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cutselvage

Dossier

Website
http://www.cutselvage.com
Twitter
http://www.twitter.com/cutselvage
Role Models
Please note that while my archived posts remain, I primarily blog at my own website http://www.cutselvage.com I have too many role models to list completely, but a few are: all my fabulous co-bloggers <3 Marianne Kirby of The Rotund and Lesley Kinzel of Two Whole Cakes. Dr Samantha Thomas of The Discourse. Beth Ditto. Every fabulous fattie I interact with on Twitter and tumblr.
Distinguishing Characteristics
My hair, which is bleached blonde, often in a beehive and full of secrets.
Fashion Style
Falling somewhere between a 1990s opshop reject and mish-mash of current trends.

Posts by cutselvage:

Change and growth

I received an email request through the contact form that Nick forwarded to me today, and it made me realise that while I haven’t abandoned my beliefs in body acceptance, I’ve found that there’s so much more I want to talk about than just FA. Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Tumblr would probably know that I’ve started my own blog, Cutselvage.com recently. I’m really enjoying the freedom to talk more generally about my life and how that interacts with my body acceptance.

Axis of Fat was a great platform for me, but I’ve grown and changed since it was created, so it’s only fair to myself to let it go, and utilise my new blogging space. I’ll be leaving all my old posts up, and I’ll probably cross-post a few of them over at the new blog progressively.

It’s been a pleasure interacting with all the commenters here, and I hope I’ll see lots of you at Cutselvage.com


Ethical Fatshion: A Mythical Unicorn?

Yesterday I caught up with Sonya and her mother to do some shopping at the Boxing Day sales at the massive Chermside shopping centre. To put this in perspective, according to the centre’s website, there are 69 stores that cater to women’s fashion. Of these, there are three dedicated plus-size stores – Autograph, City Chic and MySize. Of these, City Chic is the only one that is geared towards a younger demographic. There are some others that cater up to a size 18 or 20, but generally speaking, most stop at 16 (or a 14).

Standing outside the door at 8:45am, waiting with a crowd of other plus-sized women, I began to feel irritated. The Courier-Mail online covered the sales, and City Chic actually got a name-drop, with the author noting that there were 30-40 shoppers waiting outside. My irritation stemmed from the fact that here we were, people lining up to get some nice clothes at a decent price, and yet retailers continue to insist that fat people don’t spend money, aren’t fashionable, ad infinitum.

(I bought a dress and a top, by the by).

But today, while talking to a few other like-minded fat people about store policies and supporting businesses with practices we agree with, I began to wonder: do stores that produce ethical clothing for fat people even exist? It is so damn difficult just to dress in the styles that I like, it seems like ethically produced plus-sized clothing must be like a frickin’ mythical unicorn.

I know that ethical fashion can have a wide range of meanings, from non-sweatshop produced garments, to retailers that treat their staff with fairness and follow the law, to just not treating their customers like fools, and who are pro-body acceptance. I can’t think of any Australia-based ones that I’m aware of.

When I think about what I’d like to see, it’s mostly to do with the third point. I simply adore Re/Dress NYC for this reason – they are explicitly pro-acceptance, in all forms. And since they stock mostly used and vintage clothes, I could shop there with a clear conscience. Sadly, being on the other side of the world from them makes it a bit difficult to get there regularly.

I’d love to see more retailers that engage with body acceptance. I’d love to see the moderators of the City Chic and Evans facebook pages delete shaming and negative comments, for example. (There were some simply horrible comments on a photo that Gazel of Bonjour Gazel entered in an Evans comp that were incredibly hateful).

The holy grail, of course, would be a pro-body acceptance, non-sweatshop-based, fair-wage-paying retailer that provided on-trend and classic pieces for men, women and everyone in between in a wide variety of sizes. Hey, a girl can dream.

So tell me – what do you want to see from your retailers? What does ethical fashion mean to you? And do any plus-size ethical fashion retailers exist?


