#FatshionFebruary, day 27 and 28: the very comfortable t-shirt edition

Thanks to the return of the polar vortex (booooo), I’ve barely left the house the last two days except for a few well-bundled errands. So I haven’t bothered to get dressed up. But because this is Fatshion February–and because I want to show that even the most glamourpants fatshion bloggers sometimes sit around in sweatpants and t-shirts–I’m posting my outfits anyway.

Shirt: TeeTurtle (my #1 source for cute/geeky shirts, highly recommended), sweater: from a mini-clothing-swap with a friend

Shirt: Seibei (also available at Re/Dress), pants: CVS, headband: ?? maybe Target

I don’t like how this shirt looks on me, but I love the message, obviously. I may need to have one of my sewing-inclined friends turn it into a t-shirt dress or something.

And thus ends Fatshion February! Whew! I had fun–and I enjoyed seeing everyone else’s outfits on their blogs and Tumblr–but I’m also relieved that it’s over.

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Internalized fat-phobia within fat-pos spaces = the worst.

I’ve been reading through the responses to the “What it’s like to be a fat woman” questions, and they’re really interesting. I hope that some men and non-binary people answer the questions as well, because I would love to read a broader range of experiences.

But one of them had a line that made me stop dead in my tracks:

Being a mother now myself this is a tricky one. I want my child(ren) to grow up the happiest way they can and so the truth is I don’t want my daughter to grow up fat. I don’t think that she is genetically wired that way and I’m going to try to ensure she doesn’t develop the weird relationship with food or body image that I did. 

I don’t even know where to begin with my rage at this one. It’s so, so frustrating and painful to come across attitudes like this while reading supposedly fat-positive blogs.

You can’t tell by looking at someone, especially a small child, how they’re “genetically wired.” Some fat kids grow up to be thin. Some thin kids grow up to be fat. Puberty does some weird shit to people’s bodies. The interactions of genetics and environment are complicated, and thinking that because your kid is thin now, they’re meant to be thin forever, is only going to hold them to an impossible standard.

Fat doesn’t mean unhappy. Fat doesn’t mean having a weird relationship with food or body image. Believe me, plenty of thin women have that too.

I can understand why someone who’s dealt with fat stigma wouldn’t want their children to face the same stigma. But the problem isn’t the child’s body–the problem is the stigma itself. Saying you hope your daughter doesn’t grow up to be fat contributes to that very stigma: to the idea that fat is inherently a bad thing, something to be avoided, something less than ideal, something that needs an excuse (like “genetics”) to be acceptable.

It’s like a gay person saying “I hope my kid doesn’t grow up to be gay” rather than “I hope that by the time my kid grows up, no matter what their sexual orientation turns out to be, society has become much more accepting of queer people.” (Which is not to say that fatphobia and homophobia are the same–they definitely operate in different ways, and many people deal with the intersection of both–but I think the basic analogy works. In each case, a parent who hopes that their child does not develop the same marginalized identity they themselves have is contributing to the stigma against that identity.)

If you don’t want your kids to face fat stigma, then fight the stigma itself.

Make it clear–through both words and actions–that all bodies are good bodies. That’s there’s no wrong way to have a body, period.

Anything less is bullshit.

What being a fat woman is really like

My glamorous fat life: hanging out on a farm after going to the beach for my birthday last summer

Through this post from Bethany, I found out about a surprisingly fat-positive interview that was recently published in Cosmo (!). Bethany and a bunch of other bloggers decided to answer the same questions, so here are my answers! You can find a roundup of all the participating bloggers here at Charlotte’s blog.

How do you feel when other women around you complain about feeling/being fat?

Luckily, this doesn’t happen to me often–and when it does, it usually involves friends writing about their body image struggles in their own online spaces, which I could choose to stop following if I wanted to.  I feel simultaneously frustrated–because fat is not a bad thing, and I’m usually bigger than the person doing the complaining!–and understanding, because the pull of weight loss culture is so strong, and I remember what it was like to be utterly convinced that I needed to be thin to be attractive and healthy.

How has your body image changed since high school? College?

SO MUCH. In middle school and high school, I hated my body–even though I also enjoyed dressing up, and never had much desire to hide behind baggy or plain clothing. I remember stepping on the scale at the doctor’s office when I was 17, and seeing it hit 201–and that felt like the worst thing ever. In my mind, 200 lbs was hideous, far beyond the realm of normal people, and crossing that line made me officially, terribly, disgustingly fat (which seems funny now, because I weigh about 240 and am much happier with my body!).

I spent most of college dieting on and off before I came across Shapely Prose through the feminist blog-o-sphere, and my mind was blown. It took some time to truly accept everything I was learning, but when I did, it made such a difference. I still have bad body-image days occasionally, but for the most part, I’m happy with how I look. When I was younger, I never could have imagined that!

Have you tried dieting? What happened?

