Posts Tagged ‘fat’

“Stop empowering fat people.” Wait, WHAT?

 

Seriously, that is the title of the op-ed piece that’s been spewed across the front page Australia’s biggest news website, news.com.au, and printed in the Herald Sun.

 

Now, I’m kind of pissed off, so this blog isn’t going to be all tra-la-la citing studies and the like.

 

It’s a visceral fucking reaction to the idea that fat people are empowered. Um, NO. In fact, I would go so far as to say EPIC NAH. Because we aren’t empowered. We’re fucking marginalised.

 

Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?

 

First, some standard skinny-bashing:

 

Indeed, this month’s Fashion Week In Melbourne abandoned the usual stick insects for some models who were size 14-18

 

Can’t have thin women feeling good about themselves, nope.

 

Let’s be honest.

 

Oh, this ought to be good.

While these women might make us feel better about our bulging butts and guts, the truth is, few women over a size 14 are in a healthy weight range.

 

So feeling good about yourself is unhealthy? I’m just going to time out for a second here, and point out that your mental health is so important, and so often pushed aside in favour of the more visible physical health. Healthy self-esteem is incredibly good for you.

 

As for the horseshit about being over a size 14 and OMG OBESE, I shall direct you to Kate Harding’s BMI Project. See what underweight, normal, overweight and obese really look like. It might surprise you.

 

Most of the women on catwalks are freaks of nature and it is only right that the pendulum is swinging towards more achievable bodies.

 

So if you’re skinny, you’re a freak, but if you’re a size 14, you’re OMGOBESE?! Narrow standards of beauty indeed.

 

But there is a limit. I know it’s not fashionable to say this, but some of the women being embraced as positive role models and ambassadors for larger people are obese and should lose weight for health reasons.

 

Oh heehee, I know it’s not PC! UR SO EDGY BB.

 

Except, you’re not, because you’re espousing a view that is the norm. THE NORM.

 

And of course, it’s not because people are ew yuck gross fat. It’s just for their health. Of course. Because by looking at someone you totally can guess every aspect of all their health issues. Great! No more going to the doctor – just email them a photograph and they can diagnose you like that?

 

Also, hey, Susie O’Brien? You’re not an MD. SO SHUT UP. (Come on, if she was an MD, she’d have mentioned it. Just sayin’).

 

Okay I need to point something out here:

 

And, reflecting the expanding girth of many Australians, more and more retailers, such as Myer, Sportsgirl and even Ed Hardy, are jumping on the bandwagon, and offering larger sizes.

 

Sportsgirl goes to a SIZE SIXTEEN. That’s one size above the national average, and is considered a missy size. And last time I was in a Sportsgirl (admittedly a long time ago, because it’s overpriced Supre-esque cack, in my humble opinion), the size sixteens are not generous. At all.

 

Yes, larger teens deserve to be able to wear fashionable clothes, like everyone else. But the discourse of self-empowerment surrounding the move is stopping us asking why so many young people are size 16 or more in the first place.

 

No, it’s not. Fat teens can wear fat clothes while you pontificate about losing weight. It’s not an either/or situation, people.

 

And this is nearly making me cry: a discourse of self-empowerment.

 

Why, why, why do people want others to feel bad about themselves? How is it productive? How is it helpful? Whether it’s being fat, skinny, or any other trope, why is being different so offensive?

 

Sure, such moves reflect the reality of a rapidly growing population, but they also serve to normalise a size that is not healthy for most young people.

 

And back to the diagnosing entire swathes of people based on how they look.

Ooh, cognitive dissonance time:

 

In recent weeks the debate has been spurred on by the larger thighs and flabby tummy of 20-year-old model Lizzie Miller in Glamour magazine in the US.

Readers in the millions embraced the image of the gorgeous, naked young woman letting it all hang out for the cameras. But at 180cm and 76kg, she’s hardly plus-sized.

 

Okay, so she’s got large thighs, and heaven forbid, a flabby tummy.

 

But suddenly she’s not plus-sized? WELL GEE, WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT. Whose side are you on, anyway, Susie?

Losing weight is hard work. It takes sacrifice and effort. As a mother of three in my late 30s with a new gym membership, I know this first-hand.

