Friday, October 23, 2009

Fat Heffalump is Relocating

Yes, I'm taking Fat Heffalump away from Blogger, over to Wordpress. For several reasons. Firstly because the comments keep erroring, which I know is REALLY annoying when you're trying to leave a comment. It even does it to me, and I'm the blog owner!

Secondly because Wordpress is a lot more stable and has a lot more features that I can tinker with and polish the blog into exactly how I like it.

And finally, because it has a comment system that I can block the trolls out of better. It wastes a lot of my time dealing with these douchebags here on Blogger, and Wordpress has a much better filtering system than here.

So, I do hope you'll come on over to the new site. You can find it...

If anyone has set up RSS feeds to here, do remember to go over and grab the feed from the new Wordpress location. I'm sorry for any inconvenience, but it will be better for all of us in the long run.

Please bear with me while I tinker about with it and get it all up and running.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fitting In to the Fatosphere

I've had a few conversations lately with various folks regarding the feeling of "not fitting in" to the fatosphere. It seems that this is a common feeling for several fatties out there, and thus their hesitance to jump on in.

For me, fat acceptance is not a club. It's not about fitting in to a group or movement. It's not about being part of some kind of clique, though I do see a LOT of cliques forming, some of them more poisonous than cliques out there in the thinosphere (I just made that up, maybe it could be notfatosphere).

I believe fat acceptance is about two things.

1) Acceptance of myself. For who I am, how I am, what I am. Finding good self esteem and confidence to be who I am, and to live a full positive life. To live my life to the fullest as I am.

2) Acceptance of others, by others. For me to accept others as they are and leave them to be as they are for one, but most importantly, for others to accept me as I am, and leave ME to be as I am. That means accepting that I am fat, without prejudice or discrimination and that I and other fat people are under no obligation to stop being fat, and that we are not lesser beings for being fat.

That's what it boils down to at the very core of what I believe fat acceptance to be.

That doesn't mean that you're never out to improve yourself, challenge yourself or expand your horizons. It means that you accept yourself right here, right now and any changes, improvements, or challenges you make are made for you, not anyone else. There is always something we can improve about ourselves, but we have to be doing it for ourselves, not because other people say we should. Because positive striving to improve yourself is part of living a full life. I will talk about this more in another post I think.

Fat acceptance is not about joining or being anything to fit in with others. I don't feel the need to be a fat fashion plate, just to enjoy the clothes and accessories that I like. I don't feel the need to be BBW and become sexualised as a fat woman, just to feel beautiful as I am.

However, that doesn't mean that these things don't interest me in elements. I like fat fashion, without having to be a fatshionista. I find images sexy fat women empowering and good for my self esteem, without having to join their ranks in the BBW communities.

I understand that Kate Harding is seen as the goddess of all things Fatosphere, and that to many fatties, criticism of Shapely Prose or the contributors is seen as the ultimate betrayal of fatz. I disagree with this - while I find elements of Shapely Prose and it's contributors highly useful, articulate and sometimes inspirational, I don't feel the need to take on board everything that is said there. It's opinion and opinion will always differ. Don't let that stop any of you visiting Shapely Prose either - I am sure everyone will find something of use that they can take on board.

That goes for all the other fatosphere communities and contributors out there - get out and read as much as you can, find what resonates with you, share it and don't worry about the stuff that doesn't sit right with you. It's ok, there is no compulsory reading or community for fat acceptance.

But here's the thing. Your life is your life. You need to live it to it's full. Find what helps you live your life to the full and expand upon it. If something doesn't contribute positively to you being able to live your life to it's fullest and best, then you are under no obligation to continue with that activity, community or school of thought.

If I in any way help you live your life to the fullest with this little blog, then I am deeply honoured.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fat Heffalump Goes 2.0

Hello all,

It's still me, still The Sleepydumpling, only I've set up a profile specifically for this blog. I wanted one with my little heffalump artwork there, done by the lovely Luke Bamkin, and that I could modify to reflect this site a bit more. So unless I forget to change accounts, you'll see me posting as Fat Heffalump here from now on.

Another thing I have done is set up a Twitter account specificially for Fat Heffalump, so that I could aggregate all of my fatosphere tweeties there and focus on fattitude solely from that account. I'll be following lots of fatosphere tweeties there, and sharing all the interesting stuff I find. If you are a tweetie yourself, you can follow me here:

I'm also setting up a blanket rule that I won't be friending anyone on my Facebook unless I know them in real life, or we have a mutual real life friend. Not because I've got any concerns, I just want a private space for myself. We all need one!

However, I also want to meet new folks in the fatosphere, so instead I have created a Facebook page that you can "become a fan" of and join in the conversation there, and get to know new people. Plus I can block out the time wasters and trolls.

I will also add buttons on the sidebar later (I'm going out shortly, being on holidays is awesome!) for these sites etc.

I look forward to further interaction with you lovely folk.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When the Fatosphere Impacts the Mainstream

I've got an interesting tidbit for you all today.

In my journeys across the fatosphere, I stumbled across this snippet from The Colbert Report, take a look:

Now I must confess I'm not that big a fan of Stephen Colbert. I find him obnoxious even though I often agree with him. Not to mention that I hate how he interrupts his guests and changes the subject mid-stream. I much prefer Jon Stewart, who I feel is a better interviewer and gives sharper commentary. (I must confess, I have a crush on Jon, his sharp wit is uber-sexy.)

However, I do quite often agree with Stephen Colbert, he is an intelligent man behind the arrogance. After watching the piece above, I think he touched on some great fat acceptance points in amongst his slightly random rantiness. The best thing is that he has a fairly broad audience, and perhaps he's given them some food for thought (no pun intended) and perhaps one or two of them might even read Amy Farrell's book.

It's when fat acceptance hits the more mainstream media that we really need to sit up and take notice, because this is what REALLY broadens the message. Besides, it's thanks to our hard work here in the fatosphere that it is doing so.

Oh, I've just found where I first saw this video, it was thanks to Fat Grrl.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Falling off the Wagon

Ahh this fat acceptance malarkey is a bit of a process isn't it?

I have fallen off the wagon of fat acceptance. I've been a bit mean to myself over the past few days. You see, I have noticed that I have gained some weight. Ok, I don't know for sure that I've actually gained weight as I don't have scales and refuse to find some to check, but my clothes are a wee bit tighter and I'm feeling sluggish and heavy. So I'm assuming I've gained some weight.

I know why I am having these changes - I'm on holiday. I'm not living my usual breakneck paced lifestyle of rushing around for work and my social life. I'm also out of my routine. So I'm a spending a lot more time relaxing. It's great, I needed it. But I have kind of relaxed enough and am now feeling sluggish and blah.

Of course, the minute I go to put on a pair of pants that were a firm fit before, and now don't fit me, what do I do? All the fat acceptance and gaining strong self esteem slides out the window and I get on hating myself. Yep, I have been berating myself for about two days now. Today I realised that THAT'S ENOUGH.

I was getting ready to go out last night, to see Elvis Costello in concert (my favourite male singer ever) and I had a new dress that I loved, new shoes, and I've just coloured my hair a very bright, intense red. Normally I would be getting ready and feeling all great, but all I could do was criticise bits of myself. For the first time in a long time I even shied away from photographing my new sandals and posting them to Twitter because all I could see when I looked at my feet was how fat they were. Usually I LOVE showing off my shoes.

Thing is, what does it achieve to be hating on myself? I KNOW that it achieves nothing, rationally speaking, but somehow crappy self esteem seems to smack rationality down pretty quickly.

I tried to get over it by taking some photos of my outfit, but found myself taking dozens of pics because I hated every single one that I took. I really thought I'd got over that, but it's silly because the truth is, everyone has days where they feel crappy and are critical of themselves - it's no point being even more critical over that too.

This morning I woke up feeling crud, but kind of turned a corner later in the day as I was getting ready to go out again, and started to feel a bit of a lift.