Fat Book Reviews: “No Fat Chicks” – Margaret Clark

It’s no secret to those who know me that I’m a voracious reader. I’m the child who got told off for trying to read at the dinner table, who was teased mercilessly in grade five for spending my lunch time reading, who carries a book with her everywhere she goes. I buy handbags based on whether or not they’re big enough to fit a book in or not.

Specifically, though, I adore Young Adult fiction – always have. And I have very fond memories of Australian teen writer Margaret Clark, so when I wandered into my local second-hand bookstore and spotted a copy of “No Fat Chicks” for $10AUD (this is cheap, fyi – books in Australia are very expensive), I thought it would be the perfect subject for a review.

No Fat Chicks (cover)

This is the blurb on the back:

“No fat chicks? When Mandy Miratoosi sees that bumper sticker on her brother Mark’s car, she’s ready to pluck his cocksure tail feathers once and for all. Mandy’s a big girl, and Mark’s mates need to know that lean is not always dream material. Featherweights and bantamweights beware. Mandy is out to show that big chicks can be winners!”

Clark’s writing style is simple, fresh and engaging, and while this book isn’t perfect, it’s about as close as I’ve read to a pro-fat acceptance message in Young Adult Australian fiction.

The premise is straightforward: Mandy Miratoosi is fifteen, an ace at maths, and a big girl. Her mother died when she was three, and her father remarried, his new wife bringing three kids from her previous marriage into the family. Bennet is quiet, friendly and sweet, studying second year Arts/Law at university. Markerton, Mark for short, is seventeen, conventionally very attractive and, frankly, a fuckwit of the highest order who makes Mandy’s life hell. Then there’s seven-year Babeth, a gorgeous child model and pageant attendee, seemingly at the behest of their mother. The story revolves around Mandy coming to grips with her intelligence and her size with charm and humour.

Mandy refers to her stepmother as ‘mum’ and her stepbrothers and stepsister as brothers and sisters, and clearly has a lot of affection and love for Pandora (mum), Bennet and Babeth, and even Mark, despite the way he constantly torments her.

In chapter one, Mandy wakes up to find her brother Mark has plastered a “No Fat Chicks” bumper sticker to her mirror, and shortly afterwards discovers she’s topped the state in the Maths Competition, and the action snowballs from there.

Let’s talk about the positives. This book shows real depth and nuance in articulating fat acceptance for teens, particularly in the way it intersects with feminism, and Mandy is remarkably self-aware. When Mark insults her for eating a croissant, Mandy knows it’s pointless to argue with him (p6). And on page 7, she thinks:

I was over it with all the references to my shape. It wouldn’t matter how little I ate. I’d still be big large with big bones. Maybe covered with a bit less fat, but still big.

Mandy tries to rip the sticker from her mirror, but only manages to tear of the ‘N’ of ‘No’. So she grabs a texta and scrawls a ‘G’ next to, creating the slogan ‘Go Fat Chicks!’.

I’ll resist the urge to go through the plot chapter by chapter, so here’s some choice quotes:

We had netball practice at the civic centre which is in a large park only a short walk from Newberry [High School]. Both Krys [Mandy's friend] and I play for the Dodgers, nicknamed the Podgers by Mark because there’s five fairly hefty girls on the team including our friend Lexie. But we’re running second on the summer premiership ladder, so maybe strength and stamina count.

I love this – it’s so matter-of-fact: of course these girls play sport, they’re active! For those who haven’t heard of netball, there’s a summary here. I played it for about eight years, and let me tell you, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Mandy’s friend Lexie, who’s mentioned here, is also a fantastic amateur car mechanic, and this is used to great comic effect later in the book.

When the girls at Newberry High discover that the NFCC (No Fat Chicks Club) have plastered No Fat Chicks stickers all over their lockers, Mandy steps in amidst the bickering:

“There’s only one to deal with this,” I said. “We have to form our own vigilante group and get our own stickers to plaster over theirs. This is war.

