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.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Food Shame and Judgement

One of my favourite blogs in the blogosphere is the Post Secret project. If you're one of the few people who have never encountered it before, it's a blog project where people send in anonymous postcards that they have made themselves, bearing a secret. The secrets featured each week (and in the books that have been published under the project) range from shocking, sad, funny, frightening to the downright bizarre.

I also follow the PostSecret twitter account, which tweets extra secrets, email replies to those published on the blog, and news about the project.

A couple of days, this secret was posted to the Twitter feed.

"When I go grocery shopping, I always feel like people are looking in my basket and judging me because I'm fat."

I re-tweeted it because I know it is actually a very common feeling amongst fatties. The response I got was pretty phenomenal. To paraphrase a few replies, they mostly broke down into:
  • Oh I always feel like that.
  • Thank God for online shopping
  • Do people really comment on what others have in their shopping baskets? (the answer is yes)
  • I always put the toilet paper/water/magazines on top of my food.
  • I feel the same when eating out.
I thought about it for a bit and realised that I too used to hide/feel ashamed for the contents of my shopping trolley, and for what I was eating when eating out. I used to be terribly self conscious that other people are judging me when I had any connection with food in public.

This is not purely from paranoia from being a fat woman. This is because quite often, people would comment or insult me* with regards to food in public. My "favourite" is once I was sitting in a food court eating a salad, and an old couple walked past me, and the woman said to the man, loud enough for me and several people in the surrounds to hear "Ugh, people like that shouldn't eat."

I was horrified and humiliated at the time, but on further thought now, since I have my self esteem at a healthy level and don't give a shit what strangers think, my thought is "So I'm supposed to just starve to death lady because my fat body doesn't please you?" And do you know what? The answer is yes. Some people have the attitude that fat people should just not exist. That if they had their way, they would simply remove them from existence.

I know, it's really harsh, isn't it? But there is a certain number of the population who truly feel this way.

Fuck them I say.

To those of you who feel this sense of judgement on you around food, you have every right to buy, cook, eat, taste, enjoy any food you like. If someone is so removed from their own lives (or perhaps so loathsome of their own lives) that they have to cast judgement on other people regarding what they eat, then there's something seriously wrong with them. Because a happy, healthy person doesn't care a jot what other people have in their shopping basket, or on their plate, except perhaps to eye off something interesting.

To those who feel the need to comment/judge others on what they are eating/buying in public, I say "Get a life!"

*Remember, I don't tell you these stories for pity or to gain attention, this is simply to illustrate what I have experienced and what some people's attitudes are like.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Be Good to Your Daughters... And Your Sons Too

Well here I am, back at Fat Heffalump. Tonight I want to talk a bit about the messages we give to young girls about their bodies, and weight. And while I'm at it, you're going to get to see some photos of me when I was a munchkin.

Let's start with this one:


I think I'm about 7 years old in this one.

I can remember, from a very early age - about 5 or 6 is my first memory of it, being told by my parents that I was fat. I was called porky, told I had "lead in my arse" because I was "so heavy" and couldn't run fast, and of course I've mentioned earlier my brother's taunts of "fat heffalump" and "tub of lard".

I did have a barrel shape (no waist at all), but how many girls before puberty do have waists?

And consequently, I believed it. All my life. I believed it right up until I found the photo above, about six months ago in a box of old photo albums.

Can I ask you something. Is that little girl there fat? Does the child in the photo above look fat to you?

What about this one?


I think I'm about 9 or 10 in this one. Would you say fat there?

Here I am just before puberty hit me:

Age 11. Just before my 12th birthday. Jesus look at those legs. Fat legs? I don't think so.

So what are people telling girls that look like this, that they're fat? Why was a girl of this body shape, being led to believe that there was something wrong with her? Maybe it was in jest. Maybe it was a way to "keep her in her place" and not let her get "too many tickets on herself." But I think it's a seriously sad reflection on people's attitudes that anyone could think a girl with this body could be considered fat.

In that last photograph, I was taller than my aunt, who is 5'2". Very tall for an 11 year old girl. I towered all of my classmates. I stopped growing in height by the time I was 13, and I'm 5'6" now. I was the tallest girl in my class for a long time, until the others caught up later on in their teens. Consequently, I needed women's sized clothing, from a very young age, otherwise I'd have been exposing what was at the top of those long legs! If I remember correctly, that school uniform was a women's size 10 (Australian), a bit loose around the middle and under the arms, yet that's pretty proportionate for a 5'2" female body about to sprout boobs and stuff.

Yet I remember my mother complaining in shops that I shouldn't be in women's clothing. Girls in school made fun of me because I shopped in the ladies wear section. I was referred to as a "big girl". However I look at those photos and I don't think I was big at all. Tall yes, but certainly not big or fat.

But of course, I did get fat. Puberty hit just after my 12th birthday, and boy did it hit hard. Within 12 months of that last photo above, I actually was a fat girl. A fat girl with all sorts of hormonal shit going on (I won't go into the gory details but let's just say that I know now that it wasn't normal). I also had D cup breasts by the time I was 13 and they weren't just fat. Even in my late teens when I dropped a lot of weight, I still had huge breasts.

Consequently, I don't have any photos of me in my teens. There is the odd school class photo, but until I turned 18, there really weren't any photos taken of me. I wouldn't allow it. And there were huge chunks of my life since then that I wouldn't allow photos to be taken of me, because I believed I was hideous and didn't want any record. Those were also the years that I was sticking my fingers down my throat to purge anything I ate.