I have to admit the real lift came when I went to get on a bus into town (I took myself off to a movie) to find that the cute bus driver that I usually only see on the trip home after work had made a completely random shift swap, and there he was on a bus I would never normally take! Not to mention that we've progressed our usual brief flirty hello and goodbye for a 40 minute conversation for the whole bus trip. I believe there may even be an exchange of contact details next time. That's gotta make a girl feel better about herself, hmmm?

Anyway, what I'm trying to say with this post is that all of us will have times that we fall off the self esteem/fat acceptance wagon, that it's a learning process and we have to remember to be kind to ourselves. To do the things that make us feel good, and read lots of positive material (oh the wonder of the fatosphere!) and with time, it does come back.

And in celebration of me finding my mojo again, here is one of the pictures of me in my new dress from last night. Most of the pics are pretty good, now that I'm looking at them through mojo-rich eyes again!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cross Promoting.

I just want to share with all my lovely Fat Heffalump readers a blog post I wrote over on my "everyday" blog. Tonight I got home from the movies to find some loser had left a comment on my other blog saying something like "Wearing black isn't going to help you any you fat bitch." Only it wasn't spelled correctly, but I can't remember the exact spelling because I deleted it.

So I had a wee bit of fun and made up a post over there that I thought my folks with fattitude might like to read. Here's the link:

Pop on over, have a look, leave a comment if you like.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Housekeeping Dahlings

Hello lovelies.

Just a quick housekeeping notice - I've added a wee blogroll to the right hand side there, underneath the Fat Heffalump herself. Just scroll down a bit, you'll see it.

This is only a small slice, I will add more later, these are just the ones I've read today.

In fact, if you have a blog with fattitude, or you would like to recommend one, leave me a comment doing so please.

Now, back to your regularly programmed content.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shame on You...

I bet most of you have experienced this one:
You're in a doctor's office. You have a cold, or you've hurt yourself somehow, or perhaps you've got a rash. You tell the doctor about the owie or the icky, and he/she shakes her head and says in a stern, disapproving tone "Well, you do need to lose some weight, don't you?"
Or what about this one:
You're in a public place, say a restaurant or food court of a shopping centre. You're having lunch, nothing special, just lunch. Someone passing by or at the nearest table says "Look at that fat pig. People like that shouldn't eat, that's disgusting."
Maybe this one:
You're watching the news. The newsreader comes on with an article about how fat people are costing the public health system lots and lots of money. Whoever you're with turns to you and says "Don't you ever feel guilty about that?"
Ever experienced anything like these situations? If you're fat, I'm pretty sure you have, or something similar. These are all examples of fat shaming.

Fat shaming is a tactic that non-fats, the medical profession and the media have all been using for a long time. Because they all figure that if we're ashamed of ourselves as fatties, that we will go on diets and lose the weight and then we'll no longer have an OOGA-BOOGA-OBESITY-EPIDEMIC.

Here's the thing. Fat shaming has been a tactic for a very, very long time. I've had it directed at me since I can remember, which is long before I was actually fat. Once I actually got fat, it was ramped up even higher. So if I can remember it from the 70's, that means it's been going on for over 30 years right?

Actually, I've seen examples of fat shaming in vintage ads from the 50's. You know, the "Sally can't get a date because she's a big fat lardass." kind of thing.

So if fat shaming has been out there for more than 50 years, and we've got a "growing OOGA-BOOGA-OBESITY-CRISIS" these days, as the media will have you believe, does this not tell us that fat shaming actually makes the problem worse?

When I look at it, it tells me that fat shaming does a whole bunch of things. It makes fat people embarrassed or intimidated about going to the doctor to get decent health care, which would lessen their risk of being of high cost to public health. It causes fat people to avoid being active in public because of the fear of ridicule that they not only "might" suffer, but actually do suffer. It forces many women and girls into the cycle of eating disorders and exercise obsessions that are a) not sustainable and b) do more long term damage to bodies than they do any good. It causes high levels of stress in fat people so that they are at more risk to things like high blood pressure and heart disease.

And these are just a few off the top of my head.

If fat shaming actually worked, wouldn't we be finding that the rate of obesity in western culture was actually lower now than it used to be, because we've been sold the same line for a good 30+ years now? Surely if fat shaming was effective, the obesity rate would be decreasing, rather than increasing.

So here's the thing. It's a crock of shit. If you hear doctors, the media, and the general public (which includes your family, friends and colleagues) using fat shaming to try to guilt you/anyone/society in general into somehow miraculously making yourself thin, question it.

That goes for you too non-fatties who might be reading this blog.

Ask the questions about why they do it. Are they doing it because it is known that it actually works, or are they doing it because a) it's so ingrained in our culture that fat people should be ashamed of themselves that it's just what's done, or b) because they're projecting their own fear of being fat and self loathing onto the people who represent the things they are afraid of/most loathe about themselves?

If you're a fatty that is on the receiving end of some fat shaming, maybe it's worth thinking about the damage that actually accepting and carrying that shame is doing to you. Maybe it's time to refuse to accept and carry that shame.

The little trick I've found is to think of that fat shame as a big steaming pile of shit. And don't pick it up if it's offered to you! When I am handed a stinky pile of fat shame shit, I think to myself "Ummm... that's YOUR fat shame shit, not mine, I'm not going to carry it, thank you very much." Where it's possible, I challenge it to the person trying to hand it to me, but sometimes it's not possible, so I just raise my chin a little, think to myself "No thanks" and move on, be it literally or figuratively.

Fat shame is pointless and there is no reason you have to accept it. It's not even going to help you if you did.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hmph! She's Just in Denial

Let's continue on the subject of End Fat Talk shall we? End Fat Talk week starts on the 19th of October and I think it's a great movement, so I'm going to keep up with this one through October.

One of the biggest challenges I face with ending fat talk at the moment are not those that are openly nasty or rude, nor those that loathe their own bodies and are finding it hard to let go of the self-fat talk, but those that are patronising. You've probably all experienced them, the ones who go quiet in a conversation about body image and fat talk, only because they're thinking "Listen to the poor fatty, deluding herself that she can be healthy like that." One is tempted to write it off as paranoia or self consciousness when one gets that feeling, but unfortunately I've caught a few people out on it, either talking to others when they think I'm not there, or others have told me that they've done so after I've left. I've also heard other fat friends talking about experiencing the same thing.

I'm not entirely sure how to work with people who believe that those of us who follow fat acceptance and health at any size are deluding ourselves. That we're in denial about our weight.
Sometimes just being really open and reminding them that I know that I am fat helps. A lot of people who are trying to be polite are very confronted by the word fat. I've referred to myself as a fat woman and seen people blink in shock, as if I've just said "Fuck" or called myself the N-word. To so many people, "fat" is the ultimate insult, so to hear someone call themselves that openly and unashamedly they find it confronting.

I've even found myself censoring the word fat when referring to myself, not because I'm ashamed of it, but just because I've seen some pretty intense reactions to it. I try not to, because I consider it MY word and I want to remove the negative power from it, but it's very hard when good people react so intensely to it.

Often I find myself letting it go when someone is clearly of the opinion that I am in denial about my fat. This still doesn't sit comfortably with me because I am trying to actively challenge any shame and stigma about fatness in my life, no matter who it be from. But there are times when it does hurt when someone assumes that I haven't armed myself with as much information as possible and haven't made an informed decision about fat acceptance.

I guess each situation is different and I'm still really learning how to challenge the attitude that fat = unhealthy/morally wrong. Sometimes I'm successful, other times, not so much.

What are your thoughts on ending fat talk from those who believe that fat people are in denial about their bodies? Have you had any successful experiences? Are you someone who used to have this belief about fat people, but have changed that?

Please share in the comments and let's work on this together.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Living with Fattitude!

Well my lovelies, have I got something special for you!

I was reading "Screw Inner Beauty: Lessons from the Fatosphere" by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby (yes, it's called "Lessons from the Fatosphere" in the US - dunno why we have the different name here in Australia) when I came across the most awesome word. Wait for it...

Isn't it fabulous? I totally love it. I used to love the term "fat and sassy" to describe myself, but this new word, "fattitude" just hits the nail on the head perfectly.

