It’s About Human Decency

There are many things about the world I cannot understand and hate is one of them.

Over the past few weeks, report after report has rolled in of gay teens and young adults committing suicide due to bullying at school or in their community. It’s something that makes me so sad, so angry and upset, that it’s hard for me to write this post. How, tell me, can someone bully a person so persistently, so viciously, that that person feels they cannot live in this world any longer? How can someone commit themselves so fully to hating a person that it drives their target to take their own life? How could anyone ever think they have the right to treat another human being that way?

I don’t care what you believe. You could think that homosexuality is a choice, that the “gay lifestyle” will corrupt our world. You could think that all gay people are sinners, aliens, crazy people. I don’t care what you think or how crazy your opinions are.

Surely, we can all get behind human decency. I’m certain we all agree that treating people with respect, no matter what the situation, is important.

The problem is that I’m not seeing that. I don’t see that in the world, in the news media, in the way people treat others on TV, in classes, in their everyday interaction. Something has happened to our ability to be respectful. We have forgotten the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated. We have forgotten it, and children are dying.

We’ve all been victims of taunting and name-calling. Whether it’s someone calling us fat, ugly, too tall, whether it’s someone deriding our religious beliefs or political affiliation, whether it’s someone bullying us for our race, gender, sexual preference, we’ve all dealt with it on some level. We all know how it feels. Most of us have probably participated in it at some point in our lives. It’s a part of life. One group gets picked on. That group picks on another group so they can feel superior. The chain continues down, trickles down the line, until someone gets told too many times they’re not worth it. They shouldn’t be alive. And so, they go home and hang themselves. They find a gun and shoot themselves. The taunting turns to something sinister. The taunting takes a life.

It’s easy to forget that pain. It’s easy for us to forget how our words can hurt others. It’s simple to think of it as “just a joke” or something that you “didn’t mean.” But we all have a breaking point. These people were broken one too many times.

It comes down to human decency. This should be our wake up call. Think about how we treat each other and how we treat ourselves. Every life is worth it.

I was teaching some sixth graders yesterday, and they were being particularly loud. I had to ask them numerous times to quiet down. I had just reached my breaking point when the program director walked in and started yelling at the kids.

“When the teacher is talking, you don’t talk! She has had to ask you so many times to be quiet! It takes one word for a human to understand! She should only have to say one word and you should be quiet. You’ve stopped being human right now. You’ve stopped being human!

It was a lesson in respect, and it struck a chord with me. We’ve stopped being human. It takes one word for a human to understand that they need to be respectful. It took us five lives.

Let this be our wake-up call.

Let us remember how to be decent.

On Swimsuits and Bodies

My beautiful Avenue swimsuit!

I grew up around water. Whether I was going to one of the Great Lakes for vacation (as I did this past week), or swimming in my grandmother’s pool, or joining the swim team, I spent countless hours perched on the edge of some body of water, wearing little more than a swimsuit.

This past week, I logged at least three or four hours a day in my swimsuit. Spending that much time bearing your body to the world is difficult for many people, male and female. And every summer, when vacation time comes around, it’s something I always think about.

I was lucky, I think. As a kid, I joined the swim team. From age eight up through age fourteen I swam competitively. It was, in many ways, a terrible time for me. I frequently was called fat. I was incredibly uncomfortable in my body and with what was happening to it. I was hyper aware of what my body looked like to other people. But I enjoyed swimming. At some point, I began winning my heats and doing quite well in long distance swimming. (I used to motivate myself to swim fast by pretending there was a shark behind me. It worked every time.) Though I was aware of how my body looked (and how fat I was), I was also aware of what my body could do.

Having spent so much time during my formative years in a swimsuit, I barely even notice it today. Yes, there’s always a twinge when I break out the swimsuit for the first time each year. I stare at it for a while, put it on, glare at the scrap of fabric in the mirror for a while. However, it’s not enough to stop me from wearing it. I vow not to let it stop me from enjoying myself.

