. When she walked in, she asked, "What can I do for you today?" I stated that I am looking for a new primary care physician, and she repeated, "But what do you want today," or something. She didn't ask me any questions or move to initiate the getting-to-know-you conversation I was hoping for. So I said that I am looking for a team captain, that I see a variety of specialists for different concerns, including a naturopath, chiropractor, psychologist, occasionally podiatrist. I went on to express that I was seeing her because I am looking for a new primary care doc who will NOT insist on constantly recommending HMR (my medical group's in-house version of Weight Watchers) or bariatric surgery, as those recommendations aggravate my eating disorder and depression. I explained that I believe in focusing on changing behaviors, not focusing on weight (working my way into explaining HAES). But before I could elaborate, she said that that was just it, we can't change behaviors, and that for someone in my "category" the only viable option is bariatric surgery.

Really? You don't want to hear more about the eating disorder I just mentioned? But of course fat women don't have eating disorders, do they? If you have an eating disorder, it makes you skinny. After all, the same thing we diagnose as an eating disorder if you're below a certain weight (severely limiting calories, obsessively planning meals and reading nutrition labels, working out to excess, etc.), we prescribe to fat people, don't we! You don't want to know if I exercise or not, or what I eat, before making such a sweeping statement? But of course not; you know exactly how I eat (poorly) and whether I exercise (obviously not even a little) from looking at me, right? It may be - it probably is true - that I will never eat or exercise "perfectly."  But you don't even ask the questions??? It was blatantly clear that this woman thought she knew everything relevant about me just by looking me up and down. And so I told her, "ok, well that's what I needed to know. We're done here." She protested, "But don't you want a flu shot or a whooping cough booster?" "No, I don't want anything from you." Not exactly the ringing, persuasive speech I might craft if I were a character in my own movie... but I didn't cry. I didn't give her that. At least, not til I got to my car.

I have done a lot of thinking on this in the last 24 hours and I've come to believe that my feelings on WLS and abortion are somewhat parallel. In both cases, I believe that everyone has the right to choose to go through that procedure, but it is emotionally complex and has long-lasting physical and emotional consequences and should not be taken up lightly. In both cases I would not personally choose that procedure but respect others' right to make their own personal decisions about what is best for their bodies and their lives. And just as I would be offended by a doctor who recommended abortion just because I was visibly pregnant and single, I am offended by a doc who recommends bariatric surgery just because I'm fat.

Pro-choice folks have the slogan, "Keep your laws off my body." While there is no law that one must have bariatric surgery (though it's getting scarier and scarier in terms of de facto weight loss requirements embedded in ability/non ability to access health care in this country), there is a TON of pressure out there, especially for folks like me who are in the very far right (not politics, math - on a graph, bigger numbers are to the right!) portion of the weight bell curve. So it may not be as catchy, but I say it with gusto:

KEEP YOUR ASSUMPTIONS OFF MY BODY. Yes, I mean you, Dr. And you, well-meaning friend. My body is mine. In this day when fatness increasingly IS a choice (if you believe bariatric surgery is a viable option, which so many seem to), it becomes increasingly difficult to stand up and say, "I am fat. I don't believe thinness is a choice for me. So I am going to live in this fat body" without getting some pretty forceful push-back.

Ok, now I have all sorts of interesting thoughts percolating about how just when we thought people might accept that diets don't work, and therefore fatness really is biological and not a "choice"... in walks bariatric surgery, and in just a few short years goes from experimental to frighteningly mainstream. Coincidence?

But that's a subject for another day... This post is already exceedingly long. Kudos and thanks, if you're reading this. You've made it to the END OF THE POST. Leave me a (positive, no meanies allowed!) comment and you get a gold star. :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fat Heroines & NaNoWriMo

I am working towards committing to do NaNoWriMo this year - my first time. (Don't know NaNoWriMo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month. You challenge yourself to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Not GOOD words, necessarily - no room for the inner censor, here. Just writing, because "someday" will never come. You have to write today. See for details.)

I was feeling frozen in terms of not having an idea yet. Then I started thinking about a fat heroine. I tend towards writing YA fantasy fiction, so this would be a fat adolescent girl in a Medieval/Renaissance type fantasy world. I still struggle with imagining what a fat heroine would look like. After all, she's not going to be the same as a thin heroine, like all the role models in the genre. I started to think about not just what would she be good at, but what would she be BETTER at because she's fat?