So I got thinking about fattitude, and I realised that there were a lot of "sexy fats" and "fashionable fats" out there in the fatosphere as far as groups and pools were concerned, but I don't feel like I fit either of those. I'm not a fatshionista - I couldn't care less about fashion other than to wear stuff that I like and that makes me feel good. I don't particularly want to be sexualised either, it's just not my thing, you know?

What I feel for me is that I am fat with attitude. That I am fat and live a full, fascinating, positive life. But I didn't feel like there was much out there by the way of groups for women like me that weren't about fashion or sexuality.

So I have created a Flickr group called Fattitude. Which is for photos of women and men, who are fat and sassy, fat with attitude, fat and fascinating, fat and positive, fat and full of life.

I would really like for anyone reading this, even those who are not fat, to come along and join this positive, upbeat group and I invite you to post photos of yourselves or your loved ones who are full of fattitude. Fat people having fun, feeling good, living life, being positive. I want this group to be one you can participate in, and also see other fat people who are living their lives to the full, so you know that you can do it too, in those times when you're feeling low.

So roll up one and all, come and join Fattitude on Flickr!

P.S: and please spread the word of this group - the more the merrier!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Combatting Fat Talk

In a comment on my last post, reader Maria raised the issue of how to combat fat talk from others, without being annoying or pushy about it.

I think that's an excellent topic to talk about tonight.


So, how do we go about it? How do we combat fat talk from other people? In particular, other non-fat acceptance people? It's fairly straight up if you're hearing it from someone who is working on fat acceptance, because they've already got a head start. How do you work on it from family, friends, co-workers, your boss, neighbours, shop assistants etc?

It's a tough one. Some people will listen, let you explain. However it's unfortunate that lots of people are so deeply immersed in fat loathing that they just can't see any point but the one that they've had presented them to their whole lives.

Family is probably the toughest. I'm certainly no authority on how to do this with family as I'm estranged from mine. I no longer have to deal with it from them. But if you do have your family in your life, and in fact they love you, you have to deal with the often well intentioned fat talk.


Then there are the friends. Close friends are one thing, but what about the wider circle of friends? Do you talk to them one on one or as a group? I am a bit of a brazen bitch, so I tend to just jump on in when it happens. Not everyone is quite as extroverted as I am though. Often it's subtle fat talk you get. Comments about their own bodies or how bad they've been with diet and exercise.

What about the workplace? I don't know about yours, but mine has all kinds of "health and wellness" initiatives, most of which boil down to diets and weight loss. I actually participated in one, back in my obsessive, fat-loathing days, and in hindsight I can see how insane it was. A big ra-ra club for "let's lose weight fatties!" You actually had to be obese to qualify for it, like some kind of exclusive club. There are constant emails about exercise and healthy living circulated in my workplace. Some of it is very much fat talk, and I find a lot of it perpetuates the poor body image in employees.

Of course, closer to home are the colleagues who love to talk about what diet they are on, how fat they are, how they can't eat this or have to exercise to pay for that. The worst place for it is the lunchroom table. People comment on each other's food, they comment on their own food and how they're "being a bit naughty today" or "Oh, I can't have that, I'm being good." like food has some kind of morality attached to it.

Even when you compliment someone, they often toss back some fat talk. "That's a great dress, you look lovely!" gets the response of "Thanks, I'm having a fat day, this hides all my sins." or similar things.

Shop assistants are a biggie. This is one that I refuse to accept. I used to be terribly hurt and heartbroken by shop assistants either ignoring me or being rude to me. Nowdays I let my dollars do the talking and refuse to shop there. I always love the scene in Absolutely Fabulous when a snobbish shop assistant is rude to Patsy and she looks back and says "Why are you looking down at me? You work in a shop." I will straight up tell a shop assistant that they're rude and what they can do with their merchandise these days.


So there you have some of the areas that you will hear fat talk. I don't know the answers, I just know that it's difficult and there are a lot of factors in the way you handle it. If you're confident, or close to the person, I think it's easier for straight talk, but otherwise it's very difficult.

Here's where I throw it open to you, my dear readers. How do you combat fat talk? Share a story of when you've really been able to nail it and open someone's mind. Or maybe share one where it's gone horribly wrong. What is the hardest type of fat talk to combat? Have you broken the fat talk cycle yourself, or are you still learning.

The floor is open...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

No Fat Talk Allowed. Ever.

Let's keep this one simple. This is aimed at college women, but I think it needs to be for EVERYONE. Men too.

I'm going to become a bit of a nag about this one for that week, and hopefully the message will get through to SOMEONE. It shouldn't just be for a week either, it should be a rule we set for always.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Beautifully Fat Art

In my general readings of blogs in the fatosphere this morning, I came across a this post at the Fat Girls Guide to Living, an interview with Elizabeth Patch, from More to Love. I'd not seen Elizabeth's work before, and I'm thrilled to discover it now. Her artwork is bright, fun, whimsical, and most importantly, positive representations of fat women.

Click image for link to purchase Elizabeth's book.

It's rare that we see fat women (or fat men for that matter) portrayed in art in a positive light. Usually we see the gluttinous fat person, the lazy fat person, the greedy fat person. It is starting to change with photographic art, with fantastic projects like The Adipositivity Project and Leonard Nimoy's Full Body Project. To see these changes coming through to artists of other media, such as painters, digital illustrators, sculptors etc is wonderful.

I'd like to see more fat acceptance in art. Do you know of any artists that are fat positive in their work? Please share them in their comments, so I and any readers can have a look. If I particularly like them, I'll blog them up here at a later date.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dealing with Douchebags


Ugh, I hate having to even talk about this topic, because it is so wrong that it still happens. But I know most of you have dealt with this shit so I'm going to talk about some ways to handle it and cope when it happens.

Yes, it's douchebag season again. But when is it bloody not?

I copped some abuse again this afternoon from a douchebag passing by in a car. I was idly standing at a pedestrian crossing on my way to catch the bus home, when a car went by and a douchebag hung out of the window and screamed "Hey you stinky fat fuck!"

How absolutely mature and erudite. Fucktard.

This is an almost daily occurrence for myself and many other fatties. It's not just fucktard bogans in passing cars either. The douchebaggery comes from all walks of life. I've copped everything from little old ladies stating loudly that "People like that shouldn't eat." as they passed me eating fruit salad in a shopping centre, teenage kids pointing and giggling, men making disgusting comments about "fucking the lard arse", right through to a somewhat normal looking woman in her 40's who pushed me on an escalator and when I said "Excuse me!" turned and replied "Well you shouldn't be so fucking fat!"

The worst that I ever got was the time I was on the train to work and a group of young guys in King Gees started making barking noises, and I looked up to catch one taking a photograph of me on his mobile phone. I then sat there in horror as he texted it to all of the guys around him, who sat around making the most horrific comments about me being a "fucking fat dog who should just kill herself."

It used to tear me to pieces. The times I would arrive at work and burst into tears because someone had exhibited this douchebaggery to me in the street... I can't tell you how often it happened. Many times I came within a whisker of taking my own life out of sheer despair at how complete strangers treated me. I can't describe the pain it would put me through.

These days I am lucky enough to have got some excellent help from both my GP and a very good psychologist who have taught me how to protect myself emotionally from douchebaggery, as well as where my value lies as a human being. But while I don't let these people destroy me like they used to, it still hurts, every single time.

I'm still at a loss how to deal with it a lot of the time. Do I flip them the bird? Do I say something like "Fuck you, douchebag!"? Do I ignore it? More often than not, I'm so shocked that all I can do is blink and flinch.


A friend of mine recently said "I wish I was there when this happened Kath, I'd smack the bastards one!" when I was telling him about how douchebags treat fat people. The thing is, douchebags are quintessentially cowards. They tend to pick on lone fatties, or maybe a couple of women. Douchebags never pick on a fatty that has a male friend with them. Nor do they pick on fatties in groups of people. I'd love to have this mate with me when someone had a go, because while he probably wouldn't smack them one, he would definitely step up and tell them where to go. But as I said, douchebags are cowards.