But it’s harder sometimes. I sat on the beach yesterday, watching as girls pranced by in their bikinis, and I wished that I had the confidence, the curves, the abs that would make me feel comfortable in so little fabric. I look at them and wonder if I could ever look like that. And then I shake myself, trying to not let myself get invested in that counter-productive train of thought. I remind myself that, even if I were that thin, who’s to say I won’t still want to have a “better” body in some way? Who’s to say I will appreciate what I do have? Who says the body I have isn’t good enough?

Renewing my faith in myself is something I always do. I have to love my body, even in a swimsuit. I have to love my body in a tank top, in a skirt, in a bra and underwear, in long pants and a sweater. I need to love my body in some way every day. And I need to stop believing my body isn’t good enough how it is. Yes, I’m only human, and insecurities come with the territory. Some days it’s harder to do. Yesterday was a day I forgot. Today, I hope I’ll remember.

Big Sales!

I opened my inbox this morning to see two emails from Lane Bryant and Fashion Bug advertising some big sales they have going on! Lane Bryant’s Right Fit Jeans (which I mentioned as my savior last week) are on sale for $24.99, and they are having their big summer sale! Fashion Bug has 30% off everything online. Need to stock up? Now’s the time to do it!

Anybody know of any other big Plus Size Fashion sales? My clothes shopping has always been limited to a few stores, so I’d love the chance to try somewhere new. Let me know in the Comments!

(And sorry things have been light on the blog. I’m currently moving out of my summer sublet, and real life has been getting in the way.)

Fat + New City = Insecurity

I spent this past weekend looking at houses and apartments in the city I’m moving to for graduate school. I’m already getting nervous about leaving the place I am right now. You get comfortable and content in a place with people who care about you, and being uprooted to somewhere new makes all your insecurities rise to the surface. This is part of my so-called “process.” I tend to get anxious before big life changes and start to get nervous that I’m not ready, or not good enough to do well in my new life.

Part of this, of course, is a drop in self-confidence and renewed obsession with my appearance. I always worry that people are going to judge me when they meet me because I’m fat. And I’m terrified that this will happen when I move.

Luckily I’ve secured good, accepting roommates for the fall (I met them this weekend), and already have a few friends in the area, but it’s still tough. It’s one of those times of insecurity that makes me question my resolve. I start to think about losing lots of weight and becoming thin and therefore “beautiful.” I start to want to change myself because I think it will matter to all these new people I’m going to meet.

This, in turn, makes me angry at myself for thinking I need to change who I am for someone else, and continues the loop of frustration. I think I’m secure in my body, but then I start to think negative thoughts and buy back into the same traps and pitfalls I’d had before.

This is one of those times, I think, when I need to be reminded of people out there who don’t care about my size but care about who I am. This is one of those times when I have to remember who I am and what I believe in. This is a time when I need your advice. How do I avoid falling back into my insecurities? What has worked for you in your life? What wisdom can you give me to persist, oh Fatosphere of Wisdom?

Obese Star Loses Weight!!

"Obese Star" Real Headline

But not the kind of star you’re thinking. I was browsing articles over on HuffPost earlier today, and was shocked to run into an article with the headline: “Scientists Discover Obese Star…” It was somewhat shocking to me because I had no idea actual astronomical stars could be obese. Having taken an astronomy class in undergrad, I thought I knew all types of stars…red giants, white dwarfs, etc. But I’d never heard of an obese star.

What does this tell us, then, that journalists (or maybe even the astronomers?) are co-opting weightist language to describe phenomena? For me, it actually makes me wonder about how we use the word “obese.” I am a fat woman. That is how I describe myself. But, medically, I am obese. To many people, being “obese” means you’re ill. It means you’re too fat. Many people think it denotes laziness, overeating, inactivity. To many people, “obese” is a negative term.

How, then, does this translate to astronomy? It doesn’t. The star in question has a lot of mass. It’s 320 times larger than earth’s sun, and is quite a discovery. But calling it “obese” doesn’t add anything to the article. All it does is make you wonder, “How could a star be obese?”