Here's my list so far:
  • Strength - we fatties are stronger than people think, because we are working with resistance from the moment we jump out of bed.
  • Swimming - natural buoyancy, anyone?
  • Compassion for the underdog - I really feel my 'outcast' status as a fatty and the torment and abuse I've taken because of it has made me more compassionate to all different types of diversity and inclusion and things that cause people to get treated poorly (from culture and ethnicity to less-discussed ones like fatness itself, height, disability, etc.). My heroine is likely the same way. Maybe she finds her friends in unlikely places because she can see through the thing they get rejected for and see the whole person.
  • Horseback riding - not necessarily good at this specifically because she's fat, but what if because she's fat she fell in love with horseback riding, because the horse was the great equalizer? On a horse, she could run as fast, jump as high as all her friends and siblings, and not feel athletically at a disadvantage. And so she spent tons of time on her horse and grew to really love it.
  • Surviving in the cold / surviving in harsh winters, lack of food, etc. - let's face it, she has more insulation and more stores of energy if there's a famine.
There have got to be more. Let's think creatively. In what ways is being fat potentially an ADVANTAGE to a fantasy heroine? (Or more generally in life...?)

NAAFA Newsletter

I just submitted my first article for the NAAFA newsletter. Unless the editor hates it or something, it'll be published this month!

UPDATE: The editor loves it (yay!) but feels it would be a better fit for November's newsletter... so it will be a bit longer 'til it's published.

It's silly how excited I am to have a piece of my writing published - even though it's unpaid and only in an email newsletter. Still, a LOT of people will be getting/reading it, and that's very cool!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Ren Faire Post 3 of 3: The Pitch

So anyway... In case you are now wondering when you can come and see me frolicking wrapped in a big wool blanket of a gown in the hottest time of the year... playing in the dirt and hay with grubby costumed little ones... learning to spin and occasionally throwing the orifice hook across the yard in frustration... and generally being a crazy fool spending all my free time pretending to be in Renaissance England... that time begins 1 week from tomorrow!

Or, ya know, since it's not all about me... if you want to see shows, watch silly people do their darndest to entertain you in the street, shop at nifty jewelry booths/clothing shops/artisans, or get yourself a great big turkey leg and a fyne pint of ale... that's all happening, too!

AND... special this year, KIDS ARE FREE every weekend!

AND... returning for the second year: Celtic Rock concerts on Saturday nights, free with your ticket price. Come a little later in the day, enjoy the Faire for a few hours, and stay for a rocking concert! Sit in the bleachers or dance in the arena, if your feet have any life left in 'em.

AND... I would love to see you there - and am happy to share my participant discount with you. It's not huge ($5 or so off), but hey - that's an ale or a bite to eat! :)

For all the details, go to Let me know when you'll be coming, so we can coordinate!

Huzzah - it's Faire season - the 2nd best time of the year!

(I love Faire, but Christmas is better. I get 2 weeks off for Christmas!!)

What do 10-plus pounds of wool look like?

So as a participant, I couldn't wear my beautiful purple gauze top (purple is for the Queen, don't'cha know?) and by this time I'd outgrown my velvet bodice (which I wouldn't have been allowed to wear anyway). So I went and bought a premade bodice. Again, even at this larger size, I had multiple options! They laced me into a royal blue bodice and I chose a goldy/ochre shirt shot through with threads of blue and maroon and forest green so that it coordinated perfectly with my blue bodice and the maroon skirt I'd made for that first costume 6 or 7 years earlier. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that in order to (mostly) fit my waist/hip area, they'd given me a bodice that was far too large in the chest. Here I was, ready to be beautiful and sexy and have all my bits rearranged into pleasing configurations... and my boobs were sinking (you don't wear a bra under a bodice). I went back to the vendor. Their answer? Shore up the ladies with a rolled up sock under each. Blech. I wanted to be sexy on my own. I didn't want to need a rolled up sock. How... high school. Middle school. Adolescent. Annoying/shameful. I never did try the sock thing. For 3 or 4 or 5 seasons, I suffered with a bodice that fit my waist but was too long so it always rode up, and had so much spare room in the top that I could fit my whole fist inside. Inside a garment that's supposed to fit like a corset! Over time as the garment "broke in" (i.e. wore out), the top got even looser and the bottom had to be left with a fairly substantial gap in the lacing... with the result that I was easily mistaken for pregnant! Fat girl nightmare!! I was miserable with the outfit, but unemployed and Faire is expensive even without new clothes, and I didn't feel I could afford the $70-100 for another pre-made bodice - especially considering I wasn't confident one existed off the rack that would really fit me right, anyway.