[…]

“It’s action time. Pass this message,” said Roxy. “All females a size 14 and over are to meet in the Girl’s Common Room at lunch time.” (p76)

We get a little dose of how fat is a feminist issue, too, when the girls discuss how their English teacher and one of their male classmates are fat and don’t have the same campaign against them. In fact, scrawled beneath the sticker on Mandy’s locker are the words “If you can’t root ‘em, shoot ‘em”. (‘Root’ is Aussie slang for ‘fuck’ in the sexual sense). This is incredibly frightening. Advocating murdering fat women simply for the heinous crime of not being fuckable. So, so disturbing.

This meeting is one of the greatest things I’ve read depicting fat acceptance, or even any form of social justice.

At lunchtime Lexie, Krys and I hurried over to the Girl’s Common Room. It was crowded. I hadn’t realised there were so many size fourteens and over in our school. And of course a whole lot of them hadn’t come: either too embarrassed to say that they were size fourteen, or not into attending radical meetings. There were also a few thin girls in the crowd. That was okay if they wanted to listen in. (p80)

Straight away, Clark makes it clear that this is about the fat girls, but that they’re inclusive as well. It’s like holding up a little mirror for what I hope thin women see in FA – a movement that includes them, but asks them to check their privilege at the door.

There’s discussion about how ‘No Small Dicks’ would be a good comeback, and here Clark surprises me again:

“We know it’s sexist and rude and thoughtless for guys to have a No Fat Chicks club and stick labels all over the place. It’s a put-down. Now, we could do the same: say we don’t want small dicks, or thick ones, or whatever. But then we’re stooping to their level of mentality.” (p81)

I’m thrilled to see the sexism connection, and we get a great moment where the meeting disintegrates into shouting, but Mandy takes charge. Much discussion occurs over whether men should be allowed to join their club, or thin women, what sort of slogans to have, how they’ll pursue their agenda, but the main thrust is that it’s collaborative, and that these high school girls have serious agency. I approve.

This may be my favourite quote of the novel (sorry about the length, it works better in context):

“What’s all this crap I hear about you starting an all girls’ fat club?” asked Mark at the dinner table that night.

“That’s a good idea,” said Mum. “Healthy eating and exercise. I’m proud of you, Mandy. I can get some of my modelling friends to come along and give your club some tips on how to minimise your size by wearing the correct colour combinations and give you some make-up lessons if you like.”

“Mum, it’s not that kind of club,” I said. “We’re promoting the right of women to be large.” (p86)

This is AMAZING. No ifs, no buts – the right of women to be large. Not only does Mandy stand up to her mother, but is incredibly matter-of-fact about it. Love love love.

In the middle, Mandy has a discussion with her horrid brother Mark about why he does these things, and it’s a fantastically, frighteningly accurate portrayal of the way increasing numbers of men view women – as hilarious playthings for their amusement:

“It’s just a bit of harmless fun. You girls get all wound up. That’s why we do it.”

I sighed.

“Why do you want to wind us up?”

“I told you. It’s fun watching you all spin out. It was fun watching Krys try to impress me. [...] It’s fun driving down the road with ‘No Fat Chicks’ written on a bumper sticker. Nothing bad or evil. F-U-N.”

“So you’re causing all this aggro and grief to people because it’s fun,” I said. “You’re stucking offensive signs on lockers at school because it’s fun [..].”

Terrifyingly on point. Clark illustrates perfectly how thoughtless these tormentors can be.

The book isn’t perfect – there’s talk about how Mandy wears a black dress because it’s ‘slimming’, references to women as ‘females’ and a couple of other things that set my radar off, but these are minor issues in the scheme of the overall themes of the book.

There’s so much more to this novel than I can give justice to in a blog post, so I really encourage you to seek a copy out if you can. It’s an easy 200-page read, and given its shortness, deals with the issues of being smart, the beauty culture and being fat in a remarkably nuanced way. It may be difficult to procure for international readers, but Australians will have a good chance of finding it in a library or second-hand bookstore.

One last quote to end with, after Mandy wins a waterslide competition at Wet’N'Wild:

“On behalf of all large females I will use this victory in my campaign to fight against the ‘No Fat Chicks’ mentality,” I shouted into the microphone.

If that isn’t activism, I don’t know what is. Love ya, Mandy.