 

The tiniest violin in the world, bb. And maybe an *emotear*. Seriously, you have post-pregnancy weight? Maybe it’s just because you gestated three new human beings inside you. That’s pretty awesome, and tends to change your body shape. Yeah.  And as for sacrifice – well, yeah, if you mean sacrificing your mental health, probably your physical health once you gain it back (because why would we have a diet industry if we could all lose weight and keep it off?), and hell, any interesting kind of food.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but food’s pretty awesome.

 

It’s much easier to accept the pro-fat manifesto than hit the treadmill.

 

Just, no. If it was easier to be pro-fat, we’d have taken over by now.

Let’s face it, Australians – like Americans – do not need any encouragement or permission from role models in the media to put on weight.

 

Thanks for fighting the good fight against positivity and healthy self-esteem in the media, Susie! Fortunately for you, size-acceptance is still a significant minority in terms of media coverage, so not to worry there. A nice underhanded anti-American slight too – very smooth.

 

Alarmingly, a new Australian study of more than 30,000 people shows obese and morbidly obese men are less depressed and less suicidal than those of a normal weight.

 

You know why Susie? You really want to know why? C’mere, I’ll tell you a secret.

 

 

 

FAT PEOPLE EAT. People who don’t eat or diet tend to (anecdotally, this is my experience) feel like absolute shit because they are hungry all the fucking time. It messes with you.

 

But it’s time to get real – fat people may be happier but they’re also digging their graves with a fork, and we’re all paying for it.

 

Well, you should be happier that we’re killing ourselves! Because then you’ll get to stop paying for us! (As stupid as that concept is, because we have semi-socialised healthcare here).

 

And we get to the crux of the article. Underneath all the ‘but it’s for your health’ hand-waving, Susie O’Brien just thinks fat people cost too much. And are ugly.

 

Look, if you don’t want to give us nice clothes to wear, that’s fine. Just get us a clause to go around naked.

 

Source: News.com.au (careful of the comments, they tend to represent the lowest common denominator.)


On Being Fat and Career Minded

I’m currently a public sector employee and I’ve been in the sector since 2002. Up until then I was either unemployed or working part time jobs like Chinese Food Delivery Driver or Franklins Checkout Chick. I was lucky to get a traineeship with the State Government and my career world has expanded from there. (Lucky I was a male – I seemed to fill a required quote!)

Seven and a bit years on, with only a three month foray as a temp in the private sector, I’ve done pretty well for myself. I don’t have a university degree, but I have a degree in “working your way up through the public sector.” My Year 12 (final year) high school Accounting has become very handy over the years, and I’ve gone from an Administration Officer, Procurement Officer, Senior Procurement Officer (titles are everything!), Assets Officer, Finance Officer and now Senior Finance Officer (there’s that title thing again!). At the moment I’m an Acting Team Leader. I think that’s pretty ace.

So now that I’ve given myself a massive ego trip, onto the point of my post. I feel like I’ve achieved a lot in my career. I worked hard and taken some knocks. It took five years to get myself a permanent position rather than hanging onto my career by a thread. Another two to get a permanent promotion. And yet I’ve been FAT all the while.

There is this idea that there is a glass ceiling that if you are fat you will never succeed in business. You never see fat men and women in movies or on TV running corporations or even being middle management. Usually the fat guy is the one middle management are picking on. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I have some tips to help you in order to success in your career while being fat and fancy.

  1. Always be fancy. By that I mean dress well, make sure you have well fitting clothes that suit your figure. Don’t show too much skin and dress according to the general feel of your working environment. A couple of days in any organisation will show you what is expected. (You could always ask – no one will bite!)
  2. Be confident in your abilities. You were hired because they thought you would be good at your job, so be good. Do your best and ask for help. Don’t get into the mindset that you have to work it all out on your own. Sure, show some initiative but you need to get stuff right.
  3. Don’t play the fat card. You know what I’m talking about, and I’ve done it plenty of time. This is where you are all talking in a social situation and you are talking about this and that. “Oh, I’ve never done that – but I can’t cause I’m too fat!” Perhaps be honest and say “It’s never really interested me” or whatever the truth is.  Also don’t do the fat jokes. Been there, and people aren’t laughing with you – they just feel sorry for you.
  4. Be yourself. You have to be there eight hours a day. If you want to have that chocolate bar, have the fecking chocolate bar. If you want to go for a walk at lunchtime, go for a walk. The only caveat here is that if you like to chat with your workmates a lot, don’t let it impact on your work. In fact, nothing should impact on your work.