I finally started making inquiries about having a bodice made custom. Mamma Zini, AKA the formidable long-time costume mistress for the REC faires, had a clothing booth adjacent to my guild's area. Mamma Zini was a fat woman. (I say "was" with sorrow, as she passed away this year.) She was also a wonderful costumer, and made clothes for her own fat body - a body nearer the size of my own than most people I ever interact with. If she could make herself look great, surely she could construct a bodice for me! But sadly, she wasn't enthusiastic about trying to make a bodice long-distance from Los Angeles. I kept talking with her about it in the course of our friendship, and picking her brain half-heartedly for tips on making my own. Finally, one year - it must have been 2007 or so - I was fed up with my old bodice. I was talking with Mamma Z in between us all packing up and told her I simply had to buy a new bodice for the next year, even if it wasn't perfect it had to be better than the one I had that made me so sad. She beckoned her husband.

"Go get that bodice. You know, the (insert how she explained to him which one she wanted) one." He disappeared into their booth's storage container and came out with a brownish bodice with yellow and maroon trim. "Lace her into it," Mamma directed. He complied. It felt great! A little short, but sooooo much better than the blue one of doom. She gave it to me on the spot, explaining she'd bought it off the rack when she'd needed a bodice for herself on the double, had added the trim because she is a costumer and can't stand an unadorned bodice, but didn't really use it much. It was still nearly brand new. I made some token protest, but really I couldn't be anything but grateful.

It wasn't perfect. It was smallish on the bottom in order to fit better on top (because apparently my shape isn't what they design for in the bodice market). In fact, wearing it the next year, I managed to give myself bruises around my ribs where I laced the bodice so tightly that the waistbands of the skirts underneath dug into me. But at least I had boobs, and the bodice was beautiful and I felt Mamma Z's love and rad-fattie solidarity every time I wore it.

Finally, in spring of 2009, I got a real job that actually paid enough to pay my bills. I was no longer borrowing from Mom and Dad every month, and I took the leap. I called up a costumer friend and asked if she wanted to make a Ren Faire outfit. She did, of course, being a costumer. She's no "mere" seamstress (and yes, I use that designation carefully - not wanting to be a jerk like Project Runway). She's an artist. She made a gown that is more conservative and yet shaplier than any bodice I've ever worn. I don't have to have boobage spilling everywhere to feel sexy; instead, I have quiet, beautiful, historically-appropriate elegance. I love, love, love this gown, let me tell you. It's almost all wool, except some of the trim which I had her cut from a dying mustard-yellow skirt (my 2nd, and less successful, Faire-skirt sewing project). On hot days, I think, no know, I was insane to pick wool. On cold days, I'm a happy girl. On all days, I delight in the delicious historical accuracy of it. Ah, the torment we impose on ourselves for our hobbies and passions!

It's my 8th Renaissance Faire as a participant this year. It may not be Fatty Mecca, but I'm having a great time. And I'm finally wearing something that helps me feel good in the body I own, that accentuates what I have instead of pushing and pulling and helping and hiding. Here's me, in my 10 pounds of wool. Take me or leave me.

The most wonderful time of the year...

Good morrow, good gentles, and how fare ye this day?

I mean, uh... hey guys! So this may sound a bit like an advertisement, but only cause I really, REALLY love what I do and I tend to have this thought that everyone else in the world should love it to. Will love it, if they just come out and play with me. I realize this is not the case, but nevertheless I can't resist waxing poetic about the whole thing from time to time.

Now, I started wanting to go to a Ren Faire back in elementary school, first went in high school (rented costume the first year, then bought a bodice my second time), and knew I just HAD to participate after reading Camryn Manheim's book, Wake Up - I'm Fat! In it, she talks about coming of age at Faire as Chloe Blue Eyes (forgive me if the details are off... it's been like 10 years since I read this book), and it being this mecca of fat acceptance, where her fat body was finally OK and all around her were other self-loving rad fatties in bodices and whatnot.

I bought a bodice on my second visit to the Ren Faire (approx. 1997). Shopping for my first bodice was an amazing experience. There were choices in my size, the cute young lad salesman flirted or at least bantered while he laced me up, and my final selection was... wait for it... a beautiful jewel-toned velvet bodice and a deep purple gauzy top (I'd made my own skirt)! I promptly decided that a bodice was just about the most flattering piece of clothing for my body type ever invented - it pushed all the "right" things in all the "right" places and made me feel great! (And yes, I realize this implies that my body is not "right" in its natural state. I'm getting to that.)