No Fat Chicks by Margaret Clark

Published by Random House Australia, 1998


T-Shirt Activism

Yesterday I caught up with a good friend to tour some of the buildings that were opened to the public for the inaugural Brisbane Open House. Since we would be doing quite a bit of walking, I built my outfit from the shoes (purple Converse hi-tops) up.

Flicking through my tops, I pulled out my “I’M FAT LET’S PARTY” t-shirt.

Sorry for the poor webcam quality, my camera's borked.

I looked at it thoughtfully. Bright, fire engine red, with huge white block letters emblazoned across my chest. Since I bought it about six months ago, I’ve only been brave enough to wear it down to the shops, and to the movies under a buttoned cardigan. I’ve been afraid that people might heckle me, might yell nasty things at me, or just give me that look, that “What is she thinking?” look. I’m still on my fat acceptance journey, and wearing something that might invite such comments seemed to me to be tempting fate a little bit.

That was six months ago, though. I’ve come a long way since then!

Wearing a t-shirt like this when you’re thin (and it is available in sizes from an S) is no doubt amusing for the wearer – “Haha, oh I’m SOOO FUNNY, this is IRONY YOU GUYS”. Wearing it when you’re actually fat, I think, becomes almost a little activism. T-shirt activism.

So I put it on, with a flippy grey skirt and my purple Converse, and an open grey cardigan. It felt really good. Yes, I’m fat, what are you gonna do about it? I felt almost like I was subversively calling people out as they slowed to read what that fat girl was wearing written across her chest.

I met my friend, who grinned at me, and told me that she loved my shirt. The barista who took our coffee order squinted at my chest, and asked what it said; she smiled broadly and told me “That’s awesome!”. When I went to pick up the maxi dress I’d left at the alteration shop to be hemmed, the woman serving me said my shirt was great too.

I’m sure there were plenty of people who read my shirt and thought to themselves that I was revelling in my gluttony, or giggled to their friends about the shameless fat girl, or gave me the side-eye. But that doesn’t matter to me. Because I’m sure that there were people who smiled, or thought to themselves that their fat friends were wonderful no matter their size, or that maybe not all fat people were lazy, stinky and stupid. I count that as a win for fat acceptance.

Would you wear something proclaiming your size acceptance beliefs in public? Tell me what you think!


City Chic rips off Jibri

You know, when a plus-size brand makes copies of runway fashion, or designers that only go up to a size 14, I’m pretty sanguine about it. It’s not the best situation, but if regular retailers aren’t going to make clothes in a wide variety of sizes, then more power to the plus-size stores for making fashion available to fat people.

What I don’t condone is a plus size chain store ripping off a smaller, independent plus size designer.

Kiki of Why, Kiki, Why? broke the story here, but I felt I had to chime in.

City Chic, who are one of Australia’s few plus-size fashion chains, have blatantly and unapologetically ripped off Jibri, an independent plus-size retailer who sells through etsy.

Here is City Chic’s Bumba top, a part of their current Spanish Rose Collection:

And here is Jibri’s Plus Size Ruffle Front Halter:

Eerily similar, don’t you think?

I contacted City Chic via their contact form to complain – I know that technically designers can’t copyright their products, but I was (and am) so angry that I wasn’t thinking super-clearly:

I am frankly appalled to discover that City Chic has blatantly lifted a design from a small, independent plus-size manufacturer. Your Button Bumba top is an obvious rip off of Jibri’s plus size ruffle front halter (http://www.etsy.com/listing/50369223/jibri-plus-size-ruffle-front-halter). I will not shop at stores that participate in the theft of small designers’ intellectual property.

Kind regards, Zoe (www.axisoffat.com)

I didn’t hold high hopes of getting a particularly interested response, and I was right:

Hello,

Thank you for contacting City Chic customer care. Your concerns have been sent through to our buying and supply team and they will look into this further.