Actually when I think about it, just about all that could be used for non fat people too. Just replace any reference to fat with skinny or normal or whatever defining word you want to use and it still makes sense.

So in conclusion, being fat doesn’t make you a poor employee, so don’t sabotage yourself, get in there and work hard. If you get knocked back for that promotion, ask why. Get feedback. Find out what things you need to improve on to get to the next level. They cannot deny you because you are fat, so don’t give them any other reason to say no.

I note reports that fat women have more issues in the workplace than fat men. This could be true but I’m not really in a position to comment myself. If you feel that this is the case, leave me some comments. If there is enough feedback perhaps I can form it into a future post presenting a female perspective on this topic.


Numbers don’t define you.

[img_assist|nid=84|title=MinkPink Tunic|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=300|height=400]

As a fat person, numbers have ruled me for a significant portion of my life.  The number on the scale, the number on my blood-pressure readings, the number of slices of cake I can eat… the list goes on.

The number that often has the most power, not just for fat women but for women of all sizes, though, is the number (or letter) on the tags of your clothing.

You are not going to die if you have to wear an XXL instead of an XL, or a 14 instead of a 12.

These little numbers can buoy us up to great heights, or pull us down into the deepest pits of despair – if you let them.  When I was in highschool and at the height of my food restriction, I managed to shoehorn myself into a pair of size 13 jeans.  It was possibly one of the greatest moments of my life.  Conversely, a year or two later when I went into Portmans and couldn’t zip up a size 16 skirt, I was devastated for over a week.

I am not defined by numbers – and neither are you.  Don’t be afraid to tell people what you weigh or what size you are (usually).  I’ll put my money where my mouth is: I weigh 106 kilograms, and wear Australian sizes 18-22 (usually – my closet has items from a 14 to a 22). 

See size tags for what they are: completely and utterly arbitrary.  In this photograph, I’m wearing one of my newest favourite tunics, by Sydney label MinkPink.  It’s a size 14.  I haven’t been a size 14 in many years, so don’t let tags deceive you.  Try things on – judge by how the garment looks, not the tag number.  Size up or down as the fit requires.  If you can’t, due to a narrow size range, let it go.  Don’t buy it and attempt to berate yourself into losing weight to wear it.  That never ends well.

Numbers are just that – numbers.  They are not a measure of your worth as a person. 

 

For the curious: tunic is by MinkPink via 360 Degrees in West End, size 14, tights are by We Love Colors and are a size C-D, shoes are by Miu Miu via Jean Brown and are a 40 1/2.  Guitar sneakily borrowed from my roommate.


Style Evolution

I have always been interested in fashion, but it wasn’t until the past few years that my interest came through in the clothing I wear. I used to think that I was too fat, or too ugly to care about fashion. This changed when I became fat positive, and started hanging around with other fat positive friends. I was influenced by them, people on the internet and people on the street, and I wanted to let my style blossom. I started small, wearing more skirts and flashing my legs. I then built up to bright lipsticks, headwear and tights. It garnered more attention, which at first felt weird to me, and I wanted to hide. Now, if I’m being totally honest, I kinda love it. Oh yeah, vanity. Anyway, here is my evolution:

[img_assist|nid=59|title=July 07|desc=|link=none|align=center|width=342|height=512][img_assist|nid=60|title=July 08|desc=|link=none|align=center|width=304|height=507] [img_assist|nid=61|title=July 09|desc=|link=none|align=center|width=336|height=448]

 


I’m fat without the ph, but you can determine my acidity baby.

Tiara linked me to a post on Agent Lover wherein the heroine of the piece thought she’d slap the wrist of a fellow blogger who included her pictures in a “Fat Love Friday” post without permission. Mars from Chicken Dinner Candybar apologised and offered to remove the photos, but this offer was not taken up. I’ll blog about this since Marie from Agent Lover thought it was fair enough to bring into the public sphere, and because I have a few important issues to raise. Like my fist, as I shake it into the sky.