Fast forward about 6 years. I've now finished high school, gone away to college for four years, graduated, and am finally in the right place at the right time to become a Renaissance Faire participant! The Faire is in a new location, Casa de Fruta in Gilroy/Hollister area - much closer to my home, and I proudly set out the first day of workshops to join the Faire. And of course nothing is a simple as a mecca of fat acceptance. Perhaps times have changed, or perhaps Chloe Blue Eyes wore some rose-colored glasses, or... who knows. But while Faire is my home away from home, my 2nd family, it's not any kind of mecca. Several of my guild-mates have had gastric bypass surgery (fairly to very successfully - not just in weight loss but in lack of side effects - which is perpetuating more and more in that circle of friends to consider it for themselves), which means there are some pretty major land mines to avoid. All the stars of all the shows are slim, or "appropriately" curved but still what I would consider slender/socially acceptable. But there are also awesome young women and men of diverse body sizes rocking it out in all their different roles, and unafraid to bare some skin after hours in fairy costumes or princess costumes, tummies and all. And though it's not the mecca I dreamed of, it's family... and well in the range of acceptable dysfunction for a family gathering!

This post is now officially WAY too long, and I still haven't told you about my 2nd Ren Faire costume, or my current one. That will have to wait for a future post, I guess.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September 1

I can't believe it's September First and I still haven't written about my first NAAFA Convention. Was it really nearly a month ago??

One cool thing - out of many - that came out of attending the Con is that I'll be contributing to the monthly NAAFA newsletter now and then... beginning with the October issue, in which I've been invited to share my experience "coming out as fat" at work as I talked with coworkers about why I was taking vacation (to go to NAAFA Con), and where I was going/what I'd be doing.

It's super busy right now - has been ever since I returned! - with the beginning of the school year, so I once again don't have time to write the full, luscious NAAFA Con recap I do still hope plan to write. I'm sending myself an email right now... to remind me to do this.

Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Playing in my head...

I just had a lovely lunch with my boss/mentor and her 13-month-old boy. I had a vegetarian sandwich, because it was what I wanted. The intuitive eating voice in my head was proud of myself for getting what I wanted, and was grooving on the yummy mushrooms and melted cheese and various veggies. It also warned me that this was a very yummy sandwich but not much in the "stick with you" department, so I was thinking ahead to what/whether I had anything to snack on later in the day. All very sane and healthy (my definition of healthy, not corrupt "healthy=dieting").

But then there was the little diet devil on my shoulder telling me to feel guilty for all the yummy cheese (even though I had no meat, and very little bread!), and the dessert-wanting voice, not bad in herself -- wanting dessert is A-OK with me, or at least I want to get to the point where it is! -- but since the diet devil thinks dessert is bad, the dessert-wanting voice caved to the pressure and twisted herself in knots, arguing in a burst of spurious logic and ugly old definitions of virtue that "since I'd had a vegetarian lunch, it was OK to have ice cream now." If I'm going to have ice cream, I'd like to decide to because I want it, and it sounds good to my tummy/mouth/body - not because I've "earned" it by some bizarre deprivation-world logic. Sigh. But hey - the shake was quite tasty! And it did, in fact, settle well in my vegetable-occupied tummy landscape. So that's good, anyway.

I wish I hadn't had those couple of clutter-y diet thoughts. But really, I need to see that there's a lot more intuitive eating WIN than FAIL in today's lunch: I ate what I wanted to eat, instead of eating more/differently than I wanted in fear of future hunger, I got dessert because it sounded good but I also knew it would settle well and there was room in my tummy, etc. A couple of the messages my brain has on auto-play are bad, but the decisions made were right and in tune.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

End of an era...

Well, it's the end of a massively important era in my Fat Acceptance life. Last night was my last night in the body positive/fat acceptance/HAES support group I've attended every Wednesday evening for - gosh, like 5 years or something.

It's given me a lot. Moral support, companionship, some good friends, lots and lots of "really? I'm not the only one who feels like this?" moments, some wonderful, positive/supportive voices in my head to call on when the old demon-voices from culture/childhood/etc. try to pop in and rule me, and so much more. It was a hard decision to leave. But I know it was the right one. I'm looking forward to choosing what I want to do on Wednesday nights, and to "leaving the nest" so to speak. The most surprising feeling I had on leaving was realizing that in a way, leaving was an affirmation. As in, "I'm feeling OK enough in my life that I can comfortably walk away from this major source of support I've really needed for so long." After 5 years of training wheels, I'm ready to try the two-wheeler all on my own!

Of course, I'm not really on my own. The Fatstudies List, the Notes from the Fatosphere feed, the great friends and mentors I have made in the FA community, the NAAFA convention coming up in August - all of these connections and support systems are still in my life, and I'm feeling very aware of how grateful I am to have found them.

Here's to graduating to a two-wheeler!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Samosas for Breakfast: Intuitive Eating WIN

What to do with those two samosas you got the guy at the farmers' market to throw in for free with purchase of Monday's lunch? Eat them for breakfast on Wednesday, of course. Indian food for breakfast? I can hear some people's disbelief from here. But one of the things I keep reminding myself is that breakfast food is whatever you eat in the morning that gets you going and keeps you energized 'til lunch. It doesn't have to be American "breakfast food." Which is important, 'cause most of the time, most of that food doesn't appeal in the morning. It's too sweet (granola bars), too carb-y and not enough protein-y (bagel and cream cheese), too greasy (sausage), too "I don't know, I mostly just don't want it, and even if I did who has time to make it?" (full breakfast with eggs, toast, sausage/bacon).