It wasn’t until I read the article again (I had saved it because it bugged me so much) that it really hit me. The reason the astronomers and journalists are couching this star’s discovery in terms of obesity and weight is because it’s an analogy that most people will understand.

“Unlike humans, these stars are born heavy and lose weight as they age,” said Crowther, an astrophysicist at the University of Sheffield in northern England. “R136a1 is already middle-aged and has undergone an intense weight loss program.”

They’re trying to humanize it, and give it a defined relative mass. They’re trying to make it resonate with people through a metaphor that is obvious.

To me, it’s reminiscent of “ha ha, look at how funny we’re being by calling this thing fat.” They’re trying to be clever, but they don’t think about how they’re using the word. Does this stretch obesity too far? Are people now relating obesity to anything bigger than the sun? If this article were read by millions of people, would people call me a “big fat star” instead of a “big fat elephant?” When will the hyperbole end, and what damage will it do?

What’s the Skinny on Skinny Jeans?

I’m a girl who loves fashion. I like (some) fashion shows (ahem…Project Runway). I love to shop. I sometimes spend hours just browsing my favorite stores online. But there’s one trend I’ve been hesitant to jump on: the Skinny Jean.

Now, I have to admit…I like how they look on many women. My friends wear skinny jeans, my cousins wear skinny jeans, I think my mom might even have a pair. But I’ve proceeded with caution, unsure whether the skinny jean would look good on a not-so-skinny me.

I’m definitely an apple shape. I got the goods in the stomach area, with thinner arms and legs. It’s a body shape that is both easy and difficult to dress. You can pull off the empire waist with grace. Flared jeans are always in style. Knee-length dresses and skirts look fantastic. But with pants, huge problems arise. For me, I have issues fitting my waist while still fitting my but/hips. I want the leg of my pants to fit tightly in the thighs, and then do its business on the bottom. Often, I get wattle butt –  my pants have a handful of material that just hangs down from my butt all the way to my knees, like that flap of skin under a turkey’s beak. Apparently, manufacturers think I should have a bigger butt to even out my waist size (jeeze).

So pants have always been a problem. It wasn’t until I found Lane Bryant’s Right Fit jeans that I found a pair of jeans that really fit my body. (Yellow FTW!) My butt looks fantastic in those jeans. They fit my thighs and feel almost like a second, wonderfully denim, skin. I wear them all the time and love how I feel and look in them.

But now, looking at, and even trying on skinny jeans, I’m reliving all my pants problems over again.

The other day I stopped by the Macy’s to look through their clearance section. Surprisingly, their 60% off rack had a selection of designer skinny jeans in plus sizes. I decided to give it a go and try them on.

I tried three different brands in sizes 18-22. I’m normally a 22, but the 22s felt too big and gave me wattle butt. The 18s fit perfectly in the leg, but not the waist. The 20s were only available in a style that was cropped (ugh).

But worst of all, every single pair I tried on made my body look wider. It was like taking my apple torso and putting it on chopsticks. Skinny jeans mess with my proportions. I look wider, weirder, and felt uncomfortable. Needless to say, I didn’t purchase any skinny jeans.

But, I still find the style appealing. I’ve seen fat women wear them, and I think they look great on them. So is a skinny jean still out there for me? Dare I continue to look? Or should I abandon the cause and stick to my Right Fit flares?

Weigh in, and give me the skinny!

I’m a Chubby Ninja

After the somewhat downer tone of yesterday’s post, I’ll bring you something delightful.

There’s this wonderful website, Sleep Talkin’ Man, which is run by a woman whose husband talks in his sleep. Eventually, she got the idea to record his quotes (using a voice activated audio recorder) and post them daily on the web. Something that began as a blog for family and friends has now turned into a blog that delights hundreds.