Sort your shit out privately.

It’s not “brave” to have a whinge about this when you’ve already dealt with the author of the “offending” post. What’s your intention? Publically shaming Chicken Dinner Candybar by directing your readership over there isn’t very mature. Your large readership could now very well have a negative bias towards the “offending” blogger and a strengthened bias against the notion of fatness. That shit is for Livejournal, dear Maude!

That isn’t the way to spread body acceptance.

I’m not sure body acceptance even registers as an issue for Agent Lover, because she admits that “fat” is a negative word. The fat-o-sphere has been around the internet for a few years, plus yannow, we’re fat so we’re super visible! As a blogger, Marie must have some powerful blinders on. The fat-o-sphere doesn’t just encompass fat people either – there’s a range of body types blogging about the topic and these authors self identify as “fat allies”, “inbetweenies”, “deathfatties” and other titles using fat with and without the ph.

Fat isn’t a pejorative to a lot of people.

“No matter how many times anyone tries to empower the word, the word fat ain’t going to be thought of as positive unless it’s spelled with a PH, ok?”

I guess I missed that memo. A lot of us did. The tricky thing about saying “never” is that one day you’re going to have to eat your hat. Chicken Dinner Candybar obviously considers fat to be a positive word, she blogs about it at least every Friday! The thing Marie forgot to take into consideration was context. If my pictures were posted all over a site that obviously talked disparagingly about fat, I would not only email them but spread my wrath throughout the bloggerverse. That’s not what happened here. While Marie has every right to be upset, she does not have the right to decree that other people can’t ever empower fatness.

Personally, I hate it when people use euphemisms for fat. Fluffy, BBW, curvaceous – they all make me cringe. I’m fat, I’m empowered and I’m doing pretty well, thanks very much!

You put your picture on the internet.

You have very little control over where it goes from there, or what people associate with your body. In this case it well-intentioned but poorly received. It could have been way worse. I post my photos on FUCKYEAHDEATHFATTIES and I’ve seen some very nasty comments as people reblog my photos. But you know what? I suck it up, because I know I’m fucking fancy!

You don’t just see a fat person’s style, you see their body too.

Don’t negate it, and don’t pretend it doesn’t exist. If style was the most visible thing about people, many of us would be walking down catwalks. The truth is that body shape is a HUGE FACTOR and denying that it’s a political battlefield is tantamount to plugging your head in the sand and showing everyone your pantaloons.

Whether one self identifies as fat or not, one does not have the right to declare unilaterally that fat is a negative word for absolutely every body. We’ve been conditioned to accept certain words (and indeed body types!) as positive or negative, and it’s really important to understand that human thoughts and prejudices aren’t set in stone. We can gradually accept a notion that challenges our conditioning by being open and asking questions and participating – not by digging into the ground, crying offense and refusing to grow.


There’s a learning curve to fanciness!

You know, for a long time I was very disdainful of fashion.  Looking back, it was probably a combination of resentment that I couldn’t fit into clothes that were fashionable, and a sense that I was a nerdy girl and thus ‘not allowed’ to be fashionable.

To which I now say: BULLSHIT.  Anyone can be fancy, in their own way.  It’s just a matter of finding your style.

[img_assist|nid=41|title=|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=79|height=100]I posted my first Ootfit of the Day (OotD) on the Fatshionista Livejournal community around January 2008 (I can’t find the exact date).  Not much, is it?  It was the middle of winter, and my body was still learning to cope with a Japanese winter.  I’m wearing a tomato red turtleneck from Japanese store Uniqlo, and old cream turtleneck from Ezibuy (an Australian catalogue shop), a black top from Uniqlo (which I still have and love), a pair of jeans from a Japanese plus-size store, and socks.  No accessories, no shoes, taken in a dirty mirror – the only thing going for it really is my awesome haircut.[img_assist|nid=42|title=|desc=|link=popup|align=right|width=49|height=101]

It’s interesting that some things here have stayed the same: I love layering, especially long sleeves under short, and I have a pretty similar haircut.  What’s happening is I’m learning, and taking photos of yourself is a huge step towards accepting your body, and deciding what sort of styles you really enjoy and are comfortable in.