Now, these "rules" may sound like they're fueled from a diet or good food/bad food place. But it just so happens that they're not... it's just how I feel. I don't usually desire sweet things in the morning. My body wants PROTEIN to get going. I love bagels and cream cheese, but if that's what I have for breakfast, I'm hungry by 10am! So I'm constantly struggling to find something to eat in the morning that a) is supremely easy - we're talking grab and go only! b) is high in protein and not particularly sweet, and c) feels like real food, not processed to death. (Finding something that fits both A and C is nigh-impossible!!) A lot of times, I go for the old toast with peanut butter routine. It's not grab and go, but I keep the makings in my desk drawer and make a quick run to the toaster at work! I have also sometimes enjoyed a plain turkey sandwich - bread, mayo, turkey only - although I find I only like this when someone else makes it. At least this month - darn moody tummy/eating brain.

But today, I had a breakfast that tasted great, totally appealed, and feels good sitting in my tummy right now. Remember those leftover samosas? 2 deep-fried pyramids of goodness, pastry filled with potatoes, peas, and spices (not hot spicy, just highly flavorful), dipped in tangy, somewhat-sweet mango chutney (and used to scoop up the big chunks of mango in said chutney)... who knew that was breakfast food? But it worked. And with a container of yogurt for protein, and the potatoes in the samosas for bulk and fullness, the whole thing made my tummy a happy camper! The only minor complaint is it was SO good and SO filling that I ate a little bit more than maybe I needed. Next time maybe 1 samosa instead of two!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

May 6 is International No Diet Day

May 6 is International No Diet Day! Happy INDD! :)

From Wikipedia:
"The International No Diet Day (INDD) is an annual celebration of body acceptance and body shape diversity. This day is also dedicated to raise awareness of the dangers in diets.

"There are several goals to the INDD:

  • Doubt the idea of one "right" body shape.
  • Raise awareness to weight discrimination, size bias and fatphobia.
  • Declare a free day from diets and obsessions to body weight.
  • Present the facts about the diet industry, emphasizing the inefficacy of commercial diets.
  • Show how diets perpetuate violence against women.
  • Honor the victims of eating disorders and weight-loss surgeries."

What a fabulous holiday!! I think I'll try to figure out some way to celebrate it this evening. Maybe mindfully eating a really good meal, or walking a little bit (not so much it hurts, but mindfully/joyfully moving my body...)?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Victory: Sharing HAES and FA

There hasn't been too terribly much HAES/FA/fat-related stuff in my life lately. But I did have a really cool conversation with a colleague after work last night. Basically I talked all about intuitive eating and HAES and whatnot and she was all interested and into it. I like her, and I hate hearing her feeling bad about herself or think she needs to diet/buy into Kaiser's "Weight Management" (where they try to sell her on it being not a diet, but it is)/etc because people (family, docs, etc.) tell her she needs to diet and lose weight.

She is open to looking at books and resources. As soon as I find which box they're in, I'll bring her some!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Not a four-letter word

Check out this FLABULOUS advice column! Miss Conduct is my new fave mainstream-media fat-poz ally.

So basically, a man writes in because he got slapped for commenting on a woman's “nice, full, hourglass figure” on first meeting her, while planning a first date.

Miss C responds that a) it's not OK to hit, unless in self-defense, b) it's not a good idea to comment on a woman's figure unless you're very close, and c) - and here's the really great part:
Finally, your story is a sad comment on the extent to which fat prejudice has permeated our society -- that the suggestion that a woman is heavy can actually be considered an assault to honor, “fighting words” along the lines of a racial slur. If we lived in a world that celebrated all body types, in which desirability and health were not thought to be inexorably tied to one’s BMI, the idea of a woman slapping someone who suggested that she was plump, zaftig, even fat (not a four-letter word, you’ll note) would make about as much sense as slapping someone who pointed out how red her hair was. (To learn more about size acceptance, check out the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, Health at Every Size, and the writing of Paul Campos and Kate Harding, among others.)
Seriously. In the Boston Globe, she says this. I think I'm in love!!

Full story:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Eating with people

I had a fun fat-poz eating experience yesterday. There's this coworker, SM, with whom I'm becoming friends. I'm really enjoying it. She's a sweetheart and I enjoy her - and she's one of the few people at my job who are relatively my own age. We haven't hung out outside of work yet, due mostly to the fact that she lives over an hour away and commutes here, and the fact that I've been moving and insanely busy. But we have lunch together sometimes.