Kind Regards,

Jasmine

While I’m heartened that they might actually forward this on to their buying and design team, the official response from City Chic’s facebook page doesn’t fill me with hope:

City Chic Hi Jen,

Yeah, as Sarah said, all designs are copied… Our buying team set out to different locations around the world, and check out what’s happening in the fashion world with trends, and upcoming must-have-items… It’s not about stealing credit from other designers, it’s here for you to have, not only for plus sized ladies to wear, but at a fraction of the price!!!!

Hope this answered your question!

♥ CC, x

It’s this comment that makes me want to facepalm so badly. Because here’s the deal: Jibri charges $90.00 for a custom-made garment. City Chic? $79.95. For mass-produced garment. Which, if you were buying internationally (and City Chic does seem to be trying to crack the international market), would actually be more than Jibri’s price, thanks to the cost of international shipping and the strong Australian dollar.

The comment about “credit from other designers” leaves a nasty taste in my mouth, given that there was no credit whatsoever given to Jasmine, the designer of Jibri.

City Chic might think it’s appropriate to copy from small, independent, plus-size designers, but I don’t. And that’s why I won’t be shopping there from now on. If you value supporting small businesses, up-and-coming designers and high-quality, well-priced fashion, I highly encourage you to vote with your wallet and take your business elsewhere.

Remember; despite what City Chic wants you to believe, there are other options out there. If you want to support Australian businesses, why not try Entitled, or Dream Diva?

As Kiki and Derryn would say: Shame, City Chic, shame.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/jibrionlineJi

Why can’t a short fat women wear a trapeze dress, anyway?

A lot of fat bloggers have covered this topic, including the fabulous Axis blogger Definatalie (Rejecting the notion of the flattering outfit), but I’ve been thinking about this a bit recently.

OneStopPlus.com, a US-based plus-size clothing website (that doesn’t ship to Australia, sigh), recently held a runway show as part of New York Fashion Week. This is a pretty big deal, as it’s the first plus-size fashion show to be featured at arguably the most important event in a fashionista’s calendar.

I got my coverage from Jezebel, which I skim over every couple of days to see if there’s any articles of interest.

The clothes generally didn’t do much for me, and judging by the comments, most Jezebel readers felt the same way – although perhaps not necessarily for the same reason. The most common thread of the discussion seemed to talk about how everything was very muumuu-esque, and “unflattering”. Apparently all fat women ever should wear tight, fitted, tailored garments that show off one’s curves (but only the socially sanctioned curves – no one wants to see the curve of my belly, I expect). And short women especially are not allowed to wear flowing, drapey silhouettes, because they’ll overwhelm, and make them look like they’re wearing curtains, apparently.

I don’t wear fitted, tailored garments too often (clothes with a reasonable amount of spandex or elastane notwithstanding). You know why? Because it’s uncomfortable. Waistbands dig in, things ride up or down over my stomach, my arms are constricted. As much I want push the envelope with what’s fashionable in my outfits, I also want to be comfortable. And when my waist expands by several inches when I sit down because of my apple-shape, it’s not a good idea to have wide waist belt cinching my curves into something more acceptable.

Everyone rails against trapeze tops and dresses, because they’re so unflattering (and boy, do I hate that word). I have big breasts, and yes, wearing a trapeze dress creates a boob shelf, yes, it can create the illusion of being bigger than I actually am, but who cares? They’re fun, they’re comfortable, and I think I look good in them – one might say that I make it work, as it were. I’m short and busty, and I love flowing, drapey clothes. I love layers, and weird hemlines. I love things that are challenging. One of my favourite dresses is a dolman-sleeved sack from Asos.com that’s a blue chintzy print that looks like something you might find on a sofa. I do have and wear clothes that make me look thinner, or more hourglassy, or that highlight my breasts – clothes that are “appropriate” for fat women. But that isn’t my priority when I get dressed in the morning. I don’t want to look appropriate. I wear clothes that challenge people. I want more retailers to make clothes for fat people that are interesting, that challenge what’s conventionally “flattering” for fat women, that are subversive.

I didn’t really like the OneStopPlus.com collection that was shown at NYFW, because it was safe.