In this outfit, which I’m not sure of the date, but is a similar timeframe, I’ve discovered dresses.  I’ve seen a lot of members in Fatshionista wearing dresses, and have decided to try breaking out of my top-and-jeans rut.  The dress is from Jump, an Australian brand stocked at department store David Jones.  I’m wearing a necklace in this one, but I’m clearly still working on the ‘co-ordinated outfit’ thing.  Still loving my hair![img_assist|nid=43|title=|desc=|link=popup|align=right|width=61|height=100]

Here’s where I start to get my fancy on! I’ve discovered the concept of accessories, particularly scarves and earrings.  I’m still having a love affair with scarves, actually.  Tell me your favourite place to buy fancy scarves!   This particular outfit features a thrifted dress, a random black top, sunglasses by Christian Dior, scarf from a random Japanese boutique, and coloured tights  from We Love Colors, a fabulous site that sells opaque tights in heaps of colours.

From here, I pretty much go nuts trying to find the style that suits me.  Ultimately, I love dresses and skirts, particularly of the knee-length a-line or pencil variety.  I’m still not sure if belts work for me, but my love for  scarves will probably never abate, and I’m a big fan of interesting (yet comfortable) shoes.

A couple of my favourite outfits! Featuring the first thing I ever bought from a Fatshionista sales post, which are a great way for antipodean fats to get hold of US and UK clothing at a reasonable price.  The first photo features a tunic is from Maurices via a sales post, cropped cardigan from Japanese store We Go, and boots from Japanese shoe store Washington.  (How amazing is it that I was able to find gorgeous wide-calf boots in Japan?!

[img_assist|nid=38|title=|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=56|height=100]

[img_assist|nid=39|title=|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=75|height=100]

[img_assist|nid=40|title=|desc=|link=popup|align=none|width=60|height=100]

Number two is a black top from 1626 via Natalie’s clothing swap, grey high-waisted skirt from Dorothy Perkins (shop review to come!), and shoes from Marui, a Japanese department store. And the last is what I wore to work on Thursday, as today outfit of jeans and a jumper for casual Friday was not very fancy! Dress by Mlle Gabrille via Alight.com, sweater from Uniqlo, ribbon stolen from another skirt, jacket from Basque Woman (Myer), tights from Jinnee (Japanese plus-size store) and shoes by Naot.

I hope this gives readers a bit of insight into how the Axis of Fat members get their fanciness on, and in future posts there’ll be handy-dandy shop reviews, and some vlogging to help you all reach the fancy lady or man inside!


Fit or Fat – they aren’t mutually exclusive (also, other ramblings)

I don’t remember exactly how old I was. I was probably six or seven years old, maybe eight at the most. I grew up in Burleigh on the Gold Coast, and in the mid 80s there was only one shopping centre nearby for your regular weekly shopping. I remember that there used to be a bookshop out the front of Woolies, which is where Mum used to do her weekly shopping.

I remember this one day fairly well, and it all came back to me last night. We had been to the shops and we must have wandered into the bookshop. There was a tape there, called “Fit or Fat”. I wanted it. No, I needed to have it. I begged Mum to buy it for me (remember, I’m under eight). She tried to dissuade me, telling me that it wasn’t going to help me not be fat any more. Eventually she relented (I was a hyperactive child, so it was probably just easier for a cheap audiotape).

There I was, a child, knowing that it was wrong to be fat and that I needed something to help me be fit. I was defective, I was ugly and I wanted out. I have tears welling up remembering that day, and how… sad isn’t strong enough, but how sad it is that such a young boy felt the need to be different. I felt so uncomfortable in my body and so unhappy.

I started weight watchers when I was in Year 7 at school. I lost weight too, by eating celery sticks with peanut butter, or Weet Bix with Vegemite. This was before the points system, where I was required to count the number of serves of protien, vegetable, fat, etc that I had eaten. I was weighed, just like the rest of the adults, and went to the meetings. Oh how horrible it all was, looking back on it.

That wasn’t my last foray with Weight Watchers. I think it was in 1999/2000. Actually yes it was. I lost 20kgs. I went to the shops one day at Australia Fair and I remember standing out the front of K-Mart and ringing my Mum excitedly (My mum and I are very close). “I can fit! I can fit into an XL!!!” I was so excited and happy.