Yesterday, I asked if she'd go and get us lunch because I had gotten it last time and I was really busy yesterday. She was willing, so we started trying to figure out what we wanted. I thought I might want a salad, but decided on a burger. Meanwhile, I had talked her into a salad for her! So she gets back with my "junk food" lunch of burger with all the fixin's and fried zucchini, while she's having a "virtuous" salad. (Yup, my good food/bad food stuff got triggered...) I said, truthfully, that the salad looked good but kind of small. That gave her permission to say that she'd considered getting a burger on the side, and she should have because this wasn't enough food.

So nice to hear someone else think like that, too. With women you're just getting to know, you're always wondering if they've got diet-brain, if she might be thinking this was enough food or secretly thinking I was a stereotype-fat-girl eating burgers and fries all the time, or whatever. But she was just like, "I'm gonna be hungry by 3 o'clock!" So nice to feel comfortable with her... this speaks well for my ability to be close friends with her. Yay!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Link of the day

I highly recommend this AWESOME, empowering article by Paul Campos and Marilyn Wann (What a pairing; FA royalty if anyone is!)

Below is an excerpt of my favorite few paragraphs; read the rest at the link that follows.

Fatties, it's time to fight back: If you're judged obese, you're a second-class citizen at best

... We recognize that the stakes are high. Fatter people are less likely to be hired, are paid less, are less welcome as college applicants, are denied medical treatments, are likely to be charged double when we fly on airplanes, are unwelcome as customers seeking to buy clothes and are discriminated against constantly in countless ways. If you're judged fat, you're a second-class citizen at best, untouchable - even less than human.

That's wrong. Very wrong.

So, it's time to fight the good fight against clueless bullies. If you can't be at home in your own body, where exactly are you supposed to go? Sure, eat right and exercise. That's what both of us do. It's good for us, and it feels good. But guess what - one of us is still thin and the other is still fat.

And that's only natural. The idea that Kevin Smith would be as waif-like as Keira Knightley if they both had the same lifestyle is nonsense. But it's the kind of nonsense that our government feeds us every day, when it claims that, according to a bunch of definitions it made up out of thin air, everyone can and should be a certain size.

So be a rebel. Draw a line that's guaranteed to do you (and people of all sizes) some good. Draw a line against weight bullying. And defend it. Eat what you want and where you want. And fly only the airlines that treat you properly.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Meme Roth cut down to size

Well... her credentials, at any rate. She, herself, is actually small enough!

See this article for a full breakdown of Meme's non-awesomeness. How did she get famous as an "expert"? Well, basically, she's a publicist and knows how to create someone out of no one with the right strategic moves. It's genius... evil genius, but I _almost_ admire her for it - for her sheer audacity in setting herself up in the way she has, to achieve the limelight she so clearly craves. But I digress...

There is a valid point to be made that NONE of the four panelists on the Nightline Faceoff program were "experts" - and I did notice that Nightline called them "opinionated people" or something, not experts. But Meme herself claims to be an expert, touting her sham organization and her pseudo-credentials and the vids of herself running and contorting herself in the park in her fancy workout clothes, all blonde and thin and privileged. You don't see Marianne Kirby writing press releases quoting herself, or claiming to be an expert on anything other than living her own life, being a proud fat person doing what it takes to survive in our culture. And by the way, Marianne Kirby is an _actual_ author - like, with an actual book to her name.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Knee diagnosis

So today I saw a new orthopedist, Dr. S, for my continuing saga of knee pain. I know that with any type of joint stuff I'm always running a higher risk of being told it's all my fault cause I'm deathfatz, and I also had found out this particular guy's specialty is sports medicine, so I went in armed. I brought a printout of Dr. Jon Robison's excellent "10 Things People Can Do Right Now To Ease Their Concerns About Their Weight and Improve Their Health." When he walked in and greeted me, I offered him the packet and told him I wanted to share with him the approach I take to weight and health and that I don't want to hear about weight loss. He was taken aback, and said, "Wow... opening with a shot across the bow!" Oh great, I think. Clearly not too receptive. But I forged on. I told him how we know that only 5% of people who lose weight keep it off over 5 years, and that being told to lose weight makes my depression spike so I really just can't have it. He was like, "OK." Didn't seem excited but didn't insist that it is his moral duty to tell me to lose weight either. Better than nothing...

