This is the world we live in.

Recently, one of my friends posted on Facebook that you know the economy sucks when people tell you you’re lucky to have a job. She went on to say how messed-up it is that, instead of employment being the default and unemployment meaning you’re down on your luck, people are considered lucky to have jobs at all.

The same day, Sarah Kendzior tweeted about a man who could only afford to eat one meal a day while working an unpaid internship–which was in human rights.

And then I read that my alma mater just gave eight million dollars to its former president.

This is the world we live in.

There are so many solutions–and so much money and power standing in the way of those solutions.

And it’s damn hard to work toward solutions, toward a better world, while still living in this one.

I am reminded of David Cain’s piece, Your lifestyle has already been designed. Cain writes about returning to a traditional 9-to-5 job after spending time traveling, and realizing that he became both casually careless with his money and too tired to exercise or do creative things.

He notes that:

Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.

We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.

I know this dynamic too well.

I should note that working a 40-hour workweek makes both Cain and myself luckier than the many, many people who work far more hours, including those who string together multiple low-paid part-time jobs just to get by.  

But even still, I often come home exhausted, especially during the busy times when I’m on my feet lifting things all day. It’s harder to have energy for activism–including activism aimed at building a just and healthy economic system–especially when that activism involves putting on shoes and leaving the house.

It’s also harder to live up to my community-centric values when the last thing I want to do after work is go out to a local event or meeting. And it’s harder to support small local businesses–when I’m tired and don’t want to go out, it’s so much easier to buy everything from Amazon instead. 

It’s a vicious cycle that’s really, really hard to break.

On the policy level, I can think of plenty of things that could break the cycle.

On the personal level, it’s just a struggle. 

Sunday links, 12/29/13

A purple doorknob in Brooklyn, where I spent Christmas with Steve and his family

Fa(t)shion
-In tutu news, Kiyonna has a tulle skirt that comes in black and dark red, and Tanesha of Girl With Curves is selling black and cream tutus (although sadly they’re both sold out at the moment).
-Philly fatshionistas, check out this clothing swap!
-Marianne reviews the plus size clothing rental company Gwynnie Bee, which I’ll also be reviewing soon, as I recently did a free monthlong trial.
Floral blazers for men = hell yes.
-Two interesting posts on the politics of looking “sloppy.”
Color of the year 2014: radiant orchid.
Fashioning fashion: the pink top.

Fat Acceptance
French women and thinness: “If you are fat, you won’t get that job.”
-Ragen writes about crap she’s sick of hearing. I especially like this point from the comments: “People who whip out the old ‘tax dollars unfairness!’ saw never care that fat people’s tax dollars go to pay for public goods and services they then have no access to because they were only made to accomodate [sic] thin people, or how unfair THAT is.”
The violent side of fat shaming and denying body acceptance.

Climate and Sustainability
-Scary shit: Are we falling off the climate precipice? Scientists consider extinction.
All I want for Christmas is for the youth climate justice movement to seize its full potential.
The fossil fuel divestment movement can succeed where politics failed. This piece also makes the important point that we need to avoid demonizing the working-class people who dig up fossil fuels.
How to build a permaculture suburb. This might not work quite as well in a colder climate, but it’s inspiring nonetheless.

Continue reading

Sunday links, 11/17/13

Glamming it up with my friend Jesse at The Thicky Chicky‘s launch party, which I’ll be posting about soon! (source: Hill Zhou Photography)

So, it’s official: I’m switching my weekly links post to Sundays. Here’s what I’ve been reading this week; feel free to share what you’ve been reading or writing in the comments.

Fa(t)shion 
-I so want to bring back half of these forgotten early 2000s trends.
-Through Danimezza’s outfit post from a horse race (how amazing is that entire outfit?!), I found Locopa Designs, whose Facebook page is pure fascinator porn.
-Plus size designer Elizabeth Denneau writes a love letter to Betsey Johnson, whom she met at Tucson Fashion Week. I’m glad she had such a positive experience, but that doesn’t change the fact that Betsey Johnson designs only straight size clothes (with the exception of a plus size lingerie/sleepwear line a while back), and I’m not ok with that.
-This handmade 18th century princess costume for a 3 1/2-year old girl is amazing.
-If you’ve been eyeing something at Domino Dollhouse but waiting for sale, they currently have 20% off to celebrate their third birthday.
-Mel rounds up black and gold dresses, Sally rounds up ballgowns, and Naomi rounds up all things velvet.
The mistakes plus size designers often make, and how they could do better.
-Two great responses to Lululemon’s latest asshattery: I’m a size 18 yogi, and Lululemon can kiss my fat ass, and Bodies are NOT a problem (despite some yoga pants’ attempts to make us think otherwise).
-These Miss Universe 2013 costumes may have been posted to make fun of them, but I think they’re amazing.
-Leah talks about sizism within the plus-size fashion world.

Fat Acceptance
Two posts about the community day at Plus London 2013.
I’ve been eating bacon and Doritos all day, and that doesn’t make me “bad.”
Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign is helping bullies.
Today in accessing healthcare while fat…
Public health missteps.
-Melbourne fatties, check out the Va Va Boombah Fat Burlesque performer showcase!

Climate and Sustainability
“I find my reassurance that we’re going to win from the steel-strong piece in my heart that is awake and wanting to live quietly among good people, growing things, and wildness. That is my revolution.”
-Tree porn: Singapore’s urban greenery and a Fibonacci-inspired treehouse.
Decolonizing minds and lands: how we stand with indigenous nations.
In the wake of Haiyan, we must divest from fossil fuels.

