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.

There is no one right way for fat women to look

I saw this meme floating around Facebook (source), and it really rubbed me the wrong way.

I’m all for breaking down stereotypes and expectations about how fat women should dress. I’m all for criticizing media that only present fat women wearing certain styles, or retailers that sell us a narrow range of options based on the erroneous perception that we don’t want to show off our bodies. I’m all for promoting retailers who sell fresh, fun, and edgy designs in plus sizes.

But I’m not ok with implying that there’s something wrong with wearing loose-fitting garments, or that the woman on the right is more stylish, attractive, proud of her body, or deserving of celebration than the woman on the left.

I’m not ok with setting up fatshion hierarchies, privileging certain styles and amounts of skin shown. I’d much rather focus on expanding our options and encouraging all fat women–and men, and non-binary people–to wear whatever makes them happy.

Personally, I’d wear both outfits; they’re both fun and colorful in different ways. Sometimes I like to wear form-fitting clothes, and other times I like to wear looser items–because, you know, people are capable of enjoying more than one type of clothing. What can I say, it’s right there in my blog’s tagline (and in Leaves of Grass): I am large, I contain multitudes.

Sunday links, 5/12/14

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, and to any other mothers reading this! 🙂

street art of colorful heart in a gold frame

Fa(t)shion
-I love this fat femme wedding photoshoot and this pretty girls in pastels shoot.
-Sarah interviews Helen Castillo, who designed Mary Lambert’s recent red carpet dresses.
Captivating tomboy floral spring inspiration.
Why we all need a safe space to shop for lingerie. I so wish there were a store like this in Boston!
To all the fat babes out there blogging pictures of themselves in clothes, swimsuits, or naked….
-I’m a total sucker for fashion illustrations made with real flowers.

Fat Acceptance
-Lots of fatspiration: these Pacific Islander dancers, this gorgeous burlesque dancer live modeling for artists, this singer, this weight-lifter, and this adorable chubster with a corgi.
Help fat activists get to the Allied Media Conference!
-Rachele was unwillingly turned into a fat person meme.
Weight Watchers’ repulsive new ad campaign asks women to publicly confess their shame…for eating.
Stop describing your diet as “clean eating.”
Yes, doctor, I know I’m fat.
If you tell a girl she’s fat…

A video of the Fat Flash Mob including interviews with the dancers:
Continue reading

Climate activism, carousels, and cherry blossoms: a day in the city

fossil fuel divestment rally in front of massachusetts state house

I’m starting a new temp job next week, so yesterday I took advantage of my free time and the gorgeous weather to spend the entire afternoon taking in the beauty of Boston in the spring.

I went into the city to rally for fossil fuel divestment at the Massachusetts State House. We sung “Sing for the Climate,” lined up on the steps like a choir, and then people split up to deliver flowers to the representatives who support the divestment bill and clocks (message: time is running out) to those who don’t.

There’s nothing quite like protesting in the spring, when anything feels possible. Especially when, not only have two Massachusetts towns divested from fossil fuels in the past week, but so has the first major university. I’m starting to have hope that the tide is finally–if excruciatingly slowly–turning. That we really will build a better world.

giant earth surrounded by black balloons representing carbon dioxide at fossil fuel divestment rally

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OOTD: Spring pastels for a day of Boston adventures

woman wearing lavender lace dress with pastel accessories in front of pink cherry tree

Boston has a reputation for being unfriendly, but I’ve never found that to be true. Yesterday, while out and about in the Public Garden, I asked a stranger if she could take a picture of me in front of a pink tree–and she was super-helpful, asked if I was a fashion blogger (yay!), and took a bunch of pictures from different distances. We exchanged contact info, and it turns out she sells Stella & Dot jewelry; you can check out her page here.

Thank you, Liz, for these lovely pictures! 🙂

woman in lavender lace dress and peach hair bow in front of pink cherry trees

Dress: H&M, sandals: Clark’s, bracelets: So Good, headband and necklace: Forever 21, earrings: I don’t even remember, pink rose statement ring: The Tiny Teapot, silver rose ring: I’ve had since high school

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So much fat fabulousness

Seriously, is this National Fat Week of Awesome or something?

First, there’s the short film Fatshionably Viral: The Weight of Visibility, which Linda Dianne made for her MA thesis.

She’s planning to turn it into a feature-length documentary about the Fatshionista LiveJournal, fatshion blogging, and body positivity, which is so exciting. I can’t wait to see what she does with it!

Then there’s this amazing video that Gabi Gregg made of herself, Tess Munster, and Nadia Aboulhosn singing along to Beyonce’s “Flawless.”

I generally don’t pass along things that Nadia Aboulhosn does, because she’s said some racist stuff. But I’m making an exception in this case both because this video is SO NEEDED, and because I feel that the positives of promoting the work of a black woman (Gabi) outweigh the negatives of lending credibility to a woman who has made anti-black comments (Nadia).

Fat Flash Mob 2014

Not only was this weekend the Big Thrifty here in Boston and the Big Fat Flea in New York, but it was also the Fat Flash Mob in San Francisco! It looks like it was so much wonderful fat booty-shaking fun:

Jessica Judd has a great photo album from the event here, and Marilyn Wann has a few pictures here, here, and here (how rad is that hot pink flapper jumpsuit?!)

I love this kind of activism: just a bunch of awesome fatties being publicly loud, proud, and happy, wearing cute clothes and dancing up a storm. This is exactly what the world needs more of.