However sometimes justice comes to play. Remember the guys in the King Gees on the train? Well, I got to work that day, and burst into tears. And one of my bosses at the time, Ali, happened to be in. She demanded the whole story from me. She asked me to describe the guys, and for some reason I remembered the logo on their King Gees. She called the company, which turned out to be an apprentice training company. She demanded to speak to the manager of the company. It turns out that these young guys were a group of apprentices going off for a training session in the city that day, completely paid for by the company. The manager knew the exact class/group that it was. When given the description of the guy who took the photo of me on his phone, he knew exactly who it was. He told Ali that he would investigate and take some action.

Ali called the manager of that company every morning for four days. On the fourth day, the manager called Ali first. He told her he had called in each of the guys from that group one by one, leaving the dude with the phone for last. As he said "I wanted him to sweat bullets". He demanded each of the guys prove that there were no photos of not only me, but other women they had encountered on public transport etc on their phones. He told each of them that if he ever caught them harassing anyone again, in company uniform or otherwise, they would lose their apprenticeships, no further notice. The last guy, the one that took the photo? In the managers words "I tore him a new arsehole, 'scuse the French Ma'am."

I'm not sure if Ali knows how much it means to me that she went in to bat for me. Her anger and indignation at their treatment of me meant more to me than I can put into words.

If you're a friend, family member or other person in the life of a fatty, please, PLEASE take the time to listen when they tell you of douchebaggery they have suffered. If you're with a fatty and someone abuses them, and you can (it's not always safe to do so), stand up for them. Or at least console them. If you can't understand why you should, perhaps think what it would feel like if someone insulted you all the time. How would it feel if people told you that you should die, because of the way you look? How would you feel to be pushed, spat on, your photograph taken for ridicule, food thrown at you, lewd comments made about you (even about raping you - for some reason douchebags like to throw this one at fatties), sworn at, criticised by old ladies and middle aged women, and avoided as though you have some horrible contagious disease?

Because that's what happens.

If you're a fatty that has suffered douchebaggery (and who of us hasn't), ***hugs***. I know how much it hurts, and I know the hurt doesn't get any less with time, even when your self esteem is strong and you are confident. I know it's wrong and unfair that this shit still happens. And you are welcome to vent about it in the comments here if you want to. I'm sorry that you, and I, have to put up with this.

Remember, even if you can't say it, you can always think it:


Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Letter to the Friends of Fat Single Women

An open letter to all non-fat friends of single fatties.

Dear non-fat friends,

I love you all, even those of you who are not my friends but the friends of other fatties. You're awesome, because you don't buy into the shallow bullshit that a lot of other people do. Fatties are used to people avoiding them because they either think fat is contagious, or that fatties are not "cool enough" for them. So kudos to those of you who don't buy into that and love your fatty friends.

But I want to talk to you about the way you approach your single fat friends with the subject of dating. Cos some of you get it really wrong. And I want to help you get it right!
  • It is ok to arrange for us to meet single guys that you know, so long as you ask us first. Either blind dates or introducing us at an event.
  • Ask yourself "Would I date him?" If the answer is no, then don't suggest him to us. We are fat, we are not desperate.
  • The guy that lives with his mother... is he caring for her or is she caring for him? If she's caring for him, don't suggest him to us.
  • Do not suggest that we are lesbians unless we have expressed desire for women. Fat women are not all closet lesbians. It's an insult to everyone to think this way.
  • If you know that we are a lesbian, it's ok to introduce us to other lesbians. Do not introduce us to other fat women on the assumption that we will just get our fat on together and become lesbians.
  • Do not suggest that we may get more dates if we "just lose some weight". We don't want to date the kind of men who won't date us as we are.
  • Do not tell us "But you have such a pretty face." when we complain about being single. This implies the following sentence "Despite your fat body."
  • When we are out together, and some guy behaves like a douchebag towards we fatties, do not then give him your phone number, flirt with him or have sex with him, no matter how hot he is. This tells us that some douchebag is of more value than our friendship. Besides, if he treats us badly now, he's probably going to treat you badly later.
  • Do not suggest that we should cover up any of the fat bits of our bodies before we go out. Yes, I know I have big fat arms. I don't care, it's hot and this sleeveless top is pretty.
  • Don't ask your fat friends for dating advice, and then dismiss it because they are fat and probably don't get any dates anyway. They're used to having to think more about how other people behave, they probably have the best advice.
  • Remember, if you wouldn't go out with him, don't suggest him to us. Just gotta make sure you understand that one.
  • If you double date with a fat friend, don't comment on her food or your own. Nobody really cares but you, and you'll just make your friend feel bad for no reason.
  • Don't ask your fat friend how she got a date with the great guy. She got it because she is awesome and he's smart.
  • Most of all, treat your single fat friend the same way you would treat any other single friend.
Again, you're an awesome friend and we know you mean well, but sometimes it's hard to understand that something can be hurtful when your intentions are good.

Thanks for being a great friend.
The Fatties.

Friday, September 18, 2009

PCOS - Let's Not Be Silent Any More

This morning I finally took the time to read this article from ABC News by the rather fabulous Sabra Lane, who used to be the President of the Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome Association of Australia (POSAA) on the "hidden epidemic" of Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). A very comprehensive article on PCOS by Sabra, and though I disagree with the concept of "lifestyle changes" actually being of any use, the article outlines the difficulty of living with PCOS that at least 11% of Australian women face every day.

I actually wanted to talk about one particular sentence in that article tonight. And it's this:
A study in the UK a couple of years ago found some PCOS women experience the same level of anxiety that breast cancer patients do.
I actually read the report from that study when it first came out. It sounds shocking doesn't it? It sounds almost like an exaggeration, after all, how can women with a syndrome that isn't terminal have as much anxiety as someone with cancer? After all, isn't cancer the most terrifying, horrible thing that can happen to your health?

At the time I posed this question to a man I knew who had been through the cancer battle with his ex-wife. And his answer shocked me. He said "Well, I can understand that, because everyone steps up to help you when you've got cancer in your life, but most people don't believe PCOS really exists, or that it's any big deal to it's sufferers."

The more I thought about it, the more I can see it. Not that I'm diminishing the horrible impact of cancer on people's lives, both sufferers and loved ones. I can think of nothing more devastating. But when it comes to anxiety, I can totally understand it.

After all, most women with PCOS have to fight for a long time to get a diagnosis. I myself had 20 long years of presenting to doctors with PCOS symptoms before I was diagnosed. We're told we're just too fat, lose weight and all our problems will go away, though anyone who knows anything about PCOS, knows that losing weight is extremely difficult for a PCOS sufferer. Even if we do lose weight, more often than not it makes not a lick of difference to our symptoms. It didn't to mine, I maintain that it made them worse in most cases.

PCOS has been referred to as the "Ugly bitch disease" by some misogynistic douchebags. Because it causes weight gain, cystic acne, hirsuitism and hair loss (yep, you can have both at the same time!) and a myriad of other fun symptoms. I also believe it causes depression, though this has not been added to the official swag of symptoms yet. So as well as all the so called "ugly" symptoms, we're also not always able to be shiny-happy women.

Is it any wonder we suffer anxiety as well?

PCOS also rips apart a woman's self esteem. Because it tears apart the fabric of what women are usually expected to be in Western society - thin, clear skinned, hairless, cheerful and good breeders. As Sabra says:
PCOS is a hidden syndrome in our society, because it encompasses many social taboos: excessive hair, obese/overweight women, childless women, depressed women.
Which is also part of the reason why this doesn't make news. News executives far prefer to concentrate on young, pretty, fertile women.
So consequently, most sufferers of PCOS feel anything but feminine and valuable. They believe themselves to be failures as women. They feel (and are often told by the douchebags of society) that they're fat, ugly, hairy, stupid, lazy, gluttonous, barren, unfeminine failures. That they are worth less because they don't fit some kind of ridiculous expectation of what a woman is supposed to be. Plus we're not allowed to talk about it, because it's taboo.