Nowdays, I relish having my photo taken. I love to have those reminders of the times in my life, the outfits I wear, the laughs that I have. Here I am today (well, ok, a couple of weeks ago, smart arses):

Me - 2009

Oh yes, I am a fat lady. By many labels, I am "morbidly obese" - do I look morbid to you? I am probably at the fattest I have ever been (give or take a bit!) but I'm also at the happiest I have ever been, because my worth is no longer measured by the number on a set of scales, the tag on my clothing, or the size of my body.

My worth is measured by the size of my heart, the number of beloved people in my life, the use of my brain, the strength of my laugh and the depth of my respect for others and myself.

We need to think about what we say to our children. Not just the girls, but they do cop the double whammy because of the whole sexualisation thing, as well as body image. Even if they are fatter than their peers, instead of crushing them down with criticisms, we should be building them up with encouragement and strong self esteem. I can't say I wouldn't be fat if I hadn't been criticised so much as a child (remember those hormonal problems I mentioned), but I can say I wouldn't have done so much damage to my body with crash diets and eating disorders. I can say I wouldn't have wasted so many years hating myself, and would have achieved so much more in life had I been allowed to believe in myself.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Don't Cry for Me, Interwebz!

Just a quick clarification for those who are not used to seeing fat acceptance in the world.

This is not a blog to make people feel sorry for me. It is not a "poor me, feel sorry for me because I'm fat and people are mean to me" blog.

I will be sharing lots of horror stories. But that is not for sympathy, it's for the following purposes.

  1. To share my stories so that other fatties don't feel so alone.
  2. To raise awareness of just how deeply ingrained fat phobia is in our culture.
  3. To draw attention to just how hurtful, nasty and insensitive some people can be, in the hope that it will make others think again before making comments about people's weight.

I just wanted to clarify that I don't feel sorry for myself, and the stories that I'm sharing here on this blog are not for sympathy or pity, they're for spreading a very firm message.

Stay fabulous!

Monday, July 13, 2009

What's in a Name?

Now don't get too used to two posts in the same night, I just want to give you a deeper introduction so you all know what I'm about early in the piece.

Ok, where to start hey? Well, perhaps I'll tell you why I chose the title "Fat Heffalump" for this blog. I chose it, to reclaim it as mine. Because when I was a kid, in fact, right up until the last time I spoke to him about 5 years ago, my very cruel brother always called me a "Fat Heffalump". And it hurt. Oh boy, every time he used that phrase, it tore a hole in my soul that was raw, bleeding and sheer agony. I can't tell you the number of tears I have cried over the words "fat heffalump".

The worst times were when he used it in front of other people. He delighted in calling me that in front of his friends, my friends, boys at school, our family, loudly in public places in front of strangers. Because he knew it hurt me to the core.

And I would make some kind of joke, call him a wanker and laugh it off, all the while a piece of me was dying inside. I died inside for many, many years. From as early as I can remember, I was dying inside because of other people's remarks. I was very good at hiding my tears, hiding how much I hurt. Everyone thought I was "happy bubbly Kath", but the truth was that up until a few years ago, I was a huge well of emotional pain.

But something changed over the past few years. Some of it due to professional counselling, some of it due to finding my own strength and removing a lot of hurtful people from my life, but adding beautiful, delicious, accepting, big hearted, positive, gentle, giving people to my life. I've learned to value myself, and that the people are worth having in my life will never be cruel or hurtful, that they'll raise me up, not slam me down.

So I am taking back the words "fat heffalump". They are mine. I now embrace those two words with affection. They are not something that has power over me, but something that I am fond of for my own reasons.

I don't really know what a heffalump is (it sounds kind of fuzzy and cute really) but if anyone creative wants to draw/paint/create me their interpretation of one, I'll feature it here on this blog and plug your artwork all over the place. I'll sing your praises from the rooftops!


Well hello there. Welcome to my shiny new blog. Come on in, make yourself comfortable. Don't mind the mess, I'm just moving in, so I'll be setting up for a little while. I hate the decor, but I'll be whipping out my decorating kit over the next few days, don't despair.

Some of you may already know me from other blogs (which I may pop in the sidebar later, just for your reference), others may be here because you've found me out there in the land of the interwebz and you're curious to know more about this aspect of my life. Either way, you are most welcome.

A little about why I am setting up this blog perhaps? Well, let's see...

Firstly, I am rather inspired by the work of Natalie, Nick, Sonya, Janey and Zoe have started on The Axis of Fat. I think we need more fat positivity/acceptance work from Australians (this is a very, very fat phobic country) and I'm willing to put my blogging where my mouth is, and join this community.

I also want to be a voice for fat, single women over 35, as I am one myself. I don't seem to be able to find any others out there, but I'd love to be proven wrong. Leave me a link in the comments if you know of any out there. It's hard enough being single, fat, or over 35 individually, combine the three and you have a whole swag of fun and games to deal with.

I want to do something positive in the face of all the negativity and hatred/anger towards fat women (and men for that matter). And while I am projecting positivity, I am also drawing positivity towards me, which like any vulnerable human being, I need, despite the fact that I look and sound like a super confident lady on the surface.

And finally, I want to share my story in the hope that the fat phobes out there will stop and think about what the hell they're spouting, and about the fact that they're spreading hate towards their fellow human beings who have feelings and hopes and aspirations.

So watch this space, I hope that you find some positivity and insight in my writing.