So of course the concern I had with having opened that way was that he'd assume I changed away from the previous orthopedist because of weight loss talk - which actually is _not_ the reason, in this case. I didn't like the other guy because he wanted to blithely prescribe medications without ever examining my knee, and when I asked him why he recommended a given course of treatment he couldn't/wouldn't explain his thinking. So best I can tell I wasn't mistreated cause I am fat, per se, he's just a crappy doctor. Luckily, the new guy starts asking me about my history and I tell him I was sent for an MRI and he's looking at my chart at the same time and he says, "Did you want to see Dr. M?" And I say, "NO," very firmly. He looks surprised so I give him the summary of my last visit to Dr. M, ending with, "And I just really need someone who can explain the decision process and give me all the information about what's going on with my body." And he seemed to take that to heart - he was very thorough and informative throughout the visit.

I was really proud of myself for advocating for myself throughout the visit. Not only did I throw out the ground rules about health focus not weight focus, but I told him what I want in a doctor in terms of being thorough and informative, AND I continued to push for explanations, information, why this and not this treatment, what can I do to get better, and of course the old standby, "If I were an average-sized person, is there anything that you would be telling me that's different, or any other treatment paths we'd be exploring?" In this case, he said no. I don't always believe them when they say that, but at least I've asked - both for myself and to hopefully plant the seed in their thought process in general. I'll never know if one of the docs I've asked this question of may think back and see, "my gosh - I really did think differently about that patient because of her body size! Shame on me!" It's a fantasy, but it could happen... and I'll never know if it does. I have faith that things we say can have lasting effects because I've seen it as a teacher and with other teachers I've known. It's often the kid you least expect who is the one who comes back years later and say you changed his/her life. You just never know at the time. And for every kid who comes back, there are probably a few others you'll never know about at all... it's a good reminder because you don't have to wait to see your impact directly in order to feel that continually trying and putting your stuff out there in the world is worth doing.

EDIT: I forgot to share the actual diagnosis, which I probably should since that's the headline...

So my left knee, the one I fell on back in July of 2009 and which continues to be tender and have numbness spread down the leg, should get better. The fall most likely damaged a nerve which wraps around the kneecap and down through the area that's numb. When I fell on that edge of pavement across my kneecap it crushed that nerve and that's the cause of the numbness and tenderness. There's also some arthritis inside the knee, but that's separate. The fallout from the fall should heal with time. Or it may not, as nerves are fussy. But it's not anything that needs surgery or further action - just time.

The right knee is a different story. It's been hurting since I did a major organizing/cleaning/dejunking project the week after Christmas. Due to favoring the left knee, I overused the right and irritated it, and it has been acutely painful on and off (mostly on) since. My primary care doc, Dr. H, diagnosed bursitis on the inside face of the knee, but that didn't explain the pain inside the joint or behind the knee or in the muscles above and around the knee. Dr. S examined the knee briefly and said he didn't think it was bursitis. He said that he thought it was much more likely arthritis. I was a little unsure about this since he came to the conclusion so quickly. It seemed like he might have decided it based on my body size more than anything else. But the fact that there's pain inside the joint not just outside, there are signs of arthritis in the other knee that he had shown me on the MRI, Dr. H has mentioned that I have the beginnings of arthritis in the other knee before, too, etc. made me willing to accept it. He explained that bursitis is much less common than arthritis, and invoked that thing about if you see hoofprints you should look for the horse before the zebra. He said there's an easy way to check his theory: he could give me a cortisone shot and see if it helps. I asked, don't you only get three of those in any one body part in your life? and he said it's not a hard rule, more just that after 2-3 they will stop working. I was reluctant to use up one of my 3 when I'm so young, since this is going to be a lifelong problem, and he seemed to agree.

He sent me for x-rays to see how bad the arthritis is. According to the x-ray it's only mild... I just can't *wait* to feel how bad it's going to hurt when it gets worse, since it's already pretty bad now. According to him, there's nothing you can do preventatively for arthritis, it's just part of your genetic makeup. Of course, he said, (and here's the one weight-phobic comment he made), "You're making it worse by not..." and I nodded like, "I get it, let's not have the weight loss talk." But apparently my acknowledgment was too cursory, because he reiterated, "significantly worse" and I'm like, "OK - but there's no particular diet or exercise regimen that is specifically shown to alleviate arthritis?" And he says no diet is better than any other. And then I realize of course that I said the magic word and he's thinking I am willing to weight-loss Diet, when what I meant was to ask about adding things nutritionally to my diet-as-in-the-foods-I-eat. Le sigh.

So in summary: arthritis in both knees, plus slowly-healing contusion with nerve damage in the left knee. And the arthritis is a life sentence and there's nothing I can do about it. Good grief, such an uplifting appointment. I've gotta talk to Dr. L the naturopath and Dr. D the Chinese sports medicine doc to get a less-bleak prognosis.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Well, as painful as Meme is, thank goodness for the FatStudies List and the fact that I'm sitting here catching up on all the videos people have posted... cause THIS is a great antidote to Meme.