Is anyone still doubting that women with PCOS often suffer high anxiety? And that hasn't even got into the vast physical pain we usually suffer in our reproductive cycle.

Here's something I want to say to all the women with PCOS who might be reading this.

For about 4 years now, I've been actively seeking out other women with PCOS, or "cysters" as we're known, to have women around me who know what it's like to deal with all the icky things we cysters have to deal with, as quite often I didn't really feel like I had the right to have "normal" women around me. I have met hundreds of cysters, both here and in the US when I travelled there almost 2 years ago, not to mention the hundreds I have met virtually through various online communities that I haven't had the pleasure to meet face to face yet.

Those women have been incredible. Awesome. Amazing. Inspirational. Generous. Loving. Strong.


I seem to be able to spot a cyster a mile away. There is a mix of outer vulnerability and yet deep inner strength that I can see straight away. I see the signs of low self esteem, but also signs of grit, strength and inner fortitude that most other people never need to develop. Cysters so often feel they have to fight, they have to work, they have to protect, they have to struggle just to get through day to day life. I believe that develops in them an incredible strength of character that many other people never develop.

Being active in the cysterhood has brought me so many amazing women into my life, who have given me so much love and kindness, I could never repay it back. It's through loving them that I've found the ability to let go of all the PCOS self-loathing and love myself.

I want to give that back. I want to help cysters find the ability to love themselves. I want to build their self esteem like they built mine, to squash the demon of self-loathing that haunts cysters. The only way I know how to is to write. Then write some more. So I'm going to do that for my cysters.

Ladies, if you're reading this and have PCOS, speak up here in the comments. I want you all to tell me a story about a cyster you know who is awesome. Because she probably feels like she's a failure every day, just like you do. Let's celebrate the cysterhood.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

When Lady Journalists Attack

Well, have I got something for you tonight! This article was published in the Courier Mail (Brisbane, Australia) today with the dramatic title of "Plus-size Models Doing Big Girls No Favour".

In it, the author, Susie O'Brien suggests that the increase in plus-size models in the fashion market are not a good idea because it gives the impression that it's ok to be fat. She also criticises television shows like Drop Dead Diva and the fact that retailers are starting to provide fashionable clothing for plus-sized women. To quote her directly:'
But there are also many larger people who are just plain fat, and who would be better off being encouraged to lose weight rather than always be told it's ok to be overweight.
Now firstly, I don't know about you, but I've never experienced being "always told it's ok to be overweight". ALWAYS told that Ms O'Brien? I am wondering where you got that idea. Perhaps it was the people on the street who yell encouragingly at fat women "Go for it sister!! Rock that hot fat body you sexy thing!" Or the constant news pieces about how AWESOME it is that there is an obesity crisis going on in our country. Maybe it's those doctors that tell us that our wonderful fat bodies protect us from disease and illness?

Oh hang on... that's in the reverse universe! Silly me. *eyeroll* Ms O'Brien dear, back to this universe hmmm?

She then goes on to say:
But it's time to get real - fat people may be happier but they're also digging their graves with a fork, and we're all paying for it.
Firstly, last time I looked I was a tax payer, in fact a taxpayer that has one of the highest quotas in relation to my income, because as a single, woman without children who works full time, and has private health cover, I'm not collecting anywhere from the Government for the tax I pay. So am I not entitled to a piece of my tax dollar coming back to me? Fat people pay tax too y'know Ms O'Brien.

And secondly, here we go again, the old fat people shame trick. All of us fatty pigs that are going to die and make the rest of "normal society" pay their hard earned dollars for us to be happy and fat.

Now, they didn't publish my comment that I left on this article, probably because it makes sense, but what I asked is this - If shaming and pressuring people into thinness actually worked to make the "obesity crisis" go away, wouldn't we have seen evidence of this by now? After all, Westerners have been heavy into the diet thing for some decades now. I know that my Grandmother has been dieting and felt shame about her weight all my life, and as you know I'm past 35. I daresay she was doing so before I was born. It was really the 50's and 60's that saw the diet/body obsession culture kick off, and then it kind of went nuclear in the 80's. So if all these decades of shame and body obsession and thin = beauty actually worked, wouldn't the levels of obesity in our culture be decreasing, not increasing? Wouldn't the average be smaller than in the past, than larger?

Perhaps, just perhaps, by empowering people with confidence, strong self esteem, and a sense of achievement and a place in society, they're more likely to be productive, healthy members of that society? They're more likely to have the confidence to take on a productive role in society, to be active and willing participants in life rather than shutting themselves away in shame and embarrassment.

I certainly think so.

But what I think sums up Ms O'Brien perfectly is this sentence.

Losing weight is hard work. It takes sacrifice and effort. As a mother of three in my late 30's with a new gym membership, I know this first-hand.
I think I understand. Perhaps Ms O'Brien doesn't like her own body. If she doesn't like her own body, how dare anyone that she considers fatter than her like theirs? Everyone should put in all that sacrifice and effort that she is. Let alone all that money she spent on her fancy gym membership. Perhaps if Ms O'Brien stopped worrying about how everyone else is living their lives, and focused on letting go of her own body issues, she might realise that it's none of her business.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Dating for Fatties: 101


I recently got a lovely email from a lady named Helen in response to my post "Sex and the Single Fatty". Helen shared with me her own dating experiences (she's about my age) and is looking for some positive, affirming advice for the single fatty over 30. She has asked a few questions, but I'll give you an idea of where she is coming from.

She's doing the online dating thing, and says:

I like how allows folks to state what body types they are attracted to: guys who only want women who are slender/toned/about average are guys I instantly delete as matches: this takes a lot of the pressure off of me when I GET to the date, because I know that the guy in question has stated and openness or attraction to larger women.

Kudos to Helen for putting herself out there and filtering out the douchebags from the get-go. She then goes on to say though:

1) This means that I am deleting about 90% of the matches I'm given, which takes a toll on me eventually, and 2) I hate, hate, hate how often guys say (as one match I just got did) that they want women who "take care of themselves" and "have self respect for their appearance". Of course, I do do both of those things, but I know full well that he means that he wants a thin girl; he just can't bring himself to say that. Reading those sorts of comments over and over and then deleting the match... I think it takes a toll on me. I've also wondered about the BBW dating sites. Has anyone reading this had good experiences with those?

So let's talk about it my fellow lovely fatties? What are your thoughts and experiences?

I tried the whole online dating myself and found it very demoralising, just as Helen has mentioned. Not only because there are a lot of douchebags out there, but also because I feel that without you being face to face, there are many people who find it much easier to be rude and even nasty via email or a website. Where if they met you face to face somewhere, one would think they're more likely to be polite and respectful. As I mentioned on the earlier post linked above, I received a lot of douchebag comments and attitudes from internet dating.

Personally, I feel much more comfortable in just being social and meeting as many new people as I can. So long as I'm socially active, I'm opening myself up to meeting guys, and I hope that the people I meet and like also socialise with nice guys. I'm open to meeting guys that are friends, brothers, colleagues etc of people.

As for BBW dating sites in particular, I'll be honest it kind of rankles with me. I don't want some guy to date me simply because I'm fat. The same as I wouldn't want a guy to only date me if I was thin. I want a man who wants to be with me because he likes who I am, not what I am. Does that make sense?

Personally I'm looking for someone who is more interested in me as a person than just the surface stuff. To all the guys out there, I say...


So the floor is open ladies (and any gents that are reading). How do those of you who are single negotiate the world of fatty dating? For those of you fatties who are coupled up, tell us how you got that way! And if there are any fellas reading, give us your perspective on da fat ladeez in the dating world.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

PCOS in the Fatosphere

Before I get into the meat and veg of this post, did you see my new mascot, there on the right? That's my new heffalump, created by the rather talented Luke Bamkin. I have got plans to change the whole layout of the blog more and feature this art more prominently, but I wanted to pop my new friend up there straight away, with her shiny, round, fat buttocks. Cute huh?