It involved colours that I generally don’t like, lots of tight waist belts which I find horrifically uncomfortable, and not enough dresses. It had capri pants. The silhouettes weren’t interesting. It looked like the clothes I could find in Autograph or Myer in Australia, or perhaps Avenue or Lane Bryant in the US.

It also didn’t seem terribly cohesive – there were no unifying elements, it just seemed like a show of “here are some fatty clothes, now walk down that runway!”. Part of the problem was no doubt to do with the fact that this wasn’t the creative vision of a particular designer, putting out a collection. If you’re going to show at Fashion Week, show me fashion. Show me an edited, tight, cohesive collection with a distinctive vision. Show me clothes that challenge, that break out of the plus-size stereotypes.

It’s obvious that OneStopPlus.com can’t be everything to everyone; it can’t be a catalogue retailer as well as a serious contender in NYFW. What’s the solution? I don’t know. In an ideal world, fashion would be for everyone, and designers would make their clothes available in wide variety of sizes. The trends would filter down to stores that stocked garments in sizes 0-44W, and everyone would opt in or out of fashion as they so pleased. People wouldn’t mock others for those clothes they wear, and gossip rags that make a lot of mileage of fashion dos and don’ts would go out of business.

Hey, a girl can dream.

But until the fat hate stops, and the serious cachet that being thin (and white, and wealthy, and all the other myriad privileges associated with having access to high fashion) carries is removed, I don’t think much will change.

In the meantime, I’ll keep buying straight-size stuff and making it work, wearing trapeze dresses and flowing layers, and being happy while doing it.


Calling it out: casual anti-fat bigotry sucks.

I’ve been away from the fat-o-sphere for a few months – I’ve still been reading, but I haven’t been blogging, or being terribly activist-y at all. But I’m back now, and I hope be blogging regularly for you all at AoF!

It’s been an interesting time for me – lots of changes and decisions, lots of stress. But lots of good times too, especially with my friends.

I do everything I can to make my life a safe space. I cultivate friendships (both online and off) with people who hold similar beliefs to my own, who are anti-bigotry in all its insidious forms. I try to call people in my life out on their problematic usage of language and stereotypes. It’s not always easy.

About six weeks ago I started a new job in a state government department. The people I work with are universally lovely – helpful and friendly, and very welcoming to new staff members. I was having a bit of a chat with my co-worker and another girl who works with our department but on another floor one afternoon, when the conversation segued into a discussion about public transportation, and its limitations.

Now, I’m a huge (heh) advocate of public transport. I’m 24 years old, and don’t have a driver’s licence – not even a learner’s permit. At some point I will do it, but it’s fairly low on my list of priorities; I live very close a major busway stop, in an inner-city suburb. Technically I’m within reasonable walking distance of my workplace, though I catch the bus most mornings. I’m also only a fifteen minute walk from a train station.

So, I love public transport. We talked a little bit about the issues with it – rising fare costs and the like – when one of the girls leaned forward conspiratorially and said (paraphrased slightly): “You what I hate though? When I’m sitting down, and an obese – you know, morbidly obese – person gets on and I’ve got a free seat next to me.”

I raised my eyebrows. “What’s the problem?” I asked.

She looked a little flustered. “Well, you know, if they sit next to me, they’re going to touch me. I hate that!”

I remember resisting the urge to tear strips off her, and said mildly, “Well, R___, I’m morbidly obese, so I hope it wouldn’t offend you if I sat next to you.”

I nearly gave up on the conversation when she responded with, “Oh, but you’re not like that – I mean people that literally hang over the edge of the seat.”

“It’s fortunate that you aren’t actually paying for a seat on a bus, then – we pay to get from point A to point B, there’s no guarantee it’ll be comfortable,” I said, and went back to my desk, gritting my teeth.

The seats on Brisbane buses aren’t large. I carry most of my weight in my belly, so my hips aren’t super wide, but I do hang over the edge of the seat a little. I’m a size 22. How could I not? Seating is not made to accommodate fat people. It’s this kind of casual bigotry – ew yuck I don’t want fatties touching me – that makes me incredibly annoyed, and I try to speak up against it whenever I can.