Is it perfect? No. Do they have all the answers? No. Will their solutions (Torrid, Macy's) work for me, the super-size 6X-plus girl? No.

BUT, and it's a *big* but... it's a segment on a mainstream women's daytime talk show where REAL FAT WOMEN are featured, and given air space to talk candidly about what it's like to be a fat women in a thin person's world. I like how not one of them gives Elle any fat cred just cause she's a "plus size model" - honey, you're only plus size on the runway. In real life, you're average. You might even be fat - but that's for your doctor to say (especially since fat *is* average!)...

It feels incomplete - I wish they had posted the video of the after-makeover outfits... but don't miss the still shots (scroll down and look to the right of the text).

Is it OK to be Fat?

Ugh... Just tried to watch the Nightline debate "Is it OK to be fat?" (HERE) but I clicked on the "behind the scenes" vid (HERE) instead - which I enjoyed despite Meme. The part about her was a little distressing but bearable - nothing I haven't heard before, and I was riding on the high of seeing ultra-cool Marianne Kirby on TV!! But when I went to the full "debate" (deliberately in quotes since in a real debate a lot of things would be handled differently - like an unbiased moderator, for one!) I just couldn't get through Meme's first chance to talk. I had already used up my sanity points on that first 5-minute vid. "Untold cost in human suffering...?" Really? Cause unless she's talking about the suffering she feels when she has to look at me - which, btw, is not my problem, I don't know what she's talking about.

Well... unless you count the suffering from prejudice and discrimination against fat. But I think we know she's not talking about that.

You know how Meme talks so faux-caringly about the pain and sickness she feels inside when she sees an "obese" child? I feel that same pain and sickness when she calls me a financial burden, says that my fat is "ravaging the human body" etc. Pisses me off, but I'll admit it hurts, too.

But you know... the little, itty bitty part of me that is not sick and mad every word that exits her mouth... is sad for her because this culture has taught her so thoroughly that thin is good that she thinks she's the Messiah when she's actually just got an eating disorder. I wish she could get treatment, for her own sake.

... and so I wouldn't have to hear her verbally beat me up any more!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sometimes you just have to start

So I'm feeling anything but full of ample-tude today. But skimming the Notes from the Fatosphere, I was thinking how much I want to do that. I think part of me has stayed out of blogging because there are so many great bloggers in the Fat-O-Sphere that I wouldn't be the best, so why should I do it? But I think I need to do it for me. If it's not helpful to anyone else, OK. I can live with that. They don't have to read it, right? And I know that writing is theraputic for me. And lord knows I could use all the therapy I can get!

Feeling bad is annoying today, since I felt GREAT last night at Body Positive Group. Lots of successes to report, DB said it was the first time she's seen me "really doing this stuff" (referring to intuitive eating or maybe HAES in general. But being an extrovert is dangerous... riding the "high" from Group, I stayed up too late (1am ish), slept through all 5 alarms (I have sleep/wake problems, if you couldn't guess), woke up at 10 minutes til 9 -- when I should have been at work by 8:30! Got pulled in for A Talk with bosses about my chronic lateness, which I feel totally crappy about but don't seem to be able to resolve. They were very supportive, but I just don't have any answers. I'm tired all the time, I hate going to bed because sleeping is rarely comfortable and I often have nightmares; and sleeping takes time away from having fun/having down time. It doesn't seem to matter whether I sleep 6 or 8 or even 10 hours, I'm always sleepy during the day. This morning, even after waking up late and therefore having slept nearly 8 hours, I was so completely sleepy and tired that I could barely force myself to go to work...

I think the depression is flaring up; although I don't have too much of a bad mood, I was seriously not interested in interacting with the world At. All. today. I forced myself to come to work, and then the meeting with my bosses, even though it was totally supportive from their end, was a total downer because I had to face that people are noticing that I'm always late, that it's not OK, that it makes me feel like a total failure, and that despite all that I'm terrified I won't be able to fix it. On top of that, my tummy is grumpy (because I'm tired? just because it's finicky? not sure...), my head hurts (because I'm tired), customers have been annoying (isn't everyone, when you're tired?), etc. Last night or this morning I was thinking about wanting to have the stomach amputation surgery, wanting the pretend silver bullet that it isn't but that it seems like when I'm in that mood. I realized (not for the first time) that I only think like that when I'm -already- depressed. Then I was thinking I wonder if the vomiting and the thinking about stomach surgery, for me, are like what cutting is for someone who cuts him/herself. Deliberately hurting myself because the emotional/psychological pain is so bad I just need a physical outlet for it. Not that it helps... of course.