Tonight I want to talk some more about PCOS and fat acceptance. I suffer PCOS, and for some years have been quite active in the "cysterhood". Finding women out there that knew all the things I was going through was a hugely healing and strengthening process for me, as prior to being welcomed into the cysterhood, I had always felt inadequate and somehow less than other women. Mostly because I didn't fit what was sold to me as normal for a woman physically. Not just in my body shape and size, but because my body didn't do things that other women's bodies seemed to do naturally. And as my fellow cysters know all too well, sometimes our bodies do extra things that other women's bodies do not do.


To start with, it was nightmarish for me to get a diagnosis of what was wrong with me. In hindsight, I first presented to a doctor with PCOS symptoms when I was 12 years old. I was first officially diagnosed an astonishing 20 years later! Can you believe it? For 20 years I went to doctor after doctor after doctor with all of these things that were happening to me, only to be either misdiagnosed or fobbed off.

And of course, the most common response from doctors in that 20 years was "Lose weight." With no explanation of what losing weight would actually do (other than make me thin) or what was wrong with me. I can remember at 19 going to the doctor after having bled heavily and been in pain for 18 months straight and his treatment? "Go and lose some weight and find yourself a bloke, when you're ready to have babies, we'll look at it all."


How this is not grossly negligent, I do not know. But it was indicative of most of the "treatment" that I got over that 20 years. PCOS sufferers often suffer debilitating depression as a result of the vast amounts of hormones flooding their bodies, but can you imagine what this kind of treatment at the hands of the medical profession does to women who already have low self esteem, feel unfeminine and who often live in vast amounts of pain?

However, at 32 years of age, I finally got a diagnosis. With a very good doctor who was, and is, the most sensitive I have ever encountered and I've been her patient ever since. However, her first treatment was to get me losing weight. Being the good girl, I followed her advice, and we tried a LOT of things to get me to lose weight. From food diaries to Metformin to the worst of them all... duramine (legally prescribed speed - EVIL stuff).


I joined a lot of PCOS groups and forums online. I met literally hundreds of amazing women, some of whom I am now lucky to call my dearest friends, all over the world. But the entire culture of "fat is evil" is rampant within the cystersphere, from high profile cysters who have their own boards who promote boot camps and radically restrictive diets, which I believe are projections of their own fat fear and self hatred, to the high promotion of weight loss surgery, diet fads that come and go, and many frightening medications that make cysters very, very sick with their side effects (oh that duramine!)

As per my last post, I did lose weight, a LOT of weight (though not with the duramine, that shit nearly killed me) and guess what? My PCOS symptoms got worse. And I fell apart, emotionally, mentally and physically.

But as hitting rock bottom often is, it was the push I needed to start swimming to the surface in my life. The fabulous GP referred me to a psychologist who specialises in cognitive behavioural therapy. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.


It started with finding some confidence. Not being so hard on myself. Building up the self esteem. I started reaching out to other cysters the way many had reached out to me, because I want to give back and the feeling of seeing a new cyster friend hit that moment of "Oh my God I am NOT a FREAK!" is just wonderful. I started pushing back gently with my GP about the weight loss thing, and amazingly, she has responded positively. I gave up the Metformin (which I will admit, did give me a clockwork cycle if nothing else) and found the fat acceptance movement. I stopped obsessing about food and exercise and my body and focused on feeling good, inside and out. And I feel healthier than ever right now.

I really feel that we cysters are put through so much. To start with our bodies aren't like "normal" women's bodies, and that not only causes us pain and low self esteem, but it worries us as well. Then we go through the whole cycle of doctors telling us we're too fat, lose weight and our troubles will go away which is so often simply not true. Then they shove us through all kinds of invasive, painful and humiliating medical procedures and drugs to try to get us to lose weight. Let alone the ones they foist on us if we want to have babies, which so often just don't work either. Finally they wash their hands of us once we either finish our breeding or decide not to breed. As though the value of our health is only valid when we are breeding. And finally when we do reach menopause, they ignore the fact that it is more likely for us to have traumatic menopause because of the different hormone patterns.

If you're a sufferer of PCOS, leave me a comment, tell me your experiences. Particularly around fat acceptance/discrimination with your PCOS.


I want to connect cysters up within the fatosphere, without all of the fat hatred and the "You must lose weight or you're never going to survive PCOS" schtick. I want to connect up the single cysters, the lesbian cysters, the very young cysters and the older cysters, the cysters who have chosen not to have children or who have reached the end of that fight. I want it to be about who you are as wonderful, strong, resilient women, not about your body shape and breeding abilities.

Most of all, I want cysters to find their self esteem, to learn that they are awesome women and that the healthiest thing you can do is learn to love yourself.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Myth of Weight Loss

I'm sure you've all heard it before. Every time you have a problem in your life, some well meaning person, be it family, friend, doctor, douchebag on the street tells you to "Lose weight fatty, your life will get better." Or variants thereof. I know I've heard it plenty of times. Over 25 years it's been said to me so many times, it's practically carved into my skin.

Well I did it. Some years ago now, when I was at one of the lowest points of my life, and had been freshly diagnosed with PCOS, I made the decision that I was going to lose weight. I started with swimming, which I do really enjoy. And I lost a little weight straight away and then it settled at a constant level, which was what totally spurred me into a very frightening spiral into insanity.

I had been assured that by losing even as little as 5% of body weight, all the horrible PCOS symptoms would go away. "Cysters" know about the ones I am talking about - all those physical things that make us hate ourselves because we feel ugly. Not to mention the agonising hormonal cycle, that left me in crushing pain each month. So I jumped in with both feet determined to chase all these horrid things away by losing weight.

It started with little compliments. "You're looking good, have you lost some weight?" People who didn't normally speak to me suddenly started asking me what diet I was on, how much exercising I was doing. It was like a drug. I ramped it up from swimming a few days per week, to swimming 5 days per week, and walking every day. I then started to starve myself. All I ate was fruit and salad.

Soon after that, my workplace offered a gym course for overweight staff. I was on a roll, so I joined. Once that started up I found myself exercising a minimum of 4 hours per day. All I talked or thought about was losing weight, how much exercise I was doing. I became one of those boring women who talks about nothing about how fabulous it is to have all that exercise and my diet habits. I stopped socialising with my friends. I made new friends, all of whom never spoke to me before I started losing weight. I told all the fat people I knew "If I can do it, anyone can!" In short, I was a nutcase.

It worked. I lost over 25kg (55lbs) and dropped FIVE dress sizes. Yep, five. People told me I was fabulous and awesome.

But inside, I was dying. I was so miserable. My entire life consisted of the gym/pool and obsessing over what I wasn't allowed to eat. I alienated a lot of my real friends because I was so boring and militant with it all. I hated myself because I couldn't get any thinner than the 25kg I had lost. I swung between manic hyperactivity and crushing depression. The only people around me were people who had only decided to value me because I was thinner. And the worst thing? My PCOS symptoms got WORSE. Yep, the acne, the hair, the painful or non-existent periods, the constant heartburn.

I felt so robbed. I'd worked so hard, I did everything that the "experts" and everyone else told me I should do, and it still didn't work. I was a failure even when I succeeded.

Quite predictably, I had a breakdown. Both physically and emotionally. I couldn't maintain the insane lifestyle I had to adopt to lose any significant weight, nor could I handle not having a life with any depth in it. Everything was superficial and about my body, not about ME. I hit absolute rock bottom and ended up a real mess.

And of course, gained all that weight back and more, which just sended me even deeper into the pit.

At my lowest point, my GP referred me to a psychologist who specialises in cognitive behavioural therapy. Mostly to teach me out of the self loathing and total lack of self esteem spiral I was in. Her first step was to ask both my GP and I to stop weighing me on my visits. I haven't been weighed since. And over the past two or so years, she's been working with me very closely to build my self esteem and self worth up to where it should be. We've worked through it all, from my body hatred to relationships, family, work, you name it.