Interestingly, there haven’t been any negative repercussions. I still get on well with this co-worker, we chat about mundane stuff, our work and the like. But she hasn’t brought up the subject again. I doubt I’ve converted her – we all know how difficult an idea size/fat acceptance is in our thin-privileged culture – but if I can sow the seeds, start the thought process towards someone beginning not to hate themselves and other fat people, then it’s a conversation that’s well worth having.

I went to Sydney for a few days in July. I’ve not had trouble with airline seats so far – they’re occasionally a tight fit, but I can get my seatbelt done up without an extender. No trouble this time either, though the seatbelt on the return trip seemed shorter, and no one was rude to me when they sat down next to me either.

But I’m flying to New York City (OMG OMG) in early November, and I’m a little nervous about that. It’ll be the longest flight I’ve ever done (13 hours BNE-LAX, and 5 hours LAX-NYC, the same coming back) – the closest I’ve done to that is the nine hour flight to Japan. Hopefully QANTAS’ seats will be comfortable; I’ve never flown with them before so it will certainly be an experience.

I’m ridiculously excited about this trip, NYC has been a dream destination for me for years. Any suggestions on things to do? I’m going to go see lots of shows, and of course I’ll be hitting up Re/Dress – can’t wait to finally see it for real!

Bonus photo: It was the lovely Sonya’s birthday party last night, and being very mature women, we decided that a riff on this meme would be hilarious:

FALSE ALARM

WE'RE POOPIN

HURRRGGHHHHH

We totally challenged the dominant paradigm. Also we are fancy! Sonya is wearing an Asos dress, I am wearing a Monroe (Myer) dress, and we are wearing the same black oxfords from Betts. In fact, we bought them at the same time! Fatty shopping bonding. <3


Activist Fatigue.

So things have been pretty quiet around the Axis of late. I speak only for myself, not the other members, when I say that I am exhausted.

The constant barrage of negative messages, encouragement of self-hate, fat hatred, body hatred, you name it – it is so hard to keep one’s head above water when fighting this kind of thing. And I’m tired. I have recently changed jobs, and will probably be changing again soon. I’ve moved house. I’ve been supported my sister during the split from her partner (which involves children and domestic violence, amongst other things). I am worn out, and there is only so much headspace I can devote to fighting the good fight without drowning in the negativity.

I find myself thinking diet-y thoughts. Self-hating thoughts directed at my body, chastising it, maligning it. And I don’t like it. It’s an uphill battle that never gets easier, but I’m trying.

So I’m taking care of myself. I’m buying pretty clothes. I’m looking for new ways to exercise and to enjoy that exercise. I’m eating good food that I have the luxury to able to afford. I’m reading books. I’m studying Japanese. I’m playing videogames.

I’m giving myself permission to take a break. And if the world is getting you down, or your activism is becoming too draining? You should too. Rest, recharge, and come back to it. Rest assured, it doesn’t look like fat hatred is going to disappear while you’re gone.


Now Get Excited And Make Things: Sewing fat?

It has been awhile, but I’m finally back!  Actually, I have not really been away – just insanely busy at work and busy socially and, well, a wee bit lazy.  OMG FAT STEREOTYPE.

Anyway!  My wonderful parents asked me earlier in the year what I’d like for Christmas, and I replied, “A sewing machine!”

I have fond memories of being poked and prodded with pins and measuring tapes for most my childhood.  My mother is an excellent seamstress, and the bulk of my clothes except for my socks, school uniforms, and some special occasion gear, were made for me until I was about eight or so.  My mother made my senior formal outfit (that’s prom, for the non-Australians), medieval costumes when I was at university, the works.

Now, I wanted to be able to alter my own clothes, and begin making my own too.  First I learned how to do the basics – thread the machine, fill a bobbin, and sew straight and zigzag stitches.  Although I’ve never sewn before, I’ve spent years around my mother and her machine, so it wasn’t too hard.  So I asked my mum to help me make a breezy summer top.  This is what we did:

Made a rough mock-up using one of my tank-tops and an old bedsheet, fitted the mock up, made a pattern out of newspaper, and cut the pieces – one centre back and two centre front pieces. After putting those together at the shoulder seam and sewing the darts, we decided that it needed facings, so cut out armhole and neckline facings, ironed on interfacing paper and added that. Then mum got the bright idea that we should understitch the facings.

