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.