But she does still push me to lose weight occasionally, but I have the confidence to be able to push back now. I know that losing weight does not solve my problems, and it didn't even make me healthier. I know when I feel at my healthiest and at my best. I am probably at the top end of my weight scale these days (no pun intended) but I seem to have settled to a level that I feel good at and have the most energy. All my bloodwork etc comes back in the normal range, so I don't feel that I have to fix anything there either.

I'm not saying don't eat healthy or exercise. Not at all. But forget about the number on the scale and the size on your clothes, forget about foods being good or bad, forget about valuing yourself by your body shape. Eat healthy because it makes you feel better. Good quality food, from ALL of the food groups, will do you good. Move because you enjoy it. I want to get a bicycle, cos I love that feeling of riding around, the wind in my hair. I like to swim because I find it really relaxing. Dancing is so much fun because music sinks into my bones. Find whatever it is that you find fun and pleasurable by way of movement and do it.

Most of all, forget the myth that your life is suddenly going to be better if you're thinner. Because it's not. Firstly it takes more than body size to make a life good, and secondly it's statistically more than likely you'll put all the weight back on and more anyway.

To make your life better, learn to like yourself. It's what has made my life immeasurably better.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Altered Reality

The old black dog of depression has been plaguing me over the past day or so. I'm sure a lot of you know what it's like, you go from normal to just not being able to see the good in anything very quickly, and you don't feel yourself. Things all feel really bad, and a big sadness just overwhelms you.

I know it will pass, it's just sucky while it's here, you know?

What I did notice is that I'm REALLY hard on myself when I'm depressed. REALLY critical about my body, which I am not when I am in a "normal" mood. Instead of being able to see the positives about myself, and remembering that I am more than just my body, I get really critical and caught up in myself as "parts" rather than as a person.

Does this make sense to anyone?

The difference these days though is that I catch myself doing it. Once upon a time it would have been a total spiral into self loathing and further depression, but after years of professional counselling and working on my self esteem and self image, I can see when I get in that headspace now.

It was looking in a plate glass window at my reflection that I busted myself this time. I was walking back to work at lunch time, feeling crap, when I spotted myself in the window of a bank, and my thought was so full of self loathing, I shocked myself. For a moment there, I really hated what I saw and felt shame about myself. Which is something I NEVER feel outside of the realms of depression any more.

I'm glad I can recognise it now when I find myself thinking that way, because then I can work towards removing my head from that space. But it still sucks when it happens, because it's really painful to think of myself in that way.

How do you deal with the negative self-talk? Are you able to recognise it when it happens?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Smile and say CHEESE!

Hands up if you hate having your photograph taken?

My hand is half way up. I don't hate it like I used to, but I'm still not entirely comfortable with it. For many years of my life I simply refused to allow it, and if I found any photos of me, I destroyed them, even when they weren't mine to destroy. My self esteem was at such a low place that I couldn't bear the thought of there being a photographic record of me.

It started when I gained weight at the onset of puberty and really stuck around until my early 30's. I had a couple of patches where I softened my stance a wee bit, I have a few photos of my late teens where I was very happy nannying for friends of mine, and then again in my mid 20's when I had moved back to Brisbane and away from my family. But I ebbed back into it with an abusive relationship and only really found myself allowing to be photographed a few years ago.

I have a friend and colleague who is an extremely talented photographer, and he taught me a lot of little tips and tricks about being photographed that have given me confidence in allowing photographs to be taken, and I'm much more relaxed about it now than I have ever been.

However, I still feel the need to vet every photo of myself that I see. I look at them and criticise myself SO harshly. Even though in my rational mind, I know this is pointless and does more damage than good. I know I should be looking at photographs of myself and seeing the things I love about myself rather than the things I hate. But even though I know this, I still look and think things like "My hair looks cute but how fat does my arse look?" or "This would be a good photo if only you couldn't see my double chin."

So how do you deal with it, my fellow fatties? Do you not allow photos at all? Do you like being photographed? If you do, what made you like it? What gives you confidence in being photographed? And when you see photographs of yourself, are you critical of them or do you see the positives?

And because I'm a generous woman, I'm going to give you all the tips my photographer friend has given me for flattering photographs:
  1. Pose. If you try to avoid being photographed, people will try to paparazzi you, and you'll end up with lots of really unflattering photos. Say yes, and ask the photographer to give you a second to get ready to be photographed.
  2. If you are seated at a table, move a glass or mug to one side in front of you. Then reach over and touch it with the hand on the opposite side. (If it's in front of your left breast, touch it with your right hand and vice versa - best to hold it as if you are about to pick it up). This straightens your spine and puts one shoulder slightly forward, which elongates your neck.
  3. Just before the photo is taken, run your tongue over your teeth, and then smile, with your tongue resting behind your top teeth. This makes your teeth look shiny when the photograph is taken, and makes you subconsciously lift your chin.
  4. Another good thing to do is close your eyes and blink slowly, looking straight at the camera. This eases red-eye and prepares you for your photo.
  5. If you can, stretch before the photo is taken. It straightens your spine. (A straight spine is a good thing in a photo - posture is flattering!)
If you have any more tips for achieving photographs that make you feel great, share 'em!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fat and Feminism... (or shut the fuck up bitch a man is speaking)

If you have seen the comments on my post "Still a Long Way To Go" you will see I have been plagued a bit by a troll over the past couple of days. Not your standard troll who likes to antagonise just for the fun of it, but a poor, hard done by man called William who really believes that he's got the God given right, just because he's a man, to fill up someone else's blog with his "You women have got to stop whinging, we men have got it so hard too." attitudes.

Unfortunately he doesn't respond to either open debate or ignoring/deleting him, and has started emailing me as well. Because what he wants is not for his voice to be heard (which he could quite easily do by blogging in his own space and move on from mine, which he is so determined to prove is WRONG and MISINFORMATION), but he wants for me to just SHUT UP and say "Oh yes William, you wise man, you are so right, men are so hard done by."

Well that ain't gonna happen folks.

You see, this is one of the problems with fat acceptance. Not only are we fighting for acceptance as fat PEOPLE in this world, but there are also a very noisy population of men out there who just want women to shut the fuck up and stop talking, which makes it a feminist issue too. Stop complaining, stop having a voice, stop standing up for what they believe in, stop speaking for other women who don't have the confidence to do so, stop arguing... just shut the fuck up already bitch, you are so WRONG!

The saddest thing is that douchebags like this drown out the very valid points that other more respectful men are trying to make, as you will see by the other man who comments on that blog - who is a respectful gentleman and not swallowed up by the "Oh my God a woman is speaking and she doesn't agree with me, that' can't happen!" attitude.

Yes, I said douchebag. A douchebag is a man that has offensive attitudes towards women.

Because what men like William want is for women to be invisible, especially fat women, because then he doesn't have that pedestal of "Well I'm a man AND I'm fat!" over them.

I don't want to get involved in the politics of fat acceptance. But so long as there are men out there who honestly believe that women don't have the right or reason to point out that there is a vast double standard when it comes to the attitudes in society towards women and their physical appearance and men and their physical appearance, I will have to. Especially as I am a woman who has some confidence and the ability to string a few sentences together.

So long as there are men out there who demand that women stop complaining about this double standard and expecting us to just shut up and go away, I feel obligated to speak up about it. I will continue to do so until those men get it that there IS a double standard, and that while there are issues that fat men face in society today, that those issues are vastly amplified for women, who have their value read in their appearance more than their brains, or heart, or humour.

Until then, I will exercise my power on my blog to delete, block and report the douchebags to my heart's content.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sex and the Single Fatty

Ok it's not really about sex, not yet anyway. But stick with me here. I'm going to talk about dating as a fat woman tonight.

You may know already, but I am a single fat woman over 35. I know, I know, I'm on the shelf. Or so a 42 year old man who lived with his mother told me on a dating site once. I told him to go fuck himself, I'm on a pedestal, not a shelf.

Anyway, I've had an ongoing conversation with my friend Shane about dating and people's prejudices. Shane is Asian and while a married man these days, he has told me that he had some really bad experiences with white women being very prejudiced against Asian men. Which I am sure happens often, but I've thought a bit about it and I'm not sure it's about the women being white so much as being shallow.