Jobs and the Economy
-Two NYTimes articles that show the human cost of the economic crisis: Young and educated in Europe, but desperate for jobs and Caught in a revolving door of unemployment. (And yes, they both made me cry.)
A great interview with Sarah Kendzior on unpaid internships, the prestige economy, and the importance of empathy.
-This story about how Sweden increased gender equality by offering men use-it-or-lose-it paternity leave is fascinating, and it’s an important reminder of how much economics can affect behavior–and why we can’t separate economic and social justice.
-The 40-year slump, a great historical economic analysis from the American Prospect (which, ironically enough, pays its interns below minimum wage).
Why I make terrible decisions, or, poverty thoughts.
-On a similar note, these two responses to a post judging poor people for occasionally having nice possessions is important: “Every time someone yelled at us because poor people shouldn’t have nice things, we all died a little inside, and I clutched my horses even harder.  I needed something bright and beautiful in the world, to make up for the roaches in the walls and the mold growing on the butter.”
Occupy Wall Street activists buy $15 million of Americans’ personal debt.

Everything Else
A love letter to the ‘hood.
The racism in healthy food: why we need to stop telling others what to eat.
-On a related note, Kit writes about how healthy lifestyle advice can cause so much stress and anxiety that it becomes counterproductive.
New study shows that individuals with autism don’t lack empathy – if anything, they empathize too much. This isn’t actually anything new–I’ve heard as much from people with autism and Asperger’s for a long time–but it’s always good to get the word out.
What Joss Whedon gets wrong about the word “feminist.”
There’s an adorable Tumblr devoted to queer men of color in love.
-Aoife analyzes what’s wrong with the saying, “Every time you spend money you cast a vote for the kind of society you want.”
-I love Lily Allen’s music, and was disappointed to hear about her latest racist bullshit. These three posts explain exactly what’s wrong with it.

Some updates on life and stuff

1.) My birthday party on Sunday was amazing! I’ll put up some pictures from it eventually. We went to the beach, which was beautiful and full of shallows and shifting landscapes; then to one of my favorite restaurants for dinner; and then back to my apartment for general merriment.

One of my friends baked me a pink cake that was intended to look like Kaylee’s dress from the Firefly episode Shindig; another gave me three pins featuring My Little Pony, an angry cupcake, and Hello Kitty.  My friends know and love me, and they are wonderful.

I am so grateful for my friends, for this community that I have.

2.) I am tired. I’m working long hours at my current temp job, which is also physically exhausting, and leaves me with little energy to do anything but crash when I come home. I miss yoga and running errands and generally having a life.

3.) Due to aforementioned exhaustion and long hours, I won’t be able to make it to the Energy Exodus next week.

I barely have the emotional energy to care that Yosemite is burning. I’m mostly just trying to get through the day, put one foot in front of the other.

I hate feeling like I’ve flaked out on all the people I started connecting with in the climate movement.

I hate that there are so many things I want to do, for both myself and the world; so many ways I want to contribute to building a stronger, more equal, more durable society. There are posts I want to write, projects I want to collaborate on, actions I want to attend, art I want to make, places I want to see. Instead, I just have to survive.

4.) This is how unjust systems perpetuate themselves: by making people too tired to act up and change things.

5.) I could write a million posts ranting about the economy, the job market, the insecurity and instability that’s being sold to us as normal. It’s not normal.  It’s not ok. It’s chronic, life-force-sucking, soul-grinding stress.

6.) At the same time, I’m aware that I have a lot of privilege. I’m luckier, economically and otherwise, than a lot of people. I know that what seems like a new, harsh reality for middle-class people like me is nothing new to those who grew up poor and working class.  I know that having shitty options is nothing new to people who never expected anything better. I know that even when the economy was “good,” a lot of people were hurting.

7.) I want that to change. There is so much promising work being done to work toward a better and fairer society (and oh yeah, to ward off planetary destruction).  I wish I had the energy to plug into it.  I wish that there were jobs that addressed all the work that needs doing. Hell, I wish there were jobs.

8.) I’m tired.

Quote of the day: on unemployment and work

“If you’re unemployed, it’s not because there isn’t any work.

Just look around: A housing shortage, crime, pollution; we need better schools and parks. Whatever our needs, they all require work. And as long as we have unsatisfied needs, there’s work to be done.

So ask yourself, what kind of world has work but no jobs? It’s a world where work is not related to satisfying our needs, a world where work is only related to satisfying the profit needs of business.

This country was not built by the huge corporations or government bureaucracies. It was built by people who work. And, it is working people who should control the work to be done. Yet, as long as employment is tied to somebody else’s profits, the work won’t get done.”

This poster from the New American Movement (which existed from 1971-1982, so that gives you a sense of how old this quote is…and how very relevant it still is today!)

On life and dreams: a ramble

I aspire to be glamorous like Kat Williams and La Carmina: to wear vintage dresses and get paid to travel the world. To make magazines. To go on adventures with kindred fa(t)shion spirits in party dresses, petticoats, and pink hair.

I aspire to inspire other fat girls and women like Tess Munster. To create badass images of fat beauty. To show them they, too, can be beautiful.

I aspire to walk in the woods, full of wonder, like Mary Oliver. To live by the ocean, to wander the tidal flats, to dive deep into the blue mystery that is life.

I aspire to tell my truths, like Cheryl Strayed. To crack hearts open in the best way. To write with both brutality and kindness.

I am still struggling to integrate these visions, these dreams, the many different ways I see myself. Continue reading