It pulls a little oddly on the left shoulder, but given that we drafted the pattern mostly from scratch, I wasn’t expecting a perfect fit.  I’m slip-stitching all the facings down at the moment (neck done, one and a half armholes to go!), but other than that it’s finished

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Apologies for the cruddy webcam headless fatty shots, but my camera was not playing nice this evening with the self-timer for some reason.  Also it is wrinkled, because I had it crushed in my lap while I sewed the facings down and watched The West Wing (which is an awesome show for sewing to, by the by).

I feel inordinately proud myself, and really inspired!  However, it’s clear that I need a lot more general sewing experience before I get to the stage that I want to be, which is to be able to draft my own patterns from scratch.  Going by measurements, I am right at the top of the plus-size spectrum in commercial patterns, and I want to have the skill to make what I want, when I want it!

I got rather excited when I saw these two patterns from Simplicity, as I can fit (just) the 28W, and I absolutely adore 1940s vintage stylin’!  I was disappointed to discover that these seemed to be limited to the US as well, though!  Isn’t that just awesome – not only is the range of ready-to-wear clothing in Australia shitty, but patterns are equally difficult to find. :/  I’m in love with some of the Burda patterns I’ve found too, but of course their online store doesn’t ship to Australia.  I know Burda is commercially available here; I just hope there’s a similarly awesome plus pattern availability.

There’s a happy ending though – I found both Simplicity patterns on eBay from a seller who ships worldwide, AND it was cheaper!  I can’t wait to try them out, though I’ll probably start with the skirt, as it looks the least difficult.  My goal is to channel Katharine Hepburn and make a fabulous pair of high-waisted, wide-legged pants.  First step is to buy some calico or muslin, as I’m far from proportionate, so there’ll be adjustments, no doubt.

So tell me!  Do you sew?  What are some of your favourite patterns, tips and tricks?  What do you find most difficult when adjusting for fatness?

 

(BONUS PHOTO:  I had my hair dyed blonde at the beginning of December.  EXCITING!  I won’t apologise for this being a webcam shot, it’s from my dailybooth stream)

 

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It’s never easy, and it never goes away.

Possibly triggering – some diet/weight-loss talk.

 

I don’t own scales.

I haven’t done so for a long time now.  There were a pair in the laundry in the house I lived in in Japan, but they didn’t work properly.  In my current house, there are some in the downstairs bathroom, but I live upstairs.

So I haven’t weighed myself, in, oh, at least six months.  Because it triggers me.  I slip back into self-loathing, disordered eating thoughts.

Last night I was at a friends house drinking cheap wine and watching silly movies.  I went to the bathroom, and there’s a pair of scales.

And I stupidly weighed myself.  I’ve gained approximately ten kilos since leaving Japan.  And straightaway my mind went to “If you just go on that shake diet again, you’ll drop ten kilos in two months!  Then you’ll be back to normal!”  And somehow that thought seemed okay, because if I lost ten kilos, I’d still be deathfat.

Not gonna lie, the temptation was overwhelming.

I’m still learning how to be a size acceptance activist, and it’s constant struggle to fight against those ingrained thought patterns.  Even as I type this, there’s a little voice in the back of my mind reminding how easy it was diet when I last worked in an office.  And there’s an underlying fear that no matter how much I do or don’t diet, I’m just going to keep gaining weight.

I know, objectively, that diets don’t work.  I went on my first diet at 79 kilograms just on ten years ago, and I now weigh 114 kilos.  Throughout that time, I’ve dieted, restricted, binged, and purged.

It doesn’t work.  I know this.

Every day is a struggle.  So every day I read Notes From The Fatosphere, every day I read Fatshionista, and every day I try and surrond myself with people who love me for who I am, and who are as passionate about acceptance as I am.


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