However, I have to say, as a fat woman, I am more than happy to date an Asian man, but I'm not sure there are many Asian men who are happy to date fat women. See what I mean about shallowness? It's not about me being white that is the problem, it's about not meeting some kind of shallow aesthetic.

That double standard seems all over the place. I also know a bloke who claims he never gets any dates because he's short. Yet he won't date a fat woman. And I know LOTS of fat men who won't date fat women!

Personally, I find tall, short, thin, fat, dark, fair, blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes, grey eyes, long hair, no hair, and so on attractive in the right man. Most of the famous men I develop crushes on have something a bit odd about them, that other women go "Oh but ewww, he's got..." William McInnes has a huge nose. Zachary Quinto has mega eyebrows (and is really hairy all over). Chris Garver is skinny and all arms and legs. Jamie Hyneman has that big moustache and is as bald as an egg. Craig Ferguson also has a big nose and a pasty white body. But all of them are sexy men simply because they are who they are, funny, smart, talented, kind, honest etc.

In my relationship history, I went out with a man who was considered REALLY handsome by a lot my friends. I got lots of comments about how good looking he was, and I used to notice other women throwing themselves at him when we were out. But he turned out to be a MASSIVE douchebag who was more interested in himself than he was a relationship with anyone normal.

But that said, I am a single woman who is on the market and I don't believe that being fat excludes me from the dating world. For all the shallow douchebags out there that think they're going to land themselves a Lara Bingle despite being a Jack Black, a Nick Frost or Dwayne Dibley themselves, there are lovely guys out there who see a woman for who she really is, not what size her clothing is or what the number is on a scale.

However dating for the fat lady is a tough world. Because the old self esteem gets an extra heavy duty workout, with so many people out there to put you down, make disparaging or patronising comments, or generally just insult you. It's hard work to keep the self esteem good and strong in the face of that kind of treatment.

You'd think that if a guy likes you enough to ask you out, he'd not be one to make disparaging comments about your body right? Not quite so true. I recently had a guy ask me out, and then in the next breath said "I have no problem dating fat women, you know?"

Oh really Captain Tactful? Well I have a problem dating patronising men. Buh-bye!

I am determined not to let the douchebags and losers out there keep me from dating, because I do know there are great guys out there, and I believe there's a great guy out there for me who will value me for the smart, funny, kind, sassy, beautiful woman I am.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Still a Long Way to Go

I want to talk a bit about body image and body confidence tonight. I've been following a lot of fat acceptance blogs and Tumblr accounts over the past few months, and it's great to see so many positive representations of fat women. The fellas aren't getting that much representation much, but isn't it always the way when it comes to pictures of bodies?

Some of the good ones I regularly read are The Adipositivity Project, Fuck Yeah Fat Bitch and Hey Fat Chick. There are others out there.

One thing I am noticing though, is that the only fat bodies that seem to be acceptable to post, are those with seemingly flawless, soft, white, creamy skin, no trace of body hair, stretch marks, scars or other flaws. Occasionally you might get a gorgeous fat black woman, but again, miles and miles of perfect skin. And often it's quite obviously through snazzy lighting, flattering photography and post camera editing that we're being presented these images.


While I do think it is amazing that we have come this far, I do think we have some while to go before we're really getting the message ourselves, let alone sending the message out further to the rest of the world.

I think perhaps these arty, flawless shots, sometimes contribute to some of the body image problems we have. While it's good to see these gorgeous fat bodies, and we feel like we're closer to being something to admire, I wonder does the fact that EVERYBODY has flaws and blemishes somehow get missed with the message?

I know the guys are used to seeing their porn retouched for many years so that women are flawless or some image of flawless, and then the fashion mags picked up on it and have run like crazy with it too. But I'm wondering what the point is having "body positive" blogs and such, but still filtering out things that are labelled as "unsightly" or "unattractive" in the content?

The reality is though, that human beings are big old lumpy creatures, and they have hair, scars, stretchmarks, zits, pores, freckles, scratches, bruises, moles, pigmentation and all kinds of other marks all over them. It's all part of the complex system that the human body is. And despite all of these blemishes, the human body is still beautiful. Even because of these blemishes in a lot of cases.

How many other women look at photos like the one above and say "But she's gorgeous, I couldn't be seen in just my underwear, I look nothing like that."? How many men think that all women are as flawless as the young lady above? Are we striving even now for an unrealistic perfection, even though we're allowing fat bodies to be seen?

I wonder is it time we need to start being even more honest and realistic about human bodies?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dahling! You Look Fabulous!

Phew! Let's start with a little housekeeping before I get my teeth into this blog. I have had some trouble with the comment function on here, but thanks to some folks who helped me test some tweaks I have made, it looks like I've ironed the bugs out. Please let me know if you have any further problems.

Now, back to the subject at hand hmmm?

Tonight I think I'll talk about clothing and fashion for the fatty about town.

Now we all know how hard it is to find clothes for the plus sized figure. Either they're frumpy and matronly, they don't go to a big enough size, they're huge tent-like sacks, they have ludicrous clown print fabric, or if they're any good, they're so expensive that you'd have to sell a kidney to be able to afford them.

But somehow, we find clothes that we like and we wear 'em, cos that's what you do with clothes. This is where we fatties find a whole new bunch of complications. It's the CLOTHING/FASHION POLICE! Yes, those fabulous people who LOVE to cast their judgement over what you are wearing, and make comments either to you, or behind your back, or worse, in a room full of people that causes you vast embarrassment.

You know the ones. They tug on your clothing as if to cover your "unsightly bits" without being asked to. They say in a concerned tone "Oh you know if that skirt was just a little bit longer, it would be perfect on you." Or "You're so brave wearing so much colour, I find black very slimming." "You really like that top, don't you?" I could go on, but you're probably all used to it. All those passive-aggressive ways of passing judgement.

To start with, the world thinks it owns women's bodies and the right to judge them and comment on them. But make those bodies FAT bodies, and it's really open season. These are the people who love to tell us what is "flattering". Which usually translates to what hides your body from their view, because they find it offensive.

Here's a tip to all those people who like to make negative or judgemental comments about the clothing fat people wear:

Mind your own business. If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything. If you genuinely want to compliment something, feel free, that's lovely and respectful, and it's likely to get the person wearing that outfit again. But if you want to criticise and cast judgement, keep it to yourself. Think about how you feel when someone does that to you. Does it make you feel good? Does it achieve anything positive? I don't think so.

For the fatties out there, there are some simple ways to disarm the clothing/fashion police, without stooping to their level. Here are some that I have learnt to use:
  • Thank you but I have/am my own stylist.
  • Does my wearing clothes that show the shape of my body bother you?
  • My muu-muu is in the wash, sorry.
  • Why should I wear black? Did someone die? (this one is best said in slightly hushed, worried tones)
  • Nanna doesn't like it when I wear her clothes.
Here's the thing. Criticism rarely works when it comes to style. It either inspires shame, or if you're like me, I get stubborn and wear it twice as much. But when someone compliments you and says "You look nice today." or "Oh wow, I love those shoes!" the truth is, you're much more likely to wear whatever is being complimented again, because you feel good. When you feel good, you look good. It shines through you. Yes, even we fatties look great when we feel great.

Looking great doesn't necessarily mean looking thin either. Look at Queen Latifah.


She's a big girl, but she always looks AMAZING. She shows off those curves and those thighs and that butt. She doesn't hide her arms because they're not all toned like Madonna (who takes it a bit far probably!)


She glows with confidence and glamour, because it's very clear she feels good about herself.


It's not about how thin she looks, it's about how she carries herself and feels.

In the not too distant future I'll share some shopping options for we fatties (in the mean time, if you know any please leave info in the comments) but before we even get to shopping, we need to remember that our bodies are not hideous and ugly, they are not something to be ashamed of. And that when we're confident and value ourselves, we look great as well as feel great.