You know what I wish existed?

A show about a bunch of people being friends and having adventures and living their lives, along the lines of Sex and the City or How I Met Your Mother, that just happens to feature a group of fat characters.

Preferably played by Amber Riley, Gabourey Sidibe, Rebel Wilson, Joy Nash, and maybe Mindy Kaling (who isn’t actually fat, but is larger than average for Hollywood).

I know there are good shows out there featuring fat characters. I recently started watching My Mad Fat Diary, and I LOVE it (although I wish there were a reliable way to watch it in the US, sigh.) I’ve also heard good things about Huge, which I want to watch sometime.

But I really just want there to be a show about fat people that doesn’t focus on our weight. A show that might mention fatphobia occasionally as it comes up–because in real life, it does come up–but that otherwise is about fat people going on dates, or dealing with mid-20s restlessness/quarter-life crises/economic shittiness, or working together in a specific environment, or having interpersonal drama, or doing fun and creative things around their cities. (Or even outside of cities. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a show about a group of friends who go WWOOFing together and have to learn to adjust to farm life? Or less fun but interesting and relatable, a show about a bunch of young people stuck in the suburbs, trying to create independent lives while living with their parents out of economic necessity?)

I just want to see people like myself reflected on TV without our fatness being treated as our most salient characteristic. Is that so much to ask for?

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Sunday links, 5/18/14

pink peony covered in raindrops

Peonies are the best.

Fa(t)shion
-Lesley reviews a variety of chub rub prevention solutions.
-It’s so rare to find truly amazing men’s fashion, so I was excited to come across this gothic groom’s red and black suit with buckles.
-Sal passes along her client Kristie’s review of Gwynnie Bee.
-Kat models some lovely, colorful floral crowns from Claire’s.
-Gabi shares the sources of the clothing and accessories in her #EveryBODYIsFlawless video.
These bows are everything. Especially the clear one filled with pom-poms.
How many of these ’90s beauty products did you use? OMG, almost all of them. I still use Bottled Emotion perfume, which I buy on eBay. And damn, I miss roll-on glitter–that shit was the best.
-Affatshionista rounds up crop tops that come in a 4x. (Note: I don’t agree with the sophisticated vs. slutty dichotomy that she mentions at the end of the post–I believe in wearing what you want, period, and not shaming some ways of dressing as “slutty.”)
-I can so relate to finding a piece of clothing you really like in a plus size blogger’s outfit post, and then realizing it doesn’t come in your size. I usually wear a size 22, so most plus lines include my size, but I often come across smaller fat or in-betweenie bloggers wearing clothes from straight size lines that stop at 16 or 18.
-I love these portraits of fat and incredibly fashionable Namibian women (click the first image to see the rest).

Fat Acceptance
Fat people and feeding tubes.
Walking while fat and female.
-So, that Louie episode….I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. Maybe I will write about it, but in the meantime, I like these two posts by Melissa, and this one by Kath.
Fat, fault, and disabilities.
-Londonites, check out this fat dance show!
-Melissa writes about being fat-shamed by the friends and family of men she has dated.
-“I find it helpful to keep in mind that weight-loss messages are prejudice for profit.”
Will being fat kill your sex life? No, but fat-shaming might.
Educating doctors about interacting with fat patients.
I may be fat, and I may teach people about nutrition, but I am not your “good fatty.”
When health is not on your side.
-So much yes to this: The thing about experience.
Monica and me: fat girls of the ’90s.

Whitney Thore is always awesome.
Continue reading

Ideas for #ChangeTheWorldNotOurBodies: fat community projects

woman standing and holding microphone, wearing red lace dress

A Second Helpings performer.

If you’re looking for a place to donate for the #ChangeTheWorldNotOurBodies campaign that I started yesterday, why not check out some awesome fat community projects that are currently looking for funding? I’ve mentioned most of these in various posts, but I figured it would be helpful to round them up in one place.

Help Fattitude: A Body-Positive Documentaty reach its stretch goal of $50,000.

Support Abundant Bodies at AMC 2014Our movements need to think more critically about body policing, sizeism, and fatphobia. Help make this track a reality by supporting Abundant Bodies @ AMC2014. 

– One of the participants in the Abundant Bodies track also has his own fundraising page for travel funds.

Second Helpings Exhibit & Performance FatineeAll fat, all queer art! An event of obese proportions.

Make Me a Radical Dietician (by Michelle, aka the Fat Nutritionist, who is so many kinds of awesome): For years, I’ve helped people learn to eat normally. Now I can help even more by becoming a Registered Dietitian.

The Fired Fat Girl Travel FundHelp me hit the road to socialize and politicize about body size! I am unemployed for the first time in my adult life. That means there’s something else important I need to do.

Bonus: a few crowd-funding efforts that are not fat-related, but look awesome and could use your support.

Solar RoadwaysSolar panels that you can drive, park, and walk on. They melt snow and… cut greenhouse gases by 75-percent?!!!

Energy Justice SummerWe’re working with frontline communities in Pennsylvania to fight fracking.