One of yesterday’s quotes made me laugh out loud in glee. You can hear it Here. For those of you who can’t listen to the audio, here’s the transcription:

I’m just a chubby ninja. Able to move between skinny people. Tiptoeing elephant. No one can see me. And then I attack! With ice cream and jelly, with chocolate sprinkles on top. Mmmmm.

The idea of being a chubby ninja is so delightful to me, that I am going to make it my mission to use it in my everyday life. Bump into someone: “I’m a chubby ninja! Hiyah!” Clean my plate at dinner: “The chubby ninja strikes again!” Well, those are terrible examples. But there’s something appealing about being stealthy, graceful, and mysterious like a ninja. I think someone should write a series about the chubby ninja fighting crime. S(he) stops hate in its tracks and turns it all to double rainbows and ice cream sundaes with sprinkles.

Needless to say, this is one of the small things that brings me joy everyday. Thanks, Sleep Talkin’ Man!

The Truth: Sometimes I Need Help

I’ve spent a long time away from this blog. Nearly a year. The thing is, I still open it daily. I look at my header, think about writing a new post. I visit when I get the occasional new comment to approve it. But I haven’t posted here in months.

And what really gets to me is that there’s no reason. I stopped for absolutely no reason. I still keep up with the FA community. I still write about body acceptance, feminism, and other issues that would be fitting to discuss here. But I stopped posting.

I think there comes a time in everyone’s life when they go through an off year. For me, this year has held some of my worst moments, and some of my best. I’ve experienced unemployment and having to live with my parents. I’ve taken temp jobs and finished temp jobs. I’ve moved in with friends. I’ve gotten into grad school. I’ve done a lot, and missed a lot of opportunities.

But, throughout all the good and bad, I think I’ve somehow lost my self-esteem, my confidence.

I find that’s my biggest issue nowadays. Having graduated from undergrad, I stopped having a method of measurement for my happiness. Grades have no relevance now. My friends have scattered. There are no more awards to win. I don’t have a job to be successful at. I’ve had nothing to help me feel accomplished.

And thus, I started to feel bad. Bad about myself, my body, my laziness. I started to believe that I’ve been deluding myself all these years into thinking I was something, someone. I’ve given up, in many ways. Completely given up.

Lately, it hasn’t been as bad. Moving in with friends boosted me up. I started laughing a lot more, crying a lot less. I started recovering myself. I started writing again, researching my obsessions, cooking. I’ve gotten a lot better. There’s something about surrounding yourself with positive people that makes you feel positive. It makes you believe that if they can see the good in you, there must actually be some. I’m getting better.

And so, here’s the truth: sometimes I need help. Sometimes I need you all to remind me why I should keep posting, why I should keep believing in this. Why I should have confidence in myself as a fat woman. I hope to come back here. It’s about time I post here again. I need to get my head back in the game, and take back my body, my mind, my spirit. This is a call for help as much as it’s a thank you for your support. This is my return, my second chance.

Voluptuous Video

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of fantastic voluptuous video being posted in the Fat-O-Sphere, and in case you missed any of them, I felt the need to post them all here. I’m a pretty big consumer of video, and I love finding pieces that really make a point and do something good. I try to share as much of them as I can.

First of all, in case you didn’t know, it’s Tri Delta’s Fat Talk Free Week. Enjoy the lack of Fat Talk by watching this flabulous video!

Second, Igigi put out this rather sexy video of Plus Size model Fluvia Lacerda, just in case anyone forgot that being big is sexy.

Final, I saw this absolutely fantastic video over at The F-Word, and found it both beautiful and one of the best commentaries on body I’ve seen in a while. Everyone should watch it.

Enjoy!

Flabulous Friday: Big Girl (You Are Beautiful) Edition

I heard about this song a few months ago from a friend, and I can’t believe I didn’t know about it until then. Finally this week, I bought it on iTunes to listen to. Whether you’ve already heard it, or are just hearing it for the first time, I beg you to take a moment and listen to it again. It’s a song I will never tire of hearing, because we big girls don’t get called beautiful nearly enough. I SO love this song! Props to the wonderful Mika for singing such a wonderful song!