I started dieting fairly late, compared to the experiences of most fat women I know. In eighth grade, I went through a phase where I did ten minutes of crunches a day in hopes of shrinking my stomach–but I didn’t start seriously dieting until senior year of high school, and then I was doing it “for my health.” I never did anything really drastic, but obsessing over the calories in everything and going to the gym constantly just wasn’t sustainable for very long.

In college, I kept falling off the wagon and then starting again, yo-yo-ing up and down within a range of 40 or so pounds–until I learned about fat acceptance and stopped altogether. My weight settled about about 180 then, although a few years later I ended up gaining weight for unrelated reasons, and who knows if that was partly affected by the way dieting can change people’s metabolisms?

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My reading challenge: 25 books by women of color in 2014

Inspired by this post, in which Victoria Law plans to read 50 books by writers of color, mostly women, I’ve decided to do my own reading challenge.

I’m going to aim to read 25 books written by women of color this year, of any and all genres. In the past two months, I’ve read only one–Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness, which I recommend highly–so I have some catching up to do!

Both Law’s post and this essay by Aimee Phan have good recommendations for books by women of color.  I’m also looking forward to Roxane Gay‘s novel An Untamed State, which will be coming out next month.

A few other books I am hoping to read:
The Summer We Got Free, by Mia McKenzie of Black Girl Dangerous
Ash by Malinda Lo
Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism by Jessica Yee (unfortunately, my library doesn’t have this one, and I really don’t like to buy books unless I already know I like them, but I will try to get a hold of it somehow)
-Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Sarasinha’s Love Cake and Consensual Genocide (my library doesn’t have these either, sigh)

And here are a few books by WOC that I’ve read in the past and recommend for anyone doing a similar challenge–or anyone who likes good books, period:
Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I was first introduced to Adichie’s writing in college, and it’s been so exciting to see her become more and more popular, to the extent that Beyonce sampled one of her speeches in the song “Flawless.”
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Cereus Blooms At Night and He Drown She in the Sea by Shani Mootoo
Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni
A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar

What books by women of color do you like?

#FatshionFebruary, day 26: coolest of the cool kids

I admit, I felt pretty badass wearing this outfit (which I wore to hang out with friends and meet their adorable kitties).

Dress: Pop Up Plus NY, pleather jacket: Torrid via clothing swap, leggings: Cult of California via Zulily, belt: Re/Dress, necklace: Fancy Lady Industries, earrings: Faces, cat ears: Crown & Glory, boots: Target, shoe clips: Head Full of Feathers, bracelets: So Good, Deb, Torrid, and yard sale, rings: old

Isn’t Queen Cordelia just the cutest, most ridiculous creature ever?

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We’re worried about penguins’ weight now? Seriously?

My friends are great at finding adorable things, and not too long ago, a few of them shared a link to this ridiculously adorable video of a penguin chasing her zookeeper:

Unfortunately, the post also includes this bit:

We almost feel bad for her, but her “happy feet” and the way she cuddles up to the zookeeper at the end make it clear that their bond is super strong. Also, with penguin obesity rates on the rise, it’s important for the flightless bird to get in some gym time.

Yes, it linked to an entire article about a zoo’s attempt to prevent OMG-besity! in their penguins.

Penguins.

Seriously.

Every time I think the moral panic about “obesity” has reached the most epic, ridiculous lows, it goes lower.

For our souls and communities: why we need a work culture of regular sabbaticals

Hanging out with a goat and chickens while visiting a farm last year.

For the last few years, I’ve been doing a lot of research into alternatives to the traditional job market that no longer offers much opportunity. Especially alternatives that involve either travel, farm work, or both–because I have both a terrible case of wanderlust and a strong urge to work with my hands close to the earth.

Last spring, I was seriously considering WWOOFing–volunteering on an organic farm in exchange for room and board–for the summer. I even visited a few potential farms, but in the end, I decided not to do it for two reasons: I didn’t want to be separated from Steve, and I didn’t want to come back to Boston in the fall with no job or way to pay rent.

Now that spring is around the corner, my dormant desire to sink my hands into mud and dirt is back. And are my fantasies about WWOOFing. But for the same reasons as last year, I don’t think I can make it work.

Through all of my research and yearning and fantasizing and facing hard realities, I’ve become more and more convinced that we need a national job culture of regular sabbaticals. Of stable, living-wage, permanent jobs that give employees the option to take a year off (ideally at a reduced pay rate, or unpaid) every x number of years, with the guarantee that their jobs would be waiting for them upon return.

The farm’s fruit trees and main buildings, not far from its solar panels.

This could solve so many disparate problems. Like reducing the workweek to 21 hours, it would spread out work among more people, thereby reducing unemployment. It would force employers to cross-train their workers more effectively, which would result in a more skilled and innovative workforce. It would have the potential to reduce carbon emissions.

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