Help Biyuti Publishing Become SustainableA campaign to build up the infrastructure at biyuti publishing, shorten publishing times, and make 100% author royalties a sustainable reality. biyuti publishing is a small, independent publisher focused on getting the work of trans women of colour and queer/trans people of colour out into the world. This organization was/is founded, managed, and run by trans women of colour.

Past the point of no return: not just a Phantom of the Opera song

tidal pool and sandbar on beach

Dammit. I’m going to miss you, Crane Beach.

The other day, I read that the West Antartic ice sheet is now in irreversible collapse, which means there will likely be a 10 to 15-foot rise in global sea level over the next few centuries. Or, as the Mother Jones headline puts it, “This is what a holy shit moment for global warming looks like.”

On one hand, this doesn’t come as a big surprise; people have been warning for years that this was likely to happen. On the other hand, there’s an enormous difference between “probably” and “definitely.” Especially when that “definitely” involves the certainty that  places you love will be swallowed up by the sea (if on a timetable that no one knows yet, and probably not within your own lifetime).

Sometimes I wonder how I’m supposed to read news like this and then go about my day like everything’s fine. How am I supposed to do anything other than run around screaming?

I know that running around screaming isn’t exactly an effective form of activism. But sometimes it feels like the only sane response to news like this.

Activism opportunity: #ChangeTheWorldNotOurBodies

woman holding sign that says

I often think about how much time, energy, and money are wasted on the weight cycling industry, which is worth $66 billion/year in the US alone. Imagine what we could do with those resources if we directed them toward making the world a better place instead of making our bodies smaller!

In that spirit, I propose this: let’s take the time and money we might have used on dieting, and instead donate it to organizations and causes we care about.  Let’s show what a difference we can make with even a fraction of the resources that people waste every year trying to force their bodies into a socially acceptable shape. And let’s use the hashtag #ChangeTheWorldNotOurBodies to tell each other, and the world, about what we’re doing.

To start, I gave $10 to Scarleteen, and then tweeted: “I just donated $10 to @Scarleteen instead of the weight cycling industry. #ChangeTheWorldNotOurBodies.” Feel free to use the hashtag on any form of social media–Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

I know that not everyone has time or money to donate–hell, I even wrote about it recently. If you can’t contribute, no worries; but if you can give even $5 or an hour of your time, that would be awesome. And of course, signal-boost!

You can donate to/volunteer with whatever organizations you choose–make the world a better place in whatever way feels right to you! That said, I have a few suggestions, both of things to keep in mind and of specific groups I recommend.

Things to keep in mind when choosing an organization

– Consider donating to a small, independent organization that doesn’t have a big fundraising budget, and therefore needs the money a lot more than a big non-profit (which Heather Corinna of Scarleteen talks about here and here).

– Look for organizations run by marginalized groups rather than for them.

– It’s good to analyze the efficacy of organizations, but the percentage they spend on overhead is not necessarily a good metric to use, as non-profits need some overhead to be sustainable.

– Personally, I try to avoid donating to non-profits that depend on unpaid internships, aka free labor. Continue reading

In defense of the question, “Where do you get your confidence?”

gabourey sidibe giving a speech, wearing a red wrap dress

Gabourey Sidibe: fabulous fat inspiration forever. (source)

There’s been a lot of critique lately of people asking fat (or in some cases, Hollywood-fat) celebrities where they get their confidence. Gabourey Sidibe talked about it in her wonderful speech at the Ms. Foundation Gala:

One of the first things people usually ask me is, “Gabourey, how are you so confident?” I hate that. I always wonder if that’s the first thing they ask Rihanna when they meet her. “RiRi! How are you so confident?” Nope. No. No. But me? They ask me with that same incredulous disbelief every single time. “You seem so confident! How is that?”

Mindy Kaling also talked about it not too long ago:

“I always get asked, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’ I think people are well meaning, but it’s pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, ‘You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You’re not skinny, you’re not white, you’re a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you’re worth anything?’”

I think there’s a lot of truth to Sidibe’s and Kaling’s analyses–people are often shocked to find that fat people, especially fat women of color, have the gall to love their own bodies. Some thin people do find confident fat people puzzling and disturbing: it challenges their assumptions, their privilege, all the work they’ve put into avoiding fatness.

But at the same time, I don’t think that type of reasoning is the only one that drives the question, and I think it does us a disservice to pretend it is.

The question can just as easily come from people, whether thin or fat, who are struggling to feel comfortable in their own skin and are looking for advice. People who see a non-conventionally-attractive woman daring to be confident in the face of a society that says she shouldn’t, and think, “Wow, I want to be like that–what’s her secret?”

Let’s face it: it is an accomplishment to build self-confidence in a world that constantly reminds you you’re lesser-than, that your worth depends on conforming to an incredibly narrow standard of beauty. For many, perhaps most, fat people–and for plenty of women of all shapes and sizes–confidence doesn’t come easily or naturally. It takes constant work to root out society’s shame and stigma, to stop listening to the messages all around you and start believing in your own power.

That’s something that deserves to be celebrated. That’s something we should ask our role models about–because it’s important to draw roadmaps for our own journeys of dealing with internalized racism, sexism, and fat-phobia. It’s important to make that struggle visible, to remind each other that we’re not alone.