Forever since then I dreamed of fitting back into an XL. An XXL would have been ok, because at least I could shop at some normal shops.

I’d love to write “Oh and now I’m just awesome and never get depressed by this” but I think it’s important that I say that I’m not there yet, not all the time. Many days I’m just happy to be who I am, but some days are harder than others. I think that’s normal for anyone, no matter their size. You find your “issues” and get depressed about them, but then get over it and grow.

Ugh, that sounded almost like a self-help guru. Save me.

I got off point, which is good. It means I wrote what came to me, not what I planned. I had meant to play around with the title of the audio tape, and say that being Fit and Fat is possible. Well, I’ve done that, but I think I’ll get into it more another day.


Even a man can fat it all over the place and look fancy

Axis of Fat is an idea of my wife. It’s something that Natalie and some of her some of her friends thought was a good idea – a place to blog about being fancy in the world while being fat. Fat and fancy is possible, and I’m sure you will hear them talk all about it.

I’m sure there will be a lot of talk of fashions and styling, where to find good clothes, stores that look after fat people instead of treating us like leapers. So why am I here, blogging on Axis of Fat? It doesn’t seme a very manly thing to do?

I think fat men of Australia, and the WORLDDDDDDDD need a voice. We need good clothes, not the dodgy off-cuts that are thrown to us by Lowes and Lowes. Why should I be grateful to find a pair of pants that fit when they make me look hideous?  I also think there are many fat men out there who, despite seeming very jovial and laughing off the jibes from their “mates”, are feeling lost and alone in a world where thin is beautiful and considered normal.

I’ve been through depression, the name calling, the school yard taunts, the art of hiding what I eat from people because of the shame. I’ve lived for years and years doubting that I’m a decent person because I’m fat. I’ve wondered, “Why me?” and tried all of the diets that I could get my hands on. I’ve had “caring and thoughtful” family members, friends, work colleagues, internet folk, doctors and people I don’t even know suggest that I need to lose a “little” weight.

No wonder I felt alone.

I exercise when I can (heck, who’s ever perfect on that score) and I eat the best food I can find for my mouth. I eat when I want, what I want, when my body tells me to have it. I don’t sit down to a tub of lard and think, “oh boy, I’m going to put on 10 kilos today so that I can have society taunt me”. I think, “I’m hungry and I feel like a Caesar Salad today” or “Darn, I’m late for work – Macca’s will just have to do”.

If I can let one man know that being fat does not mean you are worthless; that being a kind human being is more important than being a particular shape; that health is possible at EVERY AND ANY size; that being yourself and just going out there and doing whatever it is you want is your RIGHT, not your DREAM, then I’ve done something good.


Do Not Adjust Your Set

The fancy people behind Axis of Fat have all written and contributed to blogs for a while now. But we felt that there was something missing in the blogging world, especially the Australian blogging world — and that was a collective of fat and fashionable fancy ladies (and men!), blogging about their politics, fat issues, their style and how we find shit to fit. The idea for the Axis of Fat came about from an idea Natalie had, in which we combine our different knowledge and blogging experiences into one big blog. 

The idea for Axis of Fat actually came together while Zoe was overseas in Japan (being fat all over the place and getting some seriously fashionable gear), so the whole concept coalesced before the four of us had even all met in person.  Once she returned, and the four of us finally got together, we realised how far we could take the concept.  We have a wide knowledge base: Nick’s web experience and familiarity with the fail that is fat men’s clothing (HI LOWES), Natalie’s extensive blogging on various fat issues, Sonya’s writing and previous blog work in NoMoreMumus and Zoe’s wide knowledge of international plus-size fashion.  Naturally, we can take on a variety of topics – from the dearth of plus size fashion in Australia to fat acceptance activism.     

We plan to have regular features on the blog, including vlogging style and Cosmo-esque lifestyle tips (with more cursing), how to find the elusive and sneaky clothing for fat men, and advice on how to build an oufit to suit your style. One feature we hope to make a regular occurence is to put our op-shopping skills to the test, and scour the thrift stores in order to find clothing and accessories for cheap, while still keeping in with personal style.  If you are in Brisbane and are interested in being part of a vlog, drop us a line – any size is welcome.

-The Axis of Fat collective


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